Closing Thought–21May18

Well we had another mass school shooting this time in Texas….but I will not cover that for that is an effort in futility trying to change a culture of violence, guns and killing…..something we Americans excel at……

A Rifle To Kill Americans

There is a new Russian sniper rifle that is designed to kill NATO troops and that includes Americans….the odd part of this story is that this deadly rifle was promoted by the NRA…..

In late 2016, the US Army released a report noting that the Russian military, through experience gained during fighting in Ukraine, was undergoing a transformation and becoming a more potent battlefield threat to American forces. One troublesome development identified by the report’s authors was the increased proficiency of Russian snipers. “The capabilities of a sniper in a Russian contingent is far more advanced than the precision shooters U.S. formations have encountered over the last 15 years,” the study noted. One reason for this was the Russian military’s recent adoption of the ORSIS T-5000, a relatively new Russian-made firearm that the report called “one of the most capable bolt action sniper rifles in the world.” As one military technology expert noted, after reviewing this report, the US Army faced “being outgunned” by foes armed with the T-5000—which can be accurate at a distance of 2,000 yards—and these Russian rifles were showing up in Iraq and Ukraine. That is, this weapon posed a threat to US troops and those of its allies. Yet the National Rifle Association—which boasts it is identified with American patriotism—has helped promote Moscow-based ORSIS and its sniper rifle.

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/05/the-pentagon-considers-this-russian-sniper-rifle-a-big-threat-to-us-soldiers-the-nra-helped-promote-it/

A fascinating story……but it probably matters not…..

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Unification Blues

There is much optimism around the Korean talks…..some are even looking forward to a possible unification of the two Koreas….they look toward the Vietnam of the 70’s and later the unification of Germany of the 90’s……

Yes the idea is very promising indeed….or is it?

The North and South have fundamentally diametric economic and political systems and national ideologies. They also have very large guns pointed at each other’s head. Neither side has much reason to trust the other to refrain from trying to exploit the chaos that would come with a transition and force reunification on their own terms. This trust gap is not going away, nor is the prisoner’s dilemma. True reunification would require breathtaking courage from leaders on both sides, who would need to ignore immediate incentives and assume enormous risk while going through the process.

This is, in part, why only two modern states have achieved negotiated, peaceful reunification. One was Yemen in 1990, and its experience ever since has been nothing anyone wants to replicate. The more instructive comparison is Germany, which reunified the same year. Prior to being sliced in two by outside powers, both Germany and Korea were cohesive cultural, linguistic and ethnic entities. Yet both became locked in a protracted zero-sum contest for supremacy between their competing halves. Both are surrounded by countries that, through the long-term lens of their own geopolitical imperatives, would rather see them stay divided. Both had U.S. troops stationed on half their home soil. And like the North, East Germany suffered greatly from the loss of Soviet aid and security.

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/korea-cant-replicate-germanys-reunification/

A fanciful thought…..but we must get past rigorous negotiations before anything can move forward.

I wish I could say that I see a way forward….but with this bunch it is highly unlikely.

Know Your Traffic Law

The weekend begins and I am looking for something interesting for my readers…….so for those that had rather read my blog than watch a couple of minor royals get hitched…….I came upon a traffic law in Kansas…..

Kansas has passed a law that most people probably assumed the state already had. The new law bans police officers from having sex with motorists that they pull over, reports the Wichita Eagle. Although Kansas did have a law prohibiting police from having sex with people in jail, the new law bans sex “during the course of a traffic stop, a custodial interrogation, an interview in connection with an investigation, or while the law enforcement officer has such person detained.” Kansas was one of 33 states where sex between police and detainees is not illegal. The bill was introduced by Rep. Cindy Holscher, a Democrat, in response to the case of a detective who was alleged to have repeatedly coerced sex from black women in Kansas City by threatening to arrest them or their loved ones.

One such incident led to the arrest of Lamonte McIntyre, who spent 23 years in prison for a double murder he didn’t commit. McIntyre’s mother said in an affidavit that she had spurned the detective’s advances, per NBC4. Holscher also cited a case in New York, where a teen alleged that two officers raped her in their van, but because the officers said the sex was consensual, no charges were filed. New York passed a similar bill in March, in response to that incident. “I was shocked,” New York state Sen. Diane Savino told CBS News when she learned of the gap in the law. “It should be clear across the state for officers from every department, that when someone is in custody they do not have the ability to consent to sexual activity.”

Just keep abreast of traffic laws so you do not get caught with your pants down….(pun was intended)……

Closing Thought–16May18

Most other countries in the world has a wide array of candidates in their elections we here in the US usually have 2 major candidates a couple 3rd party ones ……2018 is the mid-term elections here and this time we have a wide array ourselves….we have right wingers, neo-nazis and a bunch of criminals….

