Let Them Eat Cake

Republican lawmakers revealed their Affordable Care Act replacement package, and it looks to be a mix of Medicaid rollbacks, program cuts, and an enormous tax write-off for insurance company CEOs. The GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is not surprisingly unpopular with Democrats. More surprisingly, the current plan is under fire from both moderate and conservative Republicans.

Fiscal Conservative oppose refundable tax credits, which they view as an entitlement. Moderate Republicans are justifiably concerned that millions of their constituents will lose their insurance. However, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz has a solution.

Don’t buy a new iPhone.

During a CNN interview, Mr. Chaffetz said, “Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice. So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjmfbhNQQxE

http://www.sltrib.com/home/5025328-155/story.html

https://catholicvote.org/6-reactions-to-the-obamacare-replacement-bill/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/06/politics/republicans-public-obamacare-plan/index.html

All the healthcare pros and cons aside, Jason Chaffetz is an asshole. Not only does he come off as a patronizing prick, Mr. Chaffetz compares buying a 700 dollar iPhone to paying thousands a year in healthcare costs. You would literally need to buy a new iPhone every month to make that argument stick.

http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/health-insurance-premiums.aspx

But what Mr. Chaffetz inadvertently does is nail the Republican world view regarding poverty. Poor people make poor decisions and choose to be poor. In Republican Land, the poor are dope smoking “welfare queens/kings” who waste money on expensive luxury items. They sit around all day dealing weed, playing video games, and fucking. Also, the poor live in the inner-city and are predominantly black.

 

And it is bullshit.

 

Capitalism’s dirty little secret is its dependence on cheap labor. You can’t have millionaires and billionaires without poor people doing actual work. A capitalistic system only produces a middle class if the workers can afford to buy the things they (and others) produce. Forcing choices between healthcare and consumption actually hurts consumption, which damages capitalism.

Republicans argue that high taxes penalize success and hard work. The implication being poor people don’t work hard. And while that may be true in some cases, most wealth is inherited. Donald Trump and his children aren’t rich because they worked hard. They’re the result of rich people fucking.

Subsidizing healthcare through wealth redistribution doesn’t punish success. And even if it does, who cares? If you raise taxes on the richest people in the country, the result is they are still the richest people in the country. It doesn’t impact their lifestyle. They don’t skip meals. They still live in mansions. They still have lots of fancy cars. They still wear designer clothes.

The only thing that happens is everyone else has access to a doctor.

Slate’s Nonsense

During today’s confirmation hearing of Rod Rosenstein, President Trump’s selection for the number two position at the Justice Department, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley criticized Minnesota Senator Al Franken over a perceived “gotcha question” Mr. Franken asked then Senator Jeff Sessions during his January confirmation hearing.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/03/07/video_al_franken_and_chuck_grassley_yelling_match_during_rod_rosenstein.html

This story comes from Slate, an online liberal/progressive magazine covering various political, international, social, and cultural topics. Personally, I don’t consider Slate a liberal or progressive. Like The Daily Beast and other supposedly liberal publications, Slate basically carries water for establishment Democrats.

My problem with this article is the labeling the interaction as “yelling” or a “blowup” when it isn’t anything more than Grassley whining. Seriously, the Senator from Iowa sounds like an old man bitching about cold oatmeal and kidney stones.

And this is the problem with our media. When whining passes for yelling, what does yelling really look like? What is hostile political discourse? Either they are obsessed titillating headlines aimed at generating hits, or they’re just as whinny as Mr. Grassley.

Wire Tap Tweets

In a series of early Saturday morning tweets, President Donald Trump accused former President Obama of wiretapping his Trump Tower phones prior to the November 2016 elections. The problem is, Mr. Trump has offered no evidence to support his accusations.

An even bigger problem is the timing of the tweets. Not the timing regarding the very real possibility Trump’s campaign worked with the Russians to win the election. I mean the actual time Mr. Trump’s tweets were sent.

3:35 AM: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

3:49 AM: “Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!”

3:52 AM: “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”

4:02 AM: “How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process,” Trump wrote. “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

The President of the United is wandering around the White House in the middle of the night rage tweeting.  And he has a habit of making crazy middle of the night tweets.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/03/04/trump-accuses-obama-wiretapping-him-before-election/98734316/

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/03/06/spicer-trump-may-not-accept-wiretap-investigation-results.html?source=TDB&via=FB_Page

https://www.yahoo.com/news/this-is-nixonwatergate-trump-accuses-obama-of-wire-tapping-trump-tower-before-election-131755678.html

It appears Mr. Trump pulled this story from Brietbart News, a far-right news organization. In February Mr. Trump referred terror attack in Sweden. The President was referring to an exchange between Fox News dick bag Tucker Carlson and documentary journalist Ami Horowitz. Mr. Horowitz, himself accused of misleading journalistic editing practices, claimed the Swedish government covers up violent crimes committed by Middle Eastern migrants.

