May President Trump Serve All 4 Years.

But we do have to reconcile why a Putin-lead Russian Government is a bad actor on the world stage.  It’s not the Russian people, it’s their leader and the kleptocracy that has sprung from the fall of the Soviet Union.

Here is famous (or is it infamous?) atheist Sam Harris with historian and center-right columnist Anne Applebaum on The Russian Connection.

I can’t recommend this podcast more highly if you have the time.

While I am at it, here is another hour from another famous atheist.  Bill Maher’s show last week is a good summary of the Congressional mayhem which was the fourth week of March 2017.

One more thing.  I don’t think it behooves Democrats to be Republicans lite in drumming up scandals.  Like us, our representatives often are not perfect.  Governing (and campaigning) sometimes gets ugly and we make mistakes.  Where there are clear breaches of the law, yes we need justice to be met, apolitically.  Democrats are not the party of email or Benghazi hearings, we are the party that governs.

What is more important than punishing Trump or his campaign for missteps, I think we can work with the Republicans on this, is to make sure we are in lock-step with responsible conservatives like Anne Applebaum on why Russia remains an existential threat to western democracies (yes, I’m looking at you France) and find a way to get around the real fake news and educate and inform ourselves and our neighbors.

That should be part of the Democratic agenda for the next 1,317 days, not to overturn 2016’s election.  Let’s look forward!


Towards Better Governance: Filibuster Neil Gorsuch

Eric Kirk’s Sohum Parlance commenter Not a Native, who I believe hails from McKinleyville wrote this yesterday…

The test of Democrat’s resolve and fortitude to demonstrate political courage is the Gorsuch nomination. So far, I don’t see demonstrations or rallies being organized. Instead, I see pundits calling for Dems to “show good governance” and accede to his confirmation.

Dems seem to be embracing being petty and spiteful, appealing to their own “angry base” by fanning resentment over Obama/Garland. When did anger, resentment, and payback become core Democratic values? I wish Obama would speak out on this.

If I’m reading Not a Native right, and he is generally someone I otherwise often agree with, he is saying that in the name of good governance Democrats should re-consider their intention to filibuster the Gorsuch nominee.  On this one, we disagree, but it’s insightful and it allows the context through which I think the Gorsuch process should be viewed;  good governance and the politicization of Senate procedural rules.

I believe the Supreme Court inherently is a political organization, if only in the sense that we, as humans are all biased.  I also believe in the rule of law and believe that a President’s nominee should be given a fair hearing in the Senate.  I don’t believe that Neil Gorsuch’s nomination should be blocked based on his views.  He is a conservative judge nominated by a conservative party and the people who voted for them.  He will serve honorably even if I would personally disagree with 90% of the controversial jurisprudence.

However, this is not about Neil Gorsuch, this is about President Obama, his nominee Merrick Garland, President Obama’s 4th of 4 years of his second term and the people who voted for him (65 million of them). The Republican Party’s politicization of this Supreme Court seat was mind-numbing given their rule of law rhetoric.  Denying Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearings in the Senate was the ultimate politicization of what Republicans argue is an a-political seat whose jurisprudence is based solely on the original intent of the Constitution.

So back to Not a Native’s quote.  The filibuster, to me, should itself be considered nuclear option which has been used in increasing and a-historic numbers since the 1970’s.  I do not think that Democrats should use this, except in extraordinary circumstances.  Both parties use the filibuster, preventing good, or at the very least effective, governance as, once initiated, it requires 60 of 100 Senators to overcome.  This means, with one party who I don’t believe has “good governance” with regard to the whole of the population as a priority, the bar to stop beneficial legislation is very low.  Only 40 of 100 legislators are needed to stop legislation.



Of course this would come with consequences, but I think these would work themselves out in time and would re-invigorate people’s interest in elections and government.  It would be on all of us to then make sure people have the whole story, not just the take that the infotainment complex would like us to know.

Having said that all that, I am glad Democrats have this Senate procedural tool and I heartily support it’s use, in this case. (Sorry Not a Native)

I believe the Republicans acted outside the Constitution in denying Garland a trial.  I would support the Democrats in the continued use of the filibuster on any Trump nominee until the Merrick Garland is nominated by President Trump and the Senate is able to hold confirmation hearings on former President Obama’s nominee.  Of course this will never happen and of course Senate Majority leader McConnell should of course use the nuclear option to break the filibuster.  This is where we should be heading and I think it would be an appropriate use of all the administrative tools we have to continue governing.

