Danger – Political Advertising…

Subtle political advertising seems geared to suck in the unsuspecting, the person who takes things at face value given the nuances created by words or lack of words.  In Wisconsin we have a state Supreme Court race going on between Rebecca Dallet and Michael Screnock.  Dallet is a Milwaukee County judge who seems to want the Democrat vote and Screnock is a Sauk County judge who is backed by Republicans.

For us dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, Screnock is the obvious choice.  Even with that, the advertisements of Screnock’s opponent are subtly worded so as to draw people who might not be liberal but who might also not be as intent on the race and who could easily be drawn to her side in the voting booth.

One of Dallet’s advertisements criticizes Screnock for giving a man an eight-month sentence for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl.  Her advertisements fail to mention that the maximum penalty for that charge was nine months.  Her advertisements also fail to mention that prosecutors recommended that sentence.  Just an oversight, no doubt.

Dallet would like people to think of her as anything but a liberal, and that flies in the face of her fund-raising efforts on both coasts and her statement in San Francisco that “your values are our Wisconsin values that we’ve lost along the way”.  She came back to accuse Screnock of being a tool of business interests, the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association.  She has also raised the ‘specter’ of Donald Trump and tried to tie that to Screnock’s coattails.  She referred to her use of Trump’s name as being because “We are at a moment in time right now where our values have been under attack.”

Frankly, that assortment of accusations and personal positions should be the clincher to lock in the vote for Screnock.  If we needed more reason, we can always reflect on what San Francisco is today:  a city in decay with liberal values and its publicly-funded heroin epidemic.

Dallet is apparently everything us conservatives deplore if we are to believe her own words and her advertisements.  There is a very clear choice in this race, and it is NOT Rebecca Dallet!

Michael Screnock should be our next Justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  That is up to you and to me.

WalMart Buying Humana?

WalMart is rumored to be seriously considering acquiring Humana, a health plan provider.  That should send shock waves through both retailing and healthcare industries, not to mention the world of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs).

WalMart could acquire pharmaceuticals at deeper discounts than it already enjoys.  WalMart could open full-service medical clinics in its superstores.  WalMart likely would have the clout to completely undo the pricing structure in place for anything and everything medical and healthcare related.

In my working days, I was involved in the vision care insurance world and WalMart became an authorized retail center for a vision care insurance plan with which I was involved at an executive level.  That was a significant disruptive influence that significantly reshaped the world of vision care plans.  The purchasing clout of WalMart and the massive capability of providing service 24-7 in almost every major population center was quickly recognized by every other vision program and vision care provider.

I am not making comment on whether this would be good or not good for the typical consumer of healthcare services.  I am making comment as to the prospective disruption I would foresee as WalMart flexes its muscle.  There are state-level requirements for anyone providing such services so I would expect that quality of care would be similar to what we experience today although probably delivered in not-so-beautiful facilities as competition uses today.

Wal-Mart trades some creature comforts for a price point that makes it a powerhouse in anything it decides to become a part of commercially.  Wal-Mart has been and remains a disrupter no matter the arena it is playing in nor what services it is providing.

There is a segment of the healthcare marketplace that likely will not patronize a WalMart location ever for health care services beyond those in the vision center.  But, I believe that is an ever-decreasing percentage of the total number of healthcare consumers.   I doubt that WalMart will engage in the more sophisticated areas of health care, but if it doesn’t, it will have relationships in place for the referral of patients requiring such services and treatments.  And, it will have negotiated fee reductions in return for the referral flow it can bring to affiliated providers.

This will be an impactful event in the world of healthcare.  There is much room for creativity and this organization is an old pro at disrupting things it targets to disrupt while providing the services and materials it is required to provide at better price points and with extended hours available.  WalMart has created an entire segment of the retail marketplace that simply thinks “WalMart” whenever it needs anything.  I suspect it will be capable of doing that in this new world it has apparently just made its way into with its checkbook.

Like it or lump it.  It is going to happen.

The UnAffordable Care Act

Robert Book and Paul Howard have condensed the results of the Affordable Care Act for Forbes and the results are astounding…as you may well know from personal experience.  The ACA as it is also known is especially bad for people in the individual health insurance marketplace as contrasted with the employer-sponsored marketplace.

