Monday, May 08, 2017

The Republican Zombie Lie about Health Care Just Won't Die

Republican Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho achieved notoriety recently when he repeated the Republican zombie lie that not having health care won't kill anyone:
At the May 5, 2017, event, questioners asked the congressman about the Republicans’ vote the previous day on a major health care overhaul that would roll back many aspects of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, including limits on expanding Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor.

"You are mandating people on Medicaid accept dying," one audience member said.

To which Labrador responded, "No no, you know that line is so indefensible. Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care."
Labrador isn't the first to say this. For years Republicans have fought against universal health care by saying that since emergency rooms can't turn people away, so no one will ever die because they didn't have health care.

For example, George Bush said this in 2007 and Mitt Romney said it in 2012.

But Labrador and the Republicans are the ones using the indefensible line.

Let's say you have a brain tumor, AIDS, leukemia, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, clogged arteries, diabetes, hepatitis C, tuberculosis, or one of dozens of other diseases. The emergency room won't admit you if you have a lump in your breast, or you have pain urinating, or shortness of breath, or pounding headaches. Those aren't life-threatening circumstances.

They're going to turn you away, even if -- especially if -- they know these symptoms may be indicative of a deadly disease: as soon as they're sure you won't keel over dead in the waiting room, they're going to prescribe you an antibiotic or a pain killer (charging you $500 or $1,000), then tell you to see your regular doctor and send you on your way.

By the time these diseases will kill you and the emergency room has to take you, it will be far too late: your breast cancer will have metastasized into your lymph nodes. The brain tumor will be inoperable. Your arteries will be completely blocked and the heart attack you suffer will be instantly fatal, or worse, turn you into a mindless vegetable. Your diabetes will have blinded you and your leg will have become gangrenous and require amputation.

These diseases are hard enough to treat when people with health care get them. But if you don't catch these problems early on, going to the emergency room will be too late: the hospital will waste hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to save a patient who is just going to die. But if they had been treated properly years before, given the right drugs and advice, the problems would be far cheaper to treat and the people wouldn't die.

Then there's pregnancy: there are a zillion things that go go wrong with a human fetus. Many of these problems can be rectified if they are discovered early enough, but are fatal if ignored until the child is carried to term. Yet self-styled "pro-life" Republicans want to eliminate maternity care from the list of things that health insurance policies must cover.

The thing is, it's not just the people who lack health care that are in danger. If you're infected with hepatitis C, HIV or tuberculosis, you can infect other people. People without health care are likely to be in low-paying jobs -- fast-food workers, maids, child-care workers, teacher's aids, dish washers, cashiers -- where they're in constant contact with the public or their food. Not to mention things like measles epidemics.

It's in everyone's interest to have all people living in this country be well.

Republicans are always so nostalgic for the good old days and hot for the Founding Fathers, they should remember Ben Franklin's admonition: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Where Is Thy Enemy?

With Republicans controlling all branches of government, I have to wonder who the enemy is of the Gun Cult. Consider that they operate best when they have someone to foam at the mouth about. They also don't sit still so well being the paranoid lot they are. What now?

Worse for them is this.

Now that he's president, though, gun sales have flattened, and gun company stocks have dropped. Sturm Ruger (RGR) stock has dropped 8% since Election Day, while American Outdoor Brands (AOBC), which owns Smith & Wesson, has plunged 23%. 

Remington, a New York gun manufacturer, and SilencerCo, a silencer maker in Utah, have laid off workers. 

Background checks plunged after November, then showed signs of recovery in February and March, but they are still far behind last year, when the campaign was in full swing.

Is the gun industry falling apart without an enemy? Facts say that it is:)

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Kushners Selling Green Cards in China

Jared Kushner's company -- to which he and Ivanka still have close ties -- is selling American residency permits to investors in China:
The Kushner Companies’ China roadshow, promoting $500,000 investments in New Jersey real estate as the path to a residency card in the United States, moved to Shanghai on Sunday after a similar pitch on Saturday in Beijing.
Trump's big pitch for the election was that the United States was being sold out to the Chinese, to the Mexicans, to the Canadians, to ISIS. He won largely on the strength of the idea that foreigners are taking over this country.

And here's Jared Kushner's company, literally selling out pieces of the United States to wealthy Chinese investors so they can come live in the United States.

