One Global Democracy? – Imagine That

Tucker Carlson, of Fox News, either has trouble filling his air time, or he has a serious sadistic streak.  Or, maybe he wants to add humor, and not-too-thinly-veiled ridicule to his, usually serious repartee.  I did not know whether to laugh or cry when he interviewed Peter Schurman, involved with MoveOn.org, a San Francisco-based, non-profit, political activist group, founded by two entertainment-software entrepreneurs.

MoveOn was organized in 1998, to oppose the impeachment of Bill Clinton over his handling of Monica Lewinsky.  They support liberal causes (anti-war, anti-SUV, anti-Bush, Pro-Michael Moore, Pro-Obama, Pro-Obama, Pro-Bernie Sanders) with fund-raising and virtual petitioning.

Mr Schurman joined MoveOn in 2001 as its first salaried employee.  His MBA from Yale is an academic achievement, but this new thesis would make any dean groan, and any John Lennon fan cheer.

One Global Democracy is an idea whose time is never.  Their website starts off, “SAN FRANCISCO, CA, November 29, 2017 — A small group of highly credentialed progressive leaders have announced in a video a new movement for One Global Democracy ..”

The tenet:  eliminate all national borders (“Imagine there’s no countries,”) and give each person one vote (“Imagine all the people sharing all the world”).  Allow anyone in the world to go to any other place in the world to live (“A brotherhood of man”).

international people

I would like to see him make this concept work on one block where he lives in San Francisco.  A few hundred homeless people would add appropriately to the mix of people living and working there. (Imagine all the people living life in peace”)

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They offer a video that is supposed to explain the idea and how it can work.  They ask for donations to fund the effort.

I watched it.  Circular logic, logical gaps, vague references, and not one working model of getting everyone to work together to solve problems. (“Imagine all the people living for today”) What would be a quorum?  How long would the voting stay open?

This group of “highly credentialed progressives” are clueless.  They propose to give everyone an anonymous voting account and have everyone vote on every issue.  (“And the world will be as one”) Sounds like “Animal Farm,” to me.  Let’s look at this idea from eight perspectives:

  1. Knowledge, skills, and understanding – Where do we have citizens of the world who know enough and understand the mechanisms to solve problems and set rules?  How many problems does the world have?  Who can know all that?
  2. Agreement – Couples disagree; juries of 12 people cannot always agree on one issue. How would this system find agreement among 7.5 billion people who do not share culture or language?  How can someone in Africa know answers on any local or global need or solution?
  3. Majority rules – Africans may become the majority population of the world by 2100. Who could end the tyranny of the majority?  How would we keep minorities from resisting egregious, burdensome discrimination?  What if the majority is wrong and makes bad choices based on superstition, rumor, and gossip?  What would be the common language?  Chinese?  Who would do the translations?  How would we handle issues such as gay marriage?  Abortion?  Euthanasia?  Civil rights?  Energy?
  4. Resources – how would resources be acquired, and allocated among areas and people?  Who would pay taxes?  What jobs would survive?
  5. Infrastructure – Would the whole world have to agree to build a bridge or highway in Bangladesh? How could it get done if approved?  What if the majority changed their minds half way through the project?  How would public safety work?  Health care? Finance?  Agriculture?  Education?  Justice?
  6. Economics – If resources were evenly distributed, where would communities get the money for local schools? If skilled and unskilled, educated and uneducated people were paid equally, is that not communism?  (a failed concept) Would Americans be willing to give up 85% of their belongings and money to equalize Africans in poverty.  (read Do Americans Really Want Economic Equality? – Not Beyond Our Borders)
  7. Ideology – Could the dominate religion force their beliefs on everyone else? Could women subjugate men?  Could children rule adults?  Could tribes require everyone join one or the other tribes?  What about sworn enemies and long-standing disputes?
  8. Leadership – How would we choose leaders? – “friends” or “likes?” How would we manage and coordinate in natural and man-made crises?  Who would set the agenda and propositions?

I could go on, but why should I?  This naïve notion that democracy answers all questions and needs is useless and worthless.  How many countries, and how many people do not live in democracies?  Why should they change? How have they managed all these eons without an 18th century innovation?

Most of the world has no idea of plurality.  Why should they prefer democracy to the structure they have now?  Civilization evolved to meet the conditions of life.  Witness the mayhem in the Middle East where we have imposed democracy.  Ethnic and religious strongmen immediately launched deadly, exhausting conflicts to take control.  Consider Africa, the Balkans, and Venezuela.  Civilization is not uniform or universal.

MoveOn’s self-styled, credentialed Olympians have not thought beyond selfie fund raising, as the TV interview revealed.  Please, progressives, do not let these people seduce or represent you.

Their fantasies do make a pretty song though (John Lennon, Imagine).

