Days of Change

Why the Democrats are Geniuses

June 25, 2017
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If you are a moderate Republican, a conservative or a Trump supporter, the one thing you probably haven’t heard enough about Obamacare is that it is not only failing, it never worked in the first place. I’ve written that we would be better off with what came before Obamacare than anything in the ACA. Unfortunately, the current “repeal” bill is a plan to maintain the costs of Obamacare with the promise of letting the market decide someday in the future.

Jonathan Gruber pitched a “deficit” neutral plan to a CBO that had no tools to calculate the interest level of people who would buy insurance on an open marketplace. He made assumptions not unlike the statisticians who calculated that mortgages would not default in the late 2000’s. Besides the lies, Democrats really thought they could compel all Americans to buy health insurance or go on Medicaid.

Not only has it not worked, Obamacare has only existed for 3 years. Why extend a bad program for longer than the program has been used? The Democrats delivered a broken-down lemon that didn’t run and the Republicans are trying to restore it to mint condition.

That’s the evil genius of what the Democrats have done. First, they created the idea that “coverage” was equivalent to wellness. Coverage is a requirement for universal adoption and we all know universal is code for socialized medicine. They could have gotten near full acceptance if they enacted a $10,000 penalty, but people would have ended up in jail and the Democrats would have created the biggest tax increase in history. So, Plan B was to put as many people on Medicaid as possible and Republican governors went along with it in many cases.

Now we have the death spiral. Insurance companies were sold on mandatory insurance purchases. Instead, people who bought insurance were planning to use it early and often. Premiums went up and companies that could not make a profit dropped out. People with no money got Medicaid through the “expansion” that still costs states who agreed to it. The Democrats and Republicans are trying to stave off death by putting money into Medicaid and the insurance companies about to drop out of exchanges.

It costs $7,000 per man, woman and child per year to maintain what is ultimately not a good medical system in this country. That is already unsustainable. The people who are “covered” by their employers are being put on plans that are good if they are really sick, but can cost thousands of dollars in co-pays if they are only kind of sick.

In the ultimately irony, Democrats are already stating that Obamacare is “not perfect.” Their solution, however, is the same. Tax more and put more money into subsidies. In reality, it means borrow more. At the same time, costs are only rising. Now, even the president thinks that getting people insurance is the right things to do because the alternative is too hard. Give the freebies first, and hand out the bill later. It’s a Democratic Party tradition for almost 90 years.


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No One Rides for Free

June 19, 2017
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Last week, I started a post about this administration after the story of a cabinet meeting where they started off by publicly praising Trump’s agenda and presidency. The gist was that if Trump does not get a pledge of loyalty, you’re fair game for termination. So anyone in the federal government who does not like President Trump (Republican or Democrat) can’t skate by and that may eventually drive them crazy.

Then someone went crazy.

Back in the PC heyday, conservatives used to mock the idea of speech codes and the idea that words were hate speech. In the last week, Trump supporters are trying to blame “Hollywood” and Democrats for an attack on Republicans by a lone nut. Then, in a twist with no awareness of irony, a couple of twitter trolls shouted down some performance of a play where Julius Caesar was played as Donald Trump while assassinated.

Gabby Giffords was brought up this week by the left, but was effectively blunted by the tired conclusion that a map by Sarah Palin was responsible. Not to make the Trumpers too happy, I’d like to point out that this attack on conservatives is not unique for Trump supporters.

Months before the election of 2012, a gunman tried to enter an office building for the Family Research Council with a bag of Chik-fil-A and the desire to kill some anti-gay people. He was stopped by an unarmed guard who was shot in the process. Was this the result of heated rhetoric on gay rights? Maybe. It’s also possible that the guy was crazy.

 


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Parliamentary Government Isn’t Any Better

June 9, 2017
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ISIS may be better at influencing elections than Russia.

It took years for UKIP to actually hold the Brexit referendum last year. Since 1993, the European Union went from an economic collaboration to a political one. Germany was the most powerful economic member and therefore controls most EU-based rules and regulations. Given the presence of the EU in the life of Britons, notably in encouraging more refugees from Muslim countries, an up or down vote was something of a reset of what used to be a simple economic pact.

