What is Technology Doing to Us?


Waking Up With Sam Harris #71 - What is Technology Doing to Us? (with Tristan Harris)

At 1:05:30 in the episode Tristan Harris concludes with what am I being steered to do?

Through much of this episode I was marvelling at the gloom and doom being harped about endlessly. So we wake up to doughnuts by the bedside that we are required to resist every morning? Was there a bigger point to be made here? It may not be a pleasant way to live, but that's what happens everywhere you go that involves buying anything, and that is how we go about our lives in the modern world, trading time for money and trading money for things. Maybe we should design different systems for people to live in if that reality is too depressing for most people.

Podcast notation backdated to the blog.

Trumpcare Dissected

I find it remarkable that Trump supporters like Steven Moore believe it's possible to insure the sick and the poor without requiring any sacrifices from the healthy and wealthy. This is conservative rubbish. - Robert Reich on Facebook


RAWSTORY, WATCH: Robert Reich rips into conservative over his ‘specious’ math on Trumpcare
Conservatives and libertarians console themselves with the belief that the charitably minded will pay for required services. I heard that hand-waving excuse countless times when I was a libertarian. I half-believed it myself. The truth is that programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc were established precisely BECAUSE charity failed to take care of these people. That studies have shown the wealthy will not give as much to charity percentage-wise as the middle or even lower classes will. That it is a humanitarian principle that everyone contribute to public health and public welfare, for the benefit of us all.

This kind of civic-mindfulness needs to be re-established in America once again, because we have clearly lost our way. I even encounter professed liberals who do not agree that there shouldn't be a thing called the working poor. That having a job means you should be able to afford to feed, house, clothe and tend to the health needs of your family. If liberals have lost sight of this grounding principle voiced by the most influential minds in the enlightenment, I fear we have even darker times ahead of us than we are currently living through.

Facebook status update backdated to the blog.

Dead Again Movie Review

Dead Again, 1991

I really wanted to like this film. I don't hate it, but it really isn't that good. It was so forgettable I forgot it and mistakenly rented it a second time thinking I hadn't seen it. Not even Robin Williams' (the reason I queued it up a second time) brief appearance is enough to save it from its mediocrity. It delivers what the trailer promises. If you are into these kinds of stories and haven't seen it, you won't be disappointed. Still, it could have been better. Maybe.

Rotten Tomatoes movie review backdated to the blog.

#ImpeachTrump

New Republic
Trump’s major impeachable offenses so far:
  1. He has violated the “emoluments clause” (Article I Section 9 of the Constitution) by profiting off foreign governments.
  2. He has obstructed justice by firing his FBI director because of (in his words) “the Russian thing” after asking him to stop investigating Mike Flynn.
  3. He possibly committed treason by working with Russian operatives to win the election.
Compared to Richard Nixon’s cover-up of a burglary at the Democratic National Committee, and Bill Clinton’s sex with a White House intern, Trump’s “high crimes” are far worse. At the very least, there should be an impeachment inquiry.

But Democratic leaders don’t want to call for it, because they don’t want to raise expectations over something they don’t have the votes to deliver.

I think this is a mistake. (I agree with Brian Beutler, below.) A clear commitment to an impeachment inquiry if they win back the House next year would help them flip the House.

What do you think?
- Robert Reich on Facebook
A thousand times yes. I've just been waiting for everyone else to catch up. He couldn't be president a year ago now and he still can't be even though he was given the office. If the Democrats would come out in favor of impeachment now, hammer that point for the next 18 months, the congress will be theirs in 2018 even if congress acts to remove him before the election. This is because President Pence acting on a belief in a conservatives mandate will alienate more people than a simply incompetent Trump ever could.

Facebook status backdated to the blog. I was (and still am) growing more resigned. The Orange Hate-Monkey could have been tossed out of office on his first day but responsible people refuse to act. We average American must sit idly by, watching as Rome burns, all the time wishing that we had paid for a better fiddler than Nero. Would probably have paid for better entertainment if we had known how long the act would run.

An Increasingly Isolated Orange Hate-Monkey

New York Times
Today's Sunday talk shows reveal Republicans are distancing themselves from Trump:

Sen. Marco Rubio: “If any president tries to impede an investigation — any president, no matter who it is — by interfering with the F.B.I., yes, that would be problematic. It would be not just problematic. It would be, obviously, a potential obstruction of justice that people have to make a decision on.”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz: “You would like, I would think, the president to kind of beat him [Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov] over the head with the fact that, if they actually did interfere in any way, shape or form, how wrong that is and how outraged America is on both sides of the aisle.”

