Posts tagged ‘Republicans’

And a Chicken in Every Pot!!!

I am listening to the DIC (Dotard in Charge) talk about his tax cut plan and lie through his teeth about he or his wealthy friends not getting big breaks.  I am thinking he must really think we are stupid, and then I look at Alabama’s nomination of a right wing nut (more religion in government (whose religion?), and outlaw gays) to run as their GOP candidate, and maybe he is right.  But let us just stick with the tax “reform” plan.

First question you might want to ask is how do we pay for all this cutting?  One, if he were rational, would start from the understanding of what we need to invest in future, add that to our current obligations and figure out how much money we want to have coming in.  Now this would include what is a reasonable debt (based upon % of GDP) and how to pay for programs in the future.  Then understanding our income needs, we could look are reforming the tax code to simplify, and decrease/increase where it makes sense.

Now we could argue about expanding Social Security by allowing the tax not to be capped at a certain income level.  We could argue about Medicare for all and how to pay for it with a trade-off of higher taxes versus no private insurance bills.  But we are not doing that, we are cutting, cutting, cutting, and what of the deficit.  Oh wait,  I forgot, tax cuts pay for themselves except of course, they don’t.  So the first question to be asked is how does this devastate the deficit.  I happen to be one who thinks a reasonable debt is okay and necessary, but make no mistake, they guys who want a balanced budget don’t give a shit about the debt when it comes to tax cuts, and will cut programs like healthcare (Medicare and Medicaid), education, R&D, infrastructure spending, and Social Security to keep their cuts.

Now, it is true that some pay way to much in taxes.  They are the ones who really need a tax cut, and they have no power.  Those that have power have already massaged the system.  You don’t really think that while we have the highest corporate tax rate, they actually pay that right?  Of course they don’t because they have gamed the system with their money and the gaming continues with the DIC out there lying through his teeth.  So let’s see the details and see what this really costs us, but unless they can pass this with 50 votes, it is probably dead meat.

In many ways one has to ask, what is the strategic plan of Republicans and how does this fit into a vision of  a great tomorrow.  It doesn’, and it is repeal and replace and cut taxes and the devil is in the details.  It assumes as always that government is bad, regulations are bad, and markets should be free to solve all problems.  It has never worked and this is more of their nonsense.  But hey! who does not want a free ride?  That is what America has become.

Repeal and Replace

It is mostly smoke and mirrors. I can’t say this enough. Republicans do not have a plan for repeal and replace that would actually work, unless you define actually work as gutting healthcare reforms we have all come to love. The reason is simple, fixing healthcare, the reforms necessary to make it work better for all of us, is not allowed by their ideology. If you want to fix healthcare vote for Democrats because they will make real changes to try to improve it, and if those have unintended consequences, they will fix them. Republicans are stuck with their ideology, which they reverently believe and it blocks all paths to what they claim they want, healthcare that works for all of us.

Now the present proposal is worse than the last one they proposed with with some fun word play. Pre-existing conditions are covered! Except if the state ops out. Sad for you if you are in those states. Everyone has access to coverage! True, but at what cost since all that limitation stuff goes out the window. Why should out of pocket expenses be limited when it is your own damn fault you got sick? But the real icing on the cake is the way they parcel out the money, penalizing those states who offered their citizens full coverage under Medicaid, and giving that extra money to those who didn’t (rewarding faithful Republican governors who screwed their citizens). Finally, they cut Medicare spending so they can have money for, you guessed it, tax cuts.

So why would they stand behind this bill, especially states who stand to lose? Well I would say they are just evil and don’t give a rip, but Joy Reid of MSNBC said that her research showed that those big donors, they guys who can buy their own hospitals, said get it done or we are going to pull the rug out (stop funding you). The other answer she got was that they were afraid of the base who they had sold on the fact that Obamacare sucked. Now they are terrified of the Frankenstein they created.

In my mind right now we are seeing a Kabuki dance again. States like Nevada whose Senator voted for the last one, but this bill will hurt, is dancing around waiting for the brave three to stand up so he can vote yes, but it still goes down. Murkowski of Alaska is in the same boat, but she voted no last time. The GOP is trying to buy her off by letting her keep Obamacare. Screw America if I get mine? If you listen to Collins of Maine, she is dancing around, but her vote is a definite no. John McCain is dying and knows it. He can finally vote his conscience. So it is going down, because it makes everything worse. If I am wrong, Republicans will pay a heavy price at the polls, but people who lose healthcare will pay a heavier price.

