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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

No Right to Be Healthy in America

By Harry T. Cook
1/27/17


Try to understand the strategy and tactics of the newly energized Republican Congress as first it wishes to seize from paying customers the health care insurance they were able to obtain through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
 
The GOP majority may get away with it, thinking that anything connected in any way with a former two-term African-American president can be canceled out without too much blow-back. And they may be right in that respect.
 
Next up for demolition: Medicaid. As a volunteer at a not-for-profit social agency in the inner city of Detroit, I have seen the results of Michigan's expanded Medicaid in the lives of many of our clients who live at -- and many well below -- the poverty line. Now they can actually obtain prescriptions written for them by physicians whose ministrations they can actually receive. Ours is therefore a healthier city.
 
Moreover, I haven't had to write a voucher to our local, God-blessed neighborhood pharmacist in nearly a year. Thus our agency can do more in other areas of need with our limited non-government funds.
 
Our clients are far off of the radar screen of the Republican Party, which, among other atrocities, continues to make it more and more difficult for minorities to vote. People on Medicaid are less likely to vote for GOP candidates anyway, and the party strategists know it.
 
Let's assume that they are successful in ruining people's lives by repealing the Affordable Care Act with nothing comparable to replace it. (I suppose they could just change its nickname to "Trumpist Care," thus to blot out memory of Barack Obama, which they'd like to do in any event.)
 
Surely the geniuses of the GOP realize that millions of voters who cast their ballots for Trump in November are insured through the ACA, but they must be betting that those voters will believe that their Man will fix everything in the same way that fundamentalists believe Jesus will come again.
 
If in 2018 the Republicans keep their majorities in the House and Senate and President Trump has not yet quit or been impeached, the march against Medicare will begin. Indeed, it may have stepped off already.
 
It will come when it comes under the old political cliché of "reform," which means in practice demolition. One of the plans being talked about would entail federal subsidies in as yet an undetermined but fixed amount to be given to those of us now on Medicare.
 
Gone would be Medicare as we have known it and paid into it from our first paycheck on after its inception 50 years ago, and by deduction from our Social Security benefits in retirement.
 
With the subsidies we would be free to buy policies from for-profit insurance companies who rank right up there with J.R.R. Tolkien's dragon Smaug for kindness and mercy. Such policies would resemble those of old with a thousand exceptions to coverage. In the end, we pensioners would find ourselves billed for the balance between what hospitals and surgeons charged and what the insurance companies deigned to pay.
 
I'm not much of a mathematician, but I can add and subtract. It will come to this: that people like me would be shelling out thousands of dollars a year for the treatments we've already paid for more than half our lives. Savings will melt away in a neverending flow. After all, hospitals and physicians have to be paid for the care and treatment that keep us alive. No argument there.
 
I've been a patient at Detroit's Karmanos Cancer Center for almost three years, and I cannot say enough about how expertly my care is rendered there from parking valets to clerks to technicians, nurses and physicians. I know the cost of the various scans I undergo every three months and the monthly injections ($14,000 each) and infusions ($36,000 each) I receive to treat my particular cancer. Without Medicare, even with my supplemental insurance, I would by now have put my family into bankruptcy. That I will not do.
 
I am declaring now for the record that if and when Medicare is destroyed by the mindless zealots who are running the U.S. government into the ground, I will refuse any treatment that would eat away at my wife's financial future -- most of which her hard work, careful saving and planning has secured.
 
If necessary, when the time comes I will decline anything but the cheapest pain reliever and go out biting down on a stick -- my left hand holding the hand of the woman with whom even in that extremity I shall still be falling in love. The middle finger of my right hand will be held high as I can in the direction of Washington, D.C.
 
I will hear in my head the words of Charles Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge: "If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.* I will see in what's left of my mind's eye the leering faces of the executioners in Congress looking down upon me and saying, "There goes another liberal. Good riddance."
 
