Saturday, November 12, 2016

Voters Were Fed Up With LIars

I was told that those who voted for Trump were fed up with lying politicians, such as the crooked and vicious Killery, and that's why so many voted for Trump, the super-liar.

And because he is an outsider.  Only outsiders fly in their own helicopters and own several houses where those can land.

But now we are told that Killery isn't even a killery!

In his first television interview since winning the presidential election, Donald Trump described on CBS News' "60 Minutes" his phone call with Hillary Clinton and said that the former secretary of state is strong and smart.
"It was a lovely call, and it was a tough call for her, I mean, I can imagine. Tougher for her than it would have been for me. I mean, for me, it would have been very, very difficult," Trump sad, referring to Clinton's call after Trump secured victory. "She couldn’t have been nicer. She just said, 'Congratulations, Donald, well done.'"
"And I said, 'I want to thank you very much, you were a great competitor.' She is very strong and very smart," he added in the interview set to air in full on Sunday.
The lies, they are never-ending.

Also check my post below for the evidence of Donald-the-weathervane.  He is running away from his wider base as fast as he can, straight into the arms of the money boyz and Christianists.  But he has not said anything about his narrow base of white supremacists misogynists, the people who just might be doing all that recent harassing of minorities and white women.  I haven't heard a peep from him about the importance of respect and so on.

The Morphing Face of Donald Trump. Or How Quickly Campaign Promises Are Forgotten

Now imagine this:  All those wonderful promises that Donald Trump made have already started to disappear or to morph into your usual ultra-right-wing fanaticism.  And he has been president-elect for four full days!

1.  Trump campaigned against lobbyists, but they are part of his transitioning team.   He vowed to drain the swamp that is Washington.  Instead, he is petting all the swamp critters and inviting them into the White House:

In the final weeks of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, he pledged to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. by, among other things, introducing tough new restrictions on lobbying.
“I am proposing a package of ethics reforms to make our government honest once again,” Trump said during the October 17 appearance in Green Bay, Wisconsin where he first used the “drain the swamp” line.
It appears Trump is already backtracking on that pledge. Politico reports that “lobbyists are all over” Trump’s transition team. Those lobbyists include Cindy Hayden of tobacco company Altria; Michael Torrey, owner of a lobbying firm representing the American Beverage Association; Steve Hart, chairman of the Williams & Jensen firm; and Michael McKenna, who lobbies on behalf of Dow Chemical.

2.  Trump's transitioning website has had some careful alterations.  For instance, he never campaigned on the privatization of Medicare, but now his site tells us that Medicare will be "modernized," a euphemism for privatization.

3.  And a new insertion concerns the rights of all health care professionals to control the behavior of slutty women and to determine exactly how they should suffer while receiving health care.  The so-called "conscience clause" is an integral part of the religious right wing's demands, and Trump is going along with them.  I've read that ninety percent of them voted for the man with three serial wives and several additional mistresses, perhaps, because gods send weird messengers.

But note that Trump did NOT campaign on that issue.

4.  Neither did he vow to strongly cater for egg-Americans, but his transitioning site promises that his government will

Protect innocent human life from conception to natural death, including the most defenseless and those Americans with disabilities

I'm not sure if that means the immediate banning of all abortions for any reason whatsoever, once the Supreme Court has been stuffed with Christianists, but that's the most likely outcome.  As an aside, it seems that only innocent human lives will be protected, and only if they die in a natural way.

Very bad framing, all that, though of course I get the subtext:  That euthanasia is out and that egg-Americans have not yet murdered anyone.  Wonder what he plans to do about those egg-Americans who are not in the soon-to-be-socialized wombs of this country's womb-men.

5.  Finally, remember how Trump railed against Wall Street and bankers in his campaign speeches?  Only a few days later:

Trump’s reliance on insiders goes beyond lobbyists. His financial advisory team is full of veteran Wall Streeters such as former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin, the Wall Street Journal reports. Both Mnuchin and former JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon are reportedly in the mix to be Trump’s Treasury Secretary.

All this makes perfect sense from Trump's angle:  He gave the speeches he needed to win.  Once he won, the ideas in those speeches had done their job which was to secure him a victory.  They have no further use value for him, and are thus tossed out with the garbage.  Because he doesn't care about those promises at all, and neither does he care about those who voted for him.

