Wednesday, May 24, 2017

America's cities are running out of room

Housing costs soar as population continues to increase and cities run out of room. Some cities, like Dallas, TX. or Kansas City, MO. remain more affordable as new development just keeps sprawling out.

Other cities, like Seattle, WA. are in regions where sprawling farther out eating up new land is less likely. Environmental rules, such as Washington State's growth Management laws, attempt to curb sprawl plus many of the outlying areas are hard to build on. Steep mountain slopes and so forth.

New development, in cities like Seattle, tend to be in dense downtown like areas. People like these type of areas where lots of urban life is handy and the neighborhoods are walk-able. Problem is, there isn't enough room in these denser areas to accommodate the people moving in. Metro areas, like Seattle, need to devote more of their land to dense "downtown style" development since sprawling out isn't really an option. Everyone who wants to move to Seattle area can't affordably fit in the limited zones that are downtown like; the urban villages. There's still too much land, in their metro areas, that is devoted to single family and low density residential.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Trump banner guy running for Bellingham City Council?

A person named Eric often comes to Bellingham's Friday peace vigil with a large Trump sign. It's basically to annoy folks at the peace vigil who tend to not support Trump. In the last two weeks, Eric hasn't been there. Trump doesn't look that good, these days, so I think he doesn't show because he likes to rub it in people's faces, so to speak. Right after the Trump victory, he was down there gloating, but that gloating wouldn't be as effective now.

I hear, through the grapevine, that he is running for city council. A new chapter in his performance art, I guess. I see it as performance art. Antagonizing mostly liberal crowds. He's brought anti gay signs to the gay pride rally. Someone like that would never win in fairly liberal Bellingham. Not even for the County Council tho the county is more conservative. His campaign must just be to get attention.

With the fire and brimstone anti gay signs that he had before, he could pass out campaign literature near the gay pride parade, ha, ha. Political suicide, but such a person wouldn't get very many votes in Bellingham anyway.

There's speculation that someone is sponsoring him. Who would want to sponsor performance art for antagonizing folks? Makes me think of anarchists on the other side of the political spectrum. Give em hell.

People often argue with him, but most of the discussions are like shouting matches across the street. I find those kind of conversations pretty useless so I tend to ignore. I wouldn't mind sitting down to a civil discussion with him, talk theology and so forth, but I have never attempted to do that. The shouting matches around him are not easy to talk over. I save my voice for different kinds of discussion.

Too bad Trump and US arms industry licking it's chops over big arms deal to Saudi Arabia

Jobs, jobs, jobs? Selling them solar panels would be better for the world. Too bad they aren't in the market for that much wealth in solar panels. Weapons are most of what they seem to buy. Is Trump trying to throw gasoline on the flames of Sunni Shia rivalry? The recent election in Iran provides hope for moderate leadership, but that situation might be fragile.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Good news. Moderate Rouhani wins in Iran. Hopefully the Iranian people will have enough patience to keep supporting reform even though prosperity may be a difficult thing to bring about.

Good news. The moderate and more reform minded leader has won in an Iranian election. I hope that Iran can still make progress toward human rights and more quality of life.

There is worry that if Rouhani's promises for a more prosperous economy are not met, it could send the tide of popular opinion another way; such as back to a hardliner. Bringing more prosperity is difficult in any society, including our own here in USA. Meanwhile, many improvements in quality of life don't cost a lot. Prosperity shouldn't be seen as a prerequisite for better quality of life, tho it does help. Hopefully the Iranian people will have enough patience to keep supporting reform even though prosperity may be a difficult thing to bring about. Without reform, prosperity would be even less likely.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Diluting my chocolate milk with regular milk is helping

Had a checkup yesterday. I have a new doctor as my doctor retired. The new doctor is very, very good looking, but, more importantly, the numbers from my blood test were very good looking. Sugars and so forth are in the good range. Blood pressure is good.