It's a huge conflict of interest. Trump and his cronies say it isn't, but the Chinese who are buying into it think otherwise:
But for Bi Ting, who attended the event, part of the appeal was political: Jared Kushner is the son-in-law of — and a powerful adviser to — President Trump. Virtually unheard-of in China just months ago, he is now known here as a deeply influential figure in American politics. ... “The Trump relationship is an extra point for me,” Ms. Bi said, adding that she and her husband had not decided whether to invest.
Trump himself has been profiting for decades by selling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of real estate to Russian oligarchs and their children who wish to shelter their ill-gotten gains in American real estate.

Trump is on the warpath kicking out immigrants who do the grunt work that Americans simply refuse to do -- clean our hotel rooms, cook our food, pick our tomatoes, and chop up chickens in slaughterhouses. But he and is cronies are using their positions of power to bring wealthy foreigners in to buy up the country.

Trump has conned middle America into thinking that this billionaire-on-paper is one of them. But he's really just another one of these stateless international oligarchs who have no loyalty to any country but themselves.

Complete Cognitive Disconnect

The father of my son's baseball coach is a die hard Trump fan. We had a lot of great discussions last year and this year looks to top that. What amazes me the most about Coach Dad (that's what the kids call him...which is awesome) is how little regard for reality he has, especially when he starts spouting
virulent and irrational wordy squirts about communism.

With May Day just passed, he was going on about how we all dodged a bullet with Bernie Sanders. I informed him that Sanders was a democratic socialist, not a communist. His response?

"Same difference."

I then proceeded to inform him that many countries in Europe (Denmark. Finland. Netherlands. Sweden. Norway. Ireland.) and Canada were largely democratic socialist in nature. I wondered why all of them never had this problem.

He just laughed and had no response.

I continued to press him on Trump's connection to Russia. He said it was "fake news." Finally, I asked him if he saw the irony in supporting a Russian puppet on the one hand while foaming at the mouth and lying about Senator Sanders. He told me stop watching CNN.

My first thought after this exchange was how prevalent his views were. Was it fringe? The best place to check that was Kevin Baker's site, The Smallest Minority. Not surprisingly, I found this.

I intend to repeat this post each May 1 that I continue to run this blog. This is the seventh time I have put it up. Since Bernie Sanders made a credible run for the Presidency last year, obviously we've not learned a fucking thing from history.

Seriously. What a fucking moron. Bernie Sanders=Communist. Donald Trump=Victim of Fake News. This, despite EVERY intelligence agency stating that Russia interfered in our election and tipped the scales, via propaganda, to Trump. The same fucking intelligence agencies that Kevin believes were accurate on WMDs in Iraq. Now, of course, it's all some sort of liberal plot...

But Kevin and his fellow intransigent adolescents are invariably in the minority. What about the rest of the country? Here's an interesting graphic.

Most Americans don't hold the same rosy view of Russia that our current president does.

Interestingly, all the right wing news sites offer breathless examples of how Americans are more approving of communism these days. Move outside of that nonsense (while noting that they are so irrational that they think that socialism and communism are the same thing) and we see that most Americans overwhelmingly like capitalism more, even when compared to mere socialism.

So, what do we do with the Coach Dads and Kevins of the world? Their views are so incredibly driven by irrationality and the need to be right all the time that they aren't thinking clearly. People that don't think clearly make bad decisions that those of us who are rational have to then clean up.

Medication? Maybe. A padded cell? Getting there. Many more of us registered to vote and running in every election no matter how local? That's the ticket. In fact, let's do that to such a degree that we end up with more people who want drastically alter our nation's gun laws.

They only win because more of them turn out to vote.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Thursday, May 04, 2017

The Sivil War

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Andrew Jackson Was Not Alive During The Civil War

Andrew Jackson died in 1845, 16 years before the Civil War started. This is a fact. Yet, Donald Donald Trump on Monday once again defied the history books, this time claiming that Andrew Jackson was “really angry” about the Civil War and puzzled why a deal wasn’t cut to avoid the war altogether. Let's set aside yet another historical mistake by our president and look at the real problem.

Trump's base is as dumb as he is about history. They make up whatever shit suits their mouth foaming and pass it off as fact. Call them on it and you are a smug elite liberal who needs to be taught a lesson. Most hypocritically, you aren't even allowed to call them a dumb ass...just as they or their dear leader would say so bluntly. Only they can "tell it like it is." Because when librals do it they are all mean and stuff!!

