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Friday, June 30, 2017

Trump renews some restrictions on travel to Cuba—just the ones that hurt his hotel competitors



MIAMI, FL - JUNE 16:  U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about policy changes he is making toward Cuba at the Manuel Artime Theater in the Little Havana neighborhood on June 16, 2017 in Miami, Florida. The President will re-institute some of the restrictions on travel to Cuba and U.S. business dealings with entities tied to the Cuban military and intelligence services.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
In a speech marked by Cold War rhetoric and Donald Trump mimicking a Cuban accent, Trump re-imposed travel restrictions that President Obama softened a year ago. Though Trump initially said he was going to “cancel” Obama’s policy on Cuba, his speech was actually much more fiery than the policy he delivered. Much of what Trump actually altered was symbolic, with a greater impact on American companies than on Cuba. Much of the significant changes were aimed at tourism, a target that has some definite losers other than the Cuban people.
The proposed changes in US-Cuba relations that President Donald Trump will unveil Friday in Miami could adversely impact hotel brands that directly compete with Trump's business empire, making it more difficult for them expand their foothold in Cuba.
Surely a coincidence. The regulations would restrict tourists traveling outside of groups, person to person deals, and travel arranged through the state-owned GAESA agency. 
The decision to prohibit business with GAESA to direct tourists to private companies and AirBnB is an example of Trump's ability to impact his business' competitors while in the White House. Trump's prohibition, in effect, puts other hotel companies on equal footing with his personal company -- not allowed to pursue future business in Cuba.
Under these policies, it will simply be harder for tourists to visit Cuba. 

Trump will surely take credit for “fulfilling a campaign promise,” but his revisions leave much of Obama’s changes, including a US embassy in Havana, intact. He took just enough steps to claim to have taken action, and made just enough of a speech to attack Obama for “reaching out” to the Cuban regime.

Trump also laid claim to the coming departure of Raul Castro in 2018, though Castro announced those plans in 2013.

If Trump’s unique way of saying “China” is jarring, it’s nothing beside his tendency to slip into mock Cubano as he says the name of the country or other locations.
He returned to imitation Scarface at several points in the speech as he played to the Miami crowd. Trump also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play that old favorite …
"This room is packed. You know, it wasn't designed for this."
Once he had the Cuba points out of the way, Trump treated the speech like a mini-rally, returning to the theme of how he won the election and how everyone else was wrong. He made at least two more mentions of the size of the crowd, dropped a mention of the “tremendous margin” that Florida gave him, and mentioned that “tomorrow” is the anniversary of when he began his presidential campaign. It’s actually today.

He also pointedly mentioned that it was just a couple of days past his birthday, prompting a singing of happy birthday from the crowd of Trump supporters.

Trump cover story on Newsweek on his Cuba dealings.
Somehow, this didn’t come up.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Dreadful Things Are Afoot

The Capitol dome in 2014. (photo: Bill O'Leary/WP)
The Capitol dome in 2014. (photo: Bill O'Leary/WP)

By Garrison Keillor, The Washington Post
 
am a registered liberal who mostly toes the party line, but I am not devoted to the idea of big government. I loathe the law in New York state requiring gas pump nozzles to not latch. This means that I must stand beside my vehicle, holding the nozzle lever open, instead of latching it and walking into the gas station to use the john which, if you’re an older male and hear gushing liquid, you feel a powerful urge to do, so thanks to legislative overregulation, I am on the verge of humiliating myself.

Liberals believe in universal suffrage, but I don’t think the right to vote should be extended to people walking around with wires going into their ears. If you need to walk through the world in a state of stupefaction, you don’t belong in a democracy. The ballot should belong to people who pay attention.

I have other strong conservative tendencies: I accept limitations, even sometimes futility, as inevitable. I once gave a very funny speech in the chapel of an Ivy League college and my voice went ricocheting around the Gothic arches and came back to me 15 seconds later and it was incomprehensible, even to me whose voice it was. I might as well have been speaking Navajo. Nobody laughed. I did not complain to authorities. I was amused. Stuff happens.

Life is unfair. The National Endowment for the Arts bestows pots of gold on poets, chicken feed on humorists, and so what? The federal government is responsible for the announcement in airports warning you to report to authorities any stranger who asks you to carry an object aboard an aircraft. It’s like telling people to report any sightings of unicorns. But who cares? Not I.

All around Washington stand handsome temples housing the ABA, NEA, AFL-CIO, the Federated Organization of Associations, the Organization of Associated Federations, the American Scatological Society, the National Recidivists Alliance, all of which have marbly lobbies and numerous executive vice presidents whose job is to buttonhole public servants. My group, UNCLE, the United Newspaper Columnists in the Language of English, has no such temple. We are harmless, like the Moose and the Elks, and ask only to be left alone.

Same with my other group, Minnesotans Oppressed by Rather Obsessive Self-Effacement (MOROSE), which, despite our resistance to attitudism, refusing to cheer at football games or join singalongs, has only dug a hole for itself. People regard us as a joke. We are not. We are victims of a self-mortifying culture and dare not ask anything for ourselves such as major defense installations, which go to Texas and California, but what are you going to do?

