Posts tagged ‘North Korea’

Trade, Tariffs, and North Korea

I have watched the events with President DFF with mixed emotions. Yes there has been steel dumping and there are barriers to trade in many countries, but as many more experience hands have put it, there are better ways than starting a trade war, which of course “will be easy to win.” I guess on a general outlook, world trade and a world economy is where we are and thinking in terms of us versus them no longer applies. We have to find agreements that are win-win, not win-lose or lose-lose which is what happens in a trade war.

But one of the things that struck me in all of this is the union leaders, and not in a good way. Now I believe in unions to balance the power of large companies so labor gets their fair share of productivity gains. But these guys were really out-of-bounds with their parochial focus on their win, everyone elses loss. While they could list how many had lost their jobs, do they really think they are coming back? If steel and aluminum make a come-back in the U.S. it will be in mechanized plants that don’t require those levels of employees. That is just a fact. Aluminum is energy (electricity) driven so it is always going to migrate where cost of electricity is cheap.

The union leaders did what I hate in any discussion, interrupt and talk over the opponent that were raising these issues. They are one issue people who think we can reinvent the 1970s. For most of the rust belt, this will be a big yawn, just like moves to bring back coal. Other means and methods are making coal both obsolete, and not labor intensive so jobs are not coming back. Certainly we should be negotiating trade agreements that help protect and save jobs in the United States, but it is a balancing act. Using a hatchet will just make things worse. For the rust belt, it is time to negotiate agreements both in the U.S. and with foreign trade partners that create new jobs for the future, not old jobs that will just be mechanized to reduce costs.

Union leaders like to raise the national defense argument, what happens if we let these industries go overseas and then they cut us off.  Who would that be again, because a trade war will hurt even China.  There thinking is really last century and not in the real world or looking forward.  Remember TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership)?  I and many others were against it because it reinforce the status quo of growing economic inequality.  But it was the right idea and we need to just fix it, not junk it.  Trade and tariffs are complicated and we have to do what is best for the world economy (while demanding sustainable and environmentally safe practices) if we want to do what is best for us.  That is lost on President DFF who see everything in winners and losers.

Okay, North Korea.  What to make of Kim’s meeting with the President?  Well, in a perfect world it could be good.  However Kim is a tyrant and a murder.  He has starved his people in nation that could be described as a living hell.  He executed his uncle with an anti-aircraft gun.  So now he wants to negotiate.  And we have win-lose President DFF meeting with him.  Now I think the first thing you do is decide what Kim might give up.  I simply don’t believe he will give up his nukes for a promise of no interference in his country.  His nukes are what keeps him safe from a pre-emptive strike.  I could be wrong.  Maybe his nuke program has hit a loggerhead and he needs cash.  But the testing he has done does not indicate that.  So what is there let to negotiate?  What does he want from us and what is he will to give up?  You think President DFF in gathering experts to determine that?

What you really need to worry about is President DFF’s need for a win as reality, the Mueller investigation, and maybe a Blue Wave is coming in November.  Will he do something incredibly stupid.  Quite likely.  These are very dangerous times and I do not believe Kim wants to be Mr. Nice guy.  I hope I am wrong.  If North Korea would give up their nukes, it would be good for the world.  I just don’t think that is what is happening and I don’t think President DFF is smart enough to be at the table.

I Am So Ashamed

I watch Mike Pious Pence and I am disgusted. Yes North Korea is a brutal horrid place. And yes they are developing weapons that threaten the whole world. But here we are at the Olympics and it is about the athletes and the competition, not regimes and we can’t get off our ass and welcome the North Korean team. Aren’t we bigger than that? North Korea may become a pariah of the world, but for this moment can it not be about nationalistic posturing and be about the common human experience of competition and giving it your all. President Moon may have it right. It will be the interaction of North Korea with the rest of the world that will be the biggest weapon we have to bring them out of the dark. And America stands and turns their back on them. I am so ashamed. We are being destroyed and soiled by Trump and his cronies. Hopefully our athletes will engage for a moment of human to human, something the Administration of President DFF has never experienced or we would not be expelling Dreamers. I am so ashamed.