The nuclear option is not the end of the world, it’s just an indication that politics is ultimately about power, not congeniality.  Of course we should expect those we chose to govern in good faith, not punitively, and I don’t think a world without a 60 vote threshold necessarily dooms us to a cycle of partisan tit-for-tat.

We need the rule of law and we also need rules.  If Republicans feel they adhered to the rule of law in denying Merrick Garland his hearing, in part because some of them felt this is exactly what Democrats would have done, well then we then need to be more specific in the rules by which the Senate is governed.

We can start with on what day, exactly, the President no longer has the right to offer a Supreme Court nominee who can expect an up-or-down vote in the Senate.  Right now, the precedent set by Republicans is this day is either the second Tuesday in November a year out from the Presidential election or on January 1st of a Presidential year. (I haven’t been paying close enough attention to their faux rhetoric to know which one it is.)

Wouldn’t it be the ultimate of ironies if Republicans have to argue in 2019 that a nominee by President SHOULD get seated instead of the decision being brought before the people?


Trump’s Supreme Court nominee opens his testimony with a massive falsehood;  If judges aren’t political, why isn’t Merrick Garland a justice? (Ian Millhiser | ThinkProgress | March 21, 2017)  (Note, Title referenced is actually the subheading of the article)

The Problems with Originalism (Ken Levy | The New York Times | March 22, 2017)

Breaking the Filibuster in One Graph (Ezra Klein | The Washington Post | December 23rd, 2010)

The History of the Filibuster, in One Graph (Ezra Klein | The Washington Post | May 15th 2012)

Filibuster Data from


Can Republicans Reconcile The Big Lie?

The big lie, since I’ve been aware of politics in the Jimmy Carter era, is that America is best governed by a federal government which provides only for the common defence and works to promote general welfare through state governments, non-profit organizations etc.

That is the baseline for conservative and libertarian rhetoric.  That is what gets the Freedom Caucus insurgents elected over establishment candidates in Republican primaries.

This is ridiculous on it’s face.  Do the Republican voters really wish to do away with Social Security or Medicare which are federal programs?  Of course not.  At least not their own benefits, but they are willing to listen if you are talking about Medicare or Social Security of the next generation.

With this in mind, here are some select quotes from yesterday’s American Health Care Act House vote debacle which continues to today with a dictate from President Trump to bring the AHCA to a vote.

From Ezra Klein at Vox

(Title:  The health care bill could be Donald Trump’s Iraq War)

The core philosophical disagreement here is real and worth hashing out. Whereas liberals see access to health care as a right, conservatives see it as more akin to transportation — important, and perhaps worth subsidizing at low levels, but if someone can’t afford a car, it’s not the government’s responsibility to buy them one, much less buy them a nice one. This is the viewpoint the AHCA reflects.

It is not the viewpoint elected Republicans are selling. Instead, their rhetoric fits the sort of plan that Sen. Bernie Sanders might offer. Donald Trump won the 2016 election promising to protect Medicaid from cuts and ensure coverage for all. After the election, he reiterated the vow, telling the Washington Post “we’re going to have insurance for everybody” with “much lower deductibles.”

And click the link below to watch Topher Spiro, an expert on Health Policy at the Center for American Progress call out Betsy McCaughey’s credibility on the topic of health care as she is the person credited with  originating the “death panel” lie that helped create a largely baseless (or at the very least confused) animosity against the Affordable Care Act.

From John Amato’s blog

“McCaughey tries to counter that the AMA doesn’t represent all doctors, as if that matters to her argument, and claims “lots of doctor groups” want the ACHA to pass.

“Name one.” says Spiro. She ignores the question. Of course.

Just a little context from yesterday’s edition of the intertubes as we enter day two of the House vote on the AHCA.

Who knew that ungoverning could be so difficult?

update:  3/26/17 8:30 am… (2 days late)

Answer:  Nope.

