Days of Change

Tip of the Spear

July 31, 2017
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Arizona Senator Jeff Flake was not a big fan of Donald Trump from the beginning. Even though he just wrote his version of “The Conscience of a Conservative,” named after the original statement of principles written by Barry Goldwater, Flake was pondering more than his conscience. The Senator is facing a tough reelection next year and he was either going to have to play to the Trump base or run as the anti-Trump. That choice is now clear.

Kelli Ward, an Arizona state senator, is again going for the brass ring of a Senate seat. Even though she publicly suggested that John McCain should step down and she be appointed to the Senate, Ward is actually gunning for Jeff Flake in the GOP primary. She is a full-on Trumper and the president is pretty obviously in her camp. It would be almost impossible for Flake to run to the right of Ward and he has instead decided to take the mantle of “traditional” conservative who believes in ideas, not fighting and signing things just to see his signature.

While Senators Murkowski and Collins are tacitly opposing the Trump steamroller, neither are up for reelection next year. For good or ill, Flake is the tip of the spear. He is ideologically opposed to Trump, even if he votes for Trump-friendly legislation. Trumpers want his head on a platter in the primary next year. Democrats are unimpressed by Flake, even if they have no alternative in their party at the moment. The good news for Trump is that only 7 other GOP Senators have to make a similar decision.


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Endangered Species

July 30, 2017
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I’m not really worried about what Donald Trump will do to this country.

Barack Obama turned out to be largely a tool of the Democratic Party. His presence allowed the Democrats to strip away American exceptionalism by making America a subordinate to globalism. We have partial socialized medicine and a regulatory state that makes being a citizen slightly illegal.

If anything, Trump is a hindrance to the Republican Party. He quit the GOP in 1999 when he tried to become the Reform Party nominee. Months later, he quit the Reform party when he discovered that another colorful billionaire still had control over it. As president, Trump has the power of Executive Orders, but will shortly have limited power over Russian sanctions. He also nominated a Supreme Court justice, but Mitch McConnell’s Senate put him on the bench. The Republican agenda will continue, just less of it.

I am worried about the Republican Party, however. When Ronald Reagan became president, he was also a hindrance to the GOP at the time. They were a party of bean counters, willing to raise taxes to counter spending. They were fighting Communism, but their battle for Civil Rights had recently ended. Blacks with voting rights and equality gave way to Democrats offering welfare. Reagan changed the coalition. Many Carter voters saw his Christian values turn into dope smoking and Iranian hostage misery and blue collar workers suffered the malaise of exploding inflation.

Social conservatism is being reformed into this libertarian model of “do what you want, but leave me alone.” Gay marriage is great, closing bakeries for not catering gay weddings is still bad. Of course, as each domino falls, mostly Christian-based values are marginalized. If you want to see the worst of America’s future, just look at the EU. And if you don’t like the restrictiveness of Christian values, too bad. Socialism’s disdain for the family and Islamic breeding culture means you’ll get Sharia law instead.

Scott Walker, and to a lesser extent Ted Cruz, represented the Christian conservative working within the confines of the Republican Party. Donald Trump represents the old man who used to be a progressive until progress went to fast for him. He knows what he doesn’t like, he’s just not sure why.

In a little over a year, there will be an election and we could very well see a new Republican Party of untethered, Tea Party dilettantes who define their values by what the other side wants.

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The Most Dangerous Man in America

July 28, 2017
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John McCain is a man with (probably) nothing left to lose. Aside from his health, McCain was probably not going to run or win in 2022. He had a choice of either sticking it to Obama, who responded “I won” when McCain questioned the effectiveness of the ACA, or sticking it to Trump when he said McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was a POW. He picked the current guy in the White House.

Trump has been pulling the Obamacare rip cord since the first House vote failed earlier this year. This morning, he yet again referred to Obamacare failing on its own and claiming that will lead to ultimate victory. Yet, he still blames the people who voted no for robbing him of immediate triumph.

Of course, McCain may be the only one who didn’t replay the Obamacare process 7 years later. Remember when a brain cancer-stricken Ted Kennedy was wheeled in to vote for a half-assed bill that was eventually passed by the House with no changes because they had already screwed over the entire Republican Party? This time, a stricken Senator chose not to pass a half-assed bill that could eventually be passed by the House with no changes.

