Morals and Squaring the Circle of Politics and Power

I’ve been thinking about morality quite a bit based on my fascination with all things conservative.

Morality is key to the conservative movement. They claim ownership of it while painting the left as anything from morally suspect to dangerously insane (liberalism is a mental disorder for example).

And we on the left have largely ceded this argument while trying to win just enough elections to stay in power.

But that, imho, was the wrong tact. We too are moral people. We are the movement of the bleeding heart after all.

It is becoming increasing important to reassert the morality of the left as the wealth of the wealthiest country in the world increasingly becomes focused into the hands of a powerful few. Remember, our government by design has very few means of actually re-distributing wealth (as opposed to income) from the wealthy to the masses and most of us would agree this is generally a good thing.

But there is a problem with this construction in an economic system that allows for two types of relatively unregulated income – income from labor and income from capital. If an individual has access to both – income from extant wealth as well as income from her labor – then there exists a fundamental problem, which if not addressed will only exacerbate the situation we have today furthering the distance between the haves [   Capital?-Yes! 🙂 ] and have-nots [  Capital?-No.  😦  ].

Is there a more fundamental expression of the inability of our current political system to address this problem than the actions of a Republican hegemony in our 3 branches of federal government?

As conservatives would frame it the plan, which will result in tens of millions of individuals losing subsidized health insurance and thus access to preventative medical care, is moral because it allows for access via individual choice with lower premiums.  The number of uninsured which will result from the Republican health plan in their view will remain the responsibility of those people who did not purchase the affordable (if not entirely comprehensive) health insurance. To add insult to injury, the Republicans will not even take responsibility for “cutting” Medicaid.  They wish to keep the moral high ground by arguing that they are not making cuts to Medicaid, only reducing future growth.

All of this is baloney. The bottom line is the one we’ve been hearing in the past 8 years. This isn’t about repairing or replacing Obamacare, it is about repealing Obamacare. It is about destroying any attempt at providing a collective answer to what is a problem of our commons – health care.

Our broken economic system which is designed to allow for winners and losers (based, on individual choice AND on luck, and one’s ethics, etc.) is facing a defining test and we cannot blame this solely on President Trump or on Republicans.

This is on us as a people and as individuals. We need to do what we can to take back the story about who we are. That story has to focus much more on the good and less on the evil. It has to focus much more on what is right and less on what is wrong. We have to be more proactive and less reactive.

In short we have to take back the cause of a collective morality instead of one that is focused almost entirely on an individualistic morality. The fundamental problem with focusing all our attention on our own righteousness is we lose track of those problems that can only be fixed by collective actions.

And that is what government is about. It’s not about solely protecting individual rights from governmental action, it’s also about taking affirmative actions based on decisions of elected representatives and making sure that institutions within it’s purview do not take collective action that harm the livelihood or interests of citizens.

Right now, those with money have not only the power of their wealth, but via the modern Republican Party they also have the power of the institution which should protect people from an out-of-control economic system. This is as much a moral issue as a political issue and it has never been as clearly defined as our current health care debate.


FF:  (forgiveness factor) = high.  Again, quick opinion before work.

more social media on the political dichotomy of morals:

I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People (Kayla Chadwick | Huffington Post | June 26, 2017)

Conservative Reaction (via Cato-employed conservative legal scholar). (Think “liberal morality is a mental disorder”)

More on American morality and the culture war in real time via a tweet-storm from historian Jonathan Wilson.

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Republican(s Don’t)Care | CA-21

I don’t believe the American Health Care Act (AHCA =House verision of the Affordable Care Act repeal) or the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA =Senate version) has much to do with Donald Trump at all. He now understands health care for all is complicated in our economy but it is something government has (at the very least) an obligation to try to meet.

No, whatever passes the three branches of government under Republican control will be a Republican act. And if you listen to them, the reasoning for this is it will give our citizens more choice and reduce premium costs.

But here is the thing, that is demonstrably not true. It’s wishful hoping. Here is an infographic from familiesusa.org that illustrates those states that expanded and their increase in roles of the insured due to Medicaid and those states that didn’t and the numbers of potentially eligible that are likely to remain uninsured.

medicaid

And although it is not incredibly clear in that infographic as to whom is most affected by the lack of expansion, there is this (From The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation) that might help drive the message home.

Lookit, if you are one of seven people who read this blog, I think you know my feelings about how important race is to the themes and policies of our national politics. This graph may be one of the most illustrative of (what I feel is) that reality.

So, no, it isn’t about choice, it is about reducing the size and scope of the federal government. I understand no Republican can say that at this point in time as you try to pass the BHCA or AHCA, so let me say it for you.

