Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
|Trump, the ugly America (and not just due to a fat ass and tiny hands)|
Not surprisingly, Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Trumpenführer, a man who based his campaign largely on racism, Christian extremism and xenophobia is very unpopular in the rest of the world outside of America. What is surprising is how quickly the image of America itself has plummeted. Electing an ignorant, lying, vulgar narcissist has rightly made many, especially in Europe, think poorly of Americans themselves. It will be interesting to see reactions in early August when the husband and I will be in London. Back in 2004 while I was in Canada, many Canadians expressed sorrow for Americans, saying that we deserved much better than George W. Bush, a/k/a the Chimperator. Frighteningly, the Chimperator looks relatively good compared to Der Trumpenführer - if nothing else, he wasn't mentally ill. A piece in the Washington Post looks at America's plunging image abroad. Here are excerpts:
President Trump has alarmed citizens of the nation’s closest allies and others worldwide, diminishing the standing of the United States in their eyes, according to a wide-ranging international study released Monday.
But in the survey of 37 countries, Russia is a bright spot for Trump. As beleaguered as the president is at home, a majority of Russians say they have confidence in him. And Russians’ attitudes toward the United States have improved since Trump took office.
Elsewhere, though, and with remarkable speed, Trump’s presidency has taken a toll on the United States’ image abroad.
The international survey by the Pew Research Center found that favorable ratings of the United States have decreased from 64 percent of people across all countries surveyed at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency to 49 percent this spring. The new figures are similar to those toward the end of the George W. Bush administration.
The president himself has fared even worse: A median 22 percent are confident that Trump will do the right thing in global affairs, down from 64 percent who had confidence in Obama.
From Chile to Italy, from Sweden to Japan, majorities consider the president arrogant, intolerant, unqualified and dangerous. What is surprising, said Frank G. Wisner, a former diplomat who served under Democrats and Republicans, is the degree to which Trump has scorned principles the United States has not only long espoused but also helped to define in the previous century. These include democratic governance, free markets, collective security, human rights and the rule of law — commitments that together, Wisner said, delineate the liberal international order. Global popular opinion matters, Wisner said, in part because it defines how foreign leaders engage with American interests.
The depths of disapproval registered abroad suggest that Trump has undone the progress Obama made in burnishing the American brand. It took Bush eight years, and the quagmire in Iraq, to notch such dismal ratings overseas, according to Pew. It has taken Trump six months.
Among other world leaders studied by Pew, German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives relatively high marks. The share of people who report little or no confidence in her, a median of 31 percent across 37 countries, is less than half that for Trump, at 74 percent. The survey found that 59 percent lack confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin and 53 percent in Chinese President Xi Jinping. Germans hold some of the most negative opinions of the United States, with 62 percent viewing the country unfavorably and 87 percent lacking confidence in Trump.
|Mitch McConnell - principal author of bill that tells many Americans to simply go die|
As expected, the CBO's scoring of the Senate GOP's health care "reform" bill has underscored the hideousness and cruelty of the Republican agenda: 22 million Americans would lose health care coverage while simultaneously the four hundred richest families each received over a 7 million dollar tax cut. The worst harm would fall upon older, low income workers - i.e., those who purportedly supported Der Trumpenführer and believed his lies that no on would lose insurance coverage and that premiums would be lower. Today's Republican Party is truly the reverse Robin Hood party where stealing from the poor to give to the rich is the main objective. So much for the GOP being the party of "Christian values" - but we have known that reality for some time now. A piece in the New York Times summarizes some of the CBO's findings. Here are excerpts:
The budget office projects that by 2026, 49 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million people if the current law remained in effect. (The total increase is 22 million due to rounding.) The increase in the number of uninsured would be disproportionately larger among older people with lower incomes. Several major changes under the Senate plan would cause fewer people to have insurance.
The bill repeals the individual mandate, which requires all Americans to obtain health insurance if they can afford it or else face penalties. The mandate, which many Republicans criticize, was created to keep insurance affordable for those who are older or sick.
Without the mandate, many healthy people are expected to drop coverage, driving up prices for those who need it most and ultimately causing even more people to drop out of the individual market.
The bill would also substantially reduce spending on Medicaid and reduce the value of tax credits that individuals use to buy health insurance, pricing many out of the market.
The largest group to lose health insurance coverage would be people with Medicaid. In 10 years, the C.B.O. projects, there would be 15 million fewer Medicaid enrollees. Changes in rules about insurance prices would also cause big premium increases for older Americans who don't qualify for subsidies. Even though average premiums would decrease, the amount that many Americans spend on health care over all would increase as deductibles rise and plans cover fewer benefits in many states.
