Sunday, January 22, 2017

Did Not Consent To the Presidency of Donald Trump

People say just give Donald Trump a chance. President Obama said, if he succeeds, America succeeds. But I will not support Donald Trump. If he succeeds in making America great, as he envisions it to be, he will have succeeded in making America all I do not want my country to be.

Now that we have a President Trump, it’s up to us to fight the forces that put him there and the forces that want change so badly that it seems anything is okay as long as it’s a change from what they perceive as wrong in our county. I do not believe they are going to get the change most are expecting.

Heather McGhee, appearing on Bill Maher’s Real Time show on Friday said, it’s a “Test of character for the American people.”

I join with John Pavlovitz in saying, “Let the record show that I did not consent to this.

“And if I prove to be wrong, it will be one of the most joyful errors of my life. I will own these words and if necessary, willingly and gladly admit my misjudgment because it will mean that America is a better and stronger nation, and the world a more peaceful place.

“But right now I don’t see that happening.

“Right now I am worried for my country, concerned for our planet, scared for the future of my children, and greatly saddened that 62 million Americans seem okay with all of this.”

Let the Record Show

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Donald Trump Says He Will Evict the Press from the White House

Many of us warned that this was coming. Disappointingly, not enough people were paying attention.

Donald Trump's antagonistic behavior toward the press will continue. It will get much worse.

Here is Robert Reich's report:
According to three senior officials on the transition team, the incoming Trump administration is considering evicting the press from the White House press room and moving them – and news conferences -- to a conference center or to the Old Executive Office Building. (The “press room” contains work stations and broadcast booths, as well as the briefing area for presidential news conferences.)

Sean Spicer, Trump's press secretary, acknowledged that "there has been some discussion about how to do it” because the new administration would like to allow more members of the press into press conferences (and, presumably, more paid staffers to jeer at reporters who ask critical questions and applaud Trump’s answers, as they did at last week’s press conference).

Another senior official suggested that the move was a reaction to hostile press coverage, and the view that the press had become the enemy. "They are the opposition party," said the senior official. "I want 'em out of the building. We are taking back the press room."

Reporters have had workspace at the White House since Teddy Roosevelt was president, in 1901.

Another blow against democracy.


Exclusive: The Trump Administration May Evict the Press from the White House

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Good Old Days before Obamacare

Does anyone remember the ‘good old days’ before the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare)?

For years before Obamacare, healthcare insurance had steadily increased. In the years just prior to ACA, private insurance premiums rose 9.9% in 2008, 10.8% in 2009, and 11.7 % in 2010, according to the Commonwealth Fund. That is about 10.8% a year on average.

“Increased costs for employers and employees are up around 50% over the past eight years—but they could have risen far higher had the Affordable Care Act never passed.”

People, who support the repeal of ACA, cite higher costs of premiums and out-of-pocket costs as their major concern. However, increases in costs are not because of ACA. ACA does not govern what insurance companies charge for premiums or what they require in out-of-pocket costs. Insurance companies are responsible for increasing costs that are increasing at a greater rate than incomes. On the other hand, ACA sets limits on out-of-pocket maximums and deductibles.

Before Obamacare, the only way most of us could afford good comprehensive healthcare insurance was through employers. But, if you lost your job and could not afford COBRA, you were out of luck.

Before Obamacare, insurance providers could charge people more depending on how sick they were. Companies could drop coverage or deny coverage altogether. Insurance companies kept their cost down simply by denying sick people coverage.

Before Obamacare, women could be charged more for insurance or even denied coverage if they were pregnant, because insurers designated it as a pre-existing condition.

Before Obamacare, your insurance plan could be cancelled because you got sick.

Before Obamacare, children could remain on their parent’s health plan if they were a full-time student. Otherwise, at 18 years old you were on your own. However, typically the cut-off age was 22 years old.

Before Obamacare, about 2 out of 10 people had no healthcare insurance in 2006, according to the U.S. Census. In 2006, approximately 19.3 % of children in poverty were uninsured.

