Wednesday, June 28, 2017

So Crazy, It Just Might Work

It rings up 450,000 views on YouTube, and you end up on MSNBC twice in a week. Whoopi Goldberg gives you a shout-out on The View. Your phone starts ringing off the hook and the 2018 midterm congressional elections begin right there on your doorstep. Your mustache, and the Twitter handle it spawned—@ironstache—are both judged to be cool by the mysterious unwritten standards of the Intertoobz. Suddenly, the country knows you're an Army veteran who served in Central America during the Reagan years, and that you've already beaten testicular cancer. That's how it works these days if you're Randy Bryce and people say that you're "blowing up" a year and a half before anyone votes for anybody.


Truth be told, despite its spectacularly fast start, it's a long haul up a dirt road for Bryce's campaign. First of all, a sitting Speaker has lost for re-election only three times in the country's history, most recently in 1994, when Democratic Speaker Tom Foley lost to Republican George Nethercutt. (The other two, Galusha Grow and William Pennington, got beat during the turmoil immediately preceding the Civil War.) Second, Bryce is facing a three-way primary and one of the other candidates, David Yankovich, moved from Ohio to Kenosha specifically to run against Ryan.


And last, of course, is the fact that Paul Ryan is the coddled child of America's plutocrats and will likely have so much money to spend on his re-election that god will ask him to float a loan.

  Charles P Pierce
We just saw an election where that didn't help.

Good luck, Randy Bryce.

Obamacare Premiums Might Skyrocket!

Charles Gaba—an essential follow for information on all the nooks and crannies of the ACA and the current debate (@charles_gaba)—laid out in detail another cheap trick that the administration is trying to pull. Insurance carriers, explains Gaba, already have been warning that premiums might go up by double-digits next year.  [...]  However, as Gaba also notes, this is due to a couple of factors: First, the administration, through Secretary of HHS Tom (The Wolf of Wall Street) Price, has threatened to not enforce the individual mandate; and second, they have threatened to withhold the ACA's Cost-Saving Reduction Subsidies to the carriers. Gaba then takes us to the very last page of Mitch McConnell's current dead fish, where we learn that, if the dead fish passes, the CSR reimbursements would be reinstated for two years, before disappearing entirely after that.

The cynicism on display here is breathtaking. Republican sabotage makes the premiums go up. Then the Republicans put together a bill that partially repairs the sabotage for long enough that they can boast—during the 2018 midterms, let's say—that they brought down premiums. Then, of course, after the dust clears after the election, the patchwork repairs disappear and everybody gets screwed so that billionaires get their tax cut, which was the whole point of this exercise in the first place. And if, for some reason, the dead fish doesn't pass, they continue to decline to enforce the individual mandate, and they continue to stiff the carriers on the CSR payments. Premiums go up, and the 2018 campaign becomes a referendum on the cost of Democratic obstruction. I have no faith in the ability of the elite political press to see through this obvious charade.

  Charles P Pierce
Time for single payer.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Time for Single Payer

The message needs to be clear and simple.
[W]hy is health care such an “unbelievable complex subject”? If the rest of the industrialized countries can guarantee health care to all their citizens, why can’t the United States?


[A]ccording to a February 2016 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, “nearly two thirds (64%) of Americans say they have a positive reaction to the term ‘Medicare-for-all,’ and most (57%) say the same about ‘guaranteed universal health coverage.’ Fewer have a positive reaction to ‘single payer health insurance system’ (44%) or ‘socialized medicine’ (38%).”

The words don’t work and, as a result, ignorance abounds.

“About half (53%) of Democrats say they have a very positive reaction to ‘Medicare-for-all’ compared with 21 percent who say the same for ‘single payer health insurance system,’” according to the Kaiser poll. But to be clear: “Medicare-for-all” and “single payer” refer to… the same exact thing.


Remember the anti-Obamacare town halls in the summer of 2009, where attendees carried placards that read “Keep government out of my Medicare”? An August 2009 poll found that 39% of Americans said they wanted government to “stay out of Medicare” — which is, of course, impossible.


In San Francisco, a single payer system called “Healthy San Francisco” was launched a decade ago and has had very high approval ratings. How about Sanders, Warren et al push for a federal version called “Healthy America”?


[The] UK’s National Health Service, the NHS, [...] is more popular with the British public than both the Royal Family and the armed forces. [...]  Not only because “international comparisons show that the NHS outperforms other countries, including the U.S., in terms of quality of care, efficiency, access and equity,” to quote health economist Andrew Street. It has always been clear what the NHS is and what it stands for. There is no need for “individual mandates”; no concept of “pre-existing conditions.” The NHS was founded, the legendary Labour health secretary and proud socialist Aneurin Bevan explained in 1948, on three core principles: that it “meet the needs of everyone,” that it “be free at the point of delivery,” and that it be based on “need, not ability to pay.”

UK governments of both right and left have signed up to these core principles. Almost 70 years after Bevan’s launch of the health service, it was Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron who, referring to the “magic” of the NHS, said: “You don’t have to produce your wallet or your credit card, you get great treatment because it’s a birthright of being British that we have a National Health Service that is free at the point of use and available to all who need it.”

Can you imagine a leading Republican describing free health care as a “birthright” for Americans?

  The Intercept
I cannot.  I cannot imagine a leading Democrat doing it either.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

tRump Goes to France

Can they keep him in the Bastille?

