Tag Archives: Trump

Go To The Telephones

If you are reading this post and you haven’t yet made a phone call to Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) urging him to oppose the motion to proceed on the health insurance bill — whatever health insurance bill — in the US Senate, please take a break and go call.  There is nothing in this post that’s more important than what is going on in the Senate this morning for 1/6th of the US economy, for 1.75 million veterans who rely on Medicaid, and for the Nevada state budget which needs the support of Medicaid reimbursements… and on and on.  It’s time for All Hands On Deck.  This Zombie bill won’t be dead until it’s dead, and reports of its demise are, as Twain really said, “premature.”

Other thoughts of the day —

What the president said to the Boy Scouts probably wasn’t the End of Democracy, but it was highly inappropriate.  Highly inappropriate. In fact, it was a perfectly visible (and audible) impersonation of that guy at the end of the bar who, if given even the most tangential cue, will regale his audience with How He Caught The Winning Touchdown Pass In The Big Game Against Big Rival High back in ’75.  This is the kind of tale that doesn’t even capture the attention of the entire bar crowd, most of whom have moved away from the braggart with a yawn and eye-rolls.  Our braggart in chief misses the point that all he’s managed to accomplish is to further diminish himself with the audience, an audience increasingly aware of his insecurities and ever less willing to tolerate yet another display of them.  It’s also a blatant admission that there’s been nothing else about which to celebrate in our braggart’s life.

The president’s tendency to personalize anything and everything deflects from what ought to be the focus of our investigations into Russian assaults on our electoral system.  Perhaps in his eyes it’s an attempt to de-legitimize his election, but the reality is that the Russians did ‘attack’ us in a cyber-warfare assault, and we need to find out what happened and where we might be vulnerable to future incursions.  How do we cope with ‘weaponized’ data and information?  How do we better secure our voting rolls?  How do we best secure our voting machines and systems?  To get answers we need to look ahead, retrospectives being of some use only in revivals on Broadway and in art museums.

The Election Integrity Commission of zealous, die-hard, vote suppression advocates won’t give us answers to any of these questions — focused as it obviously is on purging voter rolls.  It won’t help us deal with the problem of gerrymandered districts.  It won’t assist in plans to secure our election infrastructure.  It’s just one more panel enlisted in the battle to convince the dwindling bar audience that the score in that last Big Game should have been 6 points higher because the referee should have allowed a score on a play during which the right tackle was clearly offside.

And, now it’s time to get back to the important business at hand — calling our Senator to urge a ‘no’ vote on the motion to proceed into insurance market chaos.

 

 

 

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Pennsylvania Avenue Jr. High

I’d be surprised to discover there’s a parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or teacher (anyone who’s had contact) with a middle schooler who hasn’t heard the Great Whine, or forms thereof.  It is a bit disturbing to hear the Great Whines emanating from the White House.   For those who haven’t had a 12-14 year old in close proximity recently, the Great Whine comes with perfectly predictable elements.

I didn’t do it.  Yeah, right.    Like the sheets and towels aren’t blue-gray after a pair of denim jeans (just your size) were tossed into the washing machine?

Okay, but everyone does it.  No.  Only people immature and foolish enough to think that parents don’t notice other parents aren’t getting memos from the school about children who sling toilet paper around the rest room do it.

Yeah, but So and So was the one who made me do it.  Please.  This household believes in Free Will.  You did it, you own it. We also believe in the Pottery Barn Rule — you break it, you buy it.  Next time you might want to have a quick thought before succumbing to some silly antic or prank.

It’s no big deal.  Uh, yes it is. When you screw up it’s a big enough deal.  If it were not a big deal no one would be noticing it, much less commenting.

But, it’s not really bad.   Wrong again me bucko.  If it violates the norms of civilized behavior, causes harm to anyone or anything, is a misdemeanor or perhaps even a low grade felony…it’s bad.

It’s not fair.  Oh yes it is.  Even if your friend didn’t get his skateboard confiscated because he flunked his last English test, even if your friend didn’t get grounded for throwing tomatoes at the neighbor’s cat, even if your friend (real or imagined) didn’t get into trouble for leaving left-over pizza out on the living room table overnight… you are not the victim of a misinterpretation of Universal Divine Law.  You screwed up, and there are consequences.

