Monday, October 16, 2017

A Trump Mélange: Empathy and Its Lack, Health Care and Judeo-Christian Values

A neat title, eh?  I keep trying to learn more fancy English words, and mélange is the word for the day.  Coleslaw would have been good, too, because it's a bit the way Trump's brain seems to work.  In any case, the point is to show the vast reaches of the damage he is causing by going chop-chop-chop on varying fields, from American health care to American basic political norms and even stomping on such basic human values as empathy.

This is going to be fun.

1.  First, note how Trump must be dragged kicking and screaming into noticing the pain and suffering of anyone else?  Puerto Rico, anyone?  Remember how he was just going to lie down and have grapes peeled for him while Puerto Rico drowned? 

Or, if you prefer, remember how he was playing his fiddle while Rome burned?  As an aside, I'm developing a lot of empathy for those who had to live under the power of emperors Nero and Caligula.  Empathy:  That thing Trump lacks completely.

His lack of reaction to the death of four US soldiers in Niger has been similarly odd:

On Saturday October 7, the day the body of 25-year-old Army Sgt. La David Johnson was returned to Dover Air Force Base after he was killed in an ISIS ambush in Niger, President Donald Trump was golfing. 
From another angle the events in Niger would have been the new Benghazi, had Hillary Clinton been the current president, right?  But Trump couldn't be bothered to say anything about this at all, until he was goaded into it.

And what do we get then?  This:

President Trump on Monday claimed former President Obama and other past presidents didn't call the families of fallen soldiers.
Trump made the remark after being asked about the four U.S. soldiers killed in Niger last week. 
The president said he planned to call the parents and families of those who were killed, something he said he has done "traditionally."
Does that exchange remind you of anything?  Anything at all?  How about two children squabbling, an adult telling them to behave, and one of them grumpily whining:  "He started it!?"  Well, Trump lied in that statement.

This, my friends, is the man tens of millions of Americans thought would be a great choice to steer one of the most powerful countries on earth.

Some psychologists and psychiatrists have suggested that he suffers not only from pathological narcissism and impulsive behavior borderline personality disorder, but also from total lack of empathy.

2.  Or perhaps the reverse of empathy?  What is the reverse of empathy?  Schadenfreude?  Sadism?  The idea that you win when others have been stomped to the ground by your little feet shod in golden slippers?

Trump's clear desire to shred the Affordable Care Act completely, and with whatever means possible, is going to result in a lot of suffering

With a breathtaking disregard for the immediate impact it would have on millions of Americans who will lose coverage or pay more for less, he announced last week that the federal government would stop making cost-sharing reduction reimbursements to insurers. These critical payments reduce out-of-pocket costs for the poorest among those who rely on coverage through the state insurance marketplaces.

The effects of this perverse executive action will be enormous and destructive, rippling through the insurance markets, the health care system and the economy. As the Congressional Budget Office and other experts have warned, insurance premiums in the marketplaces could increase by 20 percent or more. Some insurers will pull out, destabilizing markets further. Because rates will be higher, the federal government will pay more in tax credit subsidies that help consumers afford their monthly premiums. These higher government costs will increase the federal deficit by $194 billion over 10 years.

His reaction to all this teaches us a lot about the mind under that orange hair:

President Trump on Monday blasted ObamaCare, saying it is "dead" and "finished."
"ObamaCare is finished. It's dead. It's gone," Trump said during a Cabinet meeting.
"You shouldn't even mention it, it's gone. There is no such thing as ObamaCare anymore. It is a — and I said this years ago — it's a concept that couldn't have worked."
Don't you just love how his unconscious inserted "dead" into that rant?  Because "dead" certainly is one of the consequences of his executive order stopping tax credit subsidies to the poorer customers in the markets.

It might be a good idea at this point to remind him of the reason for the ACA in the first place:  Tens of millions of Americans had no health insurance before the ACA, and that is what he wishes us to return to:  A world where the haves and have-nots are clearly differentiated in their probabilities of death from preventable causes.

3.  Finally, we have just had the annual Values Voter Summit where conservatives and fundamentalists praise each other for their intolerant and Old Testamentish values.  That meeting is a slightly more civilized version of the Taliban having a round of nice discussions about how to stone adulterous women or how to best execute gays or Lesbians.


Trump spoke to those values voters at the summit:

President Donald Trump dove into America's culture wars on Friday, touting his administration for "returning moral clarity to our view of the world" and ending "attacks on Judeo-Christian values."
Trump, nine months into his presidency, has found it harder to get things done than the ease with which he made promises on the campaign trail, making speeches to adoring audiences like Friday's in Washington key to boosting the President's morale. And the audience at the Values Voter Summit, an annual socially conservative conference, didn't fail to deliver.
"We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values," Trump said to applause, before slamming people who don't say "Merry Christmas."
Such fun!  Guess what Trump said right after the above quoted paragraph?  That he hoped for tax cuts before Christmas as a present!  Well, he pretended that the tax cuts would go to hard-working Americans,  even though they will almost completely go to the very rich.

So are tax cuts a Judeo-Christian value?

Several people online have demanded that Trump lists those Judeo-Christian values.  I tend to think that he has the Old Testament values in mind, the kind of values which include male supremacy and the approval of slavery, and, by the way, the kinds of values which Islam also shares with Christianity and Judaism.

I very much doubt that he had in mind Jesus's advice to turn the other cheek, to love thy neighbor as thyself or to give the emperor what belongs to the emperor and God what belongs to God.  Neither did he have in mind this when he decided to kill the ACA:

34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’