Democratic Folly

The Democratic Party has decided to double down on Superdelegates. In short, that means that the Party will decide who you will vote for without any pesky interference from voters, thank you very much. They do not see how anointing a candidate could possibly have contributed to What Happened. They do not see how tired many people are of holding their nose and voting for The Chosen One because hey, who else are you gonna vote for?

Many years before I was born, a science-fiction author named Robert Heinlein wrote a book called Take Back Your Government. One of the things he advocated was to get involved in your local party politics. And further, he reminded us that if what you thought was “your” party turned out not to be anymore? Join the other one and work for what you believe in there.

I have heard from reliable sources that the local Democratic Party isn’t any more open to opposing viewpoints than the national organization. I mean heck, they turned their back on Nevada’s gubernatorial candidate because… well because “none of the above” actually won the primary (not complaining; Sandoval has been a decent Governor). But they aren’t above supporting people awaiting indictment.

In Closing: net neutrality; it will be interesting to see how the “gun control” argument changes post Vegas; confiscating assets is big money; cannabis and opioids; potentially, the end of an era in Japan.

The Blame Game

I know this is not a popular opinion on “the Left”, but here it is. The DNC and Clinton supporters need to stop blaming Comey and the Russians. Why?

Because the only reason Comey and the Russians mattered is that they themselves were doing stupid stuff. The DNC rigged the election to ensure Hillary’s coronation nomination — and now they want to argue that they had the right to do so. The DNC and HRC (both as Secretary of State and as a candidate) put stupid stuff in emails. Clinton’s people are the ones who used ridiculously bad internet security — and at one point turned it completely off in a virtual welcome sign to hackers. Don’t do stupid stuff and you don’t have to worry about getting caught doing stupid stuff. Funny how that works.

Blaming Comey and the Russians? Bobby Brady broke the vase by throwing his football in the house, but you want to blame Cindy Brady for tattling!

Furthermore, the Democrats refused to address the issues important to most Americans — hint, it’s still the economy, stupid — instead focusing on fluffy social issues to the point where many white men I knew were saying that clearly there was no “inclusion” meant for them. The bottom line is that if the Democrats choose to double down on politics as usual and to hell with actual progressive ideas, they will lose more elections. Oh, and let’s not forget Huma and Weiner. The popular vote? Oh please, not knowing that you need electoral votes to win a presidential election is just plain political incompetence.

And finally, can we please stop pretending that Obama was any kind of progressive or liberal? For pity sake, he’s more conservative than Nixon.

In Closing: Believe; poverty; I should never have looked at this recipe; PayPal.

A Prediction

First of all, I’d like to start by saying that the name of the proposed legislation to “repeal and replace Obamacare” is called “World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017.” That’s a seriously great title, folks.

So my prediction is as follows: there will be enough voices on the Left saying it does not go far enough and enough voices on the Right saying it doesn’t go nearly far enough that no bill will be passed. Afterwards, each side will congratulate themselves on thwarting the other.

The fact remains that any plan that depends at all on employer coverage will never cover all children. That’s because children don’t have employers. And — I will say this every time it’s brought up — don’t tell me we can’t have true universal single payer coverage for children, because Howard Dean did it in his state.

In Closing: vouchers; I guess most-mortems are easier than admitting that Hillary could possibly have lost without outside help; yoga; right; Alcoholics Anonymous; and I don’t even know where to begin about the stupidity of a “day without women.”

Taxing my patience

So Slate has this article about how the Republicans are trying to kill something called the Mortgage Interest Deduction. Other sources are piling on to this interpretation, spurred on my my least favorite economist, Lawrence Yun. For those not familiar with the tax code, that’s the bit that allows people who are paying on a mortgage to deduct the portion of the mortgage payment that is interest on the loan — not the whole payment. Technically, you’re also allowed to deduct certain other fees and property taxes.

Here’s the problem: it’s not at all true. The actual proposal is to almost double the standard deduction to $24,000. If you actually have more than $24,000 in deductions, you’ll still be able to claim the Mortgage Interest Deduction. However, for most people this standard deduction is high enough that they won’t need to itemize. Even Slate admits that some experts say this will benefit roughly 38,000,000 taxpayers!

The first benefit is that most people will have simpler taxes. No more complicated deductions to figure out. No more keeping track of documents from the mortgage company and all those little slips of paper you got from donating to charity. Congrats, your taxes may well be reduced to one document and an hour with TurboTax.

