billtoner1960

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Contempt

Socrates, considered by many to be one of the wisest men of his time, is credited with the phrase:

“I know one thing; that I know nothing.”

This strikes me as a wise thing to say indeed. Here we are on this 8,000 mile wide ball, orbiting around the sun with few clues about how we got here or how far the galaxy extends. We know certain things to be true through rationalization. We know other things to be true through our experiences and sensory perception. But those 2 things only go so far.

The ants in my back yard have a perception of the universe and it extends across about a 100 square foot area. They know nothing of Tigard, Sacramento, New York or London. It’s beyond their comprehension.

What if humans are the same way?  Pythagoras figured out the relationship of the sides of triangles (C^2 = A^2 + B^2) that we know to be the indisputable truth. Einstein gave us E = MC^2. Certain things we can prove. Other things we cannot so we are left to be the judge and jury based on sensory perception. As intelligent as we humans are, it occurs to me that we’d be wise to admit, like Socrates, that we’re incredibly dumb.  Why?  Because there are many things beyond our comprehension.

This is what bothers me about the Trump administration. They think they have all the answers and know best. There isn’t an ounce of humility in the lot. Not only do they ignore science, they actively try to purge the EPA staff of people with opposing views on climate change. It’s Orwellian.

Every administration is only as good as the people it hires. Trump has made some enormous blunders in the hiring department as evidence by the revolving door at the White House. This is what happens when you run a business modeled after the Corleone Family and then try to butt-fit that into a democratic government. Loyalty is all that matters. Other qualifications be damned. Let’s review who we have here and start with my least favorite hire, our ignominious attorney general.

Jeff Sessions. Sessions drew fire during his confirmation hearing for previous comments about the KKK and his long-standing feud with the NAACP. As attorney general he seems to be exercising a subtle form of racism under the guise of “law and order”. There appears to be fringe elements of the police force that believe they have permission to fire on people of color with reckless abandon because one thing they can count on is not being held accountable. Race relations appear to be headed on a steep decline. According to Jeff, you’re a law-abiding American if you stand for the anthem and abstain from pot. That’s all he seems to care about. Oh, and don’t laugh at him in public or you might find yourself in jail like Desiree Fairooz did.

Sebastian Gorka, former Deputy Assistant to the President. His job (apparently) was to appear on television and be the most arrogant tweazer-beak imaginable. His 15 minutes of fame were up after the 9th circuit struck down Trump’s executive order and his signature issue – the now infamous travel ban.

Steve Mnuchin, Treasury secretary. His qualifications for the job are that he was a hedge fund manager and former CIO of Goldman Sachs. So much for draining the swamp. Steve likes to get around in private jets at our expense in case “he needs to take a secure call.” Oh, and he likes to bring his wife along in case there’s an eclipse to see. My biggest problem with Steve though, is that he bets my grandchildren’s future on “wishful thinking”. The tax cuts being proposed, which he has his fingerprints all over, are based on the faulty assumption that cutting taxes for the rich will somehow stimulate the economy enough to make up for the losses. We’ve tried this experiment before and it didn’t work very well. The rich bought quite a few new yachts though, and that industry thrived (on the bright side).

Tom Price, former Health Secretary.  Tom got canned for flying around on private jets.  Additionally, as the guardian of our “health” he was on the front lines of the AHCA which would have taken away health coverage for tens of millions of Americans.  Tom never gave a damn about healthcare.  It’s always been about the tax cuts.

Stephen Miller, Senior policy advisor to the President, is that guy in high school who tried to get attention by doing stupid stuff. Stephen likes to pontificate and say things like “The president’s authority on this issue shall not be questioned”, which is embarrassing for him when a few days later the 9th Circuit strikes down the Travel Ban. Stephen likes to fancy himself a cog in the Trump wheel because he’s aligned with Trump on deporting 12 million people – at least he likes to talk about how that’s the right thing to do.

Steve Bannon, former Chief Strategist. Now the Managing Editor of Breitbart News. An extremist if there ever was one. Need I say more? I didn’t think so.

Betsy DeVos, Education Secretary. Betsy is atop America’s biggest pyramid scheme, Amway. She’s so rich she uses her own private airplane so as to not get in trouble for spending tax payer money. Must be nice. She’s quoted as saying “It’s possible” that her family donated as much as $200 million to the Trump campaign (and another $921,000 to 21 other Senators). More swamp draining! I’m pretty unclear on how an Amway executive’s skill-set translates into Education Secretary, and I’m sure the donations had nothing to do with the appointment. Betsy is aligned with Trump’s vision of destroying public education in this country by starving the beast and promoting charter schools. I’m not against charter schools. I just think it’s incredibly naive to think that the solution to our failing school system is to throw the baby out with the bath water. Oh, and Betsy is an advocate of guns at school — in case any Grizzly Bears are on the prowl out on the back playground.

