2017 Politics open thread, May 7-13

This week’s politics thread is open for discussion.

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56 thoughts on “2017 Politics open thread, May 7-13

  1. The healthcare discussion made me think about differences in what people think it’s appropriate for government to do and especially under what circumstances. I realized that I could accept the government as appropriate to run the healthcare system, in the same way I accept the government as appropriate to run wars. My ongoing interest in the details is because a government can run a war like the war in Kuwait (clearly limited objectives, buy-in from allies, generally good planning and execution) or like the war in Iraq/Afghanistian (less well planned, IMHO) and I hope the next healthcare plan that passes (which may not be under a President Trump) will help healthcare look more like the War in Kuwait than the War in Iraq/Afghanistan. I think people’s beliefs about “what government should do” affects our expectations of when government should do something vs. not do something, whether that’s healthcare or sending troops to the Near East.

  2. WCE, you might actually enjoy reading some of the foundational materials regarding the role of government in human life. Another fascinating question is: What theory of human nature underlies each theory of government? Some theories of government rely on the the essential goodness of human nature, some rely on the essential evil; some assume that human nature is entirely malleable. I no longer believe human nature is entirely malleable, so some of my political views had to change.

  3. WCE, I agree. Many people, especially but not exclusively on the left, believe that identification of a human need requires a government program to meet that need.

  4. Interesting new book about Obama’s earlier years, by Pulitzer-prize winner author David Garrow.

    “It is in the personal realm that Garrow’s account is particularly revealing. He shares for the first time the story of a woman Obama lived with and loved in Chicago, in the years before he met Michelle, and whom he asked to marry him. Sheila Miyoshi Jager, now a professor at Oberlin College, is a recurring presence in “Rising Star,” and her pained, drawn-out relationship with Obama informs both his will to rise in politics and the trade-offs he deems necessary to do so.”

    Spoiler alert — ultimately, he couldn’t marry her because she wasn’t black.

    And this is entirely believable and the sort of tidbit that one would have expected to surface in 2007:

    “In law school the only thing I would have voted for Obama to do would have been to shut up,” one student told Garrow. Classmates created a Obamanometer, ranking “how pretentious someone’s remarks are in class.”

    Of course, none of us would necessarily want our young adult lives to get this level of scrutiny, but still.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/book-party/wp/2017/05/02/before-michelle-barack-obama-asked-another-woman-to-marry-him-then-politics-got-in-the-way/?utm_term=.c0508aca4bb6

  5. Scarlett,

    It’s interesting to see how the thinking behind your posts is linked together. For example, you’re feelings on the healthcare issue seems to parallel your thoughts on the couple who was surprised they had to pay for college and the father who wasn’t fully aware of the the policies behind name changes on airline tickets. I’m trying to put my finger on the the central thread.

  6. Gee, I wonder what Trump’s past relationships with women would reveal about his character? All good things, I’m sure.

  7. Yeah, and now Trump can put in his own lapdog, who I bet will put an end to the FBI investigation of his ties to Russia post-haste. We will never know the truth

  8. I’m sure there is a legitimate reason for firing Comey. Right? Nothing suspicious at all.

  9. I think Comey needed to go. His handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation demonstrated terrible judgment. It’s a shame that it’s under this cloud of a Russian-connection investigation, because otherwise it appears to me to be the right decision.

  10. I do think a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the Russia connection, because it’s the only way to get independence on this issue.

  11. And that’s up to Congress, not Trump. There is a path to get this figured out, Trump is not the final word on this. Relying on Congress to do the right thing is another story.

    Sorry for multiple posts, I intended for these to be all one.

  12. Comey angered the Democrats and Republicans when each was in power. That is a great resume in my opinion for the head of the FBI.

  13. But Lark, if that’s the real reason Comey was fired, why not have it happen January 20? While I can support what you say “demonstrated terrible judgment” why the wait? I think it’s convenient political cover…the real reason is that he/FBI were getting to close to revealing what really happened re Russia & the election.

