Saturday, September 30, 2017

Ready for More Lies? Here Comes Trump and the Republicans on Tax Cuts

When the Truth Hurts, Just Make Stuff Up

Now that the lies about health care have helped doom the Republican attempts to take health insurance away from millions the lies about tax cuts will emerge. Here is just a brief sample on the Estate Tax.

President Trump’s speech on the administration’s still-somewhat-vague tax plan, delivered in Indianapolis on Sept. 27, was filled with many of his favorite, inaccurate claims. For instance, he repeatedly says he is offering the “largest tax cut in our country’s history,” a dubious claim when properly measured as a percentage of the nation’s gross domestic product.  Here’s a sampling of other inaccurate claims — and one case in which he appears to have adjusted his language because of our previous fact checks.
To protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer, we are finally ending the crushing, the horrible, the unfair estate tax, or as it is often referred to, the death tax.”
The president’s suggestion that “millions” of small businesses and farms are affected by the estate tax is absurd. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, only about 5,500 estates in 2017 — out of nearly 3 million estates — would have to pay any taxes. About half of estates subject to the tax would pay an average tax of about 9 percent. That’s because for a married couple, about $11 million is exempt from taxation.
Only 80 — that’s right, 80 — of taxable estates would be farms and small businesses.

The repeal of the Estate Tax will benefit just a few billionaires and multi-millionaires, or rather their children. Who might that be? Well there names are Eric, Donald Jr. and Ivanka for example.

Friday, September 29, 2017

HHS Sec Apologizes for Bilking American Public Out of $400K

Thinks Paying It Back Will Make Things OK

There once was a Congressman who traded stocks based on inside information. As a reward he was named Secretary of HHS in the Trump cabinet, because if there is anything Trump likes as much as Trump it is a person who lies, cheats and steals to get money.

The new Secretary decided the government owed him a private plane, so he chartered private flights that cost a huge amount of money instead of taking regular transportation like, you know, all of his predecessors. And guess what, he got caught. So now he is going to repay the money he conned the taxpayers out of.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price apologized for his use of private planes to travel on official business, vowing to put an end to the practice and promising to pay for his previous flights himself.

Of course he is only going to pay $50k back from what is now a $1 million.

In the law and order fanaticism of the Republican party it now seems as one can reverse things by paying back the money. So expect Republicans to introduce legislation to say that bank robbers just have to pay back the money and then all is forgiven. No wait, their rules are not for anyone but themselves. Capital punishment for the rest.

Don't Take Medicine if You Are Allergic to It

And Other Things Learned While Watching TV

Advertising reflects a nation's concerns and ills. That being the case here is what advertising says about America.

  1. The typical American patient must have a medical degree because advertising encourages him or her to tell the doctor what they should prescribe.

  1. The side effects of those prescriptions are massive. Most of them involve the bowel.

  1. A lot of people who watch the news also have tax problems which, for a not too small fee may be resolved by a firm that resolves tax issues for a not too small fee.

  1. Those Americans who can tell their doctors what to prescribe must not be too smart as they have to be warned against taking medicine they are allergic too. Of course, they can only find out they are allergic by taking the medicine.

  1. Surely no other country allows drug companies to spend billions advertising their drugs and pushing up prices.

  1. If you don't have a reason to join a class action suit that makes millions for slime bag lawyers, go get one.  Doesn't matter if it is real, the point is to make the attorneys get big bucks.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Just When One Thinks the Current Administration Cannot Get Any Dumber

Something Even More Stupid Comes Along

The U. S. Military needs individuals who have specific language and technical skills. See, as hard as it is to believe, not everyone in the world converses in English. And so the U. S. has a program whereby lawful non-citizen residents can enlist, and if they stay in the military for 8 long years they can leave the service and become citizens. A win-win if ever there was one.

But the idiots who are in the Trump administration are working hard to kill this.

In the last week, recruiters have rescinded contracts for an unknown number of foreign nationals who had signed up for Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or Mavni, a program introduced in 2009 to attract immigrants with certain language and other skills that are in short supply into the armed forces.

More than 4,000 Mavni recruits have been in limbo since late last year, when the Department of Defense began introducing additional vetting. The protracted process has indefinitely delayed basic training for many enlistees, making it more difficult for recruiters to meet their targets. Recruiting stations are flooded with calls from many concerned that their lawful presence in the country could lapse while they await clearance.

What's the problem? Well there is a vetting requirement. And many are not being vetted during the time allowed to do so? How long does the government have to do this. TWO YEARS for Pete's sake.

So why do we want these people in the service. First of all they are willing to serve. Second, anyone who has served for 8 years in the military deserves citizenship. And finally, we need their language skills.

If there is a terrorist attack that could have been prevented by having sufficient translations resources then blood, real blood will be on the hands of Trumpie and his cohorts in ignorance.

University of Louisville Coach Pitino Claims Ignorance on Scandal Plagued Program Apparently Thinks the Rest of Us Are Stupid College basketball is and has been mired in scandal. At the University of Louisville scandal is business as usual. The school engaged in offensive actions to recruit high school seniors. The head coach's reaction, he knew nothing, nothing. And now with a new scandal, payments to player families, the same coach claims the same things. "These allegations come as a complete shock to me," Pitino said in a statement released by his lawyer, Steve Pence. "If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorney's Office that these third-party schemes, initiated by a few bad actors, operated to commit a fraud on the impacted universities and their basketball programs, including the University of Louisville. Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable." Asked in an interview if he expects Pitino will keep his job, Pence said: "I would certainly think so. I don't know why it would be otherwise." Of course Pintino will not lose his job. His only job is to win, regardless of how many rules he violates or how much he claims his ignorance of violation absolves him of blame.