Complexities: Madam Secretary and North Korea

I am a big fan of Madam Secretary, the TV series on CBS Sunday nights.  I like the show because it paints the complexities of our politics and foreign affairs with characters who are smart and intelligent, and my I add, even the “bad guys” (Republicans) are played with complexity.  You get they care, they just have it wrong.  They like simplicity in a world of complexity. But the mid-season finale was one that even twisted my brain a little.

In this fictional plot, the story line is pushing women empowerment and the fight for women’s rights around the world.  The plot thickens when the U.S. is planning a major strike on the Taliban to “finally put them away,” or seriously damage them to make them negotiate from a weakened position. Where have we heard this before?  Light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam for starters and of course every surge we have every had in the Middle East.

The side plot is that the Afghan foreign minister is a woman who is speaking at a woman’s conference about the rights of women in her country and the world which she is a passionate fighter for.  Just as all this is happening, two things change the potential outcome.  It turns out a high-ranking Afghan official is collaborating putting in doubt the Afghan’s military support after the attack, and more importantly, that (and this is a real number) 68% of the Afghan people support Sharia law, with the Taliban willing to negotiate.  As one high-ranking official points out, the Taliban are not exporting their violence, while others see a lost opportunity if the military strike is not carried out.

To make a long story short, the Taliban are willing to accept women going to school, but cannot drive and cannot participate in government, if they can have a seat in the government.  So do we launch a strike that will kill thousands of civilians and the war goes on (standing firm on our principles, or do we negotiate away the rights (some) of women in Afghanistan? The moral dilemma is real.  The very woman who is giving the address at a conference on women’s right will lose her job.  Yet can we really change a nation by war or  do they have to change themselves and the only way that change will work is through their evolution?  The Saudis are now going to let women drive.  It’s a start.

Enter North Korea and the real world.  The country itself is a living hell, morally repugnant to any modern-day human being.  Yesterday Kim Jong-un showed up in a coat and tie and played nice-nice with South Korea.  Yet he made the point that he had the nukes to hit the United States.  Allowing this regime to continue is morally repugnant and presents a danger to the world, but the alternative is death and destruction in Asia and unknown complications with all our allies throughout the world.  And those who have been there say the Koreans are ready for war.

So that moral thing presented in Madam Secretary stares us in the face in the real world in North Korea.  It is very complicated.  Clearly I see our only choice is to accept a nuclear armed North Korea and try to slowly change them (See Iran today) and bring them into the 21st century. Expectations are the fuel of revolution. Yes we allow injustice totally in opposition to our own fundamental beliefs to continue, but will war really change anything unless we are attacked?

The only problem with all this is that we have a President and a Secretary of State who do not think we should be pushing our beliefs in democracy and freedom on the rest of the world when it comes to “business” (foreign policy).  How can we change the world for the better if we give up trying to beat them into submission if we don’t continue to push for a more just world through our basic fundamental values?  See, it’s complicated and simple solutions from President DFF may play well with the unwashed, but successful policy is a long complicated process.  Oh, and art in the form of a TV series really can be about deep important ideas.

Level of Frustration and Other Topics

Today is one of those days I truly hate being old. I look at the devastation in Sonoma and Santa Rosa, and I want to get out there and help. I look at the devastation in Puerto Rico and I want to hop on an airplane and help them rebuild. And the truth is, I wouldn’t be much help. I would just get in the way. That wasn’t always the case, but I simply can’t do it anymore. It is this stark reality of my limitations. It is that reality that I am not what I used to be nor am I going to be again when I could take on almost anything.

