Days of Change

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 the 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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Disrupters

April 7, 2017
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It took about 12 hours after the Syria bombing by the Trump White House to separate Trump supporters into two groups. The ones who turned on him had an idea of Trump in their minds that did not match his actions last night. Many of those still supporting Trump, even praising his actions, are disrupters.

One of the Trump Train slogans is that they take Donald Trump seriously, but not literally. If you take this statement literally, it is quite worrisome. It means that Trump says things as a manipulation technique to elicit a response. Essentially, truth and lies don’t exist. By the time a lie is fully exposed, it doesn’t matter because you’ve wasted time exposing something trivial, which is what Trump supposedly wanted.

Trump has said that he doesn’t want to get into a war in Syria, but he also loves to talk about “bombing the shit” out of hostile regimes. Some major Trumpers (like Ann Coulter) have soured on Trump over this bombing because no illegals were killed. Of course, Coulter was also a fan of Chris Christie back in 2012 until he hugged Obama.

More interesting are creepers like Mike Cernovich who have found Trump lacking. Back in 2015, I wrote about how Trump combined fringe conservative slogans with the alpha-male personality of a pick up artist. Cernovich has talked about how to control women in relationships but was ironically the one manipulated by an alpha male into voting against his beliefs.

With Trump in the 30% approval range, most of his core support are disrupters. They wanted to blow up the system because they got tired of spending election after election with winners who didn’t change anything. I already dealt with that during the Bush administration. I voted for him, supported him over the Iraq War, got tired of his economy, got annoyed by John Kerry, voted for him anyway and was ultimately satisfied with the job he did.

At some point, the disrupters have to either decide they are happy with Trump only stirring the pot or they will go full Joker and only be satisfied with watching the world burn. I’m still indifferent. Trump is certainly capable of doing things rights, but his most ardent supporters admit you can’t believe what he says. If he does for the GOP what Obama did for the Democrats, it will confirm my choice of Gary Johnson last year.


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The Show That Persisted

April 4, 2017
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The news came out yesterday that Fox News’ late night panel show Red Eye has been cancelled and the last episode will be this week. Red Eye started unpolished, with guests who were personal acquaintances of Greg Gutfeld from publishing or musicians he liked, along with any Fox News talent he could cajole. Over the last decade, the show has become more professional, with an an actor / comedian (and now author) as host and a more consistent stable of guests.

This effectively ends my daily viewership of Fox News. I don’t have much time for the news shows and I don’t care for the evening shows. My various computer hard drive will be relieved as I have been saving clips since 2007 and recording with my VCR even earlier when I couldn’t stay up at 2am, the original time slot.

Farewell. Please let Greg’s guests out of the activity pit in his basement now.


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Best Interests

April 3, 2017
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In the last 100 years, Over 40 people have been appointed to the Supreme Court. Some who were nominated have withdrawn. Only 4 were rejected outright by the Senate. Every single rejection was by a Democrat Senate to a Republican nominee.

Public relations battles have brought some success to Democrats. They were able to point to Robert Bork as an extremist, making future nominees choose their words carefully. Harriet Miers (nominated by a Republican) was criticized for not being a judge, even though Elena Kagan eventually became a Justice (nominated by a Democrat).

The success of the Democrats with SCOTUS may explain why they never allowed the “nuclear option” of a simple majority for the Court. They always win. Even with a Republican president and Congress, they are trying to stop the next nominee by filibuster.

One of three things could happen. The Democrats decide to let the nomination go through and Gorsuch is confirmed with 52 votes. The Democrats could filibuster and the Republicans could back down. The likely option is that Democrats make a big show out of filibustering to raise some donations, the Republicans change the Senate rules and Gorsuch is confirmed with 52 votes.

For Democrats, this is a lose-lose. Republicans can appoint anyone they want, Democrats will be seen as stupid and Gorsuch will be on the Supreme Court. They can’t even work in their best interests anymore.


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Maybe It Should Be Replace and Repeal

March 26, 2017
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I think the AHCA vote is a good example of this new administration. Donald Trump promised much and has delivered little. His priorities are more toward monetary policy than domestic policy. It also seems that the White House and the Tea Party that created the Freedom Caucus are not in sync.

To avoid sounding like a RINO, some of the Trump supporters on the right have been using conservative talking points that are ineffective to a general audience. When they say voting down taxes and insurance coverage requirements will create choice and competition and lower costs, it’s pretty easy for the media to translate that as cutting taxes for the rich and taking away health care.

Repeal on Day 1 was going to be impossible with 52 Republican Senators. Replacement is less likely. Now, the GOP has decided that “Let Obamacare Die” is the new slogan, which is dangerously close to Alan Grayson’s suggestion of the GOP wanting people to die quickly. What needs to be done is tort reform and that can happen at the state level. When damages are reduced, malpractice insurance goes down, defensive medicine is reduced and health care becomes less expensive.

It looks like Obamacare will have to be replaced from the outside until repealing it will merely be a formality. Maybe we can build a wall around it.


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