Because as all of us paying attention know that real choice would have been to vote in the public option with the ACA. And we know what the results of that choice would have been, which is why Republicans (and a couple of Democrats) couldn’t let it pass.


In other news, there is this…

From a tweet by Mike Levin, an environmental lawyer who has stepped up to run against Darrell Issa of CA-49, here is the current margin in those Congressional Districts where the Republican member is vulnerable.

image

 

Top among these is CA-21 where David Valadao last won election in 2016. Remember the conservative PAC asked us to let us know what we think about his vote to decimate the ACA? I agree with them, Californians should.

Yes, Representative Valadao won by 13 points in 2016, but Hillary Clinton carried the District (centered on Kings County in the Central Valley) by 15 points and Democrats in the district out-register Republicans 46% to 29%.

I honestly wish that Humboldt or Californian Republicans would be on board with this. The evidence is clear, we can insure more people with the ACA AND it set up to work with moving people into gainful employment. But Republicans are not stepping up and standing up for what could be argued is a conservative approach to universal health care, therefore, I think we as a people have to stand up against them. It can start with CA-21 and finding a candidate who can thank David Valadao for his work against the ACA with an extended vacation.


More on the CA House delegation’s vote on the AHCA here.  It’s pretty simple really – all Dems were forit all Reps aginit.

Trump(Don’t)Care…

…and Republicans don’t either. At least not about this – government’s responsibility for our commons.

If we follow their prescriptions to run government like a business, we need to internalize profits and externalize costs. That is the key goal to TrumpCare. It isn’t lowering premiums or increasing choice or making sure you can keep your doctor, the goal is to reduce government costs by decimating one of President Lyndon Johnson’s signature entitlement programs meant to stave of crushing poverty in history’s wealthiest country.

At times like this, as we are likely to see a Republican Wall Street version of Medicaid get signed into law, it’s beneficial to review the basics.


a) What is Medicaid? (image, including their advertisers, from the NYT)

What is Medicaid 1

What is Medicaid 2


b) Where are we likely to end up in the next few weeks or months? (From Kevin Drum)

Where headed


c) A Senator, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, reviews in a series of tweets images of the language in the bill and what they mean in English.

Casey 1

Casey 2

Casey 3

Republicans are about privatizing government and our commons. The drive is a natural side-effect of an economic system that rewards focus on individual profits with no means of accounting for shared concerns.

How the vulnerable among us retains access to basic human needs such as health care should be one of a government’s primary concerns, especially when the society has the means to provide this access. But that isn’t the priority of the Republican Party, the priority is to minimize the public percentage of national spending. If you do this, there will be less that their most influential constituents have to pay in taxes.

The Republicans are pro wealth distribution, they just want to continue the destructive focus of our nations wealth (and the benefits that come with health, such as access to preventative health care) into the hands of the few.

outofbalance


This is something I wrote from October 1, 2013, the day the ACA market places opened…

“In order to win his party’s nomination, Mitt Romney had to run as far away from his plan as possible.  Ultimately the conflict over the ACA is not about the ACA itself, it’s about how far right the Republicans have shifted.  The ideology that the free market will solve all problems is as much a crazy utopian dream as the far left’s defunct dreams of a purely socialist state.  Unfortunately the right wing/libertarian free-market fantasy is an ideology that wins hearts, minds and votes because it has an unbelievable amount of money behind it.  With that money the ideology can buy a narrative that turns truth on it’s head.”

Here is just one example of how our collective perception of reality is influenced with money by those who have it and wish to make sure it isn’t spent on others:

More on David Valadao from congressional district CA-21 and other CA Representatives and their vote for the AHCA here.

 

Is “Trumpcare = Choice” a Lie?

Of course it is. The true is that Obamacare with Medicaid expansion (called Medi-Cal in California) now covers over 50,000 Humboldters. That at least doubled and close to tripled Medi-Cal coverage before the ACA.

To be eligible to Medi-Cal under the expansion, your current income had to be 138% of Federal Poverty Limit (FPL) for an adult and under 266% FPL for a child. 138% FPL is $1,387 per month.

With these new, simpler, fair and humane rules under Obamacare we as a Humboldt community were able to share first rate health care with 25,000 to 30,000 more of our neighbors.

If you have family in Humboldt, it’s likely some members of your extended family are aided under this program. Remember, with Medi-Cal roles in the 50,000 range we are talking about 38% of all 130,000 Humbodlters aided under this program.

And it’s a good program. We are a wealthy society and all other wealthy societies around the globe have figured out access to preventative and sustaining health care is a right. Medicaid under Obamacare doesn’t reach universal health care levels, but it does give access to the most needy in a conservative, market-friendly manner that does allow choice.

If you are over that 138% as an adult, or 266% as a child, you then get access to private health care plans on the Covered CA marketplace. Up to 400% FPL these are subsidized and thus affordable.

