Category Archives: Politics

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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It’s Not That Simple

The graphic here, or one very similar to it, is an example of a member i see shared quite a bit on social media. It is generally shared by my friends on the

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/01/07/everything-chuck-hagel-needs-to-know-about-the-defense-budget-in-charts/?utm_term=.97db4021446c
Credit: Washington Post

left side of spectrum as an example of the wasteful and needless spending by Washington when no other country, by spending, can even threaten us.

Something as complex as the United States and it’s global obligations can not be summarized with a single graph. (Or even a short blog post, but I just want to illustrate the scale of the complexity not delve into it.)

Is history there has been Pax Rome, the peace that the Roman Empire brought to the world with is vast military. There has also been Pax Britannia, same thing many centuries later with the British Empire astride the world, we are now in the Pax Americana.

That enormous military budget isn’t just about defending our borders, it is much more than that.

It’s our commitment to defending the freedom of Japan, South Korea, Western Europe, and many other allies. Some have suggested it would better if those allies simply carried their own load, but that looking at it from the wrong way around. Yes, we could cut back and force those allies to spend their own treasure and blood. Doing that increases the chances of war. Right now you attack an American ally you risk war with America and that deters such conflicts. Remember small regional wars can escalate out of control into global conflicts.

The second great function of the US military is upholding international law. Pirates off the East African Coast? the U.S. Navy is there. Iraq and Iran threaten neutral shipping with a terrible war, the U.S. is there ensuring the safety of those neutral ships. Withdraw our force from around the world and you threaten global commerce. he very commerce that make you prosperous enough to have that smartphone to share that graphic.

Of course one should ignore the humanitarian mission undertaken by the US Military. Typhoons, Earthquakes, man-made disasters, the US Military is often first on the scene providing vital supplies and logistics.

None of this is cheap. and all of this is vital. Now that is not to say we don’t spend too much, or to support any particular budget proposal, but the answers and questions are far more than what can be addressed with a snarky comment while tweeting a graphic you saw on Facebook.

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A Tax Compromise Suggestion

I have no illusions. No one in the halls of power reads my blog and even if they did this idea, because it is a compromise, would be declared DOA because it gives something to each side and the idea of that is alien in today’s political environment. However I will continue to lay the ideas as they occur to me.

Conservative have long decried the injustice of the ‘double taxation’ when a corporation pays taxes on its profits and then when the shareholders par taxes on their incomes. You know I would be perfectly willing to give corporations a zero income status on their profits, provided that the corporation met a few basic criteria.

1) Employ more than 100 people. (To avoid people trying turn themselves into corporation merely to avoid taxes.)

2) That 80% of the employees workers are directly employed by the corporation (Not contractors or any similar dodge).

3) That 80% of the employees are represented by an independent Union.

If a corporation did that I’d not shed a tear over their profits being tax free. Mind you the shareholders still pay their taxes and in my perfect world capital and labor pay the same tax rates.

When I find time I’ll write up my compromise solution to guns in America. It too will make no one happy.

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You Were Never on the Team

Anyone with a passing knowledge of the current social/political wars is likely aware of one Milo Yiannopoulos. To many, including myself, he comes off as nothing more than a cyber-bully. An immature brat wallowing in the false glow is celebrity because he treats his fellow human beings terribly. He was a major star in the right because he so gloriously offended the left. Never mind that the offense was justified. Never mind that he his outrageous attacks and bullying hurt people, he was their star, their attack dog.

What he never was was a member of their team, he was never part of their circle. He was a tool, he was weaponized abuse. This was very profitable for Yiannopoulos, he got speaking gigs, and massive book deals. People followed him and mistook him for someone of substance, but that was all illusion. Perhaps Yiannopoulos knew his position as tool, perhaps he thought he had been accepted. I don’t know what goes on in his mind and frankly I don’t care.

