—The British voted to leave the European Union against their own interests. California voters adopted a three-strikes-you’re-out proposition, followed by others to correct it. The Republican Party allowed itself to be hijacked by a demagogue. That’s what an uninformed public does.
As followers of government, we have long opposed the idea of voter initiatives as a ridiculous and potentially dangero—us way of governing in a democracy.
Alexander Hamilton and the other framers of the U.S. Constitution thought so as well. That is why the created, not a purely democratic form of government in which every citizen has a direct vote on all policy decisions. Even then, 240 years ago, such a system was seen as frought with many more dangers than just being too cumbersome.
As Hamilton wrote in the first Federalist Paper, the restrictive representative government they designed in the Constitution frees the national government from the influences of a demagogue who could prey on the prejudices of an uninformed public and have it vote against its own interests.
The British vote to have the country leave the European Union was a perfect example of a largely ignorant, xenophobic and racist electorate persuaded to metaphorically slit their own throats. Within 24 hours, the reality of the move hit home and voters wanted a redo.
Voter initiatives have done some similarly crazy things throughout the U.S., even on the island of Maui, Hawaii. One actually voted to outlaw an entire science, genetically modified organisms because Monsanto was using them to create crops resistant to its own pesticide. The target was worth, the ammo was overkill.
We have a representative government we rely on to be informed and make decisions on our behalf, regardless of how badly we go about doing so—too often electing not leaders, but followers who read polls and parrot what voters want to hear.
It is the elected government’s job to make choices for us based on months of gathering information, hearing testimony and shunting the work to endless committees and subcommittees, all of it slow and cumbersome, but in the end it supposedly makes an informed decision.
Trump Would Ban Immigrant Steve Jobs
—One problem of racism, xenophobia, nativism and all the other phobias represented by Donald Trump and his incredibly ignorant followers is the incredible, yet unknown damage their views would cause America.
Albert Einstein was somewhat of an immigrant, Jewish, and he just happened to be in the United States when his home country of Germany declared war, launching World War II. Werner von Braun, who made NASA possible, was easily accepted as an immigrant after the war despite having served Adolf Hitler in killing British with rockets.
If Abdul Jandali had been among the Syrians escaping years of war in their country, Trump would ban him from America. Jandali was a Syrian from the historic city of Ohms, now destroyed. Fortunately for him, he immigrated decades before the war now tearing that country apart.
Abdul Jandali is the biological father of Steve Jobs, who died recently after founding and leading Apple to become an iconic multi-multi-billion U.S. innovative company whose products are now firmly lodged in many U.S. homes, pockets and purses.
In Trump’s defense, or not, he probably would make a personal exception for Jindali, who never saw Jobs, having split with his pregnant girlfriend who later gave up for adoption their son who became Steve.
You see, Jandali was born to millionaires and came to America as one, making even more millions operating a Nevada gambling casino. Trump’s kinda guy, except you won’t see JANDALI on the building..
Hubris and High Office
A pearl from our past
One of the main differences between being an adult and a child is the appreciation for the brain’s version of Newton’s Third Law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The brain’s version is: actions have consequences.
So, what makes people in high office be children and behave as though there are no such things as consequences? Hubris. Inexplicable hubris could be termed “blinding hubris.”
Watch every presidential administration up close and one can see this hubris at work in spades. Sometimes it cripples entire administrations such as Jimmy Carter’s. Sometimes it affects only the people involved, as in Bill Clinton’s administration. Sometimes it harms and cripples an entire nation, as in the Richard Nixon and George W. Bush administrations. And who is more suited for the “arrogance” tag than Dick Cheney?
From the condo president who becomes a martinet to local and state officeholders to the federal level, seemingly intelligent, powerful people seem to get an attack of hubris when at another level they would plainly see ahead to the consequences of the their actions.
But, no. Hubris causes people to believe they never will be caught and will get away with it. In Eliot Spitzer’s case, it had to be blinding hubris because his reputation was his prosecutor image of nabbing those whose excess hubris led them to break a law. Also in Spitzer’s case, blinding hubris led to the ultimate political sin — hypocrisy.
—The British people joined Donald Trump in proving that the framers of the U.S. Constitution enjoy well-justified plaudits for having designed an almost perfect form of democratic government. Their design could be our ultimate protection.
