Tuesday, February 28, 2017

In the wake of Trump's vow to repeal Obamacare, California flirts with single payer system.

Courtesy of LA Times:

With President Trump now vowing to put forward a replacement for the Affordable Care Act in March, some California politicians and healthcare advocates are once again promoting the idea of a state-run “single-payer” system that operates like Medicare. 

Backers say the uncertainty surrounding Trump’s promise to repeal Obamacare presents California with a chance to rethink how healthcare is delivered to its 39 million residents. 

“Why wouldn’t we take this as an opportunity to create what we want in California?” Dr. Mitch Katz, head of L.A. County’s health department, said at a conference in December. He mentioned a single-payer system as a possible solution. 

Other suggestions for how California can capitalize on the threat to Obamacare include creating a public option, a state-run health plan to sell on the state’s insurance exchange, and mimicking how Massachusetts provided universal healthcare.

And it is not as if California does not have reason for concern.
Courtesy of Vox: 

Republican replacement plans for Obamacare would lead to significant declines in the number of Americans with health insurance coverage, according to an analysis presented Saturday at the National Governors Association and obtained by Vox.The analysis includes graphs on what the Republican plan to overhaul Obamacare’s tax credits, generally making them less generous, would do. They are based on the recent 19-page proposal that Republican leadership released about their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. 

The report estimates what would happen in a hypothetical state with 300,000 people in the individual market that has also expanded Medicaid. In the individual market, enrollment would fall 30 percent and 90,000 people would become uninsured.

California has almost 39 million people, that means multiple millions would potentially lose their coverage.

By the way yesterday Trump said that "Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated."
Actually EVERYBODY knew. Except Donald Trump apparently.

And if he listened to those who knew this (The Democrats.) he might understand that the best thing he could do would be to leave the Affordable Care Act in place and work to improve it.

Canada's Prime Minister under pressure as more and more immigrants from America stream across border seeking asylum.

Courtesy of The Guardian:  

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, is facing growing political pressure to address the steady stream of asylum seekers who have been braving freezing temperatures, fields of waist-deep snow and icy ditches to cross into Canada from the US by foot. 

Recent months have seen a growing number of people entering Canada at remote, unguarded locations along the US border. Doing so allows the migrants – many of whom are desperate to flee Trump’s crackdown on immigration – to skirt a longstanding pact that bars most refugee claimants in the US from applying for asylum in Canada. 

Advocates in Manitoba say they know of some 139 refugees – including children – who have made the perilous crossing since the start of the year, while groups in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario also report a rise in irregular crossings. 

Some haul suitcases for hours across frozen fields that straddle the border, while others are dropped by taxis metres away from the Quebec border. The asylum seekers – many of whom are from Somalia, Ghana and Djibouti – say their actions are driven by fears of what a Donald Trump presidency could mean for refugees in the US.

Amazing. In just four short weeks Donald Trump has changed America from a place that immigrants will travel vast distances to enter, to a place they will travel vast distances to escape. 

Why do I get the feeling that this story will make him exceedingly pleased with himself?

For years congregants of the Word of Faith Fellowship suffered terrible physical abuse to "purify" them and rid them of demons.

Courtesy of Yahoo News:

From all over the world, they flocked to this tiny town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, lured by promises of inner peace and eternal life. What many found instead: years of terror — waged in the name of the Lord. 

Congregants of the Word of Faith Fellowship were regularly punched, smacked, choked, slammed to the floor or thrown through walls in a violent form of deliverance meant to "purify" sinners by beating out devils, 43 former members told The Associated Press in separate, exclusive interviews. 

Victims of the violence included pre-teens and toddlers — even crying babies, who were vigorously shaken, screamed at and sometimes smacked to banish demons. 

"I saw so many people beaten over the years. Little kids punched in the face, called Satanists," said Katherine Fetachu, 27, who spent nearly 17 years in the church. 

Word of Faith Fellowship, an evangelical church with hundreds of members in North Carolina and branches in other countries, also subjected members to a practice called "blasting" — an ear-piercing verbal onslaught often conducted in hours-long sessions meant to cast out devils. 

Apparently this constant assault was directed by the church's controlling leader, Jane Whaley, who appointed herself a kind of dictator, controlling every aspect of her congregant's lives. Including whether they could have children or not.

And oh yes there was of course sexual assault on some of the children as well.

Once again this is another reminder that even seemingly intelligent people can allow themselves to suffer incredible abuse and manipulation after surrendering their critical thinking skills and accepting everything on faith alone.

I think that the majority of us would have left this "church" the minute that somebody put their hands on us, or we witnessed them putting their hands on others.

And yet many of these people stayed for years of physical and mental abuse, why?

Faith, that's why. Good old fashioned, superstitious, barbaric, faith.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Donald Trump claims that in America "We don't fight to win."

Courtesy of The Week: 

President Donald Trump slammed the American military Monday, complaining the U.S. doesn't "fight to win." 

