Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
It seems like the experts are ignoring the obvious. President Obama announced sanctions against the Russians for interfering in the election. There were frequent stories in the press claiming or speculating about collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. In this environment, an admission that Mr. Flynn had talked to the Russians during the transition in December would be transformed by the press into an admission that he had colluded with the Russians during the campaign. With the inctment a few days ago ABC wrongly reported just this and there is media speculation that Flynn will now tell all about campaign collusion.
Mr. Flynn likely also thought his phone calls were private. He wouldn't know the government was listening in on his conversations (though given today's technology, we should probably all assume our conversations are not private). So he may have thought they couldn't prove he had made the calls.
Given the constant calls for Russia investigations from the media and congress, is it any wonder Michael Flynn didn't want to give anti-Trump forces ammunition for their campaign against he new president?
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Thursday, October 5, 2017
It is interesting though to hear the complaints about our health care system when the woman found out she can't sign up for insurance (would need to wait a month for open enrollment and it wouldn't take effect until next year). Her local hospital also won't take her as a charity case so she's had to spend part of her savings to pay for doctors. I'm guessing she doesn't have enough savings to pay for her needed surgery.
I haven't gotten into the details of why this woman doesn't already have health coverage and don't intend to (I don't need to trigger a bunch of name calling on social media) but my guess is she doesn't have coverage available through any employer (not sure if she has a job or if her business is full time). Apparently she also didn't see any need to sign up through the Exchanges (Obamacare) and now she finds she doesn't have insurance.
She complains that Obamacare was supposed to get rid of pre-existing condition requirements. This is true, but ONLY if you sign up during open enrollment or some other defined time.
So we get more complaints about our health care system, and again it's somebody who didn't bother to plan ahead.
Monday, September 25, 2017
Both sides of the political spectrum are playing some interesting politics.
On the left there is a website theprolifeway.com, combined with Twitter ads, which argued that the latest Obamacare repeal attempt was "pro-abortion" because women would lose insurance and abort their baby to avoid paying for the birth, thus attempting to fool anti-abortion activists into opposing the Republican bill.
On the other side, a House subcommittee has released a report excoriating the CFPB for levying too small a fine on Wells Fargo for their unwanted account scandal. This is Republicans (normally pro business) arguing that the (much disliked by conservatives) CFPB is soft on Wall Street.
They're getting more creative, turning around the other side's arguments.
Monday, August 14, 2017
In the long run, electric vehicles will replace internal combustion vehicles. Once battery technology becomes good enough to provide a large enough range, fast charging, etc. at a lower cost than gasoline or diesel they will obviously dominate the market. But will this happen soon?
To answer this I look at two past technological changes and apply them to electric vehicles.
The automobile replaced an existing technology, the horse, over a period of about 20 years (1900 or so until 1920). Automobiles existed before 1900 but were more a curiosity than a real transportation option. While horses were still found in cities into the 1930s they had become relatively uncommon by the 1920s.
Why did the automobile replace the horse? Because of its advantages. Horses were expensive to keep and had to be "maintained" (fed. exercised, stalls cleaned, etc) daily. An automobile, in contrast, could be left unused for days or weeks at a time. Early cars still required a fair amount of maintenance and broke down frequently, but were still an advantage over horses. This was especially true when low priced automobiles like the Ford Model T started to be sold. By the 1920s automobiles also allowed much longer distance travel than horses.
So the automobile replaced the horse as the dominant form of land transportation in a short time based on its clear advantages to the owner.
The Compact Disc
The second product I look at is the compact disc. The CD was introduced around 1982. By 1990 CD sales exceeded vinyl record sales and went on to also replace cassette tapes a few years later.
Why did the CD replace vinyl? Longer play times, more durable, better quality, and smaller size. Price was not a large factor, CD prices continued higher than cassette prices long after CDs dominated the market.
What does this mean for electric cars?
Electric cars differ from both the original automobile and the compact disc. There's no clear economic or product advantage to the electric car. Electric cars have short ranges and long "refueling" times relative to gasoline. They have no price advantage, electric cars are relatively expensive and manufacturers apparently lose money on their sales. Because of the short range, they often need to be a "second car" used only for short local travel.
