At Least He Tells the Truth - The Blake Ashby Podcast

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The Tiny Lie at the Start of Medicare for All Conversations

Pretty much every conversation about Medicare for All starts with a tiny fib.  That tiny fib is the name, Medicare for All.  The Medicare for All Act does NOT propose Medicare for all.  What is being proposed by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is actually Medicaid for all.  

Any way you slice it, we have a healthcare proposal that has very little in common with Medicare, but everything in common with Medicaid, and yet its backers call it Medicare for all instead of Medicaid for all.

Why would the Medicare for All crowd purposely mislabel their plan?  Because if Progressive are honest about what they are proposing, it will have even less support.  So instead of being truthful, Progressives chose a misleading name.  They chose to tell a tiny fib.

This is, unfortunately, kind of a recurring theme of the modern progressive movement.  They feel entirely comfortable telling tiny little fibs to get people to support their positions.  To get people to support policies that the progressives feel are good for them.  Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like progressives are willing to lie to me, for my own good.  As if I couldn’t figure out what was good for me if they actually told me the truth.

Your Smart Friends that Believe Voter Fraud Happened

I’ve got some really smart friends that still insist Biden won the election because of voting fraud.  You might have some friends like that, too. 

I know it’s hard not to jump right to outrage, to ask them how someone as smart as they could believe something so untrue.  Fight the temptation.  Instead, engage them on the subject.  Ask them how many votes they believe were cast fraudulently.  Go through the different kinds of voting fraud.  Ask them which kind of fraud happened.  They probably won't have an answer for you, but they will appreciate that you didn't jump right to the name calling.  And who knows, maybe go a step further.  There is a factual truth and an emotional truth to most situations.  For many Trump voters, the emotional truth is that the System ganged up against Trump to ensure he wasn't reelected.  Acknowledge that there is some truth to that, even if there was no actual fraud.  Your friendship will probably be better for it.  Our democracy certainly will be.  

I Pray Every Day

I pray two or three times a day, and if I’m having a great day, even more - I say little prayers of gratitude throughout the day.

Sometimes I think this catches people by surprise.  Most people think of me, I hope, as kind of a hard nosed numbers and rationality guy.  But rationality and prayer aren’t contradictory.  They just cover two different parts of the human experience – the knowable and the unknowable.  For all that we know, for all that we can know, there will always be a part that is unknowable.  We might answer the What, but here on earth we can never truly answer the Why.  Why?  Why are we here?  Why does what we do matter?  We can’t know Why.  We just have to believe.

People ask me how I’m able to do what I do, how I can keep multiple long term projects moving forward.  Prayer is a big part of it.

Defending Bill Barr’s Honor (yes, Bill Barr)

I have to say, I never thought I would be defending the honor of Bill Barr, because I don’t agree with him on a broad range of issues.  But he is one of those people who’s integrity I wouldn’t question – like Josh Bolton, I just couldn’t imagine he would put his principles aside in service of Donald Trump.  Sometimes there is this tendency on the part of people that truly hate Trump to look for the worst possible interpretation of his actions, and the ACTIONS of the people in his administration.  To assume that every person that served in the Trump administration had to be a spineless toadie with no self-respect.  

To be fair, spineless toadies are part of every administration – it’s just part of how politics works.  But Bill Barr isn’t on that list.  He didn’t join the administration because he bought into the mystic of Donald Trump.  He joined the Administration because he has a certain view of the powers of the presidency, and a belief that we have undermined the power of the President...

A Great Month for Democracy

it’s been a great month for democracy.  Not because Joe Biden won, although I am happy about that.  It’s been a great month for democracy because the citizens of the United States of America proved yet again that we recognize, and cherish, this beautiful system of government we have built.  We cherish the right of every American – every American – to participate in the process of choosing our leaders.  

Sometimes its possible to wonder if our democracy has gotten old and tired, or we have gotten tired of doing the things we need to do to maintain it. To wonder if our institutions are failing us, or possibly that we have failed them, if we’ve become complacent about protecting our democracy against dictatorships that want to tear us down.  Sometimes it’s possible to wonder if the modern world is just too overwhelming for something as civil as democracy to survive.  Sometimes it’s just possible to wonder about the future of the United States, and this grand experiment we are part of.

But not this month.  This is one of those months that reaffirms our faith in our Constitution, our system of laws.  That reaffirms our faith in our democracy.  161 million Americans proved yet again just how much they value our rights.  Their rights.  Our institutions, for all of the questions and concerns, made those 161 million votes possible with a smooth, well-run election.  This was one of our most secure elections ever.   And for all of the anger, for all of the intensity, democracy worked yet again.  

We should all feel a little better about our country.  We should all feel a little better about our fellow citizens, even those on the other side, that kept our grand experiment going.  God Bless America.