As for those Americans who gave us the Congress we now have: someone forgive them, please, for they know not what they did. I am sorry to say that they will find out soon enough.
 
*A Christmas Carol. New York, NY. Columbia University Press,1956. 14  

FOOTNOTE
Donald Trump made bold to quote "the Bible" in his inauguration speech. Said he "The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity." Well, almost, Mr. President. You were quoting Psalm 133:1 that actually reads: "Behold, how good and joyful thing it is for brethren to live together in unity."  Not just "God's people," sir, but surely including Muslims when they appeared in history, not to mention Hindus and Buddhists who pre-dated both Judaism and Christianity. Maybe the better quotation might have been that of Psalm 24:1: "The earth is the Lord's, and all that therein is; the compass of the world, and they that dwell therein." That rules out "America first."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

How a Presidency Ends

  As a patriotic, American I want our country to succeed in every way I think is important. It goes without saying that I hated George W. Bush as president, but I wanted him to succeed.  I thought from the get go that the invasion of Iraq was a colossal  mistake.  Bush and his minions said that once Hussein was deposed, democracy would erupt and flourish.  Even though I thought that prediction was pure fantasy, I hoped  I was wrong and Bush was right.
     When Trump was elected I hoped that he was capable of changing into a normal human being.  Talk about pure fantasy.
       Now I am consumed with the hope that this dishonest, corrupt, hateful, incompetent  fool  fails to complete his term.  This is a terrible thing to wish for.  I wish our country were not in the throes of a constitutional crisis, but it is what it is.
        I was particularly struck by Frank Rich's column in the current issue of New York Magazine (attached below).  Rich presents an exhaustive comparison between Watergate and Trumpgate.  Rich argues persuasively that all of the elements of Watergate are present today.  He also argues that the antipathy against Chump is far greater than it was against Nixon at this stage of the presidency.  Rich doesn't predict that there will be an impeachment.  He does say, however, that the various forces now in motion may compel the cowardly Republicans to abandon Chump just as they did Nixon.  
      By the way, unlike Nixon Chump also has to deal with the twenty fifth amendment to the Constitution.  No one, including his political enemies, ever accused Nixon of being incompetent.  The twenty fifth amendment provides that the President can be removed from office if he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.  Make no mistake, there are plenty of Republicans in Congress who have looked at the twenty fifth amendment.
       I hope all of you have  much more enjoyable things to do today  than read this e mail and Frank Rich's column.  But if you have nothing better to do, enjoy the column.  Enjoy the Fourth.

                                                                           Richard

Let America be America again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”
The free?
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!
O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
-- Langston Hughes (1902 - 1967)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Up for Grabs: The Survival of the Nation

By Harry T. Cook
6/30/17

During the Q&A period of a recent lecture, I was asked by a member of the audience if I thought the United States and its Constitution would be able to survive the upheaval of the first months of 2017. The substance of the lecture was an analysis of the Trump administration and its governance.
 
I began my answer with a complicated subordinate clause, only later getting to the verb, because I had to think as I went. The answer was that I did not know because we were on somewhat new ground with strange, unprecedented developments occurring on a daily basis. Therefore perhaps no one really knew.
 
Almost immediately I realized there was more to the question than my answer suggested. So I spoke of episodes in American history that might have caused people to ask the same question.
 
Surely, I said, our founding parents had to have been somewhat uncertain during the years between the end of the War of Independence and 1787, when the seven articles of the Constitution -- which did not fall to the ground from on high in their final form -- were finally ratified by 12 states.
 
Insufficient, as it turned out, the U.S. Constitution needed amendments and, after no smooth process, Congress produced 10 of them called "The Bill of Rights," ratified on Dec. 15, 1791. A number of representatives and senators came to see that, without the promulgation of such rights, it would be possible for the new nation to become a kind of monarchy of which they had only recently rid themselves.
 
