Wednesday, March 22, 2017

London will not be Terrorized....

Video: Jason Hawkes 
Music: Jack Cook
"Composed upon Westminster Bridge" by William Wordsworth, read by Sir Ian McKellen.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Republican Heathcare Déjà vu….

After 6 years and more than 60 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have FINALLY released their “replacement” for the ACA. We don’t know how many people it will cover, and we have no idea how much it will cost. CNBC did some basic number crunching and the results we not good. To the tune of $600 Billion of not good…
Here is what we DO know about it. (Courtesy of Poltifact):

The requirement to buy insurance goes away. People will no longer be fined on their tax returns if they lack insurance under the plan. Large companies will no longer have to pay penalties for not offering insurance.

There are still tax credits for people to buy insurance. The plan includes an "advance-able" tax credit, based on age and families size, which people can use to buy insurance. Whether it’s as bigger or smaller than Obamacare will depend on specific circumstances. The plan’s advocates say the credit will be between $2,000 and $14,000 a year "for low- and middle-income individuals and families who don’t receive insurance through work or a government program."

Insurers still have to cover pre-existing conditions, but they will be able to charge more for people who are recently uninsured. The plan allows insurance companies to charge higher rates if a person has a significant lapse in coverage. Higher rates will be charged if a person was uninsured for 63 continuous days during the previous 12 months.

Insurance plans don't have to cover all care; catastrophic policies will be allowed again. The Obama administration required insurance companies to cover basic care without exclusions; they called it "essential health benefits." The GOP plan has allows for more limited policies and policies that kick in in cases of major illness or injury.

Adult children and college students can stay on their parents’ plans. As under Obamacare, children will be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26.

Medicaid will eventually be reduced, but it might expand first. The Medicaid expansion remains at first but new enrollment freezes in 2020. Other limitations will also be applied to the program.

The taxes from the 2010 health care law will be repealed. That includes taxes on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, health-insurance premiums and medical devices. As for how the plan will be paid for, an explanation on the House GOP website says, "We are still discussing details, but we are committed to repealing Obamacare and replacing it with fiscally responsible policies that restore the free market and protect taxpayers."

Also there are some amazing tax cuts and tax breaks for very very wealthy people and corporations in this plan. The Washington Post breaks it down:

Republicans' new health-care bill is a mass transfer of income that cuts taxes for the wealthiest Americans while cutting federal benefits for the middle and working class. Just two provisions in the Republican plan would allow the richest households to pay an average of nearly $200,000 less under the GOP plan, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

For the lower-middle class, the plan would replace the current system of benefits based on income with a new system based on age. As a result, a young person making less money would get less help to buy insurance than an older person who is making more.

Republican proponents of the bill argue that by eliminating regulations on health insurance, their legislation will reduce the price of coverage for the middle class, making up for the financial pain of reduced government support. Some experts, however, are skeptical that the plan will work as intended.

Then we have my personal favorite , a designated tax break for health insurance executives who earn more than half a million dollars a year. No, I’m not kidding, and neither is the GOP: (CNN Money Reports)  

The bill would roll back a provision of the 2010 Obamacare law that placed a $500,000 limit on deductions for each executive's compensation, according to a summary from the staff of the House Ways and Means committee.  

Five major insurers paid their CEO's $73 million in 2015, the most recent year for which pay has been reported. Only $2.5 million of that was deductible under Obamacare tax laws. But more than $70 million of that would be deductible under the proposed Republican legislation

To fully understand it you have to decode the GOP’s own talking points on Health Care. The Republicans have consistently said they believe all Americans should have “guaranteed access” to health coverage. It is critical to understand that by guaranteed access, the GOP does NOT, mean equal access. They mean Americans should have access to all the health coverage and care that they can afford, and ONLY to what they can afford.

Lets set aside the fact that this bill is the first salvo the GOP’s cherished long march to finally kill Medicare, by choking it off with capped block grants to states that will never fully cover the costs. We can have that debate another time. This is about the fundamental core philosophy of the Republicans when it comes to Health Care for Americans.

At the very core of the Republican Party’s philosophy and approach is Economic Darwinism – Survival of the Richest. If you are too poor to afford health care, that is entirely YOUR problem NOT the Government’s. Utah Senator Jason Chaffetz truly believes the reason poor people can’t afford health care is they are spending their money on new IPhones instead...   Seriously…

Not only does the Senator show exactly what kind of human being he is, (terrible) he clearly demonstrates how when it comes to basic market capitalism,  he and his fellow Republicans are total morons. Idiots. Dumb as a box of hair.  Stupid to the point of being a threat to themselves and others. Here’s why.

