Friday, May 25, 2018

BLUNDERBUSS

We have a blunderbuss at the helm. Just look at the clumsy mishandling of the whole North Korea business... We need a sharpshooter in Congress. A person with a rational mind, sound judgment, a focus on specific goals to be achieved and a refusal to be distracted by nonsense. I hope you'll join me in voting for Dr. Hans Keirstead in the current CA 48 primary.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

IMPEACHMENT? NO

Revenge is sweet for a few moments, but it inevitably leaves a bitter aftertaste. I confess that I myself hanker daily for the comeuppance of a "president" I despise. But impeachment talk is bad for Democrats. Not only does it make us look (to Trump supporters, if not to many of our own) as petty and mean-spirited as its intended target, it misdirects our energy at a moment when it needs to be concentrated on persuading voters of all stripes that Democrats can do better for the country.

This is one good reason to support this candidate, Dr. Hans Keirstead, whose knowledge and experience in the matter of public health care is unrivaled. It's my belief that the best issue for Democrats in this election cycle will be the defense of the Affordable Care Act and the promise of its improvement. Republican insistence on it demise is already backfiring on them badly, now that more and more Americans have come to depend on it, and still more to appreciate its value. Not only is the issue a Republican weakness, it is a Democratic strength.

Second to health care, as I see it, is the failure of the single Republican congressional "achievement", under Trump--the tax bill--to produce the promised results. Who among us feels better off today than we were two years ago?

Moreover, we are beginning to see the "president"'s "success" with a significant percentage of voters (nearly 60 percent believe the Mueller probe to be "politically motivated"!) in his vicious counterattack against all those who seek, quite properly, to unmask his corruption and expose the perhaps criminal activity that led to his "election." They must continue with their work.

But let us not be distracted. Our victory will come, not with the collapse of this "president" or his impeachment, but with the election of a Congress that will perform its constitutional duty and act as a much needed check and balance to the current, Trumpian Republican corruption of our political process and our values.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

VOLCANO

Has everyone else noticed that the current eruption of the Kilauea volcano is the perfect metaphor for the disaster that is the Trump presidency? The warning earthquakes, the early opening of small fissures and slow-flowing molten rock, the toxic fumes and belching steam and stink from subterranean faults, the gradually more explosive breaches of the surface and lava flows invading property and homes, the increasingly threatening eruptions, the widening destruction... it all sounds so much like the slow-motion, incremental disaster that is happening in Washington DC as the corrupt and poisonous tentacles of the Trump administration reach out to destroy this once (relatively) placid landscape.

VOTE out the "president"'s Republican enablers this November! Restore reason and sanity to our government! We may not be able to do anything about an active volcano, but we can do something about the man-made catastrophe in our country!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"I HEREBY DEMAND..."

... says Donald J. Trump, demanding an investigation into the investigation of... himself! In a tweet!

American Presidents do not "demand," as did those imperious monarchs we have mostly dispatched into deserved oblivion. Least of all do they demand that our country's--not his--Department of Justice do their bidding, in order to exculpate themselves.

Furthermore, as if "further" were needed, making his foot-stamping "demand" in a little-bird tweet serves only to make him look petty and powerless. No lion. No roar. Just a tweet.

This man is nothing but a petulant little boy who has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. And sadly, a bloody big cookie jar, at that.

He and his criminal family are robbing us blind, and casting blame on everyone but His Pettiness.

We, the people, must exercise our power and VOTE! We must vote out the miscreants who support this aberrant behavior (looking at you, Rohrabacher!) and make room for women and men of intelligence, compassion, and strong moral character to lead our country forward.

Monday, May 21, 2018

PLANNED PARENTHOOD

The latest assault by Trump and his Republican enablers on Planned Parenthood is another shocking reminder--as though we needed one!--that we would benefit from more science in our public policy, and less religion. The evangelical right has been militating for decades to deprive women of the option to even receive basic information about their reproductive rights, let alone the exercise of choice in the matter of abortion. Call it misogynism, if you will, or the persistence of long-discredited patriarchal beliefs, or simple arrogance, their aggressive intrusion into the lives of others is based in and justified by religious beliefs that have great emotional appeal but no scientific justification.