Foolishly, British Prime Minister John Cameron created a ballot initiative giving the masses a chance to vote up or down on remaining in the European Union. The mostly ignorant masses voted to leave, and are about to suffer greatly for that decision.
Similarly, the Republican Party allowed Trump to hijack it by not having the gates in place to ensure that an ignorant electorate would not choose a narcissistic demagogue as a presidential candidate.
The eponymous subject of the most popular play on Broadway, Hamilton, wrote in the first Federalist Paper that the Constitution he helped design denied direct elections for the very reasons the British and Trumpsters were triumphant. The general public is and will be ignorant. Today, we have cable TV earnestly making them more so.
Alexander Hamilton wrote that a pure democracy was rejected because of the danger of demagogue influencing an uninformed electorate. Everybody was racist in those days, most of the world is today, so his words were not directed at the xenophobia and racism that characterize the ignorant, just their ignorance.
Thus, the authors of the Constitution created a democratic government with a series of gates, including the electoral college and other steps designed to dilute the impact of an easily influenced voting population doing stupid things.
Ironically, Cameron launched the referendum to show his EU colleagues his country’s solidarity with the EU. He miscalculated the depth of British xenophobia, the same affliction of the part of the U.S. electorate that handed a major political party over to a demagogue who not only is amazing ignorant, he is potentially dangerous.
States and municipalities that allow voter initiatives should think twice before allowing such direct voting. California has had all sorts of voter referenda, called propositions, that turned out badly, some later overturned. An excellent was the three-strikes-you’re-out proposition.
Let’s keep the constitutional filters in place. The GOP would be well-advised to create a gate and slam it on an ignorant demagogue who would become its presidential nominee, and political jurisdictions at all levels would be well-advised to avoid voter initiatives.
Those who wrote the Constitution knew what they were doing.
House Speaker Says He Supports a Racist
Logic can be as simple as a link from one thing to another. Or from one to another and another: Triangles have three sides. The drawing has three sides. The drawing is a triangle.
Logic also can be inferred, safely inferred, by a subject’s refusal to answer a question as asked. Logic also can be inferred by linking two sentences. House Speaker Paul Ryan called Donald Trump’s comments about a judge “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” But, he would not renounce his support of Trump as presidential candidate. Ergo, Ryan supports a racist.
Journalists are not allowed to make connections such as that. It would be subjective and therefore considered unethical. But, we know the logic and we know how to infer.
Poet Alexander Pope said this in a sort of poetic eulogy about a friend while he was still alive early in the 18th century, a pre-eulogy, if you will (the entire poem, An Epistle to Arbuthnot, reads as if he were referring to Trump. Keep Trump in mind as you read this snippet—and his would-be supporters).
“Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;
Alike reserv’d to blame, or to commend,
A tim’rous foe, and a suspicious friend;
Dreading ev’n fools, by flatterers besieg’d,
And so obliging, that he ne’er oblig’d;
Like Cato, give his little Senate laws,
And sit attentive to his own applause;
While Wits and Templers ev’ry sentence raise,
And wonder with a foolish face of praise.
Who but must laugh, if such a man there be?
Who would not weep, if Atticus were he?”
Pope gives you a way to infer what Mitch McConnell thinks of Donald Trump’s candidacy, as gleaned from a PBS interview that tried to pin him down, he avoiding a straight answer.
We don’t even have to explain the inference. Just read the words and understand what he did not answer. If someone asks you of someone is a racist and you did not believe that the person, the elected leader of your group, to be a racist, of course you would say no, he is not a racist, your emphasis depending on the amount of passion you wish to project.
McConnell reveals all by not doing so.
In reference to his celebrity book about himself, supposedly its promotion the reason he submitted to the interview, he was asked about people to had an influence on him, including two former senators he mentioned in his book.
“When you think about these people and their influence in your life, how does Donald Trump compare?“
McConnell: Well, he’s certainly a different kind of person in politics, totally different. The Republican voters wanted somebody from outside, and they picked somebody from outside…. They don’t seem to be happy with either candidate. They don’t care for Hillary Clinton and they don’t care for Donald Trump, but the American people, at least in the Republican primaries and caucuses, clearly wanted somebody totally different. And that’s who they nominated.”
