Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Lottery and Voting

Mega Millions $1.6 Billion jackpot. 
Buy a lottery ticket because it’s fun. 
Vote because it is the responsible thing to do.

If you can take the time to buy lottery tickets, surely you can take the time to vote in the mid-terms. One action is based on ignoring ridiculously absurd probabilities. The other action is standing for basic American democratic concepts such as checks and balances and three equal branches of government.

Here’s where voting for the Democratic Party candidate is essential.  The Republican Party simply has not acted as a check and balance on the current administration.

Social Security & Disability Are At Stake

If the Republicans retain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, they will follow Mitch McConnell’s agenda as outlined by the Los Angeles Times.

“At the root of the debate are interviews the Senate majority leader gave to Bloomberg and Reuters on Tuesday and Wednesday. McConnell identified ‘entitlements’ — that’s Washington code for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — as ‘the real drivers of the debt’ and called for them to be adjusted “to the demographics of the future.’”  In fact, it is the “budget-blasting tax cut for corporations and the wealthy that is estimated to cost some $2 trillion over the next 10 years.”  As the LA Times put it: “the real driver of the deficit is Republican fiscal policy and its relentless payouts to the wealthy.”

The Republicans will continue to restrict health insurance and maybe eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions.  They will continue to take no action regarding voter rights, respect for freedom of the press, respect for an independent Justice Department and special counsel’s office, campaign finance reform, climate change, consumer protection, and banking reforms.  

Ask yourself what have the Republicans done to ban assault weapons or to make background checks effective, what have they done to guarantee proper veterans' care, what have they done on job training in the face of automation and what relief have they provided for college debt.

The Republicans lack empathy when considering issues involving the disabled and women and minorities and immigrants and children (all of whom are human beings). They will continue to allow American’s foreign policy and tariffs to be toyed with by an under-informed president characterized by questionable personal and business interests.

You may not win the lottery on Tuesday, October 23, but you can win for democracy on Tuesday, November 6.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The government is not stupid and bad

Michael Lewis interviewed the pre-Trump Energy Department’s “chief risk officer” for The Fifth Risk.  That official identified the fifth risk as “project management.”

Lewis elaborates on the concept throughout the book as he tell the stories of other pre-Trump government managers, focusing on the department of energy and the weather bureaus of the department of commerce.  More than institutional knowledge, project management involves a passion to anticipate (imagine) service to the public.  Good project management needs people who are mission driven.  It encompasses the government’s providing services or solving problems that the government can provide or solve or that the government does in the absence of action by other institutions or business interests.

On the other hand, the Trump transition and the appointment of cabinet secretaries and agency managers, with few exceptions, reveal indifference, incompetency, lack of knowledge in general and an ignorance of science in particular and an arrogant pre-disposition that everything government does is “stupid and bad.”  The Trump Administration, as Lewis details with respect to the weather agencies, favors exploitation of public data for narrow commercial motives.  Just like Trump himself.

This is how Lewis characterized Rick Perry, the head of the department of energy.  “[Perry’s] sporadic public communications have had in them something of the shell-shocked grandmother trying to preside over a pleasant family Thanksgiving dinner while pretending that her blind-drunk husband isn’t standing naked on the dining-room table waving the carving knife over his head.”

The Fifth Risk also describes the other cited risks, three of which involve nuclear matters.  To borrow the title of an earlier Trump book by David Cay Johnston, It’s Even Worse Than You Think.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Overqualified for the Supreme Court

So there is a tee shirt.

RE:  Justice Brett Kavanaugh

After the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the American Bar Association called for a delay in Kavanaugh's confirmation until after a “thorough FBI investigation.”  A thorough FBI investigation was not ordered by the White House.

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens who had at first supported Kavanaugh said that, “his performance during the hearings caused me to change my mind.”

If Kavanaugh is qualified for the Supreme Court, I am overqualified.

Kavanaugh lacks integrity and temperament; his jurisprudence and ideology are far to the right.  He will reverse Roe v. Wade.

“[Kavanaugh] believes the president is above the law. In his personal writing, Judge Kavanaugh has repeatedly demonstrated that he won’t stand up to President Donald Trump, allowing President Trump’s abuses of power to go unchecked. He has argued that a president should have ‘absolute discretion’ and be able to dismiss any counsel ‘out to get him,’ that a president need not comply with laws that he personally deems to be unconstitutional, and that a president is protected from ‘criminal prosecution and investigation’ while he or she is in office. [Footnotes omitted.]”

So there is a tee shirt that says, Overqualified for the U.S. Supreme Court.

As it happens this tee shirt is a second edition.  Back in 1991-1992, I sold a tee shirt with the same message after the nomination hearings and appointment of Justice Clarence Thomas.  There’s even small article in the American Bar Association Journal of February, 1992 (pp. 34-35).