Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fact Checking Trumpian Xenophobia

And here's Alicia Caldwell with fact checks of all the bullshit that Trump has been spouting

Monday, January 30, 2017

Here's to the State of Donald Trump

Wash Po had an article about Phil Ochs and Lady Gaga yesterday. In memory of his genius and foresight:

It's amazing how little they had to change in going from Nixon to Trump.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Revised Letter

        Is anyone else confused about the future of the Affordable Care Act? I realize Congress is. The Post Star recently reported that Rep. Stefanik wants to replace it over a period of three years. One question I have is, "replace it with what?" She's run on "repeal and replace Obamacare" twice. And done well with that. She's had over 2 years to think about alternative plans. Other members have had over 6 years. So now she wants to implement a plan, which they don't have, over 3 years? President Trump recently said he has a plan that's "very much formulated down to the final strokes." His statements go straight to the circular alternative fact file now.
     Despite the fact that there is no plan, Ms. Stefanik voted for a budget bill that allows ACA to be repealed with no replacement. Pardon my skepticism, but my faith in what I hear from elected officials was a lot higher before January 20th. A laurel and hearty handshake to Rep. Katko, a downstate GOP member, who voted nay because there was no successor to ACA in sight. Rep. Ryan and Senator McConnell "expect to put legislation repealing and partially replacing the law by the end of March." I wonder if the health insurance industry has the same queasy feeling I do over that word "partially."

     Why not work on fixing ACA? Obviously some of it is being retained anyway. The alternative is that it becomes Trumpcare. I can see a lot of Democrats running on repeal and replace Trumpcare in a year and a half when that becomes a debacle. Right now it looks like there's a different plan for every GOP member of Congress. That's not a recipe for success.

I didn't get it into this letter, but here's my analogy. Congressional Republicans are like contractors who have the wrecking ball all cued up to demolish your house. But then, you're going to be homeless (or in this case insurance-less) until they draw up the blueprints to build you a new house.

Here is a link to polling done on Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.
 Almost two-thirds of American voters oppose cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, according to a new Quinnipiac poll released on Friday.
The questions came as part of a survey of public opinion on Obamacare, on which most Americans either supported alterations but not a full repeal (51 percent) or no alterations at all (30 percent)

Here's An Interesting Fact

What would you guess is the number of attacks by people on Trump's banned list? Yeah, it's zero.

Zero fatal attacks were carried out by immigrants from the seven Muslim-majority countries targeted by the ban. Two attacks were carried out by individuals with ties to the seven countries: the 2006 UNC SUV attack, and the 2016 Ohio State University attack. Neither of those plots resulted in American deaths.

That wasn't the interesting fact. Here it is.

According to the Washington Post and Bloomberg, Trump’s ban did not include any of the Muslim-majority countries where the Trump Organization — which is now being run by his sons — holds business interests. Those countries reportedly include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, the U.A.E. and Azerbaijan.

Trump must have decided to forgive and forget with Saudi Arabia. If memory serves, 17 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 hailed from there. 

The executive order makes no mention of Saudi Arabia, home of 15 of the 19 terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks. The Trump Organization had incorporated several limited liability companies in preparation for an attempt to build a hotel in Saudi Arabia, showing an interest in expansion in the country. The company canceled those incorporations in December, indicating that no project is moving forward.

Thank God for the internet. I don't have to depend on my memory. That's from the Wash Po link.

Thomas Everett set me straight on comparing Trump to Captain Queeg. And I appreciate that. I do hope, though, that he's not going to come by and convince me not to refer to Trump as a tin god. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Where's His Little Hand Going?

Trump, May affirm special relationship between US, UK

Draft of LTTE

     I’m a little fuzzy on the future of the ACA. The Post Star recently reported that Rep. Stefanik wants to replace it over a period of 3 years. Yet, she voted for a budget bill enabling it to be repealed without a replacement. Kudos to Rep. Katko who voted nay because there is no successor in sight. Oh wait, President Trump just said it’s “very much formulated down to the final strokes.” That’s less than reassuring.  Rep. Ryan and Senator McConnell “expect to put legislation repealing and partially replacing the law by the end of March.” I wonder if the health insurance industry has the same queasy feeling I do over that word “partially.” Fix ACA, embrace single-payer or face the wrath of voters in 2 years. Those are the choices.
     Another puzzler involves the Great Wall. Rep. Ryan is pushing the idea of the wall as infrastructure. The wall is unnecessary. By definition it is not infrastructure. Rep. Hurd whose district shares 800 miles of border with Mexico: “Building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border.” Is this being pushed solely to fulfill a Trump campaign promise? Another was that Mexico would pay for it. They seem pretty adamant they’re not and will likely not pay interest if taxpayers or consumers in this country front the money.

     One last matter, since the hugest inauguration ever, that has me thinking my drink was spiked. The president is listening to a conspiracy theorist, Gregg Phillips, who tells him 5 million people voted illegally. And he tweets in support of this nonsense. The CIA tells him the Russians interfered in the election and he scoffs at that and compares them to Nazis. The next 4 years are going be a long, strange trip.   

