Category Archives: Politics

Health Care is going to be Expensive

There is no nation among the rich prosperous ones where health care is cheap. There are places where citizen pay less from their own packets and there are ones where they pay more but when all factors and subsidies are considered the inescapable fact is that modern effective healthcare is expensive. Outside of science-fiction it is going to remain that way. After all productivity in healthcare is not measured in patients/hour but in survival rates and more that measure takes herculean effort.

There are only two broad paths forward on paying for this expensive healthcare; the costs are socialized, born by all or people are left to fend for themselves against the wolves of disease, accident, and misfortune. As a society and as a political entity this is the choice before us.

Now, it doesn’t matter how you dress it up in ‘freedom’ and ‘choice’ and whatever other inspiring words you want to use, moving away from socializing the costs is moving towards throwing people to the wolves. It is the end result of such policies, to say otherwise is either foolish or deceptive. If you want that course, owe up to the cost and understand that people are going to suffer and people are going to die for that choice.

I also think that the ‘throw them to the wolves’ option is not sustainable. As the costs rise and more people are wrecked on the shoals of medical misfortune there will be outcry and there will be outrage. Eventually that system will collapse under the human misery and in their desperation who knows what the political body will turn to for relief?

On the socializing costs path there are a great number of people who seem to think that the only choice on that road is ‘single payer’ but that too is folly. If you take the time to study system around the globe you will find that there are numerous solutions to the question of how do you socialize the costs.

This problem is not going to go away and it is not something you can dash off and forget about after passing your big tax cut or it will bite you and everyone else on the ass.

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No Fifth Avenue Murder — Yet

Well, the reports now coming out of our nation’s capitol about the Comey memos, and where there is one I am certain there will be many others, is earth shaking.

According to multiple new agencies, quoting unnamed sources, FBI Director Comey wrote up detailed accounts in memo form of his conversations with President Trump where the president apparently attempt to kill an investigation. Apparently these memos were composed directly after the conversations and as I understand it such accounts of conversations like this have been accepted by our court as direct evidence. (I’ll leave it to my lawyers friends to correct if I am wrong about that.)

Now I can hear the cry of ‘anonymous sources means these are all lies’ already welling up from conservative denial land, These are several independent news agencies all verifying the same account. Of course you could write that all off as a ‘vast left-wing conspiracy,’ but the simpler and more direct explanation is that Trump asked Comey concern investigations into General Flynn’s Russian entanglement to ‘Let it Go,’ and I do not think that Trump is a huge Frozen fan.

During the campaign Trump boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth avenue and not lose any supporters. While it is possible that he may have gotten someone killed over his loose lipped bragging about intel from inside ISIS, he has yet to actually shoot anyone. Yet, still he looks to have done some pretty bad things. I understand how conservative can feel a great deal of antipathy towards Democrats and liberals. I know at least one person who has lost their livelihood because of it. However sticking by Trump because he is not Clinton is disastrous. Is this truly the captain you want to go under for?

I believe that between the obsession to deliver the largest tax cut possible, while stripping 20 million people of their insurance, strapping the GOP to this egotistical, idiotic, corrupt conman can only ruin the modern Republican Party.

Is that your goal? Is that what you want? Because that’s is where you are headed.

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There are Two Possibilities

Either the Trump campaign coordinated with a foreign power to effect the outcome of our presidential election or the interference came uncoordinated from Russia.

No matter which option I think the wisest and most rational course for the GOP would be an independent prosecutor.

If there is no collusion getting the investigation done and the GOP cleared as quickly as possible is the best route to retuning the focus to the things that the GOP wants to achieve.

If the there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia then it’s best to cut out the tumor fast, before is damages the entirety of the party.

My guess from watching the spineless Republicans during the primary is that they are not going to do this but that they are going to stall and hedge and duck hoping that the problem will simply go away. This is not going to work.

The blood is already in the waters and the sharks have begun arriving. There is more than enough smoke to lead lots of people to think that there is a fire and the only question in their mind is ‘how big?’ Firing the director of the FBI is the sort of thing only someone with little knowledge of how Washington works would do. If Trump though he was fighting the ‘deep state’ before wait until he has the FBI at war with him.

I have no sympathy for the GOP. They had their chance to avoid this during the primaries. They stoked the irrational and lie fueled campaign of the last eight years the logical result of that is the election of a irrational and lied filled President. The bill always comes due and no amount of hiding from the collectors will save them.

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Can the State Require You to Risk Your Life?