The problem with the Pennsylvania Avenue Junior High is that the stakes are so much higher than those associated with the usually small misdemeanors of young adolescents.  Yes, there are highly questionable meetings with agents of a hostile foreign power.  There are profound questions about the enforcement of sanctions imposed on that country for invading a sovereign nation, occupying that nation’s territory, and attacking the election processes of western democracies, and for egregious violations of human rights.

There are questions concerning the enforcement of those sanctions by a government the leadership of which may have financial connections of a nature as to make the desires of the foreign power of greater importance than the needs of our own nation. These questions need answers.  Those findings may range from  the inconvenient to the felonious, but applying the Cliché of the Day: We need to follow the facts.

 

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Heller at the President’s Right: Lunch Time At The White House

Nothing like watching Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) sitting next to POTUS, smiling and applauding as the remarks from the President replicate every standard talking point made by every Republican since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.  Including such wonderful clichés as:

You’ll pay lower premiums (Oh, such lower premiums you won’t believe) — Any fool can sell low premium policies, the ones with high deductibles and co-pays, limited benefits, and caps.  Worse still, these junk policies will be sold across state lines so that consumer standards and protections of the worst level of protection will be the standard.

The states will have control over Medicaid (smaller units will be better for individual needs)  Nothing like blowing a big wide ‘beautiful’ hole in the Nevada budget!  Cutting $770B from Medicaid will have effects far beyond Nevada’s capacity to support its elderly, its children, its rural health care facilities, its support for low income working families.  That was the point of Medicaid — expenses far beyond the capacity of individual states could be shared nationwide, allowing medical care and services for the greatest good for the greatest number.

Some counties only have one insurance corporation offering policies in the individual market.  Did the president recall that before the ACA there were some counties that had no insurance corporations offering policies in the individual market.  There’s a solution to this problem — one the president didn’t mention — establish a public option.

Then there flowed the usual barrel of platitudes and campaign rhetoric, freedom and flexibility, low cost with high coverage,  everyone can get better insurance, reduce burdensome taxation, burdensome regulation….

And there was Senator Dean Heller, smiling as though siding with the president isn’t going to be a major political problem for him in the 2018 campaign season.  It makes a person wonder.

Senator Heller can be reached at 202-224-6244, 775-686-5770; 702-388-6605

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Filed under Health Care, health insurance, Heller, Politics

She Did It She Did It…well maybe sort of

One of these days the Fox News logo will be a shiny pretzel.  Not to be out-speculated by US broadcasts concerning the results of Donald Jr.’s June meeting with Russian emissaries, Fox News has cooked up a brew the ingredients of which require a long boil before the mass comes together…

This whole Moscow Mess shows that Hillary Clinton maybe, could have, might have, perhaps was associated with, could be considered to be cooperating, colluding, conspiring, with the opponents of the Magnitsky Act… because (now grip the rope on your logical thinking skills firmly) —

Secretary Clinton expressed the initial Obama Administration’s objections to the Magnitsky Act in 2010.  The administration argued that the State Department was already denying visas to those Russians who were implicated in Magnitsky’s death, also of interest to the administration in 2010 were Russian cooperation to keep supply lines to Afghanistan open, to negotiate with the Iranians concerning their nuclear program, and to deal with the Syrian Civil War. [NewYorker]

However, to the Residents of the Fox News Bubble Zone this translates to a flat statement of “Clinton opposed the Magnitsky Act.”  Now comes the Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc portion of our program.   “Her initial opposition coincided with a $500,000 speech her husband gave…”  Yes a few weeks later Bill Clinton gave a speech at the Renaissance Capital annual investment conference.  No connection is demonstrated — it’s all in the timing, as in post hoc ergo propter hoc line of illogical thinking.

From the perspective of the Republican apologists we have to “fast forward” to 2016 when the Clinton campaign email (hacked and stolen) said: “With the help of the research team, we killed a Bloomberg story trying to link HRC’s opposition to the Magnitsky bill a $500,000 speech that WJC gave in Moscow.”  There are a couple of things to note about the use of this statement which illustrate the problems with Fox reportage.

First, if one doesn’t put much thought into the process, the image is created that there was a connection (between Secretary Clinton’s opposition to the act and the payment of former President Clinton’s speaking fees) and that the “killing” of a story implies something nefarious about this.  Remember, the Secretary’s opposition was tied to Obama administration policy regarding dealing with the Russians in 2010.