“(Hillary Clinton) You know her. What do you think of her?”
McConnell: “Well, Hillary Clinton is a very, very experienced insider. So, you’re going to have a race between the ultimate outsider and a long-term insider. And the American people, I think, are going to have to make a big decision about whether they’re satisfied where the country is now. If they are, then I think Hillary Clinton would get another four years, and it would be very similar to the last eight. If, on the other hand, the country wants to dramatically go in a different direction, they’re certainly going to have the opportunity by voting for Donald Trump.”
“You have been asked in the last few days about what Donald Trump said about the judge, federal judge of Mexican heritage, and his denouncing him. You have said you don’t in any way accept what Donald Trump has said, but when you were asked if it was racist, you didn’t answer. Now that you have had some time to think….“
McConnell: “Well, what he said was — it was outrageous and inappropriate. And I couldn’t more strongly condemn that. The implication here is that those who came to America legally over the years are somehow second-class citizens. My wife came here at age 8 not speaking a word of English and ended up in the president’s Cabinet. We all got here from somewhere else going back in our lineage. And I think these gratuitous attacks on Americans who got here recently or whose parents got here recently need to stop.” Well-stated condemnation, but none for he who spoke it.
“At this point, Donald Trump is doubling down on that statement. He is not backing off of it. If he doesn’t back off, what are the implications?“
McConnell: “Well, he needs to back off. This is a time he ought to be reaching out and talking about things that the American people are consumed with, like the slow growth in the country, the lack of opportunity for all of us, the fact that they’re falling behind. There are plenty of things he ought to be talking about, rather than taking shots at Americans because of their ethnicity.” Another dodge.
“And, again, if he doesn’t back off of this and say that it was a mistake, what are the implications?“
McConnell: “Well, he needs to. He needs to quit doing this. This is not the way to bring America together. It’s not the way to unify the Republican Party, and it’s not the way to win the fall election.” What he needs to do, not what he should do, let alone what he must do to keep McConnell’s support.
“And what if he doesn’t?“
McConnell: “It’s not the way to win the fall election by doing what he’s been doing. It needs to stop.” A non-answer. Another dodge. No threat of a withdrawal of support, whatever that would mean. And here, the big tell:
“The Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson wrote today that you don’t believe Donald Trump is fit to be president. Do you believe he’s fit to be president?“
McConnell: “The American people are going to make that decision. And they’re in the process of determining who the next president is going to be. And I think, you know, it’s been pretty clear that, in the right-of-center world, that is, the primaries and caucuses, conducted among Republicans, they wanted to do something different, and that’s our nominee, and in the fall, we will see what the American people decide.”
“Do you think he’s fit to be president?“
McConnell: “I think we need to respect the wishes of voters. They have been busily at work making these decisions in primary after primary after primary. We will find out in the fall.” Super-duper dodge. What person who believed someone was fit to be president would dodge that question?
“Do you believe, Senator, there’s any chance the Republicans could choose another nominee at the convention in Cleveland?” A lame softball questions, yet it elicits not condemnation or criticism, but advice to the candidate.
McConnell: “I think the nomination fight is over, and our nominee ought to accept that graciously and begin to reach out to other members of our party who didn’t support him and pull them together and discontinue these attacks on citizens based on their ethnicity.” Pull them together. By what? He’s already revealed his fear and loathing of the candidate.
“What has his nomination done to the Republican Party?”
McConnell: “Well, right now, we’re in great shape. We have a record number of U.S. House members, 54 senators, 31 governors, more legislators and control of legislatures, too, that at any time since the ’20s. So, we’d like the keep it that way. The way to finish changing America is to win the White House. And I hope we can do it this fall.” Really? The way to keep those down-candidate majorities is to elect their antipathy candidate?
“Senator, people are looking at the character of their two choices this fall, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. What do they see? What should they see?“
McConnell: “Well, we’re going the find out this fall. The American people have a big decision to make. We couldn’t have two more different candidates than these two. Neither one of them are very popular, so it’s going to be for many Americans a difficult choice.” They should not see someone I am anxious to support, he failed to say. Damn him. Not with faint praise, but no praise, whatsoever.