So there I am, pumping gas in Poughkeepsie, about to wet myself, all because of big government, and it dawns on me that back in my boyhood days, patient and practical-minded men and women got into politics and formed a strong bipartisan bloc that worked for decent mental-health facilities and prisons, made higher education available to children of mail clerks and waitresses, created parks and protected wilderness — all the basic stuff of government. That bloc seems to have evaporated and now we are locked in bitter conflict about which way is up and whether the Earth is round. Crankiness is in the driver’s seat.

Meanwhile, dreadful things are afoot. Powerful people want to put potheads in prison, clamp down on travel to Cuba, let banks mess around however they like, deport the folks who pick the lettuce and slaughter the hogs, and work assiduously to ease the troubles of the very rich, and if one says “Boo” to them, they blame the media or my aunt Sally. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country lest the quick brown fox jump over the lazy dog and President Etaoin Shrdlu endure. Sad! Total loser! You know it, I know it.

Republicans, beware. The tables will turn. We liberals will regain power by the simple method of redistricting. We will incorporate the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah into California, and usher in a hundred years of progressivism. What goes around comes around. Be wise. The Senate majority staffers who are trying to put lipstick on a cruel House health-care bill are spitting into the wind. In 20 years, Obamacare will be gone, replaced by universal Medicare, and you will be employed as carnival workers, running the kiddie rides, and you’ll stop for gas in New York and remember this column and ask yourselves, “Why didn’t we listen to him then?” Well, why don’t you?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Did Mitch McConnell Just Jump the Shark?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met a wall of resistance on plans to repeal and replace Obamacare. (photo: AP)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met a wall of resistance on plans to repeal and replace Obamacare. (photo: AP)

Republican con men standing naked with their greed exposed

By Marc Ash, Reader Supported News
 
ave Mitch McConnell and the Republicans now, finally, tempted fate once too often?

As bad as this healthcare bill now before the nation is, we really shouldn’t be surprised. It’s a vivid expression of who Republican members of Congress really are at their core, collectively. It is as revolting as it is revealing.

So bad, in fact, that some of the Republican soldiers ordered to facilitate the killing, literally, of millions of low-income Americans are refusing to carry out those orders.

The bill is a blatant attempt to restore the American robber-baron class and cast the nation back into the kind of despotism not seen since the 1930s.

For these charlatans masquerading as lawmakers, all rides on illusion, “the big lie.” More precisely, big pack of lies, stacked like a house of cards.

Men like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan don’t often gain any real power, for good reason. But when they do, they rush to cash in.

The popular rise of Donald Trump has created an opening for McConnell, Ryan, and their ilk to drink from a fountain they should never have been able to reach. However, as they quench their thirst, they reveal their true intentions in a way that would have remained hidden without the opening Trump created.

But what if the people rendering unto them their blind faith actually woke up and saw this game for what it is? What if the nation were at long last able to cut through the social division and red-herring issues and see with clarity, at long last, these con men standing naked with their greed exposed for all the world to see?

Looks like Mitch McConnell might have just got his face stuck in the cookie jar.

Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Scientists don't say what Republicans claim they do

"It will be hotter and dryer in an Arizona summer."