Instead, electric cars rely on two advantages. One is government subsidies, which can help offset the higher price. The other is the "feel good" factor. Electric cars are supposed to be better for the environment. So electric car sales have largely been limited to urban, wealthy, "environmentally aware" consumers as a second car.
Even so, there are predictions of the demise of the internal combustion engine in 10-20 years. How likely are these predictions to be true? Based on a comparison to other products, not very likely. Most products which rapidly take over markets do so because they have a clear advantage over existing products. This is not true of electric cars. Instead, these predictions all appear to be based on the assumption that governments will make electric cars more desirable than internal combustion engines, or alternately will legislate electric cars.
Legislative mandates are the most likely approach to electric cars taking over the market. Yet will this work? Governments have been mandating increased fuel economy for over 30 years yet fuel economy has not increased anywhere near as fast as the mandates would suggest. Instead, fuel economy standards have distorted the market, with vehicles like station wagons disappearing (because of relatively low mileage), to be replace with minivans (which were originally classed as trucks, and may still be). SUVs have steadily risen in popularity, often growing quite large, even as gas prices increase. Automobile trends lately have (at least in the United States) often gone in the opposite direction of those desired by government.
A Better Analogy
So what is a good analogy for the introduction of electric cars? Organic (and natural) foods. Organic foods have steadily gained market share, starting as a niche market at specialty "natural foods" stores, now spreading to mainstream grocery stores. While organic foods have gained market share, they continue to lag behind non-organic products, being higher priced and at times don't have as good a visual appearance as non-organics.
Why? The selling point for organic foods is they are better for you, they are more environmentally friendly, and you can feel good when you buy them. Compare this to the advantages of electric cards -- they are more environmentally friendly and you feel good buying one. And as with organic foods, so long as they are more expensive and have other disadvantages, electric cars will not replace internal combustion cars.
How electric cars will dominate
Today there is one way electric cars will dominate the market -- government mandate. The question is whether government officials can convince voters to allow the mandate to take effect.
Sunday, August 6, 2017
In the news the last couple days is that Donald Trump is taking a "working vacation" for a few weeks. The media, ever looking to paint Mr. Trump in a negative manner, has brought criticism of President Obama for his vacations, with Mr. Trump tweeting that he didn't take vacations. Now they're saying Mr. Trump is hypocritical.
But it turns out there's a good reason for the vacation. The West Wing of the White House is being remodeled, with everybody moved out for the next few weeks while workers fix water leaks, install new heating and air conditioning, replace carpets, paint, etc. So far the media has reported this as necessary repairs which were begun and authorized under President Obama.
But this is the Trump Presidency, so I'm making a prediction. Likely before the end of Mr. Trump's vacation and definitely within a week or two of the completion of the renovations we'll be seeing news stories describing the remodel in a negative manner and the blame will go to Donald Trump. The remodel will be too extravagant, too expensive, or crass and tasteless.
After all, the press's job lately has been to show us how bad everything has become under Donald Trump.
In my last post I talked about proposals for a cashless society and asked how some traditional cash transactions would be affected, in particular tipping. It's easy to slip the bellhop, parking valet, or skycap a couple dollars cash. How does this work in a cashless society?
We are seeing hints of how a cashless society might handle tips in restaurants today. Restaurants are moving to fully electronic credit card transactions. Rather than print a receipt with a line for tip the restaurant uses a tablet which asks for a tip and then has you sign the charge. The receipt is then emailed or can be printed.
Something like this could be extended to other traditional tipping situations, though they are complicated by not having an open transaction to work off of. But I'll assume the technical issues can be solved.
I still see two issues with electronic tipping:
First, when I tip today I often find the recipient (parking valet, skycap, etc) does not wait for a tip. I've never had the movie scene of the bellhop stopping with a hand out for a tip. Instead, people do their job and you need to have the tip ready to hand to them "on the fly". This isn't going to work if we have to get out phones, credit cards, or other devices to tip. And having the valet or bellhop go back to holding a hand out (or perhaps a hand with a credit card reader in it) for a tip is not going to be popular.
