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Citizens or subjects?

Red wave, blue wave or wave bye-bye?

Now that school has started, the first snows have fallen on the ski hills of the Rockies, and a memorial and funeral event that was televised longer than JFK’s is over, people are beginning to focus more on the upcoming midterm elections.

It remains to be seen whether the pollsters still predicting a blue wave are as far off in 2018 as they were in 2016.

That kind of depends on why 62 million people upset the Democrat’s apple cart in 2016.

It wasn’t that all of them were rabid “Apprentice” fans. Some didn’t even like Trump, voting for others in the primaries.

Still, for a lot of them it was about breaking the stranglehold Washington D.C. had on their lives.

For at least a decade, it seemed to many that they were less citizens of the United States than they were subjects of a corrupt cabal of greedy and unprincipled American oligarchs.

Every once and awhile you hear some talking head opine that Trump voters didn’t intend for Donald Trump to be a disrupter.

A lot those chowder heads know…that’s exactly why people voted for the most unlikely person imaginable to become President of the United States. That, and because as improbable as it seemed, they believed he would do the things he said he would do.

They certainly got disruption, but what is also true is that very few realized how hard and dirty the swamp dwellers would fight to stay in power, perhaps because no one understood just how much the Dems had to hide.

President Trump has accomplished lot of what he said he would do, but  he’s done it while being harried at every turn by a polyglot pack of people on both sides of the aisle who depend on things in Washington to stay the same. Otherwise, God help ’em, they might have to get real jobs.

That’s not to say Trump has always helped his own cause.  Some of his outbursts sound like and are about as useful as trying to run a glass beer bottle through a garbage disposal. Yeah, the bottle is destroyed, but so is the disposal.

That’s left some of his supporters wondering if giving him more Republicans would help or hurt, since a good portion of the ones who are there now aren’t exactly on his side.

The danger in that line of thinking is that some of his 2016 voters might just stay home on November 6, perhaps feeling that even he can’t defeat the system.

Others wonder if even if they do preserve or even increase the Republican majority, would the President take the energy he now uses to fight his enemies, and redirect it toward accomplishing even more of the things they elected him to do?

That’s something only he can answer. If he gets a reasonably foolproof majority in the Senate and retains the House, would he spend less time on Twitter and more time on strategy?

There’s still 2020. If he expects to be re-elected, what he would do with a smoother path for the next two years will decide if that happens.

One thing is for sure.  If his backers sit at home in November, they had better brush up on the proper way to perform a kowtow to Washington.

 

TGIF – August 31, 2018

This is not affirmative anything.

Although buried by the coverage of the deaths of Aretha Franklin and John S. McCain, the DOJ’s decision to weigh in on a suit alleging anti-Asian racial bias on the part of Harvard University did make the news yesterday.

If this policy is “affirmative” action, God help us if Harvard ever decides to oppose something or someone.

Harvard has freely admitted that it’s dubious personal ratings evaluation policy marks down Asian students based on such factors as “likeability” and “personality.”

Of course the school could go back to using test scores, extra-curricular and community activity participation and grades as criteria, but that would put them in the awkward position of using merit as a guideline for admission.

Affirmative action, like many such policies, started out with the best of intentions, but has degenerated to being more of a weapon than an asset.

If you believe in the antiquated and arcane theory that colleges and universities exist to educate students, rather than to propagandize them, the DOJ’s decision to become involved in this lawsuit should be worth your continuing attention.

Can Big Tech ever be unbiased?

If you ever had any doubt that Big Tech has a definite liberal lean, this week’s story about the Facebook employees who banded together to combat the company’s liberal, leftist culture should be informative.

Obviously, these folks know they are putting their careers on the line, and so more power to them.

These are private companies, so trying to control their culture via government is problematic. They have as much right to their biases as say, Chic-Fil-A.

But they also purport to be in business to serve as platforms for every citizen to communicate freely.

But let’s not forget, they are businesses, ones whose “product” is us, or rather, our data. They sell that product to their customers, i.e. people who want to sell us “stuff.”

