Monday, June 26, 2017

Senate Republicans' health care bill cuts 22 million from health care

Imagine if some kind of economic catastrophe in the United States caused 22 million people to lose their health care.  Imagine the headlines, the photographs, the videos, the stories of untreated illnesses, of the diminished lives, of the diseases and deaths of of millions upon millions of people.

What kind of economic catastrophe could do that?  Stock market crash? Massive unemployment? Depression, deflation, hyper-inflation? Russian cyber-war that destroys the banking system? 

How about a man made catastrophe of the most avoidable kind - ideologically caused economic catastrophe.

That is what the Republican Party is rushing to do to America today.  This isn't Trump's doing.  Trump just barely has an opinion about health care in America.  Trump never thought for more than a few moments about health care in his life, other than to find the hot button phrases that could excite the conservative base into voting for him.

No, this is ideology - a blind ideology that has been entrenched ever since Obamacare was debated and put into law. This is the ideology of the Republican Party, and it is a disastrous lurch into economic calamity.  This is a rush to pass a law without debate, without inputs from the various medical players, without testimony from expert witnesses - oh, I forgot, conservatives don't like experts, they hate experts I guess because experts say different things than talk radio and Fox News folks say, so you can't trust experts because experts don't say simple things that can be put on bumper stickers or baseball caps.

The CBO projection is that 22 million people will lose their health care if the Senate Republican plan becomes law.  The CBO projected that 24 million people would lose their health care if the House of Representative plan would become law. Is this supposed to progress?

My conservative friends justify this stunning cruelty by telling themselves that Obamacare is collapsing of its own fatal flaws.  But it seems to me that those states that cooperated with Obamacare are having a pretty good experience, and those states that refused and obstructed Obamacare are having bad experiences.  It seems pretty clear to me that many Republicans, unfortunately including the president, are doing all they can to sabotage Obamacare, as if Obamacare were just some kind of idea that they didn't like rather than being the thing keeping people in their states alive and healthy.

I don't think the Republicans will overturn Obamacare because they won't be able to get the votes of both the "moderates" (i.e. those who don't want to watch folks die for lack of Medicaid funding in their states) and the "conservatives" (those who think the only thing that counts is cutting spending and shrinking or better yet eliminating the federal government which they see as some kind of evil restraint on freedom).

If a bill gets out of the Senate and goes to committee, it is hard for me to believe that a bill will then be be approved by both the House and the Senate and become law.  The "freedom caucus" (who I think are really pretty much blinded by their own dogmas and fanatical obsessions) will never go along with anything that smacks of compassion for the poor in favor of their most sacred of all desires - tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum.

All I can say is that if a terrible health care law gets passed by both houses and is signed by Trump, people will be much better off if they live in California than if they live in Kansas.  I fully expect that those states that have encouraged people to enroll in Obamacare, and who have cooperated with the Federal Government's efforts to make it work will treat their people much better than those states that have done everything they could to sabotage it.   


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Warren Sapp to donate his brain to research when he dies

Multiple Pro Bowl football player Warren Sapp is donating his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation for research upon his death.  He is 44 years old and is losing cognitive function due to the violence to his brain during his football years.  It doesn't matter how strong one's body is, or how much pain one is willing to take, there is no way to toughen up the brain to withstand blows to the head. 

"We're playing in a macho league and we're talking about Hall of Famers now who are immortalized forever, made busts and everything. Legends of the game," he said. "There's no way any of us wanna really admit that we can't remember how to get home or a grocery list that the wife has given us or how to go pick up our kids to the school, or whatever it may be.

"You try to [say], 'All right, I'm gonna get a little more sleep -- maybe it's something I did last night, maybe something I drank,' or whatever it is. You try to find a reason that it's not that it's my brain, that I'm not deteriorating right before my own eyes.
"It's the most frightening feeling, but it's also a very weakening feeling because you feel like a child. I need help. I need somebody to help me find something that I could've found with my eyes closed, in the dead of night, half asleep.""

He hopes the research can make the game safer, but as far as I can tell there is no way to make the game of football safe from brain trauma and damage.

I expect parents to stop letting their children play football. I expect the game to fade away.  All I see when I watch football is blocks, tackles, and brain damage.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Trump's inability to understand the Russian threat

Trump's hyper-fragile grandiose ego has changed the Russia probe from what it really is - an investigation into Russian interference into the American election - into Trump's egocentric view of it - an investigation to discredit Trump's "fabulous" victory in November. 

This is about Russia's war on the U.S. and all of the West.  Russia tried to elect a Fascist in France, but the French were on to the ruse and defeated Russia's candidate.  Russia had and continues to havre massive control over Ukraine.  Russia continues to interfere in American politics.  It must be uncovered and countered.  They have fractured America's political system and damaged America's relations with our allies.  Russia is winning this war, which our president doesn't even recognize.  Amazing.

Russia has found new weapons in today's electronic world - hacking.  They are being quite successful, unfortunately.  And our current president is missing the entire point.  Not a big surprise, of course. 

It's not about Trump - it's the Russians, stupid...

