Friday, March 31, 2017

Miscellaneous Links on Healthcare

And general Republican intransigence.

Paul Ryan, appearing on "CBS This Morning," tried to explain why he wants to lead yet another suicide charge up Health Care Hill.

Ryan said he worries that if Republicans don't repeal the Affordable Care Act and pass some sort of replacement, then President Trump will "just go work with Democrats to try and change Obamacare and that's not, that's hardly a conservative thing. ... If this Republican Congress allows the perfect to be the enemy of the good, I worry we'll push the president into working with Democrats. He's been suggesting that as much."

Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, usually a man of measured words, responded with a barbed tweet: "We have come a long way in our country when the speaker of one party urges a president NOT to work with the other party to solve a problem."

You get the feeling that politics would be so much easier for Paul Ryan if there were no human beings involved. 

If we don't start preventing illness we're screwed anyway.

America's problem is that it squanders money on the wrong things -- expensive procedures and tests rather than preventive care and social programs. A study of premature deaths estimated that just 10 percent were the result of poor medical treatment, while 40 percent came from behavioral issues, such as obesity or alcoholism.
The Academy offers a four-point plan for altering this miserable combination of high cost and poor care. First, providers should be paid for value -- for patient outcomes, not for the volume of procedures. Second, incentives should empower people to take better care of themselves through wellness programs or lifestyle changes. Third, better connectivity is needed among doctors, patients and others to encourage data-driven advances.

Finally, the Academy argues for community strategies that target the highest-need patients, who are also most costly to treat. The top 5 percent of spenders, often with multiple conditions brought on by obesity or other chronic conditions, account for 50 percent of total U.S. health outlays.

What are the chances of getting legislators to agree on anything to bring those changes about? Back to we're screwed. We could all move to Taiwan.

 In 1995, 41 percent of its population was uninsured and the country had very poor health outcomes. The government decided to canvass the world for the best ideas before instituting a new framework. It chose Medicare for all, a single government payer, with multiple private providers. The results are astonishing. Taiwan has achieved some of the best outcomes in the world while paying only 7 percent of its gross domestic product on health care (compared with 18 percent in the United States). I asked William Hsiao, an economist who helped devise the country’s model, what lessons they took, if any, from the United States. “You can learn what not to do from the United States rather than learn what to do,” he replied.

Or we could elect this guy president.

“I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one. We should not hear so many stories of families ruined by healthcare expenses. . . . We must have universal healthcare. . . . The Canadian plan . . . helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans. There are fewer medical lawsuits, less loss of labor to sickness, and lower costs to companies paying for the medical care of their employees. . . . We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing.”

We did? Back to square one

Trump has an immediate opportunity to help Americans reduce their costs by choosing to enforce and properly steward what House Speaker Paul Ryan rightly called the "law of the land." The administration has the power to impact the cost of insurance by 25% to 30% with two simple decisions.

First, the administration, with support from Congress, should commit to permanently funding payments that reduce the size of deductibles for lower-income Americans (called cost-sharing reductions). Republicans need to drop a lawsuit they filed to stop these payments, or Trump needs to say they are going to continue. Second, the administration should enforce the individual insurance mandate until a different approach can be agreed upon. Those two actions will reduce costs for millions and need to be done now before insurers submit initial premiums for next year, or inaction will drive up premiums. Americans should watch this intently.

A third step would be to grant states the flexibility to increase competition and reduce costs. Non-partisan analysts such as Standard & Poor's confirm that the online exchanges that sell ACA insurance policies are stable, but in some states the cost of insurance is out of reach for those who earn too much to receive tax credits.

And we come full circle back to Paul Ryan.  

It is the responsibility of Mr. Ryan, his GOP majority and President Trump. “Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains,” Mr. Ryan said. Indeed: A governing GOP would restrain its anti-Obamacare hyperbole and seek to ensure the system’s stability, because millions depend on it. Instead, Republicans still sound as though they are rooting for it to fail.

We want nice things, don’t fuck it up!

In fact, the Congressional Budget Office projected that, left to operate under reasonable management, Obamacare can work pretty well, preserving the massive coverage gains of the past several years. But one wrong move, motivated by either malice or ignorance, could send the system crashing down.

We want nice things, don’t fuck it up!

The Trump administration will face an early test in how it handles a lawsuit the House filed against the Obama administration, which the new president’s team inherited. If Congress refuses to back down or the Justice Department fails to continue fighting the suit, the result would be the loss of subsidies that help millions of low-income people pay out-of-pocket health costs. Withdrawing this support would cause insurers to flee Obamacare markets, leading to massive coverage losses. Cooperation between Congress and the White House could easily solve this problem.

We want nice things, don’t fuck it up!

Similarly, Mr. Trump must decide how he will enforce the individual mandate, a policy hated on the right that requires every American to obtain health coverage. The administration sent early signals that it would weaken enforcement, which would result in fewer people signing up and strain the system’s financial stability. But if Obamacare will be in place for the “foreseeable future,” enforcing the mandate will be essential, assuming the president wants to avoid presiding over a policy disaster for which, make no mistake, he would be blamed.

If you break it, you fucked it up.

Letters Day

First my fellow travelers. Eva Lau:

It’s impossible to keep the popular portions of the ACA (i.e., doing away with denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions, extending coverage under parental plans until aged 26, no lifetime caps on coverage) without having healthy people in the risk pool. ACA opponents have consistently sought to destroy the ACA, rather than improve it. Republicans, including District 21’s own Elise Stefanik, are more than happy to tell you that the ACA is in a “death spiral” (which is untrue according to the Congressional Budget Office) but they won’t tell you the real reason why the law isn’t working as it was intended. Congress should be improving the law, not destroying it.

Amen. Keep telling it. Pat Oles:

Elise Stefanik’s silence throughout the repeal and replace debate was instructive. The implications for the district were profound, but she was more concerned with delivering the ACA tax cut for the wealthy and she was willing to fund that relief for the wealthy with a plan that eliminated coverage for 85,000 people in District 21 and raised costs for the rest. It is hardly a surprise that the bill was unacceptable to most people and nearly 30 Republicans in the House.  

