Project and Deflect – and a Call to Action for Obamacare

Donald Trump told us on Saturday that he’d share his great secret knowledge of hacking either yesterday or today. Is anyone actually holding their breath? The New York Times published its usual Transition Briefing this morning, and there’s just so much wrong it makes me want to scream. Here are the bullet points:

■ President-­elect Donald J. Trump appears to side with the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over United States intelligence agencies.

■ Mr. Trump finds something “very strange” about his intelligence briefing on Friday — even though the White House says it was always planned for Friday.

■ Mr. Trump will hold his first news conference as president-­elect on Jan. 11 – at least that’s the plan.

Yep, the man who will be dependent on our intelligence agencies spends an inordinate amount of time trashing them. He takes the word of Julian Assange over the results of their investigations. No chance at all that will come back to bite him. And us, by extension.

He’s now claiming that intelligence officials have “delayed” his briefing on the hacking until Friday, although those officials say that’s when it was originally scheduled. Something tells me he’s looking for an excuse to put off his great revelations, even though he already knows “things that other people don’t know.” Yeah, sure he does. The man doesn’t even use email. I bet he wouldn’t know HTML code if it bit him…well, you get the idea.

He also continues to exaggerate the “terrible things” that were discovered in the leaked DNC emails. No, Donna Brazile shouldn’t have given the Clinton campaign a heads-up on a debate question, but it had to be the most obvious question ever: someone from Flint was going to ask why the government wasn’t doing more to get the lead out of the city’s water? Who would ever have anticipated that? CNN fired Donna Brazile even though they kept former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on the payroll while he continued to stay in close touch with Trump and receive checks from the campaign for “strategy consulting”. Are we really supposed to believe he didn’t serve as a two-way conduit of information?

This is all part of Trump’s ongoing “project and deflect” strategy that served him so well during the campaign. He preemptively slandered the highly-rated Clinton Foundation with accusations that only turned out to be true of his own foundation. By the time the truth came out, he’d managed to convince far too many people that up was down, left was right, and right was wrong. It’s a strategy he has used over and over with great success. He took to heart the saying about a lie going around the world before the truth gets its shoes on, and we let him.

acaOf course, I – and the Times – have somewhat buried the lede that all this distraction surrounds his support for repealing Obamacare. For EIGHT YEARS, we’ve heard “repeal and replace”, but we’ve never been told what the replacement will be. Now Congress wants to “repeal” and defund but delay implementation for some undefined period of time. This make NO sense. It will leave health insurance markets in chaos and, more importantly, hurt the people who need coverage most. Speaker Paul Ryan says he wants to “create a transition and bridge so that no one is left out in the cold,” but he won’t tell us what we’ll be transitioning and bridging TO. What’s his plan, to repackage Obamacare (which had similarities to a Heritage Foundation reform plan until a Democratic administration implemented it) and rename it Trumpcare?

Whether or not you purchase your insurance through an Obamacare exchange, we all benefit from the end of lifetime limits and exclusions for pre-existing conditions. The ability to keep kids up to the age of 26 on family policies has been a great thing for many of us. These aspects are popular, but they won’t work without the less popular individual mandate – an idea that the Heritage Foundation championed until it was included in Obamacare. It doesn’t take detailed knowledge of the health insurance market to recognize that spreading the risk over a larger pool of people is necessary to help keep costs under control. Insurance companies *are* in business to make profits, after all, even if they claim to be non-profits (I’m looking at you, Blue Cross).

While I think it’s important to call out Donald Trump’s lies and misrepresentations and whatever the Wall Street Journal decides to call them, the most important thing to do today is to call your Congress members and tell them you oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, at least without a legitimate plan to replace it. Don’t know the numbers? Click HERE  and HERE to find them. It’s just a couple minutes out of your day that might make a big difference. At least it will be more productive than sitting around waiting for Trump’s promised press conference.

Happy 2017?

Today we ring in a new year, or, as has been pointed out numerous times in the past few days, a human construct that is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. I’ve seen people doing their best to find something about 2016 to celebrate, and there are certainly things for which I am grateful: family, friends, home, and the ability to babble on the internet as much and as often as I want. That last may be in question this year if Our Dear Leadertm decides to crack down on things that hurt his tiny feelings dissent. Let’s hope not.

2017-01-01 11.13.44.jpgThis year it will be the small things that make me happy. Today I met an adorable springer spaniel puppy named Annabelle. She chewed on everything – my fingers, her leash, her person’s shoe. At one point she even grabbed the handle of her leash and walked herself. I think she has the right basic approach. Go for what you want and don’t worry too much about what others think. However, she still needs to learn that it isn’t okay to hurt others along the way. I wish I thought Our Dear Leadertm had learned that lesson in his 70 years of life.

It’s nice to spend some time at the beach with my Dear Husband, even if we’re mostly hanging out watching football. It will be good to get home and see the children before #3 Daughter goes back to college. Yes, the nest is empty at our house, although we are happy to have temporary residents when they need a place to crash. We downsized this past summer, moving from a very Republican neighborhood where we’d lived for 22 years to a very Democratic neighborhood where the neighbors are friendly and appreciate our candidate signs.

I’m not making any resolutions this year. No point in pretending I’ll stick with them. But I do plan to write a lot and walk the dogs as much as I can and snuggle with the cats and try to figure out better ways to cope with chronic pain. I’ll push back at every opportunity when Trump and the Republicans in Congress try to implement policies that will hurt my neighbors, wherever those neighbors may be. That’s a bare minimum, and it may be all I can manage.

What are your plans for 2017?

Donald Trump: God’s Chosen President?

trumpchosenbygodI can’t decide whether it’s more funny or sad to watch a certain segment of Christian try to hold up Donald Trump as a fine example of the faith. Some of them really believe God intervened in the election to prevent lifelong Christian Hillary Clinton from becoming president – in favor of a man who brags about grabbing women “by the pussy” and says he’s never asked God for forgiveness because he doesn’t “bring God into that picture”.