The first statement they make is rather chilling:

It turns out that across the board, for all ages and family sizes, for HMO, PPO and POS plans, premium increases averaged about 60% from 2013, the last year before ACA reforms took effect, to 2017.  In the same length of time preceding that, all groups experienced premium increases of less than 10%, and most age groups actually experienced premium decreases, on average

The alphabet jargon above is translated thusly for normal people:  HMO is Health Maintenance Organization, PPO is Preferred Provider Organization, and POS is Point of Service plans.  These look like larger groupings of a wide range of provider types so each group has a shot at staying alive financially.

They were also able to break down the pre-ACA and post-ACA changes by age, individual vs. family coverage and plan type.  They further report:

Overall, HMO premiums actually decreased 4.6% in the four years before the ACA reforms came into effect (from 2009 to 2013) but increased 46.4% in the first four years under the ACA.  POS premiums decreased 14.9% before the ACA, and increased a whopping 66.2% afterwards.  Premiums for the more common PPO plans increased 15% in the four years before the ACA, and 66.2% afterwards.

This is very dry ‘stuff’ but it seems necessary to make the point:  The Affordable Care Act has been anything but affordable.  That is, of course, the dollars and cents side of the ACA’s impact.  Something I’ve noted personally is the number of healthcare organization consolidations.  There is hardly a non-affiliated hospital to be found in my part of the country and I believe that is the case pretty much nationally.  Virtually all have become absorbed by a larger group, and some “larger groups” have already been absorbed by mega-groups.

Another result is that the larger the entity one belongs to, the less accessible it may have become.  I live within a seven-minute drive of a very nice hospital, but the closest hospital that I am permitted to use except in a true emergency is about a 25-minute drive (which would no doubt seem like a two-hour drive if I am transporting a family member in pain or worse).  The definition of a “true” emergency by contract also might vary and almost always is lesser than the person suffering the “emergency” believes it ought to be.

So, the fabled Affordable Care Act (ACA) legacy left us by the Democrats and Barack Obama has not necessarily lived up to the “affordable” part of its name, it has increased costs and in some cases decreased the availability of providers given subsequent mergers, etc.  I also think that it will prove to limit the numbers and quality of medical providers of care over the long haul.  Being a doctor or a nurse will not be the desired career it was pre-ACA given the effects the ACA is having on the general world of health care and on those in that field.

The need that spawned the ACA was a political need, not something that was being demanded by the populace.  It is commonly known also as ObamaCare and represents what I have long thought was his need, and the need of the Democrat Party, to socialize everything thus making government all-powerful and all-controlling.  This is borne out by the “O-Dark-Thirty” hour of its passage and the solid Democrat vote in favor of the program.  I will believe to my last breath that this monstrosity was never read by even one of the people who cast their vote for it.

Unfortunately, us voters seem to have relatively short memories, and we seem unable to peak under the skirt of our favored political party even on matters this serious.  The people heard what the Dems wanted them to hear, and felt “relieved” that Pelosi and Company had persevered to bring this wonderful gift to them.  And, the man whose name this monstrosity bears is at work to further his brand of “freedom” that has few real freedoms anywhere close to it.

We’ve not, unfortunately, heard the last of this cabal.


China, North Korea & Trump

We witnessed a most interesting event these past few days when the armored train of North Korea’s leader traveled to China.  And then we witnessed the results of that visit which appear to have had China pushing North Korea to play nice with the rest of the world…namely with the United States of America.

There obviously is much that remains to be seen in this unfolding event, but there seems one thing we can deduce from the visit:  If there was not a President Trump in our White House, this would not be unfolding as it appears to be unfolding.  China and North Korea have been belligerent before and may be again but this apparent effort at detent would most likely not have occurred without Trump in the White House.

North Korea is a chess piece on the board of World chess, and China has exercised its power to avoid confrontation with the U.S. indirectly in the form of North Korea.  Does this mean that there is no longer a threat?  Absolutely not.  North Korea, so long as it has the weapons capability it appears to have is a threat.

It appears to be China saying to us that it sees an opportunity for peace talks between us and North Korea and that it has, behind the scenes, helped NK’s leader understand the importance of such talks to all concerned.  Given the debt we have as a country with China, this might well be China simply recognizing that a conflict could interrupt the flow of our money to them if we were fighting a war with the North.

What has changed that could’ve provoked such a behind scenes deal?  President Trump happened.  There is nothing else of a difference of such magnitude as Trump occupying the Oval Office.