The second benefit is a little trickier. The 2016 poverty line is $24,300 for a family of four. This higher standard deduction means that families near the poverty line will not be taxed into poverty. It means that they can spend more of their income on goods and services rather than taxes. That benefits the family and the economy. A win-win situation. Don’t tell me poor people don’t pay income tax, because that’s a lie.

Hmm, where have I heard this idea before?

On Drugs

Today I received multiple emails urging me to voice my opposition to the “21st Century Cures bill.” Specifically opposed by Elizabeth Warren, it was passed by the House yesterday and is now headed for the Senate. Here’s one of the more level headed things written about it today.

So, here’s something that might concern you. This bill would specifically allow something called “off-label use” of drugs. More specifically, it allows drug manufacturers to mention these off label uses, rather than leave it to word of mouth among doctors. Critics call that “Fraud”, adding “If this bill passes, Big Pharma could market drugs as cures for all sorts of symptoms, not for the uses that were approved by the FDA. That sort of fraud puts people at risk.”

That’s simply not how it works.

Let me start with a common example that you or somebody you know might be familiar with. There’s a drug called Gabapentin, name brand Neurontin. It’s approved as an anti-seizure medication. The truth is, there are many better drugs for seizures, but Gabapentin is really good at controlling nerve pain (“neuropathy”). Many diabetics use this drug to control diabetic neuropathy (it’s cheaper than that stuff you see advertised on the TV, and has a longer track record for safety simply because it’s been around for years). So this bill would say that the makers of Gabapentin could run an ad saying doctors use this stuff all the time for neuropathy.

People like Elizabeth Warren who are calling this “fraud” think somebody should pay for a bunch of new research studies to prove what doctors and patients have known for years: this stuff works pretty well for something other than it’s original purpose.

The fact is that one out of five prescriptions written today is for an off label use — what critics are now calling “fraud” — and there are perfectly valid reasons for your doctor to write that prescription. In fact, if I can only get you to read one thing about this issue, let it be this peer reviewed article on the practice. Notice there’s an entire table of common off label uses, some of which are common sense (gee, morphine can treat severe pain in children, gotta do some studies on that one).

Of course heaven forbid we should address the fact that the United States is one of only two countries that allow drug manufacturers to market their products directly to consumers who — let me point this out — cannot purchase them without a prescription. Not complaining, it helps  my clients remember what some of those new meds do.

In Closing: bras; Greenwald pointing out reality again; 5 pre-screened articles by conservatives; a Home Depot employee in Alabama has virtual control of the underground economy in Venezuelaplease stick a fork in identity liberalism (it’s dead); and it’s been a long time since I’ve linked to anything in HuffPo, but it is still the economy, stupid.

Reality Break

Dear Democrats on the Internet:

Have you lost your everlovin mind?

We just finished an election where the American voters rejected not just one, but two political dynasties. Furthermore, just about everybody except Maddie Albright rejected the notion of “vote for the girl ’cause she’s a girl.” And finally, voters rejected the notion of a “everything is fine nothing is broken” politics-as-usual candidate.

Michelle Obama would be a terrible choice for Democratic nominee in 2020. Not because she’s a woman. Not because she’s black. Not even because certain Republicans have spent the last 8 years criticizing literally everything about her.

Because we don’t pass down the Presidency like it’s some kind of crown.

And furthermore, she’s not interested.

The Hangover 2016

Happier times?
Happier times?

Ok. Everybody recovered from either celebrating or being sad and confused yesterday? Good. Let’s take a collective deep breath or three. It’s time to talk like grown-ups about what happened this election.

Protest signs with swear words are not helpful. Stop it with the popular vote argument unless you were equally outraged in 2000.

I’d like to share some of the more level headed things that were said yesterday about Hillary’s defeat. No, not Trump’s win, but Hillary’s defeat. There were a lot of people who had a  hard time choosing between — as this season of South Park put it — the douche or the turd sandwich. No, you can’t boil this down to “hate won” or “xenophobia and misogyny.” So here I offer the thoughts of Ryan Bort and Juan Cole. Note the theme of an enraged electorate whose standard of living has been in decline.

Hillary was a weak candidate: a “limousine liberal” in a time when Joe Average is not doing well. She was beset by scandals both real and imaginary.

Her slogan was “Stronger Together,” but she ran on “Come now, be reasonable and accept small variations on the status quo.” Bernie Sanders’s ideas? Come now, be reasonable. Recent radio ads purportedly sharing the thoughts of Republicans planning to vote for Clinton actually used the words “She’s reasonable.

