Did the McCain Dissenting Vote Save the GOP?

While his no vote on the senate healthcare bill ruined the Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it may have saved their chances of maintaining congressional majorities in the mid-term elections.

Obamacare protesters in 2009. (Source: townhall.com)
Obamacare protesters in 2009. (Source: townhall.com)

In a highly dramatized moment, on July 28, 2017, John McCain gave a deliberate thumbs down and ended the nearly eight year quest for Congressional Republicans to repeal Obamacare. It was a wincing blow to the GOP who has made Obamacare one of their rallying cries for the better part of a decade. On that note, it is also worth noting that McCain was not alone, with Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska expectedly voting against the bill.

In my opinion, this was a good move for the American healthcare system. The so-called “skinny” repeal bill would have still left sixteen million less people with insurance in ten years. The Obamacare debates and town halls which took place throughout 2009 were some of the most divisive moments in recent American history. Turnout at these events was unbelievable for a largely uninvolved public.

These events led to a “shellacking” in the 2010 midterm elections as then-President Obama described it. A common joke among liberals is the protester holding a sign stating, “Keep Government out of my Medicare”. To be honest it still makes me laugh a bit, but I feel it serves as a sign of the broader misunderstanding of the American healthcare system.

This broad misunderstanding of healthcare creates and inherent resistance to change. It is scary, the possibility that you may need to change doctors, or will somehow receive less adequate care. In an already extraordinarily polarized moment, had one of the GOP healthcare bills passed, they could have been in for a shellacking come 2018. With his thumbs down John McCain may have saved the GOP hold on congress in 2018.

My Epiphany: The Science-Narrative Link

AH HAJust today, I think I heard the words that I’ve been waiting to hear my entire life. “The Science-Narrative Link”. Finally, I have a name for the thing that speaks to me so profoundly that I get SUPER excited by the idea of starting a blog of all things, for no apparently worthwhile reason. No audience. No marketing plan. No foreseeable path to revenue, let alone profit. Plus, “blog”, yuck. As much as I have come to respect the medium, the people of it, and the work that they do, I cannot seem to shake the mental image of a wannabe hack updating all 12 of their followers on which flavors of froyo their cat likes best. But yet, I love the idea. I know why I love it, but I didn’t have a name for why I love it. Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved explaining things to people. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. Until now, it’s probably why I’ve never been particularly good at anything. The second that I feel I understand enough about a topic to blow the mind of an uninitiated, I’m bored. I’m not a lover OR a fighter, despite the rumors of great prowess in both. I’m not a doer or a teacher, again against ample evidence to the contrary. I do fancy myself a bit of a story teller, but compared to Stephen King or even Stephen Hawking I leave a great deal to be desired when it comes to create a story. I love to tell stories. I know I truly love to tell stories because I most of the time I think that we all do. Every so often I return to the surface for a brief lungful of reality, and in that moment, I realize that this must not be so. There must be those who prefer to listen than to speak; though wherever they live, it must not have an exit off of I-95. There must be those who prefer to hear a good story than to tell one. Public speaking is among the greatest fears of all, or so they say. There are both introverts and extroverts, and everything in-between. Some people may not like to tell stories just because they don’t. Maybe those people prefer crocheting or sky-diving, who knows?  But it only for the briefest of moments that I can imagine the people exist, for the joy that I feel when I tell a story surely can have no boundaries. I am an explainer, for whatever that’s worth. 

I have so many things I want to tell people about that I can hardly slow down enough to make the list. Bitcoin and how it could take us forward to the past. Psychedelics – why Trix aren’t just for kids. Hunting – why killing an 800lbs forest horse that has swords on its head with a bow and arrow is far more humane than ordering a 4 pack of chicken nuggets at Wendy’s (dammit now I’m hungry), and Factory Farming – why vegans might actually have a point, if being a vegan was actually at all possible. Medical Marijuana and why my mom works for Lucifer. That one time that a girl OD’d on heroin and almost died in my arms, so of course I hid the dope after I called 911, then a week later after I helped her check into rehab I thought to myself, “It sure would be a shame to let all this perfectly good heroin go to waste…”. Why I want to be all tribal and either love or hate Trump, but there’s actually a lot going on there. The REAL riddle of the Sphinx – who the three guys that you probably haven’t heard of are that can explain that there is good evidence to support the Sphinx being there BEFORE Egypt. Milo Yiannopolis seems like a cool dude, and Jason should like him. Transgender Pronouns and Marxism – if you haven’t heard Jordan Peterson talk, stop whatever you’re doing and go to YouTube right now; I’ll wait. Now that you’re back, what commie-wannabes forget, is that they don’t know how Dunbar’s number works. House of Cards is so gooood! Our school system should not be underfunded, it’s fucked from the top and the bottom; typically I pay a lot extra for that. While we’re at it, learning how to fight should be part of PE, leaving children to their own devices defending themselves is like teaching abstinence only sex ed. Game of Thrones is back soon! Football! Chael Sonnen is the greatest thing that has ever thinged in the history of ever, and I can prove it in 12 easy steps. “What’s wrong with being a skeptic in 2017?” – The problem of the uninformed skeptic who doesn’t actually know how to do research. How podcasts and audio books are changing my life and I’m probably not even doing it right. The problem with the left vs the right – there are like a million other fucking directions. Stuff that I even more blatantly stole from other people who probably properly credited it to the person who borrowed its boss or professor, but make me sound super smart. Why the Bible was right all along and atheists needs to get over it.