Sen. John McCain: “I don’t know how to read [Trump’s remarks about shutting down the investigation], except that I’m almost speechless because I don’t know why someone would say something like that.” And Lavrov “had no business in the Oval Office.”

As Trump's polls slide, keep particular watch on Republicans from states Hillary Clinton won in 2016 or Obama won in 2012. They'll join in opposition to Trump.

What do you think? - Robert Reich on Facebook

They are rats leaving a sinking ship. It's just too bad that the GOP put him in power in the first place. I don't think their tactical retreat will do them much good; or rather, I hope they don't profit from it. They don't deserve it, they backed him solidly right up to this point and now, Now, NOW that he's admitted impeding an investigation into his and his campaign's actions, NOW they think this presidency is questionable.

So the targeting of hispanics and muslims wasn't bad enough? The scapegoating of the poor wasn't disqualifying enough? The bragging that he could kill people in the street and he would still win wasn't troubling enough? The evidence that he is a sexual predator wasn't damning enough?

Now he fires Comey and brags that he told him to lay off the investigation, the investigation that he insisted was fake news since day one, so this isn't surprising behavior, and NOW they have a problem.

Well, welcome to the club, dumbasses. Wipe the drool off your collective chins and try to pay attention. Caveat Emptor.

Facebook status post backdated to the blog.

The Trump Regime


The Trump Regime, Posted by Jonathan Pie on Facebook. Here is the Youtube link.
"He's a fucking, out of his depth estate agent" 
Finally, someone who understands what I'm talking about. Caveat Emptor. Trump is a genocidal maniac in the making. That is the difference between Trump and his stormtrumpers versus Hitler and the Nazis. I'm sure there were plenty of Germans who said "sit down and be quiet before someone gets hurt." One of them was named Martin Niemöller
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Don't be that guy.

Cap's epic speech to Spiderman during Civil War

Voter Fraud? No, Voter Suppression. Part One



CNN.com
So how does Trump deflect attention from his firing of Comey and what appears to be increasing evidence of collusion with Russian operatives to win the 2016 election? He repeats his unsubstantiated claim that “3 to 5 million” people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton, and today sets up a commission to investigate.

Trump’s “voter fraud” commission is also a means of encouraging more states to enact voter suppression laws such as strict IDs. The commission will be headed by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Kobach – who has been accused of extreme racism and ties with white nationalists – was the driving force behind a Kansas law requiring new voters to produce a passport, a birth certificate or naturalization papers as proof of citizenship in order to cast a ballot. He worked last year to disqualify the state and local votes of thousands of people who did not meet those criteria. He has advocated the proof-of-citizenship requirement at the federal level as well, alleging rampant voter fraud without producing proof of a widespread problem. And he has been the prime mover behind some of the nation's strictest immigration laws in at least a half-dozen states, such as Arizona's SB 1070, which requires police to determine a person's immigration status when there is "reasonable suspicion" that they are not legally in the US. (The law was partially upheld by the Supreme Court, but had other sections struck down by the court in 2011.)

Trump has no evidence for his claim of widespread voter fraud. After Trump reportedly told several senators in a February private White House meeting that much of the fraud took place in New Hampshire, former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman Fergus Cullen offered a $1,000 reward for evidence of a single illegal vote in New Hampshire. "The idea that people are coming to New Hampshire to commit fraud on a massive scale like this is just preposterous and it needs to be called out as untrue," he said. The New Hampshire secretary of state's office said it had not received any complaints of voter fraud.

Donald Trump poses a clear and present danger to American democracy.

What do you think? - Robert Reich on Facebook
As if it isn't already difficult enough to participate in this backasswards democratic-republic. Join a party, go to the weekly/monthly meetings. Canvas for issues, draft resolutions, etc. Promote promising candidates, etc. Now they want to make it harder to do the one easy thing about this whole process which is vote.

The entire history of vote suppression is a graveyard of bad ideas killed slowly over the course of centuries. Wealth discrimination, racial discrimination, sexual discrimination. With the dismemberment of the voting rights act brought about by recent SCOTUS decisions, we appear to be started back down this road where we silence women, enslave the minorities and disenfranchise the poor.

Will we sit by and allow this demagogue, this pompous little dictator, to push us all back into the bad old days, or will we stand up and insist on our right to participate in our own government?
“If you love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”
Facebook status post backdated to the blog

A Toast to My Alcoholic Father

"You would never know if I relapsed," he said to me. "I was very good at being an addict." 
No, honey, you weren't. None of us are. We think we are cleverly hiding it. We think we have it under control. We think we are getting benefit from it. We think we are the exception to the rule. We think we will be able to prevent it from consuming us. 
A Facebook Status Post
I have taken out the garbage in my home (eldest son always gets that job, ditto with husbands)  for my entire life. Consequently I know what people throw away in the house. I know who recycles and who doesn't. I know who is doing what based on what garbage appears in their waste cans. It is extraordinarily hard to disguise behaviors that create garbage, behaviors that leave behind evidence which must be destroyed if you want that behavior to be secret.