Diluting my chocolate milk with regular milk is helping. Also the many salads and apples I eat. Drinking some unsweetened ice tea in restaurants and putting a small amount of Pepsi in it, just to make it slightly more flavorful helps. All the bicycling and dancing I do burns many calories.

The new doctor seems to share my philosophy of fairly light touch medicine. Lifestyle and diet comes easier than medical intervention. I like that attitude for many reasons, but also my insurance has a real high deductible past the preventative things that insurance companies are required to provide by law.

Possibly my only symptom of physical discomfort is an occasional pain in one ankle and a cough that persists for a while. This most likely relates to being on my feet constantly. Work, walking and so forth. A good excuse to sit in front of my computer.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Lower diet standards in schools but deny diabetics healthcare

Trump's budget chief Mulvaney wants to leave a big part of the 29 million Americans living with diabetes out in the cold.

Diabetics don't deserve health insurance? This call to pull the plug comes, ironically, as the Trump Administration acts to relax healthy eating standards in schools. Also to, at least, delay more nutrition reporting for restaurant foods.

Denying healthcare is harsh, even if people haven't had the best eating habits. Also, in some cases, diabetes is caused by genetics and other factors besides diet and lifestyle.

I'm sure some "right to lifers" are troubled by Republican ideas for rationing medical care, but secular libertarians, among the Republicans, might just say, "go ahead and pull the plug; save tax dollars." Libertarians are against government spending and non religious folks might be less troubled by right to life arguments.

On the front for promoting healthier living, Michell Obama is coming out with criticisms of Trump's school lunch policies. She is an advocate of better diets.

I can sort of see why "conservatives" want to allow chocolate milk back on school lunch menus. I know, I drink it myself. It does taste good. These days, I dilute my chocolate milk with regular milk as I know the sugar is bad. When I was a kid, I craved the stuff so much that I would eat cocoa powder right out of the can. Sometimes I wouldn't even bother with the milk. My mom would say that "I liked a little milk with my chocolate powder."

Yes, it is hard to get kids to eat healthier, but it's good to try and do the best we can.

More links.
American Diabetes Association Disappointed
Michelle Obama on Trump rollback of school lunch standards

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Changes in Congress in 2018 could be as important, if not more important, than who is the president

If scandals bring down Trump, we still have Pence and the Republican majority in Congress to deal with. It could be no better or even worse. Thank goodness it's not too far to the 2018 election. If enough people vote, we can repeal and replace most of Congress. That could be as big, if not bigger of a sea change than a new president.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Several connotations for the word conservative

The term "conservative" has quite a few connotations. On the one hand, there's the concept of investing conservatively; meaning low risk investments.

Then there's the concept of conservation, but for most of my life, conservation of the natural environment hasn't been part of the perception of conservative politics. More recently, there are those who talk about the conservative case for protecting the environment. There's groups like Evangelicals for Environmentalism, but this seems kind of new and only around the edges of political conservatism.

People's concepts of conservatism have been discussed in a few threads. My perception is as follows: at least about political conservatism.

Political Conservatism. Favoring policies that provide and preserve material wealth. Hard work, saving and protecting wealth. Pro military and safety; pro business, pro private enterprise and private development.

Political conservatism often includes principles from fundamentalist Christianity, but there's a tenuous relationship between religious conservatism and promotion of business interests.

In more recent times, conservatives have become increasingly flamboyant. Masters of entertainment, such as Rush Limbaugh. This was less the case in my childhood. There was, tho "Chamber of Commerce" style business promoters.

My mom used to say, about the city of Spokane, WA. which was quite conservative in the 1960s, "Spokane thinks it's big." "Seattle knows it's big."

Spokane seemed to be promoting itself. After all, much of its economy is being a retail trade center. Seattle was a lot bigger and more sophisticated. Seattle didn't need to brag about it as much.

Donald Trump is part of a trend of entertainment, flashy oriented conservatives which seems to be gaining ground in recent years.

Friday, May 05, 2017

The rest of the world should not follow conservative, overpopulated ways from Nigeria

There is much debate over gay rights within the Anglican (Episcopal) Church which is rooted in both the west and countries like Nigeria.