I see the second issue in the way current electronic tip systems are designed. With a paper credit card receipt there are blank spaces for a tip and a total. Suggested tip amounts (often 15, 18, and 20 percent) might be printed at the bottom of the slip for those who can't do percentages in their head.
The electronic tablet systems I've seen instead pop up one or more suggested tip amounts along with an "enter a different amount" button. Giving one of the suggested tips is easiest, just tap the proper button. Giving a different tip is much more difficult. The result is the amount of a tip is now under the control of the person receiving the tip rather than the person giving it. Imagine a tablet / phone system to tip a valet. You might currently tip a couple dollars for a valet. What happens if the valet's tip screen has "$5", "$10", and "other". Do you select "other" to do your usual $2 tip or do you just hit the $5 button?
Fifty years ago I was told that a restaurant tip is 10-15% (more for higher class restaurants). Over time tip amounts seem to have grown, with 15% being a universal norm and many restaurants pushing 20% or even 25%. Precomputed electronic tips will make it easy for the industry to raise the socially acceptable tip amount.
Tipping is, of course, a difficult issue. On the one hand it's supposed to be a gift for good service. But on the other hand many workers depend on tips, only being paid a small wage or even no wage other than tips.
Or perhaps with the $15.00 minimum wage and other "living wage" moves it's time we abolish the idea of tipping and just pay a fixed wage with no tipping allowed.
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
I just returned from vacation. While on vacation, I flew, stayed at a nice hotel, and used a special shuttle bus to travel between venues. In each case, following custom, I tipped porters, drivers, valets, bellhops, and similar employees. While easy today with cash, how to tip isn't clear in a cashless society. It takes 1-2 seconds to hand somebody a few dollars as a tip and continue on my way. So far there are no electronic payment methods which are this simple. The best I could guess with today's technology is:
- Pull out my phone.
- Go to some payment / tipping app.
- Hope the other person has a phone with a compatible app.
- Do whatever is needed to transfer a few dollars.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
While his discussion is interesting, it's clear to me that he never talked to conservatives about the reasons for their beliefs. Thus his reasons why conservatives oppose abortion are in terms of male power over women or following rules. He never mentions that many conservatives feel that the fetus is alive and killing it is wrong (by implication feeling empathy for the fetus). He assumes conservatives lack empathy when they oppose government programs and gives short shrift to the idea that a government program may not be the best way to handle a situation or may be more "empathic."
Obviously there are no absolute views in this area, but the book would have been better if it didn't appear Mr. Bloom was trying to figure out conservatives without finding sources with first hand knowledge. Then again, being at a university, conservatives are often few and in the closet.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, some people at protesters are being paid. But the claim is that they are being paid by their normal employers, some of which are allowing employees to go to protests on company time.
The protester claims are important because conservatives claim there isn't a huge grass roots left wing protest movement, and the "paid protester" claim implies that a few activists are creating these protests using people off the street who may not agree with the protest's ideas but want a some money.
However, this article doesn't validate the usual protest claim. It says companies are giving employees social-justice or similarly named time off work. But it appears most companies specify a certain number of days per year. This makes social-justice time off another name for personal time off which other companies will provide so employees can deal with things like doctor's appointments without using vacation time.
So it appears some protesters are being paid, but they're just collecting their usual salary or wages. The same as taking a vacation day or calling in sick to go to the protest, just under a different name.
Unfortunately, this confuses future paid protester headlines. It's easy imply protesters are being paid by activists to show up when they're actually just taking paid time off from work. So "paid protester" headlines are still no more meaningful than they were when there was no specific evidence.
