55 thoughts on “News/Politics 7-8-17

  1. Ricky,

    “It is an old joke among health policy wonks that what the American people really want from health care reform is unlimited care, from the doctor of their choice, with no wait, free of charge.”

    My response to Cato is the same one I gave you yesterday.

    “Americans want lower health insurance premiums, lower taxes, coverage for pre-existing conditions, lower co-pays, better care, lower deductibles and no reductions in Medicare or Medicaid benefits.”

    I never asked for or expected lower premiums. I understand that costs rise for various reasons. But I do expect those increases to be reasonable, and not artificially inflated like ObamaCare did.

    Everyone wants lower taxes. And those that don’t usually expect someone else’s taxes to rise, not their’s.

    Pre-existing conditions should be covered, because let’s face it, we all have hereditary traits that will make us susceptible to certain illness/diseases.

    Lower co-pays? Again, never asked for, or expected it. Again, costs rise for everyone, unless you have someone else paying your bill.

    Better care? Everyone wants the best they can get, you included.

    Lower deductibles? See lower premiums and co-pays. I just expect that they rise reasonably.

    I can’t speak to the Medi- plans, as I’ve no experience with them. But I’d imagine the reply for better care fits here as well.

    And there’s millions more who think like me, regardless of political leanings. These are entirely reasonable expectations as well. Once again, your blanket statement rings hollow.

    And so does Cato’s.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.


    “The officer who is suing the protest group, and five of its leaders, is not named in the lawsuit itself, but based on information in the suit it appears he is Sheriff’s Deputy Nicholas Tullier. Tullier was severely injured during the attack last summer by Gavin Long. From CBS News:

    During the ambush, Long shot Tullier in the head, stomach and shoulder, leaving him with brain damage. By December, the 42-year-old father of two had emerged from a vegetative state, regained some movement of his body and was able to communicate nonverbally…

    Friday’s lawsuit claims Mckesson was “in charge of” a July 9 protest that “turned into a riot.” Mckesson “did nothing to calm the crowd and, instead, he incited the violence” on behalf of Black Lives Matter, the suit alleges.

    The suit describes Long as an “activist whose actions followed and mimicked those of” the sniper who killed officers in Dallas days earlier. The suit also claims Black Lives Matter leaders incited others to harm police “in retaliation for the death of black men killed by police” and “all but too late” began to denounce the shootings of police after the Baton Rouge attack.
    Officer Tullier has had his life destroyed by Gavin Long. And there’s little doubt at this point that Gavin Long’s motivation was exactly what it seemed to be, i.e. he wanted to attack police over recently reported police shootings of black men. He had even searched for the home addresses of the two officers involved in the shooting of Alton Sterling.”


  3. But, but, but…..


    “Donald Trump may have other issues involving the treatment of women, but a belief in their ambition, intelligence or basic competence is not one of them.

    Following the “promotion” of Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, at least for the time being, has been tasked with the job of White House Press Secretary, essentially the voice of the President. This decision follows the decisions Donald Trump made on the campaign trail which was essentially to put all of his faith in women.

    Trump brought in campaign veteran Kellyanne Conway during the summer to head his efforts. Conway joined national spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, an African-American woman, and essentially the face and voice of the campaign, and together they became arguably the two most important figures in the entire campaign.

    By all accounts, there was no individual other than Donald Trump himself with more influence and decision making authority within the Trump brand then his daughter Ivanka Trump.

    A Trump insider reportedly told Politico, that even with his sons, he “wants her to be the face of his brand into the next generation” and that “the only phone call Donald would always take was Ivanka.”

    And anyone who knows her will testify to her intelligence, ambition and competence.

    Here is a concept that folks on the left seem to have a hard time wrapping their brains around: People like Donald Trump are simply looking for the best person for the job. Gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. is completely irrelevant. It probably doesn’t even cross his mind. A businessman does not really have the luxury of saying things like “how many gay Latinos do we have in that department?”, or having any criteria except competence.