For all his rough edges, and his bluster and his posturing, President Donald Trump has made a significant difference in how we, the U.S., are seen by the rest of the world.  This is but one more example of that impact.  There is nothing else that has changed.  China is still China.  North Korea is still North Korea.

Does this mean that all is right with the world and will be for the foreseeable future?  No.  It does mean that the world has witnessed a new President in Washington, D.C. that is different from the president we had for the preceding eight years.  There is no doubt about where President Trump stands on almost every issue of importance.

Will this also affect the relationship we have with Russia?  Maybe yes and maybe no.  Russia’s leader is as difficult to read as is our President.  I suspect that China has sent a bit of a signal to Russia by this move with North Korea.  Whether that makes any difference to Russia’s Putin remains to be seen.  He will no doubt continue to pose for macho naked pictures from the waist up as has been his habit to date.  If there is a leader in the world with a greater ego than ours, it has to be Putin.

If China and North Korea have stated they aren’t willing to play games with us, then maybe President Putin will think twice before doing anything more than posing for pictures to impress his people.

One thing is for sure: without President Trump, we would not be seeing this kind of world reaction.

No Room At The Inn?

Real Clear Policy reported today that moderate Democrats are becoming a threatened species.  Democratic voters in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District barely (by some 2,000 votes) re-elected a moderate Democrat.  The author wrote:

Regardless, the closeness of the race sent a clear message: Today, moderate  Democrats are in danger of becoming extinct on Capitol Hill as well as in state legislatures and in governors’ mansions.

The shift of Democrats to being more and more liberal seems a threat to any Dem who does not pass the litmus test.  It is reported that many of the more conservative Dems no longer feel they have a place in the new Democrat party “as the Dems send their messages on gun safety, climate change action and pro-choice legislation”.

The article continued with these facts that may well warm the hearts of us conservatives:

  1. Today, the number of Democrats holding office is at its lowest point since the 1920s.
  2. The Midwest, a place where Democrats had been competitive at the state level, has changed dramatically in recent years.
  3. While Democrats have been struggling at the state level for years, the 2010 election was especially devastating.
  4. After the 2016 election, Republicans won a trifecta in 24 states: control of governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature.

The article went on to point out, though, that since Trump took office, they (Dems) have won the New Jersey governorship, the Washington state senate and 34 new legislative seats in the U.S.

However, the real issue, it seems to me, is that the mainstream Dems are insisting on becoming more and more liberal in their leanings while the rest of our country is becoming more and more conservative.  If there is virtually no room in the Democrat Party for a moderate Democrat, there is absolutely no room for a conservative Democrat.  If those conservative Democrats find themselves in agreement more and more with the Republican themes across the country, there could be a wave forming that will inundate the Dems politically for years to come.

This is likely to have a greater effect in the heartland of this country versus either coast.  And, it is in the heartland that conservatives have grown stronger and stronger as a group.  We may be witnesses to a sea change that will carry conservatives to more political victories than ever before with the help of the disregarded Dems revolting against their former party.

We tend to get hung up on party names more than on the belief systems in place within those parties.  I believe we may well be watching a conservative wave forming that will render each major party impotent without the support of us conservatives.  I hope that is the case.  Neither of the two main parties is in tune with conservative beliefs and wants and needs.  If this is happening, we will be able to re-make Congress to think like we think.  Imagine how that would impact the country as we know it today.

For some of us, that may seem to be a potential nightmare while others of us might see it more favorably.  Time will tell.




Obama Speaks…

Our former President Barack Obama seems to be willing to speak very openly when he is not in our country.  Within the country, he is careful, more careful at least, to frame talking points in more subtle ways.

The long and short of the Obama family’s efforts today is summed up in one of his statements at a conference on Sunday in Japan concerning his plans for the Obama Foundation:

“If I could do that effectively, then–you know–I would create a hundred or a thousand or a million young Barack Obamas or Michelle Obamas”.  “Or the next group of people who could take on that baton in that relay race that is human progress.  A lot of our problems are caused by old men.”

“One of the things we’re going to be spending time on, through the Foundation, is finding ways in which we can study this phenomenon of social media and the Internet to see are there ways in which we can bring people from different perspectives to start having more civil debate and listen to each other more carefully.”