Seemingly, Republicans view those losing coverage as little better than disposable garbage. Their sole recourse would be to seek treatment at non-profit hospitals - which would severely harm the viability of many hospitals. Not surprisingly, the blow back on the GOP has been fierce. Another piece in the Times looks at the fall out. Here are highlights:
The Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act was edging toward collapse on Monday after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said it would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026.
Two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, said Monday that they would vote against even debating the health care bill, joining Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, who made the same pledge on Friday. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin hinted that he, too, would probably oppose taking up the bill on a procedural vote expected as early as Tuesday, meaning a collapse could be imminent.
“It’s worse to pass a bad bill than pass no bill,” Mr. Paul told reporters.
The report left Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, with the unenviable choices of changing senators’ stated positions, withdrawing the bill from consideration while he renegotiates, or letting it go down to defeat — a remarkable conclusion to the Republicans’ seven-year push to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. But the budget office put Republicans in an untenable position. It found that next year, 15 million more people would be uninsured compared with current law. Premiums and out-of-pocket expenses could shoot skyward for some low-income people and for people nearing retirement, it said. Starting in 2020, the budget office said, premiums and deductibles would be so onerous that “few low-income people would purchase any plan.” Moreover, the report said, premiums for older people would be much higher under the Senate bill than under current law. As an example, it said, for a typical 64-year-old with an annual income of $26,500, the net premium in 2026 for a midlevel silver plan, after subsidies, would average $6,500, compared with $1,700 under the Affordable Care Act. And the insurance would cover less of the consumer’s medical costs.
Likewise, the report said, for a 64-year-old with an annual income of $56,800, the premium in 2026 would average $20,500 a year, or three times the amount expected under the Affordable Care Act.
Before the budget office released its report, the American Medical Association had announced its opposition to the bill, and the National Governors Association had cautioned the Senate against moving too quickly.
The budget office’s findings immediately gave fodder to Democrats, who were already assailing the bill as cruel.
One more thing to remember: 81% of evangelicals voted for Trump/Republicans. They own this nightmare too. As for working class whites who supported Trump/Republicans, have you finally learned that calls to embrace racism and religious extremism are simply ploys to play you for fools?
Monday, June 26, 2017
In the wake of the shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, much effort has been expended by the far right to blame liberals and progressives as being haters and fostering an atmosphere where the targeting of Congressional Republicans was the natural outcome. This effort, like so much else spewing from the right is a lie. Yes, the shooter seemingly opposed the GOP's agenda, but he clearly seemed to have mental issues and a very troubled history. Had he been a right winger, the same pundits and Republican apologists would have been listing all the reasons why the shooter was disturbed and argued ad nausea that their extremist agenda had nothing to do with his motivations. A piece in Moyer.com looks at those really responsible for the hatred overtaking the political discourse and it is not those on the left. Here are excerpts:
Many commentators are suggesting that both right and left are equally to blame for all the polarization between them. They’re wrong. The reason for all the bitterness between left and right is entirely the right’s fault. Right-wingers who suggest otherwise are self-deluded — and usually projecting.
Exhibit A: Newt Gingrich. On June 18, Gingrich capped off a week in which he once again blamed the left for a mass shooting by suggesting on ABC’s This Week that the Russiagate investigation is “baloney” because there is no evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians. When anchor Martha Raddatz suggested that an investigation is needed to reach this conclusion in the first place, Gingrich responded with the non-sequitur that Bill Clinton, John Podesta’s brother and the “Iranian deal” should be investigated.
And when Raddatz questioned Gingrich’s false statement earlier in the week that the president cannot in principle commit obstruction and reminded him that he himself tried impeaching President Clinton for this crime, Gingrich dodged with the same non-sequitur: “[T]here’s no evidence” that Trump committed obstruction.
What Gingrich exhibited in just this one interview is a problem that is rampant throughout not only the Trump administration but also the modern Republican Party: bad reasoning. Like the rest of them, Gingrich is marvelously inept at persuading. His points don’t even qualify as sophistry because sophistry at least has the form and appearance of valid, cogent argumentation.
In 2008, Susan Jacoby wrote in her book The Age of American Unreason that the American right has “been so effective at turning the once honorable word [“intellectual”] into a political pejorative. The right wing has been able to get away with this disingenuous logic — and with putting it in the mouths of genuinely anti-intellectual right-wing politicians — because nonreading Americans know less and less about their nation’s political and intellectual history.” Similarly, five years later, then-Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal urged his fellow Republicans to “stop being the stupid party.”
Unfortunately, the GOP never heeded Gov. Jindal’s uncharacteristically sage advice. Instead, they continued in precisely the reverse direction and chose Trump to be their standard-bearer.