So why can’t we just have “normal order” that John McCaine keeps asking for where the bill is considered over time with many hearings, amendments, and finally a compromise bill to fix healthcare? Seems reasonable doesn’t it? Well the answer is simple. The things that fix Obamacare or move us to some form of universal care will never be accepted by the Republicans. Ideologues can’t be reasonable. Obamacare, which now everyone sees as an improvement with flaws, was not voted for with one Republican vote. And that was after they amended it over 100 times. What we know from the world experience of providing universal healthcare is that profit motive medical insurance does not work unless it is tightly regulated. In Switzerland where they do have universal healthcare provided through private insurers, it is heavily regulated (can you say Obamacare) and the basic insurance provided has to be without profit.

So you have removed the profit motive for insurance (note this does not remove the profit motive for providers, just insurance companies, like say Medicare), and have heavily regulated them. See Republicans voting for either? The whole reason that after seven years of screaming Obamacare is killing us and then not having a replacement plan other than to return to the old system is not that they did not plan ahead, it is because there is no Republican fix. They simply only have the market place. The market place does not work for healthcare. Said another way, the profit motive does not work in healthcare insurance. See the world for details.

So if we really want to fix Obamacare and you can’t quite find your self buying into Medicare for all (except for the fact that when you are 65 they are the only people who will ensure you, or said another way, at 65 it already is Medicare for all, and try to remember how Ronald Reagan and the Republicans told us this was the end of capitalism and America?), then there are lots of ways to move Obamacare in the right direction, but those answers aren’t coming from the Republican side of the aisle and never will. What fixes it, they can’t tolerate. So if you want a fix and to move the country forward, you might want to consider how you vote on election day. Instead of blaming both sides, maybe it is time to actually try the other side. At least when Democrats screw up, they don’t have a rigid ideology keeping them from changing directions.

More on Unregulated Anything

Since I live in a community that the majority “hates big government”, Houston has come along as the lurking monster that allows me to make my point. When everything is hunky-dory, well those regulations just get in the way, that is until you are affected by your neighbors unregulated activities that you thought were his right as a land owner until they started to impinge upon your rights as a land owner. Here is from Houston:

Flooded sewers are stoking fears of cholera, typhoid and other infectious diseases. Runoff from the city’s sprawling petroleum and chemicals complex contains any number of hazardous compounds. Lead, arsenic and other toxic and carcinogenic elements may be leaching from some two dozen Superfund sites in the Houston area.

But we don’t need no stink’in EPA, land use controls, or safety regulations. They just get in the way of business. Take it to the banking sector and it has been discovered that Wells Fargo issued millions of credit cards to customers who did not ask for or want them to meet sales quotas. A friend of mine (conservative) was decrying the expense he incurred to upgrade his fruit packing facilities to meet Whole Food requirements for food safety as prescribed by the Feds. I pointed out that if one person gets sick from a product they lawsuits could wipe them out and they were just protecting their interests.

All those regulations came from somewhere.  Back about 15 years ago I remember major damage in Florida from Hurricane Andrew winds and rains and it was because all those regulations for connections and steel straps when attaching the roof structure to the main house frame was just raising the cost of housing so they got rid of them (did not enforce them). The result was catastrophic damage to roofs when there shouldn’t have been any. I did house engineering here in California after I retired for houses that did not meet the prescriptive requirements of the building code (mostly for lateral forces from earthquakes). One builder complained that I was adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a home, and I pointed out that that is what the earthquake load required. The point is that nobody cares and we get lulled into a false sense of security until shit happens (in this case the design storm/earthquake), and then people demand regulations.  Up to then, it is just stupid costly regulations.