Paul Manafort, former campaign manager.  The problem with Manafort is that he’s a career lobbyist.  If you’re promising to drain the swamp, you shouldn’t need a lobbyist on staff with close ties to The Ukraine.  Time will tell, but the betting odds are with Manafort doing time in the slammer for his efforts in the Trump campaign.  The easing of sanctions on Russia in exchange for campaign help has a nasty smell to it and the FBI knows it.

Sean Spicer, former press secretary.  It’s kind of hard to be angry with Spicer sometimes because he provided so much material for Saturday Night Live.  The Melissa McCarthy skits behind the podium are near the top of the list as some of the best skits ever.  Spicer’s downfall was on day one of the job.  For some reason he decided to introduce himself in his new role by having a hissy fit about the reporting on the inauguration crowd size.  It didn’t carry any credibility what-so-ever though.  The pictures don’t lie.  He got off to a horrid start and never really recovered.

Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor.  Flynn set a record for the shortest stint before getting your hand caught in the cookie jar; 24 days.  Another staffer with a footprint in Russia dealings including accepting money from foreign governments on the side.

Anthony Scaramucci, former press secretary.   This guy walked around like the BMOC from day one.  His ego rivaled Trump’s, which is to say it was off the charts.  In the end, his own stupidity did him in.  Another hedge fund manager with ties to Goldman Sachs, the trash talking press secretary got his tit in a ringer by going off on a 10 minute rant reminiscent of Sonny Corleone to Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker.  It wasn’t as bad as Trump’s Access Hollywood tape, but it was pretty close.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president.  Kellyanne’s contribution to the United States since becoming a cabinet member is she invented the term ‘Alternative Facts’.  That in itself is going to prove to be a very nice gift come 2018.

Ben Carson, HUD Secretary.  Ben’s a fine fellow.  Hard to dislike Ben.  I’m sure all neurosurgeons are ten times smarter than I am, but he destroys his own credibility when he says the pyramids were built as grain silos originally.  And the sheep nod in unison.  Ben has zero qualifications for the job of HUD secretary, but he wouldn’t be the first person in this position.  It’s not his fault, really.  Trump chooses to reward Carson, DeVos, and Sessions for their loyalty and generosity with no regard to how well they might perform in the position.  That’s the part that stinks.

Rick Perry, Energy Secretary.  He’s from Texas, he must know something about oil/energy right?  The problem is he’s a climate denier, is on the Trump train for promoting coal, could care less about the environment, offers up “oh well” on Sandy Hook, and thinks Obergefell v. Hodges should be overturned.  Just the kind of alt-right conservative we don’t need right now.

Lynne Patton, HUD development office for NY and New Jersey.  Lynne must have done a heckuva job as Eric Trump’s wedding planner because her loyalty was rewarded with a government position.  Like Carson, DeVos and Sessions, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Jared Kushner, senior advisor to the president.  Might as well employ some nepotism while he’s at it.   Jared’s initial claim to fame is that he married Ivanka Trump.  His final claim to fame will be that as a senior advisor to the president, he advised Trump to fire James Comey.  Well, that didn’t work out so well now that we have Bob Mueller on the case.  Or did it?  Jared also got the job of bringing about peace in the middle east.  He’s been over there at least once, but so far no agreement.  Who knew that negotiating a peace deal could be so hard?

Calista Gingrich, United States Ambassador to the Holy See.  This one cracks me up as the 3rd Mrs. Gingrich is going to represent the US to Vatican City. And I’m not being judgmental about divorce. I’ve failed in this area as have many. But Newt’s failures are off the charts cruel to his ex-wives. I mean, who brings up divorce papers to sign to a woman who just finished a chemotherapy treatment?

Mike Pence, Vice President.  Not a lot unlike Rick Perry, there are so many irritating things about Mike Pence that it’s hard to articulate them all.  Suffice it to say the hypocrisy of being a right-wing conservative who supports the Republican ideals of Darwinism while bowing in prayer every 15 minutes is enough to make me puke.

So that’s quite a staff that Trump has surrounded himself with.  Crooks, liars, hypocrites and nar-do-wells.