Ryan, McCain Choose Party Over Nation
It’s over. The last two Republicans standing, the two who supposedly stood for the conscience of their party, have capitulated. However they and others want to spin it, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Arizona Sen. John McCain capitulated and sold out their country to save the party they still call the GOP.
In effect, they said, “We are sacrificing the good of the country for the good of the GOP. Let the nation be damned.”
Both men know what a disaster Trump would be as president, putting at risk everything the country went through from the time it was founded to its position today as the world’s strongest, its nanny and its teacher by example.
Perhaps Ryan, McCain and whoever the others of their ilk are counting on (particularly McCain) the United States emerging from the ashes of a Trump-destroyed nation like the phoenix from the ashes, perhaps even literally. The clown is that dangerous.
He is so dangerous, some of his rhetoric has been criticized by one of America’s most evil men, the one who destroyed the U.S. Congress, Newt Gingrich. Trump is that much a threat.
In recent years, there have been so many unjust comparisons with the Nazies of Germany, the fascism of it and Italy, that it has become unfashionable for the legitimate media to use the term.
In Trump’s case, however, he continually evokes the comparison by his behavior, his words, his demeanor, venality, unbridled narcissism and childlike efforts to bully and get even with others. Unfortunately, those opinions are not that different from the average GOP voter, which suggests why he is the party’s candidate. Hell, he even looks like Mussolini.
Since Trump entered the presidential race, he has been the very definition of demagogue: someone who seeks to be a leader by appealing to the basest instincts and prejudices of would-be supporters: xenophobia, racism, pettiness, retribution, anti-authoritarian.
Perhaps Ryan and McCain think Trump would be constrained or blocked, if necessary, by Congress with the help of Republicans, either in the majority or minority. But, as we have learned in the last days of the Obama administration and in much of the Franklin Roosevelt administration, the president has a great deal of power Congress, or even the courts, cannot restrain.
If comparing Trump with Mussolini, or Hitler, who rose to power as a demagogue raging against everyone not a white German, seems a bit too much for readers to accept, consider an American, Sen. Joseph McCarthy of the early 1950s.
Is it not enough that Trump is the Republican Party’s presidential candidate in 2016 and, if things turn out well, could serve as a long-term albatross against it’s collective neck? How could any sane person consider accepting him by not opposing him or endorsing him, much less plumping for him, or (cough, choke) voting for him.
We can only hope that 2016 serves as the nadir of American politics.
Is Obama About to Apologize for the A-bombing of Japan?
President Obama may be planning to issue a long-delayed apology to Japan for his country’s infamous status as the only nation to use atomic bombs on humans—accounting for at least 200,000 deaths, 95 percent of them from burning, in just the first five months, and countless thousands who have died as a result since.
Obama is scheduled to attend the annual G7 economic conference on an island at Shima, Japan, May 26 and 27.
He would be the first by U.S. president to visit either city since the Aug. 6 and 9, 1945 bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively.
He said months ago that he wanted to visit Hiroshima on that trip.
Secretary of State John Kerry paid he called a “gut-wrenching” visit to the Hiroshima near-ground-zero memorial in mid-April along with his cohorts at a ministerial-level G7 meeting. In answer to a question about whether he thought Obama should visit, said, “Everyone should visit Hiroshima,” a phrase that includes Obama as one of the every.
Obama’s style has been to issue U.S. apologies when the need for one is morally obvious.
Obama has warned repeatedly about the proliferation of nuclear weapons. In 2009, he noted that the U.S. was “the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon; the U.S. has a moral responsibility to act.” That position helped win him the Nobel Prize for peace.
The Japanese press reports arrangements for Obama to visit at the end of the conference on May 27, but not officially confirmed for security reasons.
The lack of an apology or any acknowledgement by the U.S. has been a long-standing thorn in the side of relations with Japan.
The 42nd G7 summit is to take place on an halfway down the East Coast of Japan, a short, 200-mile flight directly across the other side of the island-country to Hiroshima.
Not only has Japan chafed for more than 70 years from an attack that was a war crime the stature of the Holocaust, Korea has chafed for more than 100 years from Japan’s use of Korean females as “comfort women,” involuntary prostitutes for the Japanese who occupied the country since the turn of the 20th century.