Here's a bit of info on Gregg Phillips
Perhaps Trump shouldn’t be so quick to believe Phillips, who has twice served in state government—once in Mississippi, once in Texas—and twice been accused of rewarding his associates, including a government document denouncing him for “facilitating an erosion of the public trust.”

Phillips is currently unable to do business with the state of Texas, according to Kevin Lyons, a spokesman for the Texas Comptroller. He told The Daily Beast on Friday that Phillips had failed to file the required paperwork this year and his right to transact business was forfeited on Sept. 23, 2016. The Guardian also reported on Friday that he owes more than $100,000 in unpaid taxes. Phillips has never been charged with any crimes.

Yes, he's a first-class swamp critter. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

New Numbers For the Tin God

Thanks to Josh Marshall.

President Donald Trump begins his term with a negative 36 – 44 percent job approval rating from American voters, including a negative 33 – 50 percent rating from women, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Another 19 percent are undecided. President Barack Obama scored a positive 59 – 25 percent approval rating in his first postinaugural poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University on March 4, 2009.

Really? Fifty two percent from "not so good" down to "bad?"

Trump will be a “great” president, 18 percent of voters say; 25 percent say he will be a “good” president; 16 percent say he will be “not so good” and 36 percent say he will be “bad.”


I Certainly Realize It

And I'm going to put forth as much effort as possible tying my rep tightly to Trump whom she supported last year.

Some day soon Republicans will realize they face an election in two years as the standardbearers and enablers of extremely unpopular President. (I also hope Democrats will realize this. Jury is still out.) Recent polls show President Trump's approval rating in the mid- to high 30s. That's just the first week. He's barely started. But this is almost always the high point. And the President's party almost always faces loses in the first mid-term in any case.

Obamacare Update

Looking good.

The health reforms known as Obamacare are a “disaster,” the president said, without detailing how to replace them, despite saying in a recent interview with The Washington Post that it was “very much formulated down to the final strokes.”

That is good, right? Formulated down to the final strokes. 

But they looked to Trump and Vice President Pence, who addressed them separately Thursday, to flesh out their own proposals and give them some road map for a way forward. They hoped to leave on the same page when it came to the GOP agenda, shifting the focus to policy after less than a week of Trump’s presidency defined by his unpredictable outbursts.

That does take a little gloss off the final strokes thing. 

Under pressure from constituents, rank-and-file Republicans have expressed the desire for more clarity on how the law, which has expanded coverage to roughly 20 million Americans, will be replaced.

“I think really the only thing new that I learned that hasn’t been talked about previously is the expectation of a House floor vote in March,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).

Oh yes, my representative will be hearing from me regularly. Maybe she learned more than Mark Meadows. 

“Those who think we’re going to suddenly appear with a 2,000-page replacement bill are mistaken,” Walden said.

At this point, I'd be surprised if you showed up with 2 pages worth of a replacement bill.

Bidnessman President

I'm lazy today. Just into bookmarking.

If this is what "running government like a business" looks like, it's no wonder President Trump's companies kept going bankrupt.

One week into the presidency, we've gotten a taste of Trump's management style. And so far it's been plagued by many of the bad habits common to poorly run businesses.

Looking forward to the going out of business sale for our country. 

During a news conference Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer refused to answer a simple measurement question: What is the current unemployment rate?

The answer is not exactly a secret. Three weeks ago, the Labor Department publicly announced its latest reading as 4.7 percent.

But Spicer -- whose boss has variously claimed the rate is "a total fiction" and as high as "42 percent" -- ducked.

I wonder what metrics will be used with Trump's presidency. Zero per cent unemployment because everyone does something, don't they. 

"The president, he's not focused on statistics as much as he is on whether or not the American people are doing better as a whole," Spicer said.

I thought he was fixated on the size of the crowds at his inauguration. 

He's made hiring decisions based not necessarily on qualifications or experience, but on whether candidates are members of his family or have the right "look." Funny facial hair, inadequate height and absence of "swagger" reportedly disqualified some contenders.

Oh my God. George Steinbrenner is back and he's in the WH.

Rather than thoughtfully assessing rules and regulations coming down the pike -- by, say, conducting a cost-benefit analysis, as you might in a real-life business -- Trump halted them across the board. They include one related to keeping airplanes from crashing. (It's about inspecting aircraft fuselages for cracks.)

Glad I don't fly much. A practice I intend to keep now. 

Finally, Trump has recently committed to spending billions of dollars on pet projects that are essentially expensive solutions to problems that don't exist: a border wall with Mexico, despite the fact that we've seen a net outflow of unauthorized Mexican immigrants in recent years, and a "voter fraud" investigation into the "millions" of illegal votes that he believes -- with zero evidence -- were cast in an election he won.

Again, hard to imagine that such costly, low-upside executive windmill-chasing would fly at a competitive business.

Needless to say, there are major differences between running a business and running a government; it's a myth that aptitude at one necessarily translates to aptitude at the other.