Congresswoman, we're still not happy. And you know who else isn't happy? Stephen Kottman isn't because we, the majority of the country, are not giving Trump hugs and kisses

When is all this stupidity going to stop! Donald Trump is our president elected fairly. All you Hillary people that didn’t get your way stop your whining! It didn’t go your way because for one thing. She is crooked and have we forgotten Benghazi?

Yes, really. Benghazi. I hadn't forgotten, as hard as I tried. 

Had Hillary gotten elected we would have four more years of the same nonproductive crap we have had for the last eight years. Obama did absolutely nothing. His so-called legacy is a joke. President Trump has done more good for this country since taking office than the last two presidents did in 12 years.

What's Trump done so far other than sign executive orders? And the travel ban order seems to be hitting a wall. A real one, not the imaginary one on the Mexican border. On the legacy thing, ACA seems to be hanging around awhile longer. Last two presidents and 12 years? Is he saying Bush had a good first four years? Other than that one day in September 2001? Wingnut logic. 

This country can be great again if everyone stops fighting him and starts helping him. You whining losers like Michael Moore (emphasize loser) are doing nothing but hurting this country and putting us all in danger.

Don't forget the Freedom Caucus, too.

Are you all going to whine and complain till there is another civil war in this country? That’s where we are headed with all the rioting and stealing and pointing fingers!

Yes I am because we are in the majority. It's 64% against 36%. I like the odds. 

Get over it! Donald Trump is our president for the next four years and we should all be grateful for him. We finally have a president that tells it like it is and does what he said he would do. 

Tells it like it is? Nothing that comes from his mouth or tweets is true. Does what he said he would do? He's done nothing except provide material for late night comics. 

Congresswoman Dither

Rep. Stefanik excels above all of her colleagues in the ability to not take a stand on anything. It's of a piece with not holding town halls. Tell us Elise, how do you feel about Trump pushing for the digging of coal at Jellystone Park?

Stefanik “believes solutions need to be worked through Congress and not done by executive rule,” said Tom Flanagin, the congresswoman’s spokesman, in an email Tuesday.

However, she is not, at this point, taking a definitive stance on the Trump’s executive order.

That is a bold statement. How does she feel about Chairman Nunes working directly out of the WH?

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, would not say on Wednesday whether House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes should recuse himself from the committee’s investigation of Russia’s potential involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

“Chairman Nunes serves at the pleasure of the Speaker of the House,” Tom Flanagin, the congresswoman’s spokesman, said in a response to a Post-Star request to interview Stefanik by telephone regarding whether Nunes should recuse himself from the investigation.

Stefanik is a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Whatever she's getting paid to be a rep, it's too much.

“Congresswoman Stefanik will continue to work with her colleagues on the Intelligence Committee — including the chairman and the (Democratic) ranking member — in their oversight role to conduct a bipartisan investigation and follow the facts wherever they lead,” Flanagin said in an email.

Flanagin did not respond to a follow-up request about whether Stefanik specifically agrees with Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., a committee member, who has called for Nunes to recuse himself, and whether she agrees with U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who have called for an independent investigation.

First, the House Intel Committee is doing nothing to investigate. Nunes is skulking around the WH getting intel from staffers to give to the press. Warner and Burr pretty much literally called bullshit on the idea that the House is doing anything to investigate Trump. Secondly, of course Elise isn't going to provide a comment. She got 63% last November. She's a lock in the district. Hope she keeps thinking that.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sally Yates For Independent Counsel

Yeah, the title says it all.

Somewhere out there is the independent counsel that we need to get to the bottom of this murk and mire. I hear Sally Yates might be looking for work.

Small Fixes For ACA

If Trump wanted to.

Section 1402, which appears on Page 119 of the ACA, is aimed at easing a problem that Trump himself has focused on: the onerous deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses that often come with insurance plans on the ACA exchanges. The provision lays out a set of formulas that, in essence, requires insurance companies to waive some of the deductibles and other co-payments for lower-income families. Under 1402, the government is required to reimburse insurers for the cost of these waivers. About 7 million Americans benefit.


If the president and speaker were truly worried about unaffordable insurance, let alone the absence of a competitive insurance marketplace — how they have defined the “explosion” of Obamacare — they could simply agree to implement Section 1402. Congress could drop the suit, or the Trump administration could continue to fight it. Congress could even simply appropriate the money for the reimbursements.

Similar uncertainty surrounds another section of the law. Section 1342 promised to reimburse insurers that experienced extraordinary losses in the early years of the exchanges, when predictions about costs and revenue had to be made with no history to draw on. This program, called “risk corridors,” was derailed by a provision that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) slipped into a broader spending bill in 2015. That, too, has caused insurers to flee.

Again, simply reverting to what the law clearly stipulates would help to stabilize the markets.


A third way Trump could enhance, rather than undermine, the opportunity for his constituents to get affordable health care. He simply has to keep his promise to bring prescription drug prices down to where they are in every other developed country, which is at least 40 percent below what we pay, based on my research. He could do it by using Medicare’s negotiating power, through a legislated set of price controls, or both.

The 40 percent cut could translate into a drop of 6 to 8 percent in premiums that the president has said are far too high. And it could reduce Medicare spending by $350 billion to $500 billion over 10 years, far more than the rejected Trump-Ryan bill was projected to save.


Democratic leaders should immediately bring forward these and other specific, apolitical agenda items. Similarly, their supporters should highlight them rather than sloganize over unrealistic wish-list items such as single-payer.

And the press should keep tabs. Issues such as these rarely make headlines, but how the administration and Congress decide them deserves at least some of the breathless attention we just gave the seesaw battle over repeal and replace.

Inaction by the Republicans to allow healthcare to die is as callous as the attempted passage of AHCA. 

White House Innovation Now

You know you've got them. Dig 'em out and stick an 'H' in. 

Press Republican Editorial On AHCA Aftermath

Nice piece in the Plattsburgh PR, courtesy of the PS.

Most Americans didn't want a massive step back to when many people didn't have health insurance. 
They just wanted adjustments made so the system worked better.

We believe reform is what they still want, and that message was made clear last week.

It must have been a hand-wringing week for Stefanik and other Republicans who truly care about the people of their districts. Here they were, re-elected supposedly in part because they wanted to repeal Obamacare.