During the landfill fire of a 2016 election season, I watched as Republicans tried to put Jeb, then Rubio and eventually Kasich in front of Trump to get someone other than Ted Cruz nominated. Then I heard about possible convention fights and third party candidates. Then there were the faithless electors, too few to make any difference. Since 2009, the GOP has lived in fear of what the Tea Party might do and Donald Trump is the nightmare.

The party is afraid to do anything and with good reason. Trump wants a health care bill that covers everyone, costs Americans nothing and saves trillions of dollars. Since that is actually impossible, any failures will be blamed on the party Trump is waging war on. In other words, Trump is for Trump, Democrats and Republicans better watch themselves.

The thing that got Trump the Republican nomination, the GOP’s reluctance to make hard decisions, is the same thing that lost the health care repeal. On top of that, there is very little in the way of political cost. Lisa Murkowski already survived being primaried once. Susan Collins can likely beat any challenger as she is the most popular Senator within the confines of a state.

At least we still have that Supreme Court justice. Donald Trump did one thing.

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Doctor Her

July 17, 2017
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Over a decade ago, Doctor Who explained to his companion that the Earth would be gone in the future and that humans would eventually go out among the universe and learn to interact with various aliens. With that, the first bisexual character was created on the show. It was inevitable from there.

Around 2014, I missed a Saturday airing of Doctor Who on BBC America. From there, I found there was no turning back. I have watched very in the little in the way of new episodes. The series had become formulaic, message-heavy and relied too much on bringing back a “classic” villain instead of developing stories about the human condition.

I think the fact that classic fans have become disinterested and a new crop of fanboys / fangirls want to push gender fluidity as far as they can, the producers probably figured a female Doctor would be the best way to keep the struggling series from cancellation (again). Now, if they had dropped this in after David Tennant, I might have been properly pissed, as a Brit might say. Instead, there is no real tradition left anyway.

I doubt if I am anything but indifferent over this.

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Good News, Bad Conclusions

July 15, 2017
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President Trump’s war on the media has been more of a “throw the baby out with the bathwater” than a “one bad apple spoils the bunch” approach. Getting facts wrong isn’t nearly as bad as the wrong conclusions being drawn from information. Is there a crime regarding Trump campaign dealings with Russia? It doesn’t matter, because the authorities have to make those accusations and courts have to draw those conclusions.

Instead of focusing on something that will take months to investigate, yet is reported on daily, here’s a small example of a real story that take pains to draw conclusions that are more opinion than reality. After seeing the story on ABC, I found a Buzzfeed (yeah, Buzzfeed) article about a Mexican town densely populated by dentists. The facts are that Americans are going to Mexico for dental work because these Mexican dentists charge less. That story would be good for about 500 words, so 2000 more go into why this is Donald Trump’s fault and why we need socialized dentistry.

Opening the web page, the actual title states that dental work is so expensive in the US that thousands of Americans go to Mexico to get it done. This is a fact. However, the headline of the page is “A Mexican Town Is Giving Americans Something Donald Trump Can’t: Affordable Dental Care.” That is less accurate, making the story about Donald Trump, who had no involvement in the years it took for that town to set up 600 dental practices or the time it took for thousands of Americans to learn about it.

Interviews focus on retirees and Veterans, neither of whom have inclusive dental coverage. For the sake of the article’s POV, they were asked if they voted for Trump, which they did. The irony is that within the story itself, the author points out that Obamacare largely left out dental coverage in their attempt at socialized medicine. Much like all Buzzfeed stories, they also summarized it in an even more biased YouTube video.

The reason why so many people either distrust or actually hate the media is because they start with a conclusion, then find things to confirm their bias. Cheap dentistry in the US would be good, but did Trump ever argue that Americans shouldn’t visit Mexico or that Mexican dentists shouldn’t treat US citizens? Would voting for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump had led to low dental prices? It sure didn’t under Obama.