Obama’s tendency to apologize for his nation’s wrongs likely is involved in discussions with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama’s Japan counterpart. Abe may be considering issuing his own apology at the same time, lest his failure to do so gain a great deal of attention. But, his hold on his job is tenuous and becoming more so as his nation’s economy worsens. Still, the lack of an apology remains a the source of friction with South Korea.
Abe should apologize to South Korea, China and the other South Asian nations it raped, tortured and killed under the flag of the rising sun.
One reason that nations, as well as other entities, are reluctant to apologize for something is that doing so supposedly exposes them to suits, legal and otherwise, for damages. At a national-government level, however, compensations fending off such suits have not proved to be all that expensive.
During the same World War II, the United States interned more than 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans—some for longer than the war itself lasted—yet managed more than 40 years later to apologize for it and provide $20,000 each for those still surviving in the late 1980s. That’s the equivalent of about $45,000 today, but it was available only to those still living, and not to their families, so the payout was chicken-feed in U.S. budgetary terms.
America’s first black president already has done much to tear down U.S. racial barriers and ideas. Now, he has the chance to tear down some international racial, ethnic, cultural and religious barriers.
That the U.S. owes Japan an apology is no secret.
Every anniversary of the Aug. 6, 1945 bomb dropped on Hiroshima and the Aug. 9 drop on Nagasaki, the news media—even the legitimate ones—trot out the old shibboleth that dropping the bombs ended World War II.
They did not; that was wartime propaganda that lived on long past the end of the war and obvious countermanding evidence the government has had in its hands since a year after the war ended.
As reported in Tommy’s Wars: Paradise to Hell and Back, a 1946 U.S. military assessment of the value of aerial bombing during the war concluded that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were of no military value.
The U.S. had been bombing Japan cities since 1943, most of them firebombs a la Dresden, Germany, which erased vast swathes of buildings, including homes and the lives in them. Yet, the bombings continued for two years and did not lead Japan to surrender.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were selected two years earlier by the Manhattan Project that developed the bombs in the first place. (When the U.S. military took over command of the project in 1942, it set a target date of the summer of 1945 for testing them. The first was ready for dropping on July 31, 1945, but weather conditions were not suitable for another week. The second was not ready.)
At the time that Japan was chosen as the target in 1943, D-day was a year away and Germany was still on the offensive. But, Germans were European, Japanese were not. And, the members of the Manhattan Project committee choosing the site were instructed not to consider the number of lives cost or whose, only the testing of the effectiveness of the bombs.
As Tommy’s Wars notes, although the bombs were a factor in Japan’s decision to surrender in mid-August, 1945, it was the previously neutral Soviets’ declaration of war against Japan just hours before the Nagasaki bomb that led to surrender. A million-man Soviet army also poured across the border to take Manchuria, easily rolling over the under-supplied 600,000 elite Japanese forces defending the last remaining part of the Japan Empire.
As of then, the reason for continuing the war was lost, and all that remained was defense of the homeland that Japan’s leaders knew would be destroyed eventually if they did not surrender.
As early as the end of June, 1946, a 20,000-word U.S. report kept classified for decades after, noted that the targets were chosen “to produce the greatest military effect on the Japanese people and thereby most effectively shorten the war,” and for their “morale effect upon the enemy.”
Another consideration was: “The first target should be relatively untouched by previous bombing, in order that the effect of a single atomic bomb could be determined.” It was not so strange, then, that Hiroshima and Nagasaki residents wondered why their cities had not been touched during the two years of Allied bombing of the rest of Japan. Both cities, as did most in Japan at the time, had factories producing war material.
Also, “The maximum blast effect of the bomb was calculated to extend over an area of approximately 1 mile in radius; therefore the selected targets should contain a densely built-up area of at least this size.” The research included minute studies of weather conditions throughout Japan at different times of the year. That likely saved Tokyo, for “five years there had never been two successive good visual bombing days over Tokyo….”
U.S. and British military and scientists were in the two cities a week before formal surrender on Sept. 3 (Japan time) to gather extensive follow-up data on the impact of the bombs.