And yet here were the CEOs of every hospital in Stefanik's district saying that repealing the Affordable Care Act and installing the quickly contrived GOP plan would be not just problematic but "devastating."

"It is not an exaggeration to say that the loss of insurance for millions, decreased stability of health-care providers, jobs losses and higher taxes are among the outcomes that would follow implementation of this bill," read a joint letter from the heads of hospitals in Plattsburgh, Malone, Saranac Lake, Elizabethtown and other facilities.

They point out the $15 billion band-aid.

Some observers believe Stefanik would have voted for the plan. After all, her hesitation gave her the muscle to get more funding added for women's health and maternity care, and she could have claimed that victory.

But we won't know for sure because Stefanik's office refused to answer direct questions leading up to and after the expected decision. Even the day of the vote, she was "undecided."

Some district residents resented her not revealing how she would vote on the biggest decision of her career so far. But it turned out to make good political sense; she ducked having to anger one segment of district residents — either the yeas or the nays.

No comment isn't enough.

My comment:

Some observers believe Stefanik would have voted for the plan. After all, her hesitation gave her the muscle to get more funding added for women's health and maternity care, and she could have claimed that victory. But we won't know for sure because Stefanik's office refused to answer direct questions leading up to and after the expected decision. Even the day of the vote, she was "undecided." 

No comment is not good enough. Elise bobs and weaves like Ali in his prime. That funding for maternity was a $15 billion dollar band-aid that was surely going to be inadequate. Here's a link to the ten essentials from ACA that would have been cut in AHCA. Yeah, she should say if she was going to vote for that and the tax breaks for the wealthy that would have come with passage of it as well. 

So imagine the reaction when on Wednesday Nunes, according to his own account, received word "from sources" concerning the potential surveillance of the Trump team complete with enough information to identify at least one individual. 

So Nunes is the chairman of House Intelligence which Rep Stefanik is on. He seems to be working with the WH more than he is Congress. Goes to the WH in the middle of the night to see classified material and then leaks it to the press without informing his own committee the following day. Our rep doesn't have much to say about that either. It's odd that someone who is on Armed Services and Intelligence could back a guy for president who is looking more and more like he's been in bed with the Russians for a long time. Seems like very poor judgment.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Go Ahead and Call It Treason

This is a good place to point out that Rep. Stefanik resides on the House Armed Services and House Intelligence Committees and backed Donald Trump for president. does it maybe call into question her judgment that she didn't recognize that the whole Trump family and everyone around them seems to be in bed with the Russians? Then there is Rep. Nunes who heads the House Intel committee and apparently the efforts at cover-ups of any crimes committed by the Trump criminal cartel. And Elise doesn't have anymore to say about this than she does anything else. 

How's Paul LePage Feel About This?

Who knows? He might say something sane. God knows no other Republican is.

The White House is calling for immediate budget cuts of $18 billion from programs like medical research, infrastructure and community development grants to help pay for the border wall that President Donald Trump repeatedly promised would be financed by Mexico.

The administration would eliminate $1.2 billion in National Institutes of Health research grants, a favorite of both parties. The community development block grant program, also popular, would be halved, amounting to a cut of $1.5 billion, and Trump would strip $500 million from a transportation project known as TIGER grants.

Commonsense From Paul LePage?

Never thought I'd post approvingly on the words of LePage. These are weird times. 

The President has repeatedly said that his new plan to replace Obamacare involves first waiting for the law to "explode." LePage was a supporter of Trump's during the presidential campaign.

"Oh, yeah, yeah, so let's keep hurting the American people," LePage said on the "George Hale Ric Tyler Show" on WVOM Maine radio. "That's about as sensible as go jump off a bridge. That makes no sense. If you are telling people let it fail so the American people can get hurt more and when they get hurt more maybe we'll do something, why don't you go jump off a bridge? That's just about as sensible."

He also said he hoped all the Freedom Caucus members lose in 2018. Amen Brother Paul! May I add Elise Stefanik to that loser list. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Elise Stefanik Profile in Courage: AHCA Edition

Choconillaberrydough is her favorite flavor. That's from my comment on a previous post. Yeah, that's probably not worth pointing out. If Ben and Jerry's starts to make that I want royalties, though.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, was still undecided, as of Thursday evening, on her vote on House Republican legislation to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care plan.

“The legislation is still being finalized and she is waiting to review the final text that is passed through all committees and negotiated by Congress and the White House,” said Tom Flanagin, the congresswoman’s spokesman. 

And besides, she needs a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Here's the scoop after the humiliating withdrawal of the bill.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, who did not take a public stance on the legislation before or after the vote was canceled, said she remains committed to repealing and replacing Obama’s health care law.

And she never will take a public stance so all you meanies stop being so mean and asking. It's not like she's your rep to Congress or anything. I do like to see that she's committed to R and R. I'm holding out hope that it will be an annual occurrence on ACA signing day. The GOP will flail around trying to cob together a bill to replace it. 

Let me point out a pet peeve.

“Throughout this process, I’ve fought for the needs of the North County and negotiated better access for critical issues like women’s health and maternity care,”


“We need to continue working to find solutions we can agree on that will help continue to replace Obamacare with reforms that lower costs, increase access and improve quality for hard-working North Country families,” she said. 

Ah the irony of someone who won't hold town halls using the buzzword 'access' every chance she gets. 

Stefanik said she remains committed to improving the health care system.


Comment At PS

This is the story and the comment is far off topic from it. Just doing the patented Repsac What'd I Say.

OK, his last name is spelled Bauer (like Jack) and don't you mean to say that humans are the endangered species (if I read your logic correctly)?

