• “Fake News” is now a weapon of the right. So what “fake news” in my mind is actual purposely fake news. It’s not biased journalism. It’s not poor journalism. It’s not even mistaken journalism. It’s the purposeful act of completely fabricating stories by non-journalists in order to generate clicks on Facebook and such while attempting to appear as if it’s from an actual news organization. It’s stories from the “Denver Guardian” or the “Baltimore Gazette” (neither the “Denver Guardian” nor the “Baltimore Gazette” exist, but “news stories” from them spread like wildfire on Facebook).

    But what “fake news” has come to mean is any story you don’t like. The right have been trying to discredit mainstream media for years, and they finally have found traction by declaring everything “fake news”. So for Trump, CNN is now “fake news”. So is the BBC. So will anyone else that prints anything he doesn’t like. Unfair to Trump is anything critical to him. He sent a message by not taking CNN’s questions. Cover me favorably or lose access. It will be interesting to see how the media responds.

  • Trump actually brought a personal cheerleading section to a Presidential press conference. Seriously. There to cheer him and jeer the media. Were they paid? Of course they were (though I guess actually getting paid for work from Trump may be newsworthy in itself!). But he doesn’t have security issues, oh no.
  • Trump likes his props. Look at that big stack of “agreements”. Can we see what is in them? Hahahaha! Of course not! A big stack of folders should be all the evidence you need that this administration is going to be so totally beyond reproach when it comes to “conflict of interest”! Oh, tax returns? Bwhahahaha! I didn’t give those to you when I was a mere candidate, I sure as heck not giving those to you know that I’m freakin’ President! But trust me, it’s all good. I’m giving control of my company to my sons. TOTAL SEPARATION. Everyone knows that the only kid I like is Ivanka. So it’s totally good, what you all call a “problem” is solved! Sure, ethics experts totally disagree, but what do they know? They’re fake news.
  • Not that they think they have to do ANYTHING about “conflict of interest”. During the middle of the conference, Trump’s lawyer took to the podium and she sure spent a whole lot more time explaining why Trump didn’t actually have to do anything (but he is just doing so because that’s how swell of a guy he is). Conflict of interest laws don’t apply…make sure you remember that. Also, getting hotel money from foreign leaders is totally not emoluments y’all. Oh he’s not going to take the money, but be sure to know he could if he wanted to. (There had to be a point to all that. My guess is that it has to do with Trump’s many foreign holdings. Speaking of which, for all the talk of potential conflicts of interest with the Clinton Foundation, the Trump business sure seems to have many actual tangible conflicts of interest.)
  • Donald Trump likes to refer to himself in the third person.
  • Trump says he could totally be both President and continue to run his company and do a good job with both. So I guess he thinks being President is just a part-time job? Or maybe it’s just a part-time job for him, being so super-duper amazing.

 

 

I wrote this blog post a year ago before Christmas. I hope as the holiday season is upon us, along with all the fun and important time with family and friends, we also take the time to think about others with empathy. We all don’t have the same circumstances or advantages or disadvantages or backgrounds or means and that what may be good for you or I may not be good for your fellow men, women, and children. So with Christmas upon us once again, in addition to the normal festivities, I call for us all as best as we can to think beyond just ourselves or even beyond our own family and friends to a wider perspective. We really are ‘stronger together’ and the more we strive to make all lives better, the better off we all will be. I am reposting this blog article as just a reminder that there is more we have in common that not. Merry Christmas everyone!

https://gesvol.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/no-matter-who-you-are/

different

No matter who you are or where you come from, or what you look like or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God….”  President Obama said this during his prime time speech regarding ISIS.  A church I attend semi-regularly goes further, “No matter…no matter what your standing is in the community, or where you live, no matter your age, no matter your gender or race, no matter who you are, where you come from or where you’re going, no matter what you believe or doubt, no matter who you love, God loves you, and you are welcome here.”