The promises are replaced with things Trump has been persuaded to include to satisfy the arch-conservatives and Christianists among the Republican base.  It looks to me that someone is influencing him.

Very very sad.  Humongously sad!  Sad in a bigly way, especially for those who believed Trump's messages.

But perhaps even sadder for the rest of us.


Friday, November 11, 2016

And Here We Go, Indeed: The Death of Medicare

Talking Points Memo tells us that Paul Ryan intends to phase out Medicare and replace it with a private insurance plan for the elderly.  The New York Magazine tells us a little more:  That Ryan is lying and just wants to kill Medicare.  Trump didn't talk about Medicare in his campaign, so there's no way to know if he likes Ryan's idea or not.  But here's the gist from a Fox interview with Bret Baier:

“Your solution has always been to put things together, including entitlement reform,” asks Baier, using Republican code for privatizing Medicare. Ryan replies, “If you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, you have to address those issues as well. … Medicare has got some serious issues because of Obamacare. So those things are part of our plan to replace Obamacare.”
Ryan tells Baier, “Because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke.” This is false. In fact, it’s the complete opposite of the truth. The Medicare trust fund has been extended 11 years as a result of the passage of Obamacare, whose cost reforms have helped bring health care inflation to historic lows. It is also untrue that repealing Obamacare requires changing traditional Medicare. But Ryan clearly believes he needs to make this claim in order to sell his plan, or probably even to convince fellow Republicans to support it.

What would it mean if Medicare was replaced by private insurance?  Would the elderly get a lump sum government subsidy, to take and to turn into a private insurance policy?  And what would the size of that subsidy be?  What would the private insurance cover?

And how would the premia be set?

Remember this:  The elderly have very high health care costs, on average.  If they are going to be put into their own class, the premium for that class will be high, and the subsidies needed to cover those premia will also be high.*

Would that be better than the current system, in any case?

The answer is a resounding no, because Medicare has lower administration costs than private insurance plans and because its centralized purchasing power means cost savings to tax payers.

Because those articles don't tell us about the subsidy the elderly would get from the government it's hard to know what else might happen.  For instance, the subsidy might be set too low to cover a good insurance package, and there wouldn't be that much the elderly could do about it.  In any case, I think the idea of the frailest elderly having to shop for an insurance plan that would accept them is macabre, because insurance plans have a strong incentive to keep the high-risk users out.


* If, on the other hand, the insurers are forced to offer them insurance with the same average premium as is used more generally, the premia will go up for everyone enrolled in that plan.

My Election Feelings

I move slowly in a nightmare world where the United States has chosen as its leader a man with a severe personality disorder, an extremely thin skin, fingers which itch for the nuclear button, utter lack of expertise and knowledge the president is supposed to have, and arrogance combined with a thorough lack of interest in any values or principles that are not about his own glorification.    That is the short version.

An even shorter version is that now anything could happen, anything at all.

That all the branches of the government are in Republican hands could mean that the welfare state will be dismantled, but even if it does not, the frailest and most needy among us will certainly suffer, while tax cuts go to fatten the already fat wallets of the one percent.

I sincerely doubt that those who voted for Trump for reasons of economic desperation will find any improvement in their status.  It's more likely that their handicapped children will be stripped of any government support they are getting now, and that grandma or granddad will have to move in with them.  It's more likely that corporations will gain and that workers will lose, all over the country, because Trump will abolish as many regulations that he can, possibly including any that have to do with the safety and security of jobs.  And jobs returning to the US on Trump's say-so?  I have a bridge for sale to those who believe that he can accomplish that.

Naturally I want to be wrong.  I want Trump to be something greater and better than the man I have learned to know during his campaign:  A miserly mind, taking insult from everything and everyone, writing down enemy lists, proposing things which are against the Constitution, seeming, at least, to suggest that suing journalists will be something he is going to do.  And the first tweet he has made since becoming President-Elect (and being allowed back to access his Twitter account by his minders) is yet another childish, petulant complaint about the media.

As R. McGeddon wrote in Eschaton comments:

He's going to get the nuclear codes, while his staff couldn't trust him with a Twitter account?

