A Healthy Reminder…

We, the voting public, seem at times to have short memories.  Lest we forget during this time of Republicans working to refine and replace ObamaCare, the Democrats broke American healthcare in the dark of night.  That is when American healthcare was changed in terms of delivery and financing.  That was the beginning of the current situation where health insurers are simply bailing from the system.  They have taken so many losses and such large losses that they simply cannot afford to be players in this national nightmare.  The promises of government funding excess losses if they were too big has obviously been forgotten.  Where are those Dems who made that promise now?

The Republicans are working diligently to revise ObamaCare to at least slow the hemorrhaging the insurers have been witnessing as their losses exceed the premiums being collected.  They will be unable to pass what might be seen as a full and complete overhaul without every Republican signing on to make it happen.  In the meantime, we find that some states will have no insurer, none, to pick while other states are significantly limited in the insurers from which they can choose.

The healthcare systems have enjoyed a significant increase in usage and an increase in funds received, but those benefits are tinged with troubling things.  They need to know there is going to be a level of sustainability in order to justify the increased building and the purchase of more and better equipment and the addition of staff to provide the services.  That is not at all a comforting situation given the overall instability of the healthcare world in the U.S.

Some states are down to zero health plans from which to choose!  Others are down to one or two or three and those are often smaller health care organizations that came to be in the initial Obamacare whose networks are not as all-encompassing as the larger systems that have abandoned ObamaCare.

The Democrats need to be held to account for what they did and for what that is bringing as the new reality.  The Republicans need to be held to account for finding a solution to what the Dems have wrought.  It is now time for a unified Republican response, and that means taking a stand and supporting what the majority of Republicans are favoring.  The internecine squabbling in Congress has to come to an end in order to bring relief to the healthcare debacle that the Democrats started.

There are many competing ideas being bandied about but the time for taking action is upon us.  Get together and get it done. Period!  This may not be fair since the Dems sit on the sidelines or do their best to be disruptive when it was they who created this mess.  They are hoping that you and I will forget it was them who took the first step that is what brought us to the situation we’re in today.

Some Republicans would like to dance around the edges in order to avoid having to take a position on the bill(s) on, or soon to be on the floor.  That time has long since passed.  We need this issue resolved and very, very soon.  You political leaders have promised us that you will fix this mess.  It needs to be the Republicans who act as the adults in Congress since it is quite obvious that the Dems will continue to obstruct in the hopes that we voters will have forgotten it was them who did this to us.

There are tough votes and those come with the office.  We expect you to be the adults in the room and do what we want you to do.  Personally, I am happy to be reminded of the Dems being totally responsible and I’ll do what I can do to help others remember that fact.  BUT, I also expect that Republicans will soon all become the adults who do what is required even though there will be the typical disinformation from the Dems and also from some in the world of reporting.

Finally, I would like to see President Trump become the leader of the band in this situation lending his daily voice to the Republicans while reminding all of us that the Dems did this to us rather than for us.

This needs to get done.  It needs to get done now, not during the next Congress.  The various factions within the Republicans in both the House and the Senate need to consolidate behind one approach to resolution and stay there day after day and interview after interview.  The time has come and this opportunity will greatly damage the Republican brand if you do not consolidate and get it done.  You know you’ll not get the support of the media and we all know that, too.  But you will continue to have our support through whatever fallout period there may be.

Our support is, however, conditioned on you getting the job done and soon!  That is why we sent you there.

Speaking of Special Counsels…

Does it strike you as a bit odd that with all the discussions about Special Counsels and the supposed issues that Republicans have had involvement in, that we still do not have a Special Council investigating Loretta Lynch and her tarmac visit with Bill Clinton?  Especially since Hillary was supposedly being investigated by the FBI, part of Loretta Lynch’s Justice Department, about the so-called e-mail “matter” (rather than “investigation”) as she wished that to be labeled?   Something about ‘falling off the turnip truck’ seems to come to mind.

That certainly smacks of political favor-granting by neglecting to appoint a Special Counsel to look into the whole matter.