Monday, May 8, 2017
These comments point out the problems with this study. First, apparently most pediatricians don't know child safety rules. Second, the study wasn't also done on parents. For all we know, parents are just as bad or worse than grandparents when it comes to child safety. After all, grandparents succeeded at least once in raising a child in the past while new parents don't have any sort of track record. But the headline is about grandparents' "out of date" child raising methods.Although the study focused on grandparents, Adesman [study author] and Altmann [a pediatrician] both recognize that other groups can make the same mistakes. In a previous study, Adesman surveyed pediatricians (PDF) and found that only 24% answered all 12 questions about basic safety information correctly.In her practice, Altmann hears many of these health myths from new parents and grandparents alike."I'd love to see this study redone and given to the parents; I think people would be surprised," she said.
Another assumption in the linked article is that "more grandparents are taking on child care roles." Is this really true? Grandparents have always helped with parenting and have always taken on the task of raising children when parents are unable to. There may be a larger role for grandparents today because they are in better health on average than in the past, but it isn't clear that a larger proportion of children are being raised by grandparents (and accurate data probably doesn't exist).
All of which brings up the irony of modern child safety rules. If we total up all child safety advice, from car seats and seat belts to plastic caps on electrical outlets, one wonders how any children actually lived to adulthood in the past.
Friday, May 5, 2017
So have the major airlines suddenly decided to be mean to passengers? Why the sudden rise in incidents?
It seems obvious that there hasn't been any rise in the number of passengers removed from planes. The change is that the national media is now paying attention. In the past a passenger removed from a flight might have made local news and become part of the "insensitive airline"' lore.
But today passengers removed from airplanes are popular news. For the next few weeks or months we'll see a bunch of news stories. Congress gets a chance to hold hearings, introduce "passenger rights" bills, and possibly pass a new law resulting in a new set of unintelligible regulations.
Here is a reason to be careful with news reports. Is there really a new problem or are we just seeing high profile reports of longstanding practices?
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Sunday, April 9, 2017
- The hard left is complaining about the attack. This is to be expected. Anything Donald Trump does will have this group complaining.
- The "alt-right". Yup, a number of populist, right wing leaders (Nigel Farrage of the Britain's UKIP party, Marie Le Pen in France, and some US bloggers) are speaking out against the attack, some saying they believe the Russian version of events (that it was a rebel chemical weapons dump that the Syrian attack hit). This is more interesting. Thirty years ago it was the Communist Party in various nations which followed Moscow's line without question. Today it's the hard right which is doing it, though it appears they are just enamored with Vladimir Putin, not under his orders.
Saturday, April 8, 2017
Sunday, March 12, 2017
One has to wonder who told the ambassador about the short attention span. I can remember hearing comments of this sort, but they tended to be from Trump opponents who need Donald Trump to be stupid to fit their preconceived notions.
So I have to wonder -- are Trump staffers saying he has a short attention span or are these comments from outsiders without first hand knowledge of the president?
Saturday, March 11, 2017
The Times can't express outrage over the replacement of all US Attorneys. After all, President Clinton did the same thing soon after he took office and other presidents have acted similarly. But we need to provide a negative spin to anything done by President Trump, so the story emphasizes the sudden, unexpected nature of the move. It emphasizes that the former attorneys are being moved out more quickly than happened in the past, and outlines actions by conservatives and the conservative press to make this look like President Trump is bowing to pressure from the extreme right.
I don't know what's really going on in the Trump White House. Even through the filter of a biased media it's apparent that the new administration's actions have been a bit confused. Yet this is true of any new administration. Look at the Obama administration's "reset" with Russia where they couldn't even get the alphabet right on the button.
So I continue to watch the actions of the new administration and the news media which reports them. But, along with much of the country, I've learned to take the media reports with a healthy grain of salt, confident that whatever President Trump did this time it's not as bad as the media reports.
Friday, March 10, 2017
This sounds like the country is falling apart around us. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives the nation's infrastructure a grade of D+, not even a passing grade. Yet we seem to survive and some even think we prosper with this abject failure around us.
Before everybody panics, consider the source of these estimates. The D+ grade and $4.6 trillion estimate come from the civil engineering professional group. What do civil engineers do? They design, build, and repair infrastructure. What happens when infrastructure spending increases? More jobs for civil engineers!