  COMMENTARY  

 By George Templeton 



By George Templeton
Gazette Columnist
Faith and the Paris Climate Accord
It was April of 1977 and I was looking forward to spring and longer daylight hours.  This was the time of year when the birds began to sing, celebrating the purple flowers on the jacaranda trees that lined the road.  The smell of orange blossoms was in the air.  My fancy turned to the appreciation of nature, but the five mile long line of bumper to bumper traffic moving at less than a walk was frustrating.
Constrained to sitting by my desk job, I took the stairs instead of the elevator, but that was not enough to overcome the stress of things.  There had to be a more satisfying experience out there, somewhere.
Four Wheeling to Nature
I bought a Toyota Landcruiser, outfitted it with big tires and a heavy duty roof rack which I reinforced with aluminum sheeting.  I made the back into a house on wheels using lumber.  This way I could carry my heavy duty jack, large boards to bolt it onto so it would not sink into the mud, hand axes, saw, jerk strap, and all the essentials of life.  I could even sleep in the back without unloading everything.
Wild turkey hunting would bring me peace of mind.  Off we went to the high country at 8000 feet, armed with a wooden turkey call and an over and under gun, light weight 30-30 hand loads for the top barrel, and a full-choke twenty gauge on the bottom.
Turkey Hunting
There was still snow on the ground, everywhere.  When I got stuck, I jacked up the Landcruiser, put fallen tree limbs under the tires, and got moving again.  We went back in the forest where there was no one and set up camp near a hill.  I began my hunt before dawn.  I climbed out of the sleeping bag at four in the morning, planning to cook breakfast and have a cup of coffee.  Much to my dismay, the water barrel was frozen solid but this was only a minor annoyance.
Off I went, in the moonlight, to the top of the hill.  My plan was to wait for sunrise and listen 360 degrees around me for gobblers.  It was cold just sitting there in snow at below freezing temperatures.  The gun barrel was chillingly painful through my gloves, but it was worth it because I was greeted by turkeys that morning.
I heard and saw them, but never got closer than 100 yards.  I tried to be like a romantic turkey, calling for a mate.  Some responded, but they sensed they should not come too close.  As it turns out, wild turkeys are not dumb and they fly really well.
That afternoon I gave up on the turkeys.  I started to explore my surroundings.  There was snow everywhere, on the hillsides and in the treetops.  There were no footprints, no tire tracks, and only the sound of the breeze and a crystal clear gurgling brook that I followed.  I thought, too bad that there are no fish, but then I was surprised as one splashed.  Woah, time to get my wife and the fishing poles!  That afternoon we both caught our limit of German brown trout.  We packed them in buckets filled with snow, brought them back to the camp, and cooked them before the rigor mortis set in.  It was the freshest fish ever.
The trip was an exhilarating mountain top experience that I will never forget.  I can still see the perfectly white snow on the trees and hills, feel the warming afternoon breeze, and become deeply and personally a part of it.  This was the miracle that I was given to.  I was part of it, and it is part of me.
The July 2017 issue of the Scientific American informs us that logging, agriculture, mining, and wildfires reduced healthy pristine ecosystems by an area about the size of Egypt between 2000 and 2013.  E. O. Wilson notes in his book, The Creation, that the current rate of extinction of species is at least 1000 times what it was before humans appeared on the Earth.  At the current rate, half the species of plants and animals on Earth will be gone or fated for extinction by the end of the century and a quarter of them will be gone in the next fifty years because of climate change alone.  We are hurting ourselves.  We don’t see this because we are not personally connected with nature, but nature is connected with us.
Unity
You have no right to be generous with my money, but I give government permission to tax me.  Groups are different from individuals.  The same force that unites the T-party divides it from other groups.  It is the group that has power, not the self.  People come together, but groups split apart.  The paradox of individual selfless patriotism is that it increases the selfishness of groups.   The proof is in politics and religion.
Life is not a rat race where we must beat the other fellow and destroy him.  We are concerned about social science, economics, the outsourcing of jobs, and rising inequality in America.  We worry about mankind’s survival, extinction of species, and irreversible damage to the earth predicted by the physical and life sciences.  We are called upon to be participants in the dance of life, not to be envious that the Paris climate “conspiracy” was primarily for the “exclusive economic benefit of other countries”.   Will fear of the future, moral obligation or greed be our motivator?
The Republicans claim to be pro-business.  They think that the denial of global warming creates jobs.  Today’s free enterprise has a short-term outlook that sanctions social irresponsibility.  Rapid climate change causes crop failure, starvation, migration, and wars.  Think of the jobs that will be created to make the walls needed to hold back the ocean! 
The Party Was Not a Negotiation
In the 1990’s my company held several five million dollar week long international parties for our customers.  I know because I wrote a syllabus and conducted seminars.  There were goose steeping Russian dancers, ice fountains flowing with vodka, chocolate mousse, expensive hotel rooms, and many examples of creative things our customers were doing to make the world a better place.  It was a business fair like a science fair.  It sounds like a lot of money, but even then a single wafer area cost a billion dollars.  So, this effort at making connection with customers and showing them how we could make the world a better place, cost less than one percent of our new equipment budget.  Now how about Trump and the non-binding motivational Paris agreement that he chose to bail out on?  Did he win friends and influence them?  Are his penny-pinching deals, rather than connections with humanity, the ultimate arbitrator of reality?  
Pittsburgh and Paris
Pittsburgh was a black city in 1955.  In those days our home was heated by coal.  Our water heater was even coal fired.  Do you think we will return to that?  We loved coal, but Pittsburgh has modernized.  Forty years later I rode the subway in Paris.  It moved people efficiently and reduced pollution.
The Paris Accord was only a starting point, an agreement where every country would set its own goals and try to reach them.  Like my company party, it was a motivational science fair.  Trump claims that he personally can drive a new economic bargain with the other 195 countries in the Paris agreement, but they are not interested.  He would attach conditions to ensure that America comes first, contradicting the idea that business agreements should be win-win propositions.  Self-interest is not the only reason for treaties and deals.  Treating others as economic conspirators misses the point.  We share the same earth.
There Must be Facts, but What Do They Mean?
Americans are altruistic.  They would never make personal decisions that could harm their grandchildren.  But true believers have no qualms about jeopardy.  They subordinate their rationality to tribal whims.  Their loyalty supports the hypocrisy of their group.
Unfortunately, global warming is a matter of political instead of scientific discourse.  Scientists do not say what the Republicans claim they do.  Global warming is more than a single temperature, ridiculed and taken out of context
There are many explanations.  It could be that tomorrow never comes.  (I don’t have a problem.  Nobody tells me what to do!)  It could be political ideology and misguided patriotism (America first, my country right or wrong).  It could be the desire to maintain the privileges of the status quo (No such thing as global warming).  It could be that God’s covenant is with the Republicans (Taxes are immoral, God controls, we are not responsible, God said, just believe).  It could be intent to deceive (the desire for power and control, propaganda that purports to educate but lies and distorts).  It could be ignorance of science, math, and data analysis.  It is not a diligent questioning of the facts.
The purpose of statistics is to place bounds on uncertainty, but we don’t discuss that.  What are the mechanisms involved, sampling, proxies, measurement, strength of the variables and interactions?  What is the standard deviation of the mean, the probable error, the confidence interval, the Pearson correlation coefficient, and the mathematical response surface?  What is the risk we are taking if we are wrong and there really is global warming? 
Republicans point out an increase of only 0.2 degrees, but that’s the reduction in warming from struggling over the last agreement five years ago.  Our grandchildren could see nearly seven or eight degrees F if nothing more is done.  The average world temperature is about 58 degrees F.  These numbers have a tolerance that can go either way.  There are large variations in temperature with season and geography.  It will be hotter and dryer in an Arizona summer.  Many plants don’t care about critical thresholds like freezing until that happens.  They have a temperature range needed for survival.
Imagine that the earth is a thermal conductor heated by the sun’s radiation.  It lacks convection from air and ocean currents.  Its thermal capacitance depends on its mass and specific heat.  At first, heat flows easily from the surface to the interior because of the large temperature difference.  But as the interior heats, this becomes less so and the surface will more rapidly warm.  This shapes the curve of the temperature rise over time, revealing thermal time constants associated with the curve’s inflection points and slope.  Rates of change are more revealing than the amount.
We are measuring large changes on a scale of hundreds of years instead of geologic history’s millennia (The earth is older than the Bible’s 6000 years).  Is it a coincidence that these started happening during the time of mankind’s industrial development?  Why do you suppose the Trump administration has defunded earth science?  They don’t like facts that challenge their worldview.
Seemingly insignificant statistical data is more revealing than spectacular catastrophes.  It is true that the average, which is the most probable value, is only a mathematical abstraction.  The melting of Antarctica is reality (reference July 2017 National Geographic), but it is difficult to forecast.  Trump is helping to make certain that we will do nothing until Florida sinks into the ocean, but by then it will be too late.  What is operating here is the same thing that makes people think they will beat the casino.  Their education did not include the mathematics of expected value.
Moral Man & Immoral Society
Reinhold Niebuhr’s pessimistic 1932 book has been proven correct over and over again.  He wrote in the time of racial prejudice, the war to end all wars, and the great depression.  Marxism, not globalization and climate change, was the issue in those days.
Marx viewed evil as the consequence of social privilege maintaining inequality so that wealth would not have to be shared.  He portrayed wealth and materialism as the fundamental driving force of history, not politics or ideas.  Modern science has statistically analyzed this.  It found that social class on opposing sides did not matter.
Communism was an extreme implementation of the idea that wealth should be shared, but historically it has not worked out that way.  Stalin’s brutality supports Niebuhr’s criticism about paltry group ethics.  Today, we know that social revolution is much more likely to come from quantum physics than from ideology.  Technology has advanced since the 1930’s.   Consequently, I am more optimistic than Niebuhr was.
As Thomas Friedman pointed out in his 2008 book “Hot, Flat, and Crowded”, we are growing increasingly connected by travel, commerce, communications, entertainment, and education.  Our connections will overcome power, egoism, and self-interest.  We will find ourselves by losing ourselves to the mutual needs of others, but not in individual deals, made by an autocrat, that seek monetary returns more than results.
America may have done the most to reduce greenhouse gases, but it is responsible for eighty percent of the world’s pollution and happens to be the number two emitter in the world.  Our accomplishments do not exonerate us from unconditionally helping our neighbors.  The world is not laughing at us and conspiring to take our jobs.  We have no reason to envy them.
Around 300 AD some Greek monks classified the seven deadly sins.  Pride is the sin from which all others arise.  It is the mother of injustice.  Now, why would that be?  Pride dulls the senses, and is self-aggrandizing.  It destroys humility and empathy.  It has all the answers and no need to learn.  It destroys the connections with our fellow-man.
The Coming Flood
Doesn’t life call upon us to compete, and to create?  Perhaps the people who say that greed is good are confusing it with the striving that is part of life’s expression.  Humanity has the freedom to create, but its personality dysfunction causes irreversible harm.  We don’t see our mutual immorality.  Nature restores equilibrium, but at what cost?  How do we balance our social sympathy with our self-interest?  Reinhold Niebuhr gave us an often quoted clue.  “God, grant us grace to accept with serenity that which cannot be changed, courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the difference.”