There must be some need to at least look into this through the designation of yet another Special Counsel if everything is to be seen as being on the up and up.  Of course, if there is no Special Counsel appointed for this purpose the press will certainly do its duty and investigate that decision, or lack of decision…or will it?  There are times such as this when it seems, even to us hicks in Nowhereville, that ‘the fix is in’.

Obviously, the meeting on the tarmac in Phoenix, AZ was no accidental encounter.  That is too much to swallow given the position she held at the time and the reputation that Bill Clinton has managed to acquire over his adult lifetime.  Yet, there was not even the slightest outcry by the media.  They weren’t looking or they didn’t want to risk learning something that would be more damning than the meeting “just happening” out of the blue.  We know the press was aware of this happening since we have not just fallen off the melon truck.

So the ‘fix’ was in just as it usually is for things involving Democrats in situations that appear untoward…and this situation was very much in that world.  A Special Counsel would’ve likely been appointed within weeks if this were a situation involving President Trump.

It seems that there might just be some rumblings, finally, in that several Republicans in Congress are making noises about just that.  Time will tell if there will be an appointment or if this will be another matter for stonewalling by the Dems for so long as is possible.  Or for the creation of another attention-getter driven by the Dems, that would serve to take the focus off the Special Counsel talk.

There are days when it seems that the Republicans are neophytes in the world of politics.  They are just too gentile, too nice to utter words that we hear almost every day from the Dems.

If the Republicans are incapable of fighting fire with fire, there is not much hope for anything resembling a level playing field; the Dems have a downhill run and we have an uphill run.  Unless and until we learn to take the gloves off when necessary and take our lumps from the press while getting our job done, we will always come out on the short end of the proverbial stick.

A Special Counsel looking into Loretta Lynch and her actions/inactions would likely be assailed by the press but that is simply the way this has to be.  If there is nothing to be found, which I doubt, then the Dems will simply have a good laugh at our expense.  But, the unseemly meeting at the airport seems to me to be evidence of an impropriety of some magnitude and we simply need to begin unraveling the weakest of alibis and getting to the heart of this matter.  Public testimony under oath would be an interesting turnabout for the Dems; that shoe is usually on the other foot.  There is no telling where this inquiry might lead since we know Special Prosecutors have enormous authority vested in them through their appointment.  Any testimony implicating others simply serves to increase the list of targets available for the Special Prosecutor.

Republicans need to demonstrate that they, too, can play tough.  If they do not, the Dems will eat their lunch and ‘we the people’ will have taken another punch to the tummy.  There comes a time for people to stand up for principle and that time is today.  Forget the press’ likely antics.

Does anyone, even Democrats, believe this ‘tarmac get together’ was not a planned occurrence, but was simply fate?  Does anyone really think Bill Clinton was not intending to have this ‘chance’ meeting?  And how would the ‘chance meeting’ have been made to occur?

There are way too many moving parts to this to try to foist it off as a chance meeting.  I think a Special Prosecutor would have a field day…and the ripple effect would keep the Dems off balance for the rest of President Trump’s initial four-year term.

Amazon This, Amazon That…

It seems that Amazon has yet to find a market that it cannot disrupt.  The Whole Foods acquisition is nearly as surprising to me as many of the other moves made by this growing giant.  How do you ‘Amazonize’ retail food distribution?

I have grown up in a world where retail was retail and where one walked into a physical store, made a selection, paid and walked out of the store.  If we didn’t do that, we probably looked at a printed catalog and ordered what we wanted.  Then we found ‘The Internet’ and did our shopping in that manner.  Amazon has been in, and still is in, the process of turning virtually everything retail on its head.  Wal-Mart used to be the monster of retailing.  That position is slowly altering given the impact that Amazon has had on the entire retailing industry.  Alex Shephard has a piece in the New Republic that mentions Amazon’s impact on bookstores.  It built a bookstore in 2015, will have seven brick and mortar bookstores by the end of this year, and will be ranked as the fifth largest chain bookstore in the nation.

Amazon is a classic disrupter and it has really only just begun based on how it is growing itself.  Generations after mine are each less dependent on brick and mortar stores and more and more dependent on The Internet.  I still think of something I need as being available at this store or that store…physical places I can drive to and walk into once parked.  I am part of a dying breed; it is almost a dead breed, in fact.