Apparently Thinks the Rest of Us Are Stupid

College basketball is and has been mired in scandal. At the University of Louisville scandal is business as usual. The school engaged in offensive actions to recruit high school seniors. The head coach's reaction, he knew nothing, nothing.

And now with a new scandal, payments to player families, the same coach claims the same things.

"These allegations come as a complete shock to me," Pitino said in a statement released by his lawyer, Steve Pence. "If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorney's Office that these third-party schemes, initiated by a few bad actors, operated to commit a fraud on the impacted universities and their basketball programs, including the University of Louisville. Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable."
Asked in an interview if he expects Pitino will keep his job, Pence said: "I would certainly think so. I don't know why it would be otherwise."

Of course Pitino will not lose his job. His only job is to win, regardless of how many rules he violates or how much he claims his ignorance of violation absolves him of blame. 

Update:  The University has announced it will fire Pitino.  This is not motivated by shame or remorse, but the fact that the NCAA may punish the school and the university is trying to mitigate that.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

U. S. Readies Permanent Occupation of Afghanistan

Actually Permanent Occupation of Kabul

The Korean war has never ended, despite an agreement in 1953. The United States has a permanent base in South Korea and will have it for decades to come.

In 2001 the U. S. started its war in Afghanistan. Now it is preparing for a permanent occupation of that country. But unlike Korea, the occupation will not be all of the country. It will be of the city of Kabul.

. . . the boundaries of the Green Zone will be redrawn to include that base, known as the Kabul City Compound, formerly the headquarters for American Special Operations forces in the capital. The zone is separated from the rest of the city by a network of police, military and private security checkpoints.

The expansion is part of a huge public works project that over the next two years will reshape the center of this city of five million to bring nearly all Western embassies, major government ministries, and NATO and American military headquarters within the protected area.

What is happening is that Kabul will become a city state, although actually it has already become a city state. The countryside will belong to the tribes, the Taliban, Al-Queda and whoever else wants to live there. Eventually though the empire collapses, the cost of occupying a country 10,000 miles or so away will be too much and Kabul will be given back to the Afghan people. What that will be, who knows?

Goodbye Senators Flake and Heller – You Will be Primaried Out of the Senate

After Roy Moore, No Candidate Can be Too Extreme

As previously noted on this Forum, Senator Dean Heller exhibited such cowardice in the fight over ACA that he no longer deserves membership in the U. S. Senate. Heller bravely came out against repeal of ACA but under just a little bit of pressure he folded and then sponsored legislation that was even worse than the legislation he originally proposed. Too late, he will lose a primary for nomination for another term.

Senator Flake of Arizona has the temerity to suggest that maybe, just maybe Trumpie was not the saint the Republican base thinks he is. So despite a perfect conservative voting record he is not going to be re-nominated.

All of this comes from the nomination and what will be the ultimate election of Roy Moore in Alabama. Moore is probably the most radical candidate in the last fifty years. His candidacy is based on the belief that God's law trumps secular law, and that incredibly out of the billions of people on the planet the Almighty has chosen Roy Moore to be the sole interpreter of God's law.

The message is clear, to win the GOP nomination for office be as extreme as you can. Bob Corker got the message and quit; he will not be getting a Profiles in Courage award.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Someone Needs to Explain Why Republicans Want to Make It Easier for Murderers to Get Silencers for Their Guns

The Party of  a Criminal President Wants to Help Their Criminal Friends??

Most of us miss the piece in the Constitution that says people who buy handguns to kill other people also have a right to buy a silencer for that gun. But apparently that's what Republicans believe.

The Duncan legislation includes language revising federal regulations on silencers, which currently have tougher purchasing requirements than guns. Democrats contend that Duncan’s bill would make it possible to obtain a silencer without going through a background check, although Republicans insist that’s not true.

But wait, there's more!!!

Another provision makes it more difficult for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to classify certain ammunition as “armor piercing.” Regulations on interstate transportation of weapons would be revised as well.

Gosh that makes sense, if you want more police killed of course.

But we know one thing the GOP believes in is federalism, letting states decide for themselves what to do. That's why the current health care disaster has Republican support, it turns everything over to the states. Of course there is this

Another measure allowing concealed carry permit holders to take their weapons to other states is also expected to move through the House Judiciary Committee and onto the floor this fall, possibly in October, according to GOP lawmakers and aides.

This of course obliterates state sovereignty, but what the heck.

German is Latest Nation to Suffer Popularity of Hard Right

How to Govern in a Fractured Political Environment?

Germany's center-right government just faced an election in which a minority, a small but significant minofrity of voters opted for a Nazi like party. Germany has proportionate representation so that ugly party gets seats in the legislature. And so the ruling part of Angela Merkel faces a dilemma on how to put together a ruling coalition.

After her center-right bloc’s weaker-than-expected victory in Sunday’s election, Ms. Merkel faces no easy path to a fourth term. A coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats, her party’s favored partner, would still lack a majority of seats in parliament. And the center-left Social Democrats, who have governed alongside Ms. Merkel for the last four years, reiterated on Monday that they would refuse to serve as her junior partner for another term.

Somehow this will work itself out. But people need to stop being distracted by the ravings of a maniacal U. S. President and start paying attention to the rise of hate filled right wingers in the rest of the world. We fought a ware over that, remember.

Monday, September 25, 2017

If Ray Moore Loses in Alabama

Trumpie will appoint him to be ambassador to Nambia.