The Word "Women" Literally Never Appears in the US Senate's 142-Page Health-Care Bill

Women are mostly left out of the new Senate health care bill. (photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters)
Women are mostly left out of the new Senate health care bill. (photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters)

By Heather Timmons, Quartz
26 June 17
 
omen have babies. If they didn’t, first the economy would collapse, and then the species would die out.

But because they do, from their late teens to their early forties, women have higher health-care costs than men of the same age. Carrying and birthing a child is a sometimes difficult, dangerous, complicated business, and one that, in America, can be incredibly expensive.

Despite the incontrovertible fact that men are biologically just as responsible as women for a pregnancy happening, before the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, women in the US paid more for health care and insurance because they are the ones who can get pregnant. Specifically, American women of child-bearing age paid somewhere between 52% and 69% more in out-of-pocket healthcare costs then men.

The Trump administration’s health-care reform bill now in the Senate, and the version that passed the House this May, will force some women to pay more again.

Specifically, it strips out hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid, the insurance for the poor, which now covers over 50% of all births in many US states, and allows states to opt out of covering “essential” healthcare that includes maternity and newborn care.

The Senate bill was crafted behind closed doors, by 13 men and no women. A search of the language used in the 142-page draft document (pdf) shows that womanhood and motherhood are, quite literally, also omitted from most of the bill itself. Here are the few mentions. 