Donald Trump is the leader of the free world, which includes a second-to-none intelligence apparatus. So why do his briefings consist of FOX News and Brietbart? If it didn’t show the undisciplined political and emotional bubble Mr. Trump lives in, it would be funny. Instead, it is just scary.

And for the record, a spokesman for Mr. Obama denied the  allegations.

 

Trump Voters Want Welfare

The theme of the 2016 Presidential race is a disenfranchised middle class, fed up with politics as usual, finally turned on the party elites. They elected Donald Trump, an unafraid political outsider who would bring his successful business acumen to the White House. And there may be some truth to that.

However, this race was more than a white middle class uprising.  It was a plea for a welfare state.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/24/politics/manchester-ohio-power-plants-closing-trump/index.html?sr=fbCNN022717manchester-ohio-power-plants-closing-trump0130PMVODtopLink&linkId=34922448

http://www.businessinsider.com/sam-altman-interview-trump-supporters-2017-2

http://www.snappytv.com/tc/3552348

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/11/02/trump-supporters-vastly-overestimate-unemployment-and-they-blame-politicians-for-it/?utm_term=.3537a4f89780

Trump supporters want government to save them. They want a welfare/workfare state where their jobs are guaranteed. They want a government that, despite changes in technology and the world economy, protects their way of life.

Trump voters are big government voters. They pay lip service to the free market bullshit spewed at them by FOX News, because they don’t understand what a viable free market is. They don’t understand how capitalism works.

They want the living wage their parents had. They want the house, car, and two-week vacation that once defined working America. But free trade, combined with weakened unions, means you can no longer pay a living wage for “burger flipper” skills.  And now they feel cheated by a “rigged” system.

And so the white middle class turned to the candidate that offered protection. They turned to big government and a welfare state.

Town Hall Stall

When Republicans gained control of Congress in 2010, it was due in no small part to the conservative populist movement now known as the Tea Party. This group adamantly opposed the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, and they were not afraid to show it. Their venting arena of choice – Democratic Town Halls.

Fast-forward to 2017. Republican Town Hall meetings similar to those in 2010 are taking place all over the country. Angry constituents are packing Town Halls to voice displeasure regarding a wide range of topics. However, a single theme runs through all these meetings.

Republican voters don’t want to lose their Obamacare.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/02/10/republican-townhalls-are-becoming-the-leading-edge-of-the-democratic-resistance/?utm_term=.1eb7f7318d16

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/13/politics/republican-town-hall-obamacare/index.html

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/katie-mcfarland-tom-cotton-response

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/tough-questions-private-events-republicans-recess

And for good reason. Despite a terrible roll-out, a 2015 CDC study based on Census data shows that, under the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate fell from 15.7% to 9.2%.

So after years running against the Affordable Care Act, Congressional Republicans are just now discovering their voters like it. I think Republican voters also like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and a host of other “socialistic” programs.

And Then There Was One

On 14 February 2017, the Brazilian Navy announced the São Paulo, the country’s only aircraft carrier, was to be decommissioned. In 2014, the Navy announced plans to modernize the carrier, but those plans proved impractical and too costly. The São Paulo’s decommissioning means the United States is now the only naval power in the Americas capable of fielding an aircraft carrier.

Originally commissioned in 1963, the São Paulo began life as the Foch, a French aircraft carrier. Brazil purchased the São Paulo in 2000 to replace the Minas Gerais, a former 1940s-era carrier acquired from Britain in 1960.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a25260/brazil-retiring-only-aircraft-carrier/

http://www.deagel.com/news/Brazilian-Navy-Selects-Sea-Ceptor-Missile-System-for-its-Tamandare-Class-Corvettes_n000013389.aspx

https://smokeandstir.org/2013/12/29/why-does-brazil-operate-an-aircraft-carrier/

http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2013/12/look-brazilian-navy/

Brazil’s mothballing of her only carrier doesn’t change the balance of power in the Americas. The United States currently operates 19 carriers, all more modern than the São Paulo. Since Brazil isn’t threatened by any regional naval powers, there isn’t an urgent need to project naval air power.