We'll see if she wins in a landslide. I saw awhile ago someone was giving HRC a hard time because she dithered over naming a favorite flavor of ice cream on the campaign trail last year. I can surely see Elise doing the same thing. It's almost impossible to get her to take a solid stand on anything. She got a landslide last November because of Trumpski. Hopefully she'll lose because of him this time. Does it seem a little disconcerting that someone on the House Armed Services and House Intelligence isn't aware that the candidate she's backing for president is in bed with the Russians and so are all the people around him? The guy, Nunes, who heads House Intelligence seems to be on the WH staff. I'm not sure Elise isn't as well.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Letter On the Bring Out Your Dead Bill

   So, going from the sublime to the ridiculous and beyond. I spent last Monday through Friday as a guest in Glens Falls Hospital. I met so many people working there that I can't begin to praise enough because I'd miss so many. I hope this letter helps to make up for my inability to find and thank each one. From janitorial and food service to nurses to doctors there was no one who is not pure gold. For the nurses, that's double. I'd like to also express gratitude to Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats for passage of ACA. Healing is easier without thoughts of impending financial ruin.
     I'd like to thank our current reigning party, as well, for the buffoonery on Thursday and Friday. Laughter is the best medicine. I keep hearing that ACA is a disaster, despite CBO saying markets are stable. It may just be Republican attempts at governing that are disastrous. What are they planning for the eighth anniversary of the signing of ACA? This year's EPIC FAIL will be hard to top. "We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with the winning." Don't stop yet.
     Rep. Stefanik got out of casting a vote and is able to stay on record as "undecided." The bill they were trying to pass did away with the requirement for policies to cover maternity and hospitalization in general, along with giving tax breaks to people who don't need tax breaks. Beyond the question of what a health policy should cover to meet Republican expectations is; how inhumane and immoral does legislation have to be to get a hell no from our rep? Congresswoman, are you a freaking lizard person? 

Actually, this letter was submitted without the last sentence. It came across as nastier than I want to be.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Comment At Shaw's

Looks like in the battle between Obamacare and Trumpcare (or as I prefer, GOPcare) the good guys are winning. The Reprehensibles went from a FAIL on the seventh anniversary of the signing of the ACA to an EPIC FAIL today. Ironically, I've been taking advantage of having health insurance since Sunday night and was able to get out of hospital on the day of the EPIC FAIL. I feel better knowing that at least some of my medical expenses are going to be paid.

What are the Repulsives planning for the eighth anniversary? Maybe we can make this a yearly event. It should be obvious to everyone at this point the GOP is incapable of governing.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Letter From the Original HHH

Thanks Maggie! I was thinking of writing a letter on the firing of Preet Bharara and you made it so much easier.

So President Trump fired Attorney Bharara. Who cares? I do not know if Mr. Bharara is Muslim or not. Maybe everyone is trying to being politically correct.

Not everyone. She certainly isn't. For the record, his father was Sikh and his mother was Hindu. I believe his grandmother was Dutch, though. 

I thought I saw this linked at TPM yesterday. Couldn't find it today. In any case, lots of good stuff in it: Info and links and such. 

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was removed from his post by the Trump administration last week, was overseeing an investigation into stock trades made by the president’s health secretary, according to a person familiar with the office.

Martha Stewart should be pissed

Friday, March 17, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Two Letters to Elise Today

Just got time to link to them.

Sue Elliot

Stephen Baratta

Thanks folks, keep those fan letters to our rep coming!

Patient-Centered, Market-Driven?

Not so much.

To address this lack of price transparency,  the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) during the Obama administration launched a public database of charges by doctors, hospitals, drug companies and other providers.  You can find it here. If you are a professional researcher, you might be able to figure out which hospital in Minneapolis has the lowest posted price for a heart transplant or any of 100 other of the most common procedures.

If Republicans really wanted patients to take more responsibility for their health care, they would fix all that — fix it by insisting that doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other providers make all their prices for all classes of customers readily available at the front desk and on their websites. But if you look through the 123 pages of the Republicans’ American Health Care Act that was rammed through two House committees this week before anyone could digest it, there’s nothing about any of that.

Nor is any mention of quality metrics. Obama’s Affordable Care Act included a big push for the government to do what is known as “outcomes research,” using millions of patient records to determine what operations, what drugs, what tests were most effective in treating various conditions. But at the insistence of Republicans, researchers cannot consider price in their analysis, making it impossible to determine which offers the best value. The Republican bill leaves this prohibition in place. What it does do, however, is to repeal the small tax on group health insurance that funds outcomes research.

Yeah, I think it's more about giving rich folks tax breaks. 

Virginia is for Traffickers

Time for a national gun policy.

“There’s no limit to how many guns I can go buy from the store. I can go get 20 guns from the store tomorrow. . . . I can do that Monday through Friday. . . . They might start looking at me, but in Virginia, our laws are so little, I can give guns away.” 

Out Like Flynn

Michael Flynn is the gift that will keep giving for awhile. And thank God and Greyhound he's gone.

Flynn’s work potentially benefiting Turkey meant he was representing the interests of a country other than the United States at the same time he was advising Trump on foreign policy during the election.

Flynn’s firm was paid more than $500,000 by Inovo for public relations and research work, including looking into exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania. His extradition is being sought by Turkey, which has accused him of fomenting a coup attempt last year.

Flynn wrote an op-ed on Nov. 8 for the Hill newspaper in which he called for Gulen’s extradition — a controversial diplomatic issue for the United States.

“The primary bone of contention between the U.S. and Turkey is Fethullah Gülen, a shady ­Islamic mullah residing in Pennsylvania whom former president Clinton once called his ‘friend’ in a well circulated video,” Flynn wrote.

“Gülen portrays himself as a moderate, but he is in fact a radical Islamist,” he wrote.

I believe the adjective shady could apply to Flynn as well as being a radical who portrays himself as a moderate. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Super Crooks of Russia

Wanted to at least link to this story.

“Medvedev can steal so much and so openly because Putin does the same, only on a grander scale; because everyone in government does the same, because the judges and the prosecutors and the special services are also doing the same. . . . The system is so rotten that there is nothing healthy left.”

The Trump administration, which has been backed up by Russian propaganda outlets in denouncing reports on its own activities as “fake news,” can hardly be expected to assist courageous dissidents such as Mr. Navalny in exposing truths about the Kremlin. But other Western governments and nongovernmental organizations should do what they can to help. Disseminating evidence of Mr. Putin’s corruption would be an appropriate response to Russia’s disinformation campaigns in the West.

Now More Catherine Rampell

I linked to this column in the last post, but it was already filling up the internet.

The ratings and analytics firm S&P Global has ballparked the number of people who would lose their insurance at 6 million to 10 million; others have offered figures as high as 15 million and 20 million. Meanwhile, a group of health researchers calculated that the bill would increase costs for enrollees on the individual insurance market by, on average, more than $1,500 per year when it would take effect, and by more than $2,400 per year by 2020.