This is what gets me excited. This is what gets me up in the morning, even though my job is allegedly to sell life insurance to poor people in New Jersey. This is what got me up in the morning when I spent hours explaining cosmology to teenagers instead of properly managing a Karate Atlanta location. This is what got me up in the afternoon when I was smoking my way through Florida State University. GO NOLES!!! And now I know what it is, or I’ve finally learned what it’s called. A seemingly innocuous throw in, on a different topic by Hunter Maats on the Joe Rogan Experience (sweet leg kicks!!). In the era of super-job-specialization, there is a gap between the researchers of the world, and everyone else. Be honest with yourself. No one reads science. No one. Not even the people who write science. They’re the only ones who could even read whatever insane language it is that they’re using anyway. Trust me, I’ve tried. Plus, people who are writing good science are far too busy to read anything anyone else has to say on any other topics. That’s what makes them good. And if any of us bothered reading up on any of the sides of arguments that we aren’t on, Twitter would barely even be a thing.

This explains WHY we’ve gotten so off course that we can’t even understand each other as human beings in 2017. We’ve lost the voice of our story-tellers, at least the good ones, at least in this county. Have you stopped to wonder why a fat black Carl Sagan knock-off is so popular? Why John Stewart turned 22 min, 4 nights a week on Comedy Central in a phenomenon? Why comedians in 2017 don’t jokes, they do bits on political and social commentary? Because we are desperate to have voices that can make the world make sense with a story. J.K. Rowling is now the richest person in England and her story wasn’t even original. It wasn’t even new! It was the story of Horus. The story Joseph Campbell will tell you is really the story of all heroes. The story of Jesus. The Story of Anakin Skywalker. She didn’t make that story up, because no one made that story up. That story is real. The archetypal story of the good and the evil inside of us all is as old as humanity. But no one reads Carl Jung. No one actually reads Schrodinger. Hell, I’ve listened to two people who wouldn’t know Corinthians I from their ass-hole, argue about Christianity for HOURS. But, who could ever forget Harry and Ron and Hermione?

If I tell you that X part of black culture actually shows derivative signs of Y part of Western English culture, and that you probably haven’t thought about the implications of cross-cultural impact, I can start to hear you snore. BUT, if I tell you a story about how Donald Trump is Muhammad for both White AND Black red-necks, now we might have something going here. The “myths” of mythology, the stories of the Old Testament that don’t make any sense, the Book of the 5 Rings, these are not made up stories. They are not bullshit. They are how the great story tellers of the past explained the greater truths of their time to the people who were busy doing other shit. Characters make stories. These stories don’t make sense to us, because we are sorely lacking for great story tellers to explain the world to us.

This is my quest. This is what I am here to do, and hopefully to inspire others to do as well. Not to write the stories that I see as correct, but to learn the truth of the stories that have always been. To learn the truth of the world around us and relay it back you as a story. Something we can all understand and take with us. That way maybe, just maybe, we can all know a little bit more about why others may disagree with is. Maybe we can have a little bit more perspective. One can only truly disagree with someone else if they understand the other’s position. Without understanding, one can only be an asshole.

I’ll close by telling you a story that you probably don’t know that you already know. It’s the story of your inner-child diving down in the deepest darkest depths of your inner-being, searching for answers. Searching for the truth of who he is, who you are, through the strangest of experiences. Some people need no help to have crazy experiences. Some seek them through meditation or drug use. There are a thousand different ways, but take solace in this. No matter where you, or your inner-child, are on this road to enlightenment, you already know the whole story. You’ve already been told how it goes. If you want a refresher, our wonderful world of technology will be happy to oblige. All you have to do is google your inner-child. His name is Pinocchio.