I think what makes this doubly frustration is there is so much that could be done and we have a government led by a moron. His best attributes are his ability to tear things down, lie, pander with ignorance and racists, and connive. I know in California, we have good government and good people who will rise to the occasion. So does America, but under the leadership of Republicans and the village idiot, we see a wrecking ball, not leadership to build from the ashes. There is no vision there except some super capitalist utopian hell envisioned by Ayn Rand. I read this this morning about one Santa Rosa woman who lost her home and wanted to get in my car, but again, I would just get in the way:

She’s answering the logistical questions one-by-one: Where will they live? When will the children return to school? She has no answer for the most difficult questions about her upended life: Will things ever be the same?

“Our house had a certain smell to it,” she said. “It was our house. When you come home it has that smell. How can I replicate that smell for my kids, or is it gone forever?”

“This is ranking up there with when my brother died. It’s right up there — one of the worst things that’s ever happened in my life. But I’ve got to suck it up and power through — for my kids and for my husband and for myself. I can’t have a pity party, party of one. Because if I fall apart, we’re all going to fall apart.”

I like to think that we Americans are optimistic and enterprising, that we can fix these things. We are actually, and we can, except we now have a Republican led government that can do nothing, and wonders along with their leader, how they can blame the victims for this tragedy. Remember in Puerto Rico it was their fault because they were in debt (again aided and abetted by Washington and profit sucking financial institutions).

I guess my biggest frustration is there is so much that we could do. There is so much to fix and I want to leap out of my chair and get at it. But like our now Republican enfeebled country, my knees won’t allow any leaping, So I sit here and write. My time on this planet is now limited. But couldn’t we just start fixing a few things so when I do leave I know we are moving in the right direction? I have to figure out how to turn this ship around if only one mind at a time. Like the woman above, and I will rephrase: This is ranking up there with one of the worst times in my life. But I’ve got to suck it up and power through — for my kids and for my wife and for myself. I can’t have a pity party, party of one. Because if I fall apart, we’re all going to fall apart.  We so need a leader to lead us out of the wilderness we have gotten lost in.

Okay, perspective. I can only control what I can control and I am actually a very very lucky man even with the prostate cancer. The world (bubble) which I live in is very blessed. So let’s turn to baseball. Last night the LA Dodgers beat those uppity Cubs and there was a controversial call at home plate. Since some of the disastrous injuries in baseball occur with the catcher trying to block the plate with a runner trying to score (See Buster Posey), it was ruled that unless you have the ball, you cannot black the plate. In this game, as the catcher was catching the ball, he stuck his leg out behind him to block the plate (good way to get your leg broken) and tagged the runner out. On replay it was overturned ruling the catcher was blocking the plate before he had the ball. The old farts in baseball were all aghast. Stupid rule! That is the athleticism of the game! It was great play!

On the contrary, I think they made absolutely the right call. To do anything else would have once again announced open season on catchers trying to catch the ball or make a tag. It would have turned baseball into football at home plate. The thing I love about baseball is that it is driven competition without the violence and hate. This would change that. What I get from all this is how hard change is for people who are used to a certain way of doing things. And that is in a microcosm the problem this country faces as change is accelerating and the Republicans feed fear promising to drag us back to a time that never existed.

One last thought from Nicholas Kristof who took some criticism for his trip to North Korea, which I actually thought was quite informing and alarming as we move toward war and the DIC has no clue what game he is playing. Nicholas defended his actions with this and in this world where news is now a profit center so on-site reporting is at a minimum, we ought to think about:

Being on the ground in a country lets you see things and absorb their power: the speaker on the walls of homes to feed propaganda; the pins that every adult wears with portraits of members of the Kim family; the daily power outages, but also signs that the economy is growing despite international sanctions; the Confucian emphasis on dignity that makes officials particularly resent Trump’s personal attacks on Kim; the hardening of attitudes since my last visit, in 2005; and the bizarre confidence that North Korea can not only survive a nuclear war with the U.S. but also emerge as victor…

I left North Korea fearing that we are far too complacent about the risk of a cataclysmic war that could kill millions. And that’s why reporting from within North Korea is crucial: There simply is no substitute for being in a place. It’s a lesson we should have learned from the run-up to the Iraq war, when the reporting was too often from the Washington echo chamber rather than the field. When the stakes are millions of lives and official communications channels are nonexistent, then journalism can sometimes serve as a bridge — and as a warning.

