The Art of the “New-More-Better” Deal – Putting Lipstick on a Platform?

When the same company of actors performs one play badly, will a new play make them perform better?  The political establishment’s senior leaders of the Democratic Party must believe it can happen.

We watched the “critics” close the old DNC play in November of 2016, after an eight-year run.  Trouble was, the cast were only part of the problem; the writers, producers and directors were the rest.   Now we have the preview of the new DNC play, which plans to run from now until 2018.  Trouble is, the same people plan to produce the show.

Nancy Pelosi, from California, is House Democratic leader.  She published an op-ed article in the Washington Post 7/23/17.

In her editorial, she outlined the proposed new party agenda: (To paraphrase,) “Make America Better Again,” or maybe, “Have I Got a Better Deal for You!”  It seems to be a leftish echo of Donald Trump’s winning, campaign platform, which put control of the White House, and the Congress in the hands of the Republican party.  How can adopting similar positions help Democrats win?

She berates the GOP for not …” creating good-paying jobs, or rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, or advancing tax reform, Republicans have spent six months trying to raise Americans’ health costs to fund tax breaks for billionaires.”  That sad, tired rhetoric has not worked at all so far.

I do not know what Ms. Pelosi expected in six months.  How much of those goals happened in the four years the Democrats had control of the White House, Senate, and the House of Representatives, or the following four years they controlled both the White House and Senate?  But, politics is a short-term memory profession.

The Democrats took the first year and two months of Obama’s presidency to create the Affordable Care Act, starting one month after President Obama’s first inauguration, and ending thirteen months later.  I guess we will have to give President Trump at least four years to measure progress on healthcare, tax reform, infrastructure, immigration, and job creation.

Meanwhile, the Democrats promise to offer Americans “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future.”  The San Francisco Democrat complained, “Working people from the heartland to the cities are struggling in a rigged economy and a system stacked against them.”   Why do we have these problems after fifteen years of her political leadership?

She also wrote of a renewed, “…commitment to the hard-working men and women across the United States who have been left out and left behind for too long.” I wonder how much time Ms. Pelosi spends in the “heartland,” schmoozing with the “hard-working men and women?”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.  wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times, and gave interviews to describe the new ideas of the “better deal.”  Here is the gist.  (Note:  the first clue to the truth is denial of it.  Look for what they say is “not.”)

“Our better deal is not about expanding the government, (n)or moving our party in one direction or another along the political spectrum. Nor is it about tearing down government agencies that work, that effectively protect consumers and promote the health and well-being of the country,”

“It’s about reorienting government to work on behalf of people and families.”  (Whatever that means.  “We are from the government, and we are here to help you.?”)

“Week after week, month after month, we’re going to roll out specific pieces here that are quite different than the Democratic Party you heard in the past,” Schumer said. “We were too cautious. We were too namby-pamby.”

The Democrats say their agenda targets “old-fashioned capitalism.”

Summary:

The leaders of the Democrats in Congress offer a “new-more-better” deal to Americans. Specific promises:

  1. Ten million, new, fulltime, good-paying jobs in the next five years. Tax credits for employers who hire and train workers at a good wage, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.
  2. Break the grips of big business special interests, monopolies, on rising living prices.
  3. Lower the cost of prescription drugs, regulate pharma price increases, allow Medicare/Medicaid to negotiate drug prices.

Other ideas in the mix:

  1. Single-payer healthcare system
  2. $15 minimum wage
  3. One-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan

Okay?  That is the new DNC agenda?  How would this approach, delivered by these people, align the disparate viewpoints of the left?  Who would feel energized by adopting these goals?  What jobs are not filled that need apprentices and trainees?  How much is “good-paying?”  Inflation is below 2%; which costs are rising, besides healthcare insurance?  What is missing from our current anti-trust laws?  Where have price controls worked without reducing supply or creating black markets?  Why limit negotiation of prices to drugs?  Why not other costs?  What if Trump does these things before the Democrats do?

I can see the faint ghost of Bernie Sanders’ populism in the language, but very faint.  It seems to be an establishment effort to ignite and unify the Democrats under the present leadership.  The dissonance and vagueness of the agenda strikes me as an unfocused attempt at cat herding.   It reminds me of that definition: “repeating the same actions and expecting different results is insanity.”

 

 

Do Not Ignore Ignorance – Do Public Schools Perpetuate Poverty?