The Right Man For The Job

He begins with a bit of subtle humor, “It’s good to be back with you. Apparently I was a little missed.” A slight grin on his face as he chuckles and reviews the notes neatly assembled on his podium. The President recently fired the giant who was in charge of the investigation against his campaign and his latest scrawlings on the internet take us back to a time when uncertainty over the future of the office was at it’s peak. When guests in the oval office were subject to being put on the record. Not of the public record, but one inevitably of evidentiary purpose.

It’s his first day back on the job. There are already talks of permanent replacement candidates for the position. Will they replace him? In this inexperienced administration is it not fitting that the right man for the job is the butt of the most widely covered segments on SNL? Will they make the Governor’s daughter permanent or are they going to go to the administration’s favorite news channel archives to find a suitable replacement? Hopefully the other candidates wont bring up the Fuhrer in the job interview.

He’s going to start by introducing the General who will discuss the boss man’s upcoming trip with an ostensibly religious pretext. The goal of fixing centuries of damaged relations with a trip to three countries is almost laughable, so the expectations need to be downplayed. At lease the General will serve as a significant reprieve for today since his comments will fill half of the allotted time.

On to more serious matters… Wheres the beef? China. The good news of the day is that these American cows will finally be allowed to reach their final destination on Chinese soil. Thank you, Mr. Kissinger. Let’s not forget to mention enhancements to the war on drugs and healthcare. Just the war on drugs, there is no war on healthcare, is there? That will get everyone’s mind focused on the important topics. A few more updates and it’s on to the daily interrogation. As he clears his voice based on his posture you can tell he notices some moisture accruing around his shirt collar, but anyone would feel the same under these lights. At least they make for good TV  

After the first question, he sets the stage, “I assume you’re referring to the tweet.” Dammit, the first question! All of the preparation and updates and this is where their attention is? Those poor cows are never going to get to China with an attitude like that.  Now, it’s time to come up with an authoritative and clear answer to the question. After all, this is obviously an important topic to rise to the top. “The President has nothing further to add on that.” A well crafted answer which would make the strongest litigator red in the cheeks.

“As I mentioned, the President has nothing further to add on that. As I’ve said for the third time, there is nothing further to add on that.” Nothing but the approved line. Don’t give them an inch or they’ll crucify you. “I’m moving on.” That will show them.

Next up he’s served a question on internet publishing and cold war adversaries. Not quite the change of pace he was hoping for, but afterall, he’s the right man for the job. Stick to the script, these wonks will retreat soon enough. Maintain eye contact; don’t give them anything.

They move along quickly with the third degree and the most feared matter, the giant whose term was recently adjourned, seems to be adorning the line of questioning like the bread in a club sandwich. Then they sneak it in like a pickle; a question on whether or not this regular lambasting will continue. Finally he will get his chance to retaliate, to throw it back like a record breaking home run ball. “And I think that’s where there’s a lot of dismay, and I don’t think it’s something that just alone the President feels.” Don’t smile, that’ll show them.

Most would think that a title like the right man for the job would be bestowed on the most talented, qualified, and experienced candidate. Maybe for your job, but not this one. For this job there is no qualifications list. This job requires the patience of an angel and the backbone of a mollusk. The strange mixing of characteristics which make for such gripping cable news footage and entertaining parody on the regular. The questioning continues at a feverish pace, each either seeming to build like a combination on the last or to spin you around like a roundhouse you don’t see coming. The final blow is dealt swiftly, “You don’t have the full picture when you stand at that podium?” 

White House Podium

So… It’s Treason, Then

This is our current White House strategy for dealing with the news coverage surrounding their corruption. Flood the media with so much information and misinformation that no one without mystical abilities can discern the difference or put together a coherent story worthy of discerning to begin with. But it only takes one poof ball.

The 3 Stooges Effect - The Simpsons

First some background information:

Treason is defined in United States Constitution Article III section 3 as the following:

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying way against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act or on confession in open court.”

It is in fact the only crime defined in our founding document so, you know, kind of a big deal. It’s also one of a handful of federal crimes that carry the death penalty.

The 5th amendment to our constitution states:

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

The underlined part is what is probably the most well-known and actually the most relevant to the topic. It was later defined in case law to pertain only to answering specific questions.