How did the Republican Party — once known as the party of “law and order” — become a party that could provide space for lawbreakers and extremists, thugs and criminals, hoodlums and hate groups? This astonishing transformation can only be attributed to the presidency of Donald Trump, whose words during the 2016 campaign and during his term in the White House helped make America safe for extremists.

White supremacists, Infowars conspiracy theorists and convicted criminals are running, some as viable candidates, on the GOP ticket on the state and federal level, something which would have been unheard of only a few years ago.

Such individuals are not barred from putting their hat in the ring and aspiring for elected office, but it is remarkable that party leaders have by and large not shown the backbone to condemn them. But in a way that’s not surprising in a party where extremism and intolerance are mainstream GOP fare, and its standard bearer runs an ethically challenged administration mired in criminal investigations. Trump said he would drain the swamp, but he is the swamp, and he is sending swamp-dwelling creatures to the Senate, Congress and the state house.

https://www.laprogressive.com/extremist-republicans/

The GOP really needs to clean their party up a bit…….

The mid-terms may prove to be quiet entertaining…..

The Nader Speaks

Back in the day when Ralph Nader was running as a 3rd party candidate I accused him of being a media whore.  Why?  Because every time you turned around he was on the TV spouting some crap that few Americans wanted to hear….not saying that I disagreed with him just he was everywhere…..today that would be nothing new for it is standard operating procedures for a politico.

Even though I did not think much of his constant natterings I admit that I do agree with some the old dude has had to say about the Democrats…..

If Democrats are wondering why they lost to reality television star Donald Trump and the deeply unpopular GOP in the 2016 elections—and why their advantage in 2018 polling continues to slip—longtime consumer advocate Ralph Nader argues the party must stop searching for scapegoats and start fighting for a bold and progressive agenda.

With a rare invitation to appear on cable news, Nader told MSNBC host Ari Melber, Nader said that instead of blaming third party candidates like himself and other external factors for losses that resulted from their own incompetence and inability to articulate an inspiring platform, Democrats must embrace widely popular ideas like Medicare for All and a living wage if they are to oust the “corporate indentured” Republican Party.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/05/11/ralph-nader-decrepit-democrats-stop-scapegoating-and-embrace-bold-agenda

Like I said…I agree, at least this time…….the Dems are spending too much time and energy scapegoating….and I think all that crap will not turn the lever in their favor come the next elections.

That Big Drug Deal

Just what we have been waiting on for a year or more….that big drug deal……this will be our biggest deal yet for affordable medication, right?

Bullah*t!

Trump and Sec of the mundane announced their new “blueprint” for lower drug prices……

Drug policy experts and price advocates on Friday panned a long-overdue speech by Donald Trump on drug prices.

As part of the speech, the US health secretary, Alex Azar, suggested drug companies should be required to disclose pharmaceutical prices in advertisements as an incentive to set lower prices.

Along with the speech, the president released a “blueprint” to lower drug prices. However, many proposals had already been made public in the administration’s budget and most were technical rule changes which can be accomplished without Congress. Drug policy analysts said most the proposals would be unlikely to “materially harm industry”. Following Trump’s speech, health stocks rose.

The administration’s blueprint also proposed lifting the pharmacist “gag” rule, so pharmacists can tell consumers when a drug is cheaper without their health insurance. Such provisions are written into contracts between pharmacists and benefit managers, who act as middlemen between the consumer and the health plan.

(theguardian.com)

Did you read that stocks soared because of this announcement?  If this did not benefit the drug industry massively would their prices have soared?  I think not!

President Trump’s long-awaited plan to bring down drug prices will mostly spare the pharmaceutical industry he previously accused of “getting away with murder” and instead focus on increasing private competition and requiring more openness about costs, per the AP. In Rose Garden remarks at the White House, Trump called his plan the “most sweeping action in history to lower the price of prescription drugs for the American people.” (The plan is here.) But it does not include his campaign pledge to use the massive buying power of the government’s Medicare program to directly negotiate lower prices for seniors. The Washington Post notes that the idea was the one feared most within the industry. The Wall Street Journal reports that drugmakers and pharmacy-benefit managers “suggested privately they were relieved to avoid harder blows from the plan.”

Instead, the administration will pursue a raft of old and new measures intended to improve competition and transparency in the drug-pricing system. Those include a proposal requiring drugmakers to disclose the cost of their medicines in their TV advertisements. Health Secretary Alex Azar said the Food and Drug Administration would immediately examine requiring that information in TV ads. The proposals also include banning the pharmacist “gag rule,” which Trump said prevents druggists from telling customers about lower-cost options so they can save money, and speeding up the approval process for over-the-counter medications so patients can buy more drugs without prescriptions. It’s an approach that avoids a direct confrontation with the powerful pharmaceutical lobby, but it could also underwhelm Americans seeking relief from escalating prescription costs.