Other long-classified research, also in mid-1946, determined the U.S. military was confident long before the bombs that Japan would not be able to hold out more than two months, maybe three beyond August, with or without the bombs. It also concluded that a planned land invasion by U.S. troops at the end of that period would cost no more than 15,000 American lives. Still, the propaganda of the time asserted, and many believe it today, that 200,000 U.S. combat lives were saved by incinerating that many innocent Japanese lives.
The truth is, we dropped the bombs on two densely populated cities, each on a weekday at the height of Japanese morning rush hours, to test their effectiveness in destroying both real estate and lives. All we can be absolved of is not being aware of the intensity of radiation resulting from the explosions. And, two bombs needed to be dropped, for the second was of a different construction and twice as powerful.
It is time for Obama and Abe to put an end to divisiveness that continues to this day because of the failure of both countries to confess and apologize for what they did 70 to 75 years ago.
GOP About to Split
It was like one tectonic plate moving beneath another, and equally inevitable. The Republican Party is suffering an earthquake, splitting apart. To mix metaphors, it was hoist by its own petard.
Sitting around kneading its collective hands, the feckless GOP leadership waited until March, after Donald Trump had amassed an unbelievable number of primary victories, including on the biggest day of them all. Only then did it decide to act.
The leadership appears to be doing what we suggested months ago, but what it probably does not realize it is doing: splitting the party and relinquishing control at least on the national level to the Democratic Party for untold years to come until the GOP can rise like a phoenix from the ashes its suicide will have left behind.
It was no coincidence that the past two GOP presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and John McCain, emerged immediately after Super Tuesday to denounce this year’s leading candidate in terms as strong as those of the bombastic bloviator who would be president.
To make matters worse, there are reports the National Republican Committee has urged party candidates at all levels to adopt Trump positions, apparently no matter how bat$&t crazy they are. That would put them in the dicey position of having to run against their own position.
For Trump’s challengers, that is especially difficult since they felt it advisable to swear allegiance to the GOP and vow to support the party’s candidate no matter who it is, even if it is cough, cough, urrpp, Trump. Normally, one would be called two-faced, but in this case it is much worse.
Trump’s opponents are saying he is gawdawful, terrible, the worst possible candidate for the presidency, the worst thing that could happen to the country (which it would be), but if the party chooses him, we’ll back him over anyone else. The only adult GOP candidate, John Kasich, said he would. So much for all the gutter-wallowing backbiting Kasich strove to remain above.
The only way for the party leaders, supposedly the remaining few adults in the GOP room, to prevent Trump from being their standard bearer is to take an extraordinary step. It must denounce him, withhold all support and violate its own rules and deny him the party’s nomination at its annual convention at mid-summer. The party’s delegate rules are so convoluted, even its leaders may find them hard to manipulate.
Waiting until the convention may be too late. The candidate made by an oxymoronic “reality show” may soon be running a non-oxymoronic show as a third-party candidate if the adults continue their orchestrated onslaught against him. He is just that egomaniacal: I don’t need no Republican Party; the people love me because I am the greatest candidate ever and will be so the greatest president ever.
There would be no way to avoid splitting the non-Democratic vote, dooming both Trump’s independent party and whatever the establishment comes up with, to isolation from political control in Washington, D.C., for the foreseeable future, until the GOP, minus the T-party and other nutcakes its supposedly “big tent” effort attracted, can rebuild its former, pre-Gingrich honorable self.
Trump Stump-Stumbles to the Left
The man who would be bloviator in chief has now insulted just about everybody standing, so he has turned his attention to his own party—Republican. He did so by attacking indirectly two of its major campaign contributors and a linchpin policy theme. While the GOP controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, it passed the major Medicare-reform act in 2003.
That work was based on the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare in the late 1990s. Louisiana governor and former presidential candidate Bobby Jindal was its executive director.
The panel was called bipartisan because it split the chairmanship, one GOP, one Democrat. The Democrat, however, was John Breaux, a very conservative Louisiana senator who often sided with Republicans.