    Donald Trump does not appoint women so he can tout the gender diversity within his organization or combat charges of sexism. The women around him just happen to be the people he determined to be the best individuals he could find.”

    As it should be.


  4. Interesting. He’s still beating the media and Congress.


    “So who’s winning the merry little media war? According to a poll released earlier this week by Marist, the better question might be who’s not losing it. Only 37% put a significant amount of trust into the Trump administration, but that’s still better than the 30% who trust the media significantly.

    The bad news for the White House? The FBI, the courts, and the intelligence community are beating both handily (via Newsbusters):

    In these hyper-polarized times, there is agreement that there is little respect across the partisan divide in Washington, D.C. Although Democrats are most likely to hold this view, 81%, seven in ten independents, 70%, and nearly two-thirds of Republicans, 65%, agree.

    “Searching for consensus in Washington?” asks Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “There’s strong consensus across the board that civility in Washington is on the outs.”

    With the exception of the Intelligence Community such as the CIA and the FBI, 60%, and the courts, 60%, there is lackluster trust in the nation’s institutions. Americans divide in the trust they have that elections are fair. 50% have confidence in our voting system and 47% do not. Fewer have confidence in the Trump Administration, 37%, public opinion polls, 35%, the media, 30%, and Congress, 29%. These proportions are little changed from a similar survey released in March.”


  5. Mindy Belz has another really interesting article on the Middle East, specifically Israel this time: https://world.wng.org/2017/07/conflict_within_and_without

    JERUSALEM—Mount Hermon rises in the distance bearing a fading snowcap, surrounded by high wisps of clouds on a late spring day. In the near distance, scuffs of dust fly, making clouds of their own as Syrian forces recommence firing on rebel positions. Mortar rounds thwunk, creating puffs of smoke that billow first here, then there, across the horizon. As they land in swift succession, the plains before Mount Hermon exhale red dust.

    “That’s a regular sound,” says Ilan Shulman, a former paratrooper and intelligence officer in the Israeli Defense Forces. Shulman grew up on the nearby Merom Golan kibbutz in the heart of the western Golan Heights region.

    Mortar rounds and shelling continue, but Shulman, who runs a jeep touring company from the kibbutz, isn’t fazed. He stands casually with a map in his hand just inside the Israeli-controlled area of the Golan Heights, watching at a safe distance perhaps the world’s worst ongoing conflict.

    Across a narrow demilitarized zone is Syria, where a six-year war has killed more than 500,000 people. There, government nerve gas attacks or Islamic terrorism have afflicted thousands, and fighting has uprooted approximately 12 million, leaving more than half a country homeless. The nearest village, visible across the plains, sits nearly empty.

    From a promontory extending into the demilitarized zone, Israelis are closer to Damascus than to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Lebanon and Jordan are within sight, but it’s the 45-mile border with Syria straight ahead that’s the focal point. Islamic State militants are perhaps 7 miles away, Shulman notes, and each week brings fresh news of encroachments…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. AJ, The increase in premiums since Obamacare was passed has been caused by:

    1. The required coverage for pre-existing conditions; and
    2. The requirements for Obamacare insurance plans including required coverages, and limits on deductibles and copays.

    The vast majority of Americans do not understand this. They do not understand that to roll premiums back to pre-Obamacare levels, Congress would have to eliminate the required coverage for pre-existing conditions as well as the other required coverages. There was great weeping and gnashing of teeth from “conservatives” on this site when the House Republicans proposed allowed insurers to ask states to be allowed to charge higher premiums to newly insured folks with pre-existing conditions for even one year.

    Similarly, few if any Democrats and Trumpkins understand the link between coverage for pre-existing conditions and the tax on those who don’t buy insurance. Without the tax, millions (particularly those who are young and healthy) would go without insurance unless and until they become seriously ill. This would further increase premiums on those who always maintain insurance.

    Our leaders need to explain these facts to our people. Your leader needs to try to learn some of these facts.