Again, Obamacare was a conservative approach to universal health care coverage, one based on markets and helping individuals to chose the health care they can afford.

But the chosen Republican party line to sell what the rest of us understand is a money and power grab where the rest of us are entirely vulnerable is to contend that Trump Care is about choice in health care.

And for some it is. For those making over 400% FPL, I imagine there may be expanded choices as the insurance industry again returns to you as their main profit center. But for those who were able to gain access to health care under Obamacare, there will no longer be a choice.

Trump Care = choice is a lie because Obamacare proved that we were able to expand the roles of those obtaining health care. This meant that money was a factor and reducing funding to Medicaid will again return us to the bad old days where health care is a privilege to those who are gainfully employed or have made many good decisions or have been fortunate enough to be born to a family with enough money or love to set us on the right path.

This just isn’t acceptable in our country and it would be nice if local Republicans who get this would speak to their friends and business associates and help their leaders in Washington get this.

Trumpcare will reduce the number of people who have access to health care, it does this by removing the cornerstone of a critical federally-funded program called Medicaid satisfying another conservative goal in working to reverse the FDR-Johnson vision of America with a strong middle class and access to basic necessities of modern life to those who live at or below poverty limits. Mainstream Republicans and conservatives, please do not let the Economic Royalists or loony libertarians do this to us. Our lives are in your hands and we depend on you to call a lie a lie. 25,000 to 30,000 of your neighbors and customers now depend on your integrity.


tweets:

article:

G.O.P. Health Plan Is Really a Rollback of Medicaid (Margot Sanger-Katz |NYT | 6/20/17)

ff:

High

(This is the forgiveness factor.  I’m asking for a high amount of forgiveness for editing/content b/c of the short amount of time I was able to dedicate to this post) 🙂 (ty)

GA06 Democrats Should Consider Voting for a Republican

Tomorrow is election day for residents of Georgia’s 6th congressional district. This seat was opened when Republican Tom Price accepted the position of Secretary of Heath and Human Services in the Trump Administration. This district includes the Northern suburbs of Atlanta and is generally a safe seat for Republicans.

But this year was different and money and a national reaction against the election of President Trump and his ongoing bungling of his first (and Insha’Allah, only) term means that the best guess election-watchers have is this race could be run by either candidate.
The candidates are Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel. As of June 9th, Ossoff has raised $23 million and Karen Handel $4.2, but there are many others funding this race including the national Democrats who have contributed $6.7 million and the Republicans who have contributed $6.7 million. The NYT reports that this is the most expensive House race in U.S. History.

I’m giving this background because I understand how important this race is to both sides of the political spectrum. It’s important not only because of the diverging views of either candidate on critical issues such as LGBTQ rights and health care, but it is important as an indicator of what is possible in 2018.

But there is something even more important and as despicable as the advertisement is (sponsored by the unprincipled and anonymous money of the Principled PAC), it references something unimaginably more despicable. Last Wednesday there was an assassination attempt on a Republican Congressional leader by a former left wing political volunteer. I cannot think of an assassination attempt of a Republican leader since the beginning of this recent trend of violence in the 1960’s outside of that on President Reagan.

The reason the attempts on Republican are significant to a liberal activists is these occur, albeit with many, many degrees of separation, in our sphere of influence. This is why I believe it is so important that those left of center are taking a vocal and substantial stand against this unspeakably wicked and indefensible act of political violence.

This is the ultimate value that all Americans must share. We shall not kill one another. It’s pretty basic and clear.

Jon Ossoff is not in any way responsible for this killing, nor are Democrats. Mr. Ossoff an Democrats also have a responsibility to voters to continue to run a winnable campaign. Having said that, I also believe it is incumbent on those of us left of center who wish to send a message to anyone who thinks that the route to better health care or equal rights for LGBTQ communities and people or proactive societal efforts on global climate change is though violence to do so. For those voters in GA06 if that means voting against your interests on everything but political violence, I think that is a defensible position and I’d likely be joining you in voting for Karen Handel tomorrow.


more on the despicable advertisements against Ossoff – a concern for another day, another election:

More about that disingenuous ad and the emotions it is trying to evoke even if it is shown to be manipulative.  (I found this thread in the comment zone for the above video.)

ossoff comments

Dark Money, Oil, Private Prisons Fund Islamophobic Attacks On Georgia Candidate

 

 

Matt McFarland and Black Lives Matter Front and Center on The Root!

The Root
Screenshot from The Root this morning.

Fire Chief Wears ‘Police Lives Matter’ Pin But Says Firefighter Cannot Wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ Pin

Thank you for what you do Mr. McFarland, and thank you for so eloquently making your points in how you approach the important work you do.