Watching Conservatives Like WSJ Columnist Kimberly Strassel Twist and Turn

That's Entertainment

In their zeal to take health care away from tens of millions the conservatives who rule the GOP are willing to abandon everything they say they stand for. Chief among these turncoats is the Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel who explains why Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski should vote to kill ACA.

First of all according to Kim ACA is dying in Alaska.

Health-insurance premiums have soared more than 200% and are now the highest in the country. All but one insurer has fled the state’s individual market. People are dropping policies. Doctors are refusing to take the flood of new Medicaid patients.

Wow, the states Governor must be livid and at the forefront of getting rid of ACA. Oh, maybe not. The Governor opposes the Graham Cassidy plan.

So why should Sen. Murkowski support repeal? It's because Alaska would get huge federal benefits. And Strassel says Alaska should be punished if its independently minded Senator votes against repealing ACA.

Alaska lives or dies on federal largess. It routinely tops the list of federal funding per capita. It receives billions in annual federal grants and billions more in defense spending. Federal money supports an estimated one-third of all the jobs and household income in the state.

Some of these funds come from mandatory entitlement programs, but the money that really matters is discretionary. It’s the Denali Commission. It’s the Essential Air Service, which subsidizes flights in rural Alaska. It’s grants for weatherization, and village water projects, and salmon recovery. It’s wildlife refuge payments and bridges to nowhere. It’s upgrades for military bases.. . .

But why should the nation continue to send outsize taxpayer funds to a state that is single-handedly condemning Americans to ObamaCare? Somewhere on Ms. Murkowski’s calculator is a button that reads “Trump Grudge”—and it adds a lot of zeros.

Wonder what the word is for this? Try extortion. Yep that sounds right.

But on the reward side another word comes up. Bribery.

By contrast, what would Ms. Murkowski get with a “yes” vote? She would earn the support of conservative groups, which will matter most in any re-election bids. She would get to keep open the Alaska money tap and even gain leverage for new projects.

Some people will say this is conservatives giving up their integrity. That is not correct. There never was any integrity in people at the WSJ editorial pages.

Supporting Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate Race

And Why is it Taking So Long to Replace a Political Hack Like Jeff Sessions?

After Sen Sessions (R, Al) was appointed Attorney General so that he could deny rights to more residents of America his Senate seat was subject to an election. Before that could take place a man named Luther Strange was appointed to serve until an election could be held. The election required a primary, then a run-off and finally a general election which will ratify the winner of the Republican run-off.

Strange man is trying to win the seat outright against Roy Moore, a twice removed Alabama judge who kept losing his post because, and we are not making this up, he would not obey the law. Moore thinks the United States is a Christian nation where biblical laws trump (pun intended) secular laws.

As far as policy is concerned the two men are equal. But Moore will be a greater embarrassment to the Republican party so he should win. And everyone hopes he does, the entertainment value alone is worth listening to a holier than thou rabid conservative.

And yes we know things take longer in the South, but why is it taking so long to replace Sessions? Maybe it's because finding someone as terrible as Sessions is just not all that easy, even in Alabama.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Hurricane Aid for Texas – Immediate Need; Aid for Puerto Rico, Not So Fast

And Other Comments on the News

  1. The Federal government put the highest priority possible on getting billions appropriated to help wealthy Texas recover from a hurricane. Puerto Rico is in far worse shape, but since they are Hispanic and poor, well they can wait can't they.

  1. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R, Io) revealed what Republicans really think about health care legislation. He noted that there are at least 10 reasons to vote against Graham Cassidy but he would put party ahead of nation and state and vote for it. What a patriot!

  1. And notice that the President proprieties involve whether or not a professional athlete protests during the national anthem. That freedom of speech thingee is fine when it involves protecting bigot's rights, not so fine otherwise.

  1. Does Trump want a nuclear war with North Korea? For anyone who says otherwise please note his actions which seem designed to get that result.

  1. Lindsey Graham decried the process of voting for special provisions for certain states to get health care legislation passed until the bill had his name on it. Then it's ok.

  1. Alabama is slow and incompetent at many governmental things. It will take them almost a year to elect someone to the Senate as bad as Jeff Sessions. One would think they could have found a disgusting replacement a lot quicker.

  1. Why does anyone pay attention to what soon to be the former governor of New Jersey with the lowest approval rating Chris Christie?

8. And speaking of former governors, Pat McCroy who lost his North Carolina re-election bid because of his desire to police bathrooms my run again, since apparently he cannot get job.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hard to Believe – Campaigning for Senator Strange in Alabama Trump Becomes Even (Roy) Moore of a Joke

Setting the Intelligence Bar So Low

For reasons unknown to anyone Donnie decided to get into the Republican Senate primary in Alabama and needless to say the results were strange (pun intended as Strange is the name of the candidate Trump is endorsing). Appointed Senator Luther Strange is running against disgraced Alabama judge Roy Moore. In endorsing Strange here is what Trump really said.

I’ll be honest, I might have made a mistake,” Trump told the crowd at one point during his nearly 90 minutes of remarks.

Although not reported, we are fairly certain derisive laughter could be heard from Mobile to Montgomery.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Words of Wisdom From a Movie Review of Battle of the Sexes

Every so often an exceptionally capable woman has to prove her worth by competing against a clown.

In the NYT, gosh we wonder what the reviewer was really talking about.  Oh, right.  Even if Mrs. Clinton and the nation lost, Mrs. Clinton still won.