That is the roots of my fear, and fearful I am.  Trump is too erratic, too unpredictable, simply too frightening as the president of the United States. What would trigger him?  What would he react to in international politics with threats and bullying?   I cannot predict him, at all, but some of the choices he has made suggests to me that he plans to drive this world to its end, if necessary, for his personal comfort, and he also plans to follow the old Republican model of appointing those who hate a particular government department to run it.  To the ground, that is.

Finally, an even longer and more personal reaction:

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Remember When Trump Spoke About the Election Being Rigged?

Well, it was, in a way, because this was the first election without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act.  Ari Berman writes this about Wisconsin:

 For example, 27,000 votes currently separate Trump and Clinton in Wisconsin, where 300,000 registered voters, according to a federal court, lacked strict forms of voter ID. Voter turnout in Wisconsin was at its lowest levels in 20 years and decreased 13 percent in Milwaukee, where 70 percent of the state’s African-American population lives, according to Daniel Nichanian of the University of Chicago.

And more generally:

 On Election Day, there were 868 fewer polling places in states with a long history of voting discrimination, like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina. These changes impacted hundreds of thousands of voters, yet received almost no coverage. In North Carolina, as my colleague Joan Walsh reported, black turnout decreased 16 percent during the first week of early voting because “in 40 heavily black counties, there were 158 fewer early polling places.”
Even if these restrictions had no outcome on the election, it’s fundamentally immoral to keep people from voting in a democracy. The media devoted hours and hours to Trump’s absurd claim that the election was rigged against him, while spending precious little time on the real threat that voters faced.

The ability to vote is fundamental for democracy to exist.  To take away that ability, to make voting much harder in some places and some people, that is not democracy.  The Republican Party is using an anti-democratic strategy to keep those likely to vote for Democrats out of the voting booth.  

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

President-Elect Trump's Plan For The First Hundred Days

Is ambitious!  Just on the first day Trumpmas:

Laying out the aims of his administration, Trump said he will “repeal and replace ‘Obamacare,’” “immediately suspend the admission of Syrian refugees,” “order a review of every single regulation issued over the last eight years,” “begin lifting all regulations that are hurting our workers and our businesses,” “terminate every single unconstitutional executive order signed by President Obama,” “restore the rule of law to our land,” “begin implementing plans for construction of a wall along our southern border” and “get rid of” international gangs of thugs and drug cartels — all on his first day.

Repealing Obamacare means that Trump will bring back what existed before Obamacare, albeit in a more stringent version.  There will be Health Savings Accounts!  They are subsidized in the direct proportion of the tax-payer's actual tax rate, so the rich get larger subsidies than the poor.  And of course the rich can afford to save much more for later ICU expenses.  But very few of us can save enough for even a week in the intensive care ward, sigh.

That will really really help those voters who chose Trump because of their dire financial status.

Immediately suspending the admission of Syrian refugees is good for international relations.  Other countries will admire the United States for its generosity and kindness toward those who lost everything.

I adore the idea of lifting all regulations that hurt workers and businesses, because what hurts workers and businesses is not necessarily the same thing (so how does one choose?) and because it would be easy to insert almost all regulations, whatever their benefits,  into that basket, to be tossed out.

The last three points (about restoring law-and-order, the wall against Mexico and the one-day-operation of getting rid of all international gangs of thugs and drug cartels) are just so much hot air coming out of the President-Elect's mouth, and law-and-order is conservative code for a societal pyramid where some perch on top and others silently obey.

But clearly Donald is going to work very hard.  After the first day he will start fixing the country's place in the world and the climate crisis:

Trump has said he will renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal, call a NATO summit to update the organization’s mission and rebalance members’ “financial commitments,” cancel payments to the United Nations’ climate-change programs and divert that money to domestic infrastructure improvement.
At least we will have nice new streets when we gag to death from air pollution.

Fascinating, though, to see what the Trump voters will get on the first days of Trumpmas:  Health Savings Accounts and no more "Mexicans."  Now consider that 33% of Latinos and 26% of Latinas voted for Trump.  Granted, that's considerably less than the equivalent white (Anglo, I believe?) percentages of 63% and 53%, but at least the latter group isn't directly attacking itself.

The rest of the first-day-presents go mostly to firms who will be allowed to rampage freely on those nice new streets. 