It’s Hard Being a Moderate in Today’s Political Environment

For somebody who is generally middle of the road and moderate, it’s been really hard to be on social media recently.  

I have friends across the political spectrum.  Intellectually, I understand why some of my friends supported Bernie Sanders, though I don’t agree.  Intellectually, I understand why some of my friends are supporting Trump, though I don’t agree.  But what’s hard is when friends on either side say things that make me think they have put their rationality and skepticism into a box until after the election is over.  

I have smart friends on the left that insist that the protest movement doesn’t dehumanize cops.  And I have smart friends on the right that insist that hydroxychloroquine really works. I’m not even sure what to say anymore.  

How could anyone possibly argue that the protest movement isn’t dehumanizing cops?  ACAB stands for “All Cops are Bastards”. And how could anyone defend hydroxychloroquine as a viable treatment?  It started as a lie, a bald faced lie, completely made up, with no basis in reality.  

So its really hard to be on social media right now.  People on the right furiously attack anything that points to Trump’s incompetence.  People on the left furiously attack anything that seems to question their movement.  And those of us in the middle can’t wait for the madness to pass so we can get back to having conversations instead of shouting matches. 

Defending Trump Voters

Accusing all Trump voters of being terrible people is counter to our democratic norms.  Yes, democratic norms require that we afford Trump voters the same respect that we extend to all voters.  We do not demonize the other side.  

 

I am sometimes stunned by the amount of anger directed at Trump voters.  By the regularity with which Trump voters are demonized and accused of being either consciously evil, racist people or too stupid to understand just how evil and destructive Trump is.  Personally, I didn’t vote for Trump the first time, and he has been far worse than I ever allowed myself to imagine. I am voting for Biden.  And yes, I do believe Trump is undermining our Constitution, and for me, that makes this election a moral issue.  Defeating Trump is a moral issue.  But that doesn’t make the people voting for Trump immoral.  It just means that they place weight on a different set of concerns.

 

Undoubtedly I will have a few people accuse me of “normalizing” Trump with this podcast. That by noting some of the reasons why some people are voting for Trump, I am making it easier for others to justify voting for him.  But that’s missing the point.  We don’t apply democratic norms just when it serves our goals.  They are only norms when they are applied to everyone, every time, whether we agree with the person or not.

 

And strangely enough, accusing someone of being either evil or stupid isn’t actually a good way to get them to change their minds.  I can argue that it’s the people spewing hate at Trump voters that are actually doing more to help him get reelected.  Acknowledging the reasons why someone might vote for Trump actually makes it easier to have a real conversation about the election, and who knows, maybe change some minds.  

A Tapestry of Incompetence - The Trump Response to the Pandemic

The Trump Administration’s response to the pandemic has been a tapestry of incompetence.  Trump has gotten most things wrong, and even the few things the administration has gotten right, it has usually them undermined them.  Even the one big thing the President got right, the restrictions on travel from China, he then turned around and undermined. 

 

I cannot remember a Republican administration more against providing even the most basic data on government.  And surely the reason is that by almost any quantifiable measure, this administration has done a poor job, even before its response to the pandemic.  And again, on the pandemic, by just about any available number, this president has botched almost every decision he has made.  I’ll say it again - he really has created a tapestry of incompetence. 

 

Trump’s Tax Returns

The Supreme Court did our country a favor today by effectively pushing off release of Trump’s tax returns until after the election.

I know that the people that hate Trump were hoping to have his tax returns released before the election, assuming they would reveal something that could be used against him in the campaign.  I have to say, I’m glad they won’t be released until after the election. 

I absolutely agree that Congress has a right to review Trump’s tax returns, and I agree with the State of New York, that the President is not above the law. 

But releasing his tax returns won’t help to get him defeated, and yes, how the Democrats handle it could actually help get him re-elected.  I want this election to be a referendum on how Trump has done as president, because that’s what we need. Anything that takes focus away from that, from the job he has done over the last three years, does him a favor. And as strange as this might sound, if the Democrats pile on enough, at some point people start believing Trump is being treated unfairly. 

So again, the Supreme Court did our country a favor.   

God Bless America

God Blessed America.  The blessing wasn’t this great, beautiful land of ours.  The blessing was an idea, a belief that is captured in our Declaration of Independence.  Our Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776, states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

By no means has the United States achieved equality for all segments of our population. It took years of change in societal thinking and legislation to start leveling the playing field. But this idea, this belief in equality, has been the beacon that guided our country and our policies.

I know there are many people that are worried about the future of America. I am not. Yes, we have challenges to overcome. Every generation has challenges to overcome. But we will overcome them. Because what was true in 1776 is still true today: All men and women are created equal. We will prevail because God has Blessed the United States of America.

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