"Win. We have to win. We have to start winning wars again," Trump said. "I have to say, when I was young, in high school and college, everybody used to say that we never lost a war. 'We never lost a war.' You remember." 

"And now we never win a war," Trump added. "We never win. And we don't fight to win."

According to icasualties.org since 2001 we have lost a total of 3,528 soldiers in Afghanistan who were "not trying to win." And another 4,837 soldiers in Iraq also apparently just phoning it in.

And let's not forget that this is coming from a man whose VERY FIRST military operation caused the death of an American serviceman, the loss of a 90 million dollar aircraft, and killed an 8 year old girl.

Is THIS what he calls "winning?"

By the way I think there is no longer any doubt that Donald Trump is going to lead this country into a war, just so he can make his point, and also make his mark on the history books.

New York Times executive editor says that Donald Trump is the best thing to happen for their bottom line.

Courtesy of The Hill:

The executive editor of the New York Times said in an interview Sunday that President Trump’s attempts to smear the publication have instead encouraged more people to read it. 

“Trump is the best thing to happen to the Times’ subscription strategy,” Dean Baquet said in an interview with CNN’s "Reliable Sources." “Every time he tweets it drives subscriptions wildly.” 

Baquet said Trump has revitalized reporters who may have been pessimistic about the future of the industry. 

"There was a long time when the press wondered about its place in society, the last several years as newspaper subscriptions dwindled, as particularly local newspapers worried about their future," he said. "What’s happened in the last couple of months I have to say has been tremendous for news organizations." 

"Our mission is clearer than it's ever been — we’re covering a dramatic revolution in government and how the country is governed, and it feels like all of the things that sort of bothered us and made us lose a little bit of confidence in the last few months have sort of gone away."

And the more attacks Trump lobs their way the more subscriptions they sell.

I have one, do you?

I have to admit however that while I certainly embrace the resurgence of quality journalism in this country, I am also troubled by the fact that it was a similar upsurge in viewers that compelled cable news outlets to put Donald Trump's big orange face in front of its audiences almost 24/7 for months leading up to the election.

I cannot help but think this is a case of the cable news media creating a Frankenstein monster and then leaving it to the print media to destroy it for the benefit of humanity.

Chuck Todd points out that right after the press reports on ties with Russia, Donald Trump increases his attacks on the media. Things that make you go, "Hmmm."

Courtesy of Mediaite: 

“One issue that doesn’t seem to hurt the president right now, at least in the eyes of his supporters, are the reported ties he and his aides may or may not have with Russia,” Todd said. 

He continued, “And whenever stories break on that subject, press bashing — which is always part of the president’s arsenal — seems to escalate.” 

Todd then played a prepared clip detailing numerous instances where Trump went on the attack against the media directly after mainstream press reports related to potential Russian ties. The MTP host pointed to tweets, news conferences, and speeches that were devoted almost entirely to media attacks following damning Trump-Russia stories.

You know subconsciously I think I noticed this, but having it laid out like this is very enlightening.

Clearly Trump is terrified of where this reporting will lead and is desperate to undermine the credibility of the press before it blows his presidency out of the water.

Father of soldier slain in Yemen raid refused to shake Donald Trump's hand, wants investigation.

Courtesy of the Miami Herald:  

Owens’ father, Bill, had learned only a short time before the ceremony that Trump was coming. Owens was sitting with his wife, Marie, and other family members in the solemn, living room-like space where the loved ones of the fallen assemble before they are taken to the flight line. 

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,’’ Owens recalled telling the chaplain who informed him that Trump was on his way from Washington. “I told them I don’t want to meet the President.” 

It had been little more than 24 hours since six officers in dress uniform knocked on the door to Owens’ home in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. It was not yet daylight when he answered the door, already knowing in the pit of his stomach what they had come to tell him. 

Now, Owens cringed at the thought of having to shake the hand of the president who approved the raid in Yemen that claimed his son’s life — an operation that he and others are now calling into question. 

“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Owens said Friday, speaking out for the first time in an interview with the Miami Herald. 

Not only was Mr. Owens repulsed by the idea of meeting the man whose carelessness resulted in his son's death  (He was not even in the Situation Room during the raid.), he wants an investigation.

“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” said the elder Owens, pointing to Trump’s sharp words directed at the mission’s critics, including Sen. John McCain. 

“I want an investigation. … The government owes my son an investigation,” he said. 

I don't support using this man's tragedy as a political tool, nor do I want this to turn into some Benghazi style witch hunt, but the man DOES deserve a little closure.

And he also deserves the right not to be exposed to the toxic personality of Donald Trump.

Can you even imagine how inappropriate he would be in a situation like this?

Let's not lose focus on what is the MOST important story.

Courtesy of the Guardian: 

Narrative switching. That is what the Trump administration is desperately trying to do around Russia right now. The White House reportedly interfered with the FBI in the middle of an active investigation involving counter-intelligence. This was not only foolhardy but also suspicious, as it directly undermined their apparent objective: distracting us. 