Presumably, their customers don’t care whether a liberal or a conservative buys their shoes, cars, or whatever. After all, green isn’t just about energy.

Probably the best way to ensure less bias is to remove their product from the shelves, i.e. for there to be other communication platforms or even, to communicate in different ways, like oh, using the voice feature of our phones, or mailing out real newsletters.

Perhaps when bias hits these tech companies in the pocketbook, it will incentivize them to become more inclusive.

The best memorial to our heroes.

And finally, if you want to honor your hero, be it Aretha Franklin or John McCain, then donate to one of the companies or researchers seeking to find a cure for the cancers that killed them.

While we have made good strides against some cancers, glioblastoma and pancreatic cancer and other cancers as well are still virtual death sentences.

Perhaps if you can spare a few bucks for flowers, you can also afford to defeat these cancers by supporting those looking for cures and treatments, i.e. the National Cancer Institute and others*.

One word of warning…if you identify a possible donation recipient, check them out.  Make sure they are actually doing good work and look for documentation of how they will use your money.

*The link above is simply an example, and  is not meant in any way to be an endorsement.

Socialism in action.

Want to know how socialism works in actual practice?  Almost as if on cue, California gives us an example.

California’s Senate passed a bill, SB826, mandating that by 2019, i.e. in four months, each publicly owned corporate board must contain at least one woman, and then two for larger than five-member boards and three for boards larger than six by 2021.

The bill isn’t yet a law, since it has only  been passed by the state Senate.

Let’s look at that again.  The government is mandating that private but publicly owned businesses must include women on their boards, not because they are as good or better at corporate management than their male counterparts, but simply because they have lady parts.

Corporate boards do tend to be largely male dominated. According to one source, just 15.8 percent, or 546 of the 3,445 members of 467 publicly traded California boards are women. That may not be a good or even a smart thing, but it is not the issue here.

The issue is whether the government can  take over the operations of non-government owned companies, in the name of equality and social justice.

That my friends, is socialism in practice.

If this were to go through, thereby setting a precedent, there would be nothing to stop Sacramento from expanding its control to requiring such things as adding an undocumented immigrant to the boards, in the name of diversity and social justice.

The bill has received opposition from a number of trade associations, and it will be interesting to see whether it makes it to Governor Moonbeam’s desk before the election.

If not, and assuming California’s Lt. Governor Newsom does indeed win the election, it may well receive another hearing in 2019.

Stay tuned.

The over-triggered left.

Apparently, my Dad was a flaming racist.

My parents tried not to cuss in front of me when I was young, and while my Dad could cuss as well as anyone, he substituted other words (most of the time.)

Thus, when he had me help with something that was kind of hard or technical, he didn’t say “be careful not to F—this up.”

Instead he would say “Be careful not to monkey this up.” If I heard that once, I heard it a thousand times.

Well, dear old Dad probably couldn’t say that today, because somewhere out there is a easily triggered liberal who sees the word monkey as some sort of racial slur.

Somebody once said that you want to be careful about looking for trouble, because if you look too hard, you’ll find it.

That’s kind of where we are with all the fake outrage over a comment made by Ron DeSantis, which the left immediately called “a racist dog whistle.”

Perhaps it would be better if DeSantis had simply said what he meant…namely “The last thing we need to do is to F—this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.”

He surely couldn’t have stirred up anymore outrage had he done so.

California – guinea pig politics.

The man widely thought to be the next governor of California is all in on “free” (actually universal single payer) healthcare for everyone who resides in the state, including illegal residents.

Meanwhile,  the current governor has abolished cash bail for people arrested for crimes, relying instead on judges and an as-yet-to-be created algorithm to determine who should go free pending trial.

Interestingly,  it is reported that some of the former supporters of cashless bail, like the ACLU now don’t like it, apparently because it might turn out to be, you guessed it, racist.

To all of this we say…you go, Cali.