Motherhood
The bill uses the word “mother” twice, both in relation to abortion, and specifically to how it will cut health care for women. On page 8, the bill lays out new definitions of which health care plans qualify under the act, eliminating ones that provide abortion except in rare circumstances, saying:
Section 36B(c)(3)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting before the period at the end the following:
‘‘or a plan that includes coverage for abortions (other than any abortion necessary to save the life of the mother or any abortion with respect to a pregnancy that is the result of an act of rape or incest)’’
On page 9, under a section on “Exclusion of health pans including coverage for abortion,” the bill says
The term ‘qualified health plan’ does not include any health plan that includes coverage for abortions (other than any abortion necessary to save the life of the mother or any abortion with respect to a pregnancy that is the result of an act of rape or incest)
The words “maternal” or “maternity” never appear in the bill.

“Pregnancy” is only mentioned in relation to abortion and work requirements, except in one instance, in listing what “Medicaid flexibility programs,” which give states more control of Medicaid resources, should cover:
Pregnancy-related services, including postpartum services for the 12-week period beginning on the last day of a pregnancy.
Abortion is mentioned 11 times. 

Womanhood
The word “woman” is used three times in the bill, but only in relation to abortion and a new work requirement.

The bill would withhold state funding from entities that provide abortions, except in very limited cases, among them, as described on page 35:
…the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself
The bill will allow states to decide that people who receive “medical assistance” need to work in order to qualify, and lays out some rules on those work requirements on page 50. Pregnant women and brand-new mothers cannot be required to work, but the requirement kicks in two months after birth.
States administering a work requirement under this subsection may not apply such requirement to (A) a woman during pregnancy through the end of the month in which the 60-day period (beginning on the last day of her pregnancy) ends.
The word “women” never appears in the Senate bill. 

The Obamacare contrast
The Affordable Care Act, on the other hand, contains dozens of specific mentions of “women” that have nothing to do with abortion or work requirements. It is clear that it was written in part to make healthcare better and more accessible for women. Here are just a few:
  • Section 3509: Improving women’s heath

  • Part II: Support for pregnant and parenting teens and women

  • Section 10412: Young women’s breast health awareness and support of young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

  • The requirement that essential health benefits “take into account the health care needs of diverse segments of the population, including women, children, persons with disabilities, and other groups.”

  • Priority grants for pregnant women under age 21

  • The establishment of a Health and Human Services committee on women’s health.

  • The establishment of a Centers for Disease Control office on women’s health.

  • Funding for “cessation of tobacco use by pregnant women.”
Since the ACA passed, the number of women of child-bearing age without health insurance has dropped significantly. It is a full bill more than 900 pages long, not a draft working document like the Senate’s bill. But there’s little indication from that first draft that the men who wrote it are thinking about women’s health at all.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Trumpcare isn't about health. It's a tax cut for 1%

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. (photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star)
Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. (photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

By Robert Reich, Guardian UK

26 June 17


If enacted, the bill would be the largest single transfer of wealth to the rich from the middle class and poor in American history


he Senate’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act is not a healthcare bill. It’s a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, paid for by a dramatic reduction in healthcare funding for approximately 23 million poor, disabled, working and middle-class Americans.

America’s wealthiest taxpayers (earning more than $200,000 a year, $250,000 for couples) would get a tax cut totaling $346bn over 10 years, representing what they save from no longer financing healthcare for lower-income Americans.

That’s not all. The bill would save an additional $400bn on Medicaid, which Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Donald Trump are intent on shrinking in order to cut even more taxes for the wealthy and for big corporations.

If enacted, it would be the largest single transfer of wealth to the rich from the middle class and poor in American history.

This disgrace is being proposed at a time when the nation’s rich own a higher percentage of the nation’s wealth and receive the highest percent of America’s income since the era of the Robber Barons of the late nineteenth century.

Almost all of the transfer is hidden inside a bill that’s supposed to be a kinder and gentler version of its House counterpart, which Trump called “mean, mean, mean.”

Look closely and it’s even meaner.

The Senate bill appears to retain the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for poorer Americans. But starting in 2020, the subsidies would no longer be available for many of the working poor who now receive them, nor for anyone who’s not eligible for Medicaid.

Another illusion: the bill seems to keep the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. But the expansion is phased out, starting in 2021.

The core of the bill – where its biggest savings come from – is a huge reduction in Medicaid, America’s healthcare program for the poor, elderly and disabled.

This, too, is disguised. States would receive an amount of money per Medicaid recipient that appears to grow as healthcare costs rise.

But starting in 2025, the payments would be based on how fast costs rise in the economy as a whole.

Yet medical costs are rising faster than overall costs. They’ll almost surely continue to do so – as America’s elderly population grows, and as new medical devices, technologies, and drugs prolong life. Which means that after 2025, Medicaid coverage will shrink.

The nonpartisan Urban Institute estimates that between 2025 and 2035, about $467bn less will be spent on Medicaid than would be spent than if Medicaid funding were to keep up with the expected rise in medical costs.

The states would have to make up the difference, but many won’t want to or be able to.

One final major deception. Proponents of the bill say it would continue to protect people with preexisting conditions. But the bill allows states to reduce insurance coverage for everyone, including people with preexisting conditions.