  7. What was causing the disproportional increase in insurance premiums before Obamacare? Healthcare reform didn’t just spring up for no reason. There is a lack of righteous parameters around the economics of healthcare. Health insurance should not be for profit. It’s part of the infrastructure of the country. There are no innocent political parties in this situation either. Neither negotiate in good faith.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Debra, I remember, and this was just before Obamacare took effect, as Obama had only become President that year, surgeons and nurses discussing the high cost of surgical products, such as one use staplers for bowel surgery, depending on the type, between $50,000 and $500,000 for one stapler, and I do not exaggerate (when I was handed one such stapler they warned me, “If you drop this, you drop half a million dollars”), when I trained in the operating room. One thing they said was that the inflated private insurance payments for such equipment in the U.S. impacted the prices our system had to pay for such items. Because we were in the same financial bracket as the U.S., we had to pay the same prices (medical suppliers do lower their prices for poorer countries) for the equipment; and as one surgeon said, the companies know they can charge premium prices because people will pay anything to be healthy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Whoops, correction, as Obama became President the year I started nursing training (timelines blur together in my mind, since politics were background noise during those years), not the year I trained in the OR but it was just before Obamacare took effect, since it was the fall of the year in which it was passed, and most provisions had not been implemented by then.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Debra, Health insurance premiums exploded AFTER Obamacare. To understand the high cost of US healthcare compared to the rest of the world prior to Obamacare, you have to understand Medicare and Medicaid. Spending through those two programs amounts to about half of total US healthcare spending. They drive the market. For example, if Medicare will pay for double knee replacements for millions of obese older Americans, private insurance is pushed to also pay for that type of treatment for obese younger Americans. Similarly, if Medicare and Medicaid will pay for enough opioids (and doctors to prescribe them) to create an epidemic of overdoses, private insurance will be pressured to do likewise and make the problem worse. That is why Americans (who make up 5% of the world’s population) consume 80% of the world’s opioids.


  11. There is also market speculation which further helps inflate the cost of healthcare, as demonstrated amply in this infamous case: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/martin-shkreli-charged-with-securities-fraud/
    I agree heartily that healthcare, with its unique impact on humanity, should be non-profit. I didn’t become a nurse for the money and no one should enter medical or nursing school with a view to making money. A living wage, yes, since the labourer is worthy of his hire, but not to become wealthy. I have written before on how uniquely vulnerable patients are to their caregivers, and a healthcare worker that is only there for the money is an outright menace to patients and other members of the healthcare team. Nursing is already one of the most physically dangerous professions (http://healthcaretraveler.modernmedicine.com/healthcare-traveler/content/tags/american-nurses-association/keeping-nurses-safe-nursing-one-most-da), and having healthcare workers who don’t care only makes things harder.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Roscuro, What about farmers, cooks or grocers? Without food we would die. What about people who construct cars, planes and trains? If they mess up, people may die. Their work also has a unique impact on humanity? Should their businesses also be non-profit?


  13. I suspect that Wall St has a lot to do with the unreasonable cost of healthcare. And farmers, cooks and grocers, etc have no right to price gouge. There is such a thing as a reasonable price—that price is not necessarily synonymous with the ‘market’ price as we know it. As long as too big to fail too big to jail corporations are the rule of the land, there cannot be actual ‘free market’ prices. Fix that, and then we would be able to better see some of the other economic influences of an actual free, or at least a free-er, market.


  14. Debra, What about those who make buildings, bridges and elevators? Those are life and death industries. Shouldn’t they be non-profit? You said farmers, cooks and grocers should not be allowed to “price gouge”. Today, what is keeping your grocer from charging you $100 for a gallon of milk? Is it some regulation or government bureaucrat? Is it some regulator setting a price that she believes is “reasonable”?


  15. Debra, You are right that “too big to fail” government bailouts distort the market, but the prices of the vast majority of items I buy are determined by the market. These include and are produced by the types of companies that are allowed to fail regularly. These items include: my house, phone, tv, internet service, clothes, cars (except in 2008), gasoline, books, lawn service, furniture, restaurant food, haircuts, dental work, golf clubs, green fees, movie tickets, plane tickets, etc.