Take that plant in east Texas that is blowing up. It is owned by a French firm. Who would have thought that the French would come to America to get away from regulations, but Texas offers just that. Remember the fertilizer plant that blew up in West, Texas? No state regulation, and the Feds stretched too thin. And that is what the Republicans are about, making sure the Feds are stretched too thin. I guess that is what makes me laugh at Libertarians. They live in la la land. They want small or no government and are oblivious to all the safe things they enjoy that is available and safe because of government. When you hear them saying they will home school their own kids and don’t need no stink’in government interference, the rest of us pay for all the things that make them able to live out that fantasy, like clean air and water, transportation networks, schooling for all those they don’t want to think about, sanitary and safe food, fire and rescue, police.

The problems we face, global warming, pollution, clean air and water, foreign threats, reliable and safe food, infrastructure improvements, affordable healthcare, reliable retirement, affordable education, yes even good jobs, are not solved through the market place and de-regulation. They are solved through collective government action. And we haven’t been doing that as the Republicans, with enabling from the Democrats, have vilified government and made selfishness into a valued character trait (wealth accumulation). Time to rethink that.

Sure there are dumb regulations, rules, and red tape that may apply in some cases, and are counterproductive in others. Sure we created bureaucracies to enforce those rules and because of the fear of abuses, did not give them any power to make smart decisions when they did not apply. None of this is new. And quite frankly what may seem dumb to you may in fact be the only way to protect the greater good. But what we need is to review them all, not to get rid of them (some sure), but to make them smarter and effective.

What applies to big businesses maybe be onerous to small businesses. My point here is that there are no absolutes. Big government is not necessarily bad or good, nor are regulations. We need a more rational approach that does not just take into account those that benefit by the regulations*, but all stake holders. It is a giant balancing act. At the state level we could appoint commissions tailored to the stakeholders to review and adjust. But just vilifying government and regulations gets us nowhere.

Texas and Harvey have given us an opportunity to see what little regulation and uncontrolled growth, not to mention ignoring the effects of global warming can bring. The citizens of Texas are showing us what community means as they help each other as the extent of the crisis exceeds government resources. But the real test is yet to come with a massive cleanup, toxic environments, and homes and businesses that maybe should not be rebuilt in those locations. One has to ask yourself why we should invest in a rebuilding campaign if next year another 1000 year storm becomes the normal and they get wiped out again. Maybe this time we should do a little planning and regulating.

One thing Texas is showing us is that people will pull together for a common cause. Right now our government is in shambles because we have a Party and a leader who has tried to pull us apart for their own selfish ends. If the Democrats could find a leader who could finally show we are all in this together, we might just take over the nation and all pitch in for each other.

*Actually we have a very regulated market place, it is just that those rules and our tax code favor wealth accumulation and the wealthy. So it is not regulating the market place that is the issue, but who do those regulations benefit that is the question.

The Real Crisis or Yes, Republicans are Evil

No it is not global warming, because when we come to our senses, if we can’t stop it, we can get prepared for it and it will create an amazing economy that will help with economic inequality. Assuming the Village Idiot does not start a nuclear war, it won’t be a nuclear holocust and down the road when we have thrown all these jackals out, we can begin rebuilding international relations based upon diplomacy. In fact almost all the damage being done today to transsexuals, blacks, immigrants, Muslims, the environment, the safety net, we can really start to turn around and restore our basic values. We can reacquired the lands he is about to give away to industry and start a smart path to alternate energy and energy independence. No, the real threat is the one Paul Krugman so well described this morning:

As sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio engaged in blatant racial discrimination. His officers systematically targeted Latinos, often arresting them on spurious charges and at least sometimes beating them up when they questioned those charges. Read the report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and prepare to be horrified.

Once Latinos were arrested, bad things happened to them. Many were sent to Tent City, which Arpaio himself proudly called a “concentration camp,” where they lived under brutal conditions, with temperatures inside the tents sometimes rising to 145 degrees.

And when he received court orders to stop these practices, he simply ignored them, which led to his eventual conviction — after decades in office — for contempt of court. But he had friends in high places, indeed in the highest of places. We now know that Donald Trump tried to get the Justice Department to drop the case against Arpaio, a clear case of attempted obstruction of justice. And when that ploy failed, Trump, who had already suggested that Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job,” pardoned him.

By the way, about “doing his job,” it turns out that Arpaio’s officers were too busy rounding up brown-skinned people and investigating President Barack Obama’s birth certificate to do other things, like investigate cases of sexually abused children. Priorities!