Later in the American experiment came the Know-Nothing movement in the 1850s, which turned out to be a nativist political party -- anti-immigrant and dedicated to what they called "pure elections," i.e. keeping "impure" foreigners (many of them Catholic) from voting. It is said that an argument with a Know-Nothing was like trying to converse with a full brass section playing a Beethoven finale at triple forte. Along with the pride of knowing nothing, does any of this sound familiar? The country survived that with its Constitution intact.
 
Its greatest challenge came next: the ruinous War Between the States that left well more than 600,000 dead on Union and Confederate battlefields. A bitter war it was, not only over slavery but economic jealousy and the legitimate role of the federal government. Thanks to the steady hand of Abraham Lincoln, America emerged from those terrible years tattered but in one piece.
 
Jim Crow was soon to follow and remains today among the dark places in our national life, despite the 14th and 15th constitutional amendments guaranteeing equal justice under the law and forbidding denial of the vote based on race. Both of these amendments have been sorely tried. The racial uprisings of the mid-1960s were a reaction to those times of trial. By 2008, American voters had elected an African-American president, though the noose reappeared here and there in otherwise polite company and the sale of guns went gangbusters. Yet there was nothing approaching a secession crisis over a president with black skin even with the Ku Klux Klan lurking.
 
In less stable countries, the Great Depression of the 1930s might well have rent asunder its political fabric. That did not happen in America, and there is little doubt that the labors of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his team made the difference there. Revolution of the kind history has documented elsewhere was far from materializing. Just the same, the Communist Party gained membership among Americans who had ceased to believe that economic democracy worked except for the wealthy who had been smart enough to get out of the market before the crash or simply had more wherewithal that the bottom did not fall out of their lives.
 
A generation later came the anti-Vietnam War resistance. One could feel the red-hot anger against its waging, against the appalling loss of more than 50,000 American military personnel. The war was Lyndon Johnson's downfall, leading to the election of Richard Nixon, the first president ever to resign the office under pressure not only from political higher-ups but a disgusted populous. Collapse came closer than we might think at this remove, but the Constitution survived and served as the lubrication for a peaceful transition to a post-Watergate administration.
 
So now recurs the original question as to whether the United States and its Constitution can survive the strain put upon both by Donald Trump and his team of grotesques. The answer I should have given at first was this: "America has suffered worse. The Constitution has seen the nation through hell and back a number of times in the 230 years since its formative articles were ratified. That's no guarantee for the next 230, but, in the meantime, it is an enviable record."
 
* * *
 
On behalf of my editor, the good folks at Constant Contact who send out these essays at 6 a.m. ET each Friday and myself, I wish you a thoughtful Fourth of July holiday.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

T r u m p ’ s L i e s

Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office.