  16. Ricky, we’ve had this discussion before and I rejected then the application of capitalist principles to healthcare. Food producers who raise prices to profit from a crisis such as famine or war are considered to act not only immorally, but also criminally, and rightfully so. It is coercion to use the vulnerability of people to extort money from them. Disease produces a crisis in the life of the person who has it, and healthcare is there to deal with the crisis of the individual. To charge premium prices for that healthcare amounts to extortion.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. The capitalist attempt to explain the cause of poverty resembles Hindu philosophy. They believe in karma, that good people will prosper, not only in their present incarnation, but also in successive ones, and that bad people will suffer. Hence the systemic lack of sympathy toward outcasts in Hindu society. But they are not unique in that, as such a view is typical throughout history and across cultures, including the West. It is the view of the world – do good and good things will happen, do bad and bad things will happen. The Bible presents an entirely different view. “Has not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised” (James 2:5) and “He that oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker: but he that honours Him has mercy on the poor” (Proverbs 14:31). A truly Christian view of the poor does not seek to blame, for Christianity extends grace, which is unmerited, and forgiveness. The older I get, the more I realize that the so-called Judeo-Christian civilization of the West was not based on true Christianity, but on a legalistic moral code, the same as every other world civilization. Chesterton was right about Christianity, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Roscuro, Milton Friedman would help you. In a free market system, healthcare providers would not charge “premium prices” any more than would grocers, farmers or elevator manufacturers. They would charge market prices. When the government and insurance companies are spending other people’s money, there is no free market and the prices charged are much higher than “premium”.

    Roscuro, In your lifetime, free markets and free trade have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty. The percentage of the world’s population living in extreme poverty is at an all-time low. People who truly care about the poor and understand economics should be strong advocates for a market economy and free trade.


  19. Charles Murray “comforts” Jonah Goldberg. The interaction between conservatives as they also interact with Democrats and Trumpkins is the best stuff on Twitter.


  20. Ricky, Milton Friedman, like every other capitalist economist, cannot account for the greed that dwells in the heart of man. If someone can get away with charging premium prices, they will do so. The free market is not the Messiah. It cannot solve in the insoluble problem of poverty which the true Messiah said would always be present. The free market has done just as much to keep people in poverty as it has to get them out of it. The intolerable conditions for the working poor of the Industrial Revolution did not go away, they simply changed continents. The West may seem to have stopped the worst conditions of industrial labour, but now people die in places like Bangladesh so the products sold in the West can be cheap. In Africa right now, the free market is putting people out of work by undercutting local production, further exacerbating a cycle of poverty that not even the cheaper prices of mass production can offset.
    It is true that there has been improvement in living conditions worldwide, but it can by no means be entirely attributed to free markets. Market production does nothing to improve health and often rather endangers it. It has been international aid efforts, such as the declaration of Alma Ata in the 1970s, and the Millennium Development Goals in the early 2000’s which directed international aid toward specific goals targeting the health of populations, because economic status and health status are strongly correlated. These goals have been supported by multiple aid groups, both private and public, which have poured millions of dollars into attaining these goals. That is hardly the work of the free market.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Take worldwide vaccination campaigns, which first led to the complete eradication of smallpox and are now nearing the eradication of polio. Childhood vaccination coverage was one of the goal of the declaration of Alma Ata. If vaccine supply and administration was left to the free market, only the wealthy would have it, which would do no good, because only by raising the levels of immunity to a disease to a majority of the population can it be stopped, since there will always, whether rich or poor, be people who cannot be vaccinated or do no retain immunity to the vaccine. So, in West Africa, the clinic where I worked was part of a government vaccination program, we paid the workers who administered the vaccinations, the vaccination supply was funded through a U.N. organization, training was carried out by the national health service. None of it was left to the free market, and it is one of the most successful vaccination programs in West Africa. Those who have worked for decades in the region testify, as well a government statistics show that it is working, that child mortality has decreased. If left to the free market, prevention of disease through vaccination would not be in the best interests of pharmaceuticals, since one-time vaccinations bring in far less revenue than medications for chronic diseases.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Roscuro, What economic system generated the wealth to distribute the economic aid to the poor countries?