And let’s never forget how they failed us with the DIC, right here in our own country. Not my President.

“Dotard” or WTF Friday

Maybe Kim Jong-un isn’t as crazy as we thought. He nailed that one and it is quite a step up from “rocket man”. Maybe Kim will have that song by Elton John as his new theme song like Hail to the Chief. Dotard according to is “a person, especially an old person, exhibiting a decline in mental faculties; a weak-minded or foolish old person.” Nailed it. And he still does not get Kim. The teenage food fight is going to lead to violence. As I have argued before, Kim needs this kind of aggression to survive. And the Village idiot in Charge (VIC) is the perfect adversary that goads him on. WTF over.

Meanwhile in the ‘homeland”, Facebook has turned over 3000 possible add buys by Russian proxies and the Dotard’s response reported in the Daily Beast was:

In his latest early-morning tweetstorm, President Trump called the reports of Russian ads on Facebook during the 2016 presidential election a “hoax” and pointed the finger, once again, at former challenger Hillary Clinton: “What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?”

Crooked Hillary? So clear and direct evidence of Russian interference in our election is a hoax, and facts and data don’t matter. The Dotard believes what he wants to believe and if you extend this to other policy positions, you kind of have to say, WTF! Of course we have had this evidence for some time, not only with the Dotard in Chief (DIC), but his dotard party. They believe what they want to about healthcare and as Jimmy Kimmel has shown us, either lie or don’t believe their own words. Then there is “tax reform” which of course is a tax cut for the wealthy even though the DIC says there will be no tax cuts for the wealthy. What does he think a 15% corporate tax is? WTF!

Meanwhile in Alabama, for those of you who want relief from disaster pictures and stories, the two candidates are a nightmare. One did a deal with Sessions and the Governor for the post, the other can’t quite figure out that separation of church and state thing. It does tell you one thing. Make any excuses you want about down trodden workers railing against the government, these two make dotard operative as everyday speech. One has to wonder what they put in the water in Alabama (WTF country).

I have to go to the doctor this morning and I want to write something about the first half of PBBS’s Vietnam so I am going to cut this short, but with all the power lines down in the hurricane devastated region, could they not learn from our own military that hardens their bases by burying all those lines? Nope, that would be too expensive, except when you figuring in how many more times they will get knocked down. Oh wait! That would be believing in global warming and Dotard says it is junk science. Got go with him right? WTF

Protect and Defend (Themselves)

I am not going to comment in detail on the bull in the UN shop that has sent so many embarrassing and conflicting messages that world leaders are left wondering what happened to the United States of America.  Let me just say that as he announces the latest sanctions on Kim Jong-un, I will try to remind you that it is the threats and economic attacks that feeds Kim Jong-un.  And the tighter the noose, the more likely a response, the tighter his grip on his nukes, and his response would not be negotiations.  You have to note that as the Village Idiot in Charge threatens to back out of our agreement with Iran (or renegotiate it which is a pipe dream) he sends a strong message that you cannot trust us.  Turn over your weapons and we will leave you alone.  Even I don’t believe that.

I have to ask, where is the U.S. Navy, Hospital ships, even cruise ships that could provide safe haven for those in Puerto Rico and the outlying islands that now have nothing?  Are we flying in generators? In Mexico, where are our trained structural teams to help extricate people from the rubble?  Maybe they are out there, but it is clear this President (not mine) does not put this very high on the importance level.

I should not also miss mentioning the outright lie the Republicans are telling about their repeal and replace healthcare plan.  Of course why should that be a surprise when their “tax reform” bill is nothing but a tax cut for the wealthy, paid for by the cuts they are going to make in healthcare.  Oh, and notice how they are rewarding states who did not expand Medicaid, while penalizing those who did.  If any of those fools vote for this that held out before, there is nothing left of the Republican Party but a lap dog for the base. Rational thought does not enter their brains.