So insurance companies could technically “cover” people with preexisting conditions for the cost of, say, their visits to a doctor, but not hospitalization, drugs, or anything else they need.

The Senate bill only seems like a kinder, gentler version of the House repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but over time it would be even crueler.

Will the American public find out? Not if McConnell can help it.

He hasn’t scheduled a single hearing on the bill.

He’s shut out major hospitals, physician groups, consumer advocates and organizations representing millions of patients with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other serious illnesses.

McConnell thinks he’s found a quiet way not only to repeal the Affordable Care Act but also to unravel Medicaid – and funnel the savings to the rich.

For years, Republicans have been looking for ways to undermine America’s three core social insurance programs – Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. The three constitute the major legacy of the Democrats, of Franklin D Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. All continue to be immensely popular.

Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is almost part of that legacy. It’s not on quite as solid a footing as the others because it’s still new, and some wrinkles need to be ironed out. But most Americans support it.

Now McConnell believes he can begin to undo the legacy, starting with the Affordable Care Act and, gradually, Medicaid.

But he knows he has to do it in secret if he’s to be successful.

If this shameful bill is enacted, McConnell and Trump – as well as every Republican senator who signs on – will bear the burden of hundreds of thousands of deaths that could have been avoided, were they not so determined to make rich Americans even richer.

Cartoon: Tone it down, loser


Tone_It_Down_TrumpWeb.jpg
After the shooting of a Congressman during their congressional baseball practice, Trump made a call for unity, and others made calls to tone down political rhetoric. Too bad Trump and his followers didn't do that last year, or for the previous eight years when they hypocrite-in-chief called for political violence, made racist accusations and generally was basically the most divisive political figure in generations. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Donald Trump’s Bullshitopedia: An Ever Expanding Catalog Of Lies