Brexit won the popular vote with about 52% and British government was shaken up. Theresa May became the new Prime Minister and promised to go forward with leaving the EU. This year, she decided to hold elections (something you can do in England) in an attempt to cement the lead of the Conservative Party. Unfortunately, a series of terrorist attacks caused the Conservatives to lose support, in part because May had reduced the number of law enforcement personnel in her role as Home Secretary.

The Conservative Party was lukewarm on Brexit. May’s predecessor David Cameron actually opposed it, forcing his resignation after the vote. They now have a minority in Parliament and will have to find at least one party with seats that would not actively oppose Brexit.

For the US, this provides some parallel to the Trump presidency. After the surprise success of Brexit, Trump claimed a similar ability to beat the polls (and especially poll-based prognostication) and did. The vote was also close, except the popular margin was on his opponent’s side. In the US, however, elections occur every 2 years. Like Brexit, Trump’s administration will be in effect regardless of the the votes. Also, like Brexit, the effectiveness of the movement will be greatly impacted by that vote.


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Preference Arcade

May 29, 2017
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Even though frogs are cold-blooded, they will not just sit around in hot water just because it is heated slowly. By the same token, the power of a preference cascade is dubious as well. Around 2012, Obama opponents were hoping for a significant change in attitude that would lead to Obama failing to secure a second term. He did end up losing millions of votes relative to 2008 (while Romney gained a million over McCain’s totals) but still won a second term.

The left has has lost their sense of reality, mostly manufactured, where Republicans were either a permanent minority or had to drop all the conservatism they embraced over a decade earlier. Donald Trump found success doubling down on border walls, torture and scorched earth toward anyone standing too close to a terrorist. Then he crushed the left by succeeding with old-fashioned rallies and personal attacks on Hillary Clinton. Mostly, the left could not conceive of being bad at running a campaign, the thing that ultimately lost Clinton the election.

Elections have consequences, but the left is used to eliminating score-keeping, enforcing speech codes and tearing down statues that commemorate things they deem bad history. They are now trying to create a preference cascade where people are either afraid or disgusted enough with Donald Trump that demands for an impeachment would be accepted. The problem is that another preference cascade got in the way.

A mob of people don’t suddenly wake up and decide to overthrow a dictator. People get progressively disheartened and worried for the way of life for them and future generations. Eventually, an event or series of events provides an opportunity. Conservatives did pretty well on that front in the 80’s and 90’s but stalled out by 2006. After Bush’s War on Terror victories, the GOP tried to maintain majorities by keeping the same people in office for a second decade.

A liberal made a movie about how her dad was “brainwashed” by Fox News and talk radio into being a “racist” conservative. In reality, Democrats who have been in the party since the Kennedy era have seen a party that has changed their ideology and priorities. Still, they held on through Bill Clinton and even voted for Ozone Man Al Gore. What started to change affiliation, not belief, for Clinton Democrats was the War on Terror. Hillary Clinton voted for the war, which should have been enough for her to beat Obama in 2008. Instead, it was the point where Clinton parted ways from her husband. She prioritized affirmative hiring and denying Muslim terror at the State Department.

The preference cascade for Donald Trump was significant, if not very large. He ended up with just under a million more popular votes that Bush got in his 2004 reelection win. This did, however, prove that what the candidate says or does may be more important than their political prowess. Also, people are not frogs.


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The Most Dangerous Game

May 14, 2017
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Donald Trump is not a great president. He reminds me of the kind of self-promoting guy at work who makes a big deal out of ordinary accomplishments and slacks off on the day to day drudgery everyone else has to pick up. Rather than draining the swamp, Trump has only proven that the swamp has been in charge for decades.

Since the swamp runs the country, the guy sitting at the big desk is mostly ballast. Barack Obama is a good example of this. His two biggest and worst accomplishments have been to transfer one trillion dollars to Democratic Party interest groups and to preside over a health care law where insurance companies conceded to giving preexisting conditions a pass in health care cost to individuals. That genie is unlikely to go back into the bottle and it will eventually cost everyone else.

Otherwise, there were no FEMA camps. Terrorism is closer to home, but is costing fewer lives overseas. Immigration is about the same and it will be years until we see if Trump’s tough talk leads to action. Obama was a lousy president and that gave us a Republican majority and a Republican president.