President-Elect Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, which he called "a disaster."

The problem is the Republicans don’t have a replacement plan. And, despite  rhetoric of needing to keep some aspects of Obamacare intact, 
Senate Republicans voted to completely repeal ACA. The Senate's repeal package is now in the hands of House Republicans.

Senator Bernie Sanders, an advocate of a single-payer system with universal healthcare coverage, writes:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

President-Elect Trump, Republican Party, and a Country with No Sense of Ethical or Moral Behavior

It's an American right to criticize whether qualified to do so or not. That's free speech, granted under the United States Constitution. But apparently it’s not if your criticism is of president-elect Donald Trump. Walter Shaub, director of the federal Office of Government Ethics, whose independent office is responsible for making sure that federal officials observe conflict-of-interest laws, called the arrangement for Trump's business “wholly inadequate and would leave him susceptible to “suspicions of corruption.” That roused the ire of the Republican Party who have summoned Walter Shaub to a closed-door interrogation session to explain his criticism of President-elect Donald Trump’s conflict-of-interest plans.

Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chairman of the  House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, “noted that his committee has the power to decide whether to reauthorize the ethics office — a pointed threat to punish the office for the director doing his job.”

The United States of America has always bragged of its lofty ideals. However, it can no longer. We have a soon to be President Donald Trump who has no sense of ethical or moral behavior, and a Republican Party and citizenry complicit in it.

Donald Trump treats Vladimir Putin with more respect than he does John Lewis

Representative John Lewis was a significant participant in the dangerous days of the Civil Rights Movement.

"One thing you cannot say about John Lewis is that he is "all talk, talk, talk - no action or results," says Dan Rather of Donald Trump's Tweet: “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!”

Lewis’ whole life has been about supporting the civil rights of all Americans. His actions speak load and clear that he is not a man of just talk: “Lewis and fellow activist Hosea Williams led over 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. At the end of the bridge, Alabama State Troopers who ordered them to disperse met them. When the marchers stopped to pray, the police discharged tear gas and mounted troopers charged the demonstrators, beating them with night sticks. Lewis's skull was fractured, but he escaped across the bridge to Brown Chapel, the movement's headquarter church in Selma. Before Lewis could be taken to the hospital, he appeared before the television cameras calling on President Johnson to intervene in Alabama. Lewis bears scars from the incident on his head that are still visible today.”

Here is Dan Rather’s take”:

I want to avoid getting too caught up in the tweets of Donald Trump, but there are some comments that are so far beyond the pale that one risks normalizing them by ignoring them. And the message that Mr. Trump said today about Representative John Lewis, a true American hero, is such an instance.
To be sure, Mr. Lewis levelled some very sharp criticism at the incoming president yesterday - calling his election illegitimate on account of Russian interference. We all know this story seems to grow darker and more worrisome by the hour. I have never seen an administration begin under such a serious cloud.
One can easily understand why Mr. Lewis' comment would anger Mr. Trump because it is a real threat. The famed and respected Civil Rights leader is putting into words what few of his political peers have dared say out loud. And we must note that there are still many more questions about this issue than there are answers. The fact that the Senate will now conduct hearings - mark you hearings that may very well cast doubt on the legitimacy of a president who has yet to be officially inaugurated - will hopefully lead to a more complete account of what took place.
But whatever the truth is about these swirling allegations on Russia, and whether one feels such conclusions of illegitimacy are premature, Mr. Trump would have been well served to have let Mr. Lewis' comments pass. Of course he couldn't. In a pair of tweets the President-elect wrote:
"Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to......mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!"
I have known Mr. Lewis for decades. I covered him in those early and dangerous days of the Civil Rights Movement when almost all the institutions of government and society, especially in the South, seemed to be arrayed against the young activists. One thing you cannot say about John Lewis is that he is "all talk, talk, talk - no action or results." This man came within a hair's breath of dying after being beaten by Alabama State Troopers on a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. His expert organizing skills and moral clarity made the United States a far more just and equitable nation. And for all this to happen at the beginning of Martin Luther King weekend, of all times.
Perhaps the conservative political commentator Bill Kristol said it best in one of his tweets:
"It's telling, I'm afraid, that Donald Trump treats Vladimir Putin with more respect than he does John Lewis."