Donald Trump


Donald Trump’s Bullshitopedia

  1. JUST ADDED: Blaming a “lousy process,” Trump said that he has 100’s of people awaiting confirmation. Actually it’s just 2. And he’s only nominated 24 of 533 posts.
  2. Trump claimed that his CPAC speech was “packed, there are lines that go back six blocks and I tell you that because you won’t read about it, OK.” But the reason you won’t read about it is because it wasn’t true.
  3. At CPAC, Trump said that Obamacare covers “very few people.” However, 20 million more people are covered now than prior to the Affordable Care Act. Repealing it would result in an increase of 32 million Americans without health insurance by 2026.
  4. Trump denied in a January interview that he or anyone on his campaign had any contact with Russia prior to the election. However, The New York Times and CNN both reported that Trump campaign officials and associates “had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials” before Nov. 8.
  5. Trump said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was “cut off” on CNN for “using the term fake news to describe the network.” But the senator was obviously joking and was not cut off, as the video shows.
  6. Trump took credit for Ford’s decision not to open an auto factory in Mexico and instead expand its Michigan plant. However, the company said Trump was not responsible for its decision.
  7. Trump claimed the murder rate is the highest it’s been in 47 years. The murder rate rose 10.8 percent across the United States in 2015, but it’s far lower than it was 30 to 40 years ago.
  8. Trump said the Obama administration “agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia.” The deal actually involved 1,250 refugees – no illegal immigrants.
  9. Trump took credit for cutting $600 million from the F-35 program. But Lockheed Martin already had planned for the cost reductions for the next generation fighter plane.
  10. In remarks with business leaders at the White House, Trump said, “I’m a very big person when it comes to the environment. I have received awards on the environment.” There is no evidence that Trump has received such awards.
  11. During his speech at CIA headquarters, Trump claimed the media made up his feud with the agency. In fact, he started it by comparing the intelligence community to “Nazi Germany.”
  12. Trump said that it stopped raining “immediately” when he began his inauguration speech. But it rained throughout the address.
  13. [Terrorism] “has gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported.” Unless, of course, you count all the times it’s been reported.
  14. Trump (at press conference): “You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters, okay?” Not according to every poll on the subject.
  15. A huffy Trump whined that he would have won the popular vote if “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” But there’s no evidence of even a handful of illegal votes, much less millions.
  16. In a tweet, Trump claimed that “I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!” However, the Ford plant was never even considering relocating to Mexico or anywhere else.
  17. You know [Clinton et al] came up with the term ‘alt-right.” However, the term has been in use for years and promoted by Trump’s campaign chief at Breitbart News.
  18. In a futile bid to scam African-American voters, Trump said that“Inner-city crime is reaching record levels.” However, that’s “Not even close,” according to PolitiFact who gave him his 43rd Pants-on-Fire lie.
  19. At a rally Trump baselessly accused Obama of paying a ransom to Iran for the release of American prisoners. Even worse, he said that he had watched a video showing the cash being unloaded from a plane in Iran. No such video exists and Trump later admitted it wasn’t true.
  20. Lyin’ Don told George Stephanopoulos on This Week that the NFL sent him a letter about the scheduling of the presidential debates saying that “This is ridiculous. Why are the debates against us?” But an NFL spokesman quickly denied it.
  21. Trump tweeted “Not one American flag on the massive stage at the Democratic National Convention until people started complaining-then a small one. Pathetic.” But reality differs.
  22. Attacking Sen. Tim Kaine, Trump said that “Bob McDonnell took a fraction of what Kaine took.” Only if a fraction is the same as three times as much.
  23. For no imaginable reason, Trump insisted that it was he who directed the RNC to choose Cleveland as its convention site. But the site was chosen two years ago and long before Trump ever considered running.
  24. For his 34th “Pants on Fire” lie, Trump said that “The Obama administration was actively supporting Al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist group that became the Islamic State.”
  25. In another display of manifesting his delusions, Trump told Bill O’Reilly that “somebody called for a moment of silence” for the man who killed five Dallas police officers. There is, however, no evidence that that ever happened.
  26. In a spittle-inflected rant against Hillary Clinton, Trump accused her of taking $58,000 worth of jewelry from the Sultan of Brunei. In fact, the gift was accepted on behalf of the State Department and turned over to the General Services Administration, as per the routine for such diplomatic gifts.
  27. Citing the wingnut Breitbart website, Trump accused Obama of “actively supporting Al Qaeda in Iraq,” a claim that earned Trump his 31st Pants-on-Fire lie from PolitiFact.
  28. Notching another “Pants on Fire” lie, Trump said in a speech that “crime is rising.” But that has not been true for twenty-five years.
  29. Trump tweeted “WHERE IS THE REPORTING @realDonaldTrump < most VOTES FOR PRESIDENT IN HISTORY OF USA." First of all, he has received zero votes for president, just votes for the GOP nomination. Secondly, Hillary Clinton received 2.4 million more votes than he did.
  30. Just two months after Trump said that countries like Japan and Saudi Arabia should get their own nukes, he denied having said it and called Clinton a liar for bringing it up.
  31. In a display of hysterical hyperbole, Trump said that it “is Hillary Clinton’s agenda to release the violent criminals from jail. She wants them all released.” Which she never said or even implied.
  32. At the NRA’s annual convention, Trump falsely stated that “Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment. She wants to abolish it. Hillary Clinton wants to take your guns away and she wants to abolish the Second Amendment.”
  33. In 2011 Trump said that he would release his tax returns if President Obama released his birth certificate. Obama did release his birth certificate, but Trump reneged on his promise.
  34. Regarding convicted rapist Mike Tyson Trump said “I heard he endorsed me. I don’t know anything about his trial. I really don’t.” Except that he repeatedly advocated for Tyson during the boxer’s 1992 rape trial, blamed the victim, and insisted that Tyson had been “railroaded.”
  35. In a rambling, incoherent speech on foreign policy, Trump said that “ISIS is making millions of dollars a week selling Libyan oil.” But according to every expert, ISIS has never been able to seize, refine or sell any Libyan oil.
  36. Trump told NBC News that he believes in raising taxes on the wealthy. But his tax plan (on his website) calls for tax cuts that predominantly benefit the rich.
  37. After Trump was castigated for advocating punishment for women who get abortions, he issued a statement reversing himself to say that it’s the doctor who should be punished and that this was “the way I’ve always felt.” Except that on Meet the Press in 1999 he described himself as “very pro-choice.”
  38. Expanding on his abortion comment lie, Trump told Fox News that he was taken out of context and blamed MSNBC for what he called “a long discussion and they just cut it out.” NBC, however, issued a statement affirming that the Trump interview was aired in its entirety with no editing.
  39. Complaining about the U.S. participation in NATO, Trump said that “We can’t go around being the policemen of the world and supporting 73% of NATO.” But we are paying only 22% of the NATO budget.
  40. At the AIPAC Conference, Trump spoke about the U.S. giving Iran $150 billion, but it’s money that actually belongs to Iran that the U.S. unfroze in exchange for them dismantling their nuclear program.
  41. Trump accused protesters of being violent saying that “They are swinging, they are really dangerous and they get in there and they start hitting people.” Which never happened. Only his supporters have been violent.
  42. A speech intended to celebrate a primary victory turned into an infomercial for defunct Trump businesses selling wine, water, steak, magazines and more. Trump lied about all of them still operating when none of them are.
  43. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Trump pretended not to have heard about comparisons of him and Adolf Hitler. But just three months before he had the very same discussion with Stephanopoulos.
  44. In a CNN interview Trump claimed not to know anything about KKK leader David Duke, who has endorsed him. But he commented on him months ago.
  45. Trump replied to a charge that he had advocated military action in Libya to remove Gadhafi from power by saying that he had never even discussed it. Except that he posted on his own website that “We should knock this guy out.”
  46. During the CNN GOP debate in Houston Trump flatly denied ever saying that “the government should pay for everyone’s healthcare,” which is exactly what he said on 60 Minutes.
  47. After repeatedly claiming that he opposed the war in Iraq before it began, evidence has now emerged showing Trump in 2002 advocating an invasion.
  48. After falling behind Ted Cruz, Trump whined that “I never do well with the Wall Street Journal poll,” in which he led almost every time they ran one.
  49. During the GOP debate, Trump falsely said that he was “the only one on this stage that said, ‘Do not go into Iraq.” Which he never said
  50. Trump told CNN that “I never once asked that [Megyn Kelly] be removed [as debate moderator].” Except for that time that he did.
  51. During a debate Trump denied that he told the New York Times he would impose a 45% tariff on china saying “They were wrong. It’s The New York Times, they are always wrong.” They were right and have recorded evidence.
  52. On Meet the Press Trump told Chuck Todd that “you have 60, 70, 80 million people out there that want to work that aren’t getting jobs.” He’s only 75% off.
  53. Attacking Hillary Clinton on guns, Trump says that “I think, worse than Obama on the issue, frankly. She wants to take everyone’s gun away.” Which she has never said or even implied.
  54. Trump asserts that “[The 9/11 hijackers] put their families on airplanes, couple of days before, sent them back to Saudi Arabia for the most part. Those wives knew exactly what was going to happen.” Except only one of the nineteen hijackers was married.
  55. Trump said that 100 black pastors would endorse him. Pastors say not so.
  56. Trump said he didn’t mock, or even know, the reporter whose disabilities he mocked and knew for a decade.
  57. Says crime statistics show blacks kill 81 percent of white homicide victims. It’s more like 15%.
  58. Trump: “I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering” as the World Trade Center collapsed – which he never watched because there is no such video.
  59. People on the terrorism watch are already prohibited from buying guns. Nope.
  60. Thirteen Syrian refugees were “caught trying to get into the U.S.” but actually surrendered at the border seeking asylum.
  61. Trump denied saying that he supported a database of Muslims, even though he said it more than once on video.
  62. The federal government is sending refugees to states with governors who are “Republicans, not to the Democrats.”
  63. The Trans-Pacific Partnership “was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone.”
  64. The Obama administration wants to admit 250,000 Syrian refugees. He’s off by 240,000.
  65. He was on 60 Minutes with Vladimir Putin and “got to know him very well.” Except that they were interviewed separately thousands of miles apart.
  66. Climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese.
  67. Says his plan would cut taxes without increasing the deficit.
  68. “I never said that” Marco Rubio was Mark Zuckerberg’s personal senator.
  69. His criticism of Ford prompted the company to move a factory from Mexico to Ohio.
  70. Says Bernie Sanders is going to “tax you people at 90 percent.”
  71. Trump said that “We have the highest tax rate anywhere in the world.”
  72. Among Syrian refugees, “there aren’t that many women, there aren’t that many children.”
  73. The unemployment rate may be as high as “42 percent.”
  74. Trump: The birther movement was started by Hillary Clinton in 2008. She was all in!
  75. Said he was never interested in opening a casino in Florida.
  76. Says Mexico doesn’t have birthright citizenship, and Americans are the “only ones” to have it.
  77. Claimed he was talking about Carly Fiorina’s “persona” when he said “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?”
  78. Under the Iran deal: “If Israel attacks Iran … we’re supposed to be on Iran’s side.”
  79. Vaccines cause autism.
  80. He never said the stuff Megyn Kelly accused him of saying in the first debate.
  81. Trump says that “The Mexican government … they send the bad ones over.”
  82. The number of illegal immigrants in the United States is “30 million, it could be 34 million.”
  83. Trump: If you’re from Syria and you’re a Christian, you cannot come into this country” as a refugee.
  84. Says his book, The Art of the Deal, is “the No. 1 selling business book of all time.”
  85. Trump: The last quarter, it was just announced, our gross domestic product … was below zero. Who ever heard of this? It’s never below zero.
  86. Trump: The Islamic State just built a hotel in Syria.
  87. Says President Barack Obama’s recent New York fundraising trip cost between $25 million and $50 million.
  88. ObamaCare enrollment lie: Obama counts an enrollee as a web user putting a plan in ‘their online shopping carts.’
  89. President Obama has spent over $2 million in legal fees defending lawsuits about his birth certificate.
  90. Hey look, [the president] wrote a book when he was a young man and it said ‘born in Kenya,’ blah blah blah.
  91. The people that went to school with (Obama), they never saw him, they don’t know who he is.
To be continued…

