Sunday, May 21, 2017

Trump Forced To Eat Words . . . Again

After two weeks of what one The Washington Post writer calls “nearly unrelenting disaster of bad decisions and bad news
,” Trump embarked on his first overseas trip as president to visit Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Some supporters and conservative websites exulted as soon as he stepped off the plane — quick to contrast it with a similar meeting at the start of Obama's presidency.

The Republicans ran a political ad about the bow in 2009; the White House press secretary unconvincingly denied it happened; and Trump was one of many who cited it years later as a symbol of Obama's weakness — “he begs and pleads and bows.”. . . 

 . . . A bow? Surely not, some insisted, after watching Trump bend his knees, slump forward and bob his head to let King Salman place the honorary collar of Saudi Arabia's founder around his neck.

He's just “bending over,” one supporter suggested.

“He's receiving an award.”

“More of a squat than a bow.”

The White House did not immediately respond when asked if Trump had softened his position on bowing, after criticizing Obama about it on more than one occasion.

Whatever he was doing with the king, Trump appears to have left his Washington troubles only to walk into the same quagmire of diplomatic body language as so many presidents past. 

Read the full article here

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trump's Regime's ‘sanctuary city’ order blocked by federal judge in San Francisco

The Washington Post this morning reports that the Trump regime has again been foiled, its designs on us, the citizens, frustrated.  It appears to be a trend with staying power.

[The] American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups said the injunction offered a clear warning that Trump’s order — the third issued by the president to be blocked, at least partially, in federal court — is illegal.
“Once again, the courts have spoken to defend tolerance, diversity and inclusion from the illegal threats of the Trump administration,” ACLU National Political Director Faiz Shakir said in a statement. “Once again, Trump has overreached and lost.”

In court, the government’s lawyers suggested cities and towns were overreacting to the order because federal officials have not yet defined sanctuary cities or moved to withhold funding from them. But on television and in news conferences, the judge pointed out, the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have threatened to sanction such jurisdictions.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Forget Spin. Plain Dishonesty Is Trump Policy Says Prof. Krugman

The latest big buzz is about Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. It turns out that he lied during his confirmation hearings, denying that he had met with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.
In fact, he met twice with the Russian ambassador, who is widely reported to also be a key spymaster.
Not incidentally, if this news hadn’t come to light, forcing Sessions to recuse himself, he would have supervised the investigation into Russian election meddling, possibly in collusion with the Trump campaign.

But let’s not focus too much on Sessions. After all, he is joined in the Cabinet by Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, who lied to Congress about his use of a private email account; Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, who lied about a sweetheart deal to purchase stock in a biotechnology company at a discount; and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, who falsely told Congress that his financial firm didn’t engage in “robo-signing” of foreclosure documents, seizing homes without proper consideration.

And they would have served with Michael Flynn as national security adviser but for the fact that Flynn was forced out after the press discovered that, like Sessions, he had lied about contacts with the Russian ambassador.
At this point it’s easier to list the Trump officials who haven’t been caught lying under oath than those who have. This is not an accident.

Critics of our political culture used to complain, with justification, about politicians’ addiction to spin — their inveterate habit of playing down awkward facts and presenting their actions in a much better light than they deserved.
But all indications are that the age of spin is over. It has been replaced by an era of raw, shameless dishonesty.
In part, of course, the pervasiveness of lies reflects the character of the man at the top: No president, or for that matter major US political figure of any kind, has ever lied as freely and frequently as Donald Trump. But this isn’t just a Trump story. His ability to get away with it, at least so far, requires the support of many enablers: Almost all of his party’s elected officials, a large bloc of voters and, all too often, much of the news media.