Let’s call things by their proper names here. Arpaio is, of course, a white supremacist. But he’s more than that. There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law: What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed, was fascism, American style.

So Paul makes clear what we have here, and for those doubting Toms, if you enable white racist fascist behavior, you are one. Now comes the really important call to arms and what should be causing alarm bells to go off everywhere, Republicans are enabling Trump and failing in their Constitutional duties. They are facilitating the end of democracy and law and order.

Given the powers we grant to the president, who in some ways is almost like an elected dictator, giving the office to someone likely to abuse that power invites catastrophe. The only real check comes from Congress, which retains the power to impeach; even the potential for impeachment can constrain a bad president. But Republicans control Congress; how many of them besides John McCain have offered full-throated denunciations of the Arpaio pardon?

…This bodes ill if, as seems all too likely, the Arpaio pardon is only the beginning: We may well be in the early stages of a constitutional crisis. Does anyone consider it unthinkable that Trump will fire Robert Mueller, and try to shut down investigations into his personal and political links to Russia? Does anyone have confidence that Republicans in Congress will do anything more than express mild disagreement with his actions if he does? [See Paul Ryan]

As I said, there’s a word for people who round up members of ethnic minorities and send them to concentration camps, or praise such actions. There’s also a word for people who, out of cowardice or self-interest, go along with such abuses: collaborators. How many such collaborators will there be? I’m afraid we’ll soon find out.

We are out of control because we have found that those pious and principled Republicans are neither, but craven individuals holding on to power by selling out our Constitution and with it our democracy. Yes Virginia, evil has a name and it is Republican. If you voted Republican you enabled this mess and you are now my public enemy number one. If we don’t figure this out soon, that will be the real disaster. Thanks Paul. Hopefully lots more people read your stuff than my stuff.

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.

Laughing Stock or Wandering Aimlessly in a World of Ignorance

Even if you are a laughing-stock, as the old saying goes, you still have worth as a bad example.  The laughing-stock came from our outgoing Chief of Ethics:

Walter M. Shaub Jr., who is resigning as the federal government’s top ethics watchdog on Tuesday, said the Trump administration had flouted or directly challenged long-accepted norms in a way that threatened to undermine the United States’ ethical standards, which have been admired around the world.

“It’s hard for the United States to pursue international anticorruption and ethics initiatives when we’re not even keeping our own side of the street clean. It affects our credibility,” Mr. Shaub said in a two-hour interview this past weekend — a weekend Mr. Trump let the world know he was spending at a family-owned golf club that was being paid to host the U.S. Women’s Open tournament. “I think we are pretty close to a laughingstock at this point.”

Then we have wandering aimlessly in world of ignorance. And Republicans who used to spout responsibility and Christian morality seem not to care.  I watched a segment of Joy Reid Sunday Morning where she dutifully had a Republican on to push back on the Russia story and she had to stop him from using right-wing fake news that had been thoroughly rebutted as not even remotely true (Hillary did it).  You go on national TV with fake news and you have no clue it is fake news?  Is that where we have arrived? Is that segment of our society that clueless?

I could go on and on with the dumbing down of America, but one only has to look as far as the Trump Cabinet where it is full of religious zealots and people who are clueless about history, data, or reality.  Attorney General Sessions had a closed door session with evangelicals and you can bet homophobia was out of the closet.  He who wants to get tough on drug offenders again and round-up all those pot-heads like that really worked well last time.  But then there is the EPA Director or the Secretary of Education and their ignorance and recreating mistakes we thought we learned from is just mind boggling.  They are all lead of course by the Village Idiot in Chief, and you wonder, have we finally gone off the deep end?

The Republican healthcare solution was described last week by Sarah Kliff of Vox.com as returning to the days before Obamacare.  Oh wasn’t that nirvana? He was obviously colluding with the Russians and like the ethics problems, it is about the money.  How did we get duped into electing this sorry excuse for a man and the real question is, are we learning anything?  Republicans seem to be more mindless in their defense of him and people like Joe Scarborough who have left the party seem to be outliers, not the norm.