In my opinion he is a loathsome human being and his downfall was utterly predictable. The powerful interests enjoyed his act, it infuriated all the right people and it allowed them, through hi, to put out the most hateful ideas and attacks while standing behind the skirts of ‘it’s all free speech and if you can’t take it you must be some sort of special snowflake.’

Of course a shock jock has to go for bigger and bigger shocks, yesterday’s are as stale as last week’s bread, and the quest for bigger badder shocks means eventually you cross a line and Yiannopoulos did just that. Suddenly the right found that he was offending people that they didn’t want to offend. Suddenly it was no longer a game and as though he were a broken sword they tossed him aside.

I shed no tears for his lost money, his lost fame, his lost meaning, it was all illusion. Outrage is not debate.

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S.M.E.s and Cultural Conservative Hysteria

At my day job we have people whom we refer to as S.M.E.s for Subject Matter Experts. When you have a tricky question about an arcane rule or regulation these people are generally the ones with the answer you need. (Never would I have I thought that playing StarFleet Battles would be good job training, but it make this particular day job so much easier to learn.)

Writers often consult SMEs for their works. Need to know how a morgue handles dead bodies for your zombie story, go ask them? Need some legal double speak to dazzle the characters, consult with a lawyer. The same for sciences, the military, and uncountable other areas. No one can be an expert in all things that’s why writers dedicate their books to those who helped illuminate the way while taking the blame for the errors.

All this should sound pretty dull, but the whole thing explodes the moment you venture in cultural issues.

Recently conservative columnist Rod Dreher posted an article on-line decrying the use of sensitivity readers. In reality sensitivity readers are simply SME for under-represented groups. If I am writing a story about an physicist not only should I consult with a physicist about the science but a person of the Islamic faith to make sure I get both parts rght. This goes for all sorts of people because in reality we humans come in a blinding and beautiful array of styles, colors, and cultures.

Mr. Dreher seems to think that this is surrendering creative control. That this is ‘pc’ run amok. That is utter bull.

I know a number of writers. They cover a vast swath of political and cultural attitudes and I can’t think of a single one that would surrender control of their manuscript. Yes we seek input and opinion, particularly when we are writing outside of our direct experience, but we also hold the final cut. No beta reader, SME, or sensitivity reader controls the words on the page.

In my opinion Mr. Dreher has always been one of the more hysterical voices when it comes to religious and sexual issues. It seems he holds an idealized and utterly realistic vision of what American and humanity has been in the past and longs for a return to that comfortable, for him and his people, fantasy

Well, I am not here to make people comfortable …

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Our National Wound

Trump has lost two senior advisers, one who had been placed National Security Advisor, due to improper ties and communication with Russia, a country that many in our intelligence community believes worked to not only disrupt our presidential election but whose preferred outcome was the election of an untested narcissist.

I do find it ironic that many of those who have repeated allegations as fact that Edward Kennedy sought Soviet help in stopping Reagan’s election are suddenly so silent and insistent upon airtight evidence in the Trump allegations. It always depends on whose ox is getting gored.

I have also heard people on the liberal side calling for some sort of special election; in effect a presidential do over. People, that is not going to happen. To the best of my knowledge there is no provision whatsoever in our constitution for a special presidential election. If you truly want to remove all of the Russian tainted personnel from the executive branch there is only one way to get that done before 2020. I am not saying it is something that can be achieved, too many people have tied themselves to the wheel of the Sailing ship Trump and they are hoping that the storm doesn’t sink them.

Step One: VP Pence steps down. No so far nothing his tied him directly to any of the Russian issues but he’s Trump’s pick ad that alone is a taint.

Step Two: The truly impossible step – Trump names someone as the new VP that is a Republican who is acceptable to the Democrats in the Congress. No Tea Party, Freedom Caucus, is going to make it but it would have to be someone most conservative would call a ‘RINO.’ It has to be that way because the fact of the matter is that the GOP controls Congress and no one is going to be approved except a Republican.