We've been hearing about decaying infrastructure in the United States for years and years. The report cards all seem to give a grade of D and tell us how much more money we need to spend. However, while there is certainly infrastructure in need of repair in the United States, relying on a group which has a financial interest in fixing infrastructure seems the wrong way to judge.
Friday, March 3, 2017
The Democratic Party response was given by Steve Beshear, former governor of Kentucky. He starts by talking about how he was governor during the Great Recession and he "put people first and politics second."
Having said this, does Mr. Beshear practice what he preaches in the Democratic response? Of course not.
After criticizing some of President Trump's first actions on taking office (no problem here, he disagrees politically), Mr. Beshear moves on to health care. He criticizes Republican alternatives to Obamacare, which is fair, but then goes back to standard, no-cooperation partisan politics attacking Republicans as insensitive monsters:
"Behind these ideas is the belief that folks at the lower end of the economic ladder just don't deserve health care."Sorry Mr. Beshear, I don't think you'll find any Republican saying poor people should not have health care. I've only heard Democrats say that about Republicans (the Republican health care plan is this: "Die quickly." -- former Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida).
So partisanship continues.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Monday, February 20, 2017
There was a time when you could go out and buy health insurance on the open market. Since this wasn't part of a group plan, you could sign up whenever you wanted. You might have been part of the "uninsured" for a while, for whatever reason, but you could always become part of the "insured."
Now we have the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The whole point of the law was to reduce the number of uninsured. All well and good, but what happens if you're really uninsured? Instead of being able to buy insurance when you want, you can only buy during the "open enrollment" period in November (give or take). Outside the open enrollment period, you can only buy insurance if some specific event occurs, basically the same events which let you change employer provided insurance during the year.
I can understand part of the reason for open enrollment. Since Obamacare doesn't allow you to be penalized for pre-existing conditions, something needs to be done to prevent people from not signing up for insurance until they get sick. Still, the limited signup periods also have the effect of messing up people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves without coverage during the wrong part of the year without one of the acceptable
In my son's case, if his job had started a few weeks later (90 days until benefits kick in) or his birthday was a bit earlier he could have found himself out of luck because he was anticipating a benefit the job didn't provide.
Thursday, February 9, 2017
However, it might be interesting if we start seeing the left creating private or charter schools to promote liberal causes which may be downplayed in schools over the next 4 years. Given Secretary DeVos's support for school choice, there might be opportunities for more direct comparisons between different education philosophies.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Thursday, January 26, 2017
So now that Donald Trump is the president, speculation continues on how to get rid of him. Least likely is a return of wishful thinking. After Trump won the nomination there was speculation that he'd step down, having achieved his goal. Today, there is speculation that Mr. Trump will lose interest in the presidency or that he doesn't have the attention span to stick it out for four years. I'd say this comes squarely in the "wish fulfillment" department. Donald Trump's business career has included long term construction projects and ongoing management. It should be clear he knows what he's getting into and will continue to do the job. I'm also seeing stories based on "anonymous inside sources" which say the White House is full of conflict and dysfunctional. I'm sure there's some conflict, any new administration involves a number of people who've never worked together figuring out how to work together. And this certainly involves battles for power, but that's true of every new administration. So the "Trump will resign" speculations are just that, speculation.
The next method for getting rid of Donald Trump is impeachment. While no resolution has been introduced to my knowledge, there is at least one petition (on change.org) and multiple people calling for impeachment, largely by arguing that the existence of Trump businesses violates the law. Some arguments are on an ethics basis, others are based on the Constitution's "emoluments" clause, arguing that any time a foreigner stays in a Trump hotel Mr. Trump violates the Constitution. However, this won't get very far unless Republicans can be convinced to sign on. As long as Donald Trump has reasonably good relations with Congress, impeachment won't go anywhere.
There is a similar move in the courts, with a lawsuit filed against President Trump. This is not likely to go far as the courts will most likely rule those filing the lawsuit lack standing.