I mentioned buying a book yesterday and mentioned that I purchased it from Amazon.  Maybe I am still salvageable and can get used to using the web for my needs even though I admit that is still mostly a second-thought approach.  And, I am from a much older generation having been born in the midst of World War II.  If I can accommodate this new way of buying things, virtually anyone can.

It seems that nearly everyone is using this mode of acquiring ‘things’ more and more.  Amazon is the perfect example of what is happening, actually what has happened while I was still doing things the way I’d always done them.  Need this?  Get in the car and go get it.  While I was driving to a place to find something, Amazon was taking that necessity off the table…or soon will have in many areas.  Specialty retailers will survive, at least for now, but that is already being turned on its head, as well.

The retail world is being transformed rapidly.  Amazon and its ilk are far more disrupting to good old Mainstreet retail than was Wal-Mart…and Wal-Mart was certainly more than sufficiently disruptive.  There seems to be a race underway.  On the one hand, we see new shopping districts going up while we’re also seeing empty storefronts as we stroll through the older malls that were the leading edge seemingly just a short time ago.

This is almost a Rip VanWinkle experience.  The speed of this movement has done nothing but accelerate.  It will continue to accelerate since it usually, almost always, costs less if we can simply wait for gratification for a couple of days at most.  And, the wait times will be changing rapidly as ‘drone delivery’ comes of age which it nearly is today.  Literally same day delivery is right around the corner.

It will take maybe two generations, at most, for this ‘instant gratification’ world of retail to make huge gains in terms of market share.  If we think we’re seeing a lot of empty space in our shopping centers of today, can we even imagine what the empty store fronts will number in a decade?  Sears, K-Mart, etc., etc.

Most of us recognize that change is inevitable.  Most of us older members of society have become accustomed to seeing/experiencing change in things we might’ve felt were absolute constants that would be the same throughout our lives.  The speed of change has accelerated, though, to an almost dizzying level.  My grandchildren have already succumbed to the reality of this new world and I am thankful for that.

What are the future Jeff Bezos of the world going to do to disrupt this latest thrust?  I can’t even begin to imagine that next generation and the generation after that.  And, I can still remember walking with my Mother holding my hand to the local grocery store where she used coupons for various things that were rationed due to World War II and our need to support the war effort.

I think I am happy that I cannot see into the future too far.

Does Everyone Know Everything?

I am regularly surprised, though I know I shouldn’t be, at the depth of the information trove that exists about each of us.  I just placed an Amazon order for a book, Deep State by the way, and was treated to offers of this, that and the other things that Amazon wanted me to consider before I said no and clicked to get my intentional order fulfilled.  Nearly all of those things Amazon suggested I consider were of potential interest to me, however.

That has been evolving over time and I have been aware but apparently only subliminally aware.  I know that there is probably little about my preferences that remain unknown.  I am a conservative, I blog thus giving away deeply held belief structures, and I have lived a long time in this age of super information.

It seems, occasionally, that even my account at my local library must be available to any and all comers.  The unsolicited reading material offers I receive are way too close to what I am thinking I might need/desire at any point in time.  Of course, my magazine subscriptions are no doubt known by many marketers.  There may soon be an intersection I’ll pass through following which my near-future thoughts will be expressed to me by external sources before or simultaneously with those thoughts…or so it sometimes seems.

That seems a bit of an extreme at the moment but given the progress (?) being made in artificial intelligence circles, one has to wonder if there will remain any recognizable barriers to artificial intelligence a generation or two from now?

My ordering of this book provides additional information, or at least confirmation, of my leanings.  I am suspicious of government, especially of the government at the federal level.  I am not a fanatic, but I reserve the right to question how certain things are made to happen.  I know that the Civil Service laws were originally intended to assure that government employees were hired on the basis of their skills and capabilities rather than on their connections, for example.  But has that eroded over time?

By ordering ‘Deep State’ I probably am showing that I have suspicions as to how well Civil Service has worked to avoid our having a second, and even more effective, source of governance.  If you’ve not thought about this gathering of personal data, and you are not some kind of crackpot if you have, that has been happening for some time.  Public data banks provide a wealth of information about each of us.  I receive e-mails almost daily about things that are personal favorites of mine.  That is easy for interested parties to find.  The extrapolation of that available data by super-computers can yield expectations of my future preferences based on my past progression into new and different things.  That is simply the art of marketing that exists today.