Free School Lunches for All is Better; And the Lunches Are Not Really Free

How to Help Kids, Help Their Parents and Help the Schools

If a family is economically disadvantages they can get reduced price or free school lunches for their kids. This is ridiculous. To implement the program requires income checks, subjects children to humiliation and causes untold administrative problems for the schools. No one knows how many teachers and school staff reach into their own pockets to make sure some kids have a meal, but the number is certainly large.

A better way, as a NYT editorial advocates, is just to make the lunches free to the kids.

New York City’s public school system set an important national example this week when it made free lunch available to all of its 1.1 million students regardless of income level. The program ensures that more children will get proper nutrition during the school day. It will also relieve the sense of stigma and shame that often leads children to refuse subsidized meals — and go hungry — rather than let classmates find out that their families are poor.

Three quarters of New York City schoolchildren had already qualified for free or reduced-price lunches. The new initiative reaches another 200,000 children, saving their families about $300 a year per child. These additional lunches are not expected to cost the city more money, thanks to the federal Community Eligibility Provision program, under which schools that offer free lunch and breakfast to all children are reimbursed based on students’ poverty level. A new state data system that matched poor families with the schools their children attend has allowed the city to sign up for the program.

Yes, we know, conservatives will decry making school lunches free, after all it would just make children and parents and school officials lives easier and we all know conservatives hate for government to do that. But the benefits are huge.

And free lunches are not free lunches. The farmers that produce the food get paid. The food companies that process the food gets paid. The staff that cooks and serves the food gets paid. The only difference with making all school lunches free is how they get paid for. Removing that burden from parents and schools just makes common sense.

Hurricanes, Earthquakes and Repeal of ACA -

Comments on Disasters

  1. Puerto Rico will probably need as much aid as Texas and Florida. Its residents are American citizens so expect them to be shafted by the government because, well you know, they are Hispanic.

  1. Lindsey Graham is getting the star treatment from the administration for his plan to repeal ACA. This is because his plan is even more reprehensible than the Republicans thought possible.  Graham has been completely rolled, so much so that he is now going back on what he said about voting for a bill that had provision that are now in his bill.

  1. Who would have ever thought Jimmy Kimmel would be the hero in the fight for affordable health insurance. Even if evil prevails Mr. Kimmel is will be long remembered for showing up Sen. Cassidy as the fraud he is.

  1. Trump does not know what is in the GOP health care bill because, as he says, “Why should I bother learning legislation until it passes and has been in place for a couple of years”.

  1. Part of the aid to Texas is for grants to homeowners of expensive houses who did not have flood insurance. This will be paid for by taking away health care insurance from homeowners who cannot afford health care.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

New York State Should Keep Trump's Name on a Park

Huh? There's a Good Reason

For reasons unknown to mankind a park in New York state is named for Donnie Trump. Now the good people of that state want to change the name.

A bill set to be introduced by Assembly Member Nily Rozic directs the commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to change the name of the park to “Heather D. Heyer State Park." The bill cites the commission's policy that “state parks should foster and strengthen the sense of purpose, well being and identity of the citizens of this state."

So this seems reasonable, why is this Forum opposed? Here's why.

The park itself has been closed since 2010, and was recently described as an "ugly and dilapidated ... disaster."

Now really, doesn't that sound like Trump, doesn't that park personify him perfectly.

Is Senator Dean Heller (R, Nv) the Most Cravenly Coward in All Government?

A Tough Goal, But He Has Made It

When health are debate started in the Senate one Senator, Dean Heller a Republican from Nevada surprised everyone by coming out against the bill. Unfortunately, his short lived admiration turned to hatred by fellow GOP members and he saw that he could lose his seat in the next election.

So now he is not only in favor of taking health care away from millions, he is actually sponsoring a bill to do so. The irony of course is this is too late. A primary challenge will certainly challenge his ability to even get the nomination for 2018, and strong Democratic opposition would suggest he won't return to the place in government that he is so anxious to retain that he has sold his integrity to try and get it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Conservatives May Be Right – The Federal Government May Be Too Stupid to Exist

Why Are They Using Russian Security Software?

Buried somewhat in the news is that the GAO has decided that maybe, just maybe it is not a good idea for federal agencies to use Russian security software in their computer systems.

The U.S. government on Wednesday banned the use of a Russian brand of security software by federal agencies and gave them three months to remove the software amid concerns the company has ties to state-sponsored cyberespionage activities, according to U.S. officials.
Acting Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke ordered that Kaspersky Lab software be barred from federal civilian government networks, giving agencies a timeline to get rid of it, according to several officials familiar with the plan who were not authorized to speak publicly about it. Duke ordered the scrub on the grounds that the company has connections to the Russian government and its software poses a security risk.

Gee, you think? The question that comes to mind of course is what complete and total idiot thought it would be a be a good idea for software developed by Russians to have a role in U. S. Government computers in the first place. Did it never occur to anyone that this might be a bad idea? It would have occurred to a four year old. And yes it gets worse.

At least a half-dozen federal agencies run Kaspersky on their networks, the U.S. officials said, although there may be other networks where an agency’s chief information security officer — the official ultimately responsible for systems security — might not be aware it is being used.

Well of course an agency's chief information security officer might not know it is on his or her systems. Not like that would be part of the job of a chief information security officer. And finally, he nail in the coffin of incompetency.

The U.S. intelligence community has long assessed that Kaspersky has ties to the Russian government, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The company’s founder, Eugene Kaspersky, graduated from a KGB-supported cryptography school and had worked in Russian military intelligence.