I have a theory (of course) about all of this and it comes from an article about how we have been the biggest investor in Antarctica research and facilities, and now they are in really bad shape and need expensive maintenance and repair.  Now part of the story is how the Trump administration, hating science and data, will slash funds for this to fund their tax cuts for the wealthy.  But the real story, and the story of our whole country is why is everything all of a sudden in such bad shape? Well it isn’t all of a sudden.

I trace it back to Ronald Reagan who started the whole me generation thing.  We went from, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country” of Jack Kennedy to “government is the problem” of Ronald Reagan.  And those moral, super responsible, budget balancing Republicans turned the country over to the wealthy and forgot about investing in our future.  And the Democrats caught the bug and it has been about how I maximize myself, selfishness, and self aggrandizement ever since.  Taken a selfie of yourself lately?  “Lower them taxes and slash those budgets” instead of responsible taxes and investment in our future.  That is how we got here.

Healthcare reform is right now the giant example of this failed morality and responsibility in our politics.  It is about how to keep mine and make it cheaper, screw everyone else.  And the really surprising thing is that you can’t do that, because in the long-term, you are also screwing yourself.  But back to Ronald Reagan, we are living in the short-term.  So the question is, do we come to our senses or does the dumbing down continue where most people don’t know a real fact when they see them, or simply don’t care, and the nation slides off into oblivion, which if you haven’t noticed is exactly what we are doing on the world stage?

I don’t know the answer to that.  All I can do is keep pumping out these blogs at least making myself feel better thinking rational discourse still matters.  I will tell you what doesn’t matter, and here I agree with Joe Scarborough, the Republican Party.  They stand for nothing but ignorance and while the country is trashed, so will they be.

But what of Democrats?  I think they are done too.  Instead of pandering to ignorance, have they come forward with a clear strategy and policy to support? No. In the vacuum the Republicans have left, the Democrats have failed to fill it with any real leadership.  Republicans failed to recognize that their conservative ideas are dead and will not work, and Democrats have failed to recognize that meeting Republicans half way on failed ideas is the very definition of failure.  A friend of mine asked me where is the new leadership for the Democratic Party.  I think I found it and will leave you with a smile.  If we can’t laugh out loud we really are done:

Yep, the new Democratic Party.

How Did We Get Here?

By here I mean a President who is ethically and morally challenged, ignorant of history or our fundamental values, and we try to normalize him.  He has so many conflicts of interest it boggles the mind.  He just fired the person who was investigating him and seems to want to put Republican yes-men in his place. Loyalty to United States means loyalty to Donald Trump.  The very basis of democracy, a trust in our institutions and processes are being undermined at a hectic pace and the people who could do something, “proud” Republicans, do nothing.  We put a known racist and liar in charge of the Department of Justice*, and ethically challenged and climate change denier in charge of the EPA, a non scientist and who once said we should abolish the Department of Energy in charge of it, and a public educating hating and totally ignorant person in charge of public education. How did we get here?

Well first of all, there are no more “proud” Republicans except some pundits whose mind is clouded by the past that doesn’t exist anymore. Now I have spent lots of time in this blog explaining how middle America and Red States got dumbed down by a lazy press in bed with those they cover, being falsely fair and balanced claiming both sides do it, and a 50 year plan by conservative ideologues to take over the country.   But what I am talking about here is what happen to the Republican Party that no longer exists as a moderate conservative approach to government.

If you really want to understand this, look at it from 30,000 feet. Republicans won in 2000 by stealing an election and that set the tone for our next 17 years.  The tone set was winning is everything, whatever it takes.  The problem with that win in 2000 was when Republican ideas were actually implemented, we blew up the deficit with tax cuts, and eventually blew up the economy by removing regulations on banks.  All that is masked by the Afghanistan/Iraq war, but there it was.  Republican ideas simply did not work in a world economy. So in 2008, the country tried Barack Obama (Yes We Can!).  In the famous inauguration night meeting, Mitch McConnell and his Republican boys decided that they would do whatever it took to make Barack fail (No You Can’t!).  That was the end of the Republican Party as we knew it and the finally end to two-party governance.