But to the subject of this blog.  Are you getting concerned with the number of times police are called out and ending up killing someone?  The latest was in Oklahoma City where a cop shot a deaf man who would not put down a pipe while bystanders were shouting, “He is deaf, He can’t hear you.”  There was that case last week of the student at Georgia Tech wielding a knife and was obviously on a death by police mission. It would seem that police are really good at handling handicapped, mentally ill, or autistic people with the use of their gun. Here is another one. . Remember the kid in the Park with an air pistol?

It goes on and on.  Search on police kill son after call by parents and you get hundreds of stories. The message here is don’t call the cops, they may start shooting.  Who are they protecting, and the answer is themselves.  Sure there are shootings that really are self-defense, but most are perceived self-defense, and parents who called the police thought they would help, not kill their son.   In other words, they are way too eager to shoot first to protect themselves than to do their job. Yes it is a dangerous job, but that is why you got in it right? Where are non-lethal ways of controlling the situation?  Why is the gun the weapon of choice in these situations?

Look, I know that this is a minority of police, but it makes no difference.  The shootings of blacks are outrageous and most of the time the cop gets off.  See the latest in St Louis.  What this does is delegitimize the police in the eyes of citizens, and when they lose that trust, they lose the ability to be an effective policing force.  I would think twice about call the police on anything, because it is becomes the wild wild west, and I am white well off citizen.  We have a giant problem here Houston, and I think the easiest way to solve it is training and more nonlethal tools to control suspects.  Then when they get it wrong, it doesn’t end someones life. For now all we got is body cameras so we can see the tragedy up front and personal.

North Korea, Again

Well, they are at it again.  The North Koreans may have set off a more powerful hydrogen bomb:

North Korea carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test early Sunday in an extraordinary show of defiance against President Trump, who responded by declaring the country “hostile and dangerous to the United States” and criticizing an American ally, South Korea, for “talk of appeasement.”

To me the choices are very simple.  For once, Trump is right. Appeasement (or sanctions) have not worked and North Korea is determined to get a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States.  China has been ineffective and I see no reason to believe they will be in the future.  So if that assumption is correct, we only have tow choices:

  1. Take out their program with pre-emptive strikes and cripple the government
  2. Live with it

That’s it.  Pretty stark, huh.  Option 1 removes the threat to the United States, but at what cost? There are estimates.  There could be retaliation with much of Korea and Japan using chemical and conventional weapons.  Estimates of casualties are in the millions.  The whole region would be massively unstable and the disruption of our world economy would be massive.  One would have to wonder how South Korea, China, and Japan might feel about this.  And the war could spiral into a long blood conflict.

Option 2 says we have to accept they will get the weapons and we can try additional steps to convince them to come over from the dark side, while using the old strategy of MAD to thwart them.  The downside here is that if North Korea continues to develop their arsenal, more of the United States is threatened and from a blustering fool of a president, he looks weak. On the other hand, MAD worked until the USSR collapsed. but then we did not face a country or government as unstable and insecure as this one.  War just might suit them.

So there you have it.  Unless I am sadly mistaken (and wishfully so) there are no other choices.  My biggest fear is that the military can convince the Village Idiot that they can limit the casualties and a pre-emptive strike is a rational move.  Tell that to one of the millions who go up in smoke.


Holy Mackerel, or Republicans are Evil

I don’t know what to tell you. I started this blog to write about policy and the failed logic of conservatives and some Democrats and now I am reduced to trying to explain insanity. Oh, and I would have titled this particular blog Holy Shit, but I am trying to clean up my language. I listen to the news now and must say holy shit at least 50 times a day. Oh what I would give for a slow news day.

I have spoken of the fire and fury and then the doubling down, the myriad of contradictory messages coming out of the government, but the one that got me the most was the Village Idiot’s comments about the 755 State Department employees told to go home, actually thanking Vald:

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll, and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump said. “There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.”