With the horrible acts and hateful rhetoric as of late, I think it is time we try to put things back into perspective.  While we have all kinds of different experiences and circumstances, the bottom line is we are all people.  Men, women, and children.  And it’s in all of our best interests to keep in mind that we all play on “team humankind” at the end of the day.

I think sometimes we forget when we throw labels around, like “refugees” or “Muslim” or “gays” or “liberals” or “conservatives” or even sometimes still “blacks” or the “poor”, we are talking about actual people.  Now if we focus on just our differences and decide some groups don’t “belong”, we need to keep some stats in mind.  Religiously, 20% of 6.9 billion people worldwide claim no religion, and of the 80% remaining, about 30% are Christian, 23% are Muslim, 15% are Hindu, with the other 32% or so belonging to all sorts of other religions (ignoring that within “Christian”, “Muslim”, etc. there are all sorts of subgroups).  Race?  Around 25% East Asian, 21% South Asian, 16% “white”, 15% “black”, 8% “Middle Eastern”, 9% Southeast Asian, and 8% Central/South American.  The number of homosexuals, while unknown, likely number in the hundreds of millions worldwide.  The male/female breakdown is close to 50/50.  Over 3 billion people worldwide live on less than $2.50 per day.  At least in this country, 38% self identify as conservative, 34% as moderate, and 24% as liberal.

All of this is to say, no matter how you divvy up a world of 6.9 billion people, if we focus on our differences, and allow our biases, our prejudices, our fears, and our hatred be our guide, we will always be divided and there will be no winners.  We all lose.

However, people have key similarities.  We all smile when we are joyful.  We all enjoy music.  We all have fears.  We all are playful.  We all have the same basic necessities for survival:  food, water, shelter, warmth, security.  We all have the same desire to be treated with dignity and respect.  We all have feelings.  We all have family.  To paraphrase the Dalia Lama, we all just want happiness and on that fundamental level, we are the same.

Christmas is just around the corner and a phrase you will see and hear a lot this time of year is “Peace on Earth and good will toward men.”  As we all continue to deal with issues and policies and all the messiness of the world, I think we would do well to keep this phrase in mind and that on a fundamental level, we are the same, as we consider the words we speak and the actions we suggest and/or take.

The day after election day University of Alabama football head coach said, “To be honest with you, I didn’t even know yesterday was Election Day. It was so important to me that I didn’t even know it was happening, we’re focused on other things here.” But hey, that really shouldn’t come as a surprise. His “problem” is football and we’ve decided that “problem” is worth a LOT of money to work on. Still, it’s hard to believe Nick Saban doesn’t have any concerns or opinions beyond football. Fortunately shortly after the playoff committee announced that Alabama was ranked number one, I scored an exclusive interview with Nick Saban:

Me: Thank you Mr. Saban for taking the time to sit with me to answer a few questions. Congratulations on your team making the playoffs by the way.

Saban: Thank you. I’m so happy for our team and fans.

Me: You don’t look happy.

Saban: I am happy.

Me: Um, are you sure?

Saban: This is my smile.

nick-saban-1

 

 

 

 

Me: ??????

Me: Um……ok. Moving on. So I know you say you don’t pay attention to politics and all, but surely you have some thoughts beyond football. For instance, taxes, what are….

Saban: Taxes? The Crimson Tide Foundation pays my taxes. Everyone should just get a foundation to pay their taxes.

Me: Uh, that’s not how the world work….

Saban: They pay for my house too. Everyone should try it. Then you can just focus on the “process”…Alabama football.

Me: Er….ok. Maybe we should stick to football then. So what are your thoughts on your upcoming opponent Washington?

Saban: What’s a Washington?

Me: Well to start off with it’s a state….

Saban: States???? Oh…those are type of things those know-it-all professors want to fill my players’ heads with rather than football. Look, I don’t have time for geography, we are focused on other things here. Wished those pointy-heads in academics would get that through their thick skulls.