    Friedman understood perfectly well that Debra’s grocer would love to charge her $100 for a gallon of milk. He also understood that the free market was by far the best way to keep him from charging such premium or unreasonable prices, while still giving him the profit incentive which causes him to continue to make milk available to her.


  23. Ricky, it wasn’t a free market system, since such a system has never existed according its advocates, and you can’t tell me that the economic wealth would have been spontaneously and voluntarily donated toward the aid without governmental interference. Furthermore, since governmental donations are involved in the aid, taxation also provides the revenue.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. The aid came both from governments which practice largely a market economy and from private foundations (like the Gates Foundation). Cuba and North Korea gave little.
    Our economy is largely market. See the list of things above which I buy at market prices.


  25. Here’s the NYTimes “blockbuster” for tomorrows rag.

    It was over the Magnitsky Act, a US law blacklisting suspected Russian human rights abusers, and Russia’s retaliatory American adoption ban that resulted from it.


  26. Wow. That didn’t take long. The NYTimes story is being refuted before it’s even done printing.

    Seems the folks requesting the meeting misrepresented themselves to the Trump team.

    Looks like a set-up, from none other than FUSION GPS, the same sleazy Dem operative company that brought us the “Trump Russian Dossier”, aka. Obama and Hillary’s buddies.


    “President Trump was not aware of the meeting and did not attend it, according to the lawyers. A translator and an American businessman working for a pro-Russian business lobby also attended the meeting, which lasted about 20 minutes, according to the interviews.

    The president’s legal team said Saturday they believe the entire meeting may have been part of a larger election-year opposition effort aimed at creating the appearance of improper connections between Trump family members and Russia that also included a now-discredited intelligence dossier produced by a former British intelligence agent named Christopher Steele who worked for a U.S. political firm known as Fusion GPS.

    “We have learned from both our own investigation and public reports that the participants in the meeting misrepresented who they were and who they worked for,” said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for President Trump’s legal team. “Specifically, we have learned that the person who sought the meeting is associated with Fusion GPS, a firm which according to public reports, was retained by Democratic operatives to develop opposition research on the President and which commissioned the phony Steele dossier. ”

    “These developments raise serious issues as to exactly who authorized and participated in any effort by Russian nationals to influence our election in any manner,” Corallo said.”

    Like I said, there’s a “Russian Scandal”, just not the one the press is trying so desperately to push.

    And in case you’re interested, here’s more on FUSION and their other work. This is where the real obstruction lies.


    “A secretive Washington firm that commissioned the dubious intelligence dossier on Donald Trump is stonewalling congressional investigators trying to learn more about its connections to the Democratic Party.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month threatened to subpoena the firm, Fusion GPS, after it refused to answer questions and provide records to the panel identifying who financed the error-ridden dossier, which was circulated during the election and has sparked much of the Russia scandal now engulfing the White House.

    What is the company hiding? Fusion GPS describes itself as a “research and strategic intelligence firm” founded by “three former Wall Street Journal investigative reporters.” But congressional sources say it’s actually an opposition-research group for Democrats, and the founders, who are more political activists than journalists, have a pro-Hillary Clinton, anti-Trump agenda.

    “These weren’t mercenaries or hired guns,” a congressional source familiar with the dossier probe said. “These guys had a vested personal and ideological interest in smearing Trump and boosting Hillary’s chances of winning the White House.”

    Fusion GPS was on the payroll of an unidentified Democratic ally of Clinton when it hired a long-retired British spy to dig up dirt on Trump. In 2012, Democrats hired Fusion GPS to uncover dirt on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. And in 2015, Democratic ally Planned Parenthood retained Fusion GPS to investigate pro-life activists protesting the abortion group.

    Moreover, federal records show a key co-founder and partner in the firm was a Hillary Clinton donor and supporter of her presidential campaign.”


