Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bernie's Brown Shirts


I've tried hard to like Bernie, and to be open minded about his ideas. Some of them, to put it plainly, are not only unrealistic but so fraught with unintended consequences as to qualify as dangerous if not outright stupid. Listening to Bernie's passionate polemics has even led me to change my position on single payer health insurance, although not in the way that Bernie would have hoped for. An incremental approach, beginning with a public option, would satisfy my goals.

Even as a Hillary supporter, I'd been willing to tolerate his eagerness to dig yet further into my pockets, his outrageous demonization of the nations' entire financial sector, and his dismissal of Democrats of color who just don't seem interested in his agenda.

But he is losing, and losing badly. He's been losing badly since Super Tuesday. Now, the man who so passionately laments the dearth of democracy in our political system employs every specious argument the can find support his continued presence in the race. The fact that Hillary has garnered 3 million more votes from those pesky Black Democrats, doesn't seem to matter. He and his supporters are not going to get their way. Their answer? Online harassment of those who disagree with them, viciousness toward their opponents, gleeful misogyny, and death threats. Sanders response? Lots of excuses but no willingness to accept responsibility. Sounds like the favorite tactics of another presidential candidate we have already heard from way too much.

No doubt most Sanders voters are genuine, passionate, well meaning supporters of the causes he espouses, who understand that democracy only works when the losers accept the will of the majority in exchange for basic protections of their rights. But there is a sinister faction among his supporters who have no interest in such niceties. They want their way. They don't care what anyone else wants, and they don't really care how they get it. Sanders in turn hasn't don't nearly enough to disavow their attitude and tactics. That's an ideology, that has way more too much in common with the wrong kind of  socialism.



If you’ve ever thought about terrorism in your life we can kill you in a drone strike.


More from  Jeremy Scahill’s talk at the Commonwealth Club.

This from around minute 44:30 of the podcast

Obama has before compared the drone program to dealing with the sniper on a roof of the building who was pointing the rifle at children on a  playground. And he says, 'you know, I understand what the ACLU’s objections are, and human rights people and stuff. But do we need to go to a judge to get authorization to take that shooter down before he kills a bunch of kids on a playground. No, we don’t.' And I think, I would imagine that everyone in this room agrees with that. If you have someone who's going to kill a bunch of kids and they’re a sniper, and they are not responding to any kind of attempts to put the rifle down. People probably in this society overwhelmingly would say, Yes, if we need to kill that person, we’ll kill them.
The problem is that it’s a fake analogy. They have never provided a shred of evidence that a single person they have killed with a drone strike represented an imminent threat to US persons or the security of United States. They have never given a shred of evidence to suggest that they killed someone en route to putting a bomb on a plane. Now if, I guarantee you,  because this White House leaks like crazy, if they had that evidence they would put it out there.
And that’s fine. If their standard was just, We’re killing people that we think maybe in the future might in certain circumstances try to encourage others to commit acts of terrorism. If that was the policy, OK that’s what they’re doing. But that’s not what they say the policy is. They say the policy is we are targeting people who represent an imminent, imminent is their word, threat to US interests, US persons, and US facilities around the world.
If that’s the standard you have to ask what’s the definition of the word imminent. There was a white paper that the Justice Department leaked in advance of John Brennan’s nomination, or confirmation hearing to be CIA Director, that had a definition of the word imminent that not even the most barely literate English speaker would  recognize as the definition of imminent. It basically was like if you’ve ever thought about terrorism in your life we can kill you in a drone strike.

Earlier in the talk he discusses the Terror Watch List. It's an opaque process on how someone gets on, or off the Terror Watch List. Scahill says there are a million people on the list and 20,000 are US citizens.

The Dems in CT are up in arms about people on the Terror Watch List buying guns. I think they are focusing on the wrong issue. The real issue is how people get on the Terror Watch List. What judicial process is used to determine someone should be watched as if he were a terrorist?

So now we should worry about the Trump Kill List AND the Trump Terror Watch List. And electing Hilary doesn't change the fear I have about our Government's increasing infringement of our civil liberties.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ain't No Such Thing as a Democratic Cruise Missile and a Republican Cruise Missile


As you know I strongly oppose this and the previous administration's use of drones in targeted killings, or in plain language, assassinations.

Jeremy Scahill was at The Commonwealth Club talking about his book, “The Assassination Complex.” Scahill talks about the drone program, started under Bush, expanded under Obama. He mentions all of the candidates for President support the program. Including Bernie Sanders, who was asked directly if he supported President’s Obama’s Kill List. Bernie said yes.

The whole podcast is worth a listen, but especially this, starting around minute 38.