But with ineptitude, maybe it's a different story.

President Queeg

This all deserves to be read. Trump is insane now. What happens when a crisis hits?

On Wednesday, Trump called for a “major investigation” into allegations of voter fraud, but gave no details on how such a probe would be carried out.

And the strawberries, too. Don't forget to investigate who ate the strawberries. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

You're Going to Hear About It, Elise

From TPM:

No less important, every Republican in Congress is going to give this the green light, forcing American taxpayers to pay for the Wall themselves. Democrats should hammer this point too: they're trying to clean up Trump's mess with your money!

The First Week is Almost Over

Probably a good thing. Foreign relations are so over-rated anyway. Going from the specific to the general, first Mexico.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto canceled a planned Tuesday meeting with President Donald J. Trump on Thursday, signaling a remarkable souring of relations between Washington and one of its most important international partners just days into the new administration.

Doesn't sound like he's going to be willing to pay for the Great Wall of Trump. 

"We're working on a tax reform bill that will reduce our trade deficit, increase American exports and will generate revenue from Mexico that will pay for the wall, if we decide to go that route," Trump said.

His spokesman later said Trump was calling for a 20 percent tax on imports to pay for the southern wall.

Yeah, I don't think he is. It sounds to me like American consumers are. I could be wrong because I'm not an economist. Looking forward to someone who is explaining it. 

So, how are things looking in interactions with other countries

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job running the State Department just got considerably more difficult. The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.

About the same. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Anyone Here Want to See Those Tax Returns?

Yeah, no I didn't think so.

It was startling to hear Ms. Conway declare on ABC’s “This Week” that “the White House response is that he’s not going to release his tax returns.” She cited Mr. Trump’s victory in November and said, “People didn’t care.” That she felt the need to backpedal the next morning suggests she might realize that this is not the case. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed a WhiteHouse.gov petition calling for Mr. Trump to release his returns. A recent Post-ABC News poll showed that 74 percent of Americans, and 53 percent of Republicans, believe he should release the documents.

I saw where she made that comment a few days ago. Thought I'd just link to this bit calling bullshit on it. More Trump administration lies. Ho-hum. 

Senator Inside Trader

Following up on how likely it is that I'll have health insurance a year from now.

President Trump’s choice for health secretary declined Tuesday to promise that no Americans would be worse off under Trump’s executive order to ease provisions of the Affordable Care Act — and distanced himself from the president’s claim to have an almost-finished plan to replace the law.

That's less than reassuring. 

For instance, he sidestepped a series of questions about the effects of the sweeping order Trump issued just hours after his ­swearing-in that directed agencies to lift or soften federal rules implementing aspects of the ACA. Price declined to commit that no one would be harmed, that no one would lose insurance coverage or that the regulations would be rewritten only after a plan exists to replace the 2010 health-care law.

He similarly deflected a question about whether the new administration would try to stop enforcement of the ACA’s individual insurance requirement prior to a replacement plan.

And even less reassuring. 

Brown asked: “President Trump said he’s working with you on a replacement plan for the ACA, which is nearly finished and will be revealed after your confirmation. Is that true?”

Price replied: “It’s true that he said that, yes.”

The packed hearing room broke into laughter.

Brown persisted: “Did the president lie about this, that he’s not working with you?”

The nominee gave an oblique answer, saying, “I’ve had conversations with the president about health care.”

At least we can all laugh about it. 

In another tense exchange, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) pressed Price to concede that if policymakers made Medicaid a block-grant program, Americans would no longer be automatically entitled to receiving its coverage.

“When you move to a block grant, do you still have a right?” Menendez asked.

“No,” Price said. “I think it would be determined by how that was set up, if in fact that’s what Congress did.”

But Menendez said that Price, if confirmed “will have an enormous impact” on the program’s future. “So please don’t say to me that ‘I am just here to do just what Congress says,’ ” the senator said.

Senator Menendez isn't laughing. He'd feel better if he asked Price for some stock tips I bet. 

In another case, the congressman was one of a select group of investors offered a private stock-purchasing deal in an Australian biotechnology company. Making the picture only more unattractive, Mr. Price apparently learned about the company from another House member, Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), who was on the firm’s board.

How is that not insider trading? 

Liar in Chief

I'd like to ignore the lies and bullshit from Trump. It's so hard when that's all there is, though.

Donald Trump, having propelled his presidential campaign to victory while often disregarding the truth, now is testing the proposition that he can govern the country that way.

In the first five days of his presidency, Trump has put the enormous power of the nation's highest office behind spurious - and easily disproved - claims.

Yes, he's not even a good liar. What say you, Jerry Brown?

"Above all else, we have to live in the truth," Brown said. "When the science is clear or when our own eyes tell us that the seats in this chamber are filled or that the sun is shining, we must say so, not construct some alternate universe of non-facts that we find more pleasing."

OK and this is coming from a guy who worked in a WH that thought they could create reality, bear in mind.