As of May 22nd, 2017, just four months in to President Trump’s First term, Michael Flynn has incorrectly invoked his constitutional 5th amendment rights and threatens to be that “slight breeze”. In doing so, he has tactfully tried to cast shade over the fact that if he turns over the subpoenaed information, the punishment for non-compliance is less than what the punishment would be for compliance. For not turning over this information he faces a possible lifetime of 1 year federal prison sentences for being held in contempt of the Senate. These can then be pardoned by the president of course but that’s completely useless as the senate can then immediately subpoena again and hold him in contempt before he even gets out. So, what could be worse than spending the rest of your life rotting away in a federal jail cell? Letting a special prosecutor shorten your stay with a conviction. General Michael Flynn has graciously allowed his life to be extended by accepting his conviction in the court of public opinion rather than face questioning and possible prosecution by Robert Mueller.

This isn’t even the first time he’s threatened to be a slight breeze. In the waning days of March, Flynn was rejected by the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating the Trump campaigns involvement with Russian officials for the immunity he sought in exchange for his testimony in their probe. This came less than a year after General Flynn found himself stumping for then candidate Trump on “Meet the Press” and said “When you are given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime,”. SHAME! But, what if he asks again? Now that it’s turned into a criminal investigation, things change a bit. In a criminal investigation immunity becomes a bigger carrot for both sides. Without immunity General Flynn’s future is, at best, three hots and a cot until natural causes releases him from the burden of counting himself amongst the ranks of the living. On the other hand, who is he offering to take his place? It could be no one. A rouse to guarantee his freedom. But pay attention if Immunity is brought up again because in criminal cases immunity is commonly extended, IF the person you are offering as a sacrifice in your stead is much higher up on the ladder than you. There are very few people who would be higher than a 3 Star Lieutenant General and National Security Advisor and all of them are poof balls trying to push through the inner circle of President Trump.

Of course, this final remaining plea could all be for naught if the investigation gathers so much steam that General Flynn’s testimony is no longer a “slight breeze” and becomes just another piece of candy on the conveyor belt in that episode of “I Love Lucy”. As Senator John McCain said, “Every time we turn around, another shoe drops from this centipede.”

All we’re left with at this point (about 12% into President Trump’s first term) is speculation on what spectacles may await in the weeks and months to come but comfortingly the potential list of valid hypotheses we can conjure is continuously shrinking. Some of them include “How long can Flynn hide in a penitentiary avoiding his inevitable fate” ” Who would cocoon themselves in a blanket of traitorous, backstabbing, craven, yes-men because they lack the backbone needed to fill those positions with competent advisors and not people who are only there to indulge your dementia riddled, narcissistic, ego?” and slightly further down the line, “how long do we keep calling someone the leader of the free world? the Commander in Chief? Mr. President? when he puts his needs of reaffirmation ahead of the will of the people and pardons a traitor to the people of the country he serves of the crime of treason?”

Happy Millennial Day

Certain phrases and terms tend to make my skin crawl when I see them in a news or blog headline. Where I have seen the term ‘Millennial’ most commonly used is in the context of tapping into a group of young consumers to find the best method extract funds which they seem to have no idea how to spend effectively, or recommendations on how to ‘deal’ with millennials in the workplace. A faceless and seemingly illogical demographic with a potentially large wallet if marketing firms and human resources departments don’t act immediately to shrink it.

At the time I’m writing this, today is April 25, 2017. This date marks one year since Pew published its research indicating that Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation. Roughly a year before this research was published, Millennials overtook Generation-X as the largest generational segment of the U.S. labor market. Although the specifics of these stats can be disputed on the basis of there being no official Census Bureau generational boundaries, there is no disputing this generational change in populations and the labor force, will, or has already occurred.

This trend is genuinely great news if you are a Millennial, but these gains in population distribution have little to no bearing on representation as Millennials are appallingly underrepresented in government. Currently, Millennials are represented by only five of the 435 members of congress whereas Boomers occupy a whopping 270 seats. So, while Millennials are the largest generational segment of the country’s population, it translates into little in terms of material impact.

Source: Associated Press, data compiled by Bloomberg
Source: Associated Press, data compiled by Bloomberg

One way this ‘maturity’ of congress can be explained is the inherent nature of career experience and the incumbent’s inherent advantage. Another more concerning explanation of how we arrived at this predicament is due to a terrible divergence in voter turnout. The Baby Boomer voting-eligible population peaked in size at 72.9 million around 2004 and in that same election year, voter turnout among eligible Baby Boomers was about 72%. By comparison, voter turnout among eligible Millennials peaked in 2008 at an abysmal 50%, and dropped in 2012 to 46%.

While voter turnout has historically always been worse among younger generations, the drop in recent years is particularly concerning as it appears this is a trend which will not be corrected in a linear way. Let us not forget that, issues aside, we just elected the oldest president in history.