So people who have dedicated their lives to foreign service are just dead weight on a payroll? Now you know how he really feels just about all Americans, they are a means to an end and when they are no longer necessary, kiss your ass goodbye. If you did not think there was Russian collusion or some kind of a Russian hold on the Village Idiot, this should give you pause.

Republicans are living out a self-fulfilling prophesy. They claim government is incompetent and now, by cracky, they have instituted one that makes incompetent look absolutely first-rate. I have said many times, and been accused of hyperbole, that Republicans are evil. But step back for a moment and think about it. The Village Idiot is not an aberration, but the result of a long campaign to dumb down and lie to the American people. Then they are shocked, shocked I tell you at the monster they have created. Then when he got elected, they all fell in line.  How’s that for evil?

The critical evidence in their evilness was the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. They only needed 50 votes in the Senate and lo and behold, some of them figured out they had no solutions for the replace part of the replace and the repeal, and at least for some, was too cruel (and maybe career ending which is the only thing most politicians respond to). In fact Republicans have no workable solutions for almost any of our critical challenges we face today. They never had to have any as they opposed Obama and became ever more ideological, and now their ideology is a dead-end with no space to turn around. The difficult problems like economic inequality, global warming, failing infrastructure, education costs going through the roof, and loss of high paying middle class jobs are not solved “by the miracle of the market place”.

But we are faced with an increasingly insane* approach to North Korea which could kill millions and destroy much of the world’s economy, and no approach on the “nonexistent” global warming, both will have dire consequences for it now turns out, us, and our children, and we have insanity and evilness at the helm. Had we elected the establishment Hillary and a few progressive Democrats, both situations would have been in good hands.

And all of this makes no mention of a federal budget or the debt ceiling crisis looming. Once again ideology is going to get in the way. The Republicans will scream deficit, deficit, deficit and they will not authorize any more debt, except we already incurred it when they voted for things so now what they are doing is welshing on paying their bills. An it has become an article of faith with many Americans that debt is just bad and we should balance the budget. There is an element of truth herein controling our debt, but in general both are wrong and I have written copiously about why they are wrong so I won’t go into it again.

So they are poised to destroy America as a leader in the world, maybe start WWIII, do nothing about global warming that will destroy much of the world as we know it, destroy our economic standing in the world, and have no workable solutions for any of our domestic challenges except less government and cutting taxes, and you wonder why I know they are evil? They enabled everything we see before us. The people who pride themselves in believing hard work and discipline is all that is required to succeed, have been selling us a free ride for the last 50 years and nothing is free. Government leveling the playing field and making investments in our future, not our rich is what it is going to take. That would be heresy in Republican land.

One final thought. I watched the Village Idiot claim that Manafort is a nice man, but basically who knows. He knows. He put him in charge of everything for two months. He now knows that the government has the goods on collusion and illegal financial dealing and he is trying to distance himself, with the defense, “I had no idea.” It won’t wash which is why we should be very afraid about North Korea. It is the ultimate subject changer. Have a lovely weekend. I am stocking up on survival rations. That would be wine and lamb. Oh, and some beer and wings when I play my DVD recordings of all ball games. I already have a generator.

*You know I do have one crazy thought. While North Korea is crazy and unpredictable, maybe if they see that Trump is the same way, they might actually fear him. Then again they might actually engage him in a war. We will see.


North Korea is not a surprise, yet it captured the news yesterday, whether true or not. Sooner or later they were going to get there and like Trump the President, who they are is no surprise from who they have been. China and the United States, the two parties that could have solved this together, have failed to, looking to their own selfish needs and kicking the can down the road. The can has now arrived. No more road to kick down. And North Korea is no Soviet Union of old. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) may not force people to be rational. I have argued for years that North Korea is a living hell on earth and that China and the United States could not or would not force regime change was a political and moral failure. Now we have saber rattling with a moron for President.