Such precious little wonder they get all pissed off about PC shit and people being offended all the time. It's really themselves they are angry at!

So, how many mistakes does this make? Let's see...Frederick Douglas is still alive...Abraham Lincoln was not a Republican...and a plaque that is dedicated to a Civil War battle that never happened.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Shed A Little Sunlight

The cartoon above illustrates a major problem with liberals and progressives today. Similar to the fake news of Drudge, Zerohedge and other right wing blogs, the left on college campuses are going about this all wrong. Don't pretend that reality isn't reality. If you want to shut down people like...well...our current president, give them a microphone and let them speak. The court of public opinion usually sorts things out. How is Milo Yiannopoulis doing these days? Hee hee....

Take your protests and turn that energy into registered voters who vote every single year. Rather than marching, become a candidate in a purple district or, even better, a red one. Sit down and talk with the locals. You'll be surprised to find that they agree with you on things like the minimum wage and inequality.

Practice some interest convergence.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Get 'Er Done

Over the next day or two, much will be written about President Trump's first 100 days in office. Many will say that he hasn't done anything really and they would be correct. But that doesn't matter to the GOP voter. Why?

Neil Gorsuch.

If there was ever a campaign that was single issue, 2016 was it. Conservatives held their nose and voted for a guy that is repugnant for one simple reason. They wanted a conservative, not a liberal, on SCOTUS and they got it. Anything else he does can be explained away and/or stymied (e.g. health care repeal/replace). Trump "got 'er done"

What Democrats need to understand is that even though Republicans are a dying party, they are a dying party that votes. They don't stay home because of single issues like Supreme Court nominees. So, this begs the question...what turns out Democrats? Solid candidates with populist streaks and connections to ordinary citizens. This is why Bill Clinton and Barack Obama won by such large margins.

Get people out to vote. Get local candidates to run. It's just that simple.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Airlines Think They Own Your Ass

After several weeks of catastrophically bad PR, United Airlines has announced a new policy for passengers who are kicked off overbooked flights:
United Airlines says it will raise the limit — to $10,000 — on payments to customers who give up seats on oversold flights and will increase training for employees as it deals with fallout from the video of a passenger being violently dragged from his seat.

United is also vowing to reduce, but not eliminate, overbooking — the selling of more tickets than there are seats on the plane.
This announcement is totally worthless: it doesn't mean anyone will ever get that money. It's just a press announcement. There's no regulation or law that requires this payment. It'll only happen if they get caught beating up another passenger.

Since there's no FAA requirement, United is completely free to change this policy at any time. And they will change it, once the hysteria is over. In three years, unless Congress takes action, United will go right back to treating their customers like punching bags.

In the "bad old days" when airlines were regulated by the federal government, I flew fairly infrequently, maybe a few times a year. I flew first class like once, on an upgrade. Back then it was just coach and first class. But even in coach, if an airline couldn't get me on my scheduled flight, they would put me on a plane home, any plane, even if they had to use another airline.

Back then, if a plane was half empty, I could change seats and spread out anywhere I liked in coach. These days if you change seats United will kick you off the plane.

Airlines view passengers not just as cattle, but as chattle: they think they own their customers. With their frequent flyer programs they think they have people locked in to their airline, and they can do whatever the hell they want to customers because they control their miles.

But at the same time, frequent flyer miles have become basically worthless. You can only use them for certain flights at certain times, and they force you to stay over a Saturday. There are only a small number of frequent-flyer seats available on any flight. Unless you book six months or a year in advance, you just can't use miles to fly for free.

The only thing miles are good for is "upgrades," which means spending your miles to get better treatment from the airline -- picking your seat ahead of time, checking your baggage, bringing a carry-on, getting an aisle seat.

All those things were just free back in the "bad old days" of airline regulation. They didn't cost the airline anything extra, so they never thought to charge for them.

Now the airlines are trying to extort every nickel and dime from their customers, by cramming them with seats size for scrawny six-year-olds, splitting up couples traveling together, obnoxious boarding procedures and all manner of intentional psychological torture designed to get you to pony up extra cash.

It's not just the airlines who are in on the scam. Credit card companies and hotels try to lock you in by giving you oodles of worthless airline miles.

It's everywhere: pretty much every pharmacy, grocery store, restaurant, and online shop (I'm talking about you, Amazon) has some kind of loyalty program to coerce you into buying from them.