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Swamp Warfare Consumes – Nothing Good Happens When Nothing Happens

When politicians get personal, at best, nothing happens, at worst, nothing good happens.  We are witnessing, and suffering the slings and arrows of Alinsky-esque, Pyrrhic battles among the old guards of both parties of the “swamp” and the “Neo-Alt-Populists.”

What earnest, stalwart citizens expect is honest disagreement and negotiation to get the nation’s business done.  Instead we get messy, nasty, underhanded, duplicitous, deceitful, street fights by leaders of the traditional, two-party Congress and political elite intended to sabotage and neutralize the populist agenda.  Instead, we drown in oceans of pure sewage, a woeful waste of time, money, and reputation.

Trump started this ad hominem warfare with schoolyard nicknames for his opponents and constant public comments on everyone and everything.  But the swamp knows how to respond in kind.  Undermining, demeaning, and slandering one another absorbs enormous energy and batters the already dwindling confidence of the public.  What can we do with the barrage of bickering and dirty laundry?

I assign a giant portion of blame to the partisan, self-serving, faux journalists who constantly, gleefully, nakedly, shamelessly, and blatantly editorialize the mayhem.  The growing competition for notoriety risks America’s reputation and wastes our resources and influence.   Adolescent gossip has become the fodder for our herd of addicted commentators, who flood every form of information outlet, 24/7, with waves of “breaking news.”

I propose a ceasefire and a truce on public criticism, starting with the President.  Take your bar fights out back; do not make us witness the ugly, monkey-dance posturing, angry barbs, and impotent jabs.  Come back when you are done mauling each other, and you have made up with some workable compromise.  We are tired of seeing how no sausage is made.  We want to see and hear mature, decent people, doing what we elected them to do, with decorum and dignity.

Loyalty Is a Treasure – Disloyalty Is a Travesty

I grew up with four younger siblings.  You can imagine the constant turmoil and conflicts.  Really, what we experienced was trivial, but at the time, it seemed extreme.  Despite the changing levels of love, we were a family.  We could have our problems, but they stayed our private business.  Any threats or harm from neighborhood kids were an attack on all of us.  We took care of each other, and never disparaged a family member in public.  That is loyalty.

Loyalty can be a problematic virtue; it is a persistent, sometimes painful promise, and devoted commitment.  We possess our loyalties; we call them my friends, my family, my profession, my church, my team, our party, our country. We are ashamed or proud of them. We take risks or bear burdens for them.

Families expect it; organizations demand it; countries foster it. We expect loyalty in return.

People may forfeit our loyalty by asking us to set aside good judgment, “justifying” unethical conduct, or persistently violating our trust or shared values.

“When an organization wants you to do right, it asks for your integrity; when it wants you to do wrong, it demands your loyalty.”

Public disloyalty is a terrible betrayal; it says the worst about the betrayer.  Private quarrels, confidential problems are not disloyalty, they are getting along with people who share your values.

President Trump’s public criticism of Attorney General Sessions is embarrassing to our country and to his administration.  The crass nature of his publicized complaints violates and weakens the loyalty of his followers when loyalty is at a premium.  This was not a slip, no stealth recording; it was a New York Times interview, tweets, and press statements.  I am aghast at the whole spectacle.

Jeff Sessions was one of the most vocal supporters for Donald Trump during the campaign.  Why would Trump stab this powerful ally in the back over an act of integrity in recusing himself in the Russia/Clinton controversies?  Why this sad, rude, self-sabotage when so many important promises are waiting to be fulfilled?  I cringe when I think of how this will stain his presidency, and cripple the trust of his supporters.

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.”

 

Trump, Jr. Duped by British Music Publicist for Russian Pop-Star – How Evil Russians Fooled Him

Okay.  Let me get this straight:   Aras Iskenderovich Agalarov, an influential, Azerbaijani-Russian oligarch, and real estate developer, paid private-American citizen, Donald J. Trump, Sr., handsomely to bring his 2013 Miss Universe Pageant contestants to Moscow, where they were required to swoon in a music video, which included Mr. Trump, intended to launch Aras’s son, Emin (not to be confused with US rapper Eminem) Agalarov, a Russian, pop-star’s singing career.

Is that clear?  No?  How about, “A rich and famous Russian bought TV time to promote his son.”  It worked!  Emin (who speaks excellent English) is now one of Russia’s top pop-stars.  Fellow real estate developers, Aras (who does not speak English) and Donald used the opportunity to discuss  a possible Trump Tower – Moscow.  The economic downturn quashed that development, but not the friendships.

The Agalarovs  are very well connected in Russia and its southern neighbor, Azerbaijan.  Ten days prior to the pageant, President Vladimir Putin awarded Aras the Order of Honour by the Russian Federation, which is reserved for eminent citizens, such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Vladimir Putin, cosmonauts, Olympic champions, ambassadors, and major musicians. Emin’s ex-wife is the daughter of the president of Azerbaijan.