The legacy will be the deciding factor in Trump’s success. In terms of action, he has mostly reversed Obama’s Executive Orders with his own and appointed a Supreme Court Justice almost any other Republican might have. What his supporters love is his attitude toward the media, both threatening, dismissing and bypassing them as much as possible. Obama poked at his opponents, too (“I won”) and that hurt the Democrats. Could Trump instigate a bloodbath for the GOP in 2018?

I was looking through my old posts from 2012 and the harsh criticisms of Romney. Like Trump, he wasn’t as ideologically conservative and he attacked his own party’s contenders; qualities I don’t like. However, I also criticized Romney for not taking on the Democratic nominee as much and not being as steadfast in his beliefs. Also, I have thought for years that no party has been tough enough on immigration.

If you look at the 2008 landslide where Democrats cemented their majority and briefly got a 60 seat majority in the Senate, the media started telling stories of a “permanent majority” and the death of the Republican Party. Instead of demoralizing them, it alerted opponents of Democrats that they may only have one shot to change the narrative. However, the GOP still lost the presidency.

in many cases, the media will prefer a Republican presidential candidate and give him better coverage. When he’s a talkative candidate, they can then use everything they say against them in the general election. The problem is that every Republican since Nixon has been Satan and when everyone is Satan, you can’t tell who is actually good or bad.

Trump became the choice of the media because he would do every interview and he was blowing up the Republican field. Every victory was an upset and every debate was an event. Eventually, the Left could just talk about him not paying workers or dodging taxes and knock him out of the general election.

It was a dangerous game and the Left lost. Since the only good Republican in the one who loses, they could not conceive of a “best” candidate to become president from the GOP. Trump was media savvy and chose to cut off communication with the non-Fox media after the nomination, choosing instead to do a number of big rallies which served as free infomercials from the media.

Obama proved he was able to excite the media into promoting him. Trump was able to use the media to promote himself. Obama’s coattails vanished after less than a year in office. Trump’s coattails were nonexistent in 2016 and may be less so in 2018. If that’s the case, he’d be the one to lose the game.


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Obama Changed the Game

May 7, 2017
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Most of the slogans about health care plans in the government involve the term “access to quality health care” or some variant. Obamacare tried to focus on access only and did very little about quality. However, it created a series of mandates for who gets insurance and that has changed the discussion of health care.

The reason we don’t have a “risk pool” in government health care is not because Democrats care so much about everyone, but because it was not part of the Senate bill for Obamacare. Back in 2010, the election of Scott Brown made it impossible for the Congress to pass a joint Senate / House bill. The Democrats ran out of time. Instead, they chose to let the House, still run by them, to pass the Senate bill, which had been passed already. It was devoid of a risk pool for the people who couldn’t get insurance, otherwise known as the “public option.”

I wrote about the fact that health care legislation has done little to address the $7,000 per person that health care costs in the US. The costs were shifted slightly, but the larger number of people paying premiums has been overtaken by the increased number of people getting health care. While the law allows for plans for people with preexisting conditions, they still have to pay for it.

Of course, everyone thinks there’s an answer to health care. For this country, the answer is that many of us pay a lot without getting much. Some people have the misfortune of getting more than they put in, which usually means they are pretty ill. Some people get crappy government health care like Medicaid and the VA and some people can’t afford insurance. The only difference is that now, politicians are afraid to stop giving free insurance to people. Welcome to the risk pool.


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Executive Review

April 30, 2017
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Just linking to a Time article can open a can of worms, but this article about President Trump’s actions that have no impact on the government pretty much sums up what I’ve been seeing. For example, the Travel Ban 2.0 is limited in scope to the point where it only impacts the issuance of new Visas. First, the White House runs the State Department. Trump can simply tell the embassies in those six countries that they may not issue new Visas. At the same time, federal judges have no reason to issue an injunction since the order has the same effect as existing executive authority. It isn’t that Donald Trump is putting on a show. Everyone is.

The confirmation of Judge Gorsuch is a big win… for the Senate. The Senate took the political hit for not having confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland. The Senate expanded┬áthe filibuster rules to include Supreme Court justices. If Trump had decided to nominate some socialist, a few Republicans would have broken off and denied him the confirmation, assuming Democrats maintained their anti-Trump stand.