"The degree to which they are creating their own reality, the degree to which they simply make up their own scripts, is striking," said Peter Wehner, a Trump critic who was a top strategist in the George W. Bush White House. "It's a huge deal, because in the end you really can't govern, and you can't persuade people, if you do not have a common basis of fact."

Yes, you can't believe anything he says. 

The White House on Tuesday reiterated President Trump’s false contention that he lost the national popular vote because of 3 million to 5 million illegal votes, as yet another untruth swelled into a distraction that threatens to undermine his first week in office.

Trump repeatedly has claimed there was widespread voter fraud in the November election, most recently telling congressional leaders Monday night that he thinks it is why he lost the popular vote to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Although the president’s theory has been broadly discredited, White House press secretary Sean Spicer held up debunked researchTuesday to support it and left open the possibility of a federal investigation.

Anyone got the over/under on Spicer's stay in that job? McConnell seems to agree with Trump or at least not disagree.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), when asked about Trump’s claims, would not say whether he agrees, only that he believes voter fraud is a problem generally around the country.

“Most states have a done a better job on this front, but the notion that election fraud is fiction is not true,” said McConnell, who like many Republicans has voiced support for voter ID laws.

Wonder where Elise comes down on it. Here's Tim Scott:

“I don’t think about it,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said. “It’s not important to me.”

It's not important to him if 5 million people voted illegally? Russian hacking probably is not important to him either. 

Here's Trump's source. Yeah, he doesn't believe his intelligence agencies. But, Gregg Phillips? Sure, why not? 

Trump Has Less Understanding of Macroeconomics Than I Do

Or his genius has yet to be appreciated.

Renegotiating NAFTA would be a long, complex process, requiring approval from the US Congress as well as the governing bodies of Canada and Mexico.

Then there's not a chance of him doing it anyway. He has the attention span of a gnat. 

It’s unclear exactly what changes Trump would bring. In June, he rolled out seven steps he planned to take to reform trade, including taking tougher stances on trade partners that violate laws, appointing the “toughest” and “smartest” trade negotiators on the nation’s behalf, and cutting NAFTA and the TPP.

That last step has made some analysts and corporations uneasy. Trade officials have noted that 48 of the 50 states engage in the majority of their trading and job-creation through relations with either Mexico or Canada, and that US tariffs could prompt other countries' countertariffs, possibly sparking a trade war.

The article goes on that if we put tariffs on their goods, they put tariffs on ours. And:

Another problem is that US businesses that currently buy less expensive goods from Mexico, facing tariffs, would not necessarily switch to buying American goods. Instead, they would likely switch to the next cheapest supplier from a different country, leaving US business at a continued disadvantage. Because Mexico is less reliant on American goods than the US is on Mexican goods, threats from the US to pull out of NAFTA could prove to be little more than empty bluster.

Trump does empty bluster so well, too. And the Mexicans added, "We're not paying for that stinking wall, gringo."

I suppose Trump could declare war on technology

Automation, not trade, is the real culprit in manufacturing job loss. And while NAFTA has surely created winners and losers within the United States, overall it has not been the horrific deal Mr. Trump suggests. The combined trade deficit with Mexico and Canada was $73.4 billion in 2015 (the most recent full year for which data exist). Subtract petroleum and it shrinks to $13.9 billion, a rounding error for the $18 trillion U.S. economy. Chances are that the deficit will shrink as American oil producers crank up for exports.

A smart negotiator would take all that into account before risking trade wars that might do far more damage to American companies, workers and consumers than the status quo allegedly does.

Fortunately, Trump is like a smart person. He's successfully declared bankruptcy 6 times. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

News That Does Matter

Nice health insurance you've got there. It'd be a shame if something happened to it. Well, it is.

The prospect of what could flow from pulling back or eliminating administrative rules — including no longer enforcing the individual mandate, which requires Americans to get coverage or pay an annual penalty, and ending health plans’ “essential benefits” — could affect how many people sign up on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces before open enrollment ends Jan. 31 for 2017 coverage, as well as how many companies decide to participate next year.

Robert Laszewski, president of the consulting firm Health Policy and Strategy Associates, called the executive order a “bomb” lobbed into the law’s “already shaky” insurance market. Given the time it will take Republicans to fashion a replacement, he expects that federal and state insurance exchanges will continue to operate at least through 2018.

“Instead of sending a signal that there’s going to be an orderly transition, they’ve sent a signal that it’s going to be a disorderly transition,” said Laszewski, a longtime critic of the law, which is also known as Obamacare. “How does the Trump administration think this is not going to make the situation worse?”

I'm not convinced Trump cares if it gets worse. He's an anarchist.

Several insurers on her state’s exchange “seriously considered leaving the market last year” and that Trump’s action could propel them to indeed abandon it in 2018. In fact, she added, some have raised the possibility of withdrawing from the ACA’s exchanges during 2017, which would mean consumers could keep their plans but no longer receive federal subsidies to help them afford the coverage.

“That would create a nightmare scenario,” Miller said.

And in the Senate:

Asked whether he knew what the new president’s replacement plan is, (McConnell) said Senate Republicans are working with the administration “to have an orderly process.”