The Agalarovs expressed support for Mr. Trump’s presidential aspirations.  Enter Rob Goodlove, a British journalist turned PR publicist for the Agalarovs.  Rob emails Trump, Jr., on Emin’s behalf, that Aras Agalarov, 61, met with the “Crown prosecutor (sic) of Russia,” who offered to provide damaging information about Clinton. (Britain has a “crown prosecutor “— Russia has a “prosecutor general.”)

Trump, Jr. replies, “perhaps I just speak to Emin first.” “Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?”

Instead of a call, Rob relays a message, “Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday.”

Rob replies, “I will send you the names of the two people meeting with you for security when I have them later today.”

Trump, Jr. accepts, “Great. It will likely be Paul Manafort (campaign boss) my brother in law and me. 725 Fifth Ave 25th floor.”

End of emails.

Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with two people.  include the name of the Russian attorney (who does not speak English), Natalia Veselnitskaya, whose primary purpose in the U.S. is to support repeal of the Magnitsky Act, and, a lobbyist against the Magnitsky Act, Rinat Akhmetshin, a dual-citizen Russian-American.

Some unverified accounts of the meeting say that Rob Goldstone was there along with two more people: a translator and a representative of the Agalarovs.  Rinat Akhmetshin could certainly translate Russian and English for the parties.  Goldstone is an official representative of the Agalarovs.  To me, the report of eight people in the meeting sounds like double-counting on the surface.

Veselnitskaya offered a document which alluded to DNC finances.  Trump, Jr. asked if she had any documentation to back up that accusation.  She said no and pivoted from the dirt on Hillary Clinton to their real agenda:  lobbying the Trump campaign on Russia-related adoption policy .(the Magnitsky Act).

Jared, Kushner left the scheduled 20-minute meeting after 10 minutes.  Some reports say Trump, Jr. left early too.  No follow-up calls, meetings or emails.

What does this sound like?  Trump, Jr. got duped into a meeting with two advocates of repeal of the Magnitsky Act, by a music publicist for a Russian pop-star Trump, Sr. met at the Miss Universe Pageant four years ago.

The News, Sans Trump? – What Is Left?

Based on the news I have seen these last 2 years, the only thing keeping U.S. news sources going is Trump.

Really, subtract all the coverage of Donald Trump and his coterie and we have what?  The major cable news channels would be reduced to human interest pieces, sports, and weather, oh, and North Korea.  Sure, the occasional terrorist attack, another Catholic priest scandal, and futile battles in the Middle East crop up every so often, but the rest would have to be just plain entertainment.

This goes double for the tiny news sites like salon, BuzzFeed, and their ilk.  Without political warfare, their nets, and their advertising coffers would be empty.

ESPN invented 24/7 sports programming.  The franchise makes a fortune from 1% actual sports activity + 99% talking, analyzing, postulating about sports figures, drafts, management changes, wagering, keeping score, and all the endless, pointless falderol of mostly man-talk (often by beautiful women).

Cable news, ala CNN, Fox, MSNBC, have taken that model to new heights of expanded air time by making everything editorial opinion, building media stars and forums to pander to one political cohort or the other.  The real feeding frenzy around everything Trump never seems to end.  Shows how hatred sells and fear captivates.

Anyway, I hope the news media enjoys the ride, because some day, they won’t have DJT to flick around anymore.

Details Missing in CBO Projected Healthcare Coverage “Losses”

Numbers can deceive when important details are left out.  The recent Congressional Budget Office assessment of the Senate Republican healthcare bill estimated the reduction in the number of people covered by health insurance.

Most of the coverage dropped would be because of state laws, not federal.  The states set Medicaid coverage standards.

Another big chunk of the “losses” would be those who did not want coverage anyway.  Those forced to buy by the mandate penalties.

According to Politico:

<The House Republican health care overhaul would repeal the individual mandate penalty, and according to the CBO, this would be the single biggest driver of raising the uninsured rate by 14 million next year.

“Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate,” the CBO report reads. “Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums” (emphasis ours).>

Read the entire article at:  http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/mar/22/chris-murphy/house-gop-health-care-bill-would-cause-14-million-/

 

The projected 30% reduction in premiums should help some, but the out-of-pocket costs might still leave some people out.

Who says the people insured are “covered?”  Some people wait more than a month, and then drive 50 miles to see the only doctor who accepts Medicaid, or a high-deductible “bronze” plan from the only remaining insurer.

Bernie Sanders’ assertion that “thousands” of “excess deaths” would result is based on numbers from studies of people with untreated, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.  This same population could get no or inadequate treatment under Medicaid and low-end health insurance coverage.

And, what if the newly uninsured population is skewed towards young, healthy people who just dropped out?  Would the results be as dire?

Without a detailed demographic breakdown of the CBO numbers, we are left to speculate and infer what we choose.