Secondly,  the image requires a person to ignore the initial clause in the e-mail, “with the help of the research team.”  It’s not too hard to spike a story if the publisher is assured that the report is a collection of idle speculation infused with inaccurate information.  Note as well that the pilfered e-mail stated the proposed Bloomberg piece was “trying” to link the Secretary’s opposition to the Magnitsky Act to her husband’s speaking fees — not that the report succeeded in making such a connection.  If the research shows no connection, there’s no story.  Little wonder the story got the spike.

And how did Fox News get the e-mail concerning how research submitted to Bloomberg News caused the latter to put the story in the bin?  It came compliments of the unfriendly hackers.  There’s no small amount of irony in having the Trump Apologist Network utilize the same stolen e-mail the Trump’s themselves may have encouraged?  To make this connection we need to wait for the conclusions of two Congressional intelligence committees, and the Special Counsel’s investigation.

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Bargaining with Babies

The Obama Administration closed down two lovely mansions used by the Russians to further their surveillance operations in the United States. We know that the mansions weren’t merely for tennis and tea dances because CBS reported that when the Russians decamped they destroyed documents and equipment, among the wreckage antennas, electronics, and computers.  Not the sort of thing on which one keeps score of bridge games or tennis tournaments among a few friends.  Now the Kremlin wants them back.  Their Foreign Minister says the closure was daylight robbery.  Better still, the Russians want them back,no little strings or threads attached.  One has to admire the chutzpah.   If the compounds (read SIGNIT stations) aren’t returned the Russians will “retaliate.”   The timing is interesting.

There was no “retaliation” in December, the obvious time for that sort of thing.  There was no threat of retaliation until: After Gen. Flynn was removed from the administration; and then more statements about ‘retaliation’ after the ill fated June meeting with 2, 4, 6, 8 (How many more Russians crashed the Gate?) with a Russian lawyer and lobbyist who wanted to discuss “child adoptions.”

By now, only the most willfully ignorant, or those who have been in a vegetative state since last December, don’t know that “child adoptions” is code for the Russian retaliation for the enactment of the Magnitsky Act.  This makes the following news bit disturbing:  “The State Department wants a deal that could include restarting U.S. adoptions of Russian children. It also has to deal with concerns at home – the FBI and some U.S. intelligence professionals fear giving back the sites would aid Russian spy efforts.”

The stoppage imposed on the US family adoptions of Russian children was Vladimir Putin’s reaction to the enactment of the Magnitsky Act.   And, the US State Department “WANTS” a “DEAL” to restart the adoption process?  Please tell me that the US State Department is NOT using babies and young orphans as cover for reducing the sanctions on a hostile foreign adversary that very much wants to sow discord among NATO allies, maintain its control of Crimea, indulge in military operations in eastern Ukraine, support the murderous Assad Regime, threaten its Baltic nation neighbors, and assault US, German, and French elections.

Not only should the US NOT cave to Russian threats and tantrums, but the House should pass S. 722 to maintain and upgrade sanctions against the Putin Regime — and this should happen now, and not later.

A word to one’s Representative in the House would be wise.

 

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Free Association: Follow The Money, Part Two

Recalling that the essential question is why does the current Administration conduct itself with such concern for Russian interests?  The explicit rationale is a rather vague: Wouldn’t it be nice to have better relations with the Russians?  Why and to what ends?  The tangle is greater, and more elusive, in this realm. Some information is public, some is public but wrapped in the comfortable enclosure of shell corporations, and some is hidden from public view entirely at the present.

What is publicly available from several credible sources:

Alan Lichtman — Fortune Magazine, 5/17/17; from Jeff Nesbit — Time Magazine, 8/15/16;  from Jeremy Venook — Atlantic, 5/10/17;  from Michael Crowley — Politico, March 2017; and from Yen & Salma, PBS.org, 5/28/17.  This is +by no means an exhaustive list, as a quick ‘Google’ of Trump + Ties + Russia will quickly reveal.

Further complicating the view, not all ties have to be monetary.  Some can be in the form of patents approved, patents themselves have financial value.  Others can be in the form of real estate transactions.  Still others can be maintained via a carefully crafted set of shell corporations each hiding the transactions between and among them.

The question may boil down to whether or not these ties are so substantial and of such depth that the administration is inevitably bound to respond in some kind to ‘return the favors extended?’

Yet another strand of wool concerns the possibility that the nature of some transactions is such that dealing with the partners constitutes anything from “exceedingly unwise and inappropriate,” to downright illegal.

Another bit of fluffy stuff:  Are some of the transactions made with or among individuals of such an unsavory character that merely dealing with them could render a person vulnerable to blackmail?