Setting aside the issue of first responders, the military, and even conscription into the military forces, when is it just and moral for the state to require a citizen to take an action that places their very life in jeopardy?

Very simply the state requires you to do action X and that action carries a low probability of, say one in six thousand, of causing you to die. If you do not perform action X the state will imprison you, fine you, and bring the full weight of the criminal justice system down on you.

It would seems to me that this sort of thing should be considered immoral and an action of an out of control government, The right to your own life has to be the basis for all other rights.

I have heard people argue it would not be immoral for the state to do this in order to save another life. That does not persuade me. Let’s consider this is a political context.

Pelosi or Cruz, whichever politician is your personal political devil, is in dire need of a new kidney. Pelosi/Cruz will die without the new kidney and the state has determined that one of yours is the very best match. Under the threat of fines and imprisonment you are orders to under go surgery and surrender a kidney to the desperate Pelosi/Cruz, but it carries that 1-in-6000 when you go under you will never wake back up. Do you have the right to tell the state to stuff it? That it’s too bad about Pelosi/Cruz but this is something you do not want to do. I say yeah, that is your moral right.

This fantastic scenario occurred to me because I have the tendency to place myself in other people’s shoes. I am constantly watching my Facebook feeds and thinking about what if I were in someone else life, what would that be like? It is part of what makes me a writer. A number of my friends are mothers and I considered the courage of pregnancy. In the United States about 1 in 5,500 pregnancies end with the death of the mother. That’s a terrible and frightened statistic, one that makes me doubt, pain of childbirth aside, if I would have the courage to follow one through to term.

And you can see where that thought trail led.

Laws prohibiting abortion force a woman to risk her life. Plain and simple that state is forcing a citizen to engage in an action that can very well kill them.

I am sure I am not the first person to ponder this aspect, but is has strengthened by pro-choice stand.

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7% of the way there

Well we have just passed the 100 day mark for the Trump administration. (Though I hate using the word ‘mark’ as that reminds me of the ultimate designation of the American Public under this President – marks.) Out of the 1461 days for the 4 years expected from a presidential term we have endured seven percent, only 93 more to go.

I have seen people giving the administration its 100 day grade, the most ridiculous being an A+ because Trump is not Hillary Clinton. (Nice to know that Conservative would grade Stalin an A+ because he also was not Hillary Clinton.)

My own take is that the administration is a hot radioactive dumpster fire of incompetence and corruption but there have been and continue to be bright spots.

Our institutions are strong and fulfilling their constitutional duties. Trump has discovered that being a petulant man-baby with delusions of strength carries no weight in a court of law. Repeatedly his most egregious actions have been slapped down by the judiciary.

The Body Politic appears to be awakening from its slumber. More and more people are paying attention to the business of politics and that bodes well for reforms and participation.

The GOP is being forced to confront the contradictions of their heated, angry rhetoric with the reality of governing. The incendiary fire that has boiled the GOP down to a concentrated base of its most reactionary components is utterly incapable of the necessary compromises of governance. The first 100 days of a presidential term is the period when the public still has good feeling towards the newly hatched executive and with a united control of the government, the passing into law of major policy goals should have been a given, but that has proven to be beyond the reach of the GOP. Sure they have managed to undue some of hated Obama’s regulatory actions, but no major legislation has passed and it is not because of the opposition party.

The GOP has majorities in both house, what the GOP does not have is rationality. IN part due to the drumbeat of purity that drove out the ‘RINOs’, in part due to the shrill voices of the GOP news/entertainment arms, and also in part due to ‘safe districts’ the Republicans have engineered a majority that cannot agree with itself.

The ‘Hassert Rule’ means that every sizable faction within the GOP’s elected member has an effective veto over legislation. No faction can be ignore or eliminated and the hard core purists will not compromise while the moderates have no inclination to commit electoral suicide .

It is so much easier to bitch, complain, and criticize than it is to do anything and that goes even more so for a complex mechanism like government. Except for Guns, Abortion, and Taxes there is precious little that the GOP faction agree with and zealotry has an inverse relationship with competence.

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About That Bomb

Wow.

It’s interesting watching my social media feed explode over an big explosion. I imagine if there had been the some social media during the Clinton administration I would have watched a similar explosion from the other side of the spectrum when he sent cruise missiles into the same region of the world in a failed attempt to kill Osama Bin Laden I do remember conservative friends announcing with absolute certainty that the attacks had been nothing but ‘wag the dog’ distractions from his scandals just as some liberals friends are equally certain that the MOAB was used to distract from which ever Trump scandal holds their attention. (He has so many that it’s really a buffet of concerns.)