What are core drivers in any capitalist economy? Supply and Demand. When supply of any goods or service is greater than the demand, the price falls. Likewise, when demand exceeds supply the price goes up. Basic High School Economics, right?  Which brings us to the GOP’s second most beloved talking point. “Increased Competition will lower costs for everyone!”

A nifty sound byte, but totally divorced for the reality of Health Care. Competition only lowers cost when it impacts the gap between supply and demand. But in the case of health care, that will never happen. Demand for health care will ALWAYS far outpace the supply, and the differential between supply and demand will never shift towards supply. Why? Because the population grows instead of shrinks.  

Left solely to market forces, prices will never fall but instead, will keep going up forever. This is why most every other industrialized nation has some variation of a public/single payer option.

Republicans  should be honest and call their approach what it really is; Survival of the richest. Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and their ilk, screamed of  health care rationing under the ACA, when in fact, that is exactly what the GOP replacement IS. Rationing of care based on income. If you believe that is a good thing, fine. But be honest and answer the core question;  How many people will have to be denied coverage and care for your plan to work?

Because that IS what the GOP has proposed. For a predominantly Market/Competition based plan to work and sustain itself, it must take in more money in premiums than it pays out in benefits. For that to happen in a market where growth of demand exponentially outpaces supply…. You will HAVE TO deny coverage to some people to sustain the system. 

So, Mitch? Paul? Who’s it going be?    Who gets to die for sake of your economic ideology?

The core question that America must answer, the question that most every other western industrialized nation answered for themselves decades ago is this;  Is health care a commodity that people should have access to based on their ability to pay for it? Or, is health care an obligation of a civilized and compassionate society, to ensure people can get,  when and how they need it?

Yesterday the GOP gave us their answer. In their world, death by Poverty is just another “natural cause”.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A letter to Senator John McCain

The Hon. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
218 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

(First of all,  I understand the odds of  the Senator actually reading this letter are absurdly remote.  So let me take just a moment to speak to the member of your staff who is reading this on your behalf.    Hi there,  no I am not  one of the Senator’s  Arizona constituents.   I am an overseas, expat California voter who lives in London. Senator Diane Feinstein is my Senator.   But I  wanted  to write to Senator McCain and ask for his help, not as an Arizonan but as an American.)

Dear Senator McCain,

As preface, and confession.  I am not a Republican, (I used to be, but that is not germane to this discussion.)   But I have always admired your service to our country and have the deepest respect for the sacrifices you have made in the course of that service.  You Sir,  are a true American Hero.  

It is awfully tempting when looking at  the arc of your career in public service to ponder historical “what if’s”  It is hard not to imagine that,  had You  been successful in your campaign for the  Presidency in 2000, instead of then Governor Bush,  the world today (and the New York skyline) might well look very different than they do today.  But  that is neither here or there.  We are where we are.

And that,  is the problem.    

Senator.   The President of the United States has, either willingly or  unwittingly been  compromised by an adversarial foreign power.  His National Security Adviser was clearly a risk  to  our national security by his relationship with, and work on behalf of,  that same adversarial foreign power.   

The mountain of evidence that our very democratic process  was compromised is just the tip of a massive iceberg of concerns about this Administration;  and  its political, financial and potentially  illegal ties to Vladimir Putin’s regime.

All this from an Administration led by man who insulted, degraded and mocked not only your service and heroism,  but that of all POW’s

Senator, when  you ran for President again in 2008, your campaign slogan was “Country First”.  It is time to live up to that slogan.   The leadership of the Republican Party under Senator McConnell  and Speaker Ryan  have made it clear that they  will put partisan gain before country, regardless of the cost to our nation.   You sir are  the last remaining Statesman in your party, and all Americans desperately need you,  to once more put country first.   

You have made service to country the defining theme of your life, Sir.   That country now calls upon you again.  

You must stand up, and stop this insanity. The truth  of the Trump Campaign and now, Trump Administration’s  ties to Russia must be immediately  and thoroughly investigated by an independent counsel.   This  will never happen if left to GOP leadership.  

The very security and integrity of our nation is at stake.


David Fabie
London, United Kingdom

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The President of the United States is not Mentally Competent.

There are moments when you know a Presidency is over.    That moment when you see the Man, overwhelmed by the office.   The narrative is lost,  the  grand visions and promises abandoned in a fruitless effort to control events;  which at that moment have taken control of him,  and irrevocably derailed a Presidency.

For  President Reagan it was the moment  cameras caught him being coached by the first lady to answer a reporter's question.

For President Carter it was the moment the mission to rescue the American hostages in Iran came to a crashing halt in the middle of the desert.