Ungoverning Healthcare Is Out of Our* Control

* “Our” in this case excludes those people who will not take responsibility for all of us, just themselves and their families.  It also represent the overwhelming majority of Humboldt voters

Our federal representative Jared Huffman gets this, so do both of our Senators as does the candidate Humboldt elected for President.  There is nothing we nor they can do but watch as Republicans gut Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

And let’s be very clear, the Republican’s American Health Care Act is step one of three to return the free market to be the ultimate overseer of our nation’s health care, which will include the most vulnerable and needy among us, who, btw, generally have the highest health care costs.

Here is Paul Ryan speaking with Rich Lowry of National Review:

“So Medicaid, sending it back to the states, capping its growth rate, we’ve been dreaming of this since I’ve been around — since you and I were drinking at a keg. … I’ve been thinking about this stuff for a long time,” Ryan said. “We’re on the cusp of doing something we’ve long believed in.”

The Affordable Health Care Act is up for a vote today.  It’s completely out of Humboldt’s hands, but it will affect our county and it’s residents greatly.  What is wrong with this picture and how do we change this?

And now for something completely *clears throat* unrelated:

This image grab from the NYT which you can find here.  I recommend this page highly for the info-graphic fans out there.

Defense Budget

Continue reading “Ungoverning Healthcare Is Out of Our* Control”

Decoding Michael Reagan’s TS Editorial

Michael Reagan’s editorial today took the opinion page position usually reserved for Times Standard editorials or an important local “My Word”. It’s obviously someone in the T-S building thinks is, or should be, mainstream thinking.

And the article itself starts out as feigning bi-partisanship.  However, it’s message is the beating heart of the conservative message.  Government and it’s process is akin to sausage making.  It’s the way it is, so deal with it.

The piece starts with this:

“Sausage is being made in Washington.

But you don’t want to watch. Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, liberal or conservative, watching Washington’s sausage being made will make you lose your appetite for democracy.

The whole dirty legislative process is too gross for anyone with high morals or political principles to watch, but in the end it turns out a piece of sausage that everyone in the country has to eat whether they like it or not.”

From the reader’s point of view, at least for those who cannot see or understand the important role government (past, present and future) plays in their life, is to continue to live life without a government that serves their interests.  No problem, right?  Think about the audience Michael Reagan is hoping to reach with that intro.  Most of these readers have no stake in effective governance.

The thing is, this description of government as a sausage factory isn’t an observation, but a policy goal.  Outside of national defense, the private sector should control all but a diminishingly small percentage of our economy.

What is so harmful about this policy goal and message is that it doesn’t matter how we get to a diminished role for government, but that we get there.  Creative destruction, in other words, is a good thing.  Gumming up the system so that it can be sold as a “sausage factory” is a good thing.  Policies and principles so outrageous and untenable except to an increasingly desperate and alienated minority voting block is a valid starting point for governing in part because it helps stop in it’s tracks any reasonable governing principles.

The premise that we can all agree that the governing process now on display can be universally despised isn’t just anti-government, it’s anti-public.

Where this insular political philosophy leads is a political party whose goal it is to demolish an insurance market that has proved, under almost total political opposition, to increase the roles of the insured by 23 million.  They will argue that their goal isn’t to leave people uninsured in order to protect the wealth of their major political donors, but to increase personal responsibility and to give an incentive for choice.

As far as Republicans such as Representative Paul Ryan are concerned (at least when speaking in public), those individuals making the right decisions will be noticeably better off than those making the bad decisions which in turn and over time will lead to a “life-cycle”, if you will, of better decision-making based on individual action, not governmental mandates.  There is no mention of what we do as a society for those who happen to make a wrong decision, or those that have not been given the luxury to live in a family who might have had the resources to allow for a wrong decision or two.

Finally Mr. Reagan ends with this…

“They also have to stay off Fox News and CBS and do their complaining in private. Let the Democrats, the pundits and the liberal media do the public criticizing…..The only time we should hear a public statement from a Republican Congressman who doesn’t like the House’s Repeal & Replace legislation is after it has passed.”