Why do I find that hard to believe? Oh, maybe this is why. Post at Josh Marshall's on history repeating.

If the Republicans gut the ACA, support for national health insurance will revive. You can bet on it. And Democrats may even get a chance in 2020 to implement a new system as the Australian Labor Party did.

But this time they better do it right. Obamacare, like Clinton's earlier proposal, required a post-graduate degree in medical economics to comprehend. It was far too complex. It had too many layers of coverage. It appeared to be financed at the expense of Medicare. It invited the perception that people who already had insurance were being forced to subsidize with higher premiums those who did not.

From his blog to God's ears.

News That Doesn't Matter

Starting randomly with Thin Skin's trip to Langley.

“He said some of the right things, but it still had a bizarre quality to it,” said one former top CIA official. Trump’s comments included “way too much campaign-related things” and “attacks on the media [that] did not fit and were wrong.”

It was Trump’s ebullient self-promotion that most troubled this former official and others I contacted. “Overall, the self-obsession and campaign-style language was not appropriate in that place,” he said. “It should not be all about you, at a place that memorializes people for whom it was about others and about mission.”

Trump lauded his “great transition,” his “amazing team,” his personal vigor (“I think I’m young”) and his intelligence (“I’m like a smart person”). This rambling braggadocio is part of Trump’s style, and the country (including the CIA) will have to get used to it. The more disturbing part of his address was the attempt to treat agency employees, whose mission is supposed to transcend elections, as political soul mates, along with military and law enforcement.

Yes, he's still doing that "I'm like a smart person" thing. Let's follow that with two actual smart people. E.J. Dionne:

If power shifted decisively Friday to Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress, passion switched sides as well. As the marches showed, the political energy in the country is now arrayed against Trump and his agenda.

Republicans no longer have Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to kick around. For years, they were able to direct the country’s discontents toward a president they loathed and then a Democratic nominee they disliked even more.

With control of both elected branches, the GOP, including Trump, is the establishment. Over time, this will make the faux populist anti-establishment appeal of Trump’s inaugural address ring empty.

And yes, we now have the "alternative fact" administration.

Expressing rage at the media for pointing out how relatively small Trump’s crowds were — a hint of how shallow his movement’s roots might be — both Spicer and Trump lied outright in exaggerating the numbers of those who attended Trump’s inauguration in comparison with the throngs that celebrated Obama’s.

Challenged Sunday by Chuck Todd of NBC’s “Meet the Press” as to why Spicer was asked to go to the podium and offer falsehoods, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior counselor, came up with a sound bite that George Orwell might have been embarrassed to include in “1984.” It will go down as a defining phrase of the Trump presidency.

“Sean Spicer, our press secretary,” she replied, “gave alternative facts.”

Our boldest liar yet as president. Congrats Donald. On to Margaret Sullivan:

Ari Fleischer, a former George W. Bush press secretary, saw Saturday's bizarre session for what it was.

"This is called a statement you're told to make by the President. And you know the President is watching," Fleischer wrote. (MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski pegged it as "Sean Spicer's first hostage video.")

It's being called bizarre by Ari Fleisher. Will continuous lies as a distraction work? Let's make sure it doesn't. 

As Jessica Huseman of ProPublica put it: "Journalists aren't going to get answers from Spicer. We are going to get answers by digging. By getting our hands dirty. So let's all do that."
She's right. So was Tim O'Brien, executive editor of Bloomberg View and a Trump biographer, who urged journalists to remember that the White House briefing room is "spoon-feeding and Trump is a habitual fabulist."

Journalists shouldn't rise to the bait and decide to treat Trump as an enemy. Recalling at all times that their mission is truth-telling and holding public officials accountable, they should dig in, paying far more attention to actions than to sensational tweets or briefing-room lies - while still being willing to call out falsehoods clearly when they happen.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

How to Deal With a Pathological Liar (If You Must)

And we must. Thanks to Infidel for this link. And thanks to Bjork and Maureen McDonald.

Leave what Twitler says to the press and his mindless drones. They are just words meant to distract you from whatever he doesn't want you thinking about.

But, go see it all. Especially if you work in the media. 

I am enjoying "Tin God" BTW.

How'd It Go at Langley?

Had a great meeting at CIA Headquarters yesterday, packed house, paid great respect to Wall, long standing ovations, amazing people. WIN!

Good to know.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Trump's America

Lot of time today reading what everyone else is putting up. All good stuff. Want to at least get this up. Apparently our new president is taking cues not only from buddy Vlad, but also from a movie super-villain

"We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you, the people," Bane said.