Me: Ok, ok, forget that….it’s a football team, the one you play next. Your thoughts?

Saban: My thoughts? When is the game?

Me: December 31st.

Saban: December 31st??!!! Grrr….for Christ sakes! You people in the media just don’t get it. It’s all about the “process”. One game at a time? Pfft. Probably what they do at Auburn. Or Tennessee….winning those…what did Butch call it….championships of life? Almost makes me laugh. Almost. Then it makes me puke. Here we focus on one second at a time! What can we do to be better football players this very next second??!!!! In fact I already forgot your question, because I’m focused on the next second.

Me: Oh I am SO sorry…uh, are you still smiling?

nick-saban-1

 

 

 

 

Me: Nevermind. Ok, this is going nowhere. You have anything you want to say? Whatever.

Saban: Look, your world confuses me. Elections? Why elephants and donkeys? Will the super moon light the world on fire? When I get a text on my I-Phone 7, did magic trolls make that happen? I don’t know. I’m just a caveman football coach. I don’t have time for figure out such trivial matters. But there is one thing I do know. Pay me no less than $7 million a year and a free house and I’ll win you a shit-ton of National Championships that will make you forget that Bear loser!

Me: Bear Bryant?

Saban: How the hell should I know? I forgot him already.

Me: Alright then. Well, thank you for your time.

Saban: Who are you and what the f&%k are you doing in my office???!!!

Me: Leaving sir!!!!

trump-white-house

You know he will put this up if he can!

In one way, I’m not THAT surprised. I had been following Nate Silver’s 538 website’s poll-based statistical modeling of the election which was giving Trump about a 30 percent chance of winning. And while other sites were saying things closer to what I wanted to hear (the guy a lot of Clinton supporters pointed to was Sam Wang, who declared based on his models in October that if Trump got over 240 electoral votes, he would eat a bug…..not sure if that bug has been eaten yet), Nate’s explanations of his model’s assumptions and considerations (including how Hillary’s electoral college position relative to her popular vote position was relatively weak) made a lot of sense to me.

But still, I can’t say that as I watched the results roll in on Tuesday night that I wasn’t in a state of shock. I had taken some comfort that in the last day or so before the election polling had seem to be swing back to Clinton. Besides, errors work both ways and I kept reading about how early voting and Clinton’s superior “ground game” was going to make a huge difference, so maybe Clinton would actually win much bigger than predicted! After all, a guy like Trump….this reality show celebrity unqualified self-centered boor could never actually get enough votes to win the highest office of the land, right?

Yet here we are. Donald Trump won the election, he will be the next President. How did we get here? First things first. This was a very, very close election. In fact, Hillary won the popular vote. Trump won several states (MI, PA, WI) by razor-thin margins. A very small voting shift back to Hillary would have led to a comfortable Clinton electoral college win. Many, many, many things could lead to a mere 1%-2% shift in results, so it’s likely when one person says it was one thing and another person says it was another thing, quite likely both can be right, at least as contributing factors. And anything that contributed at all could be combined with other factors to get to 1% to 2%. Plus factors are not necessarily independent of each other.

Still, in an effort to make sense of it all, I’m going to blog some thoughts….even if it is a bit scrambled, maybe incoherent, and may have jack squat to do with anything. After all, Trump won the votes of 60 million people……..the number of reasons behind those votes rationally have to be just about infinite. So who really knows? Still, I’m confused….so as self-therapy I’m going to write:

  • Candidates don’t matter that much – One thing that a lot of us thought was that Trump was such a historically bad candidate, so apparently unqualified, so offensive, that he would lose traditional Republican voters….not so much that they would vote Democrat instead, though that is something that at least used to be possible. But that they would vote third-party or maybe leave the choice blank. But the polling never indicated any sort of collapse of support, at least never for any length of time. But Trump will end up with just about the same number of votes as Mitt Romney received. In hindsight, I’m not sure that most votes aren’t just set in stone, and we all are now part of team D or team R and most will just support the team. Therefore the baselines for major party candidates may be pretty set and differences in voting may only be at the margins now.
  • Tolerance for ‘isms’ (racism, sexism,heterosexism, etc.) –  These factors had to at least be discounted by Trump voters. Though I have a steady job and am doing well, so maybe it’s easy for me to say that these should be pretty darn big considerations. Perhaps for those who aren’t in a good situation, and feel that the powers that be aren’t doing enough for them, maybe it’s easier to discount the negatives if you think somebody will come in and blow it all up to help you…at some point you just start looking out for number one and are less concerned about the plight of others.Of course, just because Romney and Trump both are going to have about 60 million votes doesn’t mean it’s the same 60 million. Trump had to lose SOME votes for these reasons, and perhaps just made those numbers back up with those who have more racist, sexist, etc. tendencies. Anecdotally, I can say that I did run across a Facebook conversation in which at least two people posted that they didn’t think a woman should be “commander-in-chief” period. As it turns out those two people were women. Attitudes like this really do still exist, and it’s not just men.But Trump didn’t pick up any EXTRA votes. It’s Hillary that’s going to have 6 million or so less votes than Obama, and that’s why the margins are closer. (11/20 edit- They are still counting votes and Hillary is now within 2.5 million votes of Obama. Her popular vote lead is over 1.5 million votes. It’s not difficult to imagine that she may be within 2.0 million votes of Obama before all is said and done. And her popular vote win could well be over +1.5%. Not that any of this matters, but since I mentioned Hillary was going to be 6 million short of Obama, I thought I should make this correction.)
  • Rural versus Urban Divide – Republicans have been winning rural areas for quite some time. But in previous elections, there were some sections were Democrats could pull wins in some rural counties, namely in the Midwest. Obama won Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. But even in 2012, the advantage in these states began to slip. And now in 2016, they pretty much all flipped to Trump. These are all states Clinton lost and it’s because she literally won only the big cities in these states. Whether this is a systematic shift…these are just GOP voting areas now, or whether this is just unique to Trump, that he appealed to the “white working class” voter with his generic anti-trade ‘I’ll bring the jobs back’ rhetoric which at least meant that he paid attention to them (Clinton didn’t even set foot in Wisconsin and only reached Michigan at the last moments) remains to be seen. But it appears there really were voters who voted Obama who voted Trump this time.
  • Voters Vote On Gut Feel – It’s not like voters study for the test. Who has time for that? So there’s probably not a lot of research done. I think nowadays too, we are much more into identity politics. It makes it easier if we just know what side we are on. Then we can just go vote for our side. Plus to the extent we do go for research, we do so based on the same identity politics that feeds into preconceived narratives. Going to Drudge Report, Breitbart, and Fox News is going to give you a much different look at the race than going to Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and MSNBC. It probably really impacts your view of how big of a deal Clinton’s e-mails and Clinton Foundation were versus Trump’s University, Foundation, sexual misconduct, lack of payment of workers, etc. and even if you were aware at all of some of these things. We aren’t all operating on the same information, and that information is incomplete.
  • Elections Are Simply Exercises In Marketing – Clinton had many wonderful position papers on her website, very detailed plans regarding what she would try to get accomplished as President. But that doesn’t win elections. I think Trump almost has no talent. But there is one thing he does about as well as anyone, market the brand “Trump”. Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams had been arguing all year that Trump was the more persuasive candidate. While he may well have been more lucky than good in his prediction that Trump would win (after all, he predicted a “landslide”, losing the popular vote can hardly be called a landslide win), he probably had a good point that simple superior messaging can hide flaws and make facts matter a whole lot less. Conning people is not admirable, but it is a skill. Clinton could raise the heck out of some money, but if you can’t translate that money into messaging, it doesn’t matter.
  • Other stuff – James Comey raising that they found more e-mails except they didn’t and it was never a new issue anyway but it was reported like it was. The many free hours of coverage that Trump generated meant Trump didn’t have to worry that much about fundraising. That our system is conditioned to make elections close (all incentives, whether it’s media coverage or political advisors all push for close elections). The electoral college allows the possibility to win the popular vote and still lose the election. Minorities may not have shown up quite in the numbers as they had in the past couple of Presidential elections. Hillary didn’t quite win the percentage of minority votes that Obama did. On and on and on…….
  • Black Swan? – I was reminded by a Facebook post (simply put by posting a picture of a black swan) of one more theory. Black Swan events are an idea developed by Nassim Taleb to describe surprise major events that seems rational in hindsight (and what is everything written above if not a rationalization) but never prospectively. Now I think the Trump win was somewhat predictable by the time November rolled around. But I don’t think anyone was calling this two years ago, or really even when Trump first announced his candidacy. (People would do will to REMEMBER this next time they hope a “weak” candidate wins the nomination for the opposition party! You NEVER know! The country is much better served by having STRONG choices from all sides!) – 11/20