The only glimpse we have into some of the inquiries of the Special Counsel that offers any substantial clues to date concerns the hiring choices reported.  How nervous the administration might be about this line of inquiry may be perceived in the administration’s quick reaction which attempts to paint these hires as “tainted by politics,” a charge resting solely on campaign contribution reports during the last 29 years.  Perhaps the more important point is that the hires are specialists:  Andrew Weissman was the lead during the Enron investigation.  Among the hires are a specialist in counter-terrorism, a lawyer who has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court, and a former assistant special prosecutor during Watergate. [BusInsider]  We might also be able to see something about the direction of the investigation(s) given that Robert Mueller is hiring prosecutors.

We can make some educated conjectures based on this:

“Robert Mueller in recent days has hired lawyers with extensive experience in dealing with fraud, racketeering, and other financial crimes to help him investigate whether President Donald Trump’s associates colluded with Russia to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.”

We might also assume that if Mueller is described at meticulous,and Weissman is described as meticulous the investigation is going to last at least until the last T is crossed and I is dotted.  Patience.

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It’s Going to be Fabulous!

If the question is: “What’s going to be fabulous?” The answer is probably nothing.  Thus far the administration hasn’t delivered on much.  Sights! Sounds! Drama! notwithstanding, it’s Shakespearean “Sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The Muslim Travel Ban met yet another defeat on its way to the Supreme Court.  Supposedly it needed to be enacted Immediately to prevent the Threat of foreign terrorists, but time has passed (along with the time the Muslim travel ban was supposed to be in effect, during a study period) and behold a plethora, a horde, of heretical fanatics didn’t launch an assault.  Nothing there.

The wall seems like a distant memory,  as much fantasy as the idea the Mexican government was going to pay for it — IT, the wall, fence, river boundary, natural obstacles, or whatever.  Nothing there

The President’s first executive order called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and authorized agencies to grant waivers, but pointedly did NOT offer to infringe on “authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof.” Other Executive Orders follow the same pattern. Call for the study of some topic, require a report, and then infer that the report would be fodder for legislation. Perhaps the closest analogy to these orders might be a Christmas List — “Dear Santa, please bring us justification for the following rule changes or legislative priorities.” Lots of smoke and mirrors, without much there there.

An important point to note in terms of the Republican version of health insurance “reform” is that it is far more about tax cuts for those earning over $200,000 than it is about making health insurance affordable for average Americans.  See also: Vox and Atlantic, Forbes.  The median household income in Nevada is $52,431.

And speaking of Nevada — what can we expect?

“371,000 Nevadans stand to lose their health coverage.1

Nevada stands to lose $16 billion in federal assistance to help provide health coverage to its residents.2

Approximately 71,000 Nevadans who currently get financial assistance to help pay for their health coverage will lose this help and will no longer have affordable coverage options. In 2016, Nevadans receiving financial assistance saw their monthly premiums reduced on average $268 thanks to this help.3

The now-historically low rate of uninsured people will spike, with the number of uninsured in Nevada increasing 95 percent by 2019.4 This will reverse the immense progress that has been made to expand coverage. Between 2013 and 2015″

And there’s more:

“187,000 people stand to lose health coverage, most of whom are working.6 The Medicaid expansion has extended health coverage to lower-income Nevadans who hold down jobs that are the backbone of the state’s economy—from fast food workers to home care attendants to construction workers to cashiers. Repeal will leave these hard working Nevadans out in the cold.

Nevada will lose billions in federal Medicaid funding. Over the course of a year and a half alone, Medicaid expansion brought $1 billion in federal dollars into the state economy.7 The impact of that lost federal Medicaid funding will have a ripple effect throughout the state economy, affecting hospitals, other health care providers, and businesses.”

And More!

“The Medicare donut hole will re-open. This will leave Nevada’s seniors and people with disabilities with a gap in prescription drug coverage and forced to pay thousands of dollars more in drug costs.

  • Seniors and people with disabilities in Nevada have saved approximately $123 million on drug costs thanks to the ACA’s closing the Medicare donut hole.14

  • In 2015 alone, approximately 34,000 seniors and people with disabilities in Nevada saved on average $967 on drug costs.15″

Nothing in this truncated list of horror makes it sound like Republican health insurance legislation will be Fabulous.  Unless, of course, we mean “fabulous” in the sense of some gory fable designed to send small children to the floor while checking for monsters under the bed.

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Filed under Health Care, health insurance, Medicaid, nevada health, Politics, Taxation