Jan. 21 “I wasn't a fan of Iraq. I didn't want to go into Iraq.” (He was for an invasion before he was against it.)Jan. 21 “A reporter for Time magazine — and I have been on their cover 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine.” (Trump was on the cover 11 times and Nixon appeared 55 times.)Jan. 23 “Between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused me to lose the popular vote.” (There's no evidence of illegal voting.)Jan. 25 “Now, the audience was the biggest ever. But this crowd was massive. Look how far back it goes. This crowd was massive.” (Official aerial photos show Obama's 2009 inauguration was much more heavily attended.)Jan. 25 “Take a look at the Pew reports (which show voter fraud.)” (The report never mentioned voter fraud.)Jan. 25 “You had millions of people that now aren't insured anymore.” (The real number is less than 1 million, according to the Urban Institute.)Jan. 25 “So, look, when President Obama was there two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech. You can't have that.” (There were no gun homicide victims in Chicago that day.)Jan. 26 “We've taken in tens of thousands of people. We know nothing about them. They can say they vet them. They didn't vet them. They have no papers. How can you vet somebody when you don't know anything about them and you have no papers? How do you vet them? You can't.” (Vetting lasts up to two years.)Jan. 26 “I cut off hundreds of millions of dollars off one particular plane, hundreds of millions of dollars in a short period of time. It wasn't like I spent, like, weeks, hours, less than hours, and many, many hundreds of millions of dollars. And the plane's going to be better.” (Most of the cuts were already planned.)Jan. 28 “Thr coverage about me in the @nytimes and the @washingtonpost gas been so false and angry that the times actually apologized to its dwindling subscribers and readers.” (It never apologized.)Jan. 29 “The Cuban-Americans, I got 84 percent of that vote.” (There is no support for this.)Jan. 30 “Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage” (At least 746 people were detained and processed, and the Delta outage happened two days later.)Feb. 3 “Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” (There is no evidence of paid protesters.)Feb. 4 “After being forced to apologize for its bad and inaccurate coverage of me after winning the election, the FAKE NEWS @nytimes is still lost!” (It never apologized.)Feb. 5 “We had 109 people out of hundreds of thousands of travelers and all we did was vet those people very, very carefully.” (About 60,000 people were affected.)Feb. 6 “I have already saved more than $700 million when I got involved in the negotiation on the F-35.” (Much of the price drop was projected before Trump took office.)Feb. 6 “It's gotten to a point where it is not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it.” (Terrorism has been reported on, often in detail.)Feb. 6 “The failing @nytimes was forced to apologize to its subscribers for the poor reporting it did on my election win. Now they are worse!” (It didn't apologize.)Feb. 6 “And the previous administration allowed it to happen because we shouldn't have been in Iraq, but we shouldn't have gotten out the way we got out. It created a vacuum, ISIS was formed.” (ISIS has existed since 2004.)Feb. 7 “And yet the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? Forty-seven years.” (It was higher in the 1980s and '90s.)Feb. 7 “I saved more than $600 million. I got involved in negotiation on a fighter jet, the F-35.” (The Defense Department projected this price drop before Trump took office.)Feb. 9 “Chris Cuomo, in his interview with Sen. Blumenthal, never asked him about his long-term lie about his brave ‘service’ in Vietnam. FAKE NEWS!” (It was part of Cuomo's first question.)Feb. 9 Sen. Richard Blumenthal “now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?” (The Gorsuch comments were later corroborated.)Feb. 10 “I don’t know about it. I haven’t seen it. What report is that?” (Trump knew about Flynn's actions for weeks.)Feb. 12 “Just leaving Florida. Big crowds of enthusiastic supporters lining the road that the FAKE NEWS media refuses to mention. Very dishonest!” (The media did cover it.)Feb. 16 “We got 306 because people came out and voted like they've never seen before so that's the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.” (George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all won bigger margins in the Electoral College.)Feb. 16 “That’s the other thing that was wrong with the travel ban. You had Delta with a massive problem with their computer system at the airports.” (Delta's problems happened two days later.)Feb. 16 “Walmart announced it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States just this year because of our various plans and initiatives.” (The jobs are a result of its investment plans announced in October 2016.)Feb. 16 “When WikiLeaks, which I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give, they’re not giving classified information.” (Not always. They have released classified information in the past.)Feb. 16 “We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban. But we had a bad court. Got a bad decision.” (The rollout was chaotic.)Feb. 16 “They’re giving stuff — what was said at an office about Hillary cheating on the debates. Which, by the way, nobody mentions. Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates.” (It was widely covered.)Feb. 18 “And there was no way to vet those people. There was no documentation. There was no nothing.” (Refugees receive multiple background checks, taking up to two years.)Feb. 18 “You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?” (Trump implied there was a terror attack in Sweden, but there was no such attack.)Feb. 24 “By the way, you folks are in here — this place is packed, there are lines that go back six blocks.” (There was no evidence of long lines.)Feb. 24 “ICE came and endorsed me.” (Only its union did.)Feb. 24 “Obamacare covers very few people — and remember, deduct from the number all of the people that had great health care that they loved that was taken away from them — it was taken away from them.” (Obamacare increased coverage by a net of about 20 million.)Feb. 27 “Since Obamacare went into effect, nearly half of the insurers are stopped and have stopped from participating in the Obamacare exchanges.” (Many fewer pulled out.)Feb. 27 “On one plane, on a small order of one plane, I saved $725 million. And I would say I devoted about, if I added it up, all those calls, probably about an hour. So I think that might be my highest and best use.” (Much of the price cut was already projected.)Feb. 28 “And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that.” (NATO countries agreed to meet defense spending requirements in 2014.)Feb. 28 “The E.P.A.’s regulators were putting people out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands.” (There's no evidence that the Waters of the United States rule caused severe job losses.)Feb. 28 “We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a five-year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials.” (They can't lobby their former agency but can still become lobbyists.)March 3 “It is so pathetic that the Dems have still not approved my full Cabinet.” (Paperwork for the last two candidates was still not submitted to the Senate.)March 4 “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” (There's no evidence of a wiretap.)March 4 “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” (There's no evidence of a wiretap.)March 7 “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!” (113 of them were released by President George W. Bush.)March 13 “I saved a lot of money on those jets, didn't I? Did I do a good job? More than $725 million on them.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)March 13 “First of all, it covers very few people.” (About 20 million people gained insurance under Obamacare.)March 15 “On the airplanes, I saved $725 million. Probably took me a half an hour if you added up all of the times.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)March 17 “I was in Tennessee — I was just telling the folks — and half of the state has no insurance company, and the other half is going to lose the insurance company.” (There's at least one insurer in every Tennessee county.)March 20 “With just one negotiation on one set of airplanes, I saved the taxpayers of our country over $700 million.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)March 21 “To save taxpayer dollars, I’ve already begun negotiating better contracts for the federal government — saving over $700 million on just one set of airplanes of which there are many sets.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)March 22 “I make the statement, everyone goes crazy. The next day they have a massive riot, and death, and problems.” (Riots in Sweden broke out two days later and there were no deaths.)March 22 “NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that.” (It has fought terrorism since the 1980s.)March 22 “Well, now, if you take a look at the votes, when I say that, I mean mostly they register wrong — in other words, for the votes, they register incorrectly and/or illegally. And they then vote. You have tremendous numbers of people.” (There's no evidence of widespread voter fraud.)March 29 “Remember when the failing @nytimes apologized to its subscribers, right after the election, because their coverage was so wrong. Now worse!” (It didn't apologize.)March 31 “We have a lot of plants going up now in Michigan that were never going to be there if I — if I didn’t win this election, those plants would never even think about going back. They were gone.” (These investments were already planned.)April 2 “And I was totally opposed to the war in the Middle East which I think finally has been proven, people tried very hard to say I wasn’t but you’ve seen that it is now improving.” (He was for an invasion before he was against it.)April 2 “Now, my last tweet — you know, the one that you are talking about, perhaps — was the one about being, in quotes, wiretapped, meaning surveilled. Guess what, it is turning out to be true.” (There is still no evidence.)April 5 “You have many states coming up where they’re going to have no insurance company. O.K.? It’s already happened in Tennessee. It’s happening in Kentucky. Tennessee only has half coverage. Half the state is gone. They left.” (Every marketplace region in Tennessee had at least one insurer.)April 6 “If you look at the kind of cost-cutting we’ve been able to achieve with the military and at the same time ordering vast amounts of equipment — saved hundreds of millions of dollars on airplanes, and really billions, because if you take that out over a period of years it’s many billions of dollars — I think we’ve had a tremendous success.” (Much of the price cuts were already projected.)April 11 “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve.” (He knew Steve Bannon since 2011.)April 12 “You can't do it faster, because they're obstructing. They're obstructionists. So I have people — hundreds of people that we're trying to get through. I mean you have — you see the backlog. We can't get them through.” (At this point, he had not nominated anyone for hundreds of positions.)April 12 “The New York Times said the word wiretapped in the headline of the first edition. Then they took it out of there fast when they realized.” (There were two headlines, but neither were altered.)April 12 “The secretary general and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism.” (NATO has been engaged in counterterrorism efforts since the 1980s.)April 12 “Mosul was supposed to last for a week and now they’ve been fighting it for many months and so many more people died.” (The campaign was expected to take months.)April 16 “Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over!” (There's no evidence of paid protesters.)April 18 “The fake media goes, ‘Donald Trump changed his stance on China.’ I haven’t changed my stance.” (He did.)April 21 “On 90 planes I saved $725 million. It's actually a little bit more than that, but it's $725 million.” (Much of the price cuts were already projected.)April 21 “When WikiLeaks came out … never heard of WikiLeaks, never heard of it.” (He criticized it as early as 2010.)April 27 “I want to help our miners while the Democrats are blocking their healthcare.” (The bill to extend health benefits for certain coal miners was introduced by a Democrat and was co-sponsored by mostly Democrats.)April 28 “The trade deficit with Mexico is close to $70 billion, even with Canada it’s $17 billion trade deficit with Canada.” (The U.S. had an $8.1 billion trade surplus, not deficit, with Canada in 2016.)April 28 “She's running against someone who's going to raise your taxes to the sky, destroy your health care, and he's for open borders — lots of crime.” (Those are not Jon Ossoff's positions.)April 28 “The F-35 fighter jet program — it was way over budget. I’ve saved $725 million plus, just by getting involved in the negotiation.” (Much of the price cuts were planned before Trump.)April 29 “They're incompetent, dishonest people who after an election had to apologize because they covered it, us, me, but all of us, they covered it so badly that they felt they were forced to apologize because their predictions were so bad.” (The Times did not apologize.)April 29 “As you know, I've been a big critic of China, and I've been talking about currency manipulation for a long time. But I have to tell you that during the election, number one, they stopped.” (China stopped years ago.)April 29 “I've already saved more than $725 million on a simple order of F-35 planes. I got involved in the negotiation.” (Much of the price cuts were planned before Trump.)April 29 “We're also getting NATO countries to finally step up and contribute their fair share. They've begun to increase their contributions by billions of dollars, but we are not going to be satisfied until everyone pays what they owe.” (The deal was struck in 2014.)April 29 “When they talk about currency manipulation, and I did say I would call China, if they were, a currency manipulator, early in my tenure. And then I get there. Number one, they — as soon as I got elected, they stopped.” (China stopped in 2014.)April 29 “I was negotiating to reduce the price of the big fighter jet contract, the F-35, which was totally out of control. I will save billions and billions and billions of dollars.” (Most of the cuts were planned before Trump.)April 29 “I think our side's been proven very strongly. And everybody's talking about it.” (There's still no evidence Trump's phones were tapped.)May 1 “Well, we are protecting pre-existing conditions. And it'll be every good — bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.” (The bill weakens protections for people with pre-existing conditions.)May 1 “The F-35 fighter jet — I saved — I got involved in the negotiation. It's 2,500 jets. I negotiated for 90 planes, lot 10. I got $725 million off the price.” (Much of the price cuts were planned before Trump.)May 1 “First of all, since I started running, they haven't increased their — you know, they have not manipulated their currency. I think that was out of respect to me and the campaign.” (China stopped years ago.)May 2 “I love buying those planes at a reduced price. I have been really — I have cut billions — I have to tell you this, and they can check, right, Martha? I have cut billions and billions of dollars off plane contracts sitting here.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)May 4 “Number two, they’re actually not a currency [manipulator]. You know, since I’ve been talking about currency manipulation with respect to them and other countries, they stopped.” (China stopped years ago.)May 4 “We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world.” (We're not.)May 4 “Nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters.” (Polls show most Americans do care.)May 8 “You know we’ve gotten billions of dollars more in NATO than we’re getting. All because of me.” (The deal was struck in 2014.)May 8 “But when I did his show, which by the way was very highly rated. It was high — highest rating. The highest rating he’s ever had.” (Colbert's “Late Show” debut had nearly two million more viewers.)May 8 “Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows- there is ‘no evidence’ of collusion w/ Russia and Trump.” (Clapper only said he wasn't aware of an investigation.)May 12 “Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.” (The F.B.I. was investigating before the election.)May 12 “When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?” (Clapper said he wouldn't have been told of an investigation into collusion.)May 13 “I'm cutting the price of airplanes with Lockheed.” (The cost cuts were planned before he became president.)May 26 “Just arrived in Italy for the G7. Trip has been very successful. We made and saved the USA many billions of dollars and millions of jobs.” (He's referencing an arms deal that's not enacted and other apparent deals that weren't announced on the trip.)June 1 “China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. So, we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement. India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020.” (The agreement doesn’t allow or disallow building coal plants.)June 1 “I’ve just returned from a trip overseas where we concluded nearly $350 billion of military and economic development for the United States, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.” (Trump’s figures are inflated and premature.)June 4 “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” (The mayor was specifically talking about the enlarged police presence on the streets.)June 5 “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.” (Trump signed this version of the travel ban, not the Justice Department.)June 21 “They all say it's 'nonbinding.' Like hell it's nonbinding.” (The Paris climate agreement is nonbinding — and Trump said so in his speech announcing the withdrawal.)June 21 “Right now, we are one of the highest-taxed nations in the world.” (We're not.)