That agreement was the stake in the heart of democracy because it went after the implicit contract we all live under, that we will abide by the vote, that ideas compete, and when you win election you get to try your ideas. If they could not be in charge they would ensure that no one else could run government. Republicans even turned their back on their own ideas if they were offered up by President Obama.  It got to be quite a joke.  And while spinning all the hate toward President Obama, they created the Tea Party, a right-wing, racist, nationalistic party that hardened the ideology.  The Tea Party, although a minority of Republicans, held the key to getting elected and the party swung further right and ideological.

Here is the fact that most people who call themselves Republicans (not politicians) have yet to grasp evidence by the fact that they are still Republicans:  The Republican Party is no more the party of small government, low taxes, and few regulations, with the caveat that rational logic told them that sometimes one size does not fit all and they had to compromise.    They are the party of the status quo, the rich, and continuing growing economic inequality.

Those people who were principled are gone forever, and what is left is a sniveling group of politicians led by Mitch McConnell that is terrified of their base, trapped by ideological beliefs that are fundamentally flawed, and gave up principled thinking many years ago.  Their only goal is to stay in office and to take total control of government and ensure that when things go south, democracy no longer functions so they are sent home.

That is where here is.  The Republican Party holds both houses of Congress and the Presidency, sort of.  They can now finally implement their agenda**. But there is a fly in ointment.  Donald Trump.  It is clear there was Russian interference in our elections although just this week Cheeto-head raised doubts about believing that. It is also becoming clear that there was some sort of collusion with his campaign and maybe his administration.  He has left the normal ethics of conflicts of interest out in the cold.  He has done morally reprehensible actions, and now he is trying to kill the investigation into his administration.  And Republicans, those “proud” Americans who wear their lapel pins so proudly and wave the Constitution every chance they get, they do nothing.  And now you know why.

We have faced threats throughout our history from the British, to the Civil War, to Communism, the Cold War, and now terrorism, but who would have thought that the real threat to our country was going to be from within, from the “proud” Republican Party that is now just a bunch of fanatical ideologues who are tearing down our Constitution in the name of conservative ideas.  Yes Virginia, Republicans are evil. So are people who vote for them when the truth is for everyone to see if only they will look.

*Sessions want to clamp down on Mary Jane and get tough on drug offenders again.  Turn back the clock, forget what we have learned and do more stupid stuff.

**They had their first chance on healthcare and the answer is, there is no conservative, market place fix for Obamacare.  So they either consider a single payer or deny millions healthcare.  They still haven’t faced that reality yet and there is no Republican plan.

Up is Down!

The Republicans have passed healthcare “reform” in the House and you are free from Obamacare! You know the onerous rules like covering pre-existing condition or anything else a state thinks you might not need.  Oh, and no more penalties for not having insurance (so who exactly is going to pay for it?).  And we will no longer have those horrible rules that prevent insurance companies from capping your out-of-pocket expenses! And you get lots of choice now except for Planned Parenthood.  I wonder why that was left out?  And your rates are just going to drop like flies.  Or much more likely the opposite.  But according to Congressional Republicans, up is down.

My favorite lie they were throwing out today was that Obamacare is collapsing.  No it is not, but it does have big problems in states where Republicans did everything in their power to sabotage it.  They made the markets so unpredictable that many plans were bailing out.  Not so in states like California, Washington, and Ohio because they embraced it.  Right now the sabotage continues because plans can’t figure out what the market is going to be like in the future as the Republicans continue to try to sabotage it, and they price more and more risk into who will sign up.  If, as the new Republican Plan will do, reduce sign ups, more and more risk will have to be priced into the plans.

Then there is their argument that they will get government out of controlling your health care decision, you know, like covering depression, or maternity care, or drug addiction, or contraception.  Of course they will tell you you can’t go to Planned Parenthood and while your healthcare provider will be free to charge you what they want for minimal care, you will have no choice since you can’t afford any of it anymore.  As many healthcare professionals and most healthcare groups have pointed out, this is going to cost everyone plenty?