The health-insurance and the pharmaceutical industries held great sway, all-powerful when they worked in tandem, one taking a hit for the other. Thus, the health-insurance industry helped pharmas fight for and easily won a clause in the commission report that Medicare should be barred from using its volume buying powers to negotiate lower prices for the drugs it covered. The insurance industry got provisions providing that private industry provide the coverage, not a federal single-payer system.
The commission’s report was delivered in 1999 when the GOP still controlled all of Congress, and four years later the insurance and pharma industries still in lockstep and now a Republican in the White House, the negotiating ban became part of Medicare’s Part D provision in the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act. A huge part of it when one considers its cost to savings now denied the Medicare system.
That Medicare would use its volume buying as leverage to lower the prices drug makers charge was not a ground-breaking idea. It already had been doing so with Medicaid programs operated by the states and with the Veterans Affairs Department. But, not with a program eventually covering everybody in America—Medicare.
Obviously, he who would be bloviator in chief has no idea of government, policies or issues, or much of anything else it seems, save for massaging his ego and ugly orange comb-overs. But, if he was appalled by the ban’s impact on the federal budget, then something is rotten in Denmark, or Iowa or New Hampshire.
You will recognize the argument the drug industry used then: We need profits to cover the cost of research to “innovate” critical drugs to treat today’s major diseases and future threats. And, of course, save jobs.
Really? The pharmaceutical industry has been for a long time one of the world’s richest industries and still takes billions in NIH research funds.
It’s What Obama Has Not Said Yet That Counts
President Barack Obama, apparently knowing that barring some catastrophe, his State of the Union speech this year would be his last chance to address what turned out to be just over 30 million viewers. Much probably was made of that on shock-jock cable, but all such addresses begin high for a president and drop over eight years to their nadir at the end.
Obama’s ratings began lower than his two eight-year predecessors, so his drop from start to the end to barely lower than that of George W. Bush was not as precipitous as was Bush’s. Pundits probably twisted various meanings into those figures, but there was one major factor that dogged Obama from the start.
We have lived long enough and seen the muck of racism expressed in all sorts of ways. We reached a general conclusion that most racists we have encountered truly never thought of themselves as such. Just about all could point out some cross-race favor they bestowed to disprove the theory. In most cases, they ended up only in adding evidence to the theory.
As we once read it written so elegantly: “prejudice so comforting until someone noticed it.”
As America’s first black president, racists could not stand the idea that another person of a race other than white, preferably European white, would be so uppity as to even seek election. They set out to make sure he did not succeed, at anything, to prove their point the black race was not worthy.
Of course, no one painted the prejudice as such. All found political comfort in the Republican Party, the party not of Obama or of an overwhelming number of voting members of his race.
The ascendance of New Gingrich and sedition brought with it all the evils of that empire that reached down to the state level where districts were gerrymandered to confine minorities to as few districts as possible and laws were passed to make it more difficult for them to vote. It was well underway before Obama took office, but kept alive throughout his presidency, likely with more fervor.
Not long after the end of his presidency next year, in addition to forming a foundation to leverage his fame and influence into improving the world they no longer lead (an obsession that seems to afflict only former Democratic presidents dating back to Jimmy Carter), Obama will reach nearly as many people as did his valedictory address by producing a book about his presidency.
Just as he avoided saying so in his last State of the Union address that attempted to rise above the level of petty politics and converting no one, his first book, and probably even his second a couple of years later, will not address the racism that dogged his presidency, caused it to achieve far less than it would have and as a result caused the nation and world great harm.
But, we expect that third book, perhaps half a dozen years down the road, is going to be the one in which Obama cannot continue to avoid noticing the prejudice that was so comforting to his enemies, domestic ones more numerous than his foreign ones.
We can only hope he pulls no punches, lays it out, names names, throws caution to the winds and has at it.
That’s the Obama tome we want to read and be read.
From His Own Huge Mouth
Which of these quotes are from Donald Trump (and in some he followed the words of his speech writer)?
—The Muslim has always been a people with definite racial characteristics and never a religion.
—Due to his own original special nature, the Muslim cannot possess a religious institution, if for no other reason because he lacks idealism in any form, and hence belief in a hereafter is absolutely foreign to him.
And a religion in the Caucasian sense cannot be imagined which lacks the conviction of survival after death in some form.
Indeed, the Koran is not a book to prepare a man for the hereafter, but only for a practical and profitable life in this world.