Finally, we're seeing a lot about the 25th Amendment. This amendment to the Constitution includes a clause where the president can be declared unfit for office by a couple methods involving Congress, the vice president, and the Cabinet. At this point the argument appears to be that Mr. Trump is insane due to his insistence that there was widespread voter fraud and that it be investigated. Again, this is basically a political case and will not go anyplace as long as President Trump doesn't radically alienate Congress.
For either impeachment or the 25th amendment, we can only hope the radicals don't go too far. Removing a president from office because of unpopular (at least to the establishment) policies sets a horrible precedent and could seriously destabilize the government for a long time to come.
Meanwhile, I'm waiting to see what other creative methods people come up with to de-Trump the White House.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
One of Mr. Trump's first actions as President was to rescind a cut in the mortgage insurance rate for FHA mortgage loans. Here is an editorial reporting Mr. Trump's initial actions. The editorial is presented with a proposed narrative (Trump is becoming a "Radical Conservative", which appears to mean pro-business, anti-people).
After reading this editorial, when did this insurance rate cut go into effect? About the 5th paragraph says:
The Obama administration had said last week that the Federal Housing Administration would drop the cost of mortgage insurance it sells by almost a third to 0.60 percent.This statement is actually a bit clearer than most articles on the rate cut -- from some it sounded like a change in longstanding FHA policy. Instead, this rescinds a rate cut announced January 9 to take effect January 27.
But we see here an emphasis on Mr. Trump taking something away. The exact same action could have instead been headlined "Donald Trump Reverses Last Minute Obama Administration Action." This alternate headline presents exactly the same facts but spins it in more positive manner.
We've been seeing many examples of the press spinning Donald Trump in a negative way. Expect to see a lot more.
NOTE: Whether the FHA insurance rate should be cut is a valid question. On the one hand, the rate cut has been anticipated. On the other hand, FHA insurance rates rose during the 2008 mortgage crisis. One can argue that the insurance rate shouldn't be cut too much because it will then jump up during the next downturn (when foreclosures will increase) making it harder for those FHA is supposed to help to afford a mortgage.
Is this Mr. Trump becoming a "Radical Conservative" or is it the incoming administration wanting to make sure it knows all the facts before taking an action. Or perhaps the new administration restoring the rate cut in a few months so it can take the credit.
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Senator Ted Cruz has stated that rather than the official unemployment rate around 5%, there are 95 million unemployed. Rick Perry stated 90 million unemployed a couple years ago. Conservative news outlets (e.g. Breitbart) are harping on this number.
Now it's certainly true that the unemployment rate is a deceptive number. Democrats long argued the real rate was higher than the official rate (because of "discouraged workers") during Ronald Reagan's presidency. Discouraged workers or others who would like a job but aren't actively looking for one certainly imply the true unemployment rate is higher than the official number though it's hard to say by how much.
However, the 95 million number is complete hogwash. It includes all adults over age 16, meaning retired senior citizens, high school students, college students, stay at home parents, and as of yesterday even First Lady Melania Trump (I don't think "first lady" is a paid job and I'm sure she's supposed to disassociate herself from any businesses she has been involved in).
This number looks like something which will backfire on Republicans in not too long. After all, the Republicans are the "natural" home of those who feel that children should be raised in two parent households where one parent is home caring for the children. It's conservatives who complain that children of single parents (or households where both parents are working) are more likely to do poorly in school and life. Arguing that these stay at home parents are part of the "unemployed" implies that Republicans instead want them all working. Worse would be if Democrats use this number to start accusing Republicans of wanting to abolish retirement (and by extension Social Security), advocating that we should all work until we die.
So far I don't have a lot of confidence in the Republican establishment or Donald Trump, when they throw purely political numbers around of this sort.
Monday, January 16, 2017
Oxfam, an anti-poverty group, has just released a report which says that tthe richest 8 people have as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the world. So one would expect the 8 people to be staunch Republicans or conservatives, right?
Of the eight people, two are outside the United States -- Amancio Ortega (Spain) and Carlos Slim (Mexico), so they don't fit into the the US political spectrum.