Step Three: The new VP leads the Cabinet in removing Trump as president under the 25th amendment and both houses of Congress approve.

Step Three: The newly minted President fires everyone hired by the last one and we reboot the Administration.

All of this is within the constitution but it is not going to happen. Trump would not play ball, Pence may not, and with the current enmity in congress even the possibility of a foreign power holding influence over the white house will not spur the left and right to work together.

No, we are stuck with Trump until Pence and the Cabinet remove him or he is impeached but both options require the GOP to possess a spine.

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It’s Not a Dumpster Fire It’s a Meltdown

Recently on twitter I called the Trump administration a dumpster-fire, but now, as the title of this post suggest, I am revising it upward to a core melt-down. The control rods are stuck, the reactor temp is rising quickly, and no one know how to operate the scram systems.

The level of leaking, backstabbing, lying, and defenestration currently exhibited by the White House is the sort of thing you would expect a few years into an administration that has been fighting a long running scandal. It has been less than a month since Trump took office and the future looks long and bleak.

It does not help that the GOP, having sold their souls for thirty electoral votes, now find themselves chained to a drowning man who insists that they are in fact on dry land. Plugging their fingers into their ears and screaming ‘I can’t hear you!’ they studiously ignore the growing scandal that is their president. I think the best hope for the GOP is if they could find a quick way to remove 45 from office, but that is not going to happen. Impeachment takes time and a spine, something congressional Republicans have in short supply. Invoking the 25th amendment could have him out in less than a month but that requires VP Pence to lead the charge and convince more than half of the Cabinet to back him up and Trump’s Cabinet appears to have been picked for loyalty to him and not the nation has a whole. No, it looks like the GOP and the nation are stuck with Trump on one side and the ‘Freedom’ Caucus on the other. If this maintains throughout 2017 and into the next year the mid-term election could be interesting.

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A Missed Opportunity

The recent kerfuffle with Senator Mitch McConnell leading the Republicans in censoring Senator Elizabeth Warren over her attempts to read Mrs. King’s letter concerning Jeff Sessions when he was nominated and rejected for a Judgeship represents a blown communications opportunity for the Democratic Party.

Certainly people are making hay of McConnell’s ‘She Persisted’ quote. Turning it into empowering memes and it may even become part of her re-election slogans, but that’s not where the Democrats should have had their eyes. Everything should have been about Sessions and not anyone else.

They had no chance to stop this nomination. If Devos or Carson could be confirmed then barring some truly outrageous scandal everyone that President Trump sends up will be confirmed. There is no filibuster and after eight years of opposing Obama’s administration the GOP have learned to close ranks and hold the line. The nominees will be confirmed, so what the Democrats should do is make sure that ever wart, every bit of bad news gets as much play as can be had for future use. Having the conversation be about Senator Warren and double standards between men and women does not advance their cause and turns the spotlight away from Sessions.

A number of other Senators took the floor of the Senate reading the same letter, but my understanding is that they all altered or omitted the language that McConnell has objected to. Now it is entirely beside the point if that language mattered in its substance, all that really mattered is that McConnell did not want it read it into the record. What each and every Democratic Senator should have done is read exactly the parts that McConnell silenced Warren over. Either McConnell is then forced to move against them in the same manner, and the news of the day becomes ‘Is this language, and by extension its subject, Sessions unfit for the floor of the Senate?’ The coverage would be about those lines, about Sessions, and what was McConnell so fearful of? Or he backs downs, looks weak, and it gets read into the record. Either way the result would be favorable for the Democratic position. What they did only played into McConnell’s hands and now everyone is talking about Warren, and if women are treat harsher than men when they speak out and such. Now those are not bad conversations to have, but they pulled the attention away from Sessions and why the Democrats, rightly or wrongly, opposed his nomination.

McConnell, sharpened by eight years of parliamentary battles against Obama and his people, is a sharp cagy man and the Democrats will need to get better if they intend to win political wars and not just news cycles.

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