The west has been moving toward acceptance of sexual diversity while much more conservative attitudes prevail in African branches of the church. Acceptance of sexual diversity includes GLBT people while more conservative thinking sees a stronger link between sexuality and procreation. I think the world needs more sexual diversity as over population indicates that there's more than enough procreation.

I would not want the rest of the world to follow Nigeria's leadership. Could be the international Anglican Church needs to split as the theologies are in different worlds. I'm not part of that church, so I'm no expert on their politics, tho. I think it's already split here in USA.

A lot of our world's outmoded ideas, like conservative attitudes sexual diversity, can lead to problems. If procreation is the only accepted outlet for sexuality, it can cause overpopulation problems. This becomes an environmental issue as people, all over the world, aspire to a richer life.

From what I read, Nigeria's population is growing rapidly and may surpass the US in population within a few decades, tho it has far less land area than the US. An environmental nightmare as traffic and consumption rises. The average American's consumption of natural resources is higher than that of the average Nigerian, today, but people all over the world aspire toward more consumptive lifestyles. Think of all the get rich quick schemes, on the internet, that originate in Nigeria. Of course that proliferation of scams doesn't necessarily represent all of Nigeria, but it's hard for me not to bring it up.

The situation of people's aspiration toward growth in consumption prevails around the world. China is an example of vast populations aspiring to live richer lives. For instance trading in bicycles for cars in recent decades. China is often held up as an example of why people wouldn't ride bikes, in mass, if they don't have to. It's used as an example for why Americans aren't likely to cut back significantly on automobile use.

For our world to remain livable, there needs to be more innovation and acceptance of diversity in both sexual lifestyles as well as traditional aspirations for what a richer life entails. There is some good news from China, however. Bikes are making a comeback. Not only are crowding and pollution pushing some Chinese into bicycling, but new technology is leading the way. Uber / Smartphone technology is making a new bike sharing program very convenient. See How the smartphone brought young Chinese back to bicycling.

We need forward looking innovation, not backward looking mindset, as this crowded, aspiring world evolves. We need innovation, especially in the face of climate change.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

With self driving cars, the commute could be part of the work day, rather than added on top of the work day.

I just got to thinking, when the self driving car arrives, it can be a big time saver. People can work in their cars as they are being driven to work, by the car. The commute can become part of the work day. If society is smart (tho I'm not holding my breath) folks would need to spend less time at the office since they can get much of their work done on the way to and from the office. Time at the office could still be used for interactive, face to face things such as meetings. Some of the rest of the cubicle time could be done in the car. This could free up more time for family life and so forth. Today, people have both the long work day and the long commute on top of that. If cars must still prevail, the cars of the future must be run on green energy, however.

Monday, May 01, 2017

$700,000 for a typical house in Seattle? Crazy.

I've heard the phrase, "rising tide raises all boats." This phrase points out the virtue of increasing prosperity, but another phrase may be more applicable these days. "Rising tide swamps all boats," or at least swamps many boats. Trying to buy a house in Seattle's stratospheric market often means being outbid (like your boat being swamped) by the rising tide of other folks with greater wealth. This effects the rental market also. To continue the analogy, the damaging wake that can be created by big boats.

Median price in Seattle hits $700,000.

Apr 10, 2017, KIRO 7 story.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

When getting a raise means going back to minimum wage

I used to make a bit more than minimum wage, but at the first of the year, I got a raise, back to minimum wage. How did that happen? Washington State has now raised minimum wage to $11 per hour. Before that increase, my wage was a bit above the minimum. Now it's higher, but it's the new minimum wage. It's a struggle for some businesses to pay higher wages in an environment of low prices for many goods and services. The wage works for me as long as my rent remains reasonable. I have reasonable rent. Housing cost is one of the big factors people struggle with. Property prices are often in a different world than the rest of the economy. I'm fortunate there also as I haven't been hit by that situation. My landlord is a non profit organization that strives to be reasonable.

