Havana Then and Now

Cuba (20) copy

Cars and the Maine Monument

This blog has endeavored to engage policy and politics without injecting personal observations and life. Perhaps you’ll indulge us this once. Bernie Sanders a major power in the Democratic Party (though not a member) and Jeremy Corbin the leader the UK Labor Party have both been lavish in their praise of Castro Cuba. When asked at a press conference while he was mayor of Burlington Vermont, “Do you stand by your qualified-but-fulsome praise of the totalitarian regime in Cuba? “Sanders answered “Yes.” Apparently his opinion hasn’t changed. When asked after Fidel Castro’s death in 2016 about the leader’s legacy, Sanders replied,

You know, I think what we can say—and I’ve been to Cuba two or three times. I think Jane and I went in 1989 for the first time, and I’ve been back a couple of times, and Jane had some educational work in Cuba. A lot of positive things that can be said. Their healthcare system, for a Third World country, is quite good. It’s universal: All people have healthcare without any expense. Last time I was there, I visited a hospital, where they do very, very serious and good work. They come up with a lot of new drugs, actually, in Cuba, I believe. Their educational system is strong. But in truth, their economy is in pretty bad shape. And in truth, you don’t do very well if you dissent in Cuba

Sounds like faint damnation with lavish praise.

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What Charlie Gard Tells Us about Us

The fate of an 11 month old British baby is caught up in a battle between his parents and the government hospital and the courts. Charlie Gard suffers from  a rare genetic condition and can’t move his arms or legs or breathe unaided. “MDDS.” is an inherited mitochondrial disease. He is on life support and the condition is considered terminal. The parents want to take him to the United States where two hospitals have offered experimental treatment. Separately, even the Vatican has offered its hospital for treatment. The British hospital backed by the UK and EU courts has said no. Citing “Quality of Life” the hospital won’t even let the parents take Charlie Home. Who should decide? The state or the parents? The Wall Street Journal editorialized its position:

It may be that the experts the British and European courts invoke are right, that even with treatment Charlie won’t live much longer than he might with new interventions. But it’s not their decision to make. Or shouldn’t be.

Charlie’s mother says the hospital won’t allow her and her husband to bring their boy home, meaning that if he is to die, it will be with the hospital and not at home with those who love him. Which raises a question: Whose baby is Charlie, anyway—his parents’ or the state’s? In this delicate case, Britain’s national care system has elevated technical expertise over parental love.

Europe is much further along than America in its aggressive secularization and single-payer health-care control. Those values and priorities are on prominent display here, with an infant’s court-ordered guardian invoking “quality of life” as a reason for not allowing his parents to try experimental treatment.

Precedents matter when a society is confronted with these dilemmas. If the courts prevail in Charlie’s case, it isn’t so difficult to imagine another court ruling that a child with severe Down syndrome or some other genetic disease also doesn’t have the right quality of life. Who decides? Our vote remains with the parents.

In our opinion, favoring the parents over the State is proper. One could argue parents withholding treatment from a child should be overruled in the interest of the child. In this case the state is withholding treatment. This is where their argument breaks down and exposes the greater problem, the difference between state controlled health care (single payer) and real modern medicine. What is most important in this case is two US hospitals thought it was important enough to offer Charlie experimental treatment. If the British Hospital could offer no hope, what would possibly prompt them to deny another arguably better hospital a chance to try?  We believe the answer is in the trade-off one gets when you have single payer health care. When asked on “Meet the Press” about the Canadian single payer system, Malcolm Gladwell put it this way:

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Approaching 6 Months

How have the first 6 months of the Trump presidency gone? Guess it depends on your perspective.


If you’re a Trump supporter you see great progress. David Gelernter writing in the Wall Street Journal put it this way:

I’d love for him to be a more eloquent, elegant speaker. But if I had to choose between deeds and delivery, it wouldn’t be hard. Many conservative intellectuals insist that Mr. Trump’s wrong policies are what they dislike. So what if he has restarted the large pipeline projects, scrapped many statist regulations, appointed a fine cabinet and a first-rate Supreme Court justice, asked NATO countries to pay what they owe, re-established solid relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia, signaled an inclination to use troops in Afghanistan to win and not merely cover our retreat, led us out of the Paris climate accord, plans to increase military spending (granted, not enough), is trying to get rid of ObamaCare to the extent possible, proposed to lower taxes significantly and revamp immigration policy and enforcement? What has he done lately

No question Trump has done some positive things for the right, but at what future cost? They have a nice originalist judge on the Supreme Court but at the cost reducing Senate confirmation to a simple majority. This leaves it to fate which party actually benefits in the future. Much of the positives cited by Gelernter are executive orders, some  simply  reverse those of Pres. Obama. A wave Democratic victory in 2020 and it all goes away. At first glance the cabinet is a conservative dream.  The question is simply is whether Trump will listen to any of them. The constant undercutting of the members by the President already is costing the group credibility. Maybe this is why the administration is having such a problem filling important open slots. Who likes to work for a boss who doesn’t have your back? Some members have already proven over rated. When he was in the House, Secretary of Health & Human Services Tom Price  was heavily involved in writing their Health Care bill. This embarrassment of Obamacare Light was to provide through cuts the money to underpin the Republican Tax cuts. Now not only are they stuck between a rock and a hard place on health care, tax reform is in real jeopardy. With the Presidency and both Houses, and Republicans have a good chance to go into 2018 without a major legislative victory. Also, let’s not forget Trump also took us out of TPP. The just concluded EU-Japan trade deal prompted the Wall Street Journal to editorialize:

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