The Second Tier – The apologists

The first list was a list of people actually hired into the Trump administration.  That would be bad enough by itself but we’ve got legions of Trump apologists who know he’s nuts but refuse to call him out (more on the why of this later).   Let’s see, we’ve got:

Lindsay Graham talks a good story every once in a while, but at the end of the day he’s been a loyal supporter of the unhinged one.  Reminds me of that saying about it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.

Tom Cotton, Joe Barrasso, John Cornyn — Leading republicans always huddled around the podium in support of Mitch and Paul.

Mitch McConnell, senate majority leader.  The architect of the block on Merrick Garland will never be forgiven for his disregard of bipartisan efforts.  The republicans thought they could go it alone this time with control of the Senate, the House, and the White House.  That turned out to be wrong.  Karma’s a bitch.

Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House.  Paul should have been a magician.  Never before have I seen someone come across as so reasonable, so mild-mannered, so … sensible while overtly trying to pick the pockets of the American people and reward his donors.  A self-proclaimed Ayn Rand follower, that’s pretty much all you really need to know about Paul Ryan.  He’s quiet on Trump because he’s has a private love affair with Tax Cuts for the wealthy.

Mike Lee and Ted Cruz.  These 2 guys get a category all by themselves.  Two of the original Tea Party renegades, Lee and Cruz definitely disrupted Washington.  The problem with obstructionism is that what goes around comes around.  Cruz is actually an intelligent guy.  Anyone who has argued cases before the Supreme Court is no dummy.   That’s what’s scary about it.  They know exactly what they are doing and they want to take the country back 50 years on social issues.  Al Franken, in his book “Al Franken Giant of the Senate” stated it well about Ted Cruz: “I like Ted Cruz more than all of my colleagues in the senate do.  And I hate Ted Cruz.  He’s that guy who will rat out your NCAA office pool to senior management and cook fish in the company microwave.”

Marco Rubio, Chuck Grassley.  Complicit in their silence as the Trump train is derailing.   I can hardly wait for after the resignation to read about how they didn’t really support him all that time.

Devin Nunes.  The guy who works on a bi-partisan investigation into Russian interference in our elections, and without prior authorization or permission, runs to Trump with sensitive information about the investigation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Republican party.

The reasons I hold Trump and the Republicans in such contempt:

  • Blatant Racism
    • Charlottesville
    • Puerto Rico
    • Completely missing the point on NFL player protests
    • White Supremacists are now becoming more overt in society, feeling empowered/supported by the Administration
    • His mistreatment of Muslims. By painting all Muslims with a broad brush, he fails to realize the obvious. If we are to defeat extremists, we need the help and cooperation of moderate Muslims, who number in the billions (that’s billions with a B)
  • Violations of the Emoluments Clause
    • Lining his own pockets at taxpayer expense and he couldn’t care less about the lack of ethics involved
  • Conducting foreign policy via Twitter
    • Throwing Tillerson under the bus in the middle of negotiations
  • Attacking private citizens
  • Ignoring the Russian Sanctions vote
    • The senate voted 98-2 for the Sanctions.  It’s a month past the deadline.  No action from the White House.  Seems kind of suspicious.
  • Zero transparency on his own Tax Returns
  • Killing DACA
    • He’s got no solution himself, so he came up with the brilliant strategy to kill it and then make it congress’ problem.
    • Even many republicans think deporting millions of hard working, law abiding, tax paying people who came to the US as children and know no other country is cruel.
  • Reckless tweeting with respect to foreign leaders
    • Rocket man
    • Mexico will pay for the wall
    • Somehow I feel less secure when the thin skinned one starts yammering on about nukes as options on the table
  • Destroying the environment
    • Pulling out of the Paris Climate accord
    • Deregulation means more Flint, Michigan stories just around the corner.
    • The consequences of the GOP strategy are irreversible
  • Tax cuts for the wealthy
    • A canard from the Reagan years that just won’t go away
  • Trump’s obsession with coal
    • The US is missing a huge financial opportunity to be a world leader in clean energy
    • Automation is the real jobs killer, not coal mining jobs.  Why isn’t the focus on retraining centers?
  • The war on climate change believers
    • Federal employees who believe in climate change have been targeted with witch hunts
  • Purposely destroying the ACA exchanges
  • Trump’s election ‘fraud’ commission head by Kris Kobach and Mike Pence is a voter suppression commission in disguise.  Republicans are actively gerrymandering districts for 2018.
  • Blatant disregard for US intelligence agencies
    • He’s still not sure if it was Russia or China or “some 400 pound guy in his bed” who interfered in the elections even though there’s mountains of evidence to the contrary.
  • Petulant behavior on a daily basis
    • “Ariana Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision.”
    • “My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”
  • Obstructing justice on the Russia investigation
  • Failure to acknowledge the 2016 interference and make sure it’s fixed/secure for 2018
  • Head in the sand approach on gun law reform
    • There are several other country models we could learn a thing or two from… if only they weren’t bought and paid for by the NRA
  • The complete lack of a moral compass
  • Letting the CHIP program expire which supported 9 million women and children
  • Liar in chief.  The Politifact Scorecard rated his statements as follows
    • 21% True
    • 12% Mostly True
    • 67% Half True
    • 21% Mostly False
    • 33% False
    • 15% Pants on Fire