Is it going to get stranger? Undoubtedly. Good editorial in Wash Po

Like his alarmist speech to the Republican National Convention in July, this one painted a false picture of an impoverished, crime-ridden country that has been cheated and victimized by Washington elites and grasping interests abroad. Mr. Trump’s dystopia may exist in places but not generally in a nation whose economy has rebounded from the 2008-2009 recession and is now outperforming other advanced industrial democracies. Stoking discontent may serve Mr. Trump’s political interests, but seems unlikely to contribute to the country’s stability or unity of purpose. Nor will painting these purportedly unchecked ills as imposed on the “righteous public” by a vaguely disloyal “small group in our nation’s capital” — the same people, presumably, who had honored him, and the country’s democratic heritage, by their presence on the inaugural platform. If such words are capable of unifying Americans, it will only be in a shared sense of free-floating grievance against a scapegoat, or scapegoats, designated by Mr. Trump.

So, we're living in Bane's Gotham City or Mad Max's America. Not sure which. You decide. 

Why Trump is a Fascist

Thanks for the list, Chauncey Devega.

  • Donald Trump does not believe in freedom of the press.
  • Donald Trump threatens his political enemies with violence and/or prison.
  • Donald Trump uses ethnocentrism, bigotry, nativism and racism to mobilize his voters.
  • Donald Trump does not believe in standing norms of democratic governance or tradition.
  • Donald Trump is a misogynist.
  • Donald Trump is obsessed with “strength” and his own “virility.”
  • Donald Trump promises “law and order.”
  • Donald Trump is a militant nationalist.
  • Donald Trump traffics in conspiracy theories and lies.
  • Donald Trump admires authoritarians and political strongmen.
  • Donald Trump’s most recent press conference was modeled on the way Vladimir Putin manipulates Russia’s news media.
  • Donald Trump has surrounded himself with a cabal that consists of family members and self-interested Cabinet appointees, who — like him — stand to enrich themselves through the agencies they are supposed to administer in the public interest.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Watergate, Only With Russians

Just linking to this that I've seen at Josh's and Charles' places. What time does the impeachment start?

Elise Stefanik: Arsonist

I was really hoping to see some letters in support of ACA other than my own. It's even better when the writer is so much better than I am. Granted, a low bar.  

On Friday, Jan. 13, Rep. Elise Stefanik voted to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). This vote is a precursor to the final vote on the Budget Reconciliation Bill, which will be taken during the next month.

It is expected that the Budget Reconciliation will repeal these provisions of the ACA:
  • Tax credits enabling low and middle income families to purchase health coverage on the Health Care Exchange.
  • The Medicaid expansion, which provides health care for millions of working families.
  • Cost-sharing subsidies that keep deductibles and co-pays lower than they otherwise would be for low-income families.
  • The elimination of the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” forcing seniors with high drug costs to pay thousands of dollars more for their prescriptions.
  • Payments into the Medicare Trust Fund, which make it more solvent so that Medicare benefits will not need to be cut.
This is not her first assault on the ACA. Ever since she took office, Rep. Stefanik has been trying to repeal the taxes that fund the ACA, including taxes on the very wealthy and a tax on tanning salons.

We all know that the ACA is not perfect. Premiums are too high and there are still too many people who are uninsured. Creating a Medicare-for-all plan would be better and cheaper. But the ACA has made a good start. Millions more Americans have health insurance than ever before.

The ACA is like a house with a leaky roof. But instead of fixing the roof, Rep. Stefanik wants to burn the house down. We need a member of Congress who represents us! Not the insurance companies, not the tanning salons, not the billionaires – but us, the hard-working people of NY-21. Rep. Stefanik, blow out your matches and put down that gas can!

Henrietta Jordan

Show Us Your Plan!

We'll all support it if it's better than the Affordable Care Act. Al is one of my top choices for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

Interesting fact: Heritage Foundation says everyone must be insured, individual mandate.

The clip is cut short. I suspect conspiracy.

We get Trump's plan when Senator Inside Trader is confirmed. Don't miss Rep. Goat Analogy. 

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.)?


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.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

As the CIA's Job Gets Harder

I mean having a boss who doesn't listen to what you tell him and compares you to Nazis isn't enough. Now our bestest friends in the Middle East won't do pillow talk with us anymore.

Israeli intelligence officials are concerned that the exposure of classified information to their American counterparts under a Trump administration could lead to their being leaked to Russia and onward to Iran.

Thanks for that, Shaw. 

Fake News

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Random Links On the Healthcare Debacle

I'll start with this since I already posted the affect on my state.

For Massachusetts, the issue is that its aggressive attempt to provide universal coverage is propped up by billions of federal dollars.

By contrast, Wisconsin’s Republican governor reformed the state’s health-care system precisely to prepare for an ACA repeal, yet the loss of federal money would still leave a broad swath of low-income families without coverage.

In short, no matter which approach they take, states might face a difficult choice: Who should they not cover?

An indirect link to a study showing rural Americans are more likely to die from preventable diseases. 

Rural Americans are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer and the three other leading causes of death than their urban counterparts, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those five top causes of death - heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke - accounted for 62 percent of the total 1.6 million deaths in the United States in 2014. Among rural Americans, more than 70,000 of the deaths were potentially preventable, the study found, including 25,000 from heart disease and 19,000 from cancer.

Are these the folks that put Trump over the top in his attainment of the White House? Damn the liberalism for making me sympathetic in spite of that.