For President Lyndon Johnson,  it was the moment he realized  the  overwhelming majority of Americans , and the verdict of history would hold him responsible for the war in Vietnam.

For President Nixon,  it was  the, desperate hubris of the  "I'm not a crook", speech.

Yesterday,  January 25th 2017, five days after his inauguration,  the Presidency of Donald John Trump came crashing down around him. Not in the private agony of the Oval Office,  or some back room  high atop Trump Tower,  but live on Television,  in front of the whole world.

From TheWashington Post:

The way President Trump tells it, the meandering, falsehood-filled, self-involved speech that he gave at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters was one of the greatest addresses ever given.
“That speech was a home run,” Trump told ABC News just a few minutes into his first major television interview since moving into the White House. “See what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming. … I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl, and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time.”
The lengthy interview, which aired late Wednesday night, provided a glimpse of the president and his state of mind on his fifth full day in office. It revealed a man who is obsessed with his own popularity and eager to provide evidence of his likability, even if that information doesn't match reality.
I could go on and cite more of the WaPo  article , but honestly  it doesn't even begin to capture the magnitude of the moment.  It is something that must be seen.  Not just to be understood, but to be believed.

If Donald Trump was just a real estate developer,  or a reality show host, or a product pitch man, yesterday's interview would be amusing.  Fodder for the inside pages of a New York tabloid. Just another  celebrity anecdote about a man  desperate to affirm his own grandiose image of himself.  A self-perception that he must defend at all costs.  Defend it against anything that threatens his core belief that he is  the greatest, the smartest, the most "tremendous"  and successful man that ever lived.

But Donald Trump isn't just another insecure celebrity.  He is the 45th President of  the United States.  The Commander-in-Chief of the United States Military, and the man who has the sole power to order the use of America's arsenal of the most destructive weapons mankind has ever constructed

Five days in his Presidency,  Donald Trump is mentally, emotionally  and physically incapable of getting past the fact that fewer people attended his swearing in than that of  Barack Obama.   Five days into his Presidency, Donald Trump is mentally, emotionally  and physically incapable of getting past the fact that Hillary Clinton won more votes than he did.   Five days into his Presidency  Donald Trump is mentally, emotionally  and physically incapable of getting past  even the most routine public criticisms that all Presidents face on a daily basis.

His Presidency has collapsed into an obsession  to convince himself that  his inauguration was the biggest ever,   to convince himself that he really did win the popular vote;  all  at the expense of actual governing.   His administration is currently operating with a skeleton staff at the National Security Agency.  His administration is currently operating with NO sitting ambassadors  at any of our embassies around the world, as he demanded that all serving diplomatic heads from the Obama Administration vacate their posts by the moment he finished taking the oath.

Foreign Policy is reduced to a desperate spewing on Twitter that the refusal of the Mexican President to meet with him was a "mutual decision".

 All the while the President's surrogates are left to try to spin some sort of coherence out of this madness.  Reduced to claiming their provably false statements are not lies,  but rather  "Alternative Facts."

I did not vote for President Trump,  but  like many Americans I did "give him a chance".  I tuned in from halfway around the world to hear  his inaugural address.  Desperate to hear  any evidence that his man understood the office he was elected to,  what I heard instead was political rally  boilerplate, the same divisive rhetoric that defined his campaign.

It was the speech of a sore winner.

In the first television interview as President of the United States,  Donald Trump showed the world that not only is he a sore winner,  but more than that,  he is  a dangerously insecure narcissist who  will at some point,  completely self destruct under the weight of the Presidency.   We all can only hope the expression of that involves the use social media,  and not nuclear weapons.

Keith Olberman gets the last word on this...

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Friday, December 16, 2016

Hey 2016! You Seriously Sucked!! But ... (You did give us James Corden.) So I Guess We're Cool...

Vanity Fair Reports:

"What did we do to deserve James Corden? It’s been quite a year, but at last it’s time to start wrapping it up—and the Late Late Show host has apparently been working for all of 2016 to make sure his viewers do so in the best way possible.

How? By quietly enlisting a sampling of his “Carpool Karaoke” guests to belt out their best rendition of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.” And like every good present, this one comes with a nice bow on top: Carey herself, who took a quick spin with Corden to do some last-minute shopping.

This one kicks off in style: Corden’s in a festive sweater, and the Elusive Chanteuse is in what appears to be a red leather blazer. Because ’tis the season. Before long, though, the video cuts to various guests of “Carpool Karaoke” past: Adele, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas, Elton John, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Chris Martin, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Gwen Stefani."


Hat tip to Joemygod