Why take on student debt for funky jobs?

This episode of 1A (new show in Diane Rehm's old time slot). It's about the burden of student debt. One of the guests was financial adviser Michelle Singletary. She suggests being modest in one's college choices to avoid racking up too much debt. She said, don't necessarily go for prestige of schools such as Harvard. Sometimes community college is sufficient.

I was fortunate to have not racked up any debt. Back in my college days, Tuition was a lot lower in state schools at least. My parents paid the bills on a normal middle class salary. I graduated with money in the bank. Not lots of money, but a bit of savings from gardening jobs and my childhood paper route.

It's just as well that I had no debt as the job market has always been pretty soft for me. With my way paid and little work experience, I started out by doing odd gardening jobs which eventually led to a part time custodial job at a pizza parlor. My parents were still proud that I was able to achieve self sufficiency at least. They had been a bit worried.

Rents were reasonable as I started my "career" and I had an upstairs neighbor who spoke about the virtues of part time work. It's a balance between quality of life and paying one's dues. I went with that advise as I couldn't find full time work anyway. Even "good" custodial positions for the state (like at Western Washington University where I graduated from) required a ton of qualifications. That was the Bellingham of the early 1980s.

I got into the pattern of working part time, going on long vacations and expressing myself in ways which usually don't pay the bills; unless one is a big celebrity; like Justin Bieber.

Now I'm working closer to full time and things are basically okay. My writing, ideas and photography are donated to Creative Commons. Donated, in part, because who would buy it?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Flying or riding Amtrak


Observation car traveling California coast west of Santa Barbara.

Large cuts being proposed to Amtrak just in time for that video of the guy being dragged off the United Airlines flight to go viral. Unfortunate timing.

I guess Amtrak is less efficient than airline travel cause it takes much longer to get there. Longer duration of trip equals more use of staff time per passenger mile. Amtrak does get a federal subsidy. Airlines get some of that also; the air traffic control system and airports. Most countries do subsidize their transportation systems.

Amtrak costs less, in terms of energy use per passenger mile, but the high cost of labor "Trumps" the low cost of energy, in economic thinking and Trump is proposing the big cuts to Amtrak in his budget request. For environmental thinking; another story. The true cost of energy matters for the environment.

Then there is culture. The trip on an airline is often thought of as something to endure just to get to the destination. Maybe this doesn't have to be the case, but as the United Airline situation illustrates, airlines are getting leaner and meaner.

Amtrak isn't perfect either, but it's a bit of a different philosophy. The trip can be part of the experience. Takes longer, but more comfortable. Train travel can be an enjoyable social setting as passengers mingle in in places like the observation car. The view is sometimes interpreted by a volunteer naturalist who comes on board.

Being more in the slow lane of life, myself, I haven't had occasion to fly since the 1980s. Did enjoy the bird's eye view, however, on a small plane from Seattle to Pullman where every seat was a window seat. I've ridden Amtrak quite a few times more recently, in connection with my bicycle travels.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Comparing Assad to Hitler

A mistake that was kind of a technicality. Saying Hitler didn't even stoop so low as Syrian President Assad in using chemical weapons when, in fact, Hitler did use chemical weapons in the concentration camps. I've never been a Trump supporter so it's funny to see his staff stumble, but I do kind of get the valid point that Spicer was trying to make. What Assad has done puts him into the category of Hitler.

As for Holocaust denial, it wasn't that long ago that former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Nazi Holocaust a "myth" of European Jewry. Things can be like Hitler in today's world; especially in the Middle East.

Part of my own tribe of "liberals" is making a big deal out of this verbal slip up, which is what journalists and Twitter folks like to do, but in the long run, it may not be that substantive an issue.

A more substantive issue is something like the huge cuts to Amtrak train service that are proposed in Trump's budget request. Amtrak may be taken away from over 200 communities; especially rural communities.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

If Syria could just be livable, that would be best. Taking in refugees, plan B.