Or maybe it’s none of these things. Regardless, what will Trump’s Presidency look like. If you are like me and think Trump is a con man, there’s already evidence pointing in that direction. For all of his anti-establishment rhetoric, the people he is bringing onto his team is in fact the establishment. Also, if you are like me and think Trump was a lot more interest in winning the election than he is in actually running the country, then we need to start thinking about what a Mike Pence presidency might look like as he may be the defacto President (he’s already in charge of the transition team). That would likely mean a very, very sharp turn toward right-wing conservatism.

However I do hope that maybe, just maybe that Trump will actually do a good job. That would be what is best for the country. He keeps surprising me, maybe for once it can be a surprise for the better.

Why Trump Is Terrible

Posted: October 23, 2016 in Current Events, Politics

trump-2

So I started to write this article a long while back, but I realized that there was just SO much out there, so many reasons that I think Trump is…well frankly a terrible person…much less a terrible candidate for President, that I just couldn’t do it all at once. Plus, more and more comes out every day. Even now, there are women coming out who are accusing Trump of sexual assault and misconduct after audio of Trump seemingly bragging about such activities was released.

But even before all that, there are just so many reasons I think Trump is such a poor choice, historically so, that despite my misgivings about Hillary, I feel that she must be our next President. Below is just some of the many reasons (because it’s impossible to compile a fully comprehensive list) why Trump is terrible:

Trump “University”:

Ok, we’re all adults here, right? We all know this wasn’t a real university. Let’s not sugarcoat it, this was a scam pure and simple. Trump gets paid to put his name on it and make a promotional video that lends this stupid thing credibility (because of his supposed success in business). Then comes promises of access to high rollers and “apprenticeship” support. But instead you just get a way overpriced half-assed business 101 seminar. Another thing of note, they expected to receive payment in full before providing services, which is actually not the Trump way (see below).

Trump “Deals”:

When Trump talks about the “Art of the Deal”, he’s really just talking about ways to scam his way into money at the expense of others. One of his favorite techniques is to agree to pay an amount for a job and then not pay it after the job is done (usually with some excuse that the job was sub-par or otherwise not performed properly). He has the money to take it to court for a prolonged case, and he’s betting that whomever he is scamming doesn’t. Then he can settle it for pennies on the dollar and thus save. He would consider his actions smart and savvy. A lot of the rest of us would consider it sleazy. Other times, he just doesn’t bother to pay up at all.

  • Trump and his organization has been involved in over 3,500 lawsuits involving non-payment. And these are just disputes among the 1%. This deals with waiters and dishwashers and plumbers and painters…..the working class.
  • Remember those kids that performed at his rally and went viral, the USA Freedom Kids? Trump is accused of stiffing them too.
  • He is not paying his campaign staff. Some are no doubt just being very generous with their time. But certainly some expected to be paid. (At this point, here’s a “pro-tip”, if you are going to work with Trump, and I wouldn’t, get your agreements in writing! Better yet, get paid in advance.)