Oh, and the Medicare trust fund would be exhausted by 2024, according to Brookings Institution researchers.

For those keeping score, that means fewer people would have insurance, those who get insurance on the exchanges would pay a higher price for it and Medicare's solvency would be jeopardized as a bonus.

Yes, I liked that info so much I'm putting it up twice. I was going to look up this bit of hyperbole utter bullshit today. Thanks Ms. Rampell. 

"lower costs, expand choices, increase competition and ensure health-care access for all Americans."

Why would I want to look that up? This WP editorial today brought it to mind.

No one can accuse Donald Trump of campaigning in poetry. But after just one week in the White House, the new president is bumping up against the hard reality of governing in prose.

Many of the sweeping actions President Trump vowed this week through his executive orders and proclamations are unlikely to happen, either because they are impractical, opposed by Congress and members of his Cabinet, or full of legal holes.

The reality — that yawning gap between what Trump says he will do and what he can do — underscores his chaotic start, which includes executive actions drafted by close aides rather than experts and without input from the agencies tasked with implementing those actions. 


Today on ACA R and R

That's not rest and relaxation. Words from the guv.

“Healthcare experts across the country have rejected the Republican plan outright citing the devastating impact on patients ... Health care is a human right, not a luxury,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a Thursday afternoon statement. “After seven years of progress under the Affordable Care Act, the Republican Congress has proposed an inadequate, ill-conceived and unacceptable plan that places the coverage of more than one million New Yorkers in jeopardy. Once fully phased in, (the plan) would shift more than $2.4 billion in costs onto taxpayers and hospitals each year,” he said.

“This plan is a direct assault on New York values (by) defunding Planned Parenthood, restricting access to abortion and reproductive health services, and eliminating $400 million in means tested credits that lowered insurance costs for low-income New Yorkers,” Cuomo said.

“As bad as this bill is, it may get worse. Far-right opponents of the bill in Congress are demanding changes. As disturbing and devastating as the proposed cuts would be, the final result could be downright bone chilling,” he said. “New York’s entire delegation – democrats and republicans – need to stand up and they need to fight, stand against this regressive plan, and protect the people they are sworn to represent. There is no going back.”

Good news if you're from NY or VT.

For older individuals in other states, the AHCA proposes a premium cap for older individuals at five times that of a younger person. For someone currently paying $3,000 a year, their premium could increase up to $15,000.

But in New York State, that will not happen, said Long.

“In New York and Vermont, they have to charge the same premium for all ages,” she said. “I don’t see anything in the AHCA that pre-empts that. So it won’t have as big an impact on people living in New York.”

Response to a wingnut commenter.

Cuomo is afraid of the changes to Medicaid - block grants will force him to make hard decisions.

It's not Cuomo that's going to be hurt by it. 

The ACA is unsustainable and has failed to achieve its goals. 

So, Republicans are either going to repeal it with no replacement at all. Or it's going to stay in place because they are never going to be able to agree on a replacement. Isn't that obvious? What they have is not going to cause enough low income people to lose insurance and enough tax breaks for the wealthy for the Freedom Caucus. So, they have to change it for them. And it's already too onerous to make it through the Senate. 

The only hope is a market driven system. 

Does that actually even mean anything? 

Government run healthcare is dangerous on multiple levels. 

Response to a wingnut spokesman.

We encourage everyone to read the plan at and to contact our office with their thoughts.”

I went and took a look at it and decided I wasn't going to read 123 pages of gibberish that wasn't ever going to come to fruition anyway. I'll wait for CBO on Monday. Until then I'll read Catherine Rampell

The ratings and analytics firm S&P Global has ballparked the number of people who would lose their insurance at 6 million to 10 million; others have offered figures as high as 15 million and 20 million. Meanwhile, a group of health researchers calculated that the bill would increase costs for enrollees on the individual insurance market by, on average, more than $1,500 per year when it would take effect, and by more than $2,400 per year by 2020.

Oh, and the Medicare trust fund would be exhausted by 2024, according to Brookings Institution researchers.

For those keeping score, that means fewer people would have insurance, those who get insurance on the exchanges would pay a higher price for it and Medicare's solvency would be jeopardized as a bonus. 

You gotta love market driven solutions.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wingnut Letter Day

My joy from the other day's 7 letters from sane, well-adjusted folks has been tempered somewhat by this letter today. It's not so much that he writes in support of Elise. I could understand doing that.

I’m writing in reply to the recent coverage of the protests that took place outside Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s office in Glens Falls. I’m familiar with this George Soros (the billionaire) backed group having gone through the same thing when I ran the Glens Falls office for Congressman Chris Gibson. 

Yes, he started right off with move.on. And did anyone realize that Soros is a billionaire. A real one, not like the one in the WH.

Based on her votes, Congressional Quarterly ranked Congresswoman Stefanik among the most independent bipartisan members of Congress ranking her 21st most independent out of 435. Isn’t this what most of us want? 

Bullshit. And no that's not what I want. I live in a district that voted for Clinton twice, Gore, Kerry and Obama twice. I want a Democratic representative, preferably not a Blue Dog. 

When Chris Gibson was in office he too was ranked one of the most independent bipartisan members, but doesn’t care about that. They only care these fine representatives are Republicans and goes after them.

Twice for move.on.

So what is the issue here with Ms. Stefanik? It isn’t a vote. is trying to say she is not accessible to constituents.

That's three.

We don’t need this George Soros backed group here in the North Country stirring the pot. It’s time moves on.

That's four and he ends with a witty little pun. Maybe that's a punny little wit. OK, I'm officially scared of move.on and will check under the bed and in the closet before tucking in tonight. Oh, and I almost forgot. It's pretty likely that many of the folks protesting Elise Stefanik have no idea who George Soros or move. on are. Guess I should be grateful he didn't say they were getting paid. 

Statement From Elise on CAHCA

Shaw, I liked CAHCA so much I'm stealing it. I'm going with Crappy American Health Care Act, tho.

“Congresswoman Stefanik believes we need to repeal and replace Obamacare with common-sense reforms that lower costs and increase access for families in our district. 

I'll just put up the comment I left.