Trump Booster Stephen Schwarzman Gets Huge Payoff From Saudis

Greed Personified – Saudi Arabia Anti-Semites, Who Cares

Billionaire managers of investment funds get a huge tax break.  Because of a technical glitch in the tax code they pay tax on their income at very low rates.  And they are outraged, outraged that someone would try to take that tax break away from them.

Word of mouth says that Blackstone founder Steve Schwarzman got suddenly very passionate when talking about tax hikes in July.

He was speaking to board members of a nonprofit organization when, apparently, Schwarzman started comparing the proposal to increase taxes on private equity firms to the conditions in Nazi Germany.

Newsweek doesn't name the charity board in question, nor their sources, but rumor is that Schwarzman said fighting with the administration over the taxes is something like this:

“It’s a war."

“It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”

Now the NYT reports how Schwarzman has cozied up to Trumpie and as a result has been awarded the right to manage a $20 billion Saudi fund.

But Mr. Schwarzman’s stature in both the world of finance and in Mr. Trump’s Washington helped Blackstone nail down one of the biggest deals on Wall Street this year — its selection by Saudi Arabia to manage a new $20 billion fund, according to a person with knowledge of the selection process.

In May, while the president was visiting Saudi Arabia, Blackstone announced the agreement to manage the fund, the largest in the world to invest in infrastructure projects. The announcement was made at the royal palace in Riyadh as Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner looked on.

Saudi Arabia is one of the leading purveyors of hatred in the world, hatred against Israel, hatred against Jews.  They finance education that routinely calls for Jewish extermination.  And they regularly support condemnation of people just because they are Jewish.

In 2015, the state-appointed grand mufti preached that Jews were planning to destroy Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and called ISIS “part of the Israeli army.” The top state-appointed religious body praised what it called the Palestinian “jihad and defense of the sanctities of Muslims in Palestine,” terming Israel’s so-called “violation of the sanctity of Islamic holy sites” an act of “terrorism.”

One member of that state-appointed council has contended that Jews plot against the entire world, and in 2016 sermons from Mecca’s Grand Mosque called for divine intervention against the “usurper Jews,” whom he dubbed a “criminal people.” Last year King Salman handed that preacher an award “for service to Islam.” This past June, Saudi state TV gave five hours of airtime to a zealot with a government title who had recently called for God to “destroy” the Jews and save Al-Aqsa from their “claws.”

Jewish men, women and children will be killed because of Saudi policy.  Men like Stephen Schwarzman don’t care.  Their billions are not enough; they want more.

Salt Lake City Policeman Assaults Nurse – Keeps Job

Why the Police Need to Help Themselves and Society

The huge, huge majority of law enforcement officers are great people dedicated to public safety and service. The few who violate the law, the rights of citizens and commit other offenses against the public get the publicity. And they need to be stopped by the only people who can stop them, their fellow officers.

In Utah a police detective got downright violent when a nurse refused to allow him to draw blood from an unconscious person. She was right he was wrong, she was assaulted and arrested.

By all accounts, the head nurse at the University of Utah Hospital’s burn unit was professional and restrained when she told a Salt Lake City police detective he wasn’t allowed to draw blood from a badly injured patient.
The detective didn’t have a warrant, first off. And the patient wasn’t conscious, so he couldn’t give consent. Without that, the detective was barred from collecting blood samples — not just by hospital policy, but by basic constitutional law.
Still, Detective Jeff Payne insisted that he be let in to take the blood, saying the nurse would be arrested and charged if she refused.
And did he follow through, you betcha.

Payne snapped. He seized hold of the nurse, shoved her out of the building and cuffed her hands behind her back. A bewildered Wubbels screamed “help me” and “you’re assaulting me” as the detective forced her into an unmarked car and accused her of interfering with an investigation.
The explosive July 26 encounter was captured on officers’ body cameras and is now the subject of an internal investigation by the police department, as the Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday. The videos were released by the Tribune, the Deseret News and other local media.
On top of that, Wubbels was right. The U.S. Supreme Court has explicitly ruled that blood can only be drawn from drivers for probable cause, with a warrant.

And what happened to the offending officer?

Salt Lake police spokesman Sgt. Brandon Shearer told local media that Payne had been suspended from the department’s blood draw unit but remained on active duty. Shearer said Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown had seen the video and called it “very alarming,” according to the Deseret News.

C'mon police in Salt Lake, get rid of these problems. Help us help you help us.

Update:  The police involved are facing disciplinary action.  But only because of the publicity.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Garbage Bill That is Graham- Cassidy

Lies, More Lies, Maybe the Most Lies

There is so much wrong with the Senate's last ditch effort to repeal and not replace ACA that it is impossible to discuss every horrible aspect of it in a Forum like this. But here is one of the worst things, from the WaPo.

The drop in funding “gives strong incentives for the states to be more efficient with their program,” said Ed Haislmaier, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. That is, states may be able to maintain the ACA structure and regulations as long as they streamline operations.

Mean spirited people, conservatives in today's world have been using this argument for centuries to punish the unfortunate and make their lives miserable. The argument is that helping low income families really harms them, because it causes them to be dependent on aid and removes their incentives for improving their lives or being more careful with their spending. It ignores the problem that for the vast majority of people who are not doing well it is either not their fault (disabilities, lack of education, etc) or that some how they are happy in their miserable lives and don't want to change.

Modern America, at least the thinking and compassionate part of it moved away from this a long time ago. But the conservatives whose greed and avarice and spite and meanness have never left them, it is a thinking that remains. If Graham Cassidy is put in place it will cement their thinking in American health care policy for decades.  That policy is that low and middle income people should not get sick, that if they do get sick it is their fault, and if they cannot pay they do not get treatment.  And that is an ugly, ugly thing.