The other six are all US billionaires -- Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, and Michael Bloomberg. Guess what? Five of the 6 are Democrats, or at least donate primarily (exclusively) to the Democratic Party. Michael Bloomberg was a Republican, is now listed as independent, but is by no means a strong conservative.
So which is the party of the rich? It appears the richest favor the Democrats.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Today, especially after the election of Donald Trump, this seems a foreign concept to many. Friends have stopped talking to each other after finding out the other one voted the wrong way. People who worked together for years are suddenly enemies.
Now I'm finding this "politics determines who I'm willing to associate with" view going back over 40 years. I'm reading Nancy Pelosi's memoir "Know Your Power", subtitled "A Message to America's Daughters". In this she writes about moving to San Francisco in the late 1960s. After spending months looking for a house to rent, she finally finds one. But she then learns the reason the house is available is that the owner is going to Washington to become part of the Nixon administration. Mrs. Pelosi immediately backs out of the deal, she cannot rent a house which became available by the election of Richard Nixon.
Mrs. Pelosi later talks about some lifelong friends. She makes a point that one is a Republican, the rest being Democrats. Apparently her social life is largely defined by politics.
I have some fairly strong political opinions, but I can't recall any time I've defined my relationship with somebody else by politics. I've certainly had political discussions with friends, and we haven't always agreed, but I can't imagine deciding to form or break a friendship based solely on political views.
The fact that we have "public servants" unwilling to socialize outside their own political ideology goes a long way to explaining the lack of civility, compromise, or collegiality of politics today.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Mr. Trump used Twitter to tell Republicans this is the wrong move and gives the wrong priorities, and Republicans backed down, removing the changes to the ethics agency. This leaves Mr. Trump looking good and implying he can exercise control over Congress.
Monday, January 2, 2017
With Donald Trump about to take office, liberals aren't talking about the nation's problems or how to solve them, it's all about "stop Donald Trump". This is a mirror image of 8 years ago, when the conservative mantra was "stop Barack Obama". In each case the nature of the proposal doesn't matter, just the knee jerk opposition to the other side.
Thus Mr. Trump's has proposed that veterans be able to get care from private providers (doctors or hospitals) instead of only at VA facilities. This is so veterans don't have to drive long distances and endure the long waits for appointments that have been in the news the last few years. The liberal response? "Trump is privatizing the VA". Nothing about helping veterans, just "privatizing", which must be bad.
In health care, we've endured years of concern that people have health insurance regardless of whether they can actually pay for health care afterwards. Since most health insurance is now high deductible plans (a legacy of George W Bush, not Barack Obama) people have to pay a large, unsubsidized deductible before getting any health care. What is today's health care debate about? "Save Obamacare" or "Repeal Obamacare". One side will oppose any change Mr. Trump proposes, the other wants to throw the whole thing out and start over. Health care policy in the United States is still a mess, and it will continue to be a mess so long as partisan sound bites are more important than actual policy.
Similarly, liberals are gearing up to save Medicare and Social Security. No proposal from Mr. Trump. There are some proposals around Congress (there always are), the one I've seen only cuts Social Security for those with high incomes (though in Social Security terms, that isn't always that high). Again, the concern isn't with Social Security of Medicare, it's political advantage. Petitions to "save" programs which aren't yet under attack leave the perception they are being attacked, and I predict that ANY proposed change will be characterized by the left as "abolishing" the program.
The list goes on. The press characterizes Trump as being "soft on Russia", ignoring the whole "reset" exercise the Obama Administration went through. They completely ignore incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's book (very anti-Russia), instead emphasizing that Mr. Flynn was once seated with Vladimir Putin at a dinner and that Mr. Flynn has talked to the Russian news (propaganda) agency Russia Times (RT). Never a mention that Jill Stein is also seen on RT.
So the political posturing goes on. As Donald Trump begins to make changes, remember that both political parties are often more concerned with political power than the good of the nation or its people. All liberals need to know about a policy is that Donald Trump proposed it and they'll know it's bad, even if it was Barack Obama's policy last year. And conservatives will react similarly, supporting policies they might have opposed last year, solely by how they're presented.