So there it is.  And that’s the short version of why I cringe when I see some of these people on television.  They don’t represent me and I don’t think they represent anyone but themselves and their donors, frankly. You have to ask yourself, is this what making America great again is supposed to look like?

Getting back to the original point about downplaying one’s belief that he/she is smart and  has the power to solve the world’s problems all by themselves, I leave you with two Trump quotes that I believe illustrate root cause:

“I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.”

“I alone can fix it”

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Now we’ve got overt racism in the ‘burbs

[ Note: I’m refraining from writing about recent events in Las Vegas because I think it’s disrespectful to politicize a tragedy before the bodies are even cold yet.  Saving that topic for another day.  But it’s a safe bet that I will eventually politicize it.  In spades. ]

Sunday I had a couple of errands to run over in the cozy little Sherwood, Oregon.  If you’re looking to visit a slice of Americano suburbia, go to Sherwood.  Shopping malls, fast food galore, Home Depot, great schools, nice neighborhoods.  Until Sunday I had never run across anyone in Sherwood who was anything but accepting of their fellow man.

I had decided it was time for a haircut and needed to pick up a few things at the grocery store.  Shortly after pulling into the miniature strip mall parking lot, I parked my truck.  Getting out I noticed a confederate flag bumper sticker on the back window of the truck next to me.  This one was different though.  It had a snake superimposed on it with the caption “Don’t tread on me”.  I immediately drew the conclusion that this guy is a first-rate imbicile and was hoping I our paths didn’t cross.  don-t-tread-on-me-rebel-flag-9

Taken aback sightly at the overt nature of displaying a symbol that is offensive to so may, now we’re implying that you’re the hard-working stiff and the rest of us are trying to mooch off you.  My first thought was get thee back to thy trailer and STFU (the truck was about a 15-year-old Ford popcorn wagon that can fit about 3 boxes in the back if they aren’t too heavy).

Just when I get my experience with Jasper behind me, at Safeway I see this bald guy with shades on, arms tattooed to the hilt (so far, no problem), but for attire he decided to put on a t-shirt with a message that had sociopath written all over it.  This within an hour’s time.

preorder-hoist-the-black-flag-ultra-thin-vintage-t-shirt-21__79121.1479401177

Like 99% of the blog posts I write, I blame the Republicans for this.  Trump specifically, with his “both sides” defense of the “Unite the Right” Nazi contingent at Charlottesville who murdered 32-year-old Heather Heyer. But I blame the rest of the Republican party for their complicity.   It’s as much about what they refuse to say versus what they do say.

Paul Ryan for example won’t be baited into saying nary a word against the man who promises to bring him a divine, heavenly Tax Reform package that punishes the blue states and rewards the 1%.  Ryan was recently asked if he had any issue with Trump’s handling of Puerto Rico and replied with “I think his heart is in the right place.”

The pattern hasn’t gone unnoticed.  Hurricane hits a red state, he’s sending orders right away to get his underlings down there.  Hurricane hits a territory with mostly brown people, call me after my tee-time this Sunday.

I’m thoroughly convinced Trump’s denigration of Muslims, Mexicans, and indirectly, African-Americans, his abject failure to condemn the Nazi’s, along with the establishment Republican silent complicit behavior are the reasons I’m seeing an uptick of these outward symbols of hate and racism. They are sanctioned. There’s no other explanation for it.

I’m also convinced Republicans have been having a wet dream about tax cuts ever since November 8th, and absolutely nothing shall stand in the way.

You can label me disappointed in my fellow-man.  But I’m furious with the Republican establishment.  The Tea Party / Duck Dynasty crowd are too dumb and too far gone to fix.  But the establishment Republicans know better and they are complicit.  At the end of the day it’s all about greed and Tax Cuts.