And it's not just the sale they care about. They're collecting data on you: your phone number, your email, your habits, your preferences, when you shop, where you shop. And then they sell that data.

You ever wonder how these spammers get your email address and phone number so fast, even though you only gave it out to friends and companies you thought you could trust?

Financial advisors lobbied the Trump administration to eliminate the regulation that required they act in the best interests of the people who are paying them money for their advice. Donald Trump proudly touts the executive order that lets these guys rip off their customers as an accomplishment!

Pharmaceutical companies are the worst: charging outrageous prices for epi-pens and other off-patent drugs that patients will die without. They knowingly hook people on opioids to cash in on drug addicts.

Corporate America thinks they own you.

The crazy thing is, people who voted for Trump thought that he was out to help the little guy, when it has always been crystal clear that he's just another one of these corporate weasels out to screw little guys, like the hundreds of small businesses that Trump has repeatedly stiffed.

Americans should stop thinking that if they only bend over, the big boys will let them into first class. This is a democracy. Everyone should be treated fairly and decently, regardless of how much money they have.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Yugeist Ever?

Donald Trump's Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said today that the tax plan put forward by his boss will "the biggest tax cut and largest tax reform in history of this country." My question is this....

Who is going to pay for it?

Suddenly all talk of deficits and debt has mysteriously least until the CBO scores Trump's plan. I'm predicting that his tax plan won't pass the House or the Senate will end up much in the same way as ACA repeal.

Making His Mark

Here's a pretty sobering piece from Politico regarding Trump's climate policies. I think that this is the one area where he pissed me off the most. It's the whole "fuck you, we can do what we want and you can't make us do nothing!" adolescent attitude of him and his followers that is potentially going to add billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

Unless, of course, the free market stops them.

Not wanting smug liberal elites and smart people telling you what to do isn't a policy. Neither is pretending that this stuff isn't real.

Grow the fuck up and let's deal with this challenge.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Not Dead Yet

The Monitor has a great piece up about the very much premature obituaries of populism. Trump has fallen in line with reality on a few things but that should not mean that the Democrats can go back to more of the same ignorance. It's still clear what they have to do.

First, get more people to vote in the districts that matter.

Second, get new candidates to run for office from those districts. These candidates should deeply understand the district in which they are running and be the most local possible.

Take all the energy from protests and marches and put them into these two action items. Victory will then come quickly.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Why Clinton But Not Trump?

James Comey continues to befuddle me and today's very long piece in the New York Times does nothing to clear things up.

What he did not say was that the F.B.I. was also investigating the campaign of Donald J. Trump. Just weeks before, Mr. Comey had declined to answer a question from Congress about whether there was such an investigation. Only in March, long after the election, did Mr. Comey confirm that there was one.

Why? Why tell them about Clinton but not Trump? I refuse to accept that Comey was in the tank for the Republicans. He's just not that kind of guy. Perhaps he thought that since the Clinton investigation was closed (and he probably thought she was going to win anyway) he had an obligation to tell Congress. The Trump investigation was ongoing so that would mean no comment. As the article notes, what if he said nothing and she won? Then it would appear as if he was colluding...which it ended up looking like anyway but for Trump.

No matter which way you cut it, it all sucks.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Real False Flag Attack

Donald Trump, Orly Taitz, Alex Jones and the whole right-wing propaganda machine are always spouting conspiracy theories about false-flag attacks, in which the government or some other nefarious entity stages a completely fictitious terrorist attack (like 9/11 or Sandy Hook).

Eleven days ago this happened:
An 'Islamist' suspect has been arrested in connection with the pipe bomb attack on Borussia Dortmund's team bus as authorities say they are treating it as a 'terrorist attack'.
German police searched properties belonging to 'two suspects from the Islamist spectrum' on Wednesday and arrested a 25-year-old Iraqi man from Wuppertal - not far from Dortmund - meaning another man is still on the loose.
But in reality this was a false flag attack staged to make it look like Muslims were responsible for the bombing:
German federal prosecutors say the bombing of a soccer team's bus in Dortmund, Germany, was carried out by a man apparently attempting to manipulate the team's stock for profit. The 28-year-old man has been arrested and charged with attempted murder, among other things.

Three explosions went off near the Borussia Dortmund team bus on April 11, as it was pulling out of the hotel where the players were staying. One player was injured and needed surgery on his wrist.