There are a few conscientious Republicans, believe it or not.

"A Senate Republican is blasting President-elect Donald Trump's criticism of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), praising the lawmaker for his leadership in the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

"Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on Saturday seized on Trump's characterization of Lewis as 'All talk, talk, talk - no action,' pointing out that his 'talk' made a significant contribution in the civil rights movement.

'John Lewis and his 'talk' have changed the world,' Sasse tweeted.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Robert Reich:Trump is Nixon squared

Robert Reich, who served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, always has a point of view worth considering. He is always a good read.

Here is Reich's view on Trump's Russia problem and Trump's financial conflicts.

President Obama, Vice Presiden Joe Biden: A Very Classic Act

Clearly, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden exemplify family values. It would be very difficult, maybe impossible, for anyone to set a better example, and not just family values but of friendship and what a relationship between a President and Vice President of the United States should be.

A friend of mine said, “As I was tearfully watching this, including Joe Biden's thank you, I often asked, ‘how could Donald Trump EVER come close to the greatness and accomplishments in so many areas, including politics, family, personal integrity, and survival under great duress, of this man?’

“The answer? NEVER!”

A Trump Fake Press Conference More Like A Rally

This is how Politico’s Annie Karni explains the fiasco:

“When Donald Trump gathered the press at Trump Tower 20 months ago to announce his unlikely candidacy for president, he reportedly paid actors to fill the marble lobby and cheer.

“Not much — and everything — has changed since.

“On Wednesday morning, when the president-elect once again faced hundreds of reporters from around the globe gathered in his lobby -- this time for his first press conference in seven months — Trump filled the room with paid staffers who clapped and cheered as he blasted members of the media as purveyors of “fake news.”

“It was Trump’s method of battling back an extraordinary report that U.S. intelligence officials have presented both Trump and President Barack Obama with unverified allegations that Russia has compromising information about the incoming 45th president, including about a reported salacious encounter in a Moscow hotel room.”

The Trump Presidency in a State of Total Disorder

It is as the Guardian’s Richard Wolffe expresses it: “a shambolic presidency,” one that will be in full bloom in seven days.

So, look out America, the next four years is going to be a very rough ride.

Wolffe writes:

“Judging from Wednesday’s trainwreck press conference – the first since July – Trump and his handlers have no self-discipline and no strategy to deal with the Russian crisis that has been simmering for the best part of the past year.

“They also have no sense of irony or, apparently, reality. The press conference opened with Sean Spicer, the incoming press secretary, condemning the media coverage of Trump’s compromised relationship with Russia as ‘frankly outrageous and highly irresponsible’.

“It seems churlish to have to recall this tweet from Trump in the closing phase of the recent election: ‘Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a US citizen so she could use her in the debate?’

“This kind of thing makes it hard for the new White House to pass the laugh test, never mind the smell test. It’s heartwarming to know that the president-elect is so concerned about how fake news can destroy real people. If only he had the self-awareness and self-discipline to live by his own words.

“In any crisis you generally try to deflect attention from your own misconduct. Instead, Team Trump seems happy to shine a bright light on its own monumental mistakes.

“That included the wonderful personal testimony from the incoming vice-president, Mike Pence, who introduced his boss by assuring us that he was full of what he called ‘energy.’ Perhaps Pence has been spending too much time with someone who liked to criticize his primary opponents for having low energy.

“Donald Trump is full of many things, but his energy levels are neither relevant nor particularly reassuring at this point.

“Besides, if you need your vice-president to attest to your character, you’re such damaged goods that your executive position is already in jeopardy.”

Richard Wolffe: Trump's Trainwreck Press Conference Ushers In A Shambolic Presidency