Moving on to our public servants. It's cold comfort that Trump is exposing the hypocrisy of Congressional Republicans. The only bright spot is that he's out there promising the moon, offering nothing of his own and calling on the goopers in Congress to instantly have a plan ready to go after repeal.

Congress took its first step toward rolling back President Obama’s health-care reform law Friday, with the House voting along party lines to pass a crucial precursor to the Affordable Care Act’s unraveling.

It will now only get harder for Republicans. They must assemble a viable replacement for a law that has expanded health insurance coverage to roughly 20 million Americans and eliminated unpopular insurance industry practices, such as lifetime coverage caps and widespread refusal to cover already-sick individuals. 

Good luck to Jeff Jeans and all of us.

Take Back the Power with The Interrupters

Shields and Brooks

Modest Desires Potentially Not Met

So my rep to Congress feels I shouldn't have health insurance. Thanks Elise.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, was among the House Republicans who voted against the Affordable Care Act.

I want to include this link from ACA Signups that gives some varying estimates of how many in NY (or your state) will lose coverage. Good luck!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Full of Shit, Like Trump

The question is what was in the manila folders.

That leaves it possible the public won't ever know precisely what the pile of papers was - other than another of Trump's stage props.

OK, what else is fake?

A Trump spokeswoman on Thursday flatly denied there was anything misleading about the display.

OK, the Trump spokeswoman. Anything else?

"Trump steaks, where are the steaks? Do we have the steaks?" he said. "And by the way, you want to take one, we charge you about, what, 50 bucks a steak?"

In fact, "Trump Steaks" are no longer for sale. The venture with The Sharper Image fizzled in 2007. The labels on the steaks displayed that night appeared to match those of another company.

Phony as a three dollar bill Trump steak. 

Yes, I really don't care about this. I'm tired of all the other stupidity. 

I Have Modest Desires

So I had another letter I was working on for the PS. It was similar, but different. That was going to be the post title. It doesn't really fit this letter as well. But, I still like and still have modest desires.

    As someone enjoying the benefit of insurance through the ACA (Obamacare, for those who insist), I'd like to make a request of the Post Star. Could you call Congresswoman Stefanik and ask her to explain what's going on with it. I've heard a lot of talk about repeal and delay. The GOP has been demonizing ACA for 7 years now. In that time, they have not come up with a replacement. And they're going to in another year?
    Donald Trump recently said, "We're going to have a healthcare that is far less expensive and far better." Maybe our congresswoman could give him a call and ask for that "something terrific" he promised during his campaign. Why the delay? Implement that. Her steadfast support of him this past year should entitle her to an audience.

     The ACA has lowered the uninsured rate from 18% to 10.9%. Many have been protected from financial ruin by now having health insurance. Twenty million Americans now don't have to rely on the emergency room or forego preventive care waiting for a costly ailment to develop. Republicans have the opportunity to throw out the whole program and start from scratch. If 2 years from now people are dying from the deficiencies of Trumpcare, that's on them. Or they could get to work fixing the current system.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Another Obvious Lie

Can Trump go five minutes without lying?

Trump hasn't said whether he believes Clapper's claim on the source of the leaks. He tweeted Thursday: "James Clapper called me yesterday to denounce the false and fictitious report that was illegally circulated. Made up, phony facts. Too bad!"

Why would Clapper denounce a report that was not produced by the intel agencies or leaked by them? 

I emphasized that this document is not a U.S. Intelligence Community product and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC. The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions.

PBS Clip on Komprimat Possibility

Bonus: Fact check of one of the many press conferences PEOTUS Trump has held.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Saddest, Funniest Thing of the Day

Skeeviest would be Donald Trump.

Lyingest, too.

“Russia has never tried to use leverage over me,” Trump posted on Twitter on Wednesday morning. “I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”

The Donald Jr. said Trump's businesses have lots of money coming in from Russian investors. Trump's one piss-poor liar. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Good To Know and Hard to Believe

Thanks Kellyanne Conway and Josh Marshall.

As Republicans gear up to repeal Obamacare, a few top leaders have laid down a marker that will almost certainly be impossible to achieve: They claims their Obamacare replacement plan will cover everyone Obamacare currently covers.

It's an ambitious promise to make and one they may come to regret.

What say you, Elise?

Disdain - It's What Trump Does

Bless Joe Biden. Interesting that he wouldn't say whether any Americans colluded with the Russians.

I've been looking for a new blog sub-title. Thanks, Joe!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Random Posts on the Trump Putin Bromance

Actually, it seems to have become a menage a bros with Julian Assange thrown into the mix. In no special order let's start with the cheering Russians. No word on the cheering Muslims of 9/11, but these guys have been spotted.

U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted the joyous Russian communications after Trump’s defeat of Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonThe Washington Post reports.

“The Russians felt pretty good about what happened on Nov. 8 and they also felt pretty good about what they did,” a senior U.S. official told the newspaper, referencing Russian attempts to meddle in the 2016 presidential race.

