Thursday, March 16, 2017

None Dare Call It Trumpcare

President Trump [sic] is having a tough week. The “repeal and replace Obamacare” operation is running into trouble because Obamacare (i.e., the Affordable Care Act) was designed to help poor Americans get and keep insurance while the GOP replacement plan is designed to make the rich and powerful richer and more powerful. This fact should not be a surprise since the rich and powerful are the Republicans’ favorite charity (about $33,000 in tax cuts for the one percent, $197,000 for the one tenth of one percent in the Republican health care proposal). What is surprising is Mr. Trump’s refusal to call the GOP plan “Trumpcare.” I’m not sure why. Maybe he’s just modest about putting his name on big expensive things.

Now perhaps you believe the GOP is making a good faith effort to help poor Americans keep their health insurance. And perhaps you are an idiot. The fact is Republicans hate Obamacare for three reasons; first, it makes insurance affordable to poor Americans by providing them with subsidies - which in GOP-speak is “a government takeover of health care;” second, once established Americans were certain to like it, or, as Senator Ted Cruz said in 2013, Americans were bound to “get addicted to the sugar” of Obamacare and therefore it would never be repealed; and third, it was President Obama’s signature program. This was the most damning feature of all, given that GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell had stated that the Republicans’ primary goal was to ensure that Obama failed as a president.

But Trumpcare (or Ryancare or Billionairecare or whatever) is in trouble now since conservative Republicans say it isn’t generous enough to the super-rich and moderate Republicans say that taking away insurance from 24 million Americans would make it hard for them to get re-elected.

And Trumpcare isn’t The Donald’s only problem. Just yesterday federal judges began telling him that his travel ban on six Muslim nations (whose citizens have been responsible for no terrorist attacks in the U.S.) is unconstitutional. Admittedly, Mr. Trump was facing a delicate problem here. Putting together a carefully constructed travel ban whose provisions would appeal to his base (which is chock full of anti-Muslim bigots), but making it seem to be totally unrelated to religious discrimination is not an easy thing to do. As President Obama said, being president is hard, and Mr. Trump seems to be starting to get that.

Making the job even harder is his having to deal with imaginary wiretaps. Just because they only exist in Mr. Trump’s head doesn’t make it any easier for him to endure them. I guess I shouldn’t say the wiretaps exist only in his head, because he did find them referenced on Breitbart or Bigots-R-Us or some other such “news” source that he likes to rely on. And think about this: just how hard is it going to be for Trump to handle the presidency when he starts seeing imaginary assassination squads coming after him?

As Americans, we naturally have to be concerned about the Trump presidency. Especially because we now face a growing nuclear threat from another national leader even more dishonest, deluded, and psychologically unstable than President Trump: North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

Maybe it’s just me, but I firmly believe that it is a crime for someone who is entirely unfit for the presidency to actually run for president. The question is, can we consider it the kind of high crime or misdemeanor that is the necessary basis for impeachment?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone.

He didn't say assassination squads, he said "assassination squads!"

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A First Spouse for the Twenty-first Century

I am so mad at Donald Trump. I was really looking forward to seeing Bill Clinton as First Gentleman (or First Dude or First Bubba, or whatever) in the White House this year. I feel sure that he could have proven, once and for all, that a man has what it takes to fulfill this demanding role as well as any woman could.


But what does the President’s Spouse role actually amount to? According to The Washington Post, a First Lady is expected to “…act as a hostess, and [have] a substantial paid staff (up to two dozen) to assist in planning massive lunches and dinners, supporting whatever cause she adopts and representing the country on goodwill tours.”

I feel Bill could have done all of these things, but now, thanks to President-Won-on-a-Technicality, we’ll never know for sure.

Of course there are those who consider certain aspects of the role of First Lady to be a bit of an anachronism. For example, my wife declared that these aspects amounted to (I am paraphrasing here) a bunch of @#&ing sexist bullshit.*

Still the question remains, who will fulfill this key position, now that Melania has decided that, like most normal human beings, she doesn’t want to live with Donald. For sure, Ivanka won’t do it. She has her hands full helping her dad in his campaign to hide his taxes, silence the media, and intimidate judges. These activities take a lot of energy and we can't expect Ivanka and husband Jared to do all that and cover the First Lady front as well. Meanwhile the boys, Eric and Donald Jr., need to make sure Trump’s economic policies continue to fill his gleaming coffers and ensure a fat inheritance for themselves.