Trump “Real Estate”:

Trump represents himself as a very successful real estate mogul. But what Trump has done most successfully, especially in more recent years, is simply license his name to other real estate projects that he otherwise has nothing to do with. Investors then unwittingly go in, thinking if the real estate deal has the backing of successful real estate mogul Donald Trump, it must be a smart investment. They only discover later, usually after the project has gone belly up, that Donald Trump actually hadn’t invested a dime. Of course, you could say there’s a sucker born every second. But you see how one may be fooled, when the brochures literally say Trump is the developer even though he’s not.

Trump Lies:

Trump lies. Not in a politician spin that has a some truth but is misleading kind of way. Just outright lies, without a shred of truth.

Trump Either Doesn’t Understand Nuance Or Doesn’t Care/Communication Matters:

  • Trump just says directly that Obama and Hillary are the “founders of ISIS”. Not that certain policies may have enhanced ISIS’s ability or that they haven’t done enough to eliminate the threat. No, they founded ISIS. Even when one of his sympathizers tries to give him a chance to clarify, he doesn’t.
  • Trump was lamenting that if Hillary gets elected, she would appoint Supreme Court justices with liberal leanings and there would be nothing anyone could do about it.  Then he says “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know.” What the hell is THAT supposed to mean? Well, a lot of people inferred that he meant that somebody might just take her out….permanently. Now I want to think the best of people, even slime balls like Trump. So I want to believe that’s not what he really meant. But let me say that a huge part of being President is being able to effectively communicate. That usually requires speaking in clear complete sentences, instead of the sentence segment fragment mumbo jumbo Trump seems to prefers. Otherwise you leave to everyone else to make inferences to try to figure out what you are trying to say. Words matter. It’s part of the job. If you can’t effectively communicate, you can’t effectively be President.
  • As if to make sure everyone knows that those what was mentioned above was no accident, Trump suggested that the Secret Service should disarm and see what happens to Hillary Clinton. Seriously.
  • Trump’s latest theme is that the election is rigged. You know, the one that hasn’t even happened yet. Now this is obviously not a ‘get out the vote’ strategy (why vote in an election if it’s rigged?). He has already decided he’s going to lose, so this is so he can say he didn’t lose, the election was stolen (you know, the one that hasn’t even happened yet). His brand is largely built on the idea that he is a winner…one that never loses. The thing is though one of the cool things about our democracy and why it works is we do our battles at the ballot box instead of with guns. The key to that is losers accept that the results are legitimate. Going around claiming that the election results are illegitimate (you know, the results from the election that hasn’t even happened yet) undermines that. Now certainly if there was evidence (which would be hard to have right now, you know, because the election hasn’t even happened yet) that something is amiss, he could and should bring that to light. Trump losing (and so far, he’s just losing in the polls, since the election hasn’t even happened yet) is not evidence of election fraud (shocking I know, but Hillary might, just might, legitimately get more votes than Trump).

Trump Foundation:

That’s enough. Full disclosure, I thought Trump was a terrible person WAY before he ever announced his Presidential run, I haven’t newly arrived at this conclusion. When suggested that he could win the nomination, I even laughed. That’s how ridiculous I found the notion of Trump being considered for President. The lesson here I guess is to never just assume that 150 million potential voters are necessarily all on the same page as you are. So right now polling seems to indicate that things are looking good for Hillary. But until the votes are in, nothing is set in stone. Finally, after decades of campaigning (it’s only been a couple of years…really?), it’s just about time to vote.

Don't look at me that way. I'm with you. Sort of.

Don’t look at me that way. I’m with you. Sort of.