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Here come the Confidence Fairies

By now we’ve experienced enough slight of hand by the Republican Congress to know that every proposal needs to be seriously questioned.  Since going 0-fer-2 on ACA Repeal, Republicans are now keen on rolling out their fantastical new Tax Reform package that’s reportedly going to make everyone rich!  Tax cuts around the horn!  But the devil is in the details.  Just because a party would like to see 4% GDP growth doesn’t make it possible.  Leading experts say that tax cuts do in fact spurn growth, but what gets returned to the economy is about 1/3 of what was lost in revenue. That leads to the concern that the tax cuts around the horn strategy is going to lead us down the path of insolvency sooner rather than later, but it’s worse than that.

Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman goes into pretty good detail in a New York Times article Trump’s Rosy Scenario breaks it down pretty well – detailing why Trump’s 4% goal is a lot of wishful thinking.  Below are the highlights.

Krugman:

Real GDP grew 3-4% annually under Reagan;  it grew 3.7% annually under Clinton.  But there are fundamental reasons to believe that such growth is unlikely to happen now.

First, demography: Reagan took office with baby boomers — and women – still entering the workforce; these days baby boomers are leaving.   Here’s the UN data on a 5-year growth rate of the population aged 20-64, a rough proxy for those likely to seek work:

021817krugman3-tmagArticle.png

Just on demography alone then, you’d expect growth to be around a percentage point lower than it was under Reagan.

Furthermore, while Trump did not in fact, inherit a mess, both Reagan and Clinton did — in the narrow sense that both came into office amid depressed economies, with unemployment above 7 percent.

So even if you (wrongly) give Reagan policies credit for the business cycle recovery after 1982, and believe (wrongly) that Trumponomics is going to do wonderful things for incentives a la Reagan, you should still be expecting growth of 2 percent or under.

Cut taxes, grow the economy!  Sounds good but the data doesn’t support it.  As George Bush #41 aptly stated, this is “voodoo economics” at its best.

 

 

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Seismic Shift at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave

There’s an ancient proverb that says “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”

Hot off the press, #45 (can’t bring myself to call him President yet) just announced bipartisan work efforts on tax reform and infrastructure. This is akin to throwing the freedom caucus under the bus. I’m starting to like this guy.

Desperate for a win of any kind, I think #45 had an epiphany of sorts and realized a divided republican caucus is of no use to him whatsoever in this goal.

The biggest enemies of the people are the leaders beholden to monied interests. Chief among these is Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Both are pounding sand right now and I couldn’t be happier about it. When they hear #45 talk about “dinner tonight with Chuck and Nancy”, you can be sure their blood is boiling. They thought control of the House, the Senate, and the White House was a free pass at making their donors happy. Didn’t work out that way. If you’re looking for who to blame, look no further than the freedom caucus led by Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. Their obstinance led to their own demise.

Steve Bannon, fresh off his 60 minutes interview declared war on the Republican establishment who he claims is “.. trying to nullify the election results”.   #45 clearly ran on a populist agenda — which is 180 degrees out of sync with the Freedom Caucus.

What I heard #45 say is that his wishes on tax reform were for it to go to the middle class only. The top-tier were not going to get a tax break, and worse, their taxes may even go up. He’ll get a lot of democratic support for this idea and if voted on as a bipartisan bill, moderate republicans and democrats will pass it with no issue.  Additionally he wants to work with “Chuck and Nancy” to get some infrastructure wins.  Of all the ideas on his agenda I’ve always felt this one has the best chance of getting any kind of bipartisan support.

Last but not least, he specifically called out wanting congress to “do something about DACA” but I took it to mean some sort of compromise solution that did not involve deportation.  I truly believe he wants to do the right thing here, but he needs the specifics to be someone else’s idea for political reasons.  Ann Coulter is hotter than the fire of 1000 suns right now.

I have no predictions about where this will lead, but right now I’m happy as a clam that #45 just flipped Grover Norquist, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan the bird.

It would not surprise me if #45, seeing his entire presidency about to be neutered by the midterm elections, switched parties.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Points of agreement with Trump’s speech in Missouri

I had the news on this afternoon and Trump was stumping from Missouri. I had to think long and hard if I even wanted to listen but I decided to. Shockingly, I found myself agreeing in principle with a few of his points. Hard to believe, I know.

The general points of agreement were:

His views on NAFTA

Incentives for companies to keep jobs in the US

Tax Reform that benefits the Middle Class

Infrastructure Investment

Point by point:

  • NAFTA

NAFTA was a response to globalization which in large part was unavoidable. The US had to do something with our trading partners to level the playing field or else we weren’t going to have any trading partners. That was just reality. Trump calls it a raw deal for Americans. Indeed we have seen the “Giant sucking sound” of jobs heading overseas that Ross Perot warned us about in 1992. Most of it was probably unavoidable. That being said, I have no issue with a review of any trade deal that’s been made to see if it can be improved. Just because we have NAFTA in place now doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon. I don’t agree with Trump’s use of threats to “throw the deal out” if he doesn’t get the concessions he’s after, but I think a review of it is a perfectly acceptable thing to consider.