  14. One really troubling thing about this administration is that they do not care at all that the appearance of potential conflicts are really damaging to our country. Maybe the Russia stuff has nothing to do with Comey’s firing. Maybe Comey is being fired because of the mishandling of the HRC emails (and I have some beach front property to sell you if you believe this). But a sitting President SHOULD care that he is creating a huge issue by firing the FBI head while said head is investigating the President. It is a pretty big deal and really lowers the credibility and standing of the US throughout the world. So, either Trump doesn’t understand this or doesn’t care. Neither is acceptable. The only acceptable path if Comey had to go right now for some unknown reason is for Trump to then issue a statement that while he is absolutely innocent, he supports an independent prosecutor being appointed so that all Americans can have confidence in their government.

  15. Agree w/Lark. If this is some sort of cover up it’s a really dumb one.

  16. Lark, do you seriously believe that Trump will appoint someone who will continue the investigation? Read the article I posted. Trump had been fuming about Russia for a week. My prediction – a couple of months after the new FBI head comes in, the investigation will be quietly closed.

  17. Obama was not willing to fire Comey because he didn’t want to be seen as interfering in an FBI investigation during an election.

  18. Mooshi – No. But Congress has this ability. And Comey had very little credibility to me in general, so not sure I would have wanted him to the be point person anyway.

  19. So you want to rely on Mitch McConnell to keep the investigation going???

    I am not a fan of Comey, but everything I have read about him suggests that he was never operating from a partisan position. I think he was rather too full of himself, and saw himself in sort of grandiose terms. I suspect he saw Hillary as too corrupt for his own sensibilities, but I also suspect he views Trump in the same light.

  20. I think Comey saw himself as a boy scout and the only one who could possibly make such a decision. So, huge ego, but not someone who was acting in a partisan way.

    Whereas, McConnell is terrible and hugely partisan (if by partisan we mean keeping the Republicans in power/not any adherence to traditionally conservative viewpoints).

    I would trust Comey far beyond McConnell. McConnell is a snake.

    Have McCain and Graham said anything? They are the usual suspects to be a bit more angered by this and potentially do the right thing, although they often fall in line.

  21. “This scandal is going to go on. I’ve seen it before,” McCain told a meeting of the Munich Security Conference core group. “This is a centipede. I guarantee you there will be more shoes to drop, I can just guarantee it. There’s just too much information that we don’t have that will be coming out.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/05/10/john-mccain-on-comey-firing-there-will-be-more-shoes-to-drop/?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-f%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.982973d1d33f

  22. “Freddi Goldstein, a spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio, said that while there were hurdles, “The science is clear that the earlier we reach our youngest children, the better chance they have to succeed later in life.” ”

    Not sure that the science is at all clear on this point, at least as it relates to this particular program. Head Start doesn’t really work, after all.

    “Politicians and policymakers have been arguing about whether Head Start works ever since the federally funded early childhood education program for low-income families began in the 1960s. And yet, 50 years later, after more than 30 million children have been through the program, a new research report from a unit of the U.S. Department of Education concludes that we still don’t have much rigorous research evidence to show that Head Start is effective in preparing children for elementary school.”https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/08/03/report-scant-scientific-evidence-for-head-start-programs-effectiveness

    If we want to champion Science, we need to follow where it leads.

  23. I had a very positive experience with NYC’s pre-k for all program, and an opportunity to compare it with what existed before due to the ages of my two children. My older son was already in kindergarten when de Blasio launched the program, so he did not benefit. During his 4-year-old year, we sent him to a 3-hour a day program at a local church for about $4500. The program and the teachers were mediocre. My younger son had the benefit of universal pre-K. He attended a full-day pre-K for free in our local elementary school with an experienced and highly professional teacher. He literally could not wait to go to school each day, and the parents in his class were uniformly thrilled with the program. Whether or not pre-k is proven to produce better long-term outcomes in kids, the availability of a quality, free, full-day program for young children is a blessing for working parents.

  24. The availability of *any* free daycare is a blessing for working parents. But the NYT piece stated that the 4yo program ran about six hours a day, and only during the school year, which isn’t really daycare for parents who work full-time year-round. And, of course, this “free” program comes at a steep cost to taxpayers and to private preschool programs that will lose teachers, as the article made clear. If it doesn’t actually deliver the results it promises, perhaps the funding could be provided by donors who are happy simply to support free daycare, rather than by the taxpayers.

