“Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?,” Casey Stengel

A fellow named Jason Kessler obtained a permit to hold a rally protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville, Va park. Citing the obvious constitutional right to hold the rally in public space, the city granted the permit to hold it in that park. Later the city tried to change the rally location to a different park but a federal judge blocked the change in a suit brought by the organizers and the ACLU, allowing the rally to take place in the proper park. Those planning to attend among others were members of the Klu Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party. Not the most lovable of people, but if the freedoms of speech and assembly embodied  in our Constitution are to have any real meaning, we must protect even the most unpopular. Given these planned attendees, some opposed then planned to show up and counter demonstrate. They too were given permit to assemble and rally but at a different park. This group contained members of the Antifa or “antifascist” groups. Let’s see the Klan, the Nazi and Antifa all in  the same city at the same time, what could go wrong? Violence and chaos seems to follow in wake of each.

Given the obvious possibility of trouble, the authorities from the City to the State needed a workable plan to keep things under control. No matter what you think of those rallying to save the statue, they had every right to safely assemble at the park and  have their rally. That means counter protestors kept at a distance preventing them from denying those favoring the statue their constitutional rights.

The job of the authorities was plain to see and they should have done their sworn duty. Instead they failed miserably. They knew or should have known who was coming and planned accordingly.  Given the strong possibility of violence, needed resources should’ve been in place to quickly prevent anyone from acting in an unlawful manner. No room for things to get out of hand. A bloody melee in the park on rally day between the two groups gave proof the authorities were clueless. Why were the Antifa and their allies even in the park? Their permit was for a different park. Their presence alone infringed on the pro statue people’s rights to free speech and assembly.  According to ACLU observers, the police did nothing.  Apparently, no one gave the orders  to prevent the ensuing battle.

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Are We looking at the same thing?

At Wednesday’s White House news briefing the President’s senior policy advisor Stephen Miller attempting to explain an administration backed immigration bill was engaged in verbal battle by CNN’s senior white house correspondent Jim Acosta. More a clash of philosophical policy positions than a normal press conference Q & A, their conflict tells us a lot about how Americans actually perceive news.  If you didn’t see it, just go to YouTube and search Miller V. Acosta. The whole story is there on Video. Even though we are all looking at the same episode, what people say they witnessed varied with their place in the political spectrum.  CNN endlessly ran interviews with Acosta where he was treated as a hero defending America’s Historic wide open immigration policy. Acosta chastised Miller for ignoring the constitutional importance of the Statue of Liberty. How dare the proposed legislation give greater preference to English speakers. After all, his forebearers couldn’t speak English when they arrived at our shores. We took in the “Huddled Masses” from everywhere and it made us great.  Emma Lasarus’ poem “the New Colossus” defined our immigration policy for all times. How dare Miller propose any limits. Chris Cuomo on the same network also held up  his grandparent’s lack of English up as proof of our historic wide open policy. Stephen Colbert and a bevy left of center media writers echoed this sentiment.

Miller ridiculed Acosta’s comment about the bill limiting immigration only to those from Great Britain or Australia to the applause of the right. Guess Acosta has never dealt with an out sourced call center. Apparently giving preference to those with the immediate skills including English proficiency to contribute over the unskilled struck the right chord with many on the right. A sharp lowering of overall legal immigration gathered additional applause. To them, Acosta came across as the embodiment of the biased arrogant media. Charles Krauthammer on Fox News declared Miller the winner of the exchange on points. Most of Fox News concurred. Rush Limbaugh played a series of exchange cuts that had Miller besting the “cosmopolitan” Acosta.

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You’re Surprised?

Attorney General Sessions is left twisting in the wind. Secretary of State Tillerson can’t name his own staff and is totally undercut on Qatar.  Secretary of Defense Mathis in the midst of conducting a 6 mos review of transgender policy, finds the President just banned transgender from the Military. Trump boosters pointed to President’s cabinet as the administration’s great strength.  Instead, this highly accomplished group is in the process of losing their well deserved reputations.  Still it’s hard to have much sympathy for them. Were they unaware of Aesop’s Fable of the” Frog and the Scorpion”. The well-meaning but foolish frog gives a scorpion a ride across a river. Halfway across the scorpion stings the frog, dooming them both . When the frog asks why, the scorpion said it was his “nature”. In other words , what did the frog expect? He’s a Scorpion for god sake.What did these fine people expect? Didn’t they already know Trump’s “Nature”?

Add Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who claims to have spent years in congress working on a replacement for Obamacare, but brought forward together with his former Congregational  companions a disaster. Trump is just now starting in on him. Of course Trump himself never mastered the problems of health care and was therefore almost useless in trying to pass legislation. Don’t expect to hear Trump taking any blame. That always lies elsewhere Does anyone feel comfortable in the Trump Administration? Maybe that’s why the administration has so many unfilled positions.

In any case, the latest Senate try at Obamacare repeal died in the middle of the night with a  dramatic John McCain thumb down. One doesn’t have to disbelieve the Senator’s dislike for the legislation to also see just a little pay back. Surely Trump knows what goes around comes around. Shouldn’t Trump and his base have realized John McCain owed the President nothing. McCain didn’t get mad, but he did get even. There is a reason people avoid out loud nastiness. It just may come back to bite you in the butt. It did here. Whatever McCain’s reasons, it does put the door to a compromise on health care slightly ajar. Of course, we offer  DAVE’S PLAN TO REFORM THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT as a winning compromise.

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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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