“Congresswoman Stefanik believes we need to repeal and replace Obamacare with common-sense reforms that lower costs and increase access for families in our district. 

OK, I really hate that common-sense adjective. Saying it doesn't make it so. Did the Republicans consult with anyone in coming up with this plan? It seems to be universally loathed

While conservatives complained that these changes don’t go far enough, they have sparked criticism not just from Democrats but from moderate Republicans, AARP, the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association. “We cannot support the AHCA as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations,” James L. Madara, chief executive of the American Medical Association and a doctor, wrote in a letter to committee leaders overseeing work on the bill. Richard Pollack, CEO of the American Hospital Association, voiced similar fears, saying efforts to “restructure the Medicaid program” by shifting it from an entitlement program to one based on a per capita allocation “will have the effect of making significant reductions in a program that provides services for our most vulnerable populations and already pays providers significantly less than the cost of providing care.” 

How does she know it's going to lower cost and increase access? They didn't even wait for the CBO analysis. Yeah, I know the WH is saying CBO numbers can't be trusted. I trust them a lot more than I do Trump, Ryan or Stefanik.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Feeling Safer Already

Pretty sure that Great Wall of Trump isn't going to protect us from everything the Coast Guard, TSA and FEMA were going to.

Overall, the Department of Homeland Security would get a 6 percent boost to its budget, to $43.8 billion, according to documents obtained by reporters. But the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is reportedly seeking significant cuts to the budgets of the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which oversees the national response to disasters. 

Here's someone not feeling safer.

"It is ignorant of what constitutes national security," said retired Adm. James Loy, a former Coast Guard commandant who served as deputy Homeland Security secretary and TSA administrator under former-President George W. Bush, to Politico. "They simply don’t understand the equation."

And someone who backed an idiot for president who doesn't like it either.

"[A]s preparations are made for a wall on the Southwest border, migrants, smugglers and potential terrorists will look to America’s shores and waterways for entry," writes Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) of California, one of Trump's earliest backers, in an opinion piece for Fox News. "Absent a strong Coast Guard, America will be less safe and President Trump’s ambition to fully reconstitute the military and enhance security will go unmet."

Have we all forgotten that Mexico is going to pay for it?

Wednesday Links on GOPcare

Wash Post editorial:

Adding to this irresponsible picture, Republicans are poised to mark up their bill without a full analysis from the Congressional Budget Office of its budgetary impact or — crucially — of how many people the proposal would (or would not) cover.

On the latter question, there is ample reason for concern. The bill would substantially reduce the amount of assistance that low-income people get to buy coverage on the individual insurance market, it would ramp up how much more insurers can charge older people relative to younger people, and it would remove Obamacare’s crucial link between actual insurance costs and the federal assistance people get. Combined, these changes would push many needy people out of the individual insurance market. Republicans claim that Americans would have more flexibility in the sorts of insurance plans on offer, including cheaper “catastrophic-only” health-care policies, but that sort of coverage, with its high deductibles and limited benefits, is hardly useful to people barely scraping by now under Obamacare’s much more generous system.

Andy Slavitt:

First, the tax-credit structure in the bill would not only make health care less affordable for millions, particularly those over 55, it would also destabilize the insurance markets. The ACA pegs tax credits to income levels and, when premiums rise, those tax credits rise along with them, protecting consumers against regional differences and sudden increases in medical costs. 

Second, the bill drops the individual mandate. About as unpopular as vegetables are with my kids, the mandate for individuals to buy insurance nevertheless keeps premiums lower for everyone. Adding a surcharge of 30 percent for those who decide to sign up for coverage after a gap may hurt more than it would help, as it would disproportionately attract sicker people. 

But the most lasting effects of this bill would be the significant steps it took toward forcing permanent changes to Medicaid and Medicare. The Medicaid changes are more obvious and dangerous. First, the bill would effectively end the popular and largely bipartisan Medicaid expansion created by the ACA, which extended care to millions of working Americans. Dropping the federal funding contribution for new enrollees after 2020 — and violating a promise the federal government made to the states — would rapidly end the expansion. In today’s world, taking away funding for such a program is the same as killing it; it’s just a different weapon.

Medicare doesn’t escape unscathed either. The bill would cut several years from the life of the Medicare trust fund, but that’s clearly no accident: The program would wind up right where “entitlement hawks” such as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) want it — in crisis. If this bill became law, the speaker would finally be positioned to change Medicare to a voucher program.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Natives are Restless

My morning paper had such a wonderful bevy of letters.

Matthew Dorgan:

During Mr. Trump's speech to CPAC this week he said, in reference to the people who have the gall to think they should be allowed to speak to their elected officials, "They're not us." Judging from the events locally this past week it seems the Incredible Vanishing Congresswoman is in full agreement. 

Long-time reader, first-time writer? Could be. In any case, keep up the good work. 

Since I am being treated for cancer and my spouse resides in a nursing home with dementia, my very serious concerns for health care might be uppermost in my mind, were it not for what I consider to be a much greater threat — the one that Donald Trump poses to our democracy.

Ms. Eissenberg is another first-timer. Blessings and prayers to her and her husband. 

Just reading today's Post-Star regarding the remarks made by the jogging stranger.  Let this stranger also add her praise to you and all journalists who are doing their jobs under very trying conditions today to hold steady and to protect the constitutional rights for a free press. Please don't let your guard down. Thank you.

And yet another first-timer all the way from Florida. That was her whole letter. Short and sweet. Wish I could make  mine that succinct. 

I would like to congratulate Congresswoman Elise Stefanik for successfully hiding from her constituents during this congressional recess. This is another proud moment for Republicans who find that their actual policies are somewhat unpopular.

Yes, Mr. Busteed is another first-timer. Ring that bell! Definitely read the rest of his letter.

We have been urged by President Trump to be many things. Be alert, be vigilant, be angry, be fearful, be prepared, be armed. The list goes on and on. But there are some words we never hear. Among them are: be caring, be compassionate, be empathetic, be open-minded, be sympathetic, be loving.

Mr. Krantz is a veteran and long-time curmudgeon as I am. Keep up the good work Mr. Krantz.