He has spent his credibility dollars to normalize assassination as a central component of American foreign-policy and has managed to codify as the law of the land policies that Dick Cheney would've never been able to enact, and anything even vaguely resembling a legal way.  And that’s, that's the raw deal here. That is the unvarnished truth about what happened under Obama. He made it possible for the phrase “President Trump's Kill List” to be uttered in this country. That is a possibility. And I wonder how many liberals who said, “Oh, I trust Obama with the kill list. I’m fine with drone strikes. Oh an American citizen being killed? Yea, you can drop me a percentage point on that support.” That was a real thing that was happening at the height of the drone wars.  Liberals, MSNBC viewers, loved the drone strikes. How many of those people, if polled, on just, “What do you think about the phrase, ‘President Trump's Kill List’” would say,  “Great. Love it.” I don't think a lot of them would. And I don’t think Bernie Sanders would either. But he wasn’t asked about a President Trump Kill List. He was asked about a President Obama Kill List.  As though there's a such thing as a Democratic cruise missile and a Republican cruise missile. There ain’t.

Why Health Care in America Really Costs So Much


It has nothing to do with the system; private, public, Medicare, Obamacare, Aetna, Athem, or cold hard cash, it all comes out the same. That's because of who gets paid and how much they make.

From that august medical journal. the New York Times:

If you look around the world, lots of countries have single-payer systems. And all of them pay substantially less for health care than we do in the United States.... So how could a single-payer system here still be so expensive?“

The big thing is that providers here make quite a bit more money than they do anywhere else, and in order to get in the ballpark of where these other countries are, you’d have to reduce payment rates to physicians to much, much lower levels...” “...That’s just hard to do.”

....the United States pays substantially higher prices for doctors, hospital stays and prescription drugs than the rest of the group. Medicare pays less than the United States average, but not enough less to make up that difference.

The average salary for my specialty? $350,000. The approximate number of cardiologists in the greater metropolitan area in which I live? More than 100. The approximate number for a similar population in the UK, where the average cardiologist makes 280,000? Twenty.

So before the Bernie bros get too excited about a single payer system, they had better reckon with the realities of a profession that;s had it very good for a very long time, and that isn't likely to give up that privilege without a ferocious fight.


Friday, May 13, 2016

A Post-Fact World.


Great article on Venezuela in The Atlantic. This part struck me:
A case in point is the price controls, which have expanded to apply to more and more goods: food and vital medicines, yes, but also car batteries, essential medical services, deodorant, diapers, and, of course, toilet paper. The ostensible goal was to check inflation and keep goods affordable for the poor, but anyone with a basic grasp of economics could have foreseen the consequences: When prices are set below production costs, sellers can’t afford to keep the shelves stocked. Official prices are low, but it’s a mirage: The products have disappeared.

Of course, price controls don't work for others things as well, like the ACA and minimum wage, but whatever, we live in a post fact world.


Cheer Up It Could Worse Part 2


Or Illinois


Cheer Up, It Could Be Worse


We could live in France


Why Not a $50 Minimum Wage!!???


In the fantasy world of Grandma Clinton, the Socialist and economically illiterate, like #BabyTrump, wage increases have no impact on labor demand or product prices. Back in the real world.

Wendy’s (WEN) said that self-service ordering kiosks will be made available across its 6,000-plus restaurants in the second half of the year as minimum wage hikes and a tight labor market push up wages.

It will be up to franchisees whether to deploy the labor-saving technology, but Wendy’s President Todd Penegor did note that some franchise locations have been raising prices to offset wage hikes.

But what do I care? I don't eat much fast food. Food is a smaller portion of my budget than the average consumer and my children are more likely to be hired versus the less fortunate for the fewer minimum wage jobs available.


The Rolling Stones and the Irony of Trump Voters


Unfortunately most Trump Voters don't seem to understand what irony is.


"Salt Of The Earth"

Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's drink to the lowly of birth
Raise your glass to the good and the evil
Let's drink to the salt of the earth
Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
Spare a thought for his back breaking work
Say a prayer for his wife and his children
Who burn the fires and who still till the earth
And when I search a faceless crowd
A swirling mass of gray and
Black and white
They don't look real to me
In fact, they look so strange
Raise your glass to the hard working people
Let's drink to the uncounted heads
Let's think of the wavering millions
Who need leading but get gamblers instead
Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
Empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
And a parade of the gray suited grafters
A choice of cancer or polio
And when I look in the faceless crowd
A swirling mass of grays and
Black and white
They don't look real to me
Or don't they look so strange
Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's think of the lowly of birth
Spare a thought for the rag taggy people
Let's drink to the salt of the earth
Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's drink to the salt of the earth
Let's drink to the two thousand million
Let's think of the humble of birth


Our State Is Too Blue


I couldn't agree more with your assessment of our august governor's performance. He appears to have little acumen or interest in helping to grow the state's economy. We are a highly educated, well placed workforce, yet our record compared to our equally blue neighbor to the north and its deeply popular Republican governor is miserable. Malloy's answer to to anemic growth and the resultant yawning gap between revenue and expenditure? Screw municipalities and squeeze hospitals. This is cynicism raised to an art form. The legislature and Malloy can claim they haven't raised taxes while the costs are passed down to cities and towns, many of which are ill equipped to replaced the lost revenue. Who will suffer the most? As usual, it's the poor whom the Governor claims to care so much about.