This is the result of the current far-right conservative movement.  To modern conservatives and Republicans the public process itself, which importantly MUST include and informed and educated electorate, is a bug, not a feature.  The fact that our President, and many within the conservative movement, considers the press an enemy isn’t a reflection of the nature or bias of the press, but of the nature of the ongoing and destructive Reagan Revolution that cannot afford an open and honest dialogue if it wishes it’s agenda to survive the light of day.

AHCA: Not an Act of Mercy but Malice

A low-budget summary of the proposed American Health Care Act in movie trailer format from

House Republicans have finally released their plan to replace Obamacare, and it’s a train-wreck.  It replaces insurance subsidies with a flat tax credit which is not only less generous but tied to age instead of income and which won’t guarantee coverage.

Gender and Age discrimination protections are repealed so older people and women can go back to paying a lot more.  The plan does away with the individual mandate in a way that could case the individual market to collapse.  The mandate for employer coverage is gone too! Up to 10 million people would become uninsured in 2020 when the plan revokes Medicaid expansion.

Even if you can get coverage insurers would no longer be required to cover maternity care, mental health services, or hospitalization.  The plan also repeals every tax in the ACA making it impossible to pay for a program that would actually replace the coverage of Obamacare.  But the tax breaks will be a great big boon for the rich!

Staunch conservatives hate the new plan; not because millions will lose their health care but because they don’t think it’s the government’s problem if you can’t afford the world’s most unaffordable healthcare.  For any plan to pass it will take at least a few Democratic votes in the Senate so Republicans still have a long way to go to keep their promise.

President Trump: “Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated.”

And regarding just one aspect of this impending catastrophe to sensible health care coverage options for the poor and low to middle class, here is Joe Kennedy III addressing the planned lack of mental health coverage:

“Question for the legislative council, just to make sure I fully understand it. Based off of what you were saying, sir, I understand the fact that this law does not impact mental health parity. But it was the combination of mental health parity and the ACA that included mental health benefits as part of the essential health benefits package. The parity just says if you offer mental health benefits, they have to be offered the same way that physical health benefits are —  it does not mandate the offering of mental health benefits.

With the combination of the repeal language that we see on page 8, it means that mental health benefits are not required now, by federal law — that it would be up to the states to actually impose, so when we look at those essential health benefits, whether it’s mental healthcare or potentially for other health conditions, that is no longer essentially covered, or required to be covered by this version of this text, is that not correct?”

Attorney: “The text before us does remove the application of the central health benefits for the alternative plans in Medicaid.”

Kennedy: “It does remove them — including mental health. Yes, thank you.”

But what really stuck me was this statement Representative Kennedy, Robert Kennedy’s grandson, made about the general nature of this attempt at ungoverning national health care…

I was struck last night by a comment that I heard made by Speaker Ryan, where he called this repeal bill ‘an act of mercy.’ With all due respect to our speaker, he and I must have read different Scripture,” Kennedy said as the House Energy and Commerce Committee dove into the details of the GOP effort … The one I read calls on us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, and to comfort the sick. it reminds us that we are judged not by how we treat the powerful but by how we care for the least among us.

Mercy. Defined in purely secular terms, compassionate treatment for people in distress. It’s kindness, it is grace.

There is is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury.

There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering.

There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill.

There is no mercy in a policy that takes for granted the sweat the tears and the sacrifice of working Americans that they shed every day so that they might care for their family’s basic needs; food, shelter health, and hope for tomorrow.

There is no mercy for the 2.6 million people who will lose their jobs if Obamacare is repealed.

This is not an ‘act of mercy.’ It is an act of malice.

The War on the Poor. Health Care Edition

I know Jonathan Haidt’s premise in his book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” is true, we are all good people struggling for a better America.

However, we also have to be clear about what the proposed replacement for the ACA represents.  We have to get the word out there that this is the plainest example in recent memory that Republicans a waging a de facto war on the poor.

It’s not a war on poverty and the war on the poor is not the goal.   The good people on the right are not focused on the vulnerable.  They, like all of us, compartmentalize their responsibility and focus and their focus is on enabling people to make better choices.  If there is a real demographic or economic need out there that can’t be addressed individually, that is not their primary concern as governors.

It’s an understandable and defensible position but we on the left have to internalize what this actually is and call it out as such.  It is a de facto war on the poor as the Republican legislators have all their attention on their idealized society where individuals, families and communities are the ones best suited to help those in need, when in need.