  27. Douthat’s article takes us back to post-colonial Africa, and tries to make applications for today. It is hard to argue with his conclusions.


  28. Michelle, I bought the dark blue one. In earlier days I would have spent the extra money for the 435 hp GT, but I took a test drive in the 6 cylinder and decided 300 hp was now enough. The Camaros were tempting but too pricey (the market at work) and Chevrolet foolishly made the trunk opening too small for a golf bag with normal length driver.

    My son has been lobbying for us to purchase a Nissan Leaf (it is electric), but my daughter-in-law and I reminded him that Weavers will not drive (or ride in) ugly cars.


  29. Govt intervention is present in all aspects of the economy. The question is how much intervention and for who’s benefit. Health care, agriculture, etc it doesn’t matter there will be intervention but for whom is the questio

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Ricky @ 10:09
    Or one that doesn’t take gas. It’s easier to find gas pumps than a plug.
    Besides, electric cars are bad for the environment.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Interesting article;

    Mr W’s health class lesson one: life has an order — education, career/job, marriage, kids — follow the order and you will be successful. Mix it up and you will be forever playing catch up. Lesson number two; who you marry will be the most important decision you make.

    Favourite student: so essentially don’t repeat your mistakes.

    Liked by 3 people

  32. If you were wondering what the rest of the world is thinking, this report from a pro-American Australian reporter is an indication. Unlike American cultists, the rest of the world understands that someone else writes the prepared speeches but the real Trump comes out in the Tweets.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Ricky,

    Here’s more info. And yeah, it’s looking like it was a set-up by Dems, Clinton, and their FUSION friends. And a complicit media, of course.

    Not surprising that you’d dismiss it, but the truth still matters to some, regardless of who’s guilty, whether that be Dems or Trump. Let the truth fall where it may.


    “Another player in the Russian influence scandal, the U.S.-based political firm Fusion GPS, was also involved in helping Prevezon, Katsyv and Baker Hostetler, according to the Grassley letter. Fusion has been a major focal point of the FBI and Congress because it hired a former British intelligence agent named Christopher Steele to produce a salacious intelligence dossier that made wild and still unsubstantiated claims about Trump ties to Russia.

    Congressional investigators involved in the Russian influence case told Circa on Sunday that they are almost certain to probe if Veselnitskaya used her parole entry status to contact the Trump family and whether there is any connection to the Steele dossier and Fusion GPS.

    “This is new information that raises all sorts of new questions and we are digging into it as we speak,” one congressional investigator told Circa, speaking only on condition of anonymity.”

    President Trump’s lawyers said Saturday they feared Veselnitskaya’s meeting at Trump Tower may have been part of a broader election opposition effort to smear the Republican by creating the impression he and his family had extensive ties to Russia as the Kremlin was interfering in the 2016 election.”


  34. HRW, Should you and I pretend to be Saudis who want to pay for the right to build a new Trump Hotel and see if Uday or Qusay Trump will come meet with us?

    Liked by 1 person

  35. AJ, I never thought Trump was an American version of Hitler. He always struck me as an American version of Inspector Clouseau. Be honest now. Doesn’t the Trumpian version of this latest previously non-disclosed meeting with the Russians seem to belong in a Pink Panther movie.


  36. It seems weird to create a huge conspiracy to entrap the Trump and then not release the info a week before the election. Instead the details come out months later? The Trump admin needs a better cover story.

    Pence does seem in prep mode. However if Pence and other Republicans dont pull the trigger soon they will be under a bus. Trump doesn’t have friends just people who he assigns blame.

    Trump isnt Hitler or Putin. He’s what Mussolini would have been had lived to 75.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. The Russian attorney who met with Little Trump, Kushner and Manafort is a very beautiful woman. If she dyed her hair blond, she might pass for Elke Sommer.


  38. This morning from Trump:


  39. Leaders from both parties were critical of the joint “Cyber Security” unit idea for obvious reasons. Then we get this tonight:


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