The Learning Curve

by M. Scott Douglass

So what has our recent experience with shutting down the government and flirting with default taught us about Ted Cruz and his cadre of crazies?

It’s taught us that there are still those who would gladly, even thankfully, drink the Kool-Aid and hold a gun to the head of those who did not voluntarily join them.

It’s taught us that even the kid in Pee Wee football who gathers a fumble and runs to the wrong end zone has fans in the stands jumping up and down, waving pom-poms because they don’t understand the rules of the game well enough to know their kid just scored points for the other team.

We’ve learned that there are districts in America with constituents willing to proudly walk around in clown face as though it were the natural thing to do.

And the list goes on—if you are paying attention. Too many don’t. Too many will be cheering again in January for another government shutdown, another embarrassing slap from the right that will reinforce to the common sense folks that, hey, this was a really fun party, dude, but whose going to clean up before the parents get home?

On a personal note, I’m gratified that the Tea Party and Republicans in general have acted predictably and will do so again in January. This is the Boehner/Rove/Koch brother legacy. The biggest question I have is: Are the voters whose representatives forced us in this direction smart enough to realize this is the wrong way to run a government or will they continue to send the same chuckleheads back to behave the same way?

If they do, I’m fine with that. I can do my best to avoid buying things made in Texas and other places that support this kind of radicalism until they come to their senses. After all, that’s what they promote: a shutdown of commerce on the basis of philosophical beliefs. Happy to oblige.

We’ll know soon if we have learned anything from our experience with incompetence. In the meantime, I’m careful how I tie my shoes. I don’t want to give anyone the opportunity to Ted Cruz me.



Home Sweet Home: Willadine at anchor in Lookout Bight

Home Sweet Home: Willadine at anchor in Lookout Bight

My partner Eric and I are passionate about sailing. When we are not actually sailing our 24-foot sailboat, we like to talk about sailing, search for the next (bigger) boat and look at sailing blogs and forums. One of the forums is on the topic of living aboard your boat and one of the threads really gets my dander up. It is all about how people “fail” at living aboard. “So-and-So-Sailor only lived aboard for three months!” someone posts. “Epic Fail!” they cry.

I lived on my 37-foot sailboat for over four years and when I decided it was time to sell the boat and move inland, I had no sense of “failure” at all. And why should I? We lived very happily at a marina in Puget Sound, cruised south to San Francisco and ended up living on a mooring in San Diego Bay for a year. I loved living aboard, but when I was done, I was done. Now, after nearly twenty years of shore-side life, two kids and a divorce, I’m ready to move back aboard. Did I “fail” at living ashore?

It is my strong conviction that there are no failures in life, only new things to experience and ways of learning about oneself. I have a friend who completed a novel, strenuously revised and edited it, searched extensively and unsuccessfully for an agent or a publisher and finally decided to self-publish it so she could move on to the next project. Did she fail? Or did she write and publish a great book? Why do we as a culture put so much emphasis on success and despise what we call failure?

People who grab life by the throat and ride it screaming into the sunset may fall and be hurt, but they can also pick themselves up, brush off the dirt and hail the next taxi. Let’s pay more attention to those who boldly take risks, step outside their comfort zone and try something they always wanted to try. Bolster them up, encourage them and pat them on the back when they say, “I’ve had enough,” and they give it up. Don’t snicker behind their backs and whisper about failure. Not every path will work out, but changing course is not something to regret or revile. There are no failures in life, but there are plenty of people who never try. Maybe if they knew they couldn’t fail, it would be easier for them. We’ve added a ton of new words to the dictionary in recent years. Let’s just take this one out. Failure.

Think about it: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?


By M. Scott Douglass


I had a piece that focused on writing all set to post, but shutting down the federal government…  sorry, that requires a response.

I’m glad the Republicans forced this shut down. No, I’m not a right wing fanatic. I am a proud supporter of the Affordable Healthcare Act.

No, I don’t think we need a further demonstration of dysfunctionality within our two party system, but ineptitude can breed new and better things. And what might they be?

For one thing a moderate third party. All these Republicans who are running scared from Senator Cruz and the crazies within their own party, who are afraid of getting primaried, should just concede that their party doesn’t want them anymore, band together with conservative Democrats and form a party that is willing to do what it takes to do the nation’s business as it pertains to ALL of the nation’s citizens, not 10% who gerrymandered their way into office.

Second, if John Boehner is so afraid of people within his party, then he should step aside and let someone else do the job; someone who would be willing to call a vote on a clean bill and let the chips fall where they may.

We’ve allowed elected government positions to become an oligarchy to the point where we now have families whose chief trade is politics. Examples: Kennedys, Bushes, Clintons, Pauls—and the list goes on. So, losing a seat, a job in either house of Congress, is like a black mark against the family legacy. Is this how we want our representatives to decide how the government should be run? As a matter of whether they lose an election as opposed to doing the right thing?

Immediately after forcing a shutdown, House Republicans started a series of political stunts to show the public that THEY are not the bad guys here. These stunts would be amusing if they didn’t use veterans and sick children as tools in their battle to defund Obamacare. That’s what it’s all about—and they believe we’re too stupid to understand what they’re doing.

I heard one Congressman—I believe it was Robert Pittenger—ask the question, “Why can’t we wait another year to enact this law so we can at least see what’s in it?” Which begs a question: “If you couldn’t figure out what it says in four years, what will waiting another year do?”

What it will do is prevent Americans from getting the healthcare they need and being happy with this program. Having people happy with the program will prevent Republicans from ever taking it away.

Waiting a year would allow Republicans something to run against that is ethereal as opposed to real with measurable results. That don’t want math entered into the equation because they would be on the wrong side of it. They don’t want this program to see any measure of success and THEY KNOW, if enacted, it will work and that would make their task of getting rid of it that much harder.

So, why would they want to get rid of it? Aside from the fact that it’s yet another government program and a redistribution of wealth—two things that are against their religion—it would bite into the wealth at the top of the healthcare pyramid and those folks are their contributors. Remember, a recent study showing a breakdown of who actually made up the top 1% of wage earners in America showed that, at the time Ronnie Reagan passed a law to allow hospitals to be for-profit thereby causing healthcare costs to grow 300% faster than the rate of inflation of ALL other sectors in our economy, AT THAT TIME only 6% of the top wage earners had anything to do with the healthcare industry. Today that number hovers near 20%. Tell me, to whom are the Republicans beholding?

Now Republicans in the House have proposed funding bits and pieces of the economy rather than passing one whole thing and they are blaming Democrats in the Senate for not approving these token offerings. This is where they are wedging veterans and children with cancer to tug at the heart strings and show that they are the compassionate dealmakers who want to negotiate, not Democrats. Why shouldn’t the Democrats take this deal?

Have you ever heard the term getting back-doored? Remember the Republicans’ stated goal:  to defund Obamacare. Well, if you piecemeal everything out, it’s the same thing. The Republicans will only approve for vote on items they want to fund and NOT vote on items they don’t want funded. They could go through a checklist until the only thing remaining is Obamacare and then they do nothing.

That’s the plan. That’s why funding the government has to be ALL or NOTHING.

This is no less than economic terrorism. Forty House Republicans cannot be given that much power to dictate what the entire nation wants and whether it should be funded. If we let them, then that favored phrase of We do not negotiate with terrorists will no longer have any meaning.