Sean Spicer Was Funny at the Emmy's

Get Over It Crabby Progressives

For reasons almost impossible to understand there was some blowback from former Press Secretary Sean Spicer's appearance at the Emmy's where he made fun of himself and his outrageous claims on behalf of the Trumpster.

But soon after, Colbert posed the question of how many people were watching the Emmys. The answer came in the form of Spicer’s cameo. The Republican operative wheeled out a podium like the one Melissa McCarthy used in her SNL impression of him. In a mock-stern voice, he announced: “This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period, both in person and around the world!”

Okay, somewhat funny, nothing offensive and among the least important things in the world certainly the Emmy's rank near the top. But . . .

Many viewers were quick to air discomfort with the Spicer bit. “There’s nothing funny about the damage [Spicer] assisted in planning, defended, & celebrated when he worked in The White House,” tweeted the activist DeRay McKesson. The actor and former Obama adviser Kal Penn wrote, that Spicer “can normalize himself in good fun, but he still passionately advocated against human rights, health care, & American values.” 

Get real here people. Among the many atrocities that have been committed and will be committed by the current administration the silly ravings of Spicer when he was in the administration is just not that important. And kudos to a person who can mock themselves on national TV.

CNN’s reporting also noted that the Spicer cameo was Colbert’s idea: “He and his producers knew there would be blowback. … But Colbert thought it would be funny and surprising, and that’s what mattered most.” 

Right on Stephen, right on.

Monday, September 18, 2017

75% of Homes in the Florida Keys May Be Saved

No Thanks to Conservatives

One of the most amazing statistics to come out of Hurricane Irma's path of destruction is that 25% of the homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed or damaged. This is remarkable, one would have expected only 25% of the houses to survive given the ferocity of the storm.

One expects that the major reason why so many homes were not destroyed is that government played a huge role. In this case it is building codes that made houses hurricane proof. Yes this is strong control by government but the results cannot be argued with if the data holds up. And yes, this is the sort of thing conservatives hate; they believe everyone should have the freedom to build as they see fit. There is a name for that, Houston.

Trump on Iran Deal: Confused and Ignorant

The Man Has No Idea What He is Doing

Fumbling, Bumbling and Stumbling Foreign Policy

Remember when Donnie thought the Iran nuclear deal was the worst deal ever, except of course for NAFTA and health care and all the other worst deals ever. He was going to tear it up Day 1. Well guess what Day 1 passed a long time ago and Trumpie still has no idea what is going on. He doesn't even suspect what is going on.

WASHINGTON — President Trump kept the Iran nuclear deal alive on Thursday as a critical deadline lapsed, a sign that he is stepping back from his threat to abandon an agreement he repeatedly disparaged. He is moving instead to push back on Iran’s ambitions in the Middle East in other ways.

Thursday’s congressionally imposed deadline, to renew an exemption to sanctions on Iran suspended under the 2015 deal, was significant because had the president reimposed economic punishments on Iran, he would have effectively violated the accord, allowing Tehran to walk away and ending the agreement. 

Like everything else, Trump just promises something 'next month' And for sure it will be 'big, big, big'.

“We are not going to stand for what they’re doing to this country,” he told reporters. “They have violated so many different elements, but they’ve also violated the spirit of that deal. And you will see what we’ll be doing in October. It will be very evident.”

Of course the people that actually know what is going on find that Iran is complying.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has said Iran has complied with its commitments under the arrangement, including inspections.

Is it incompetence or ignorance that rules the Trump White House? Inquiring minds want to know.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

This Ought to Scare the Bejesus Out of Republican Leadership

From Taegan Goddard's Wonderful Reporting

Political Wire

Most Republicans Approve of Trump Snubbing Leaders

"A new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds that Republicans approved of President Trump’s decision to side with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi over his own party’s leadership on the debt ceiling deal, 62% to 18%.
Trump voters registered their support by an even broader margin, 69% to 14%."

Now why is this so critical?  It mean the Republican voters have no real loyalty to the Party; their loyalty is to Trump.  If Trump thought he could snub the GOP before, this confirms it.  There is probably nothing Trump can do to lose his base, and if he decides to blow up the Republican Party and preside over the ruins then a Gnome Like Mitch and Hypocrite Paulie can kiss their butts goodbye.

Trump is rapidly becoming a cult figure, where the dedication of a part of the population to him is so strong that een when he goes against there interests they still support him.  The most recent example here was Caesar Chavez in Venezuela.  The man destroyed that nation before he died, and yet his followers revered him, and many still do.  That this is dangerous to a society is borne out in what  happens to countries who develop a cult leader.  It is not good..  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Want Real Fake News? Try the WSJ Editorial on Last Ditch Effort to Repeal ACA

So Many Lies, So Little Blog Space

The Republicans in the Senate are making a last ditch effort to repeal ACA in the final days of the government's fiscal year. The deal this time is to

  1. Repeal the mandates which will drive premiums up dramatically and drive up the number of uninsured.

  1. Change the funding to block grants to the states which will take money away from Dem states and give money to GOP states along with cutting funding to Medicaid and premium support.

  1. Allow states to waive requirements for comprehensive coverage resulting in insurance companies offering policy which will be insurance in name only.

This will probably get a vote in the Senate, with a 50-50 chance of passing. In support the WSJ wrote an editorial that is so bad it may well be in the Hall of Fame for bad policy analysis.