The state's revenue services commissioner admits that the top 5-7 tax payers an  generate an enormous share of Connecticut's revenue. As with any private citizen, they have the option to get up and move to Florida.

Get off your butt Governor. Get to work helping to build our economy. At least don't get in the way.


Ouch Dan Malloy. Very ouch.


Weird. Every text and email I get from Malloy tells me how great things are.

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, whose state has experienced job losses to neighboring Massachusetts, is the second-least popular governor in the country and the least popular Democrat. His approval is 29 percent, while 64 percent of voters in the Nutmeg State disapprove of his performance.


A Plague on Both the Parties.


From Politico, on #BabyTrump's meeting with  GOP Senators,

“He was very, very congenial, very straightforward, very open to questions, criticisms and so forth,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said. “He was terrific. I’ll tell you, I was really quite impressed.”
Does Hatch really believe this? Has he been Invasion of the Body Snatched? Or is he really expecting me to believe this?

A plague on both the parties.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

On the Bright Side: Conservatives have a Future. The Trump GOP Does Not.


The whole thing is worth a read, but I particularly like this part:

We have no interest in winning you over anymore. You don’t want serious policy solutions or explanations of why Paul Ryan allowed the Ominbus to pass. It’s much easier to tune out while Sean Hannity screams “Traitor!” into his microphone. You don’t want a physics lesson on how, barring the acquisition of a Kryptonian terraforming space machine, Trump’s big beautiful wall will remain a myth. You want to scream with outrage that lowbrow, quasi-thinkpieces like this one do nothing but “insult the base.”

Well guess what? You’re right. Because a base that chooses a Cheeto-dusted con-man hellbent on proving every lazy cliché the Left has ever spouted about the “Tea Party” is a base that not only deserves to be insulted, but outright ignored and shunned going forward. No matter how loud and no matter how many in number.

Good riddance GOP.


What Are the Democrats Thinking?

Lots of well-deserved gnashing of teeth on the Republican side of the aisle regarding that bloviating ignoramus they are about to nominate.

But I wonder what the Democrats are thinking. Aren't you worried about nominating the grandmother felon? She is such a horrible candidate she can lose to the bloviating ignoramus. Why, if the Republicans are going to run with the worst possible candidate they can find, would the Democrats nominate the worst possible candidate they can find?


Friday, May 6, 2016

Is He Really This Stupid?


Today's Times, and no doubt other media outlets, reports on Trump's interest in reneging on the country's sovereign debt. After all, it's the way, he's always run his business, welshing on his obligations whenever he can. By his logic:

 “I’ve borrowed knowing that you can pay back with discounts,” he said. He added, “Now we’re in a different situation with the country, but I would borrow knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.”

To anyone with an 8th grade education, the implications of the United States forfeiting its two centuries old reputation for fully honoring it's obligations are obvious, or they should be. Not so, apparently, to the soon-to-be Republican nominee for president.

The Times analysis of such a mind boggling stupid statement, is kind, to put it mildly. Maybe we should keep a running scorecard if the number of statements this vermin-described-as-a-human-being makes that disqualify him for the presidency. My guess he'll average one every other day from now till November.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

GOP About To Choose A Lunatic as Its Leader


I think #babytrump will get worse, not more presidential, as the campaign unfolds. I hope the GOP goes down in flames. Just desserts for choosing this embarrassment.

Trump accuses Cruz's father of helping JFK's assassin

“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald's being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said Tuesday during a phone interview with Fox News. “What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don't even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.”

“I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?” Trump continued. “It’s horrible.”

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ignorance is Bipartisan. We Are Doomed.


The latest Trump idiocy, similar to the earlier Trump idiocy:

Trump: 'We can't continue to allow China to rape our country'

(CNN)Donald Trump on Sunday compared the U.S.'s trade deficit with China, which he regularly laments and vows to tackle as president, to rape.

"We can't continue to allow China to rape our country, and that's what they're doing," Trump said during his second rally Sunday in Fort Wayne, Indiana, referring to China's high number of exports relative to the U.S.
Trump has repeatedly accused China of manipulating its currency to make its exports more competitive on the global market and has claimed that China is "killing" the U.S. on trade.
It's depressing the Republicans will nominate this bloviating ignoramus. It is even more depressing the Democrats are going to put up a candidate that essentially agrees with Trump that trade isn't good for the country. Which means ignorance is bipartisan.

We are most definitely doomed.