Ignorance is not stupidity.  Ignorance is the absence of knowledge.  Example, are baby boys ignorant or stupid?  They are ignorant, but eager learners.  They watch, copy, listen, explore, and fall down.  They must learn to control their bodies; they must learn what is good to eat; they must learn to communicate; they must learn how to ride bicycles, play tag, kick a ball, write their names, be nice to grandma, be nicer to girls, and so on.

Schools are important, because what children learn in school, they could not learn by themselves.  Schools teach them the ways the world works.  Schools teach socialization on a much bigger scale than at home or in the neighborhood.  Schools show children that their home and community are not universal, there are other people, and other places that are much, much different.  Schools teach how to answer questions and solve problems.  Schools teach English the way that gives them the best avenue to written and spoken knowledge.  It might not match the way things are at home, but awareness of the “other-“worlds outside their experience is crucial for their future.

In the most primitive societies, people learn what survival has taught.  Live or die is the standard of measure.  Children start learning as innocents:  parents give “protected” lessons, small doses of harsh truths; they provide regular rescues and frequent warnings of the dangers.  As children develop, parents and family show them life skills in increments, and let them practice within safe limits; let them make small levels of all the natural mistakes, and suffer slight versions of all the natural penalties and results.  Primitive environments offer little slack between action and consequence.

The family teaches them the practical skills of eating, drinking, bathing, shelter.  Children learn to hunt, fish, farm, gather, make and use tools.  Their family shows them how to escape danger, hide from threats, and adopt social skills.  The kids learn what is required to stay alive.  After they can demonstrate the basics, they begin to refine and master whatever they need to live and prosper as an adult.

The parents, siblings, family and tribal members know that survival demands awareness of the differences between success, failure, and everything in between. Children and adults constantly watch, listen, practice, and compete with others to improve their knowledge and skills.  They win some, they lose some, they best some, and lose to others to find their place on the scales of mastery.

They are never allowed to go forward believing they can do something they cannot.  Life hangs in the balance, not only for the child, but for everyone in the connected community.  Mistakes by one spell critical danger for them all. What you don’t know will kill you.  Ignorance is death.

I like the saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”  This is the essence of ignorance – you have no clue that things exist that could be vital to your life. You are oblivious to dangers and opportunities, because they have never been revealed to you.  You are blind and deaf to what you could have and do, if you only knew you didn’t know.  Because then you could learn about those parts of life, and add them, if you are interested.

What happens when a child is not given direct links to truth and consequences?  What happens when they get vague or misleading feedback?   How will they fare in real-life competition when they grow up, after being praised for mastery they do not have?

Today, I read about the importance of education and thinking skills when competing for jobs.  I also read about poor children drifting through public school with other poor kids, copying their buddies, or family, or neighbors, dropping out early, because their friends do, or their parents did.  Even if they stay the course and graduate, how many are discouraged and disappointed when they venture into the “real world” nobody told them the truth about?

How is that working for us?  Almost a quarter of the students entering college or junior college require remedial courses to fill the yawning holes in their high school learning.  Why do they have a high school diploma that leaves them in the ditch for higher education?  How has the freshman year in college become the junior/senior year of high school?

Public schools like DISD have 90%+ poor children to educate.  This is a daunting mission.  Leaders and teachers are both proud and embarrassed with their jobs.  The truth is they provide educational foster care for their students for 12 years. They are the substitute family for these children. They feed them breakfast and lunch.  They show them all the knowledge they know how to show.  They have after-school activities for those whose parents work, to keep them safe, so they don’t have to be alone at home. They try to widen the children’s social perceptions and self-esteem, because poverty has wrecked them; home is where learning stops.

They cannot mitigate the parents’ problems, and the environment at home.  They cannot add staff empowered to backup teachers who face “class management” problems.  The poorest public schools have given up, because they cannot win; the problems are overwhelming; every factor is against them succeeding.  So, what choices do they have?  They either quit or compromise to survive as employees of public institutions; they point to marginal gains, and use subjective standards to describe “progress. “

They are deceiving us and our children mentally, emotionally, and socially. The object seems to be to get them to age 18 alive, and teach them enough to justify sending them into the world on their own.  It does not matter that they do not know what they do not know is ahead.

The advent and prevalence of “alternative evaluation” such as “participation awards,” has deprived children of the ability to answer life’s most important questions: What happened?  Did I win, lose, or draw?  What did I do or not do to get my results?