Trump’s Executive Orders have generally called for reviews or directives that were well within the powers of cabinet departments already. One of the latest EOs stated that the government was going to enforce immigration law. This is already the law, and yet a federal judge restrained that order as well. Fighting a media war is something Trump excels at, but the government should do something.


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100 Days of Trump

April 29, 2017
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100 days is a mostly meaningless standard. The concept goes back to FDR, for whom government was the parent telling every free citizen what to do. Having majorities in Congress gave him a rubber stamp to write any crazy law and pass it. In fact, it took more than 100 days for the Supreme Court to water down some of that socialism even under the threat of packing it with new members.

At best, it’s only possible to give a pass or fail grade on a presidency that is about 7% complete. On that note, I give President Trump a passing grade.

My problems with Trump had less to do with him not supporting basic Republican concepts than with him squandering the possibilities with having a Republican in the White House. I was also pretty confident he would lose, but the Electoral College can be a mercurial thing sometimes. However, Trump nominated a Supreme Court Justice who was confirmed by the Senate. Trump also signed a number of Executive Orders designed to reverse the last months of late decisions by Obama to tie up the country in regulations.

However, a 60 member majority in the Senate gave Obama a great deal of power for a while. Basically, anything could pass as long as the entire Democratic Party caucus could stay together. For the most part, that meant Obamacare.

The main difference with Trump over other Republicans is that he has fully embraced the concept of rapid response and encourages it among his supporters. Bill Clinton had a team dedicated to it. Obama relied on the media for it. George W. Bush had nothing of the sort and his approval rating sank during the last third of his presidency. I find it unfortunate that it needs to be done and I worry about a country where perception is reality. On the other hand, if this is how it works, you might as well have the best guy doing it.


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Flash Thordon

April 14, 2017
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The Marvel Studios movies coming out since 2008’s Iron Man changed the way studios and comic publishers approach their material. Stan Lee has been pitching Marvel characters for decades and many ill-considered TV and movie one-offs have been the result. DC owned the 70’s and 80’s with Superman and Batman. Other studios had good success with X-Men and Spider-Man and less with the Fantastic Four.

Eventually, Marvel decided to produce their own material. However, only lesser characters like Iron Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers were left. Marvel managed to gain fans not due to the fame of their characters, but their understanding of what comic fans, and other movie goers, want.

Of course, I saw both Thor and Thor 2 in theaters. The first was good, the second, not so much. I’m not sure about the third one. I know one thing. The trailer is cool. Led Zepplin is in the background, the graphics and adventure remind me of Flash Gordon from 1980 and the visuals are pretty awesome.


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Fox Blues

April 12, 2017
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A year ago, Fox News had a full boat.

Bill O’Reilly started off prime time, followed by newly promoted Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity bumped to 10pm. Greta was pushed back to 7pm and Shep only had 1 hour of himself. Over the next months, Kelly became a sore point with the Trump campaign. She eventually left for a bigger contract. Roger Ailes, who made FNC what it is, was fired for increasing claims of sexual harassment. Greta used an option in her contract that allowed her to leave if Ailes left Fox. She ended up on MSNBC. O’Reilly went on vacation yesterday amid his own sexual harassment scandal and may never be back. Now the top-rated Fox show is Tucker Carlson Tonight, a show that grabs headlines with tough interviews of soft liberals.

Also, Red Eye was canceled last week. One has to wonder if the Murdochs are cleaning house.

As bad as last year was, this may be the biggest shake up in Fox News history. O’Reilly is responsible for 20 hours a week of programming and he’s consistently gotten high ratings for 20 years. Tucker is doing well now, but Glenn Beck was a brief ratings powerhouse. In fact, Tucker led a show on CNN and one on MSNBC. Both eventually failed. Cramming pro-Trump programming into the schedule will work for now, but some of his supporters are already tiring of this White House and Fox’s First 100 Days program is almost past its time limit.

Originally, Rupert Murdoch wanted a Fox New channel and hired Roger Ailes because he knew how to program it. Ailes knew that there was an underserved market of conservatives who wanted news to at least be even-handed. Now that Ailes’ leadership has fallen apart, Murdoch’s sons are in charge. By all accounts, they are not conservative and the vision of Fox News may only last as long as liberal alternatives fail on the channel. Someday, there may be nothing else.


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