We are not the private people we thought we were.  We are each grouped into various classes of consumers by various organizations.  Our voting histories are well known to all parties having an interest.  Pollsters have a keen insight into how to frame the group of people from whom they desire opinions.  The Republicans are reported to have had the ‘data’ edge over the Dems in this past national election cycle, for example.

Take a look at the emails that hit your inbox in the course of a few days and I wouldn’t be surprised if you began to wonder as I have been wondering.  The Amazons of this world are ever-improving their data gathering techniques.  The Pea Pods of this world know more and more about their customers’ consuming drives.  The GMs of the world know more and more about our vehicle preferences.  Our banks know a lot about us.  Do they offer their bulk/non-personal data for sale I wonder?

The masters of algorithms can solve for various answers and are improving almost daily in their abilities.  One of our preferences might trigger others’ preferences for what we prefer, and we end up being seen through those searches.  If you do some simple ordering of product over the Internet, you find yourself receiving offers from entities you’ve never heard of before for things that intrigue you but for which you weren’t yet craving a solution.  Yet, those offerings usually trigger some impulse in you since they were designed to do that based on millions of other people’s reactions over time.

We need be mindful that our data is ‘out there’ either personalized or de-personalized.  We may not be seen as an individual, but we can easily be seen as a member of a group of like individuals for whom purchasing patterns have been learned.  We do not need to be known as Al or Pete or Gladys or Joan.  That we are members of a similar group is often sufficient for marketers.

This, of course, goes for physical products as well as for personal preferences across a wide range of subjects.  Prove it to yourself.  Perform a couple of ‘Google’ searches for products of one kind or another that you’ve never used before and then watch what you begin receiving over the next few weeks or months.

We are each known far better than we might like and there is scant little we can do to change that in this data-driven world.

When Will This End?

When will our seeming infatuation with Special Prosecutors end?  Likely not until President Trump has either stepped down from office or has been convicted of something such as obstruction of justice.  Fred Barnes points out in The Weekly Standard that Special Prosecutors seldom end their quest without finding something upon which to hang their hats.  Their probes expand until something is found.  They have to justify their existence and the millions they, and their targets, have spent finding someone to prosecute and to defend themselves.

President Trump has been fighting the challenges thrown at him by Democrats and by his somewhat unorthodox approach to being our President.  His Tweets are interesting and often the source of more difficulties since the Dems, a handful of Republicans and the vaunted press lay in wait for the slightest opportunity to stick pins into the Trump balloon.  The President, unfortunately, does not always disappoint those who lay in wait, and instead seems further energized by those actions.  That is his nature as we’ve seen from his business successes.

The field of play is decidedly tilted against whomever a Special Prosecutor aims his or her investigation at given the array of tools available to those prosecutors.  That gives credence to Fred Barnes’ prognostication.  Couple that with the ‘blood in the water’ mentality of the opposition, and we see a very steep hill to climb.  The President continues to act as our President, but these side issues make that work more difficult than is usually the case.

If the opposition sees any unraveling of the threads of the Presidency, they will pick at those threads until the seam has been torn apart.  Either party is good at that kind of opposition, but, frankly, the Dems seem to have this art completely at their disposal…especially when the mainstream media is so quick to take part in the feeding frenzy.

The uphill nature of the Trump Presidency will not soon level out given all the various forces at play.  There is more than enough vitriol and outright hatred to take the fight out of almost anyone.  The success of the individual coupled with a degree of notoriety seems to breed the very worst in our opponents.  Then, of course, there is the fact that President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton who had been bequeathed the Oval Office simply because she was Hillary.  And worst yet, he was not a politician.  Just who did he think he was?  He was an interloper to be feared…and maybe destroyed politically if possible.