 

Let’s find a way to help local emergency services understand the difference between political activity and their jobs.  Do you know anyone involved in politics that might be able to help develop and elect representatives that understand the difference and could pass their thoughts along to their employees?

(Answer, for those out of the area or unaware:  Tamara McFarland, Matt’s wife and major force behind the local organization changing the political landscape – the North Coast People’s Alliance.)


source:

Thanks to the tweeter behind Teacher in CA for tweeting this story.  Also, ouch.  That hurt’s, but it ain’t all together wrong.

An Outlet for Comments Banned or Censored from Conservative Sites.

Turns out both John Chiv and The Humboldt Consequential* have banned my long boring comments as they are too long and too boring and nobody wants to reach that junk anyway.

I don’t blame them, it’s good ideological housekeeping and it’s not a First Amendment issue as both sites are theirs to administer as they see fit.   (I just strongly disagree, but that is a rant for another day)

Here is my therapy/reaction/alternative.  I encourage anyone else who is having the same problem to either join me or create another site where we can all go to have voices of reason heard.

Because there is not two sides of the issue here.  We are talking about voices of reason which proprietors of conservative web sites cannot handle.

Here is the website:

Shhh! Not OK to Say (In Humboldt)

If you have any comments which are being censored you can post comments here on this blog or the one linked above and I’ll create a new post for it.

The theme is reason and good will.  No personal attacks etc.  Liberals and progressives can take the high ground on policy issues in my opinion.  We (almost) always have and always should.

Because Humboldt, the United States and the World depends on liberal democracies and an open, honest and fair dialog is the foundation of that desirable political order.

(Turns out I got a bit of the rant in after all.)


*It may be THC does not realize I currently can’t post due to a comment I had that had 3 links.  It may be WordPress automatically filters out all future posts once a multiple link comment has been sent.  We’ll see.

Rose Welsh on Racists and Racism

This comment by Rose Welsh on that site I recommended all to ignore (I think “discount” would have been a better word) has been bothering me all week and I have yet found a way to address this comment in a context which is constructive and not in any way self-serving.

Here is what she said on a recent post by John Chiv letting us all know …wait for it… that the Arcata Police continue an investigation into a recent murder.

Rose WelchHere is where we all agree with Rose…

a)  We want the killer (or murderer) of David Josiah Lawson to come to justice within our justice system, and

b)  we agree, that in the light of the tragic or criminal death of David Josiah Lawson, he is remembered as he was, a bright young college student full of potential.

Rose, thank you for expressing those thoughts because it is important to hear them and it’s important to discuss our shared values.

Having said that…

In your defense of McKinleyville, as non-racist you intentionally used race-infused words.  Phrases like “lynch-mobs” or “stringing people up” cannot be used in this country without the context of our post-Civil War society.

For the record Rose, I don’t think you are any more or less of a racist than I am.  I think you used these jarring and inappropriate words in an attempt to draw attention to what you see as the reverse-racism inherent in any criticism of Humboldt county justice.   Criticism which, in turn, may impede the legal process on which we all depend to find and convict Josiah’s killer.

Isn’t that right?  Because that is pretty much the only defense I can imagine, other ones are less defensible and include ignorance and/or racism.

As always, I’m really hoping for some conservative or Republican engagement on this issue because we need your leadership especially on the issue of race and racism.  Yes, racism exists everywhere, it exists on the left (Bill Maher) and in the North (Boston/Adam Jones).  It also exists in Eureka* and McKinleyville.  It’s exactly because of this ubiquity that the great majority of us who are repulsed by racism need to be able to speak out together to condemn racist ideas and punish racist activities that harm others.

What’s up Rose?  Why did you chose to use “lynch-mob” and “stringing” people up in the exact same sentence you wished to defend where you live as free of racism?  Can any other conservative explain this and/or admit that we have a deep and seemingly intractable problem in this county that we need to address head-on?

*

Neighbor
This the home of a new neighbor of mine in Eureka.  This photo was taken on Labor Day in September 2016.

Conservatives or John Chiv, while you are at it, would you please address this comment from camelg1.  Because this bullshit has to be shunned. If it will be left to the left to do the racism-shaming, the comments can be discounted as partisan or self-interested.

camelg1


context:

Ms. Welch circa 2010 here.

 

“Pittsburg, Not Paris”

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”  OK, but please understand, the pact, signed in Paris, was meant to help protect the world from itself.  Pittsburg remains part of our shared globe.

From the NYT and Marie Gulliard…

02fri1-master768


remember?

We’ll get there Alex, we will.


also…

Keep this in mind as you go to the polls in 2018 and 2020.

The Measure of a Fog: Finale from Undark Magazine on Vimeo.