So why did they do it?  Why did they rush headlong into approving a plan that most of them did not read or have scored to find out what it would cost (the great hypocrisy).  Why were they celebrating on the White House lawn when as Lawrence O’Donnell put it, they had gotten through the first inning and had scored a run in a long ball game?  Well some Republicans actually believe their own bullshit, the free market will provide cheaper plans.  The easy argument to that is show me anywhere in the world that works.  Then there is the group that just doesn’t care.  If you are sick, it is your fault and you should bear the cost, not the rest of us cost-sharing.  But the most important reason was that by cutting back on Obamacare, they free up money for their big tax cut coming up. Really.  If they could throw 20 million or so off health insurance and raise everyone’s rate, it sets up their “tax reform bill” to be able to use reconciliation and not be subject to the filibuster.  It was about the money.

So the Senate has a giant stink bomb thrown in their laps.  Senate Republicans want that tax cut for the wealthy too (which repeal of Obamacare already does) so they will try to craft something.  Hopefully no Democrats will go along.  Once again, there is no Republican fix if we decide that we like having health care for everyone.  The simple solution is to put a government Medicare type system on each exchange to let it compete.  You think the conservatives would love that one, more competition to prove the government can’t really compete with the market place.  Except it already does and wins handily when it comes to Medicare.  In fact they are terrified of that outcome.

When you get right down to it, Obamacare already changed the conversation and proved their worst nightmare, that government has a role to play in healthcare.  Democrats biggest mistake in the past was not to show how Obamacare helped not just the poor and sick, but how it improved employer based plans.  They are not making that mistake again.  People like reliable health care and that is what Obamacare brought them.  The cat is out of the bag.  So the boys and girls that want to take us back to the 19th century have already lost this one, they just don’t know it yet.  Bring on the town hall meetings.  People actually like Obamacare and want it fixed.  The only way to do that is to move more to the left.  Na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye.

Note:  This is not to say that free market solutions would not work in healthcare, but we are talking about providers, not insurers.  Based on a system where the government set up (like in Obamacare) minimum requirements to ensure reliable coverage, competing healthcare providers could find cheaper ways of providing care.  After all we have the most expensive system in the world.  But keep in mind that Republicans never walk their talk.  Remember how they protected big Pharma and we now have the most expensive drugs in the world?  But none of this answers how we cover everyone with healthcare without a single payer system where we all bear some of the burden.  And that as we have seen is just not acceptable to conservatives.

One argument they make is that a single payer system incentives more procedures (cash flow), but if you look at systems like Kaiser which is a fixed price system, it can be effectively managed.  It is all in how you do it.

The Party of “No”, BS

The new narrative is that with the magnitude of the loss for Democrats in November, the new young radicals are taking power and pushing the Party to repeat the Republican Party tactic of just being the Party of “NO”. It worked for the Republicans so why not for the Democrats the logic goes.  It is total bullshit and shows how our political pundits are not the sharpest tools in the shed, or maybe it is just too hard to actually look at and understand policies/people being proposed.

When President Obama took office we seem to forget that his signature legislation was a Republican idea hatched out of the Heritage Foundation and implement successfully by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.  But the Republicans were in the real just say no mode even though it was their idea, so they all voted against it.  And so it went.  It used to be a great joke that if Obama took a Republican beloved plan and put it forward, they were all of sudden totally against it.  Does anybody remember the Grand Bargain.  Oh, you can argue about the details of who asked what when, but whatever the terms, it was still a massive attack of Social Security and Medicare and the Republicans balked.  They just couldn’t allow themselves to be seen as letting President Obama have the last word, even if that last word was still giving away the farm*.

Now look at what President Cheeto-Head and his minions are putting forward.  The talking heads saw that Democrats were arguing about just saying no when that was not the argument at all. The argument was very simply that most of these people were not qualified and just because that was the best you were going to get was not enough of a reason to legitimize these picks.  They were going to do bad things so why be part of normalizing and legitimizing.  It is called standing for something in contrast to just saying no.

What about the Supreme Court nomination.  Again the narrative is about just saying no after the Republicans refusing to even give Merrick Garland a hearing.  The reality is first, again about legitimizing a political tactic that takes away the power of the President to nominate a candidate in his last year of office. It legitimizes the Senate’s shirking of the advise and consent role. There must be a price to be paid or that will become the norm. And the Democrats will give this nomination a hearing (they don’t really have a choice), but they will probably filibuster him.  The nominee has some extremely conservative ideas that should be exposed to the light of day.  John Roberts promised us he would not have an activist court and we got the most activist court we have seen in our history.  Oh, and Merrick Garland was really a conservative mainstream judge.  If Cheeto-Head wanted to unite the country, he would have nominate him.