Last night, I was reading some comments on Facebook and came across one guy who quotes lots of scripture and is totally convinced that Trump is indeed going to make America great again. He was asked repeatedly which century he’d like to go back to in order to recover America’s greatness. When he finally responded, he said, “The century that Jesus was born is my personal favorite.” Really? Let’s overlook for now that the USA didn’t exist in the century that Jesus was born. It was a time of incredible hardship for the people of Israel – they were living under a foreign dictatorship, unable to practice their faith as they wanted (those moneychangers in the Temple were there to rip them off, not help them out), and faced with torture and a horribly cruel form of execution if they rocked the boat. Women and children were property (thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife or his house or his servants or his ox or ass…you get the point). There was no Facebook where people like him could spout off.

trumpassaultchristianityI’m pretty sure what this guy really wants is a return to the days when rich white (nominally) Christian men ruled the world and everyone else “knew their place”. That’s what Trump and his billionaire’s club cabinet picks seem to aspire to. Trump has said and done nothing to make me believe he has any real relationship with the Middle Eastern Jewish rabbi who said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Good news to the poor. Freedom for the prisoners. Healing for the sick. Empowerment of the oppressed. These are nowhere to be found in the Trump Doctrine. How can Christians claim him as one of their own? How can they reconcile his policy proposals with the words of Jesus?

Part of the quote below has been widely attributed to President Jimmy Carter, but according to Snopes it was actually John Fugelsang in 2013.

Congressman Stephen Fincher, a Republican from Tennessee, just took the Bible so far out of context he had to apply for a visa.

Fincher is a fierce opponent of food aid for poor Americans. You know, like Jesus. He recently fought to cut $4.1 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. If you only watch Fox, that means ‘food stamps.’ And thanks to the fine work of Fincher and his colleagues, 2 million working American families, children and seniors have already been cut off from food assistance.

So during a recent House agricultural committee debate, he decided to show how Christian it is to turn your back on unemployed suffering Americans by quoting one of the favorite Bible passages of revoltingly fake right-wing Christians — 2 Thessalonians 3:10 — “anyone unwilling to work should not eat.”

Fincher and the GOP … cut services for the poor and taxes for the rich. And it’s a free country. They’re allowed. But if you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian values. Because you don’t. And that’s why representative Fincher is our ‘revoltingly fake Christian of the week’!

And all I can say to that is AMEN.

Don’t Get Fooled Again

The New York Times published some excellent graphics yesterday of Donald Trump’s potential conflicts of interest. It’s a good thing for us to see these, because otherwise we can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume. The conflicts are so numerous and so massive that we’re in danger of shutting down under the deluge, and we can’t do that if we want to maintain any integrity within the federal government. Here’s one example: Trump’s new hotel in Washington DC, which is located in a building that is leased from the General Services Administration. The lease forbids any elected official from being part of or benefiting from it. Not only will Trump benefit from the business in general, but the hotel has been marketing itself to foreign diplomats as the place to stay when they’re in town.

Trump, whether purposefully or simply by some low cunning instinct, is doing his best to distract from his corruption with stupid tweets and a victory tour, and Congressional leaders have made it clear, at least for now, that Trump’s business conflicts are a-okay with them. We need to keep our collective eye on the ball.

Don’t let the deluge distract us from the individual raindrops.


Donald Trump: I Was Just Kidding about That Blind Trust

Okay, that’s not a direct quote, but Donald Trump pretty much put to rest today any hope that he will separate himself from his business while he’s President:

Mr. Trump brushed aside questions about conflicts arising from his business dealings, declaring that “the law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”

He said it would be extremely difficult to sell off his businesses because they are real estate holdings. He also noted that he had turned over the management of the businesses to his children. “If it were up to some people,” he said, “I would never, ever see my daughter Ivanka again.”

Though he repeated his assertion that his company was “so unimportant to me relative to what I’m doing,” Mr. Trump acknowledged that the value of his luxury hotel in Washington had been driven up by his election victory. The Trump brand, he said, was now “hotter.”

Mr. Trump suggested that under the law, “In theory I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There’s never been a case like this.”

In other words, “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” Thank you, President Nixon, for providing Mr. Trump with that out.

Mr. Trump also seems to believe that his supporters assumed he was lying when he promised to put his business into a blind trust or something resembling one and let his kids run it:

Of course, we know better now. As President-Elect, he has met with Indian business partners, spoken with the Japanese Prime Minister and Argentinian President with his daughter (you know, the one who is running the business) right by his side, and told Member of Parliament Nigel Farage to help stir up opposition to offshore wind farms like the one he thinks blocks his view from his golf course in Scotland. He holds the lease on the new Trump hotel in DC and has thrown a party encouraging visitng diplomats to stay there. He owes hundreds of millions to a Chinese government owned bank. He owes money to Deutsche Bank, which is facing a multi-billion dollar settlement with the US Department of Justice because of fraudulent mortgage practices. Nope, no conflict there. And the list goes on.

The Wall Street Journal called today for Trump to liquidate his holdings, give the assets to his children, and cut off all communication with them regarding the business (no direct link because the editorial is behind a pay firewall):

“One reason 60 million voters elected Donald Trump is because he promised to change Washington’s culture of self-dealing, and if he wants to succeed he’s going to have to make a sacrifice and lead by example…If Mr. Trump doesn’t liquidate, he will be accused of a pecuniary motive any time he takes a policy position,” the Journal said. “Mixing money and politics could undermine his pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ In Washington.”

I hope those 60 million voters aren’t holding their collective breath. Welcome to the kleptocracy.