—The best characterization is provided by the product of this religious education, the Muslim himself. His life is only of this world, and his spirit is inwardly as alien to true Christianity as his nature two thousand years previous was to the great founder of the new doctrine.
—First, therefore, [the Muslim] goes about making up to the people for his previous sins against them. He begins his career as the ‘benefactor’ of mankind. Since his new benevolence has a practical foundation, that the left hand should not know what the right hand giveth; no, whether he likes it or not, he must reconcile himself to letting as many people as possible know how deeply he feels the sufferings of the masses and all the sacrifices that he himself is making to combat them.
—But even more: all at once the Muslim also becomes liberal and begins to rave about the necessary progress of mankind.
If we consider how greatly he has sinned against the masses in the course of the centuries, how he has squeezed and sucked the blood again and again; if furthermore, we consider how the people gradually learned to hate him for this, and ended up by regarding his existence as nothing but punishment of Heaven for the other peoples, we can understand how hard this shift must be for the Muslim.
The black-haired Muslim youth lies in wait for hours on end, satanically glaring at and spying on the unsuspicious girl whom he plans to seduce, adulterating her blood and removing her from the bosom of her own people. The Muslim uses every possible means to undermine the racial foundations of a subjugated people.
—…the personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Muslim.
Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: ‘by defending myself against the Muslim, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.’
How many are Trump’s? All? None? Some? Many?
All of the words were written down 90 years ago, the word “Muslim” we substituted for “Jew” and the Koran for the Talmud. The book was Mein Kampf, the author, of course, Adolf Hitler.
How could a Trump presidency possibly go wrong?
Old ideas are like old shoes; they are comfortable and we hate to discard them. Metaphorically, however, the United States has been strutting around in worn-out combat boots since World War II. It’s time for papa to gamble on getting a new pair of shoes.
Beginning with the G-7 summit of the world’s largest economies in May, several high-level international government meetings offer opportunities for President Barack Obama and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discard old shoes and apologize for their nations’ atrocious actions in the war.
The failure of both countries to acknowledge their war-time atrocities, nuch less apologize for them has been a long-festering and highly unnecessary issue that contributes no amity among the nations involved.
For the United States, the too-long-delayed apology would be for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, obvious crimes against humanity that amounted to war crimes. Resistance to doing so is based on a 70-year-old belief that the bombs ended the four-year-long war. They did not. At best, they were contributing factors.
For 70 years, the U.S. government has allowed to go unchallenged false claims it first proffered, including one that the bombs ended the war, saving half a million lives. Presumably, that many American soldiers would be lost in an invasion of the Japan homeland had the atomic bombs not worked.
On its face, the claim was preposterous. That’s more than double the 405,400 that actually did die in WWII, which itself was second only to the Civil War and its 750,000 lives lost as our costliest war. A more reasonable figure was the military’s estimate of 20,000, less than the Revolutionary War, more than the War of 1812.
Even that estimate was pooh-poohed within a year of the war when the U.S. military’s own review concluded the atomic bombs were of no military because Japan would have surrendered in another month or two anyhow. The island-based nation already had been under siege for nearly all of 1945, with essentially no maneuverability on water or in the air.
As recent as 1993, scholars reached the same conclusion, yet the claims justifying the a-bomb drops continue. Any doubts should have been put to rest by recent available transcripts of high-level meetings of Japan’s leaders, all the way up to Emperor Hirohito, who finally made the call to surrender in August.
Those transcripts and research into Japan’s history in the first half of the past century led to the conclusion in Tommy’s Wars: Paradise to Hell and Back that Japan surrendered because just minutes before midnight and the end of Aug. 8, 1945 in Moscow, the Soviets declared war on Japan.
Japan already was on its knees because of a month-long rain of U.S. bomb, including incendiary bombs that also are no military use except to kill civilians and demoralize the survivors.
At the Yalta Conference in February of that year, the three powers of the U.S.S.R, U.S. and Great Britain decided that within three months after Germany’s surrender, the Soviets, which had a neutrality agreement with Japan, would break it and declare war. Germany’s surrender came on May 8, starting the countdown to Aug. 8 just before midnight and about seven hours before the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.