A passive way to deal with the atrocities, in Syria, is to take in more refugees. The US could take in a lot more than it has, but this can still be problematic. Too many refugees can be overwhelming to a society. Europe, not to mention other Middle Eastern countries such as Jordan, has taken in many more refugees than the US and is experiencing some problems. Another term for problems is growing pains.

Here in USA, without even taking in large numbers, many of our prosperous cities are experiencing housing shortages and a rising cost of living. We could reduce the percent of land, in our metro areas, that's locked up into single family residential zones. This could even improve living, tho that's a matter of opinion. Many folks still fight housing density, tho it doesn't have to be a disaster, if planned right.

Another problem with the strategy of taking in refugees is that many of the refugees would actually prefer to live in Syria, if only it was livable. Many of them don't necessarily want to relocate clear around the world away from familiar territory if they could just be able to live in peace in their own homes.

It's hard to know what's the best strategy for solving the problems in Syria. Many are saying that the Syrian situation is being exacerbated by drought related to climate change. There's 7 billion people on this planet and it looks like climate change refugees could become a wave of the future. We have to learn to plan and live differently.

Friday, April 07, 2017

If you want to protect the unborn, you have to walk through the doors of the undocumented

Quote from Bishop Tyson, head of the Diocese of Yakima that stretches across seven counties in central Washington State. Quote in a very thought provoking interview on Northwest Public Radio. If you want to protect the unborn, you have to walk through the doors of the undocumented. He says 80-90 % of Catholic pregnancies, baptized in Central Washington, are Latino.

Interview points out the hypocrisy of many folks in the Christian Right who talk about pro life, but also talk about building a wall on the Mexican border. At the same time, I do feel that our growing population does present challenges including effect on the environment

Personally, I think we need more birth control and less pregnancies world wide, but when people are born, a civilized society welcomes our neighbors. Christian teaching, such as expressed in Christ's Sermon On The Mount, can be an inconvenient truth. Good planning is important for things like public transit, instead of more traffic. Also keeping housing affordable as we accommodate growing population.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Could be better to say "power amplifies" rather than "power courrupts"

One of my friends, who's pretty far to the left politically, says Obama has the dubious distinction of being the only Nobel Peace Prize winner to have bombed another winner of the Peace Prize. He was referring to the accidental US bombing of Kunduz hospital, in Afghanistan, during October of 2015 which had members of Doctors Without Borders working there. Doctors Without Borders won the Peace Prize in 1999.

I still think Obama was a good president, as presidents go, but being in charge of the world's largest military has consequences. Mistakes can be made, down the chain of command, of which some folks will hold the person at the top responsible. The problems come with the territory. It would be nearly impossible to be President and not have things go wrong. The larger amount of power one holds, the larger the catastrophes that can happen. Some folks say "power corrupts," but I have a different twist on that phrase. I say "power amplifies." Mistakes made by the most powerful military in the world can be big mistakes, but ordinary people make mistakes everyday. For instance; behind the wheel of an automobile that can also lead to death.

The friend I was talking to said he voted for Obama, but is now disappointed and would never forgive Obama for this. I feel this is another case of circular firing squad. Obama, Hillary Clinton and the so called Democratic establishment were not perfect, but look who is in that position now. Donald Trump; a far more reckless person.

Some folks feel Obama should have done more to pull us out of Afghanistan and reduce the size of our military. Could be, but if he would have tried that, Congress would have, most likely, stopped him. They would have even had him removed from office. Also a large portion of the American people would have stopped him. The problem is people being guided by fear, rather than trust. Disarming a big part of our military brings up the same kind of fear that notice of a sex offender moving into one's neighborhood can bring. Fear at the grass roots level.

There is a trade off when someone takes a position of high power and high responsibility. It's easier to be more idealistic when not fully engaged with our tainted world.