My dad went through an astronomical amount of Canadian Club, Black Velvet, etc. At least a fifth every, single, day, without fail. I must have hauled several tons of discarded glassware to the ashcan over the course of the years I lived at home with my parents. We kids knew the drill. Ice (this much) bourbon (that much) water (a much smaller amount) He always drank, all the time. It wasn't until the drunk driving laws started appearing that he knew he was heading for trouble, because he couldn't be without his glass of bourbon and a cigarette (Pall Mall's) at any point in any day. Couldn't do without it (them) until the cancer started.

When the cancer started it became imperative that he stop smoking and drinking, and he still couldn't do it. He just didn't know how to stop. He switched to low-tar cigarettes first. No more filterless Pall Mall's, it was Carlton's or whatever else he was trying that week. He insisted the low-tars were filled with cabbage leaves, but he had to have a smoke. The bourbon took longer for him to give up. He switched to cheap beer when it finally became clear he was going to have to stop his addictions, not understanding that he was going to have to actually stop the behaviors entirely. He smoked and drank until they stopped allowing him to eat because of throat cancer. In the end the addictions killed him by causing the cancer, and that is what I remind myself of mentally every time someone offers me a cigar or I pour myself a drink.

I stopped smoking cigarettes ages ago because I could feel the drag they were putting on my lung capacity, and that process took years. One of my sisters now runs a cigar shop and I have to decline offers of cigars every time she comes to town or we meet with relatives who have seen her recently. I can feel the itch of a lifetime nicotine addiction in the corner of my mind just thinking about picking up a coffin nail. The air in the Steele household was blue with tobacco smoke for my entire childhood. Nicotine was in the air I breathed every day until I left home and had to infuse the drug by smoking it myself. Kicking that habit was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and it took years of mentally associating the desire to smoke with the smell of a the bars I worked in as a young adult, reminding myself of the stale smell of smoke, sweat, alcohol and vomit that permeates the air of a bar before all the people show up and renew the smells with life.

My dad loved to tell a story about me when I would drink with him. One thing my dad was really good at was spinning yarns, and he could talk all day and night if you let him. He was a certified master of bullshit and I could sit and listen to him talk for as long as anyone would let him talk. I was fascinated by his ability to just make stuff up on the fly. The bare bones of the story went like this; The first time my parents took me along for a fine dining experience, one that included courses of meals and an after-dinner drink, I cried for the glass of cognac they sat in front of my father. My father, being the indulgent person that he really was, wanted to see what I would think of the cognac. Would I hate it? Would I reject it because of the alcohol taste? He didn't know. So he handed me the snifter and as he told it "You drank it right down. Sat there for a few seconds. Then you cried for more!" It always got a laugh and I laughed right along with him.

I am reminded of that story every time I crack open a new bottle of brandy or cognac, which is about the only thing I will drink these days; and I will drink a quiet toast to my father on those days. It is because of him that I am not an alcoholic, and that is probably the best lesson I learned from him. I have often wondered what he would have made of the efforts to end addiction these days? Would any of them have helped him? Would he have wanted help?

Is the OHM Stupid or Just Crazy?

Washington Post
On Saturday, he gave an angry, rambling speech to his supporters in which he obsessed over perceived enemies in the media and elsewhere. In recent days he has given a half-dozen incoherent interviews. Recently he insisted he won’t “stand by anything” in his accusations about alleged wiretapping by President Barack Obama, yet argued that his case has been “proven very strongly.” He praised the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, as a “smart cookie.” He invited the blood-thirsty president of the Philippines to the White House, without consulting with anyone first. He insists the health-care bill that the House is struggling to pass does not say what it does and is still changing.

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment allows Congress to set up a “body” of people to assess whether a president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and, if they decide he is unable, transmit their written findings to the presiding officer of the Senate and the Speaker of the House – whereupon the Vice President shall assume the office of Acting President.

When, if ever, do you think this will occur? - Robert Reich on Facebook
This stupid/crazy act of Trump's is getting old. That is my take on this. He pretends at stupid so that people will underestimate him just as he pretends at crazy bluster because that has worked for him in the past.

None of it will work as president. He wanted the fucking job of President, he had better get busy doing the job if he wants to stay out of jail. if he wants his Russian mafia buddies not to snuff him in self defense. Do the fucking job or quit already.