Far better to let one state test out all of these liberal and socialist theories than to have them inflicted upon the nation by the next Democrat-controlled Congress.

Of course none of this stuff is really “free.” The healthcare costs will instead be funded by increased taxes, sliding scale fees (the “wealthy” pay more) and in the case of the model used in San Francisco, employer mandates and federal money.

If a judge decides that Joe Shmuck should have to wear an ankle bracelet upon release, the cost of providing and monitoring it will be paid by John Q. Taxpayer.

Of course to a certain extent it is anyway, since the courts and law enforcement budgets are derived from taxes. Maybe taxpayers can’t fully control the those budgets, but at least there are budgets. It is highly unlikely those budget  constraints will continue to exist as these changes occur.

California is now reported to be the 10th highest taxed state.  If gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom gets his way, look for them to shoot to numero uno, displacing current leader, New York.

The nice thing about this taxpayer funded healthcare is that it will attract a lot more people, both north and south of the border to move to the state,  thus increasing the taxpayer population.

The only fly in the ointment?  We might have to build another wall, to keep them there.

More alike than they admitted.

It’s funny how alike John McCain and Donald Trump were temperamentally, but it surely explains why each despised the other.

Of course Trump did insult the late ‘s military service during the campaign. Not even the staunchest Trump ally can deny that.

But McCain didn’t exactly praise the other candidate either.

So, how were these two men alike?

Both had foul mouths and often spoke without considering the consequences, both were idealists, both had flashpoint tempers and both were counter punchers. Both stanchly defended their political positions, McCain often in favor of  a pathway to citizenship for resident illegal immigrants, while Trump only agreed to it as a bargaining chip to get his border wall built.

McCain was a by-the-book kind of guy, while Trump considers the book to often be the problem.

McCain didn’t support requiring immigrants to learn English, while Trump has often  said that acquiring a working knowledge of English should be a prerequisite for citizenship. Immigration reform didn’t mean the same thing to McCain as it does to Trump.

McCain often accused anyone in favor of mass deportations of being racist, while Trump feels that breaking the law by entering illegally is a valid reason to consider illegal aliens of any nationality to be lawbreakers and thus subject to automatic deportation.

Politically, the two men had vast differences, but temperamentally, they were far more alike than it is likely either cared to admit.

Justifying the cost of healthcare.

With another year ending and health insurance premium increases once again in the news, it might be time to ask if the first thing we should do is control the cost of care as an avenue to controlling premiums.

As this article illustrates, price gouging by some health care providers is an ongoing, and some would say pervasive problem that contributes to the cost of insurance.

Obviously trying to set a national average for procedures and equipment would be another one of those ineffective “one-size-fits-all” non-solutions.

But setting some sort of reasonable and necessary mark-up standard for providers might just provide the sort of cost control that would help to control insurance premium costs.

As the above-referenced article notes, some providers seem to assign highly inflated billing costs relative to their actual costs.

Now, we know that no business can afford to sell things at cost, but should they be able to more than quadruple their costs?

For instance the article mentions two coronary stents that cost the hospital in question $1,153 each, but were billed to the patient at a marked-up price of $19,708 each.

Mark-up is how businesses pay for ancillary costs, such as taxes, building maintenance, and salaries. Businesses also build profit into mark-up, usually at a net  of around 4 to 10 percent after taxes.

Either the hospital is an Olympic class price gouger, or their costs of doing business need to be controlled.

Another problem is whether the provider passes all post insurance payment balances on to their customers.

Most insurers require the patient to have some responsibility for the costs (deductibles and co-pays), but even if the provider says they accept insurance as payment in full in their advertising, many will insist that patients sign a document that negates that policy. Hospitals in particular are prone to doing that. Fail to sign, and they simply tell you to go somewhere else.

So perhaps while we are worrying about socialized medicine, we should also worry about whether over-charging would make that impossible, even if we wanted to put the government in charge of our health.

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John McCain – 1936-2018.  Warrior, defender of the flag, idealist, maverick and patriot.    RIP.