  • Incentives for Companies to keep jobs in the US

US companies large and small benefit from shipping jobs overseas because of lower tax rates. The US has never been able to address this with any kind of worldwide taxation plan that eliminates the incentive. The fallout of this policy has been bad for the American worker. I agree it would be a good thing to review it and see what we can come up as a better solution to put incentives in the right places that benefit workers and not just corporations.

  • Tax reform that benefits the middle class

This one is a real head-scratcher because if you contrast what he talks about in his speeches with what is in his actual tax proposal, it doesn’t make any sense. In just listening to him talk about how the middle class needs some tax relief and how this would be beneficial, I find it hard to argue with that point. The devil is in the details and unfortunately, the details benefit the top 1%.

Elimination of the Estate tax benefits the super wealthy

Fewer tax brackets (7 to 3) by itself does not help or simplify the tax code which is 73,954 pages long

Lowering the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15% benefits corporations, not people

I will concede that a 35% corporate tax rate is high on a global scale and makes it difficult for US Corporations to be competitive, though there appear to be enough loop-holes such that the vast majority of corporations don’t pay anywhere near 35%. It’s a worthy discussion. Obama had some plausible ideas on the subject. A 19% bottom rate no matter where the income is earned. That idea didn’t get anywhere ostensibly because well, it came from Obama and McConnell was hell-bent on making him a one-term president.

  • Infrastructure Investment

This idea is long overdue. One would have thought that after the great recession of 2008, we’d have some new roads and bridges to brag about but alas the vast majority of the bailout money went to banks that were “too big to fail” and infrastructure investment took a back seat. Frankly I was surprised we didn’t implement the New Deal II and put people back to work in 2008 with infrastructure projects all around. It’s not like there’s a shortage of things that needs fixing.

Once again the idea is solid, but the details of Trump’s particular plan leave you grasping at how these particular bullet items have anything to do with improving our infrastructure. Case in point – the first item I saw used as a talking point on TV was that Trump was pursing “Privatization of the Air Traffic Control System” as an infrastructure project. Huh?

That’s a horrible idea on any scale.

  • Why it won’t work: It isn’t WYSIWYG

WYSIWYG – What you see is what you get.

The promises for example, on the ACA. These are direct quotes from the campaign trail:

Healthcare for everyone

Not cuts in Medicare

No one will lose their coverage

Nobody will be worse off financially

Everybody’s going to get taken care of

More promises on Tax Reform:

His plan would not increase the deficit

It would primarily benefit the middle class

The wealthy wouldn’t get much of a tax break

  • Why isn’t it WSYWIG?

The reason the average Trump voter isn’t going to get anything near what he promised on the campaign trail is because Trump delegated. He entrusted his colleague Paul Ryan and his co-horts with the details that, in the end, looked nothing like what he promised on the campaign trail.

The truth came out. 20 Million lose coverage. Huge cuts in Medicare. Huge increases in premiums for the elderly, in some cases 8x. No, everybody would not have been taken care of in this big, beautiful healthcare bill as he liked to call it. In the end there was no way to polish Ryan and McConnell’s turd. It was a tax cut for the the wealthy disguised as a healthcare replacement bill. Thank God for John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins.

What he failed to see was that he needed to set hard parameters for the crafters of the bill and say without hesitation that he would not sign it unless it met the parameters he outlined on the campaign trail. He didn’t do that. He entrusted Paul Ryan who said “I got this”.

That’s kind of like if your store is suffering from too many shoplifters, so you delegate the fix to John Gotti.

There’s a difference between what he says and what he does.

If we’re talking about what he says, I might be able to get on board with about 10% of the talk. If we’re talking about what he does, less than 1%.

So many abhorrent policies and behaviors for this Administration. Let me count the ways:

The Wall

Remove all undocumented immigrants

Deregulation

Muslim ban. Later rebranded as extreme vetting

Climate denial

Increasing military spending

Tarifs

Repeal of the ACA

Violations of the emoluments clause

Defund Planned Parenthood

Tax cuts for the top 1% – Ryan’s plan, not his own

Equivocating “both sides” of civil discourse when one of the sides was clearly white supremacists. The videos don’t lie.

LGBT rights

The blatant lies. All day, everyday

I’m about as far from a Trump supporter as you can get. But I should get some credit for keeping an open mind.

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Resistance and Patriotism

Given the snarky nature of my FaceBook and blog posts, I often get taken to task for ‘Rooting against America.’ I can see how some might interpret the words I’ve chosen as unpatriotic. The fact is though, there’s a method to the madness.

Good sportsmanship was high on the list of lessons my parents tried to teach. I seriously doubt that anyone who has played a board game or an athletic game with me since about 1970 would comment that I’m a poor sport. My hope is just the opposite. This is what makes it challenging to be an unapologetic part of the #resistance to the GOP agenda led by the most unethical President in the history of this great country. I write and say things that sound like sour grapes — like I’m a sore loser or something. If that’s the perception by a few, then I can live with that. I’d add that there’s more to what meets the eye though.

Few people have provided Americans with more inspiring quotes than Robert Kennedy. The one that rings true for me the most right now is:

The sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country. –Robert Kennedy

At this point, I’ve given up on the ‘railing against the machine’ approach. Given the players in the clown-car and the predictability of the outcome, more often than not I simply share the enjoyment I receive watching the dysfunctional soap opera coming from the West Wing of the White House. Admittedly, I’ve been the recipient of an extremely high entertainment factor since November 8th.

Am I anti-patriotic for sitting back and enjoying the shit-show? On the contrary. The main reason is that the criticism is absolutely warranted and justified. One cannot be a champion for social justice by being complicit in today’s world events. Silence is acceptance.

Have you ever had to deal with someone who is struggling, wanted help, but you didn’t quite have their attention yet so your words fell on deaf ears? That’s how I feel about the state of the union today. We haven’t reached rock bottom yet and until we do, we won’t have the attention of the hard line GOPers who are still pedaling the myth of trickle down economics. I firmly believe it’ll take another financial crisis similar to 2008 or the great depression of the 1930s or — God forbid, an attack on the homeland before we have the attention of the GOP faithful.

So in the spirit of wanting what’s good for America, I’m rooting for us to reach rock bottom as soon as possible so that it can be turned around for good. At that point, the debates about Trickle Down, throwing people off HealthCare, increasing our obscene military budget, treating immigrants like terrorists, building walls, defunding public education, and ignoring ethics in the federal branch of government can come to an end. Once and for all. Rush won’t be able to peddle that crap. Hannity won’t get away with it, nor will Tucker Carlson. The debate will have ended and I see that as a necessary thing to have happen.

Call me unpatriotic if you want, sometimes things have to reach rock bottom before things can get better.
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Letting go of the Sauce

Today is July 8th, 2017 and I have made what I think will be a life changing decision for myself for the better.

This might come as a surprise to many, or maybe not. Maybe you could see it coming better than I could. I would not classify myself as an alcoholic, but I have progressed from light social drinker to heavy drinker in the past 5 years or so. I’ve decided it’s time to give it up.

I don’t expect much difficulty moving forward with this decision. I’m not someone who is tied to the sauce to the point where I would need to enter a rehab facility to get dry or anything like that. I’m just someone who has finally realized that it’s not in the best interests of my health to continue. There is a family history of addiction in my family, and I’ve noticed that in myself there are just some things that are difficult for me to moderate.

Diet soda was one for example. I haven’t consumed a diet soda in about 4 years, but when I did drink diet soda, I was an over the top consumer of it. I could easily go through a 12 pack of cans a day, or an 8 pack of the 20 oz. Pepsi bottles. Every day. I knew it was getting bad when I practically had to carry around a 2 liter container with me everywhere I went. I’d had this issue since childhood. When I became an adult and was responsible for buying my own groceries, there were just no limits. I was pretty conscious of my weight back then and I saw it as a way to try to stay full with zero calorie beverages and manage weight that way. Ironically what everyone eventually learns is that it stimulates cravings for sugar, which is the root problem anyway. So it makes it harder to manage weight, not easier. Having stressful jobs along the way doesn’t help either. The caffeine becomes necessary to work the hours required. Pretty soon you depend on it. I had given up diet soda probably 20? 30? times in my adult life and failed every single time, complete with massive headaches during the come-down phase where I became lethargic and pretty much useless for 2 days before my body adjusted. But eventually I prevailed in 2014 – knock on wood.

Wine/Beer is different. For the vast majority of the time I drank, I never felt the need to get drunk. That would usually happen if I was somewhere and having a good time and not thinking about the choices I was making and then all of the sudden it would catch up to me, but overall, pretty rare. I was usually good with a couple of beers or, a couple of classes of wine and that’s it. But lately, it’s been a half a bottle of wine per day. Or like last night, 4 beers because I was having a good time. I rarely woke up hungover. It did cause me to get sleepy early however, and I think it messes with my sleeping patterns, which is never helpful to one’s health.

After a pretty fun-filled week with a good combination of social events, and physical events (a challenging hike and a few really long walks), I began to feel like I’d overdone it. My clothes were getting tighter than usual. That’s usually a signal to me that something major is going to need to change pretty soon because that’s not sustainable. I was feeling uncomfortable from the moment I got out of bed and for the rest of the day. In the morning I read an article on CNN about how alcohol is the worst contributor to belly fat because it’s just all empty calories. It has no health benefit whatsoever and sure, if I could moderate a few drinks a week and work out more, I probably would not be writing this. But that’s not how it’s been working for me. A few drinks per week has turned into a few drinks per day. Not all the time, but more often than I should.

The CNN article was not news to me. I, like a lot of people had read that many times. I just conveniently forget about these things until some other factor comes into play and then it’s like, oh, right. Not such a good idea.

With 2 days of vacation left and feeling like I’d had a little too much fun for the week, I’d made the decision my Saturday was going to include a longer walk of about 5 miles or so. When walking long distances by myself, I get in my head as my wife likes to say, and thoughts start running deeper than normal. Having read the article on CNN just before I left, some what-if scenarios started going through my mind.

What if wine/beer is just like diet soda to me and I’ll never be able to moderate it? What if I just quit altogether — what would that look like? I started thinking of all the positive benefits that would result and the list started to get pretty long. After a short while, the answer just seemed pretty obvious. Do it. You’re 57. Your quality of life will improve noticeably if you take this step, based on the benefits that just came to mind.

These included things like weight loss — I’m positive it will result in some but it isn’t the only contributor to the extra flab, but certainly managing weight will become much, much simpler. Sleep patterns will improve. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to get up at 3am to go to the bathroom and then not be able to get back to sleep. I’d frequently lose 1, 2, even 3 hours of sleep because of this interruption (admittedly, my affection for Twitter doesn’t help in getting back to sleep either). More energy overall, and with that more likely that I’ll feel like getting some exercise and pursuing the hobbies I supposedly love, but haven’t felt like doing lately. Will look better and feel better. Not that I got completely drunk very often but never having to experience a hangover again is a definite plus. Not having to ever worry about a DUI is also something I’ve thought about. It will probably increase my life-span. I’m almost positive of it. I’ll save a ton of money. At this point I can’t think of a reason not to do it.

I did consider the downside of it. It will make some social situations a little more awkward. Right now a big part of our social life is centered around food, drink, and friends. But I think this change is manageable there. I probably won’t get invited to do any wine tours and those opportunities come up once in awhile living in the middle of wine country. Or if I do go, I’m not sure how I’ll contribute to the conversation much. Last but not least, I think it will be a bit of an adjustment for my wife Donna, but I’m hoping she’ll understand the upside and get behind the new me.

Another factor I almost forgot to mention is the overall ‘path to better health’ I have been supposedly been on since my stroke in 2014. Because it was determined that I had extremely high cholesterol, I/we have made some food changes for the better. We consume a lot of fish and chicken and a I don’t eat red meat. I try to stay away from dairy, especially cheese and eggs. I was a heavy consumer of dairy for a while there. You’d think such fundamental changes would result in a healthier Bill, but if you combine a set of positive changes with a big negative change – like an increase in alcohol intake, then you’ve just negated that hard word. And that’s exactly what I was doing. My path to better health includes some weight loss and more exercise. Weight loss is extremely difficult to accomplish if you consume as many empty calories as I was doing. It’s nearly impossible. Exercise is also more difficult if you’re a heavy drinker because the number of hours a day at your disposal for exercise is decreased. After 2-3 glasses of wine in the evening there’s no way I’m working out on the weights or getting some aerobic exercise. My day ends before I get the chance. And it’s not just the exercise. It’s the hobbies as well. Music, writing, building stuff. All things I really enjoy doing but I think alcohol is getting in the way of me doing more of these.

So I’ve made a pretty major decision today. It feels right. This isn’t one of those things you proclaim “okay, I’m going to try it for a while and see how it goes.” I think you have to either be all-in or else forget it. At least it’s that way for me. I’m not particularly good at moderating and probably never will be. It’s just part of my DNA that I have to accept. It sucks that I can’t handle it like other people can, but that’s life in the big city.

So here we go. I appreciate everyone’s understanding and support! It’s not an easy decision to come to, but there it is.

-Bill

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