Read Professor K's piece in The Times for March 3, 2017.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Paul Krugman Exposes the Biggest Fraud on the Right

As sickened as Paul Krugman is by Trump's presidency, he may be even more disgusted by the so-called principled conservatives scuttling about Trump's party. 
In a scalding piece Friday, the New York Times columnist melted what he deems to be America's true "snowflakes": congressmen like Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who can't stand the heat of an angry town hall. "Many prominent Republicans haven't even gotten to the point of trying to respond to criticism," he writes. "They're just whining about how mean their constituents are being, and invoking conspiracy theories."
Despite what Republicans may tell themselves and the public, these protests are not a "paid, astroturf-type movement," as Sean Spicer calls them. Millions of Americans are distraught and enraged over the prospect of losing the health insurance and financial security that the ACA guarantees. "What could be worse than political action by the politically active?" Krugman asks caustically.
And yet the true object of his scorn is neither the indifferent chairman of the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform nor the White House's mendacious press secretary. It's House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, who has had years to produce his own alternative to Obamacare and come up with nothing. All he offers now are flat tax credits, which incidentally will provide a huge windfall to America's wealthiest. Cracks Krugman: "Funny how that seems to happen in every plan Mr. Ryan proposes."
For ideologues like Ryan, freedom is wealth — or at least the exclusive provenance of the wealthy. Here's what the Wisconsin congressman had to say about government healthcare earlier this week:
Freedom is the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need. Obamacare is Washington telling you what to buy regardless of your needs.

"They hate Obamacare for two reasons," argues Krugman. "It demonstrates that the government can make people's lives better, and it's paid for in large part with taxes on the wealthy. [Republicans'] overriding goal is to make those taxes go away. And if getting those taxes cut means that quite a few people end up dying, remember: freedom!"

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

 Your Guide to the Sprawling New Anti-Trump Resistance Movement

In The Nation find this helpful article by  Joshua Holland.  I subscribe.  One of the best news weeklies around.

You can sign up for a weekly “act of resistance,” and pledge to follow through, at wall-of-us, another new effort to capitalize on the energy of the Women’s March.
Organizers are planning a Scientists’ March on Washington, DC, on April 22. More info can be found here.
The ACLU reportedly raised $24 million during the weekend following the announcement of Trump’s “Muslim Ban,” but there are dozens of local legal aid groups that will also need support as the resistance spreads. Rewire compiled a list of 24 of these smaller legal-aid organizations, with brief descriptions of each. Check it out here.    
Concerned about the spread of fake news? It’s a difficult problem to tackle, but Eli Pariser, co-founder of Upworthy and author of The Filter Bubble, launched a humble spreadsheet to crowdsource ideas, and it has since “become a hive of collaborative activity, with hundreds of journalists and other contributors brainstorming strategies for pushing back against publishers that peddle falsehoods,” according to Fortune. The spreadsheet, titled “Design Solutions for Fake News,” is here.
You can also hit Breitbart News and other sites that peddle in bigotry and white nationalism in their pocketbooks by getting involved with a Twitter group called Sleeping Giants. Their strategy is simple: Make sure that corporations are aware of the kind of content that appears alongside their ads. This New York Times story offers more detail about the campaign.
Feeling overwhelmed by the rush of real news about the Trump regime? Matt Kiser, a tech writer by day, launched a side project chronicling “the daily shock and awe in Trump’s America.” The goal of, according to the site’s “about” page, “is to capture the most important news in a digestible form.”
It may be a Hail Mary pass, but the organizers behind ImpeachTrumpNow, John Bonifaz, and Norman Solomon, are veteran progressive activists who lay out a compelling case at the link above.
Buycott Trump is trying to get people to vote with their dollars. Organizers have launched a new campaign on top of an existing app that allows you to scan barcodes and QVCs, and offers you information about the politics of the companies who make the products you see on store shelves. You can find links to download the app at the link above.
You can also enter your phone number at White House, Inc. or, and be randomly connected to a Trump property somewhere in the world, where you can politely discuss the issues that matter to you—and in the process keep their lines tied up.
With Trump in the White House, and Republicans controlling all three branches of government, popular resistance has never been more important. It’s too soon to tell which of these groups will take off and succeed, but it’s not too early to throw yourself into one of these worthy efforts. And if we’ve overlooked a new effort that you think is important, let other readers know about it in the comments. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Five Ways The Poor Lose To The Rich With Loss Of Obamacare

Such a timely piece is this that we are republishing it now, in the era of The Tweeter In Chief.