  25. My point is that the quality of the program (at least as implemented at my son’s school) was very high relative to the alternatives that existed — at a fairly steep cost — before the program was implemented. I suspect that the ability to recruit excellent teachers and pay them fairly is the reason. The program is highly popular — I am not aware of any push by taxpayers to defund it.

  26. Of course the program is popular, because it’s *free* and, as you note, the union pay scale ensures better teachers than the alternative programs — which are not “free” — can afford. But the city taxpayers can’t actually afford this *free* program:

    “Most critical, to actually make the program universal, Mr. de Blasio needs to secure $700 million in state and federal funding. On its own, the administration has said, the city can fund the program in only eight of its 32 school districts.”

    State legislators are not as enthusiastic as city parents.

  27. That quote refers to the proposed 3-year-old program, not the existing program for 4 year olds. The current debate is whether to expand the program, not whether to eliminate it.

  28. Back to health care — Democratic Senator Harris’ tweet that

    “Once again, 129M people with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage and insurers could charge sick people more money.”

    got 4 Pinocchios from the WaPo Fact Checker.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/05/10/kamala-harriss-claim-that-129-million-people-with-preexisting-conditions-could-be-denied-coverage/?utm_term=.a5b0aef4887d

    Alternative facts are a plague.

  29. Based on Trump’s interview with Lester Holt, and his subsequent threatening tweet, I would like to withdraw my earlier comments that indicated support for the firing. I was wrong to believe this was rational and benign.

  30. When I heard about that tweet, I started wondering if he is having a breakdown

  31. My friend the FBI agent posted: “We are never loyal to the President. We are loyal to the country. James Comey promised the President honesty, but not loyalty; we’ll continue that in his absence, even if he tries to fire every single one of us.”

  32. Personally, I don’t think it advisable to piss off the entire FBI, but 45 didn’t ask me.

  33. Kerri, that Oklahoma republican simply made no sense. Try applying that here! We have lots of Japanese kids in our school, kids of corporate relocs. Many of them do not speak much English when they arrive. Can you imagine ICE rounding up all those very nice, well-to-do, non-English-speaking, non-citizen kids??
    Of course not. Because he really meant just the Spanish speaking, poor kids.

  34. Mooshi – My American-born husband’s first language is not English. He never spoke it until Kindergarten. He learned English in school, not because his parents couldn’t speak it but because they wanted to teach their kids their native tongue. Imagine trying this in Florida, Texas, California, Queens, etc., etc., etc.

  35. Oklahoma is in such desperate straights because the same legislature that proposal came out of cut taxes to record low levels on corporations, following the flawed theory that the tax cuts will pay for themselves. It has been a failure in their neighbor Kansas, but they pushed forward anyway. The education budget was slashed mid-school year, so schools had no time to plan accordingly. Some districts started closing on Fridays, others just ended the school year early. They had already done away with “non-essentials”, including janitors, so teachers have to clearn their own rooms. The teachers are among the lowest paid in the country, so are having trouble attracting people. To get around that, they either have enacted or have proposed (can’t remember now) to eliminate licensing requirements and background checks. So this idiotic proposal is just one more nail in the coffin.

  36. “They had already done away with “non-essentials”, including janitors, so teachers have to clearn their own rooms. ”

    Can’t they do what we did BITD? The students cleaned the classrooms.

  37. Can’t they do what we did BITD? The students cleaned the classrooms.

    Did you actually mop the floors and stuff? We sure didn’t. We straightened up our desks and split.

  38. Yeah, I never cleaned a classroom as a kid, either in the US or Germany.

  39. What I don’t get about places like Oklahoma is that when they slash taxes to the point where they have to decimate education, it makes it HARDER to attract the kinds of companies and talent that could actually propel the state forwards. Then the residents all sit around and grouse about elites destroying their economies.

  40. When I was a kid, starting in 3rd grade we had afterschool duty cleaning classrooms. Each week a couple of kids had the responsibility of sweeping, mopping, emptying trash cans, clapping the erasers, and cleaning the blackboards. Starting at, IIRC, 6th grade, each class also sent a couple kids down to K-2 classes to clean their rooms for them.

    Duty rotated through the classes, so I think we only had cleaning duty for about 3 weeks a year when we were young, with that jumping to about 6 weeks when we had to clean the K-2 classes.

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