Elise Stefanik has announced her plan to sidestep public meetings and instead have private meetings with lucky few participants to have their voices heard. This is a thinly veiled attempt to avoid providing the same public forum for dissent when Ms. Stefanik does not agree with the dissenters. I wish to lend my voice in calling out Ms. Stefanik for failing to deal with the concerns of the public in an open and honest way. I also wish to encourage the protesters outside of each of Ms. Stefanik’s offices to not let up and continue to voice your concerns as publicly and loudly as possible in growing numbers, because she may not meet with you, but she cannot help but hear you. I’ll be joining you.

Mr. Moon is another vet and the only writer who didn't upset spell-check. Congrats for that Mr. Moon.

We all need work — to survive, to have worth and dignity. The question: what to do when the place where we live (and often love) no longer provides work we know (and want).  Families from Appalachia migrated to Baltimore and Detroit; small farms in the Midwest consolidated into industrialized farms; factories in mill towns in New England shut down; coal mines closed, unable to compete financially with natural gas, coal’s pollution threatening our health and earth. People buying online harms small local businesses and many leave for larger cities. Change. Towns (and cities) are challenged to find ways of surviving and thriving.

Saved the best for last and that's no shame for the other writers. If you only go to read one of these, read the rest of this letter. Bernice writes often and writes well. 

Some folks are fired up!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Eternal Optimists Have to Stick Together

Don't miss the photo that accompanies this story. I listened on the radio and was spitting and cursing. We all handle utter disbelief and shock of the Trump presidency differently, though.

The gist of the article is that there is only so much damage that Trump can do. Thank God. That's still no reason that in 2018 every Republican available should be sent packing to K Street or Heritage or Betty Ford in the case of John Sweeney.

He can’t hold back the one true inevitability in demographic change: the replacement of older generations by newer ones. Underappreciated in November’s election was the continuing leftward lean of young voters, once again supporting the Democratic candidate by around 20 points — and with younger millennials, including both college-educated and noncollege whites, even more pro-Democratic than older ones. That is huge. And don’t expect these voters to shift right as they age. Political science research shows that early voting patterns tend to stick.

Another locus of disquiet, if not hysteria, on the left is the environment. But consider this: In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire; in 1979, when Obama was attending college in Los Angeles and remembers constant smog, there were 234 days when the city exceeded federal ozone standards. Our water and air are now orders of magnitude cleaner than they were back then.

I know I'm feeling better. I read another article somewhere pointing out how the coal industry is shrinking. So, there's only going to be so much coal debris to go into those streams in West Virginia. 

It's Just Another Manic Monday

Here's an article that nicely explains how hard it is to get a wiretap. How hard is it? Pretty fuckin' hard!

"Both criminal and foreign intelligence wiretaps have onerous and strict processes of approval that require not only multiple levels of internal Justice Department review, but also require court review and approval," said Matthew Waxman, an expert on national security law at Columbia University.

And a nice column by E.J. Dionne

This saga also reminds us that a crowd claiming to place "America First" does not really believe its own slogan. They place only about half of America first, the part that opposed Obama and supported Trump. When it comes to the other half, they feel only contempt.

This is why Russian interference in our democracy appears to matter far less to Trump than saving his own skin. It's also why he could compare Obama unfavorably to a foreign autocrat during the 2016 campaign.

And Margaret Sullivan pointing out that it has gone from first we kill all the lawyers to first we kill all the journalists. Here she is on Trump and his idol Vlad

Trump’s admiration for Putin becomes even more troubling when paired with his own moves to stamp out independent journalism through disparagement, denial of access, favoritism and blacklisting.

“For Putin, there has been no greater obsession in controlling the culture than in controlling the media,” Simon said.

For America under Trump, that’s a cautionary tale.

Josh Marshall provides a laugh from Kellyanne:

Conway was asked during an appearance on "Fox and Friends" how Trump knew that his phones had been tapped by President Barack Obama. Trump made the explosive, unsubstantiated claim in a series of tweets Saturday.

"Let me answer that globally," she said. "He is the President of the United States. He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not. And that's the way it should be for Presidents."

I'm proud to announce that the blog has received our certification as a member of the Deep State. The privilege is the honor. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Elise Wants to See Trump's Returns, But Not Much

I'll give Ken Tingley a big bouquet for this.

Back in October, Rep. Elise Stefanik said presidential candidate Donald Trump should release his tax returns.

That was good to hear.

Earlier this week, Democrats in Congress used an obscure parliamentary move to force a vote calling on Trump to release his tax returns. They reasoned those documents could aid ongoing investigations into potential links between the president, his associates and Russia.

The House voted 229-185 against forcing the president to release his tax returns.

Rep. Stefanik voted with the rest of the Republicans.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Rough Draft Letter

     I’d like to respond to Rep. Stefanik’s assessment of the president’s address to Congress as unifying and optimistic. I realize she belongs to his party and has to say nice things, besides, she doesn’t want to be a Twitter target. I’ll agree it was more upbeat than the carnage speech at the inauguration.
     I’d be interested to know what she found unifying, though. At the beginning, he devoted 51 words to the threats to JCC’s, vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas. The president did not mention his name. I’m sure it’s difficult to pronounce. Being president of everyone in this country obliges him to make the effort.
     At his recent press conference he was asked about recent anti-Semitism. He was dismissive of the Jewish reporter and ordered him to sit down. Later he suggested the acts were done by his political opponents. The afternoon of  the address he suggested to Pennsylvania’s AG that the attacks may be perpetuated by Jewish people to make “others look bad.”

     Numerous studies show immigrants, legal or illegal, commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans. Despite that, Trump is calling for a new agency at DHS to collect data on crimes by undocumented immigrants. Immigrants are more apt to be victims. Address problems that actually exist and the money to the CDC to study gun deaths.
Final Draft
     I'd like to respond to Rep. Stefanik's assessment of the president's address to Congress as unifying and optimistic. I realize he's the leader of her party and she has to say nice things. That, and she doesn't want to become a Twitter target. I will agree it was more upbeat than the carnage speech at the inauguration.
     I'd be interested to know what she found unifying. At the beginning, he devoted all of 51 words to the threats to Jewish community centers, desecration of Jewish cemeteries and the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas. The president did not mention his name. I realize it's difficult to pronounce. Being president of everyone in this country obliges him to make the effort. At his recent press conference he was asked about the rise in anti-Semitism. He was dismissive of the Jewish reporter who inquired and ordered him to sit down. To another questioner, he suggested the acts were carried out by his political opponents. The afternoon of his address, speaking to the Pennsylvania attorney general, he put forth the notion the attacks might be the actions of Jewish people in a "false flag" operation.
     Numerous studies show immigrants, legal or illegal, commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans. Despite that, Mr. Trump is calling for a new agency, VOICE, at DHS to collect data on crimes by undocumented immigrants when they are actually more apt to be victims. They don't need scapegoating from the president.
     Looking at where things stand on ACA and tax reform, I wouldn't say Mr. Trump is even unifying Republicans. Outside of them, I believe many are coalescing around the idea that four years of this presidency is not a viable proposition.