Just another con job for the ignorant and lazy…..one good question to ask……”How the heck is this going to lower drug prices in this country?”

Officially ditching his campaign promise to challenge the pharmaceutical industry head-on and allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices—a betrayal that may have something to do with the fact that the White House is currently occupied by former Big Pharma executives in key posts—President Donald Trump on Friday formally unveiled a plan ostensibly aimed at cutting medicine costs that analysts and progressive critics are already slamming as wholly inadequate and “pharma-friendly.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/05/11/trumps-pharma-friendly-drug-plan-denounced-doing-little-or-nothing-lower-prices

This is the same as it ever was…..A Huge Con Job By A Con Artist!

Tribes

An IST op-ed

My better half was watching a retro movie the other day entitled “Tribes” starring Darren McGavin about the USMC and a mystical wonder child that the Drill Sargent tried to break and could not….all so early 70’s…..and typical TV drama of the day.

The title got me to thinking about our country these days and the damage that all this silliness and yes it is flipping silly, is doing to the fabric of American society.

To begin with….what is political tribalism?  n….loyalty to a tribe or other social group especially when combined with strong negative feelings for people outside the group…..in other words….political division.

I read Political Tribes: Group Instinct And The Fate Of Nations, a new book by Yale law professor Amy Chua. Chua does not write as a political partisan. Rather, she writes as an analyst of our political culture, which is rapidly tribalizing. I strongly encourage everyone to read the book to understand the nature of our dire political moment, and how much worse it could get if we don’t find some way to stop the cycle.

I want to be very clear: Amy Chua does not side with either the left or the right in her book. She says that all of us are tribalizing. She doesn’t say this in an artificial “pox on both your houses” way. She really means it, and she shows how it’s happening.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/a-time-of-tribalism-amy-chua/

Here on IST many visitors from the Right, because I criticize Trump, as being a Dem they are wrong and if they would just visit more often then they would have seen that I was a critic of Obama and his people as well…..but they read one post and label me.  I do not really mind just shows their ignorance.

This whole “us against them” mentality is not American in my book…..it accomplishes nothing politically and finger pointing is just as silly (even though I have done it in the past out of frustration).

This “tribalism” has been more successful for the Right than the Left……

In “How America’s identity politics went from inclusion to division” (Guardian, March 1, 2018), Amy Chua argues that the U.S. left has given us the U.S. right, or at least has provided opportunities for the political right to rise to power. Chua makes the case that identity politics on the left and right makes the U.S. a less inclusive society.

She is right to some extent about some kinds of identity politics, but it’s there where the equivalency ends because identity politics on the right has led to murder, mayhem at the highest levels of government, and a return to racism that is supported by the right’s enormous wealth. Identifying with their own best interests gave the gay community medicines that made AIDS less than a certain death sentence.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/03/05/political-tribalism-why-the-right-is-so-successful/

In my opinion the Right has succeeded in the division admirably and as they divide us the Dems try to counter and thus the division gets deeper and deeper…..as the country divides the Congress jumps on the bandwagon…..

A few days ago I argued that sins-of-omission by Paul Ryan and his fellow Republicans in the House, and Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans in the Senate, amounted to de facto shirking of their “check and balance” duty relative to Donald Trump. Because members of the majority party in the legislative branch  wouldn’t call out or even notice Trump’s excesses—except, as with Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, when they had decided not to run again—they were putting unsustainable pressure on other parts of the formal and informal governing system. The courts, the press, Robert Mueller, and so on.

https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2017/11/a-nation-of-tribes-and-members-of-the-tribe/544907/

In the past I enjoyed political debate and discourse but these days it is not anything like the days I enjoyed……many especially on the Right will not except the title of “Tribes”……call it whatever you like but it boils down to political tribes…..

When it comes to politics, in 2015 we witnessed nothing less than a paradigm shift. The old rules are out the window. Technology and changing mores have conspired to lower barriers of entry—and acceptability. Gatekeepers no longer exist. What we have right now is closer to direct democracy than we’ve ever seen, and our civilization is regressing as a result.

One party (the Democrats) already represents the liberal half of the nation. The other half seems to consist of modern, Buckleyite conservatives, but also an increasingly large horde of populist, nationalist, individualistic Americans—who now have a megaphone and a vessel in the form of Donald Trump.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/americas-political-parties-are-just-tribes-now

If you do not like the term “Tribes” then maybe “politics of identity” or “identity politics” may  tickle your fancy……no matter the title it is NOT Making America Great…..in any way.