  From:
 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/23/opinion/trumps-lies.html?_r=0 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Emasculating the ACA

  The Republican  senators are in the process of  emasculating the ACA.  They are doing it in a disgraceful, unprecedented way.  They are meeting behind closed doors and preparing to spring it on the American people.  There will be no hearings and no debate.  In contrast, before the ACA was passed there were over 100 hearings.  Republicans proposed   numerous amendments which were put to a vote.  Even though the the meetings are done in secret, this much we know.  Their proposal will deny medical coverage to millions, primarily the poor.  It will deny accessible medical care for children.  It will deny accessible health care to millions of women.  The list goes on.
      Senator Stabenow explained the rationale behind the Republican evil plan.  They will cut tens of billions of dollars from the medicaid budget.  They will then have plenty of funds to pass a massive tax cut which will benefit primarily the top 1% of tax payers.  In other words this is a massive takeaway from the poor to give to the rich.
       I simply do not get how they can sleep at night, but I guess they do.  This bill is opposed by every major medical organization in the United States.  Among those are the AMA and the AHA.  Senator Stabenow told a group of supporters that the AARP has its "hair on fire" over this bill.  It is inconceivable to me that none of the Republicans are listening to these groups, not to mention their own citizens.  Senator Stabenow truly believes there is a possibility of stopping this runaway train through massive public opposition.  I have been supplied with a list of Republican Senators who may be on the fence.  I implore you to call, write or e mail.  There is very little time left.  I have found that by and large the staffers are very polite, even those working for the worst of the worst.  Once you make the calls, you will feel great.  There is no law against calling all Republican senators if you want.  When I make my calls I emphasize the opposition of all major medical organizations as well as the AARP.
      Even though most Senators accept calls from non residents of their states, the most effective calls are those which come from their own constituents.  This e mail reaches people in about 7 states.  If you are not citizens of the states of the senators listed below, please go through all of your contacts to see if you know anyone from the states below.  You can pass on this e mail.  If we show these birds, that there is  massive opposition to their plan, there is a possibility of winning.  One more thing,Senators Flake and Heller  are up for reelection in 2018.  So here is the list:
                         1. Shelley Moore Capito, West Virgina
                             172 Russell Senate Office Bldg
                              Washington D.C. 20510
                              202-224-6472
                              capito.senate.gov