That brings up a problem with the Nobel Peace Prize, itself. It often goes to someone prominent in the news. Obama got it just 12 days after taking office so folks felt he hadn't done anything to deserve it yet. Another controversial prize was in 1994 when Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat got the prize along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Also prominent figures.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Why I tend not to believe conspiracy theories

Interesting article in Seattle Times about information wars. The advantage that some strange ideas have in gaining traction. Research into this by University of Washington assistant professor Kate Starbird.

Below, my take on this.

Conspiracy theories, on both the right and the left, have been ignored in mainstream media. Maybe media should have been paying more attention. The theories seem to have an allure, enough to effect politics. Interesting article about a UW professor doing research on this. Worried about it's implications.

Personally, I know some people who believe that 911 was an inside job. Our government created it; supposedly.

My own thinking is quite different than most of these conspiracy type ideas. Rather than looking for the "bad folks," I tend to blame much of society's problems on the mass behavior of ordinary people. I tend to blame culture and the little actions, from each of us, that tend to add up to what society is.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Taxes are a better way to subsidize healthcare premiums. That's why the Republicans and even the Democrats don't really get it.

Biggest problem with Republican so called "fix" of Obamacare was the lack of enough subsidy for lower income people. This would have resulted in possibly 24 million folks loosing coverage. As Obamacare remains in effect, at least for now, the costs of these subsidies are pushing insurance premiums, for higher income people, much higher. This is causing "sticker shock" among the high income folks. I think it would be better if this money was raised in the form of income taxes, rather than trying to hide it in the premiums. Problem is, there is an aversion, in USA, to using income taxes. I think that's how Canada does it. Also, of course in Canada, healthcare is less wasteful and expensive.

In press conference after their healthcare bill failed, Trump almost sounded reasonable. He's getting a lot of flack for this big failure, but it's more a failure of Congress. Also the problems of healthcare in USA. Trump basically went along for the ride as he wanted to get something done. A rush job, of course.

Watch out. Many Republicans feel that Obamacare is unsustainable and destine to implode on it's own. I don't know the details. I've heard everything from it being sound to it teetering on the brink of collapse. Republicans are banking on the Obama system crashing thinking they will look good in the long run. I think they all look bad and the American healthcare situation is in trouble for many, many reasons. We need to look to Canada for some examples of a better working healthcare environment, so to speak. Also Republicans need to do better at including Democrats in the solution. Evan Trump is mentioning working with Democrats.

Here's something kind of funny.

One reporter, on the radio, was speaking about what happened in the House of Representatives yesterday. She said something like; "they pulled the Bull." Then she corrected herself to say "they pulled the bill." I was thinking "the bull sh ...."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Great podcast. Bassem Youssef, a comedian from Arab world on WBUR

I listen to lots of podcasts during my custodial shift. This is a very good episode from WBUR in Boston.

Bassem Youssef, a comedian from the Arab world. Often called the Jon Stewart of Egypt. Interesting look at authoritarianism and open mindedness in religion and life. Now in USA where speech is more open. His show was popular in Egypt and beyond, but runs afoul of government authorities. Was involved in the Arab Spring. Has a lot of funny and insightful things to say about all religions, including Islam. Taking a critical look at authoritarianism. Quite interesting and fun to listen to.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Another year to celebrate the Bellingham Food Co-op



Biked to the annual meeting and, of course, dance party for Bellingham Food Co-op. Held each year at Alaska Ferry Terminal. Event was free and open to the public. Learn about how the Co-op is doing. More than just a business. Also food, mingling and dancing. See my Pictures and click on images for captions.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Lazy American corporations

A guest on Larry Kudlow was talking about lazy American corporations. Kudlow is conservative, mind you. Conservative or not, there's still worry that excess money, in corporations, might not go to investment in new "plant and equipment." It often, instead, goes into companies buying back their stock, buying each other out and paying bonuses to their executives. A "jobs recovery" will need companies to be willing to take risk, invest in new products, technologies and so forth.

The guest also mentioned that technology is often a "deflation factor." Yes, I keep saying this. Technology can bring down prices and wages due to things like automation. That's an issue the Trump people aren't dealing with very well. Deflation can be a good thing as it means more goods and services for less, but it's hard on businesses and workers when other things, such as housing and healthcare costs, keep going up.