Will he serve out his full term or not?  I have no idea, but I do know that he’ll likely never find relief from the headwinds of his political opposition, headwinds contrived by his opposition which proves often there are virtually no dirty tricks it wouldn’t employ to win.  I frankly hope he continues to poke his finger in the eye of “the way it has always been done” crowd who see him as an interloper and miscreant who demeans the office of the President of the United States of America.  If they succeed, that will be a sad day in America.  That kind of action would’ve been impossible to even dream of a short time ago, and today it seems all too plausible given the opposition’s determination to use innuendo and half-truths as the tools to deprive us of the service of the person we elected.  They threaten to make my vote invalid and that is not right.  My vote is equal to their vote.

I am deeply saddened at the thought this could happen in this country.  But, it seems that there are too many culpable and willing participants that would be all too happy to see that day come.  They may see themselves as patriots but I have different words to describe who and what they are.  There has never been a perfect man serving in the Oval Office.  There have been some who were openly imperfect and they seem to have come from the political party that now wishes us to believe it is as pure as the driven snow.

This witch hunt has the potential to tear us apart if it continues and if it is permitted to be successful.  That we would have a new President by the name of Pence would salve the wound somewhat but the real damage to this country will have been done both here and abroad.

Petty politicians are the very worst breed of politicians.  The great politicians are those who see their duty to God and country and who overcome for all of us even at their own expense.  There seem fewer and fewer of those today.  This is the kind of politics that can breed the mentally deranged people such as the man who found the baseball practice diamond the other day.

Nothing good comes from this kind of politics.  Most Democrats and a few Republicans ought to be ashamed, but that is not likely to happen.

 

Drip, Drip, Drip…

Water torture has been with us almost since the beginning of what has passed for a semblance of civilization.  The steady drip, drip, drip of water on one’s forehead that has the result of driving people crazy seems to be alive and well although water is not being used to cause the result.

This steady drip, drip, drip is courtesy of the liberals and their compatriots in the press and in Congress.

The targets of this particular drip, drip, drip are…conservatives in general and the current President of the United States who now is under the microscope of Robert Mueller, former FBI Director and current Special Counsel who has been reported to have increased his efforts to find substance that would be useful in toppling President Donald Trump which, of course, is the desire of the liberal faction and even some seeming conservatives, if I am correct about a certain Republican Senator from Arizona, but that is for another day.

Special Counsel Mueller is reported to be seriously looking at the Russian election influence claim and tying that into looking at President Trump to determine if there is some evidence of collusion.  Special Counsels appear to be second only to God in terms of their power.

One might wonder how the Clintons have been able to avoid the scrutiny of any number of Special Counsels.  Maybe being a liberal is helpful in avoiding such examination.  Maybe those named as Special Counsels have already passed the smell test of liberalism.  Or maybe the answer is that there is no answer to that question other than that they are avowed liberals and part of the liberal history of our great nation and, therefore, a protected species.

We know by now that President Donald Trump is not likely to be seen by Democrats and liberals as anything but a demon and a failure as President.  That has been preordained in their minds and is not easily altered since it has already been writ.  We should accept that fact and recognize then that President Trump will be under whatever political microscope happens to be in operation in the District of Columbia.

Actually, maybe the equivalent of ‘water torture’ is what the Democrats are experiencing as the result of his election as our President.  They may be going nuttier by the day due to that drip-drip-drip that just never seems to end.  Apparently, the direction of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s efforts has been affected by James Comey’s firing as FBI Director, or at least that is the supposition of some.

Time marches on and the District of Columbia, so de-politicized with the recent shooting for a day or two, is back to normal as that is defined in that small piece of our country.  I wonder if there ought to be some kind of rotation for residents of the District.  Should they, for their own good as well as ours, be required to live in a real state with no contrived political essence other than for regular elections, for two years every decade simply to remind them and us of how damaging the D.C. tour can be to a person?

Originally, if I recall my history, there was no thought but what the people would send representatives to the capital and that those people would come back in between sessions to be with real folks and get part of their sanity and ‘feet-on-the-ground’ elixir before going back into that never-never land.  There has to be a very real danger in breathing that rarified air to begin to be affected by that experience, to get further and further from the person he or she was and to become more and more a creature of the hallowed halls of government.  Maybe that accounts for the liberal persuasion at least in part.  If you can conjure up a picture in your mind of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi you can begin to see what prolonged residency in that former swampland can do to a human being.