                          2. Susan Collins, Maine
                              413 Dirkson Senate Office Bldg.
                              20510
                              collins.senate.gov

                           3. Cory Gardner, Colorado
                               354 Russell Senate Office Bldg. 20510
                               202-224-5941
                               gardner.senate.gov

                           4.  Lisa Murkowski, Alaska
                                522 Hart Senate Office Bldg
                                202-224-6665
                                murkowski.senate.gov

                            5. Rob Portman, Ohio
                               448 Russelll Senate Office Bldg
                               202-224-3353
                               portman.senate.gov

                            6. Dean Heller, Nevada
                                324 Hart Senate Office Bldg
                                202-224-6244
                                heller.senate.gov.

                            7. Bill Cassidy, Louisiana
                                703 Hart Senate Office Bldg
                                202-224-5824
                                cassidy.senate.gov

                            8. Jeff Flake, Arizona
                                413 Russell Senate Office  bldg
                                202-224-4521
                                flake.senate.gov

                            9. Ben Sasse, Nebraska
                                136 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
                                202-224-4224
                                sasse.senate.gov

      Our country can survive this monstrous era if we continue to speak out.  Thanks in advance.
          

--

                                                                           Richard

Monday, June 12, 2017

Comey testimony

    I was lucky enough to watch the entire Comey testimony.  It was riveting.  Today's New York Times and Washington Post are filled with professional  analyses.   Let me give my layman's view.
       Comey was a compelling witness.  His testimony was filled with nuggets which can lead to Frump's demise.  I would not give Comey a "ten", however.  I think at times he was overly kind to Frump.
     I think one of the most striking parts of his testimony was when he described a meeting with top deputies in the FBI.  They were trying to decide on how to respond to Frump asking whether he was under investigation.  One top deputy felt that they should not say he was not under investigation.  Comey overruled his deputy.  I think the deputy was right.  Comey could have said that Frump was not under investigation at that time , but he could not predict where the investigation would lead.  He also could have said it at the hearing. Now Frump claims that Comey completely vindicated him.  That is, of course, a lie.  But I wish that Comey had not given Frump the opening.
     For me, highlights were the opening and closing statements by Chairman Burr.  He could not have been more solicitous to Comey.  His praise of Comey was spectacular.  In fact, all of the Republicans seemed to give Comey the highest respect.  This was true even after Comey called Frump a liar in no uncertain terms.  
        I could go on and on, but I am sure you have seen and read  many of the analysis.  I want to finish with Nancy Pelosi's appearance on Morning Joe this morning.  She was spectacular.  If you did not see it, try to find it on You Tube.  Here are a couple of nuggets.  She said that shortly after the inauguration top congressional leaders from both parties meet with the newly elected president.  It is generally a feel good meeting with outward cordiality.  Pelosi had attended these meetings with Bush and Obama.  Frump opened the meeting by declaring that as everyone knows, he won the popular vote.  Pelosi responded by saying there was no evidence of that.  How bizarre was that.
      She said that starting with George H. W. Bush and going through every president, their first foreign visits were either to Canada or Mexico.  Why in the world did Frump chose Saudi Arabia?
     She said that Frump observers have described how he tries to get his way.  First, he tries to charm you.  If that doesn't work, he tries to bully you.  If that doesn't work he walks away.  And if that doesn't work, he sues you.  Pelosi was asked if she has been charmed by Frump.  She said that she finds his charm repulsive.  There was much more to the segment.  It is a must watch.
       To sum up, Comey gave Frump and his sycophants some talking points.  But the substance of his testimony amounts to more nails in the coffin of Frump's only term in office.  If  someone flip's on Frump, he's toast.  If the Russian investigation turns out collusion, he's toast.  If the Russians are found to be blackmailing him, he's toast.  I think all of those are possibilities.  Stay tuned.
      
           --

                                                                           Richard