Science, logical thought, reason and compassion tell a different story. They ask, for instance, whence comes the right for one human being--or even a whole bunch of them--to make decisions that affect another human being's body; and indeed their life. Reasonable people support decisions that are made by one who is fully informed of all relevant facts, and not coerced or intimidated. They do not deny anyone the right to reject abortion if their conscience and other circumstances so dictate, nor to speak their minds about the matter in a public forum. But they object to being shouted down or shouldered out of the discussion by those who disrespect considered opinions other than their own, and being forced to surrender to the imposition of restrictions that defy the logic of science and reason.

Let's elect to the US Congress at least one more mind that is practiced in the exercise of scientific logic, one more voice that speaks out for public policy--especially, but not exclusively in policy affecting the health of all Americans--that is supported by reason, sound research, factual data, and informed decision-making rather than by emotion, faith-based religious intolerance, and gut feeling. Haven't we had enough of these already?

Monday, May 14, 2018

PLAYING FAVORITES

(Sometimes we need to talk about other things than Orange County, California).

The news this morning from the Middle East is deeply distressing, with dozens of Palestinians killed by the Israeli military as they attempt to cross the border to protest the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem. This was a purposefully provocative act by the American "president"--I refuse to honor this dishonorable man by juxtaposing his name with the title, and will continue to place the honorific in quotation marks until we have a new one--in a submissive gesture to the bellicose Benjamin Netanyahu. It is an act of undisguised favoritism of Israel over the Palestinians.

I wonder, this morning, what my late father-in-law would have had to say about the current situation. He was a strong supporter of the new state of Israel, when it was born, and throughout the period of its growth as a nation. He was proud when one of his daughters married and settled in a kibbutz, and proud that his grandchildren were sabras, Israel-born. At the same time, he was a great humanitarian, a left-leaning writer with roots in the socialism that was rife in New York in the 1930s. He cared about human rights, and equality, and justice, and toward the end of his life became, uncomfortably, critical of the land whose origins he so passionately supported in his writing. I could be wrong, but I believe that he would be appalled, today, by the actions of both the American and Israeli governments.

America used to be an honest broker. No longer. Our current "president" lacks the understanding of historical knowledge and perspective. A weak man himself behind the bluster, he is easily swayed by men, like Netanyahu, who project the image of strength. He is intemperate, opinionated in his ignorance, and prone to engage in drama rather than wise, thoughtful action. By favoring Israel over the Palestinians and other Arab neighbors, as well as by dangerously shredding the internationally supported nuclear deal with Iran, he is poking a senseless stick into the hornets' nest that is the Middle East. I very much fear this current violence could have far wider consequences. It could very easily lead to war.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

BIG PHARMA

Okay, having made wild campaign promises about bringing down the cost of drugs, our "president" yesterday announced the fulfillment of his commitment: a huge gift to Big Pharma. No word about reviewing the Republican refusal to allow the government to negotiate prices. It's all about more companies making more profits. Stock prices for drug companies soared in response to Tr*mp's "plan."

What I heard, first hand, from Dr. Hans Keirstead's lips was a strong commitment to address the problem of soaring and unconscionable drug prices, and a refusal to accept campaign contributions from corporate interests. It's absurd that the government, the biggest purchaser of drugs through Medicare and Medicaid, should be prevented from negotiating prices.

So long as our health care system--including the supply of medications--is dominated by a for-profit system, the American people will be ill-served by it. Money that should be used to provide actual health care is being syphoned off into the pockets of insurance companies, drug companies, and big health care providers. It's truly shameful that we are the only affluent nation in the world--and the wealthiest, at that!--which fails to provide adequate access to health care for its citizens.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

TAX ME. PLEASE.

How's this for a radical idea? I want to pay more taxes. I especially want to pay more taxes if others, wealthier than myself, are required to pay more taxes, too.

I can think of a thousand reasons to want to pay more taxes:

I want to pay more taxes if it helps a child get a better education and a better chance at life...

I want to pay more taxes if it helps our country's teachers earn a better living and receive more respect...

I want to pay more taxes if it assures the provision of health care for all Americans, including our children...

I want to pay more taxes if it means that no one in America will go hungry...

I want to pay more taxes if it helps to eliminate crippling disease among my fellow beings in all parts of the world...

I want to pay more taxes if it saves a human life...

I want to pay more taxes if it helps to save our planet from the pollution that we humans cause...

I want to pay more taxes if it helps a working mother keep her job, with the assurance that her kids are taken care of..

I want to pay more taxes if it the street leading to my house gets repaved, if bridges are made safe, if the country's electrical grid and other power sources are safe-guarded...