Of course, if he actually did/does collude with the Russians, it becomes about him too...Could be a motive for him to try to stop the investigation, of course.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Why I think Putin is controlling Trump

I think Russia's Vladimir Putin is controlling America's president, Donald Trump.  Here's why:

  • The Russians hacked into the Hillary campaign and dumped emails into the media to damage her candidacy, while they did nothing of the sort to Trump
  • Trump cared about only one thing at the Republican Convention during the forming of the platform, and that was to delete any mention of condemnation of Russia's take-over of Crimea and Ukaraine
  • After the election and before the inauguration the CIA, FBI, and NSA all concluded that Russia interfered in the election with the goal of electing Trump
  • President Trump pressured FBI director Comey, Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and Mike Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency to call off investigations into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign
  • Top Trump campaign people are known to have Russian connections - from Michael Flynn and Jeff Sessions to Ashton Carter, Roger Stone, and now Jared Kushner
So, what is the entire point of Putin putting Trump into office?  What does Putin want from Trump?  I think he just got it.  Trump refused to affirm America's support of Article 5 of NATO which says an attack on any member of NATO is an attack on all of us.  Germany has said that it is becoming clear that Europe was going to have to stop relying on America.

Perhaps Putin's prime goal is to keep NATO from opposing Putin's takeover of the Baltic states.  Looks like Mr Trump is in agreement with Mr Putin.

And then, of course, there is just the general Putin strategy around the world to discredit and weaken all democracies as his way of lifting Russia back into international power status.  How could he have done that more effectively than by putting an ignorant child into the White House.

Why is Trump letting Putin tell him what to do? Possible reasons - Trump owes Putin and his oligarchs billions of dollars - Putin has humiliating and/or incriminating evidence he can release against Trump - or Trump is just Putin's chump.

Not good for America or the world.  I believe.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Speaking of obstruction of justice...

So, Trump put pressure on the head of the FBI, James Comey, to call off investigations into the Russian interference in the presidential election, and fired Comey when he refused.  And, what else did he do?  Oops - he put pressure on others as well - Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and Mike Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency.  

All three refused the "inappropriate requests" - otherwise known as obstruction of justice, also thought of as potential grounds for impeachment.  The president put pressure on the leaders of top intelligence agencies to stop investigating his campaign, and by implication to stop investigating him.

His actions scream guilt.  

Let the investigations proceed, with all possible speed.  This man is either dangerous, or dangerously clueless.

Only the Republicans can decide to impeach this anti-democracy president, and they will only do so when they see their own futures being threatened by his presidency.  Wouldn't it be nice if they made their decision based upon this man's threats to democracy rather than just threats to their electoral chances?  

Oh well, hoping for Profiles in Courage from today's Republicans seems to be a Bridge Too Far.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hats off to Trump

I was knocked out by Trump's speech to Middle Eastern dignitaries in Saudi Arabia this morning.  I was surprised to hear a reasoned, forceful entreaty for all nations to unite against the evil of terrorists.  

I was a little concerned that he called out Iran as the locus of evil in the region, especially after Iran just elected the reformist Rouhani to be their president, but I hope that Rouhani and the Iranian people can take that as an impetus to back off the Iranian Shiite extremist wars against the Sunni extremists in the region and around the world.

Of course, unmentioned by Trump was the fact that Saudi Arabia is the other center of extremist dogma.  Iran fuels the Shia and Saudi Arabia fuel the Sunni extremists.  But I was very encouraged that Saudi Arabia hosted our president whose biggest statement of his speech was that all nations should drive out fundamentalist extremists and stop funding and supporting them.

Obama made special efforts to reach out to Iran, leading to a nuclear agreement and eventually to the election of Rouhani.  Trump has declared Iran the source of Middle Eastern butchery, and although that is true, it is only half of the truth.  Saudi Arabia feeds the Sunni butchers on the other side of this terrible religious and civil war in the Middle East which has spread throughout the region and into the West as well.

I was happy to hear the president say that America will stand with them in the fight against terrorists, but we can't make their decisions for them:

"America is prepared to stand with you in pursuit of shared interests and common security, but the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their country, and frankly for their families, for their children. It's a choice between two futures, and it is a choice America cannot make for you. A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists.
Drive them out. Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land. And drive them out of this earth."
I have been appalled by most of what President Trump has said and done, but I have to give him credit when I think he has  done something well, and I was impressed by this speech. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

How authoritarian is Trump?

The president shows alarming tendencies toward  authoritarianism. By firing the FBI Director who was investigating his campaign connections to the hostile foreaign power, Russia, by showing admiration for authoritarian rulers like Putin and Erdogan, by telling the FBI Director that journalists should be imprisoned, he gives me reason to fear him. 

But, I have reason to hope that his desires for authoritarian rule will peter out, for two reasons. 

First, Trump himself doesn't seem to have the gravitas to be a dictator. He has no passionate agenda other than ego gratification in him. Plus, he doesn't have the focus and stamina to follow through to create a totalitarian state. 

Second, and more importantly, the country doesn't want a dictator. 

Without the Nazis, Hitler was just a loud mouthed nut. The Hitler Youth, the Brown Shirts, were authoritarian thugs driven be racist pride and love of cruelty to carry out their leader's quest for racial supremacy.  Hitler had enough of the vicious to support him that he was able to take over the country and slaughter tens of millions. 

It is true that actual white supremacists support Trump, that actual people longing for authoritarian leadership support him, but I believe they are very much just a scary minority. I believe the bulk of Trump support comes from just plain old fashioned conseratives trying to establish the agenda of the Conservative Movement. 

Trump is being, and will be, thwarted by men and women of integrity and honor who see the threat of authoritarianism. America, and the ideals and honor of American democracy, will prevail, I am convinced.