Make no mistake, the United States could not solve this without China. And China in its own self-serving needs for trade and a firm border to keep immigrants out and buffer to US backed South Korea, could not bring itself to deal with a painful problem. And too many times we have thrown our hands up and just said well, maybe the government will fall. In North Korea, falling means taking everyone with you. That is the critical understanding we have failed to understand. So now we have entered very dangerous times because we refused to do the hard things when we needed to. Now the hard thing is unimaginable. And we have a moron for President.

Oh, and global warming is happening faster and may be more drastic than anticipated. Surprise! Not. We have known about global warming since the 1980’s. We have seen our impact on the planet, not just its weather, but its species for hundreds of years and we do nothing. Oh there are little movements around the edges, but business must come first. Now we are faced with the reality of once again kicking the can down the road, and the road is coming to an end. No more kicking. But like the North Korea problem, we have a moron for a President (not to mention a whole Party in charge of the country whose litmus test is not believing in science).

There has been some debate about whether the latest government report on the rapid increase in the impacts of global warming might force the moron President to change his stance. Sometimes I wonder what planet these people are on. Donald Trump got here illegally by laundering money for the Russians and he certainly colluded with them in the election. The investigation is tightening and he needs his base to terrify Republicans into not impeaching him when the other shoe drops, as it most certainly will. So he is not going to change on global warming, and we are going to see it it full force, and like the Korean thing, the outcome will be disastrous.

Meanwhile in the world of economic inequality, the inequality grows. And sooner or later the markets will come crashing down because the part of the pie that goes to the majority of consumers will be too small to sustain it. The markets are at record highs this week, believing that our moron President will cut regulations and taxes so they can further increase their profits with no concern for the damage they are doing. We have legitimized economic inequality by believing a high tide lifts all boats, except it hasn’t, and we have also kicked this can down the road, and sooner, rather than later, the market is going to crash.

Are you sensing a trend here? We Americans, who can do anything, have done nothing. When things got hard, we went looking for easy simple answers that ignore reality. Enter the Republican Party, facilitated by the Democrats, who know how to pander to Americans looking for the easy answer. Ronald Reagan, the prince of government is the problem, told us to be selfish and seek out gains for ourselves and everyone would prosper. Kiss “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” goodbye. We got tax cuts pay for themselves and the private sector will solve all problems. Driven our roads lately? We are starting to look third world. But don’t forget their main message, investing in government through taxes is a waste of money. Now look at us.

We are reaching a point where ignorance is considered a virtue (remember the rural wisdom of Sarah Palin?),where the ignorance of the base chose a leader that could finally push us over a cliff. We are approaching a critical turning point in the history of our world, conservatism has run its course and almost destroyed us, and we have a moron for President. I don’t think we can wait four years. If Trump continues his “fire and fury” (remember how well shock and awe worked out?) rhetoric, we may not have to worry about global warming as the aftermath of a nuclear war could be much worse. But if we somehow get through this, will we have learned our lesson? Or will we go looking for the next easy answer and not doing the hard things that make life and our country great? I am not optimistic after watching the last 50 years.

America really does have some amazingly hard working and smart individuals and we could solve these problems if we had a leader that made Americans aware of their failures and showed us a path forward.  Even the mindless base of Donald Trump might be led out of the wilderness of ignorance if they understood the challenges before us and a leader who inspires sacrifice.  But where is he/she?  Right now the one we got thinks the solution to jobs is to bring back coal which is never coming back and backed up by a pack or sience and reality deniers.  Hey! Bring on the fire and fury! All we need is a leader who can one again inspire us with, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” and get on with it.  So far we got the moron President and his scared shitless Party.

Monday Morning

I drove my son to the airport at o’dark thirty this morning. It is about a 65 mile drive each way and we left my place at 4:20 am for a 6:30 flight to San Diego. Nothing is ever simple. It turns out that they are doing major work on the bridge that crosses the Sacramento River so we were warned of massive traffic backups. So we were seeing how close you can get to our normal turnoff (I-5) before you get caught in traffic and running alternate routes through our heads. It actually wasn’t that bad and we were able to stay the normal route with little delay, sort of. Then about 2 miles from the Airport, stop and go traffic on a real straight stretch of I-5 and sure enough some kind of spin out and major crash. All I could think of is how do they do it? It is straight, there are no on or off ramps, and they run into each other. Made it to the airport on time so no problem there, but on the return trip I noticed that we got through the construction just in time as there were major backups. Do we drive anywhere anymore that does not have some kind of delay/construction?