I can think of a thousand other reasons to want to pay more taxes. I want to pay my fair share. I want others, wealthier than myself, to pay their fair share, too.

What I don't want to pay more taxes for--any taxes at all, in fact--is the purchase and maintenance of new and improved bombers, and fighter jets, and submarines, and those weapons of mass destruction we deem so offensive in the hands of others, but indispensable in our own.

Call me a bleeding heart liberal, if you will. I plead guilty. I'm proud of it. LOCK ME UP!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

TOXICITY

It is now clear to all that America is subject to the whims of an ignorant man whose toxicity recognizes no boundaries. He contaminates everyone and everything he touches.

That supposedly responsible Republicans have allowed, and continue to allow this one man to wreak such destruction is a scandal that announces a severe, perhaps mortal blow to America as moral force in the world and a beacon of democracy.

It is imperative that here in Orange County we do our part to reduce the enabling and malevolent power of Republicanism in Washington by ousting our current incumbent and electing a Democrat into office. His time is up, as is that of his unscrupulous party.

I continue to support Dr. Hans Keirstead as our most electable Democratic candidate, and the one who will be in the best position to represent our district once elected to the US Congress.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

THOSE NOT LIKE US

When I attended the Meet & Greet session with Dr. Hans Keirstead--was it only a week ago? It seems much longer!--I asked about him how he planned to attract the votes of the people who are "not like us." With "us" I was intending to refer, not unkindly, to those of us gathered in the room. I included--and include--myself.

We are the fortunate ones. We are relatively affluent. Some of us are well off. We live in Southern California, where the sun shines most of the time, and by the Pacific Ocean, which keeps things relatively cool. We have beautiful homes, like the one we were gathered in that evening. We are well-educated: most of us have college degrees and many of us advanced degrees. We are in good health, and can afford the insurance to cover the health care costs that keep us that way. What hunger we have experienced in our lives is most likely self-imposed, to lose the excess weight we gain with our good food and drink!

I repeat, I include myself. I am among the fortunate. But I am very much concerned about those who do not share the good fortune I enjoy. Many of them were persuaded to vote for a man who has proved even worse than we expected, even more dangerous to our country and the world. Many of those potential voters, feeling their disempowerment, did not bother to vote at all.

We Democrats need not only their votes, we need to convince them that the Democratic Party will represent their interests more fully than the Republicans have done. We need to be sure of that ourselves, to commit to a path of recovery for those who have suffered increasing losses, both culturally and economically, in the years in which Republicans have held the power in Congress. We need not only to commit to that path, but to make our commitment very clear and very public, and have the integrity to honor it in action.

Especially in an area like our own congressional district, where the electorate is heavily Republican, a Democratic victory will require support from every single Democratic voter--especially those who may have despaired of voting in the past--AND a good number of disenchanted Republicans.

To succeed in this, we must learn to speak clearly to others than our fortunate selves. Which is why I asked my question at that Meet & Greet. I'm not entirely convinced that my question was heard for what it intended; nor entirely convinced that it was answered. I'm asking Dr. Hans to speak loud and clearly in answer to this concern.


Monday, May 7, 2018

THE TRUTH

It's my understanding that early voting ballots go out by mail this week. We have not yet received ours, but perhaps others have? Please let me know...

It's also my understanding that the majority of votes are actually cast early and by mail, so this week and the following are a critical period for Dr. Hans and other Democrats. My wish is for every single Democratic voter in California's 48th District to cast a vote. Can we all help to make that happen? We can all nudge our friends to nudge their friends, to nudge their friends... and so, like those fleas you may (or may not!) have heard of, ad infinitum.

My own vote is cast in favor of what is sorely lacking in our country today: the truth, as established by demonstrable fact. Empiricism. Reason. And for government based on that old Enlightenment principle. I believe that my candidate of choice, Dr. Hans Keirstead, is the one who best embodies it.

I realize that this is not fashionable today. Our current "president"--I still refuse to call him by name and associate that name with the distinguished title--operates on gut instinct and appeal to the basest of emotions: fear and anger. He despises the truth. Despises science. Despises fact-based information. The result is chaos.

Here's my belief: reason will eventually win out over chaos. Chaos eventually destroys itself. Reason leads to progress, to the betterment of the human species, to the protection of the planet.

I invite you to join me in my personal campaign to restore reason and return to a respect for the truth. Vote early. Vote often. Vote for science. Facts. The truth.

