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Hometown: Green Mountains
Home country: US
Member since: Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:27 PM
Number of posts: 10,218

Journal Archives

When the subjective overrides the objective


It is a frequently repeated truism that Donald Trump is a narcissist, but if that is true, how did someone with such a repellant trait gain the highest office in the land, and what does it even mean to say someone is a narcissist?

Another commonly heard remark, while, not precisely narcissistic, is an indicator of how we got to our present predicament. It is not unusual to hear someone say, “I might have voted for Hillary, but I just didn’t like her.”

My response: “You didn’t like her? So what? The election is not about you. It is about the country. Whether we like a candidate is not important. Would you like to have a beer with Hillary? Not important. Citizens of a democracy are supposed to ask themselves what would be better for the country.”

Thinking about the country requires an awareness of civics — how the government works — and of history — how we got where we are. It requires people to reach considered conclusions about what would be good beyond their own narrow horizon. The better candidate might institute policies hurting one’s self-interest, but improving the nation — for example, raising taxes to pay for education or infrastructure improvements. Whether we like a candidate is less important than whether the person would do a better job for the country as a whole. Certainly, the list of presidential candidates whom I have liked over the years is a short one, but that doesn’t mean I have not had the obligation to choose which one was better for the country. In a fit of pique, I cast my first presidential ballot for comedian Dick Gregory rather than for Richard Nixon or Hubert Humphrey. It was a juvenile gesture that was more about me than about the good of the country. Humphrey did not lose because of my vote, but it would be a different world if he had won.


“Mix epic individualism with extreme religion; mix show business with everything else; let all that ferment for a few centuries; then run it through the anything-goes ’60s and the internet age,” Andersen wrote. “The result is the America we inhabit today, with reality and fantasy weirdly and dangerously blurred and commingled.”

A famous quote of an adviser to President George W. Bush, attributed to Karl Rove, though he denies it, chillingly foreshadowed the way that politics untethered from a belief in objective reality can be hijacked by authoritarian leaders. The advisor disparaged journalists who remained part of the “reality-based community.” Ours is a time when those in power can create the facts, according to the adviser. That the facts created by the Bush administration — the Iraq war, the Great Recession — constituted disasters of a historic dimension is a new fact that the American people are still grappling with.

An interest in keeping the health care status quo


The great majority of Americans — 70 percent or more — support the idea of “Medicare for All” as the answer to the fragmented, expensive and inadequate system of insurance-based health care we now have. That’s enough support to scare the companies that make tons of money off that broken system, so they have formed an alliance to once again fend off what most Americans want: a sensible universal health care system. They call their alliance the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF).

Members of this “partnership” include America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the association of 1,000+ companies that sell commercial health insurers to many millions of Americans; the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) whose members also sell commercial health insurance; the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), an association that promotes the business interests of companies that sell health insurance; the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the association of drug companies; the Federation of American Hospitals, an association of for-profit hospitals; the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers an association of “200 of the world’s top commercial insurance and employee benefits brokerages”; the National Retail Federation; the American Medical Association (AMA); the American College of Radiology (ACR); and several others.

It is clearly dominated by those who make money — lots and lots of money — from our current health care system that relies on insurance. This is not a partnership that will ever reach the conclusion that we need a truly universal, efficient system like Medicare for All. Based on the partnership’s own internal documents, the group will campaign specifically to “change the conversation around Medicare for All,” then “minimize the potential for this option in health care from becoming part of a national political party’s platform in 2020.”

The whole point of the partnership is to play around with a few changes at the edges of our current system to mollify the people demanding change, while preserving the status quo under which many Americans get inadequate care that in some cases, actually causes their deaths. If they succeed, Americans will continue to suffer when they can’t afford commercial insurance premiums and go “uncovered” with the health consequences that follow; when they choose high deductible policies because they can’t afford better coverage and end up sick, dead or deeply in debt; when they can’t afford the medicine they need and skip it or cut down the dose and end up sick or dead; when they stay up nights surrounded by bills and try to figure out how to pay rent, buy food and still get the health care they need; when they do go get care that they cannot afford and end up so deep in debt that their lives are altered for the foreseeable future; when they delay going to a doctor to avoid a cost they really can’t afford and the delay makes them far sicker or kills them.

KHN: Democrats Taking Key Leadership Jobs Have Pocketed Millions from Pharma

Top House Republican also received more than $1 million from drugmakers since 2007.

Three of the lawmakers who will lead the House next year as Congress focuses on skyrocketing drug costs are among the biggest recipients of campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, a new KHN analysis shows.

On Wednesday, House Democrats selected Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland to serve as the next majority leader and Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina as majority whip, making them the No. 2 and No. 3 most powerful Democrats as their party regains control of the House in January.


High drug prices surfaced as a major campaign issue in 2018. With almost half of Americans saying they were worried about prescription drug costs last summer, many Democrats told voters they’d tackle the issue in the next Congress. But the large amount of money going to key Democrats, and Republicans, raises questions about whether Congress will take on the pharmaceutical industry.

In the past decade, members of Congress from both parties have received about $81 million from 68 pharma PACs run by employees of companies that make drugs and industry trade groups.