Let’s be clear, the Republican health care plan as drawn up is built to fail.  It’s not satisfying those conservatives on the far right who believe the Constitution guarantees all Americans that governing at the federal level consists of providing for the common defense and very little else AND the end result will be a catastrophic failure for the majority of those the ACA was able to help.

And you know what, for Republican politics a catastrophic failure is a lose-win.  Sure they will have to take the heat from the opposition party and their “enemies” and nattering nabobs of negativism in the press, but if they can just tell their populist conservative base to relax and pass help them pass a bill built to fail the end result will be another failed government program and the #1 Republican talking point lives to see another day. (“see we told you government sucks”)

Democrats and the left has to start to do a better job explaining and fighting for economic liberalism (to include healthcare economics) because Republicans, libertarians and conservatives are united and focused on their cause of economic royalism posing as economic populism.

Here are some clear-eyed tweets (and retweets) from Kurt Eichenwald, mostly from yesterday.



Conservative’s War on the Poor

I understand that a conservative or Republican “war on the poor” is a truism of politics that barely elicits a second thought.  Duh, Republicans serve the rich.

But to see it in action in real time and how it’s done is concerning and needs to be addressed in our local and national politics.

Here is the frame:


  1. There is unimaginable and growing wealth disparities in our country.  Here is the graph from Mother Jones. Again.
  2. We are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.

Don’t believe a liberal source on this, here is Fortune Magazine.

But yet we elected a celebrity billionaire who made his fortune by inheriting millions to implement strategies to make it easier for the wealthy to earn increasing rates of income and to protect the wealth they already have.  In effect then we have a known problem of wealth inequality and to solve the problem we are going to make it worse.

How does this happen?  It happens as one of two major political parties in our country does not have a means of stopping the lies that get them into power.  The means is that the all the responsibility for the frustrations and troubles that occur in a dangerously unequal society is directed at the poor rather than at those who deserve the responsibility;  business owners and investors who wish to continue the system that allows for increased earnings on their wealth and holdings without providing a structure to ensure we all live sustainably

And that is not to say earnings on investments or holdings is a bad thing.  It’s obviously not.  It’s simply that our system is out of balance and we are in the process of making it worse, bigly.

And now, the Republican movement against the poor has become a populist movement that is self-propelled.  The working class has learned over the past 70 years from the anti-New Deal rhetoric to resent the poor.  I wanted to bring this up today because there is a confluence of an informative New York Times article explaining this phenomena as well as a great local example of this resentment on the (anonymous) record on Lost Coast Outpost’s Ryan Burn’s article on TrumpCare’s potential effects in Humboldt County.

Here is just one example from commenter Allch Chcar of many of what poor shaming does to us, our politics and our culture.

“It’s funny since my family avoided government support of any kind for years. They used WIC for a brief period when times were extremely bad and were shamed by it. My parents worked for everything they had and owned very little. They bought a house in 2005 on a 3 year ARM. By all metrics they could never afford it. They walked away in 2008 after their mortgage doubled on an upside down house. I want to say I helped with what I could but I was and still am self-contained. I went to school or worked part time and contributed little while taking little.”

If you have the time, I recommend a read of Mr. Burns’ article as well as the comments below.  I hope reading both will help define the work we have to do as far as messaging.  Would this messaging be propaganda?  I don’t think so, I think we’ve been subject to 70 years of propaganda and are living through the desired and/or inevitable result of this rhetoric.


America is the richest, and most unequal, country  (Eric Sherman | Fortune | September 30th, 2015)

Trump Budget Proposal Reflects Working-Class Resentment of the Poor  (Eduardo Porter | New York Times | March 7th, 2017)
Republican Health Care Bill Could Cost Thousands of Humboldt County Residents Their Insurance Coverage  (Ryan Burns | Lost Coast Outpost | March 7th, 2017)

Supervisor Rex Bohn Hearts Taxes (and Weed)

And he should.  Taxes are what fund government which I glad he can acknowledge is important.  I just think it’s nice to have him on the record just in case the left is a little more organized in June 2020 than it was in June 2016.

I know it seems like a long way away but the next four years will be flying by.

