What would Bartlet do?

I have a tendency to think of the world in a two-type model. Of course I know this isn’t true, and I’ve spent plenty of time explaining false dichotomies to people, both in my personal and professional lives, but in a non-literal, knowingly unrealistic way, I like to do it anyway. My wife and I have a long-standing view, for instance, that there are two types of people in the world: people who would lick the plate if it were socially acceptable, and people who wouldn’t. “Lick the plate” is, in many ways, a statement of passion for food, but also for life. The “plate-licker” gestalt reveals a person with a zest not just for food, but for life. Somebody who wants to get every last drop out of the good stuff, and lick the plate. We’ve recognized this (false) dichotomy since early in our life together (we’ve been together for almost a quarter of a century, married for a fifth of a century), although it seems to have become an unspoken thing in the last few years.
I’m certainly not alone in my dichotomization of the world. Others have different splits, cat people and dog people, organized inbox people and those like me with thousands of unread emails, Coke vs Pepsi…we’ve seen these all.
So here’s my false dichotomy of the day: there are people who seek a label, and people who shun them. I’m one who seeks a label, and I think one has finally dawned on me. I’m a “Bartlet Democrat,” and proud of it.

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If you don’t like being called a racist, try not being a racist

I know that most people don’t want to be racist. I know that most people get angry when somebody calls them a racist. That’s good. It tells me that they and I share the belief that racism is bad. That makes me happy, and I’m glad we agree that being a racist is not a good thing to be.
 
President Trump just gave a speech about the wall that he wants to build. I listened to this speech, so nothing I’m saying is filtered by the media at all. This is right from the president’s mouth, to my ears, to my fingers.

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Feeling good by doing practically nothing for refugees (otherwise known as, I can’t be racist because I like that one black guy)

I’ve been on the fence about whether or not to make an effort to take this blog/diary/lunatic ranting more public. My thoughts today make me want to keep it more on the private side. Mostly because what’s got me riled up this morning is about people close to me, and how sad they make me sometimes. I know they mean well, but it’s amazingly frustrating to watch them do what they do, and support what they support all at the same time. So I’ll probably keep things private for a while, at least until this gets buried enough that they’d have to read so much to get to it, making it unlikely that it will ever come to light. This is about refugees. More below the fold.

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It’s the economy, stupid!

“The economy, stupid!” The phrase made famous by James Carville, campaign strategist for Bill Clinton. Amazingly effective, and at a time when the US was in a recession. The past election cycle used the sentiment in some ways. The Trump campaign and his inauguration speech painted a very dystopian view of America. There was talk about our crumbling factories and our crime-infested cities. Couple that with prevailing views that our economy is doing poorly (something I touched on before, when I wrote about the disconnect between the way the public perceived us to be in a recession, when were actually weren’t in a recession), and it was almost a “the economy, stupid” election.

This all depended on how we saw the world, and likely which media outlets we viewed (something else I wrote about before).

But let’s look at some numbers, and think about what could come next. To do this, I’m going to steal some text from something I posted on Facebook this morning.

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Inauguration Day, farewell President Obama

The day is here. President-Elect Trump will become President Trump, and President Obama’s time in office will end. I honestly do not know which makes me more sad. The Obama administration has not been perfect, but they’ve done a pretty great job with lots of things. Perhaps one of their biggest failures was not being able to garner the recognition for many of the things they did. The rise of the right-leaning blogs, and websites like World Net Daily and Breitbart didn’t make that task any easier, but irrespective of the reasons, it was undoubtedly a problem.

The Obama administration oversaw some amazing things, many of them cultural, and it seems clear that the election of Trump was a push back against that. So, as much as I am sad to see Obama leave office, I am equally sad that voters pushed back against all he has accomplished. But, as much as this day is about that push back, for me it’s a whole lot of nostalgia for a president who I deeply adored, perhaps more than I will adore any other president in my lifetime.

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Repeal, and replace with what?