Well done from their perspective. I'm not going to link to a Hugh Hewitt piece that says Trump is just playing the Russians. This is a fake news-free zone. Next up, are Republican Congressmembers dancing a jig

Many Republicans want to be on the right side of history in standing up to Putin, who U.S. intelligence officials say led a massive effort to undermine the presidential election. But they also understand the need to protect Trump’s standing at home.

Already, the president-elect is poised to enter the Oval Office on Jan. 20 as the least popular new president in the modern polling era. On Thursday, congressional Republicans made clear that they are determined to reassure Americans that Trump won on the merits.

How sad that they're having problems reconciling this issue. Well, I would be sad if I wasn't concerned about the future of my health insurance. Let's hear from the always lovable David Ignatius

The showdown between Clapper and Trump over allegations of Russian hacking will shape public perceptions of the next president in the two weeks before his inauguration. We'll learn more about what Russian hackers did during the 2016 campaign. We'll also learn more about Trump and whether he will bring his Russophilia into the White House.

My money is on Clapper. 

After this week's briefings of Trump and President Obama, the real circus will come next week, when members of Congress receive their own classified reports. Democrats would be wise if they kept their mouths shut and let GOP Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham do the talking.

No bets on the Dems doing anything smart. Can't wait for the circus to come to town, tho. 

Anyone who thinks that the Russian hacking charges are simply an attempt to belittle or discredit Trump should study Russia's current covert-action campaign in Europe. Benner and Hohmann quote Bruno Kahl, the chief of Germany's intelligence service, who told a newspaper there that "cyberattacks are taking place that have no purpose other than to elicit uncertainty."

That's what gets me is the constant attempts by Trump to say let's move on because he won. As if it's all about the politics and nothing else. Me doth think he protests too much. Moving on to the occasionally lovely, of late, Jen Rubin. Enemy of my enemy and all that. 

Quote from James Clapper:

“The intelligence community is not perfect. We are an organization of human beings. We are prone sometimes to make errors. … I don’t think the intelligence community gets the credit it’s due for what it does day in and day out to keep this nation secure.”

Rubin's list of problems for Trump:

1.       McCain and others were careful to separate the issue of national security from the notion that Russia could have swayed election results.
 Trump’s ongoing defense of Russia and citation of Julian Assange look even more ridiculous. 
 Trump’s nominees will have no choice but to address the issue, the testimony and the facts raised in the hearing. 
 Democrats continue to demand that an independent select committee be created. That’s a popular position with voters, and it puts pressure on both the House and Senate to show that they can run credible, effective and timely investigations.
 The intelligence agencies will release their unclassified report next week and will brief members of Congress on the classified report. Clapper said he would err on the side of disclosure in the unclassified report. Should Trump begin disparaging the testimony, he runs the risk of being contradicted by the authoritative final report.

For Those Worried About Carl Paladino

Apparently, the Trump transition team has no issues with his little fantasies about the Obama's.

Carl Paladino refuted reports that he was on the outs with the transition team and unwelcome at a fundraiser Thursday in his hometown of Buffalo, New York.

Paladino told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he remains in good standing with the transition team and will attend the fundraiser featuring Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway "if I can get there."

We're Taking An IOU?

I thought Mexico was going to pay for it.

President-elect Donald Trump on Friday tweeted that Mexico will reimburse American taxpayers for a new border wall and that U.S. money spent will be for the "sake of speed."

His tweet came as congressional Republicans and his top aides consider a plan to ask Congress to ensure money is available in U.S. coffers for the wall without passing any new legislation. Instead, they would rely on existing law that already authorizes fencing and other technology along the southern border.

First, I wouldn't trust an IOU from the Mexicans anymore than I would from Trump. Second, fencing is not a wall. I know the difference between a wall and a fence. I've yet to see a chain link wall. 

Trump said in a tweet early Friday: "The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!" Mexico's president and other senior officials have repeatedly insisted that Mexico won't pay for a wall.

That makes it sound like we're not even getting the IOU.

Trump transition spokesman Sean Spicer said putting U.S. money up-front "doesn't mean he's broken his promise." In an interview Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Spicer said: "I think he's going to continue to talk to them (the Mexican government) about that." 

I believe I've heard that it's to be a metaphorical wall. Maybe that's it. 

Trump often promised the wall would be built of hardened concrete, rebar and steel as tall as his venues' ceilings, and would feature a "big, beautiful door" to allow legal immigrants to enter.

My metaphors usually don't include rebar. And here's a couple of contractors that Trump paid. Metaphorically speaking.

One firm, Joseph J. Magnolia, Inc., is a private, family-owned plumbing firm with offices in Washington and suburban Maryland that claims it is out $2.98 million. 


Another smaller firm, A&D Construction of Sterling, Va., said in a lien it filed Nov. 9 that it was owed $79,700 for wall base and crown molding work performed between June 24 and Oct. 5 2016, three weeks before the day Trump held a grand opening celebration.

Cash in advance only from this guy, fellas.

Courtesy of Trumpgrets: