Friday, September 22, 2017

Briefs



Graham-Cassidy
Why do some governors favor block grants even though their states will lose billions?  Given enough "flexibility," it lets them divert federal funds to influence peddling, pork barrel spending, and just plain theft.  The further the funds pass down the ladders from state to regional to local government, the greater the opportunities for corruption and abuse.

Tauntology
In the battle of the schoolyard bullies, "Rocket Man" pulled ahead when he called Our President "the mentally deranged US dotard."  To date, neither has referenced the other's mother.  Watch Twitter for further developments.

Kurdistan
When would be "the proper time" for the Iraqi Kurds to hold a referendum that will start them on the path toward statehood?  While the US might prefer to delay Iraqi, Turkish, and Iranian outrage, the Kurds represent the best chance for a secular state in the Middle East; ideologically, their strongest commitment is to capitalism.

What Happened?
I've heard enough interviews with Hillary so that I feel no need to read the book.  Could things have been done differently?  Maybe.  Would it have made a difference?  Probably not.

Puerto Rico
"Recovery" from Marilyn most likely will consist of privatizing anything that might turn a profit for off-island investors — essentially a vast, neoliberal social experiment.  I suggest that all boricuas left on the island move to Alabama, register to vote, and take over the state, thereby finally achieving the full rights of US citizens.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Medicare for All?


It's obvious that Bernie's "Medicare for All" bill is not about to become law, but that doesn't make it an exercise in futility.  It is a means for ambitious Democrats to define themselves as progressive, not slaves to the party establishment.

The single greatest obstacle to national health insurance is not Republican or industry opposition – it is employer provided health coverage.  As long as most Americans have that, they will not be especially concerned for those who do not; so public pressure for national health insurance never will be sufficient to bring about change.

There must be a means to transition from employer provided insurance to public insurance – and the most direct route begins with allowing employers to purchase Medicare for their workers.  This "free-market" approach would put a government-run program in direct competition with private insurance.  Profit-free, Medicare should have a competitive advantage; and by introducing younger, healthier participants into its insurance pool, Medicare should become more economically viable.  The new money in the system also would make the prospect of future cuts in benefits or increased premiums less likely.

The impact on the private insurance industry would be gradual, as employers switched over.  Since Medicare is far from a "Cadillac" plan, many employers also would shop private markets for supplementary, further softening the impact on the industry.  Over time, there would be plenty of public pressure to improve the coverage that Medicare offers, and to offer Medicare as an option in the ACA insurance markets.

Once a majority of Americans already are covered by Medicare, it would be far easier to find support for universal coverage, paid for by a combination of individual and business taxes.  Here in the USofA, "creeping" socialism is the only kind that ever wins the race.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Shariah Law Advances in US


The anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks seemed like a good time for an update on religious extremism.  Even without those emails from your crazy uncle, you should know that fanatics are working tirelessly to warp the American legal system with their primitive beliefs.

Okay, it's not exactly "Shariah" because the religion involved isn't Islam, but the chief objectives of all those Abrahamic preachers are the same: the subjugation of women and the de-eroticization of sex.  Leading the American jihad are Evangelical Christians, aided and abetted by conservative Catholics and orthodox Jews.  With the ascendance of the Tr*mp Administration, they have attained unprecedented prominence and power.

Much like the rulers of Saudi Arabia, they know that women are temptresses who lead men into moral peril, and hence must be denied birth control and abortions as a means to regulate their unbridled lust.  Babies will keep them at home, ready to satisfy the physical needs of their husbands and unable to tempt upstanding men like Mike Pence into the sin of adultery.

Speaking of Mike Pence, homosexuals are even more threatening than women because their only motivations for sexual activity are animal lust and immoral gratification.  Worse yet, the transgendered may be especially adept at enticing Mike Pence good Christians into carnal sin.  The Holy Warriors are determined that vulnerable members of the armed forces and bakers of wedding cakes will be spared temptation.

Health and Human Services and the Justice Department have attracted the most attention so far, but the fanatics are in all departments: the drive for "school choice," for example, is a campaign for publicly funded religious education.  Religious extremists are pervasive in the Republican Party, at all levels of government, working to deprive the rest of us of out civil rights.

No local stonings nor autos-da-fé have been reported from Kansas or Alabama so far, but religious extremists enjoy close cooperation with the NRA.  They are extremely well-armed.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Silver Lining?


Is there an upside to having a President who is impatient, self-indulgent, intellectually lazy, easily frustrated, not terribly competent, and pathetically in need of love?

He sided with the Democrats on limiting the debt ceiling extension to only three months, and tying it to disaster relief.  Will Republicans in Congress go along?

He punted DACA to Congress, giving it six months to do something.  Will Congress do anything?

 Maybe.

For years now, we've watched the expansion of the imperial presidency.  We've watched as signing statements and executive orders have supplanted legislation while Congressional gridlock took root and metastasized.  Well, Congressional gridlock works when Congress can count on a strong Executive to keep the wheels of government turning.

What happens when the Executive Branch is in disarray, and the President is out-to-lunch?  Will Congress get its act together and reassert its Constitutional powers?

The single most important power Congress has abrogated to the Presidency is the power to make war.  Given that Our President's negotiating skills are somewhat less than advertised, do we dare  hope for enough genuine leadership among the time servers, corporate clients, and party hacks in Congress to avert catastrophe in Korea or the Middle East?  (A good start would be to child-proof that red button!)

Members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, have been either too fearful or too lazy to give us genuine representative government for far too long.  If they can't or won't do their jobs, they must be replaced with individuals who will.  Historically, there always is one group willing to take the reins when a government becomes too dysfunctional — and, sad to say, the most trusted leaders in government right now appear to be the generals.