Frankly, the immediate past President has already established permanent residence in a smaller version of the palace he occupied until this vulgar Trump person moved in.  He is apparently deChicagoized sufficiently that he’ll never live there again.  It is that rarified air I suspect.  That, and the fact that Chicago might be gone at the rate it is spiraling downward these days under the tutelage of a former D.C. temporary resident who is now the Mayor.

It seems that us conservatives have come under a more or less permanent cloud while the liberals bask in the sunlight of righteous governance.  We elected the man we wanted as our President.  Leave him alone to run the country.  And, get yourselves back into the real world more often and for longer periods of time as reminders to you all of who and what we are.

If there is evidence, solid evidence, of wrong-doing by our President, present it to us.  If we want him recalled we’ll tell you that.  Yeah, we know he doesn’t fit your preconceived notion of what a President ought to be; but, then again, Barack Obama didn’t fit my preconceived idea of what a President ought to be either and he was not subjected to this nonsense.

Where From Here?

I saw some of the FaceBook pages clips from yesterday’s shooter’s FaceBook page before those were taken down and they were frightening.  The rants and the rage that this man displayed were of the type that anyone who knew him or followed his FaceBook postings should’ve suspected he was a ticking bomb.  It is one thing to see that degradation in his view of reality and entirely another to know what steps to take.  But, the clues were there.

A radio host, Bryan Crabtree, from the Atlanta area used the phrase Our ‘Canary in the Coal Mine’ to point up the issues this man was showing he had for some time.  That is probably among the most dead-on statements to describe this man that could have been uttered.  He had apparently become more and more vocal and vile in his postings.  Some were of the type to almost literally make you sick to your stomach.  He was a hater, pure and simple, and he tipped over the edge from barely rational to out-of-control-angry on the mission that he felt compelled to take on.

We know he was a Bernie Sanders supporter.  That doesn’t make him a killer, but it does give us a good idea of his politics.  His victims were to be Republicans since we know he asked who was on the field before he began the firing.  We know that there were a couple of Capitol Hill police officers present and that fact tells us this could’ve been far more tragic had they not been there and engaged the shooter immediately.

Hindsight most always shows us what led to the happening in these tragedies.  But what can we do pre-tragedy, if anything, to defuse/eliminate the threat?  We have individual freedoms.  I can write what I choose, I can make FaceBook postings, my blogs post to my FaceBook page so I am sort of an open book.  If I were to go ‘over the edge’  or give indications I was about to go ‘over the edge’ what could you do about that?  I don’t know that even the ‘canary in the coal mine’ warnings are something that could be used to stop me or anyone from doing something dastardly.  It might be that my family could do something, but if I were really ‘wigged out’ would they feel safe in doing so?

I would like to think that would happen out of their love for me, but we cannot get into the minds of those who were in his world to know how they might’ve felt about his sliding into the role he seemed to occupy simply based on those postings.  Those were vile and threatening from my point-of-view…but what would I have done if that were my father?  I’d like to think that I would tackle the problem from the perspective of doing it for his own good and out of my love for him, but maybe I’d be hesitant and he would’ve gone over the edge before I could find the courage to do something to help him.

This is again one of those times for us to search our souls.  It is a time for us to wonder what we’ve become as a people.  I wondered about the fact that he was in an ‘open carry’ jurisdiction and the implications of someone having been there who was carrying at that time.  Then, I thought about all the thousands of rounds I’ve expended over time, none of which were aimed at a living person.  How would I react?  I’d like to think I’d react to deal with the problem, but until I have been in that spot I won’t really know the answer to that question.

We are living in a time when we need to be aware of everything around us all the time.  I preach this so often that people around me cringe when that theme starts again, but it is true.  If you were confronted with an issue that is threatening right now, what would you do?  I try to be aware all the time as I’ve preached to readers before.  I know where possible exit routes are every time I walk into a store or office building.  My head is on a swivel whenever I am outside.  I am constantly aware of the people around me.  We all need to be aware.  Would that have changed the outcome yesterday?  Probably not, but that is not an excuse to avoid being wary.