Trump himself must spend his time continuing to “Make People Think He Will Make America Great Again,” in the hopes that he can dupe his Stockholm-syndrome-afflicted base into voting for him in 2020.

Who then, can we find to fulfill the First Lady role? How about Ivana? She might be encouraged to step up and help her former spouse. If patriotic duty isn’t enough to get her to commit, maybe she could take on the role in exchange for a rewrite of her original prenup with Donald.

If Ivana won’t help out, the only option left might be someone from among those various women whom Trump has “touched in a special way.”

It’s not impossible, I think, that we could count on a volunteer from among the ranks of such victimized women to step forward. If necessary, I’m sure we could provide a special secret service detail to protect this brave soul from further grabbing on the part of the president. I know, I know - such protection would undoubtedly cost many thousands of dollars. But is this too high a price to pay? I, for one, think not, especially in light of the money we are already spending just to keep Melania in New York: namely, one million dollars per day.

                              (Thanks CNN)

* Paraphrasing a little because I promised her that I would not let on that blatant sexism can provoke her to the point where she wants to swear like a raging stevedore.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

When the World Thinks You're a Loser - Just Make Up Your Own Alternative Universe!

I have long said that I didn't really underestimate Donald Trump; I merely overestimated American voters. But now, for the first time, I confess that I have indeed underestimated him. I mean, I never expected his behavior to reach such lofty levels of lunacy so early in his administration

And I’m not the only one. When Trump downgraded the role of the Joint Chiefs on the National Security Council, and replaced them with white supremacist Stephen Bannon, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice tweeted, “This is stone cold crazy. After a week of crazy. Who needs military advice or intell to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, DPRK?”

                           Susan Rice  (Thanks NPR)

Until now I’ve had only three criticisms of Trump:

      1.     He’s an outrageous liar.

      2.     He has a pathetically obvious need for approval underlying a pathological narcissism.

3.     He’s an ignoramus about both national and international politics.

Except for being grossly dishonest, psychologically unfit for office, and stupid about politics, I find him A-OK. 

Well no. Now that I think about it, I should also mention that he’s crude, vulgar, bigoted, and shockingly selfish. Also, he's a  sexual predator and an all-around bully.

When I say Trump is an outrageous liar, I mean he is in a class by himself. He’s not an ordinary political liar who says things like, “I did not have sex with that woman,” or “Read my lips. No new taxes,” or “We did not, repeat, did not trade arms for hostages.” Such garden variety lying we have come to expect from our leaders. With Trump, about 50% of his utterances are outrageous and easily disproven lies, like, “Thousands of Muslims cheered in New Jersey on 9/11,” and “I did not support the Iraq War,” and “I did not mock a reporter with a disability,” and “It was 3 to 5 million illegal voters that kept me from winning the popular vote,” and, finally, “My inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s.”

These are not just ordinary lies, these are lies that have been proven false. They are also, for the most part, lies whose sole purpose is to make Donald Trump look amazing.

This is his overriding problem. He can’t be trusted. Or, to put it another way, he can be trusted to construct an alternate universe, unconnected to reality, in which he is a magnificent winner and all his opponents are losers.

Here’s a bit more evidence on this point. Today on CNN’s Inside Politics, correspondent John King reported that he had recently texted a senior administration official to point out to him one of Trump’s “alternative facts.”

King: “It’s just wrong, it’s factually wrong. Why [do] you keep saying it?”

Senior Trump official: “We don’t care what you say. We’re louder than you.”

King’s conclusion was that the Trump people don’t seem to think they need to answer for their lies, or reality itself, so long as their base stands by them.

It’s all part of what comedian Bill Maher calls Trump’s War on Facts.

Trump, with his “alternative facts” has established an entirely separate universe, one in which the facts that normal people accept as self-evident, don’t apply. I wonder if his next proposal will be for the U.S. government to extend recognition to this alternative universe. In the meantime, could we possibly refrain from having “Hail to the Chief” played when Trump steps up to the dais? In its place, I recommend the theme from “Looney Tunes.”