Everything he says is an act, is false, is part of a con he thinks he's running, which is why I don't bother listening to a thing he says. Just as I said here, the only things that matter are the things he signs. Stop paying attention to the narcissist and focus on surviving till he is gone.

Which is one way to say, Congress will act when we force their hands and not one minute before. Time to start occupying the halls of Congress until they agree to do something.

Facebook status backdated to the blog. Still just holding on till the 2018 midterms.

Death Panels?

Modern Eugenics?
And those states are going to let you die.

Yes, they are. They are going to do it for profit. They're going to do it because they think you are a luxury. They going to do it because they can't stand the thought of having to pay for some baby with a heart defect or somebody who's HIV positive or somebody who has cancer or the mentally ill.

These are the REAL death panels, right here.

That is some Nazi shit. Literally. Aktion T4, the Nazi program to eliminate defectives. The people they considered "luxuries." And don't your forget for one minute that Eugenics began here in the US, the Nazis got the idea from US. When states were allowed to decide, they were perfectly happy to sterilize those they deemed unfit and less than perfect. Luxuries. - Stonekettle Station on Facebook
What this is, more than anything, is an underscoring of something I've known for a long, long time. Employers should be banned from inquiry into the health of any of its employees. Not only should they not be allowed to offer insurance of any kind, they should be forbidden to even ask, officially. My health is my business. Not the states' business, and not my employer's business. My business.

It all comes back to the problem of who pays for that for most people. This is what public health is established for. Public health's job is to pay for the care that the individual cannot afford, or that requiring the individual to pay for reduces the application of good health practices.

If you want to pay less for healthcare as a society, you have to encourage people to seek health advice regularly. Get their injections. Get their screenings and checkups. There should be rewards for this behavior, not costs, because doing these things saves the public money. You never hear conservatives talk about these facts. Why? That's a good question, one you will have to ask conservatives about. Jim hazards several answers to this question, several pointed answers. But in the end, conservatives will have to answer the question for themselves. Why do you think that individual health is anybody's business aside from the individual?

Medicare for all is the only way to fix America's healthcare problems. Medicare for all would move public health out of the commercial morass it has been in and make it tax funded as it always should have been. Require the government to negotiate for better prices from drug manufacturers rather than forbid them from negotiating as they currently are. It is time to stop this slide towards kleptocracy before we wake up and discover we live in Russia.

Facebook status backdated to the blog.

The Resistance; Tea Party Left?

New York Times
“I’m part of the resistance,” Hillary Clinton said today in an interview on CNN, in which she criticized Trump’s conduct in office, his foreign policy, and his penchant for posting on Twitter.

Last Sunday Joe Biden also sounded resistance themes in his visit to New Hampshire to rally Democrats.

I welcome Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden to the resistance.
But two gentle warnings:

1. The more the “resistance” sounds partisan, the less effective it will be – because it then allows Trump and his enablers to characterize as nothing more than the Democrats trying to regain power. In fact, it's a people’s movement dedicated to protecting our Constitution and system of government from a dangerous sociopath.

2. The resistance is also more than just resistance to Trump. It must be resistance to the conditions that created Trump -- which is as much the fault of the Democratic Party as the Republicans. Too many Democratic officials have aided and abetted a rigged economy, most of whose gains have gone to the top. Too many Democrats have sought big money from large corporations and Wall Street -- money that has inundated and undermined our politics. The Democrats haven't had the backbone to demand a hefty tax on the rich -- including a wealth tax -- to pay for what we need to do as a society, including better schools. And the Democratic Party still hasn't had the guts to come out for a single-payer health care system.

Resisting Trump is necessary. But getting behind an agenda that takes back our economy and our democracy from the privileged and powerful is essential.

What do you think? - Robert Reich on Facebook
The Tea Party started out the same way; controlled by independents, focused on reform. Look at them now. Support is welcome, but support is not leadership. Clinton especially needs to understand this distinction. We don't want a repeat of 2016.

Medicare for all is a baseline measure, like a litmus test. Get behind it or go somewhere else. I would go further. Parties need to be de-emphasized as power brokers. This means an end to party primaries and an end to party controlled district drawing. It possibly means an end to the house as it has been known since the 435 rule was introduced. We want an electoral college that reflects popular will. That means more, smaller districts. We have to keep beating on this message until it sinks in.

More equal representation. More connection between representatives and their districts. An end to money primaries. An end to money as speech, or legislation that makes everyone a party to the current funding of elections through vouchers for contributions to elections.

Higher taxes on the wealthy. Universal Income. Medicare for all. I'm done playing around with half measures as proposals. If the conservatives can lead with "let the poor die for lack of care" then we should lead with make the wealthy care for the poor until they are no longer wealthy. We can then meet somewhere in the middle.

Facebook status backdated to the blog.