All of Moscow's Men

Drip. Drip. Drip

Two days after the presidential election, a Russian official speaking to a reporter in Moscow offered a surprising acknowledgment: The Kremlin had been in contact with Donald Trump’s campaign.

The claim, coming amid allegations that Russia had interfered with the election, was met with an immediate no-wiggle-room, blanket denial from Trump’s spokeswoman. “It never happened,” Hope Hicks told the Associated Press at the time. “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

In fact, it is now clear it did happen.

Never say never. I mean unless it never happened. And is this guy visiting Russia on a tour with Moscow Jill

In early June, a little-known adviser to Donald Trump stunned a gathering of high-powered Washington foreign policy experts meeting with the visiting prime minister of India, going off topic with effusive praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump.

The adviser, Carter Page, hailed Putin as stronger and more reliable than President Obama, according to three people who were present at the closed-door meeting at Blair House — and then touted the positive effect a Trump presidency would have on U.S.-Russia relations.

A month later, Page dumbfounded foreign policy experts again by giving another speech harshly critical of U.S. policy — this time in Moscow.

Jesus, I can see why Obama was tapping his phones. 

Intel Courtesy of Mark Levin

And Bill Maher and his panel say what I've been thinking.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Couple of Good Stories From Josh

Summary of what's known, so far, of Trump and the Russians.

And, oh my God, Felix Sater and more.

Elise Fails

I stumbled across this looking for something else. Sweet kismet!

Elise Stefanik has refused to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2016 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests. Historically, candidates have failed to complete our test due to the advice they receive from their parties and advisors and out of fear of negative attack ads. Elise Stefanik is still welcome to submit the test at any time.

Yes, she failed the Political Courage Test. What a surprise.

And Elise Swoons

I am so glad that my congresswoman is going to continue to cling tightly to the Trump coattails. That should make it so much easier to kick her out of office in 2018. She prefers to spend her time in Washington anyway.

Stefanik, R-Willsboro, said she felt the president’s speech overall was excellent, and was directed not just to Congress, but to all Americans.

“It was very unifying and optimistic and stressed the importance of bipartisanship,” she said.

What'd I Say (TM Repsac):

There's so much that could be said, but I don't want to sit here all through the weekend. Some say Carryn Owens was being honored. I say she was being used by the WH. We'll have to disagree on that. I do want to point out though that any ovation for her and Ryan Owens were not for the benefit of Mr. Trump. And kudos to Bill Owens for pointing out that the WH is using his son as a shield to deflect criticism. 

“It was very unifying and optimistic and stressed the importance of bipartisanship,” she said. 

Optimistic? Next to the "carnage" I guess it was. Unifying? Let's see, he talked about "recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries" a few hours after "Mr Trump broke his silence to repeat an neo-Nazi conspiracy theory that has claimed that the attacks are 'false flags'. " And he finally mentioned the shooting victim in Kansas though not by name. Then there was the unification that VOICE will bring to the nation. 

That follows his recent directive that Homeland Security collect and publish weekly data detailing crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. 

That isn’t data collection, that’s propaganda, and a shameless effort to stoke fear and suspicion of our immigrant neighbors and co-workers. 

Study after study has found that immigrants, with or without legal status, commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans. But Trump and his handlers have drawn an alternative conclusion, and now they want to shamelessly gin up the evidence. 

I feel the nation coming together already.

And that why I bookmark stuff here. It's so much easier to retrieve it for the PS comments section. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Shine is Off the Best Speech Ever

That didn't take long. I can see why the White House wants to crack down on leaks. Some folks are putting a hurt on the Tin God.

Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.

One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.

My, what a tangled web we weave...

The Washington Post contacted all 26 members of the 2016 Senate Armed Services Committee to see whether any lawmakers besides Sessions met with Kislyak in 2016. Of the 20 lawmakers who responded, every senator, including Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), said they did not meet with the Russian ambassador last year. The other lawmakers on the panel did not respond as of Wednesday evening.

“Members of the committee have not been beating a path to Kislyak’s door,” a senior Senate Armed Services Committee staffer said, citing tensions in relations with Moscow. Besides Sessions, the staffer added, “There haven’t been a ton of members who are looking to meet with Kislyak for their committee duties.”

That's probably because they weren't part of the Trump campaign coordinating hacking with the Russians. Oh wait, that hasn't come out yet. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Couple on the Address Last Night

Fact checking by Wash Po. Lots of fact checking.

LA Times on the VOICE fascism.

He wants to form a new agency within the Department of Homeland Security called VOICE, for Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, to provide “a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.” That follows his recent directive that Homeland Security collect and publish weekly data detailing crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

That isn’t data collection, that’s propaganda, and a shameless effort to stoke fear and suspicion of our immigrant neighbors and co-workers.

"President Trump has all but declared war on refugees and immigrants," Beshear said.


"You and your Republican allies in Congress seem determined to rip away health insurance from millions of Americans who need it," he said.

And here's some pre-address blame shifting. I missed part of it the other day. So, in the interest of completeness. 

 In an interview with Fox News that aired Tuesday morning, Trump said the mission “was started before I got here.”

He noted that the operation was something his generals “were looking at for a long time doing.”

“This was something that was, you know, just — they wanted to do,” Trump said. “ And they came to see me and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected.”

“And they lost Ryan,” Trump continued.

What a profile in courage he is.

Paul Waldman on Trump being a cynical SOB.

And because Trump doesn't care about any of the other stuff. Obama had 7.2 million more viewers