Part of the occlusion comes from cumulative generations of parents who have no foundation in their own education.  They cannot measure or judge their child’s knowledge or understanding of subjects that are foreign to themselves. Another contributor is the deliberate removal of clear measurement standards from school.  Whether grades are A – F, or 100 – 0, they give the student a place to stand on their personal learning curve.

All the malarkey about emotional intelligence, self-acceptance, cultural awareness, instead of mastery of subjects, derails education, and generates unprepared high school “graduates.”

Such subterfuge is just a smoke-screen to camouflage ineffective teaching systems, unsuccessful learning efforts, incompetent, deluded teachers, and dishonest, political, school officials.  Federal and state money to schools can rely on reported student achievement and advancement.  When the students do not perform on standardized tests of basic subjects, penalties arise for the school district.  The incentives to “play the game” are vast.

The saddest thing about this structure is its cumulative self-perpetuation.  High school drop-outs do not just disappear, they grow up, they have children whose parents are not educated or enthralled by the school experience.  These children do not have adult models of success, and are less likely to value and complete high school.  They grow up, they have children who have two generations of parents with limited education, and success, and so on.

The answer is not to pass students from overcrowded class to overcrowded class, frustrating year to frustrating year, with phony, political, grading methods; it is not to issue them a counterfeit high school diploma, and kiss them good-bye.

What are the answers?  Cut the psycho-babble crap; forget the “participation” trophies; tell our children the truth; give them grades on a finite scale; offer them tangible ways to measure what they really know; teach them learning skills and habits.  Let them see who has learned, and who has not.  If they fail to learn some parts of subjects, show them; then let them know that failing once, or twice, or ten times is not the end, show them how not to quit, show them how to try again.  No child learns to walk or ride a bicycle on the first try.  Why should other learning be different?

Want to see motivated, determined learning?  Watch children play sports and games.  Kids will practice and practice until they find out what works, what does not, who is good at them, who is not.  Failure does not stop them when they want to play.  Golf is a great example.  Golfers are not daunted by the fact they may never be excellent.

We are telling parents and children that their only hope is college.  At best, this false notion leads many underqualified students to enter college unprepared, to struggle into insurmountable debt, fail, drop-out, or earn a useless, jobless “degree.”  College is not the only way to qualify for a respectable job.

The absence of non-college career training is a glaring omission in modern education.  Why can’t we emphasize quality trade schools as respectable alternatives to college?  Restore prestige to learning trades.  A master plumber can earn more than a poorly-performing college graduate.  Trades offer decent earnings opportunities, as well as professional pride and respect.  In addition, most trades cannot be “outsourced” to another country, or eliminated by technology.

Why not:

  • Offer trade-related courses in high school as an alternative to college preparatory courses?

  • Reinstate work/study programs related to trades.

  • Offer trades training to undereducated parents

  • Let parents and children see that most trades require knowledge of basic math, language, and science.

  • Offer trades-enhanced GED diplomas

  • Let parents bring their children to afternoon and early evening classes.

Think about the stages of human mastery:

  1. Discover something you want or need to learn

  2. Test your current knowledge

  3. If you fail, analyze, learn, and adjust

  4. Retry, analyze, learn, and adjust

  5. Once you learn the basics, practice, analyze, learn, and refine

  6. Practice, analyze, learn, and refine until you excel.

What might happen if we taught this mindset and process?

 

Sails or Sea Anchors? – Who Do We Need as Our National Leaders?

What happens when what always works does not?  What happens to leaders who are blinded by the momentum of power from past successes?  Equally fair, what happens to leaders who are thrust into power by overreactions to the establishment?  Answer:  nothing good.

A maelstrom of entropy is looming over us, the world’s only superpower.  Quixotic tilting against objectified “evil-minded devils” fills our bandwidths.  Our national cortisol has spiked to threatening levels.  Our unity as Americans has disappeared, deflated by our own in-fighting.  Mean-spirited feuding has become our national sport.

Why, in less than two decades, have we Americans let our powerful family disintegrate from compromise and cooperation into rabid rabble-rousing, closely paralleling the vicious personal attacks, and snipes that preceded the Civil War?  Has such hyperbolic, gladiatorial nastiness become the minimum standard for political success?  Has the anonymity of virtual communications emboldened us to self-righteously attack and degrade people we do not know?