These are not differences of opinion. They are outright, provable falsehoods. Not a single one is remotely true. And even when Trump is shown the proof he insists that he is right and that reality is wrong. And as Stephen Colbert told us, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” That’s the only possible explanation for Trump’s relentless lying. 

Ironically, Trump is fond of calling others liars. He even called into question Ted Cruz’s faith due to his frequent falsehoods, which has an irony all its own (See The Immaculate Birther). But when Trump was interviewed by Greta Van Susteren of Fox News he told the biggest lie of all when he said “I don’t lie. In fact, if anything, I’m so truthful that it gets me in trouble. They say I’m too truthful.” Obviously everything above negates that delusional self-appraisal.
Donald Trump Lies
The fact that Trump still manages to attract supporters who are willing to look past his shameless mendacity, and worse, to revere him as a quasi-savior, is a frightening testament to the decline of American democracy. These are people who not only submit blissfully to being lied to, they embrace a philosophy of bigotry, division, fear, and the authoritarian strains of fascism. They have abandoned whatever tendencies they may have had toward freedom, in favor of a despot who reeks of false and unattainable promises of security and prosperity. It is the behavior of cultists who have surrendered to mindless discipleship and have lost the ability to discern fantasy from reality. It’s a learned response that has been ingrained from watching way too much Fox News.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
[Notes: Many of the links above are from PolitiFact. They maintain a file on Trump that presently shows he has 233 “mostly false,” “false,” or “Pants on Fire” statements. That represents 70% of the total statements reviewed by PolitiFact. Of the total number of Trump’s statements 4% are deemed to be “true.”]