So while the Republicans really did just say no regardless of principle, the Democrats are going to just say no because of principle.  That is a hell of a difference and the fact that our pundits don’t get that and point it out is why so many people are confused about the parties and still try to sell the both sides do it.  It is this kind of simple-minded journalism and analysis that set the intellectual (or non-intellectual) table for a Donald Trump.  It is not politics, it is about policy.  If you just say no, it is about politics and Republicans got away with that because of extremely poor journalism that failed to out them.  Now it is about policies.  Maybe we might actually look at them this time.

*”The Grand Bargain was an attempted political compromise between the Democratic and Republican Parties in the United States during the 2011 budget debates, in which the Democrats would have agreed to historic cuts in the federal government and the social safety net, in exchange for an increase in federal taxation.” (Wikapedia)  It fell apart when Boehner thought he had a deal and then President Obama found out the Senate Democrats had gotten more in their negotiations for federal taxation than he did, so he went back to Boehner and asked for the new number and Boehner balked.

So it Begins

The only political thing I will say here today is to ask the question who is surprised the Republicans did away with the one body that independently looked at ethical and illegal behavior of their fellow members?  From now on it is going to be one stupid move after another as though history has taught us nothing.  One of my goals in this blog is to try to take issues being badly reported by the press and apply logic and data to them (as they weren’t).  But we are about to be overrun with stupidity and the only thing that really rises above all the rest is that we pretend this is just normal politics and report these things as though it is business as usual.

So I will move on to something I have been thinking about as I binged watched some TV over the holidays as the few series I really like to suspend my disbelief were off the air.  The two that got me thinking were Westworld (HBO) and Humans (AMC).  Both were about us producing androids (Hosts in Westworld and Synths in Humans) to either entertain us or do our work.  Now at least in function, we are not far away from this.  And both shows depicted what might happen as these creations became sentient.  While HBO focused on the entertaiment these androids could provide us, Humans also explored how as they took over the functions of caring humans, how does that impact us.  And most importantly, both shows addressed how sentient androids could become a threat to us as they replaced us.

But here is one of the side plots in both that really made me think.  Humans like to use androids to live out their fantasy whether sexual, violent or both.  In Westworld, there were the rapes and prostitutes, along with the mass killings.  In Humans, there was the sex workers as well as the “adult function” on domestic workers, not to mention your pay to beat them up venues.  One husband justified his infidelity with the home domestic android as just using a sex toy.  Wife wasn’t buying it and neither was I.  So we are so prurient that we need machine toys to work out our sexual fantasies, sexual frustrations, and violence?  It is okay because it is with a machine, not a real person?  I wonder.

Let me describe a scene in Humans where one of the sentient androids is working as a sex worker to hide the fact that she is sentient.  A man comes in and wants to have her play like a little girl basically being raped.  She kills him and I was okay with that.  But here is what went through my mind.  Is it okay to fantasize about something like that if you don’t act on it?  Is it okay to play video games that allow us to work out our desired for violence, mass murder, and killing (with sex thrown in) as long as it is “just a game”?  Is it okay to act this stuff out, with as one human character in Humans described, with a machine sex toy?   What does it say about us, and what does it say about our psyche?  It is after all a progression and a logical one.  If we have murderous or sexual urges and we play them out in a “safe” environment, does it not reinforce the behavior?  What does it say about us that our “fun” is domination over others, even if they are pretend people?

Of course this is the point and there is a clear line for most of us when we finally cross the line to sentient beings, but still…?  There is a wrongness here sentient or not, and I think these shows are making a point about the human failing of needing domination.  One has to ask in our real world, what is the next step to ever more realistic video games and virtual reality?  In Westworld you were left with the feeling it was them against us and they were superior.  In Humans you get the same feeling except for the idea that maybe someday the androids are an improved us, with transfered consciousness.  Either way, this science fiction is closer than we think, and it is asking important questions about who we are and where we are going.  Yeah fiction.