The Morning After

And the sun rose!  For a while I thought it might not, given the other "black swan" experiences of yesterday.  Donald Trump is now the most powerful politician on earth.  He also seems to be an utterly unpredictable one, and that is frightening.  What will he do?  His list of impossible promises doesn't add up.

Will he really abolish the ACA and replace it with subsidized savings accounts (aka no insurance for anyone but the very rich)?  How is he going to reconcile the immense tax cuts he has promised with his pledge not to cut Social Security or Medicare?  How many wars will he initiate?  How is he going to force firms to return jobs to the United States?  What international treaties does he plan to break?  How is he going to build that wall and make Mexico pay for it?

Nobody knows the answer to those questions.  Whatever I might think about George Walker Bush, at least he was a politician who worked within the framework of his party, and that made him somewhat predictable.  Trump is a loose cannon, a man with the thinnest of skins who takes umbrage at everything, whose reactions cannot be easily predicted, whose skills for the job he has won are non-existent.

No wonder the financial markets have jitters.  And no wonder many of us are shell-shocked.

None of the polls I read before the election  foretold the events of last night.  Why was that the case? 

I have been told that the white working class turned up to vote in much larger numbers (for Trump)*, that the base of the Democratic party did not turn up in sufficiently large numbers,  and that something akin to the Bradley effect might have operated with those Republican voters who were going to vote for Trump, come hell or high water, but weren't going to admit to it when pollsters queried them.  Other explanations are no doubt possible.

Then, of course, the Republicans will also dominate the House and the Senate, and will nominate new Justices to the Supreme Court.  Those Justices are very likely to be either religious fanatics of the Christian type and/or in the pockets of large corporations.

At least one exit poll study has already appeared.  Treat it with some caution, given that it is based on exit polls, not actual votes.   Still, it offers some data on the demographics of Clinton and Trump voters.  For instance, here's the split by race and sex:

Note that white men went overwhelmingly for Trump and that the majority of white women did, too.  That is a pattern familiar to us from prior elections:  The base of the Republican Party consists of whites, especially of older whites.

But this is fascinating:  See how inside each racial or ethnic group more men than women voted for Trump?**

All the tables in that survey are interesting.  I want to pick out the income table, because it raises some questions about the economic motivations Trump voters state they have:

Finally, this is a fun table:  How much Trump's treatment of women bothers the respondent in the survey:

So it goes.

Well, better buckle up, because we are in for some turbulence. 


* But note the income table later in this post.   It suggests that the Trump voters are not particularly economically disadvantaged.

** The same pattern is visible for Independents, too, and within each of the two major parties slightly more men than women chose Trump. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Logic According to the Trump Campaign

Roger Stone does this hilarious shtick about Hillary Clinton being too old to run for president, about how she has no agenda at all, about her vindictiveness and so on.

It's good for a laugh, because all those things he mentions apply more to Trump than to Clinton:  He is older, he is tremendously vindictive and he has no realistic agenda of any kind.  Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has reams and reams of stuff on her policy proposals.

But watching that short video clip is a learning experience.  There are many folks in this country who watch crap like that day in and day out.  No wonder they live in an alternate reality.


Added later:  Of course what "too old" means for women and men in the mind of someone like Roger Stone is not the same thing.  Women need to be nubile to be seen, though not still heard.  Men just need to still breathe to be an acceptable age for presidency.

VOTE! And No Peeking!

These snapshots of Donald and Eric Trump voting remind us why voting by mail and similar otherwise excellent inventions might not always guarantee the integrity and privacy of one's vote:

From here.


Now, the Messrs Trump might not be peeking there, even though it looks like it, but I wish they had those curtained booths back.

Go vote if you haven't already.

Feel Good Election Stuff

Susan B. Anthony's grave has become a site for pilgrimages.  She worked for women's suffrage in the United States, and now her tombstone is covered with "I Voted" stickers.

The secret Facebook group Pantsuit Nation was created as a safe haven for those who support Hillary Clinton for president.  That such a safe haven is needed is worth a post or two, by the way.  At the present time it has over two million members.

This site, I Waited 96 Years,  gives pictures of women who were born before women could vote in the US of A.

Go Vote!