(And while you're at it, just for fun, check out esteemed Augustus de Morgan, author of that poem about fleas. What a life! He was not only a fine proponent of "rigorous logic", but also a fellow Brit! AND, like Dr. Hans and yours truly, a Cantabrigian!)

Saturday, May 5, 2018

THE TOP-TWO DILEMMA

It's a dilemma.

This blog declares its allegiance openly. Based on everything I know and believe--and I don't know everything--Dr. Hans Keirstead is the best Democratic candidate for our 48th District. I have read a good deal of for-and-against material online, and he is my choice because he is well-qualified, well-informed, and embraces positions that I share on every important issue. Importantly, based on years of work in the national health and scientific community, he would also have a ready-made platform in Washington from which to base a strong congressional representation for our district. In earlier posts, I have detailed other strengths that lead me to believe he would make an excellent Congressman.

However, that said... it's still a dilemma. I acknowledge that the paramount need is to replace the current incumbent with a Democrat. I recognize that the "top-two" election process under which we operate (a dreadful, short-sighted mistake on the part of voters, in my opinion) leaves open the horrifying possibility of a choice between two Republican candidates in November.

I would want to avoid that situation at any cost---even the sacrifice of my own convictions.

Everyone properly insists on the right to vote for the candidate of their choice. I want that, too. But I will say this: I would be willing to switch allegiance--albeit reluctantly!--if anyone could persuade me that Dr. Keirstead's leading opponent has a stronger chance to dominate in the primaries and will be more electable in the November run-off. I don't see that yet. But I would hope that his opponent's supporters would make the same commitment.

Democratic success must be our prime consideration. Regardless of loyalties, of personal likes and dislikes, individual convictions and factual disputes, we need unity to succeed in what is remains a formidable blue challenge in our red territory. I'd welcome thoughtful and informed argument on either side. Any insights, please? From either side? From the candidates themselves? Any actual, reliable data?

Time is fearfully short...


Friday, May 4, 2018

TO MY REPUBLICAN FRIENDS

Dear Republican Friends,

We need to talk.

I believe you to be reasonable, intelligent, good-hearted people. Otherwise we would not be friends. You would not like me and, I regret to say I probably would not like you. Which is okay; we don't have to like everybody! The people I like are reasonable, intelligent, good-hearted people like yourselves. I know some of you as Republicans; others, I know without knowing you're Republicans; still others I don't know at all, I just know that we could perfectly well be friends.

I want to ask you to consider voting for a Democrat.

I need to ask you to reassess your loyalty to a party that can no longer reasonably claim to represent the "conservative" values you reasonably embrace; to a party that is now dominated by unreason and bad faith.

If we are honest with ourselves, you and I know that the Republican party is headed by a man who utters untruths as readily as he breathes. As a leader, he is erratic, impetuous, headstrong, unreasonable, and lacking in the good heart and the human compassion that you and I value. Far from providing the checks and balances required by the Constitution, your congressional representatives in both the House and Senate support this man mindlessly in his every excess, his shameless self-interest and his endless display of administrative incompetence.

The Republican party has lost its way. "Fiscal conservatism" is no longer anything but a bad joke in the light of their dysfunctional economic policies. On virtually every issue, from health care to the reasonable regulation of weapons of war in the hands of criminals and madmen, from the protection of our increasingly vulnerable environment to the modernization of our infrastructure and the education of our children, Republicans have proved themselves incapable of producing, let alone enacting a coherent policy.

Facts, science and truth itself--those things that you and I value--have been discarded in favor of blind partisanship and ideological purity. Far from "making America great again," this Republican president is well on the way to destroying our image and the trust placed in us by our global friends.

We live in fear of what the next scandal or the next misstep might be. If we are to return to sanity, if we are to restore reason and mutual trust, if we are to honor our national heritage, we can no longer allow ourselves to be dominated by the fanaticism that has overtaken the Republican party.

I ask you to join me in voting for a Democrat, if only to restore the balance in our national discourse. I ask you, in particular, to vote for a man for whom the practice of reason, scientific empiricism, and action based on observable truths has been a way of life, and I believe that to be Dr. Hans Keirstead. Republicans and Democrats alike, we all need a voice of calm sanity to represent us. Republicans and Democrats alike, we need to return to an America respected for sound reason, intelligence, and a good heart.

As I said, we need to talk. I warmly invite response from my Republican friends.

With my sincere good wishes,

Peter