The words of this former community organizer ought to cause us to focus our attention on him, his family and the Obama Foundation.  Former President Barack Obama is bent on reshaping our democracy to fit his vision of what that Democracy ought to be, not what the Founding Fathers saw it.

Can you imagine the school systems such as that which produced the eloquent students who met with President Trump in the Oval Office serving as feeder systems for the Obama Foundation and whatever are the spin-offs from that test bed in the future?  That is what I see when I envision his statements coming to fruition.

Of course, I qualify as one of those “old men” that he decried as the “source of a lot of our problems.”  I also qualify as a skeptic of things “Obama” because I know what he was when our countrymen elected him and I know what he is today.  He is on a mission to change this country at its roots, to train our children to ‘correct’ the problems you and I have created over the course of time in this democracy.

There is something that comes from the experiences of adults that simply is not found in our young people only because they are young and have not yet had the life experiences of the adults.  We learn what this country is all about and we respect that having been created for us by those who have gone before us.  We make incremental changes in the way of our country as we learn lessons throughout this lifetime.

The Obama Foundation apparently seeks considerably more than incremental change since it sees that we are a damaged society which it/they alone have the foresight to restore to its original luster.  This is a siren’s song for those who have not yet experienced the ebbs and flows of this life.

I knew all there was to know about this country and democracy when I went out campaigning for Barry Goldwater.  My parents didn’t know anything.  Other elders did not seem to understand what I knew or thought I knew, to be true.  The students recently accorded the privilege to appear with the President in the White House thought they had achieved the penultimate thing in their young lives.  They will come to better understand the things of this life as they experience more of those things in ‘real life’ as opposed to life taught from books and professors’ lips.

The Obama Foundation seems designed to pull in younger members of this society in addition to older members who have felt disadvantaged for one or another reason.  This is roughly the equivalent in some minds of the “Second Coming”, but it pales miserably by comparison as those of us who have lived longer have likely come to better understand.

I would create a hundred or a thousand or a million young Barack Obamas or Michelle Obamas.

Barack and Michelle Obama and their Foundation are to be followed very closely.  This is not what I think of when I think of our democracy, and I believe I am still in the majority.  This transcends conservative thinking or liberal thinking.  At least it transcends those concepts as I see this country.  This is about more than that…this is about Barack Obama and Michelle Obama and their view of this country.

Hang It Up Hil…

It is time, actually considerably past time, for Hillary Clinton to accept the fact she has hit her ceiling and will not go any higher in politics than she has already been.  She has already climbed the ladder beyond her point of productiveness.  Anything beyond would simply be a further exercise in futility for us, the voters.  Following is a paragraph that ran in The Week of March 23rd:

Hillary blames deplorables again:  Hillary Clinton drew bipartisan criticism back home this week after she told an audience in India that America doesn’t deserve the presidency of Donald Trump.  Speaking at a Mumbai business conference, Clinton said that the states that supported her in 2016 were more culturally and economically advanced than those that back Trump.  “I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward, and his whole campaign – ‘Make America Great Again’- was looking backward.  You know, you didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women, you know, getting jobs.”  She said women who voted for Trump may have been motivated by “ongoing pressure to vote the way your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”

I guess she told those of us who have refused to answer the siren’s call of Hillary, and she did so in pretty blunt language for a politician; could be she is finally at the end of her political rope.

This does not sound like a person I would want sitting in the Oval Office.  This does not sound like a person who has her “stuff” together anymore if she ever did.  This sounds like a tired, old woman pouting and pontificating about what should’ve been in her life, but wasn’t to happen.

After all, just who do we think we are to deny her just due?  She has been the lady-in-waiting since her husband wronged her the first time and ever since he has wronged her more over the years.  My goodness, that ought to count for something, don’t you think?

By the way, how does she speaking at a business conference in Dubai help her impress America’s voters?  Might there have been some Indian wealth involved?  Might she have received another of those sweet, sweet stipends for having put up with Bill for lo those many years?

After all is said and done, all has been said and done.  The Clinton family has worn out its welcome with America’s voters.  We are treated to the ‘same old, same old’.  There is nothing left for that family that we have not already given them.  That also includes, by the way, Miss Chelsea.

Frankly, if there is anything more they are owed by us, it would be an actual Federal investigation into all those little things, like dead people, that don’t seem to add up over the course of the career of these two people.