The winds of political change are blowing furiously in all directions; sails of power are becoming sea anchors of defeat; populist cannons are blasting broadside the galleons of the establishment; long-time admirals of state are too far from the shores of reconciliation to avoid going down with ships of hubris.

Who is ready to transform our thinking, our attitudes, and our beliefs about one another?  Who is ready to turn our swords into plowshares, to make peace with our greatness, and to make room for other ideas?  Who is prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans and salute.  Isn’t anyone else tired of this war?

 

 

 

Available Care Act – Beyond “Coverage”

Much talk about insuring people for healthcare needs.  The giant bedpan in the room is availability.  What good is having Medicare, Medicaid, exchange plans, if you cannot find a doctor for hundreds of miles who will accept your provider’s coverage?  Just look.

The pundits talk about providing millions of people “access” to healthcare; however, they cannot explain why many of the “covered” still do what they did when they had no insurance, go the emergency room of the public hospital known to be the one that cannot turn them down.

Health insurers specify what they will cover and what the insured must pay, in terms of dollars and percentages.  What they do not spell out, is the amounts they are willing to pay the doctors and hospitals for various treatments.  The doctors and hospitals that are willing to accept the insurer’s terms are added to a “network.”  If the insured uses these doctors and hospitals, “in network,” the patient pays less; “out-of-network” providers, the insured pays much more.

Medicare, and the related private insurance plans are shunned by many healthcare providers because of the intense complexity of coding rules, poorer reimbursement rates, and 6-month slow-pay of claims.  I cannot blame them for wanting the easiest, most profitable patients, but look at what that does to retirees:  it shoves them into the offices of the newest, least experienced doctors, who do not have privileges at the best hospitals.

Another specious barrier doctors erect is “not accepting new patients.”  If that is true, why do they prominently promote their doctors, facilities, and services?  Why do they list the insurance plans they accept, on fancy websites?  What do they do when patients get well, move, change, outgrow their need, or die?  Who takes their places?  Are there waiting lists?  This policy seems wildly inconsistent, and dubious to me.

Today’s labyrinth of laws, maze of insurance coverages, intricacies of medical practice, incorporation of hospitals, vast array of medical devices, tests, and procedures, and incomprehensible myriads of drugs and medicines, are the starting point of future choices.  The concept of choosing your doctors, clinics, and hospitals still appeals to me.  If all health insurance policies must meet some minimum standards of coverage, why should health providers exclude any of them?

We have a historic opportunity to put features into the fabric of healthcare; the federal government has more incentives and flexibility to “get it right” as they formulate new laws.  Why not pass a new law called “The Available Care Act?”  If you accept anything except cash for medical services or goods, you accept the coverage of any patient who walks in your door.

 

Left’s War on Winners – Town Hell Meeting = Public Media Pillory

You read it right, “Town Hell Meeting;” the town hall meeting is the latest casualty in the left’s war on winners; turning plowshares into swords.  Politicians and public figures are targets of a recent tactic by their political enemies – “Public Media Pillories.”

Pillories were used to humiliate and torture people who were guilty of malfeasance, breaking taboos, or committing sins.  The pillory was usually a hinged wooden device, attached to a post; it held the head and hands of the subject locked in place.  The pillory was placed in the most public area of a town or village to get maximum exposure.

john_waller_in_pilloryCourtesy of Wikipedia

Once a person was placed in the pillory, they received no food or water; there were no bathroom breaks; the public was free to scorn, humiliate, & pelt them with organic and inorganic matter, sometimes killing them.

Today, vicious partisans employ a new form of pillory – the televised, town-hall ambush. Traditionally, town hall meetings were community gatherings, bringing together all the local citizens to discuss matters of public, common interest.  Yes, people discussed important topics using Robert’s Rules of Order.  http://www.robertsrules.org

The modern version has neither good intentions, decorum, nor civility.  Innocence plays no part in the deployment of this weapon.  Now, it is a form of political ambush.  Only foolish office holders attend public town hall meetings that are “public media pillories” in disguise.

The process goes like this:  Opposition partisans invite public figures saying, “we want to talk to you in an open forum,” when they really mean, “we want you to sponsor a media-covered, public event, where we will hound, berate, criticize, insult, accuse, interrupt, scream invectives, and attack you personally, without allowing you to express ideas, answer questions, or even be heard.”

Only the brave or the foolhardy accept their cleverly encoded, poison-pen invitation.  If you decline, they cast you as non-transparent, and postulate what you could be hiding.  If you accept, you find yourself trapped on a stage, with a microphone.  You are greeted by a standing- room-only crowd.  You are surrounded, not by a cross-section of the community, but by a cohort of angry enemies; some are not even members of the local community.

The hounds are loosed, the cameras capture the mayhem, and the air is filled with posters, chants, rants, and pithy aphorisms.  At some point, you shrug and walk off the stage, having only introduced yourself and thanked the people for “coming out.”

You may think it is over because you survived with all your body parts.  Alas, the torture has just begun; the editing and augmenting begin.

Before and after the meeting, the “reporters” identify photogenic, outraged attendees, recently-ousted office holders, and bussed-in opposition pundits.  They script interviews with everyone and anyone who hates you, and “the horse you rode in on.”  They use snippets and sound bites to punctuate the later broadcasts with righteous indignation, and proud assertions of having done a public good.

The masterful image-smiths design a “storyboard,” and use video tape, & sound bites to fulfill it.  When they are done, the town-hall meeting is a victory of good over evil at Armageddon.  They tailor the context, emphasize “talking points” to meet “breaking news” standards; they include hints that support the opposition, bolster conspiracy theories, and not so subtlety, deride your credibility as a public figure.

If you get invited to lead a “town hall” meeting, think “abattoir,” a spider’s parlor.  This use of the media has eliminated its community value, and weaponized its destructive power.

“Day Without Immigrants?” – How About “Day Without Illegal Aliens”

Mainstream mislabeling of non-Americans, who are neither registered resident aliens nor naturalized citizens, as “immigrants” is a political victory for the media, and open-borders advocates.  Substitution of terms, and collapse of meaning is called “conflation;”it is pervasive; even those who advocate legal control of our borders have adopted the “alt-lit” use of “immigrant” where “illegal alien” or “unregistered foreign national” is accurate.

This national protest is designed to show the importance of immigrants and their descendants to America.  No protest is required.  Just get the words straight, and you have a clear picture of who we are talking about.  Any hyphenated American is still an American.  “Green Card” and valid visa holders are welcome visitors.  Subtract these people from the “Day Without Immigrants” activities and see who is left.

America is still a most attractive country in many respects.  I understand why foreign nationals want to live here, it is vast, varied, wonderful, free, and full of opportunities.  We have borders, and citizenship laws, like every country in the world.

What we do not have is a guest worker visa program large enough to accommodate our labor needs.  This is evident because over 11 million people are living here without the benefit of such visas. Employers hire them to do the jobs they need done.

If all the energy, time, and money spent for these demonstrations were applied to getting Congress to authorize and expansive guest worker program, most of the illegal aliens could be legalized and have the benefits of official recognition and legal protection.

Political “Racists” Accuse Tom Brady of Racism

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

Tom Brady had just led his New England Patriots football team to an historic, overtime, victory in the Super Bowl, after overcoming a 3rd quarter, 25-point deficit –  a Super Bowl record.  But, he is a friend of the president.  How stupid and arrogant can political “racists” be to cast racist aspersions on Tom Brady for quoting inspirational, non-racist words from Rudyard Kipling’s poem to his son John, “If–”?

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, ‘
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Rudyard Kipling was born in 1865 in Bombay, India.  He grew up in the age of Imperialism, as the British Empire was reaching its peak.  Critics point to his 1899 poem, “The White Man’s Burden,” as racist, and it was, as was the rest of the Eurocentric Imperialist world.

Nonetheless, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, “in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author.”  That did not make the Nobel Committee racist.

If we discarded all works of culture, art, music, & history because they came from times, authors, artists, and views we now condemn, the libraries’ shelves would be empty, the walls and pedestals of museums would be barren, the world would be silent, and we would be ignorant savages, banging stones against stones; but wait, some people insist on just that.

When have human beings not been “racists?”  How long have civilizations existed and progressed despite built-in bigotry, bias, and fear?

Ignorance, when clung to righteously, becomes stupidity.  Criticism from a platform of vapid views of hatred is wicked silliness.  I would not give any credence to the blather spewing from such a source, nor would I value anything else it produced.

(In their related article, the Heatstreet Staff called the critics “liberal nasties.” http://heatst.com/culture-wars/tom-brady-under-further-fire-from-liberals-after-sharing-poem-from-racist-rudyard-kipling/?mod=sm_tw_post)