Authorities say letters claiming responsibility for the blasts — and identifying the motivation as Islamic or right-wing extremism — appear to be specious.

Instead they say a man with German and Russian citizenship, identified only as Sergej W., planted the bombs, apparently to make money.

On April 11, before the blast, the suspect purchased a "put option" that allowed him to make a profit if Borussia Dortmund's stock value fell. Put options are like short selling — the more value the stock lost, the more money he would make.
Authorities are selling the story that this Russian guy was just trying to make some money. But we know that the Russians have been actively working to sabotage elections in the United States and Europe, to sow further chaos after destabilizing the West by flooding Europe with Syrian refugees.

But the most natural question is, was this attack actually ordered by the FSB in Moscow in order to ratchet up tensions in Western Europe ahead of elections in France tomorrow and in Germany in September?

And then, instead of just framing Islamists, what if Russian spy "Sergej W." decided he could make a little extra money on the side by gaming the stock market?

As conspiracy theories go, it's much more plausible than all the wacko theories about Sandy Hook, when gun nut Adam Lanza murdered his mother and 26 others, including 20 kids.

It's exactly the kind of disinformation scam that the Russians have been running for decades. I'm not saying it's true, but there are a hell of a lot easier and safer ways to scam the stock market than setting yourself up for a terrorism charge by killing an entire soccer team.

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day, Planet! I'm sorry that conservatives in the United States don't give a shit about you. As usual, I, along with many others who think more than emote, will take responsibility for their inaction and willful ignorance and try to save you!

Make Sure Those Ships Are Heading In The Right Direction!

He reminds me more and more of Kim Jong Un everday...

Friday, April 21, 2017

Which Party Again Are The Adults?

Donald Trump invited Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent and Kid Rock to the White House in what has to be the clearest example that we are literally in the film Idiocracy. Like the adolescents they are, they took the time to pose under a photo of Hillary Clinton and mock it. Which party has the adults in it again?

Oh, that's right. It would be this party.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Is this Clown Really the President?

A lot of people are saying that Saturday Night Live has finally become relevant again: its parodies of the Trump White House have resounded with the public.

But SNL is facing stiff competition from someone who satirizes Donald Trump better than anyone else: Donald Trump himself.
While recounting the story to Fox Business, Trump confused Syria and Iraq, mistakenly saying he launched missiles at Iraq. “We had finished dinner. We’re now having dessert,” Trump said.

“And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen, and President Xi was enjoying it.

"I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded and we made a determination to do it, so the missiles were on the way.

"I said, 'Mr President, let me explain something to you’. This was during dessert.

“’We have just fired 59 missiles’, all of which hit by the way, unbelievable from hundreds of miles away.

“What we have in terms of technology, nobody can even come close to competing… So what happens is, I say: 'We have just launched 59 missiles headed to Iraq’."

Host Maria Bartiromo was forced to correct his mistake, saying: "Heading to Syria?"

Trump responded: “Yes, heading toward Syria.”
While blathering on moronically about chocolate cake Donald Trump didn't realize that he had just said he bombed Iraq, when he had just attacked Syria in an attempt to distract from the deepening investigation of his campaign's ties to Russian spies and prove he wasn't Putin's bitch. Now, was this a simple slip of the tongue, or is Trump really that oblivious and senile?

The evidence is quickly mounting: have a look at this video, starting at about 1:10:

Trump's wife Melania, a woman who was born in a foreign country, had to remind him to put his hand on his heart for the national anthem. Doesn't Trump get that his base demands knee-jerk obeisance to meaningless patriotic forms like flags and anthems? Or does he think he needn't respect the flag because he's the president! Or is he so senile and/or deaf that he can't recognize the national anthem? Or what?

If Barack Obama had done this, he would have been crucified by the right because he hates America!

Trump's total lack of knowledge about history, international affairs, the law, the complexities of health care, and on and on, completely disqualify him from being the president. And it's easy to see how voters unacquainted with arcane policy matters could put had utter lack of qualifications aside because they're tired of the same old excuses from career politicians.

But things like this that should make it crystal clear to anyone who voted for Trump that he's either mentally defective -- a senile old man who really doesn't know what the hell's going on -- or he doesn't give a shit about this country and everything he said during the campaign was a lie and a sham.

Sadly, both are likely true.