On 14 February, the New York Times reported that advisers and associates of Donald Trump may have been in direct and continuous contact with officers of the Russian intelligence agency, the FSB, during a tumultuous election campaign in which the American democracy itself was hacked. A major party – now in opposition – was the victim of an unprecedented cyber-attack. 

According to the Times, intercepted telephone calls and phone records indicated to American counter-intelligence officers direct contact with the Russians. 

The stakes are high. Most Democrats and more than a few Republicans believe this investigation could unearth details that could plunge the nation into a political and constitutional crisis not seen since the secession of the South in 1860 and 1861.

Yes, EXACTLY!

And every tweet from Donald Trump, or distraction shoved in front of us by the Republicans, is an attempt to obfuscate and shift attention away from perhaps the biggest scandal to ever happen in American political history.

And Trump knows it.
Already some Republicans are attempting to downplay the importance of the investigations into this hacking of our election, outright blocking them, or even using one of THEIR own past scandals to ridicule them.

Courtesy of Politico:  

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, responding to calls for an independent investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia, said Saturday that the House would not engage in a “witch hunt” and that “at this point, there’s nothing there.” 

“This is almost like McCarthyism revisited,” the California Republican told reporters at the California Republican Party’s spring convention in Sacramento. “We’re going to go on a witch hunt against, against innocent Americans …?”

“At this point, there’s nothing there,” Nunes said. “Once we begin to look at all the evidence, and if we find any American that had any contact with Russian agents or anybody affiliated with the Russian government, then we’ll be glad to, at that point, you know, subpoena those people before the House and let the legislative branch do its oversight and then we would recommend it over to, you know, the appropriate people.” 

He added, “But at this point … we can’t go on a witch hunt against the American people, any American people who have not had any contact, just because they appeared in a news story.” 

Interesting phrase, "witch hunt." I wonder if he spoke out as passionate against the Benghazi witch hunt, or the private server witch hunt?

Never mind, I already know the answer.

No this is no witch hunt.

This is an investigation to determine the fate of a nation.

Update: By the way it is now an investigation that even George W. Bush supports:  

Former President George W. Bush said Monday “we all need answers” on the extent of contact between President Donald Trump’s team and the Russian government, and didn’t rule out the idea that a special prosecutor could be necessary to lead an investigation. 

The Republican also defended the media’s role in keeping world leaders in check, noting that “power can be addictive,” and warned against immigration policies that could alienate Muslims. 

“I am for an immigration policy that’s welcoming and upholds the law,” Bush told NBC’s “Today” show.

Okay well that is certainly going to complicate the Republicans attempts to stonewall this thing. 

Former presidents do not typically endorse investigations of current presidents from their own party.

Spicey is snatching the phones of White House staff in order to find leakers. Can you say "paranoia?"

Courtesy of Politico:  

Last week, after Spicer became aware that information had leaked out of a planning meeting with about a dozen of his communications staffers, he reconvened the group in his office to express his frustration over the number of private conversations and meetings that were showing up in unflattering news stories, according to sources in the room. 

Upon entering Spicer’s second floor office, staffers were told to dump their phones on a table for a “phone check," to prove they had nothing to hide.

Spicer, who consulted with White House counsel Don McGahn before calling the meeting, was accompanied by White House lawyers in the room, according to multiple sources. There, he explicitly warned staffers that using texting apps like Confide -- an encrypted and screenshot-protected messaging app that automatically deletes texts after they are sent -- and Signal, another encrypted messaging system, was a violation of the Federal Records Act, according to multiple sources in the room. 

The phone checks included whatever electronics staffers were carrying when they were summoned to the unexpected follow-up meeting, including government-issued and personal cell phones.

My favorite part of this story is that it ALSO leaked out, which means that Spicey is going to lose his shit that his attempts to stop leaks was also leaked to the press.

This is really starting to feel like Hitler's final days in the bunker.

They know the end is coming and they have already started to suspect and distrust those around them.

Someday all of this is going to make a great book.

Though they will probably put it in the Fiction section since nobody will believe it could have really happened this way.

The French want Obama to lead them. Seriously, who can blame them?

Courtesy of CNN: 

Could France elect Barack Obama president? Not really -- but that's not stopping the organizers of Obama17, a guerrilla campaign trying to entice the former U.S. president to head to Paris. 

"It's totally crazy, but the cool thing is that once you get past that, you start thinking that maybe it's possible. Who cares that he's not French? He's Barack Obama," one of the campaign organizers told CNN. 

They've launched a website and they put up 500 posters of Obama around Paris last weekend, said the organizer. He asked to be identified only as Antoine. 

They're hoping to get 1 million people to sign a petition urging Obama to run.

This can't happen of course, but some citizens in France are panicking because they are on the verge of electing their own version of Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen.

Hopefully they will be luckier than we were, and THEIR voters will be a little smarter.