Trump is hardly a trendsetter. He is merely following the lead of the right’s most prominent propagandists on Fox News and hate/outrage/grievance radio: Newt, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, the formerly influential Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, etc. None of them can reason well. When challenged, they don’t act like good thinkers would — by listening carefully and then responding with careful, effective, fact-based arguments. Instead, they interrupt and shout down their opponents, belittle them with some pejorative term (“feminazi,” “libtard,” “snowflake,” “elitist”), attack their character or motives, and then avoid further challenge of their vapid rants by escaping to advertisements.
Reactionary demagogues have effectively programmed millions in their audiences to argue in this willfully — indeed, proudly — ignorant manner. Hence the demonic, furious, malicious, sneering comments that routinely populate right-wing blogs and comments sections, not to mention social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. such baseless, inflammatory comments do not measure up to the kind of rational political dialogue envisioned by our Founding Fathers and encouraged by academic institutions. Just the opposite, they are the odious residue of minds poisoned by exposure to thousands of hours of manipulative, deceptive, McCarthyist filth.
All of this toxic irrationality is very frustrating for the left, who, unlike the right, don’t have it all figured out. Quite the contrary, they always want to learn more, to make intellectual and moral progress, to pursue difficult questions and try to solve difficult problems. They are not afraid of different perspectives, which is why only they, not the right, value multiculturalism, immigration, diversity and scientific exploration.
All that people like Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer have to offer is demonization — demonization of non-whites, of Muslims and of the left.
This unenlightened, know-it-all mindset, completely impervious to conflicting facts and theories, is just not the stuff of rationality, progress and constitutional democracy. It is, rather, the stuff of superstition, cults and fascism. Fortunately, the brainwashed right constitute a minority — only 35 to 40 percent — of the American population. This is why Republicans have to cheat to win local, state and national elections. Because they can’t be honest about their self-serving, oligarchical motives, they have to resort instead to the most ruthless, unscrupulous, anti-democratic tactics: voter suppression (including voter purges), unconstitutional gerrymandering and dissemination of fake news.
The election of the first black president alienated the right, but the fault for this alienation lies entirely with the latter. The same is true today, in Trump’s America; the right, not the left, are the real haters.
[W]e on the left are “not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”
One thing that has been noteworthy about the Christofascist takeover of the Republican Party base is that as the power of the Christofascist has grown, so has the dishonesty of the Party. Sadly, as a number of analyses of the Christofascists have shown, they have no compunction about lying. Anything that furthers their theocratic, largely white supremacist agenda is perfectly fine in their minds. The Commandment against lying is treated as if it simply doesn't exist. The Senate GOP's health care "reform" bill underscores how Mitch McConnell - never one for truth and veracity - and his cronies have embraced the tactic of lying without shame. A column in the Washington Post looks at the three big lies being marketed to the public at the moment by Senate Republicans. Here are highlights:
To succeed in gutting health coverage for millions of Americans, Senate Republican leaders need to get a series of lies accepted as truth. Journalists and other neutral arbiters must resist the temptation to report these lies as just a point of view. A lie is a lie.
Lie One: Democrats and progressives are unwilling to work with Republicans and conservatives on this issue. “If we went and got the single greatest health-care plan in the history of the world, we would not get one Democrat vote,” President Trump told an Iowa crowd last Wednesday.
In fact, Democrats, including President Barack Obama when he was in office, have said repeatedly that they would like to work with Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act. Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer’s office put out a list of such offers, including a June 15 letter from Schumer to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for a cross-party meeting to “find a way to make health care more affordable and accessible.”
This first lie is important because it rationalizes the Republican claim that the bill has to be draconian because it can’t pass without support from the party’s most right-wing legislators.
This brings us to Lie Two: This bill is primarily about improving health care for American families. No, this effort is primarily about cutting taxes. When it comes to health care, the main thing the bill does is take money away from providing it to pay for the tax reductions it contains and for future bonanzas the Republicans have promised.
The tax cuts in this legislation alone would amount to some $700 billion over a decade, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. About $33 billion of this would go to tax cuts conservatively averaging $7 million every year to each of the 400 highest-income families in the country. What could $33 billion buy? The CBPP reports it would be enough to pay for the expansion of Medicaid in Nevada, West Virginia, Arkansas and Alaska. Talk about income redistribution.
If this bill were truly about health care, Republicans would take all the tax cuts out and use that money to ease the pain their bill would cause. But they won’t, because the tax cuts are the thing that matters to them.
Lie Three: The Senate bill is a “compromise.” Really? Between whom? The House wants to destroy Obamacare quickly, the Senate a bit more slowly while also cutting Medicaid more steeply over time. This is only a “compromise” between two very right-wing policies.
I hope I never have to write about Lie Four, which would be Republican senators who surely know better — including Susan Collins, Dean Heller, Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Flake, Shelley Moore Capito and Rob Portman — justifying their votes for this monstrosity by claiming that it’s the best they could do. . . . . I would like to believe they are too decent for that. I hope I’m not lying to myself.