However it also not only possible but likely that the use of this particular weapons system has nothing to do with the current president and everything with conditions on the ground and the judgment of local commanders.

First Off, the phrase ‘largest non-nuclear’ is a pretty much useless comparing things of vastly different scales. An atomic bomb like the ones used to end WWII has a yield of about 12-15 kilotons. That is the explosion is equal to 12 to 15 THOUSAND tons of TNT, the MOAB is purely conventional. It has 22,000 lbs of explosives or 11 tons, so while it may be the largest non-nuclear bomb in our inventory it is still less that one thousandth the yield. It’s kind of like comparing a penny to a ten dollar bill. That sensational headline got your attention but it did not inform you.

Second: The president does not need congress’ approval to dispatch military force. He orders the military congress declares war, but there’s this nasty confusing grey area where the military gets used but no war has been declared. After Vietnam there was the War Powers act but it has never been fully vetted by the Supreme Court.

Three: Even if the President needed to have congressional approval you do know he was granted that in 2001 don’t you? That Authorization of Military Force that Bush got after 9/11, it’s still in effect. I hate the very concept of a Trump Presidency but he’s got the authority, though it should have never been given to him, to do exactly this.

Four: This bomb has a very limited utility. It is far too large to be dropped from any bomber. To get the monster to the target they military has to use a cargo plane, and that means you can’t use it in a place where the enemy has the capacity to shoot down your bombers. It doesn’t have great penetration so it’s best used against soft targets, it has a very large area of effect and so you can’t use it where the target are mingled with non-targets.

Now, all that said we should wait for verified reports about the why of the attack. Good judgment follows from facts not fancy.

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A Smart Bomb is no Good to a Dead Man

So the Democrats are launching a filibuster in the Senate to try and derail Trump’s Nominee for SCOTUS. Majority Leader McConnell is threatening to invoke the ‘nuclear option’ and finish the job the Democrats started in killing the filibuster. (Though it should be noted that Threat and the Name for the act started with the Republicans but was not invoked at that time due to the action of The Gang of Eight)

Some have said that the Democrats should hold off, that if they invoke a filibuster all they will achieve is forcing the GOP to change the rules and kill it off, winning nothing. The most cogent argument I have read is that they should hold off until there is a nominee or issue that has more than 50 GOP member willing to vote for it, but not willing to change the rules over it and the nominee.

That’ doesn’t seem wise to me.

The unprecedented obstruction shown by the GOP, refusing even a hearing for the last president’s nominee indicates that there is no deal to be made, no compromise that will stand. The GOP will do whatever it takes, break whatever norm stands in their way to achieve their goals and the Democrats should adapt to the new battlefield.

To those who say invoking it only forces the GOP to kill it I answer, it you can’t use it because you will lose it, then what good is it anyway? If you have a resource you can not utilize then it is no resource.

Failing to take that stand will have consequences. The liberal elements of the political body are energized and they are not in a make nice and let’s all get along mood. Any Democratic Senator who acquiesces to trump’s will without a fight will find that they are in a fight anyway but with their own base.

To me the only logical move is to resist, make your stand clearly with your base, and keep your eyes fixed on tomorrow.

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How to make Hillary President

Oh, the bonfire that is the Trump Presidency burns hotter, fiercer, and larger than I had ever imagined during the election. There is ample cause to suspect that corruption, incompetence, and out right collusion with a hostile foreign power go all the way into the Oval Office.

(Suspect! I hear some of you cry, and Renault remains Shocked to find gambling going on at Rick’s. Nothing has yet been proven so I leave it to you to follow your own noses in tracking the stench that is the Trump operation.)

One thing I think is clear is that the modern GOP is quite unlike that one of the 70’s and they will never remove Trump from office no matter the stink, the mud, and the crime, but there is an election next year and that could change everything.

Now what follows is fanciful but within the realm of possibility and law; as a speculative fiction writer it fun for me to dream up implausible for possible futures.

One: The Democratic Party wins the election taking back the House and the Senate next year. The hill remains steep in the House but Trump is proving disastrously bad as a president and he might sink the GOP’s majority.

Two: The House names Hillary Clinton as their New Speaker of the House. (Nothing in the constitution or the House rules require that the Speak be a sitting representative.

Three: Trump has proven himself corrupt enough that the Democrats impeach and remove him from office.

Four: They follow that up with impeachment of President Pence, provided that they can make those charges stick and given the grime that appears to be swirling around this administration it might be possible.