Here is Supervisor Bohn from this morning’s Times-Standard.

On taxing and spending …

 “The last transportation reauthorization we had was Fix America’s Surface Transportation in 2015 and that was only for $305 billion.  With a trillion dollars, we should see some of that trickle down to rural counties. We need to have it trickle down.”

Also, Supervisor Rex Bohn on weed and taxation …

“However you feel on the subject, we do have to take the large amounts of cash out of it, because once we get them in the system it will be easier to tax and we’ll know who is in the industry,”

I guess like most red-district Republicans across America, he’s OK with socialist policies, just as long as it’s mostly someone else’s money that’s being spent.

Supervisors hit D.C. to lobby; Topics discussed: Health, immigration, infrastructure funding, pilot shortage (Will Houston | Times Standard | March 7th, 2017)

The Obamacare Provision You May Have Missed…

…I certainly had.

Yesterday Republicans finally revealed the first outline of Trumpcare.   It’s basically a plan a party obliged to promote policies whose first governing priority is to reduce the tax burden above almost all other concerns.

But in reviewing the stories this morning one sentence in this New York Times story surprised me.  Not that the Republicans plan to repeal it, but that it was a part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in the first place.

“The bill even does away with a provision meant to tax incomes of insurance executives that top $500,000.”

Sure enough, this was a thing.  And it wasn’t that the individual executive had to pay an increased tax, the company no longer had a tax deduction for executive pay.

Let that sink in for a moment, companies have a tax loophole that allow for executive salaries to be tax-deductible.  Then let this sink in.   In a massive health care reform purportedly meant to fix a broken healthcare system imposed by Democrats, the swamp-draining Republicans made sure to cut this unknown, yet effective, provision that does work to limit executive pay excesses.

Here is an excerpt from an article from from 2014 called “Finally Revealed:  Obamacare’s Hidden Gem”. (emphasis mine)

But the new “Executive Excess 2014,” despite numbers like these, will likely leave readers feeling more invigorated than infuriated. We now have, the new study makes clear, a concrete reason to feel hopeful about reining in executive excess. And that new reason for hope sits in the unlikeliest of places: Obamacare, the controversial Affordable Care Act enacted back in 2010.

What does Obamacare have to do with executive pay? A virtually unknown provision in the legislation ends — for health insurers — the free ride on executive compensation the federal tax code hands corporate America.

Until last year, all U.S. corporations could deduct off their corporate income taxes almost everything they pay their top execs. The new Obamacare tax provision ends this subsidy in the health insurance industry. Health insurers now only get to deduct off their taxes the first $500,000 they pay each executive.

What does losing this deduction mean in real corporate life? The 2014 edition of “Executive Excess,” “The Obamacare Prescription for Bloated CEO Pay,” has probed the pay records of the nation’s 10 largest health insurers for an answer.

These 10 insurers lost $207 million in deductions, thanks to Obamacare, on the compensation that went to their 57 top-paid executives. The loss of these deductions upped their tax bill by $72 million.

But that $72 million, notes “Executive Excess” lead author Sarah Anderson, only hints at the revenue the Obamacare executive pay provision will raise over coming years. Many more than 57 executives in the health insurance industry overall made more than $500,000 last year. Obamacare will likely raise the industry’s total tax bill over $50 billion over the next 10 years.

Lookit, this is not the most important provision of Obamacare, it’s simply one of hundreds of provisions meant to govern from the philosophy that this country is for all of us, not a handful of individuals and companies that are uniquely set-up to influence both the private and public sectors.  For all the shock and awe of the Trump era, it will be the details of a Republican-controlled federal government that will set out country on yet another disastrous boom-bust cycle.

Ugh.  Stay aware and active.  No one said helping the United States grow up would be easy.


The Parts of Obamacare Republicans Will Keep, Change or Discard (Haeyown Park and Margot Sanger-Katz | New York Times Online | March 6th 2017)

G.O.P. Repeal Bill Would Cut Funding for Poor and Taxes on Rich (Margot Sanger-Katz | New York Times Online | March 6th 2017)

Finally Revealed:  Obamacare’s Hidden Gem  (Sam Pizzigati | | September 4th, 2014)