Okay on to news of the day. All the talk is about sanctions on North Korea that were worked out in a conference in the Philippines with all the South East Asia nations and us of course. I hope it works because the alternative is very frightening. It really is the only way to go at this time, but I have little optimism. The big assumption here is that North Korea wants more than anything else to stay in power and they will see that to do this they will be willing to give up their nuke program. The thinking is that China wants to maintain North Korea as a southern buffer to USA aligned South Korea, and China has no interest in seeing North Korea fail because there would be a massive refugee problem as North Koreans have a chance to flee their living hell.

I don’t think this logic holds because North Korea is first and foremost an abomination as a country. There is no way for the North Koreans to continue to hold power without the extreme dictatorship and threat from the wicked United States. The assumption that this mentality is rational, I believe, is flawed. Or maybe it is rational. The only way they can stay in power is to hold on to their nukes and continue to stoke the fears of invasion. If things got materially better there, would not the improved economic situation drive change that would be antithetical to the North Koreans holding power? The calculation has to be what can prevent a war until the North Korean regime collapses under its own weight hoping they don’t decide to take Southeast Asia with them. Then there is the dubious calculation that we will empower this brutal dictatorship to remain as long as there is no nuclear threat. I think North Korea sees through this one.

Paul Krugman has an interesting discussion about where Democrats should go on healthcare and I think he is dead on. If you followed my discussions before, to reduce the cost of healthcare for all of us, we have to share the costs with the widest possible pool (universal coverage) and ensure that the plans we have cover most of our needs (regulated market). Now how you get there is the issue (and not counter to what Republicans are pushing which is “choice and deregulated markets” which the CBO scores again and again as a failure). So is single payer the answer? The answer is maybe, but he points out that other countries get there by everything from Obamacare expanded to Government healthcare:

Look at the latest report by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, comparing health care performance among advanced nations. America is at the bottom; the top three performers are Britain, Australia, and the Netherlands. And the thing is, these three leaders have very different systems.


Britain has true socialized medicine: The government provides health care directly through the National Health Service. Australia has a single-payer system, basically Medicare for All — it’s even called Medicare. But the Dutch have what we might call Obamacare done right: individuals are required to buy coverage from regulated private insurers, with subsidies to help them afford the premiums.


And the Dutch system works, which suggests that a lot could be accomplished via incremental improvements in the A.C.A., rather than radical change. Further evidence for this view is how relatively well Obamacare, imperfect as it is, already works in states that try to make it work — did you know that only 5.4 percent of New Yorkers are now uninsured?

So he then argues that give the systems in place, instead of focusing on single payer, we improve Obamacare with maybe a single payer option as politically and functionally the best way forward. I have to agree. I have argued for single payer forever, but I am not ideologically wedded to it and neither are most Democrats although that is how they are painted. What we want is universal coverage and the best way forward to do that. That is the real debate and I think Krugman nailed it.

Finally, I think what is worth noting this morning is how the Trump administration is trying to open up public lands in the West to coal mining. Now aside from the argument that coal used in anything destroys the planet with its CO2 emissions and the damage done to the environment itself in the mining, the question has to be, who wants the coal when there are cheaper cleaner fuels? Also one might ask, what jobs when coal mining in general is going to more and more mechanization. But the real point here is that there is not a shortage of coal based up demand and so this is an attempt to say, if we supply it they will buy it. I think we have already seen this fail over and over again. There has to be pentup demand. So this, besides destroying the environment and contributing to the overheating of the planet will be another experiment like Kansas (tax cuts will pay for themselves) where we will see the failure of Republican ideas. As Thomas Wolfe famously wrote, You Can’t Go Home Again. Time to move on.