Five: Hillary Clinton as Speaker of the House become the 47th President of the United States.

Wait, I hear you Bernie supporters screaming about Step two, because after all if anyone can be named Speaker of the House and third in line for the Presidency why not your guy, Sanders?

Quite simply, he’s not the popular vote winner of the last contest and to me that carries weight. However if you want someone other than Hillary I would suggest that you go with someone who meets the requirements for the officer but who would be Constitutionally ineligible to seek a term via the 2020 election, (The 22nd Amendment prevents presidents from being elected to more than two terms.), so they just give the job back to Barak Obama.

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Is This A Dagger …

Well if they stick to their schedule the U.S. House of Representative will vote tonight to repeal the ACA ‘ObamaCare.’ Note that this is a budgetary bill and as such should it survive in the Senate will be immune to filibuster.

As I write this it is uncertain if Paul Ryan has mustered the votes to pass the bill out of the House. To satisfy the more conservative members of the GOP he has recently added even more draconian amendments to a bill that has already been scored by the CBO as pushing up to 14 million people off their health insurance by next year’s off-cycle election.

Now in addition to allowing insurers to charge older patients up to five times the rate of younger patients while slashing subsidies so that their prices sky rocket, this bill now seeks to strip out the essential coverage requirements of the ACA. This is a list f ten essential aspects that all health insurance now must cover, such as drugs.

This amendment stripping the coverage requirements may not survive the senate because it can easily be ruled as beyond the budget and that would open it up to a filibuster. Even if the parliamentarian rules the amendment allowed there are wavering GOP Senators unhappy with the such extreme measures, and the GOP’s vote margin is one vote. (Normally it would be two, but one member is out ill.)

Why add this is it almost certainly cannot pass the Senate?

Because they are facing a pressure that they cannot resist, the Tea Party Base.

For six years the number one target on the Tea Party’s hit list has been the ACA and the GOP has gone along, promising repeal on day one of they reign. There are people who hate the ACA because it is not single payer, there are people who hate the ACA because of limited networks and high costs, there are people who hate the ACA because it forces you to buy insurance, and there are people who hate the ACA because it makes some people pay more in taxes.

Some of these group can be made happy by reforming and adjusting the ACA, but those last two can only be happy with killing it. Amid the GOP no faction has the number to impose their will and many have the number to kill anything they hate. Ryan has been trying to square that circle and to my eyes he’s given up.

He’s going to win over enough of the Tea Party/Freedom Caucus to get the thing off his desk and onto McConnell’s where it will likely die.

If it dies in the Senate McConnell should look out for knives in the back – a grand Senatorial tradition even if this time they will be metaphorical. The conservative GOP Senators, Cruz and the like, will be blaming him and Ryan will be pushing that train with everything he’s got. His only hope is selling the lie that Repeal would have worked if the Senate have gone all wobbly.

This is a trap of their own construction and if millions of lives didn’t hang in the outcome I’d be getting the popcorn.

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Taxation is NOT theft

A popular concept usually pushed by those on the right side of the political spectrum is that taxation is theft and if they do not go that far they often go far enough to assert that you have no right to the product of another person’s labor. This is usually presented as their case for why any form of socially provided health insurance is not only something that disagree with but something as morally wrong.

I do not buy those arguments.

Theft is the illegal taking, without consent, of property that does not belong to you. Taxation, outside of despotic governments, is a legal process simply on that factor alone it cannot be considered theft however there is more to my counter argument. Without Consent, you consent to taxes by maintaining your citizenship. In a free nation you can leave, in unfree states you cannot. (It would be wise to remember that walls can keep you IN as well as keeping others OUT.) There numerous celebrities who have surrendered their US citizenship. You hate our taxes and what they are being spent on? Leave. Stay and fight for what you want, but if you stay you consent and the taxes are again not theft.

The no right to another person’s labor is usually employed to argue against those who would claim that healthcare is a right. I am not going to get into if healthcare is a right or not, rights are a social construct and invention not found in objective reality so which ones exist and for whom is a very sticky argument.

However those who use the ‘no right to the labor of others’ argument are at best short sighted. ALL rights require enforcement from the state to be protected, for the state to maintain those functions it must tax and that is to acquire the labor of others for the protection if your rights.

You have a right to trail by a jury of your peers? Well that court systems is pricey, and you only have that right because it is being supported by the labor of others.

As I said this is not staking out the position that healthcare is or is not a right, but these arguments against it as nothing more than clever and flippant sound bites devoid of thought or substance.

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