In an iron mask?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Participial Phrase Placement Is Important (Updated)

If we didn't know him as well as we do, this could be confusing:

The Post not paying taxes is fake news? Or the Post itself is fake news?


That tweet was fake news.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Leaky, Leaky: Trump and Trumpcare

Perhaps this (plus the NYT story) is what set the asshole off this morning:

During the ill-fated first round of the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, President Trump suggested that he wouldn’t support a bill that hurts Americans, telling Fox News, “If we’re not going to take care of the people, I’m not signing anything.” Then he held a Rose Garden ceremony to celebrate the passage of the American Health Care Act, which was projected to cost 23 million people their insurance in the next decade.

Earlier this month, President Trump told a group of Republican senators that the House bill was “mean, mean, mean.” Yet he supported the nearly identical Senate version of the bill, which would cause 22 million people to lose their coverage by 2026. And when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed the vote on Tuesday, President Trump invited every Republican senator to the White House and urged them to keep at it.

  New York Magazine
New York Magazine is mean, mean, mean.
The simplest explanation for President Trump’s inconsistent stance on the health legislation (which the White House prefers not to call Trumpcare) is that he habitually tells the person standing in front of him whatever he thinks they want to hear, and isn’t worried about getting his facts straight.
Good guess.
On Tuesday, the New York Times highlighted another possibility: President Trump has no idea what’s in the bill.
A senator who supports the bill left the meeting at the White House with a sense that the president did not have a grasp of some basic elements of the Senate plan

According to the Times, Trump likes to tell friends he’s a “closer,” and in one meeting during the House health-care fight he reportedly urged members of Congress to look at the optics, not the bill’s contents. “Forget about the little shit,” Trump said. “Let’s focus on the big picture here.”

This irked several of the congressmen, who felt details matter when you’re disrupting one-fifth of the economy.
Might be important.
But even when focused on the politics of the health-care fight, Trump doesn’t appear to have a good sense of what’s happening in the Senate.
Nor does he care because they're not talking about him.
Trump talked with a few GOP opponents — including senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul — but failed to sway them.
What?! He didn't "close the deal"?
Some Senate Republicans complained that Trump was actually hindering the process. [...] After Republican Senator Dean Heller announced his opposition to the bill on Friday, pro-Trump super-pac America First Policies began running TV and radio ads attacking him. According to Politico the move, which was sanctioned by the White House, infuriated McConnell, as it made it harder to get Heller’s support.
Nobody is happier than me to have Mitch McConnell "infuriated", and if the GOP hasn't figured out Trump by now, they deserve to lose.
The Times reports that McConnell called White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and complained that the anti-Heller campaign was “beyond stupid.”
Why didn't Magic Mitch call tRump directly and tell him that?
Several senators, including Heller himself, complained about the ads during Tuesday’s meeting with Trump, and America First Policies announced they were pulling them a short time later.


In Trump’s defense, McConnell crafted the Senate bill in secret, and reportedly told the White House that it should leave everything to him.
There is no defense for Trump. I have no doubt he was more than happy to capitulate.
Trump may have sway over members of the House, but as the Washington Post reports, senators are generally more independent and are much less afraid of Trump.
The Rump is not gonna want to hear that. The Senate is a bunch of tough nuts. And I do mean nuts.
It’s crazy that the president doesn’t seem fully aware of how his party intends to deliver one of his top campaign promises, but it’s probably a smart move. So far he’s shown he doesn’t understand how to sway senators, and might publicly criticize the bill if he finds out what’s in it.
So far, he's shown he doesn't understand much of anything.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Propaganda Journalism Is Alive and Well in the US

In addition to the Washington Post's ridiculous headline on Venezuela, here's Time Magazine on the situation in Syria:

That's not war, apparently.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Reporting on Venezuela

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

A Fake News Joke!

There's a joke here for sure, and it's a bad one.  Donald Trump is your president.

I take it he's seen the stories about the fake Times cover he's got framed everywhere.

Flashback to yesterday:
Mr. Trump, meeting with Republican senators at the White House, declared, “We’re getting very close.”

“This will be great if we get it done,” he said. “And if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like, and that’s O.K., and I understand that very well.”

Is that what he's referring to?  The "meh" moment?

Victory for U.S.?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


Or maybe he saw this:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Paul Manafort Fesses Up

Paul Manafort, who was forced out as President Trump’s campaign chairman last summer after five months of infighting and criticism about his business dealings with pro-Russian interests, disclosed Tuesday that his consulting firm had received more than $17 million over two years from a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin.

The filing serves as a retroactive admission that Mr. Manafort performed work in the United States on behalf of a foreign power — Ukraine’s Party of Regions — without disclosing it at the time, as required by law. The Party of Regions is the political base of former President Viktor F. Yanukovych, who fled to Russia during a popular uprising in 2014.


The disclosures cap lengthy negotiations with officials at the Justice Department, which monitors activities of Americans who work on behalf of foreign political parties and governments.

Mr. Manafort’s work in Ukraine coincided with large real estate investments he made in the United States, some of which are being scrutinized by federal investigators. He also gave millions of dollars to his two daughters, one of whom, Andrea Manafort, apparently had qualms about how her father had earned the money, according to text messages posted last year on a website used by Ukrainian hackers.

“Don’t fool yourself,” Ms. Manafort wrote to her sister in 2015, referring to protesters’ deaths in anti-Yanukovych uprisings. “That money we have is blood money.”

...but hey, do what you will anyway.