Folks on the right often complain about government handouts, and accuse liberals of wanting something for nothing. It often, however, seems to be exactly the opposite, especially when it comes to discussions about Obamacare. And so much of the hatred about Obamacare concerns things that were just as bad, if not worse, before it.
Drew Altman, in a Times Op-Ed looks at sentiment in Trump voters about Obamacare repeal.
“If these Trump voters could write a health plan, it would, many said, focus on keeping their out-of-pocket costs low, control drug prices and improve access to cheaper drugs. It would also address consumer issues many had complained about loudly, including eliminating surprise medical bills for out-of-network care, assuring the adequacy of provider networks and making their insurance much more understandable.”
So, basically, they want it to do MORE than it does, not less? Isn’t that what democrats were pushing for, but scaled back as an attempt to compromise with republicans? Isn’t the republican philosophy to let the free market take care of it, not to mandate lower prices, regulate out-of-network care?
I’m continually baffled by how people make their decisions, and how comfortable people seem to be with their strong opinions, when there’s a clear lack of understanding serving as a basis of those opinions.
An old friend who I’ve kept in touch with almost entirely through FaceBook voted for Trump (or at least supported him in discussions on FaceBook before the election). In the run-up to the election, he said that all he wanted was lower taxes and affordable health care. This pained me. I don’t know his annual income, but I know his job and what he does, and I suspect that he doesn’t have income in any of the tax brackets that are targeted for reduction in any of the tax plans put forward by Trump or any of the republicans. But, more to the point here, what does he expect from a repeal of Obamacare? Maybe he expects to be able to buy a cheap plan again, without any requirements for minimum standards of coverage, like those that came with the ACA. Maybe he’s OK with a plan that won’t actually cover him if he gets sick, but makes him feel covered because it has low co-pays for routine stuff, and low premiums. Maybe he wants that, but of course that leaves the rest of us covering his bill if he gets sick and needs help that his insurance won’t provide, or leaves him broke and sick.
Of course there are things wrong with the ACA, and of course I’d like to see them fixed, but much like what I wrote earlier about government failures, the answer doesn’t seem to do less, it seems like the fix involves doing more. That means not repealing, but strengthening. Of course, that’s not what any of the GOP plans look like, but we’ll have to wait and see what we get.
The GOP needs to be very careful here, or they might end up shooting themselves in the foot, without a good insurance plan to cover the treatment.

Still a bit shocked

I’ll admit it, I’m still baffled by the Trump win. In hindsight, the polling that was coming in in the last few days looked pretty bad for Clinton. Her numbers slipped and his rose after the Comey letter. Folks like Nate Silver made the point that looking at those numbers in isolation was a mistake, and that earlier numbers should stay included in the model. That seemed reasonable at the time, but we now see that the newer numbers were actually reflective of the outcome, and Clinton lost in the states that mattered, by a very slim margin.

I know it’s been almost two months, and I’m honestly not one of those people who is refusing to accept the outcome, signing off with the #notmypresident hashtag, but it doesn’t mean I’m over it, and it doesn’t mean I’m not still shocked by the outcome (and by the president-elect’s behavior since the election).

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Capitalism first, a hybrid economic perspective from a woefully amature economist

I’m not a scholar of economics, so I probably have no business writing about this at all, but here goes anyway. I’ve spent time, probably too much time, thinking about socialism and capitalism and the ways that we’ve been told that capitalism is good and socialism is bad, and how to reconcile the socialism in our society that we love with the capitalism in our society that we hate. It’s not an easy task, and the most simple and easiest answer to the clear discrepancy is that people are stupid. This seems to be the fallback too often these days. Why did people who benefit most from government vote for smaller government? Because people are stupid. Why did people who have insurance thanks to Obamacare vote for a candidate who ran to repeal Obamacare? Because people are stupid. I’m not saying I disagree with that response entirely, but it’s too easy, and too simplistic. I think there’s more to ponder here, which is what I plan to do with the next few hundred or so words.

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