Without media commentary, this would be a story about the free market. Dental work is expensive and insurance doesn’t always cover it. You could travel to Mexico, but you don’t know the quality of care and there is time and money involved. The first people to do this version of medical tourism were RV owners, who had time and the vehicle to make the trip. Retirees and some veterans followed. Instead of accreditation, (for 600 dentists) Americans used word of mouth (pun not intended) to find the best dentists. The town in question has done as much as possible to accommodate valuable clients. They set up offices like American dental offices. Their office people speak English (many have been deported from the US). The dentists buy equipment and materials from American suppliers. The Mexican labs where dentures are made are the same ones where American dentists outsource their own appliances.

The facts I mentioned are in the article and the attached video. However, the story is promoted as an attack on Trump, also because of the free market. The anti-Trump media is seeing an increase in sales and viewership, largely due to Trump. It almost seems like free market economics creates solutions to problems and upsides from downsides.

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July 11, 2017
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Almost 100 years ago, the Republicans began a dozen year run as the majority in the House and Senate. The Democrats largely ran the table for the next 60 years until Newt Gingrich exploited voter dissatisfaction with both Congressional Democrats and President Clinton. Exactly two Republican presidents since the New Deal have had majorities in both Houses, George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump.

Presidents can say a lot of things, but Congress has the duty to create the laws or repeal them, as the case may be. When the Congress and president are in the same party, it can be a powerful combination. The Democrats managed to use it to spread creeping socialism for generations.

In the game of politics, winning the presidency is defense. You can use it to keep legislation without a clear majority from passing. The legislature is offense. They make the changes and when 1,000 page pieces of legislation are passed, they pretty much control every piece of the machine of government. However, the perception is that the president is the offense and the Congress is the defense.

Part of the problem with Donald Trump is that he believes he is the quarterback. He expects Republicans in Congress to take the hit on Obamacare without putting any proverbial skin in the game. He also thinks it is an essential function of the White House to negate every media story critical of his presidency. Offense may be a good defense, but a rigorous defense may not be any good.

We’re approaching the 6 month mark in this presidential term. Due to the active nature of the White House on social media, support and opposition both remain high. However, mild distaste is also growing. Today’s spin on Donald Trump Jr., semi-advisor to the president, is that even though he talked to Russian surrogates about dirt on Hillary Clinton, nothing illegal happened. However, Don Jr. is also not too bright and therefore can be forgiven for not remembering the meeting, even though he published e-mails of this forgotten meeting within hours.

This is probably the left’s Plan D. Trap Trump in an endless cycle of media trashing while Morning Mika gets a huge book deal, MSNBC ratings are growing and Fox and Friends becomes unwatchable. Meanwhile, a fairly pointless travel ban is being fought in the courts and the Obamacare repeal replace rewrite repair is stalled indefinitely. Conservatives won. Where’s the damn prize?

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Liars Lying About Liars

July 1, 2017
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A dumpster fire is a special kind of mess where the thing being consumed by flame becomes more offensive, not less. Now, if you imagine said fire being started by two groups throwing Molotov cocktails at each other until one hits the dumpster, you get an idea of the Trump presidential social media story of the week.

Donald Trump rarely explains his thought processes. It is more likely that surrogates or supporters will ascribe creative or intelligent motivations to Trump’s words and he will agree with those conclusions. Most of Trump’s actual speeches are incoherent or filled with more weasel words than Bill Clinton testimony. However, his detractors are further upset, his supporters are thrilled (up their legs) and the rest just sigh and pretend Trump isn’t the de facto head of the Republican Party.

The media, of course, brought all the disdain of Trumpers on themselves. Print and cable media have especially focused on resisting Donald Trump rather than resisting the urge to release stories that are poorly sourced or provably false. That’s not all, however. Media outlets gave inordinate attention to Trump during the primaries because he was a disruptor. He insulted other Republicans and looked like he would lose the general election for the party.

Then there’s Morning Joe. Their points about Trump’s penchant for retaliation and weird obsession with female blood were accurate. However, the claims that Trump “changed” after he became president are completely ridiculous. Donald Trump likes to be “in charge” but he doesn’t like responsibility. His lieutenants are his family members and the loyalists he’s accumulated over the years. He takes ownership of any success and has someone ready to blame when he fails.

The media decided that they could handle Trump and win the presidency for Hillary Clinton. Well, they gambled at the Trump Casino and lost. Like any other gambling, the winning move is not to play.

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