I am one who will be voting for Hillary, but without a lot of enthusiasm. Now I am not sure how much I am being affected by years and years of media attacks, some of which certainly is ridiculous (Benghazi comes to mind). I’m also not sure how much I’m impacted as a male by subconscious bias against women in positions of power. I actually think that plays a role. All that said, even trying to adjust for those factors, I do think some of my discomfort is justified. The things that bother me include:

  • The Clintons have taken advantage of their political clout to enrich themselves. For those of us that think there’s too much money in politics, the Clintons are not people who shy away from that money. Bill takes the millions from a for-profit university. Hillary takes the millions in speaking fees from Wall Street, corporations, and other lobby organizations. They don’t really go out of their way to make sure that the operations (in both actuality and appearance) of their Clinton Foundation (which I do believe the preponderance of the evidence shows by and large does good charitable work) are totally separated from their government work. For those of us that think money buys undue influence regardless of whether there’s any specific quid pro quo, Hillary doesn’t seem like she really can credibly be the champion of changing that.
  • The e-mail thing. The reporting on this is frankly confusing, probably because of being in the middle of a Presidential campaign, competing interests either want you to think it’s a big nothing that should go away immediately or the greatest crime ever perpetrated against humanity. But from the things I read, I’m not that concerned over the supposed “classified” e-mails, as my understanding is that the true top-secret e-mails are on its own system. Maybe some minor information from the “classified” system may have leaked into discussions on the “non-classified” side of things. But my guess is that’s probably quite common.

    My concern is that there was ever a private server for work e-mails at all. I’m expected to do all my work communication via my work’s e-mail and it shouldn’t be different for government officials. I think if I set up a private server to handle my work e-mail and my employer found out, they would find that very suspicious. This was then compounded by the decision to also use that same e-mail for private use. Once again, if I choose to use my work e-mail for private matters, it’s with the understanding that my employer still owns those e-mails.

    So once it came time to turn the e-mails over, the Hillary team wanted to just hand over work e-mails. The problem is that they themselves made the determination of which e-mails where work-related and which were private. Personally I think once the decision was made to use the e-mail for both work and private purposes, she should have turned over all the e-mails. At the very least, a third-party should have been brought in to sift through them (what admittedly was probably an almost impossible task given the thousands and thousands of e-mails).

  • I am definitely of the opinion that Hillary is going to be more aggressive with foreign concerns than Obama has been. The people she has brought onto her national security team seems to support the view that it’s likely we will have more military involvement overseas, not less.
  • Issues of trust/spin. The lawyerly spin they often present to the public sometimes reaches the point of absurdity (it depends on the what the definition of “is” is anyone?). A good example was Hillary’s clumsy attempts to try to argue that FBI director James Comey had really confirmed her version of the e-mail issue. I think she was going for a A equals B and B equals C so A must equal C logic. A = What I told the FBI B = Separately, what I told you, the public. C = Comey said A was true. Therefore what I told the public was also true. Of course, this clearly falls apart because one, Comey just said he had no reason to think Hillary was lying, which is a different statement than saying she is telling the truth. And two, it’s quite clear Comey was not supporting Hillary’s version of events, and was making no statement in regards to what she was telling the public. So it just comes off as obvious spin.

    Hillary clearly also doesn’t trust the press, so she is sometimes so reluctant to release information. This is sometimes to her own detriment. The whole pneumonia thing is a good example. Instead of just disclosing she had pneumonia and taking the time off to recover, she instead worried about how that would play given how some of tried to make her health an issue and tried to push through it. Then she was caught collapsing into her car, which provided far more fuel for the health issue than had she just stayed home and rested (and also was evidence that she wasn’t doing her own health any favors). Even when busted, the team tried to first say it was mere overheating (which probably wasn’t exactly untrue, just not the root cause) before finally coming clean.

    I don’t think she was wrong in thinking that people would have raised questions had she come out saying she had pneumonia. And she probably really did think she could just stubbornly push through it. But while it sounds corny, I think most often, honesty really is the best policy. Yes, there would have been questions. But rest, recover, and come back strong and the questions will fade because you will prove that you are fine, because you are fine. Instead, those who have a question of trust received more ammunition.