Monday, November 07, 2016

Rankings And Positions in Soccer at Harvard University

I'm sure you have come across the story already:  Harvard University 2012 men's soccer team decided to rank the incoming members of Harvard University's women's soccer team in terms of their fuckability or lack thereof.  These rankings were circulated online.

When this "scouting report" became public, Harvard suspended the men's team for the remainder of the season:

University president Drew Faust said in a statement on Thursday night that an investigation into the 2012 team found their “appalling” actions were not isolated to one year or the actions of a few, but appeared to be more widespread across the team and continued through the current season.

“The decision to cancel a season is serious and consequential, and reflects Harvard’s view that both the team’s behaviour and the failure to be forthcoming when initially questioned are completely unacceptable, have no place at Harvard, and run counter to the mutual respect that is a core value of our community,” Faust said.

I strongly recommend that you read the wonderful response by several players of the women's soccer team. Because those women are not mean-spirited, the response doesn't consist of producing equivalent rankings of the men whose "scouting report" resulted in these events.

But imagining such a reversed report is a learning experience.  Some guy's most basic physical characteristics are discussed online, possibly in very negative terms!  What's not to like about that?

A large group pondering whether a man is at all fuckable, whether he'd be best served with parsley, in a cream sauce or with an apple in his mouth,  all that is just innocent and intoxicating fun!  Besides, it's great for female bonding, for reminding everyone that men are meant for stud use, not for sports, and for demonstrating one's societal power over others.

So I am mean-spirited, sigh.  Do remember to vote.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

The Candidate of the FBI: One Donald Trump

Several articles have questioned why FBI decided to use the ten days or so before this election to tar the Hillary Clinton campaign with as many brushes as it could find.  Could this be politics?  Or just stern and impartial investigators following the tiniest letter of the law about when to publish new information?

I cannot tell.  But it turns out that last week's giant Clinton scandal has already fizzled to nothing, as Comey's most recent letter about the FBI investigation into Hitlery* demonstrates:

In other words, this new investigation has found nothing new, Hitlery won't be sent to prison or burned as a witch, at least yet.  For that you must wait until the impeachment rounds begin, should she win on Tuesday.

But isn't it delicious to see the FBI again in the J. Edgar Hoover terms?  A state within a state, a sovereign power with its own political goals?   The Guardian writes that the FBI is "Trumpland,"  where many agents openly discuss their desire to have Trump as their boss.  Vanity Fair tells one story about the hilarious happenings inside the FBI:

Throughout her campaign, Hillary Clinton has battled accusations of fostering a “pay for play” culture at the State Department, giving undue access to major Clinton Foundation donors. So far, Republicans have failed to find a smoking gun, but the narrative has served its purpose: tarnishing the public perception of the Democratic nominee and her family’s namesake charity. For this, no one deserves more credit than Peter Schweizer, Breitbart editor-at-large and the author of Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. The controversial, mostly discredited book has been held up by many as irrefutable proof of wrongdoing, or at least common venality, by the Clintons. It also found plenty of eager readers within the Federal Bureau of Investigation, The Wall Street Journal and New York Times report, galvanizing a number of F.B.I. agents to launch an investigation into the Clinton Foundation, based mostly on assertions made by Schweizer in the book.

Why is that hilarious?  Because the author himself admits that his book doesn't prove any wrongdoing:

The argument is certainly a compelling one. Even Schweizer—whom the Journal reports was interviewed on several occasions by the F.B.I. agents interested in the Clinton Foundation—has conceded that he does not have any “direct evidence” to prove that the Clintons have done anything beyond the pale. During an interview with ABC’s This Week in April 2015, the author said, “The smoking gun is the pattern of behavior,” and when pressed by host George Stephanopoulos, added, “It’s not up to an author to prove the crime.” 

I suffer from this odd naivete which assumes that people who work in, say, the FBI are actually trained in how to investigate evidence.  Then I wake up to news of this sort, and dark humor is the only good response.  But imagine someone launching an investigation just on the say-so of a propaganda book!  I've read enough of those books to know that you have to be very biased not to interrogate the evidence in them.

Then there's this tweet:

 That sentence may be the first one in which I love acronyms!


*  Hitlery is the endearment the Trump people use for Hillary Clinton.  Note that last week's campaign probably did what it was intended to do:  Stop some voters from bothering to vote for H. Clinton.