Propublica, WaPo: How Congress Stopped Working


Today’s legislative branch, far from the model envisioned by the founders, is dominated by party leaders and functions as a junior partner to the executive, according to an analysis by The Washington Post and ProPublica.

To document this transformation, the Post and ProPublica analyzed publicly available data from the House and Senate, committees, and members of Congress, dating back several decades. Some institutional decline began 25 years ago, but the study showed that the steepest institutional drop came in just the past 10 years.

This is exactly what I have experienced. The sourness of the politicians started around the time of Gingrich (gawd, he's still polluting), and reached its height with McConnell.

I don't know if a Democratic House can fix this as long as the repuglicons are doing everything they can to destroy democracy.

Can Yale withdraw Kavanaugh's law degree, and if so would he lose his judgeships?

I know this wouldn't happen, but it is fun daydreaming.

Anyone else want more in the Title line than click-bait? "Do This Now!"

Why do I think that it would be just as easy to make a title like "Please vote now!" when that is the body of the rest of the post?

Are there points gained by having clicks through the title? Is this google or facebook?

While I'm mildly venting, perhaps DU could implement a hover text that shows the first 100 characters of the actual post without actually clicking through. I did this for a tiny company a decade ago in one day.

Bloomberg: Brett Kavanaugh Is Cursed Either Way

This is an exceptionally strong piece. I hope it presages the future.

If he makes it to the Supreme Court without being cleared, his ordeal won't be over.

One way or another, Brett Kavanaugh will have to pay.


He will not necessarily pay explicitly for whatever it was he did or didn’t do on that contested night long ago. Although if Christine Blasey Ford appears to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and if she acquits herself credibly, then Kavanaugh is unlikely ever to sit on the Supreme Court – no matter what Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says.

Kavanaugh can wait to see if Ford’s allegations fall apart under questioning. It’s possible she’ll prove a jumble of contradictions. But from what we know so far, it’s hard to imagine she would. Ford doesn’t have to be sure of the color of paint on the wall 35 years ago. She only needs to be sure of the details of the attack as she has already described it.

Conservatives viewing her actions as a product of Democratic skulduggery fool themselves. Her allegations were problematic for Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who first received them in confidence. If Democrats had plotted to weaponize the allegations for best effect, this late-inning muddle would not have resulted.

If McConnell is correct and Republicans manage to push Kavanaugh through to the high court, no matter what, Kavanaugh won’t be out of the woods.

This is not 1991, when Anita Hill accused soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. And Kavanaugh, the beneficiary of virtually every privilege that status and education can afford, is not Thomas.

Democrats in 1991 were already the party of feminists. But many of the Democratic men in Congress – Barbara Mikulski was the lone Democratic woman in the Senate – were just as doltish toward a female accuser as Republican senators are today.

That’s no longer the case. Democrats have four women on the Judiciary Committee, and the men are so different from the cast of 1991 that Senator Chris Coons of Delaware has publicly mused that maybe he should cede his committee time to his two female colleagues who are former prosecutors and superior interviewers.

More important, the Republican Party of 1991 is not the party of 2018. The party leader then was George H.W. Bush, a war hero with pronounced social graces. The current leader is a habitual liar and crude demagogue who has been accused of sexual predation by more than a dozen women while continuing to behave as cad-in-chief.

The GOP of 2018 views the Supreme Court differently as well. Republicans were not facing electoral attrition in those days, desperately trying to sabotage the future. Republicans had held the presidency for three terms and were on the verge of a historic victory in the House over a corrupt and complacent Democratic majority.

Now, Republicans are investing in a partisan court to deliver partisan outcomes to advance partisan goals that are insulated from democratic accountability, such as elections and popular opinion, which Republicans increasingly fear.


I figgered it out! Trump and the repuglicon leaders are really trying to kill the party!

Everything they are doing is obviously to set the train down the track to self-destruction.

They were planted as saboteurs after being instructed at ivy-league and other schools.

I hope it works!

Trump is deliberately trying to incite a civil war in the US.

I know this is a topic in several threads but I'd like to posit how I see it.

The timing is likely before the mid-terms. The purpose is to tear at the fabric of society and weaken the rule of law. A state of emergency would need to called. Alliances such as NATO will feel the pressure and Putin is already building it up on them.

The benefactors are dump-like criminals including oligarchs from this country and abroad.

The military (including National Guard) is an unknown but I think they can be nullified for the most part.

Putin and others will feel much more comfortable loosing their dogs of war on a country that is in internal turmoil.

There won't be enough hospitals, morgues, cemeteries to hold the results of the carnage.

Thanks, repuglicons!

Top Trump administration immigration official to appear at hate group event


The head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is scheduled to appear next week at an event hosted by an anti-immigrant hate group that’s part of a network of organizations founded by white nationalist John Tanton.

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) announced today that Lee Francis Cissna would participate in its “Immigration Newsmaker conversation” at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 15.

“It’s disgraceful that Francis Cissna would agree to put the weight of his office – and the U.S. government – behind a hate group that exists solely to vilify immigrants,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project.

“But none of us should be surprised. It’s just one more example of the strong bond between this administration and far-right extremists who will stop at nothing to fuel rage and resentment against immigrants of color.”

They have become blatant in their intent to turn the US back to its all-white background. Oh, wait - it wasn't white to start with and has never been lily-white.
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