Here’s a good summary: “She was a weak candidate with tremendous baggage and very high unfavorable ratings. She was a status quo candidate with a status quo campaign in a change election.” And yet the decision was made very high up in the DNC that it was “her turn.”

So yeah, it’s time for a shakeup in the Democratic Party.

In just one week….

Our national nightmare of Election 2016 will be over one way or the other.

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Not sharing how I voted, only want to encourage all of you to (in the immortal words of Nike), “Just Do It.” Once and only once. Assuming you are alive. No selfies.

In closing: Apple; no, you’re not even allowed to explore another culture’s traditions or fashions or Halloween (again, only if you’re a woman, nobody’s ragging on guys with tartans or topknots); and oh Weiner.

Some Thoughts on the Democrats

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Why a picture of Joe Biden? Why not? It’s a pretty cool picture of him!

The Democratic National Convention was this week, so I’d like to share some miscellaneous musings.

On the Email Hack: So some are accusing the Russians of orchestrating this hack to manipulate our elections. None of these people are saying that the emails in question are fake, forged, false, or anything of the sort. So it sounds very suspiciously like they are mad they got caught. The FBI is investigating, but remember this: they are investigating the hack, not the fact that these emails seem to indicate that the Democratic primaries were rigged. And no, Trump did not invite the Russians to hack more. He made a joke about how maybe they have the missing emails. So shut up already about this “threat” to “security.” Remember which candidate had security features turned off on the private email server. This is the online equivalent of closing the store for the night and leaving the door unlocked.

And one more reminder: Read the last few lines. Now repeat after me: Never put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t proudly show to your mother, your boss, and a judge.

On Kaine: People keep saying he’s a Progressive. Ok, Hillary keeps saying he’s a progressive. I don’t see anything to justify that statement. He’s not just in favor of the TPP — at least he was until days ago — he voted to fast-track it. He’s pro-“life”. He’s “tough on crime.” Whoop-dee-doo he speaks Spanish. And did you know he used to be the DNC chair?

On Little Debbie: You know I don’t give political nicknames lightly. Little Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has achieved this dubious honor. She deserves the lawsuit she’s received from rigging the primaries, and more. Matt Taibi graciously calls it a “slanted campaign.” I am frustrated with Democrats who are willing to ignore this and say fuggedaboutit just because they find the opposing candidate scary.

On Bernie: Some people called him a sell-out, but what the hell else was he going to do? Change parties? The man played his role of The Grown Up In The Room and he did it with grace.

On Bernie Supporters: There is mounting evidence that they are getting a raw deal to follow up the non-binding pat on the head of “the most progressive Democratic party platform evar!” Interesting how many times it mentions Mr. Trump. I do not quite think that the Democratic party understands that they do in fact need those voters not just for Hillary, but for all the down-ticket races as well.

Yeah yeah yeah woman President: Michelle Obama said “And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.” No, your daughters can be President, probably Chelsea and Dubya’s girls too. The rest of us, not so much. And no, it isn’t that America isn’t ready for a woman President. For pity sake, India, a nation with a less-than-stellar record on women’s rights, has had a female head of state. Whether any given American kid can become President boils down to money, and what college you went to, and who you know, and a bunch of things that boil down to the fact that most of us will get no closer to the White House than a tour.

And One Last Thing: Fact Checking Hillary and Donald respectively.

Circus

“And I kept hacking at Hewlett Packard until it was only this big”

I can’t quite get my head around the crazy this week. Ted Cruz announced his Veep running mate today — despite the facts that a) that usually is reserved for actual nominees and b) that usually gets done so as to shore up alliances and produce the strongest overall ticket. And who was his pick? A retired General maybe? A well-liked Governor, perhaps? Wait, no, maybe a member of Bush’s cabinet?

Nope. Failed candidate, failed CEO, and barely passed the Turing test: Carly Fiorina. See, picking a veep is something you do to make your ticket more likable, not less. But I suppose this is what desperation looks like.

Meanwhile, one of the Koch Brothers has gotten disgusted with the clowns coming out of the circus they’ve been funding. As the supposed Chinese curse says, “May you live in interesting times.” More accurate in this case: “Lay down with dogs, get up with fleas.”

In Closing: a couple items on the job prospects of the Millennials and others; who am I kidding, I’m not gonna write a whole post about Harriet Tubman; Juice; British notice reality of a trade agreement; Judge points out the actual meaning of “in plain sight’; and oops.