A very important article from Steven Rosenfeld appeared in AlterNet.  It is titled Five Ways GOP Repeal of Obamacare is Taking From The Poor and Giving to the Rich.  A must read piece.

Here are five takeaways showing why the known parts of the GOP’s repeal and (most likely not) replace plan amount to Robinhood in reverse: taking from the poor, working- and middle-class and giving to corporate Americans and Wall Street.     

1. Millions will lose coverage. As Obama said, millions of people will be hurt by losing coverage if Republicans eliminate subsidies for households buying policies through the state-based exchanges or federal government. People will go back to not having health coverage because they cannot afford it, especially if they over age 50—which is when insurers really start raising premiums. But vast numbers of people will also lose it when Republicans roll back Medicaid expansion by turning that program into block grants for states, which leaves governors and legislature in the position of having to raise taxes to continue those programs.

2. The transfer of wealth begins. This upward redistribution comes as the GOP starts to repeal the tax penalties associated with the Affordable Care Act. While they will surely argue that removing individual penalties helps the little guy, they will also be letting large employers off the hook for providing coverage for employees, a bottom-line bonanza. It is unclear what the GOP will do with law’s income tax surcharge on the highest earners, as the GOP may seek to retain some revenue for what they will likely advertise as new tax credits to help lower-income people pay for private insurance. The problem, as is always the case with tax credits, is one has to first have enough income to use them.  

3. Wall Street gets to cash in. House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans have long-espoused expanding the use of health savings accounts, as a way to build up the sufficient funds needed when sickness or a medical emergency strikes. That is a very big way that financial institutions will get to make big money by skimming off of the top of these accounts under the guise of management fees. This entire approach is based on a false premise that’s akin to the was 401k savings plans were sold by right-wingers as a replacement for employee pensions—they put money aside, but it is a pale shade of what’s needed to cope with real-life living expenses. Nonetheless, Wall St. profits.

4. Cost shifts will hit consumers. Health care economics are not hard to understand. When profit-driven institutions like hospitals, drug makers and insurers lose money from unanticipated costs—such as people flocking to emergency rooms or facing big surgery after being denied access to preventative care—they stick to their profit goals by raising prices wherever they can. That dynamic is what is behind the recent rise in health care premiums, according to a series of recent astute analyses. Paul Krugman has written that what’s behind recent premium increases in states where insurers aren’t regulated, like California, is a temporary consequence of those without insurance catching up on neglected health issues. Obama, speaking Friday, said that insurers also intentionally offered low-cost initial plans to grab as big a market share as possible. There is no evidence that insurers, hospitals and drug companies will cease price-gouging. Thus, taking federal billions out of the system means either less care or higher costs for all.

5. The race to the bottom begins. Republicans have said they will push for allowing people to buy insurance across state lines. That is not the same as allowing states that regulate insurance companies from forming regional compacts to create bigger pools to support more insurance-buying choices. As Dean Baker, co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington told AlterNet, that “means that every insurer gets incorporated in the least regulated state and the other states can't do anything to prevent them from ripping off their customers (e.g. get incorporated in Alabama and collect premiums and don't pay claims in California).” And that’s not all. “Also they will look to end pooling whereby the more healthy subsidize the less healthy, former tend to be richer, latter poorer,” he said.

The Only Replacement Alternative
The Republicans have no intention of replacing Obamacare with anything that will continue or maintain the same level of coverage that is now under the Affordable Care Act. If they did, it would have been presented by congressional sponsors in the 60 or so pieces of legislation that they passed to kill Obamacare—that the president vetoed. Not one Republican has ever seriously proposed anything close to imposing price controls, which Republican President Richard Nixon entertained amid a struggling economy in the early 1970s.
But there is an alternative to the system of private health insurance that is the status quo and Obama discussed that on Friday, when explaining the history of the Affordable Care Act—which he said was based on a place created by a Republican Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, and intentionally designed to attract Republican support.