All of that said, she doesn’t have to be the best candidate in the world. She only needs to be a better candidate than Donald Trump. Hillary is the establishment for sure. But she is also smart, capable, and experienced. In short, she is qualified to be President. And if she were able to enact the positions she has taken, for the most part I would say they would represent steps forward for this country. Is she my favorite candidate? No. But is she better than Donald Trump? Yes, and it’s not close in my mind.

As far as Trump and his issues go, that’s a post for another time. But I guess if I were to summarize, I would say Hillary is a bit of a capable but unsavory politician. Trump is an unsavory human being.

By my back of the envelope calculation, every second counts about $38 for Mylan.

By my back of the envelope calculation, every second counts about $38 for Mylan (or about $3.3 million each day).

So here’s the usual market cycle, say for example, the HDTV. You first introduce the product into the market. Usually its price pretty expensively when you first start out. You are not in mass production yet so you are only going to be able to sell so many units, plus you want to recoup the costs of R&D and such. If the product gets a foothold into the market (like clearly the HDTV did), then you will enter a growth stage. As you are able to ramp up production, the cost per unit will start to drop and generally so will prices (as in a healthy market, you will have competitors also trying to sell units…plus you need to make the product more affordable so you can sell more units). The products will become more affordable to the masses. Eventually the market matures and each company will try to figure out how to hang onto share anyway they can, whether it’s pricing or maybe minor feature differentiators or what have you.

But as far as I know, nobody has ever died by not having a HDTV. Which brings me to Mylan and their EpiPen. The price of their product has reportedly increased over 400 percent since 2007. The point of the above is to state my belief that it can’t be because the price of production has gone up. As they have made more and more units, the price per unit should drop, not increase. So if it’s not the cost of production, then why are they selling EpiPens at a price of $250 per unit (though my understanding is you have to buy the $500 twin packs, singles aren’t available anymore) now when they could be sold at $57 per unit in 2007?

The CEO of Mylan responded by criticizing insurers and pharmacists and the health system in general, some of which may be well and proper. But it doesn’t answer the question, why did the price go from $57 to $500? Any answer that doesn’t address the question specifically is just noise. She said if she reduced the list price she couldn’t guarantee that everyone who needs a EpiPen would get one, but didn’t say why that would be (and I don’t think I even accept the premise that everyone who “needs” one is getting one right now).

So about EpiPen and Mylan…….EpiPen is NOT a new product. It was actually invented in the 1970’s by a former NASA engineer with taxpayer funding (the inventor did not get rich….it was made for public use). Mylan didn’t acquire the rights to EpiPen until 2007 (hmm….that’s when the price started going up…I’m sure that’s a complete coincidence!). Given the Mylan didn’t even develop the product, there shouldn’t be any R&D to recover and the manufacturing process should be well refined by now. In other words, I suspect production is cheap. (One more tidbit to Mylan, they moved their corporation to the Netherlands in 2014 to avoid taxes.)

The reason why I think price is up is the same reason that Mylan won’t talk about it. They are charging more because they can. It’s an fairly inelastic demand curve now (what’s the price you put on life saving???? On the other hand, you can’t sell EpiPens to people who don’t need then….dropping prices isn’t going to generate much more demand), though in fairness Mylan did do a lot of marketing initially to raise product awareness that did generate the level of demand you see now (though they have also taken advantage of lobbying and government legislation). And for various reasons, there’s no competition. It’s a monopoly and being a stock company, Mylan is just trying to generate as much profit as they think they can get away with.

Mylan has said they are offering discounts now, but that doesn’t really solve the problem. Not everyone gets the discount and even if they did, insurers are still paying those costs so the consumer ultimately pays one way or the other. Ultimately though, I think there needs to be recognition that there are some areas where the free market works great but some areas where it doesn’t. You need to have competition and consumers need to have choices, including the choice to not participate in the market at all. That’s hard to do when literally lives are on the line.