The bill replaces money spent on tax credits and Medicaid expansion with block grants to states, which would allow Governors to experiment with insurance reforms. Another selling point is that a rejiggered formula will divvy up federal dollars more equitably, as states such as Massachusetts and California haul in an outsize share under current law.

Experiment with reforms means gutting coverage requirements. And the reason Massachusetts and California get more money than say, North Carolina is that those states expanded Medicaid with the Feds paying for it while states that got less money got less money because they did not. And now they would be rewarded for denying health care coverage to people.

The Obama Administration’s Medicaid expansion enrolled working-age, childless adults above the poverty line, and the feds footed most of the bill to bait states to participate. 

For some reason conservatives think people who work but don't make enough money to buy health care insurance shouldn't get health care. Don't know the logic there. And the feds footing the bill meant that the states could expand Medicaid without burdening their budget or their taxpayers. Somehow this is a bad thing?

And then there is this.

ObamaCare’s exchanges will continue to deteriorate, and Democrats will blame Republicans for every premium increase from here to November 2018.

I guess even though they are in the news business the WSJ editors don't follow the news. If they did they would know that now every county has ACA insurers. They would know that increases in premiums are the result of Trumpers trying  to sabotage the program. They would know that a large number of insured are not subject to premium increases because they receive subsidies that limit their costs.

But of course they don't want to know any of this. Reality would contradict their positions.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Battle Over Trump Appointment of Anti Gay Bigot to Ex-Im Bank

Hatred and Prejudice Does Not Disqualify Personnel in the Trump Arena

Politco is reporting on the battle to confirm a former Congressman who is openly and visciously anti-gay to head a key government agency. 

President Donald Trump’s nomination of former Rep. Scott Garrett to lead the Export-Import Bank has opened up yet another front in the Republican Party’s civil war.

Pro-business trade groups, free-market advocates and even social conservatives and gay-rights activists are targeting GOP senators with competing lobbying efforts as they clash over Garrett’s past attempts to shut down the bank and his controversial views on LGBT issues.

So who is this guy and why is this important?  Well first of all as a Congressman he wanted to end the agency is now trying to run.  But the big deal given the pro-bigot stance of Trump during the Charlottesville demonstrations is his horrific anti- LGBT attitude.

His views attracted controversy in July 2015, when POLITICO reported that he told a group of fellow Republicans that he had refused to pay National Republican Congressional Committee dues because it recruited gay candidates.

Garrett later denied that he was against gay candidates and said his concern was with support for same-sex marriage. But the political fallout contributed to his failed 2016 reelection bid and is becoming a more prominent issue in his Senate confirmation.

Apparently in his view the Constitution prohibits folks who are gay from serving in the Congress.  The fact that the Constitution promises equal protection for everyone doesn’t bother him,  he just wants to write his own version.

Conservatives Are Learning What the Rest of Us Already Know – Trump Has No Core

No One Can Trust the Man

As Donnie twists in the wind on DACA so that no one can tell what he means the conservatives who supported him are beginning to finally understand what the man is about.

Staunch conservative allies of President Trump erupted in anger and incredulity late Wednesday after Democrats announced the president had agreed to pursue a legislative deal that would protect thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation but not secure Trump’s signature campaign promise: building a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Really, what did they expect? Have they not been paying any attention at all. Here is their conclusion.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the GOP’s biggest immigration hawks, issued a dramatic warning to the president after he scrolled through news reports.

If AP is correct, Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair,” King tweeted, referencing an Associated Press story on the bipartisan agreement.

He added, “No promise is credible.”

Really, no Trump promise has any substance? Gosh who would have thought?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bernie Sanders Helped Lose Hillary the Presidency – Now He Wants to Help Democrats Lose Everything Else

And He's Not Even a Real Democrat

There are many reasons Hillary lost to Donald Trump. Foremost was that she is a lousy campaigner, a great leader and policy wonk, but a lousy campaigner who ran a lousy campaign. Helping her lose was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I. Vt) who just whined and whined before and after the campaign for the nomination and who did the very minimum to help elect Ms. Clinton.

Sanders is famous for claiming he was treated unfairly, when in fact he was treated more than fairly. Not even a Democrat, he was allowed to compete for the nomination. Claiming mistreatment by the party he never acknowledged that Ms. Clinton got more votes. Arguing that delegates were not allocated fairly he neglected to mention that he got many delegates from caucuses, the least democratic part of the nomination process and that when some of those caucus states also held elections, he lost.

Now he is back crowing and braying about universal health care, Medicare for all. He brags about the co-sponsors, 16 Senators which of course means that 84 Senators did not co-sponsor his legislation. He has a solution for which there is not currently a problem, most folks in America are happily or sort of happily covered by employer sponsored plans. He has no way to pay for his plan and the transition would be a mess equal to the problems of Irma and Harvey magnified. His plan leaves in place the fee for service system that causes American health care costs to be the highest in the developed world.

Bernie also promised a free lunch on education, free college for all. That too was a political disaster, not too massive a disaster only because no one took him seriously. Sen. Sanders is just part of the 'government can give everyone free stuff, unlimited free stuff' crowd' that voters hate. And his wife may well be indicted.  His emergence on health care may well be the only thing that could cause Dems to lose in 2018 and 2020. If he runs for President again, count on it.

All that Rage that African Americans Are Taking Other People's Spot at College

Not Happening – A Big Conservative Myth

The angry Caucasian reaction to the supposed preferential treatment of minorities is based on a big lie. Over the past decades not only have African Americans not gained in college admissions, they have actually lost ground. From the NYT there is this headline.

Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks
and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented
at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago

What does this mean? It means relative to their percentage of the population African Americans are less represented at college than they used to be. Conservatives will not believe this. They think they are being discriminated against. And they never, ever admit they are wrong.  Of course in their defense, truth and data do have an anti-conservative bias.

"The share of black freshmen at elite schools is virtually unchanged since 1980. Black students are just 6 percent of freshmen but 15 percent of college-age Americans, as the chart below shows."

Trump is Making Anti-Semitism Acceptable Again

The Fecal Residue of a Bigot

What Donnie did during his apologetic musings on Nazis is that he sent a signal to the Jew haters that form part of his core support. The signal, it is okay to be openly against Jews; even his son-in-law, a supposedly devout Jew who apparently doesn't care.

So now a Trump supporting candidate for governor in Pennsylvania has no trouble bring Anti-Semitic ravings into a political campaign.

Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Wagner, a Trump-supporting Republican who’s running to become the state’s next governor, says he was just joking when he went on anti-Semitic rant about George Soros, a billionaire business magnate who donates generously to progressive causes and organizations.

During an appearance last Saturday at a festival in Luzerne County, Wagner told a tracker that he thinks Soros harbors “hatred for America.”

“You know what’s amazing is that a guy who came from Hungary — a Hungarian Jew — and made a fortune, and think where he came from, and he has an opinion of America that he does,” he said. “It’s just amazing to me.”

Just joking huh?  Well the Holocaust was certainly the comedy event of the 20th century, wasn't it.  Wow, that is a funny one. The Nazis are sure laughing their asses off.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Trumps Wants to Make America Great Again – Obama Already Did That

Which Everyone Would Know if There Was an Honest Press

The media has a mania for presenting both sides of an issue even when one side is correct and the other is false. This is called a 'false equivalency' and the media does this to avoid criticism of bias by the conservatives. The result is that the American public is denied a fair and impartial press, in part because facts have a built in anti-conservative bias.

When Barack Obama took office the economy was in serious trouble. The unemployment rate quickly went over 10% and jobs were being lost. The deficit was huge and consumer and investor confidence was low. The auto industry was on the verge of collapse.

Eight years later it seems Mr. Obama presided over a massive comeback for America resulting, finally in substantial income growth for middle income families.

WASHINGTON — American household incomes rose strongly for the second straight year in 2016, as the long-running economic recovery generated broad gains in prosperity.
The median household income was $59,039 in 2016, an increase of 3.2 percent over the year before after adjusting for inflation, the Census Bureau said on Tuesday. The share of Americans living in poverty declined, and the share with full-year health insurance increased, the bureau also reported.

Wow, betcha didn't know that. That is because the Trumpies want to paint the false picture that America is in shambles and only Donnie can fix it. The truth, only Donnie and the GOP can mess it up.

Yes there are still major problems and income inequality is causing millions to suffer needlessly. But when history reaches the point of objectivity it will record the Obama era as an incredible success.

Gotcha conservatives.

Republicans, Believe It Or Not Came Up With Health Care Fix in Minnesota

Yes They Did!

The conservatives love to say ACA is failing and in a death spiral, and in Minnesota last year it looked like that was the situation.

MINNEAPOLIS — Last fall, as consumers in Minnesota were facing health insurance rate increases of 50 percent or more, Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, said the Affordable Care Act was “no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people.” The state’s top insurance regulator said the Minnesota market was “on the verge of collapse.”

So the GOP in the state came up with a plan for the state to get into the reinsurance business, and Dems opposed it, probably on the basis that any plan the Republicans came up with wasn't any good.

The Minnesota plan was a Republican initiative. Most Democrats voted against the bill, and Governor Dayton allowed it to become law without his signature. Many Democrats preferred a different approach that would have allowed consumers to buy coverage under an existing state program.

But Democrats, unlike conservatives believe in government so they went along, and now the results are in. They look good.

HealthPartners, a Minnesota company that provides coverage to 62,000 people who buy insurance on their own, has proposed rate reductions that average 13 percent to 15 percent next year. Without the reinsurance program, it would require rate increases of 3 percent to 5 percent, it said in filings with the Minnesota Commerce Department.

Yes, you are reading that correctly. RATES WENT DOWN! The problem with health care is the 90-10 or 80-20 rule, 10% to 20% of the insured incur 90% to 80% of the costs. Reinsurance takes much of the high payouts out of the insurance company and in this case, moves it to the state reinsurance plan.

This happens a lot in the private world, and there is no reason it cannot work in the public world. If only conservatives will get over their 'ideology over public benefit' bias it will help everyone.

Trump Furious At Being Upstaged by Irma

Announces Plans to Ban Hurricanes During His Presidential Tenure

Washington (Fake News). Donald Trump is apparently displeased with his White House Staff because they allowed him to be crowded off the headline news by the impact of Hurricane Irma in Florida. Various sources reported the former real estate mogul as pacing the White House briefing room and profanely shouting at the Weather Channel because his name was not being mentioned on either broadcast or cable TV.

The Bullmaster of the Executive Branch did issue a statement in which he called upon Congress to ban hurricane coverage in the media whenever the President was tweeting or foaming at the mouth. “This is not something I should have to endure” he said to friends and vowed to fire anyone who mentioned hurricanes before they also talked about his big electoral victory and the record crowds at the Inauguration.

In a related development tape emerged of Trump getting off of a bus and telling the driver and baggage man that he would 'grab the pussy of that bitch Irma' if he ever saw her.  In the meantime he ordered a search and rescue team to find out where hurricane denier Rush Limbaugh had gone to hide.