Thursday, January 19, 2017

Today's Swamp Denizen Comes Crawling Out

What a marvelous investor Tom Price is.

He bought stock in a maker of joint replacements a week before he introduced legislation that would help the company — which then made a campaign contribution to Price.

Nothing to see here, says the Trump team: A broker bought the shares without Price’s knowledge.

Sorry. I meant his broker. 

Also last year, Price himself bought shares in an Australian immunotherapy company after hearing about it from fellow congressman Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), who is on the company’s board and is a member of Trump’s transition team. Price was included in a private placement of stock not available to the public, and Price’s price was right: His investment is reportedly up 400 percent.

I could be wrong, but that sounds a lot like insider trading. Let's ask Martha Stewart. 

“These sound like sweetheart deals,” observed Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). “I think our job in this body and in Congress and in government is to avoid the appearance of a conflict, and, boy, you have not done this.”

OK, Al Franken then. 

Each day of the Trump transition seems to deliver a new blow to the embattled notion of honest government. The House Republican majority, in its first major action of the new session, attempted to defang and gag the Office of Congressional Ethics. 

And the effort goes on with the strong-arming of Walter Schaub by Jason Chaffetz and Reince Priebus. 

Trump and His Pal Tag Team Merkel

Or should I say Putin and his puppet?

If the president-elect’s intention was to undermine the transatlantic alliance, encourage the disintegration of the European Union and tear down Ms. Merkel as she begins a reelection campaign — an agenda identical to Mr. Putin’s — he could hardly have been more effective.

Russia has already launched a disinformation campaign to discredit Ms. Merkel, using fake-news websites and Internet bots in the same way it targeted Hillary Clinton. Germans might be forgiven for thinking that Mr. Trump’s intervention was designed to enhance that assault. He accused Ms. Merkel of making “a catastrophic mistake” by accepting desperate refugees from the Middle East and said Germany was using European integration as a vehicle for its own interests.

Healthcare Survey From Elise

These are the two questions:

In the past year, have your healthcare costs gone up (premiums, deductibles, etc.)?

and 

Have you had difficulty getting access to your preferred healthcare providers (doctors, hospitals, etc.)? 

Leading much? Fortunately there was a box to enter my comments in. I told her I was extremely satisfied with my insurance through the ACA and I hoped that if she voted to repeal that she knew what she was doing. 

Dollars for Hackers

Just want to put this up as a bookmark. First time I'd seen it.

A key mission of the six-agency group has been to examine who financed the email hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The London-based transparency group WikiLeaks released the emails last summer and in October.

The working group is scrutinizing the activities of a few Americans who were affiliated with Trump’s campaign or his business empire and of multiple individuals from Russia and other former Soviet nations who had similar connections, the sources said.

I'm not totally optimistic since I remember what became of allegations of the Reagan team working to keep hostages in Iran. 

The BBC reported last week that the joint inquiry was launched when the CIA learned last spring, through a Baltic ally, of a recording indicating the Russian government was planning to funnel funds aimed at influencing the U.S. election.

And they couldn't have mentioned it sooner?


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Congratulations Shaw

You guys are green.

Adulthood obesity rates by state

At least we're gold and not brown or red.

Timothy Frye on Trump Putin Bromance

Link to Salon piece.

Why has President-elect Trump’s Russia policy become so friendly to the Kremlin?   

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Apologies to Donald Trump or (Damn the facts! Full repeal ahead!)

Can't believe I'm saying that or that I doubted him.

President-elect Donald Trump said in a weekend interview that he is nearing completion of a plan to replace President Obama’s signature health-care law with the goal of “insurance for everybody,” while also vowing to force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government on prices in Medicare and Medicaid.

Really? Tell me more.

Trump declined to reveal specifics in the telephone interview late Saturday with The Washington Post.

Well, maybe he'll tweet'em later. Let's here a little more from Jeff Jeans who had such a horrific experience with ACA. 

He was diagnosed with a “very curable cancer” and told that, if left untreated, he had perhaps six weeks to live. Only because of an early Affordable Care Act program that offered coverage to people with preexisting medical problems, Jeans said, “I am standing here today alive.”

Certainly not as horrific as brave, brave Sir Paul Ryan was hoping for. 

The speaker's smile vanished. His brow furrowed.

How sad for Paul Ryan that Jeff Jeans did not die because of Obamacare. 

Ryan went for the human touch. “First, I am glad you are standing here,” he replied. “I mean really. Seriously. Hey. No really.”

Hey. No, really. 

But Jeans interrupted him: “I want to thank President Obama from the bottom of my heart, because I would be dead if it weren't for him.”

Well, that town hall went well. I hope Elise has one soon. Unfortunately I haven't had a life threatening illness I can go and share. Well maybe someone has. Love your letter and you, Abigail. 

Of course, a few deaths here and there aren't going to stand in Ryan's way. I thought it was Obama and the death panels that were going to lead to that. 

Republicans lit the fuse on Obamacare last Friday, approving the first step of the "reconciliation" procedure they can use to gut much of the law over even unified Democratic objections. Many Republicans are nervous. They should be: Millions of people's lives are on the line, and the GOP has just set the country down a perilous path without a clear map showing where it will end up.

They're nervous! 

 "We have to step in before things get even worse," he said. "This is nothing short of a rescue mission." Ryan's words mirrored those of President-elect Donald Trump, who insisted at a Wednesday news conference that the law is "imploding as we sit," and who is urging Congress to pass both a repeal of Obamacare and a replacement within weeks.

And that's why he's brave, brave Sir Paul. Brave with other's lives anyway. 

"Misleading" would be a generous way to describe this spin. In fact, the Affordable Care Act has pushed the uninsured rate to historic lows; enrollment has held up this year; Obamacare markets are working well in a variety of states; in places where markets have been shakier, federal subsidies shield consumers from premium volatility; and the ACA Medicaid expansion continues to cover millions of people without trouble - save for that caused by Republicans who blocked the expansion in some states. If the ACA implodes in 2017, it will be due to presidential maladministration or Congress rushing through a sloppy repeal.

Damn the facts! Full repeal ahead!

What issues the law has should be addressed through minor renovations. Republicans could strengthen provisions that encourage people to buy insurance or tighten rules that discourage people from signing up only when they are sick, for example. On top of an improved health-care system, the GOP could most likely get some Democratic votes for this approach.

My advice to Republicans, not that any are going to see it, is to call it the Affordable Care Act. Stop the Obama care nonsense. Admit that you're amending it not repealing it since a lot of features are being retained. But then, amend doesn't sell as well with the Tea Party crowd. And that's hard when you're talking about rescue missions and implosions. The alternative is it becomes Trumpcare and every Jeff Jeans that dies is on the heads of the GOP. 

Doing so would be significantly better than acting on the GOP's more sweeping, previously proposed alternative plans, which aim to lower costs but would undermine the insurance pool, pushing out some of the neediest people in the process. In general, they would provide inadequate aid to help people buy insurance, encourage deductibles to rise, cut the benefits insurers must provide and enable insurers to discriminate more against the old and the sick. 

Yeah, doing that. 

Just want to link to this bit of BS, since we're running long here.

“If you look at those families that have employer-based insurance, their premiums have increased by more than $4,300.”

Kevin McCarthy: Liar, idiot or asshole? Why choose just one? Debunk at delink.