One problem discussed is low interest rates and easy money. I think in many cases, there's an illusion of prosperity created by low interest rates driving things like the housing bubble while actual growth of things like manufacturing is lagging. Then one can also ask, do we need more manufacturing? Think about the environment and how many products we need. Also, technology is improving things; smarter instead of bigger, but technology has its deflationary effects.

As for companies being "risk adverse," that's a big problem. The companies will blame regulation for their risk adverse behavior. They have a point, but I think there's a lot more to it than that. Also, of course, we do want safety and a clean environment.

In my opinion, it seems like corporations run on fear, to a large extent. Fear that they will loose wealth. That's no way to kindle an exciting recovery. We need something better. I think business has it's place, but it's kind of a tired paradigm. There's a lot of things, besides just business, that can bring vitality to our communities. Volunteerism, quality of life issues, change toward healthier and more environmentally friendly things. New beginnings.

Also things like Co-ops and non profits, of which I recently attended the Bellingham Food Co-op annual meeting and party. See photos here and scroll around here.

Republicans clobbering the low income, older American worker; where many of their voters reside

Republican former Congressman Eric Cantor speaks out on healthcare reform. It's like a "do or die" moment for the Republicans. They've got to get it correct or they're whole agenda could sink. The stakes are high.

I say Republicans aren't likely to get it correct as they have a true aversion to taxing higher income folks; something I think is necessary to keep providing insurance for the lower income workers that Obamacare has added to the roles of Americans with coverage.

I sometimes listen to a conservative talk show host named Larry Kudlow. One of his guests was talking about a problem that the Republican healthcare bill has. It clobbers a lot of older Americans who are still not quite to age 65, where they become eligible for Medicare. It clobbers them with higher "age based" premiums (actuary tables) along with cuts to subsidies. People in the $10,000 to $30,000 income range truly get clobbered. A lot of those folks were Trump supporters.

I'm in that demographic also, even though I'm not a Trump supporter.

Republicans, in Congress, are struggling to fix this problem; at least according to that guest on Larry Kudlow. I doubt they'll be able to do it.

One part of Eric Cantor's comments, from article, that stood out in my mind.

They will sink or swim together. There's no option to fail here.”

With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress and the executive branch, “there’s no excuses in the eyes of the American voter” for the health care bill to fail, Cantor said. “It has to get done,” he said.

Cantor said that if the GOP cannot get health care reform passed, that could be a death knell for other items at the top of Trump’s agenda.

“This is a gateway issue … It’s that important because it opens up the route toward getting the next big thing done, which is tax reform,” Cantor told ABC News.


I say that their bill may even die in Congress before it gets to Trump's desk. Trump has promised that he doesn't want to throw these low income workers off of insurance, but I think if a bill doing this was to get to his desk, he would sign it anyway. Republicans are under pressure to get this done. They are in over their heads, as I've heard it described about President Trump himself. He's in over his head.

Personally, I'm in the demographic, age and income wise, that could get clobbered, tho I do have an employer provided health plan. It's a fairly skimpy plan with high deductibles. That's another story. Glad my health is good as I rode my bike out the Interurban Trail, Saturday afternoon, with Larry Kudlow on the radio.

The constant background noise of spy allegations. A distraction?

Kind of clever humor, on Trump's part, joking that he and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel may have one thing in common: being spied on by Barack Obama’s administration.

In 2013, Merkel was upset that her phone was being tapped by NSA, which isn't really Obama, but he got much of the blame; as in "the buck stops here." The surveillance of our government is a "whipping boy" for both the left and the right. Obama got a lot of flack when he was commander in chief. Now there's some folks, on the left, who are saying that we need to pick our battles better. The government, under Obama, looks pretty good today. Others are suspicious of the government, period.

I don't think Obama was personally ordering spying on Trump Tower, but, in reality, how would I know; from my perch here in Bellingham, Washington?