Despite no current pressing needs, the Brazilian Navy is looking to acquire two new carriers within the next ten years. However, the navy’s primary focus is creating a nuclear submarine program, and the expanded construction of Tamandaré corvettes. Both programs combined, cost less than it would to again update the fifty-seven year old São Paulo.

So until then, the United States will have the coolest toy boats in the Western Hemisphere.

Blackwater and Rice

Frontier Services Group (FSG) chairman Erik Prince is offering military style training to private Chinese security forces. The idea is to rain retired Chinese soldiers to protect China’s global corporate interests. According to FSG, their training would “help non-military personnel provide close protection security, without the use of arms.” And if arms aren’t involved, FSG doesn’t break American law prohibiting export of military services or equipment to China.

If Erik Prince’s name sounds familiar, it should. He is the founder of Blackwater, a private military contracting company synonymous with the Iraq War. From 1997 to 2010, Blackwater made 2 billion dollars in government contracts. Blackwater contractors were charged with gun running and murder. He is also the brother of now Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

https://theintercept.com/2016/03/24/blackwater-founder-erik-prince-under-federal-investigation/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamespoulos/2014/01/25/ex-blackwater-ceo-erik-prince-africa-neocolonial-with-china/#3568abcf46dc

http://brobible.com/life/article/blackwater-erik-prince-china/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/blackwater-security/

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/blackwater-chief-accused-murder-gun-running/story?id=8258915

First of all, why would you offer an “unarmed” protection service? And why would China want those services? And how will those skills be used? And why would an American firm provide training for an economic and military rival? Unless firearms training is included, this training is useless.

China is experiencing rapid economic expansion in Africa. That expansion needs protection, and not the unarmed kind. China’s military can’t protect those assets, but a cadre of trained contractors/mercenaries can. These contractors/mercenaries wouldn’t be answerable That cadre can also be used against American interests.

A politically well-connected entrepreneur collaborating with a country that has a terrible human rights record to training mercenaries. What can go wrong

Slow the Roll

It has been a slow start to Mr. Trump’s first 100 days. So slow, that Congressional Republicans are starting to worry. New administrations have a very narrow window to accomplish “big” agenda ideas, and the first 100 days set the tone. Despite a blizzard of Executive Orders, Republicans have little to show for their first month.

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-02-16/republicans-fret-over-slow-pace-of-congress-early-in-trump-term

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2017/0123/President-Trump-s-slow-start-Is-that-a-problem

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/317668-trump-agenda-off-to-slow-start-in-congress

Mr. Trump has very serious obstacles to his agenda.

First, he doesn’t have a political mandate. Despite his constant bragging about winning the Electoral College, those state wins were razor thin. He also lost the popular vote by almost three million. These reasons, combined with the lowest poll numbers of any president this early in his term, put Mr. Trump in a very precarious position.

Second, Mr. Trump keeps picking stupid fights. He can’t let the slightest perceived insult go. He is petty and vindictive. If he isn’t picking fights with the intelligence community or the judiciary branch, he is whining about Nordstrom’s decision to drop his daughter’s clothing line. This nonsense costs Mr. Trump a non-renewable resource – political capital.

Third, Democrats aren’t motivated to work with him. Progressive Democrats, feeling pressure from their base, have little incentive to work with Mr. Trump. In areas like environmental policy and abortion rights, there is no common ground. They have already been successful in delaying Cabinet nominees.

The truth is Mr. Trump campaigned as a Washington outsider, but he is really a Wall Street Republican. He isn’t a social conservative, which scares family value Republicans. talks a good game, and there is virtually nothing he and Progressives have in common.

The best plan for Democrats is to let Mr. Trump implode and drag Republicans with him in 2020.

Puzder’s Problems

Puzder’s Problems

The White House is being urged by Senate Republicans to pull Andrew Puzder nomination for Labor Secretary. Mr. Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc (Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Green Burrito, and Red Burrito) needs a minimum of 50 votes for confirmation. And that is dependent on Vice President Mike Pence casting a vote to break the tie.

Mr. Puzder faces serious opposition from Senate Democrats over his opposition to minimum-wage increases, the widespread labor-law violations, and employing an undocumented housekeeper. He also has answered to domestic abuse allegations dating back to the 1980s. Mr, Puzder’s ex-wife has since retracted those claims, but the damage is done.

http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2017-02-15/puzders-nomination-as-labor-secretary-in-serious-trouble

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/puzders-nomination-labor-secretary-serious-200043956.html

http://www.grubstreet.com/2016/03/carls-jr-robot-workforce.html

http://jezebel.com/5990397/put-it-in-my-mouth-a-history-of-disgusting-carls-jr-ads

I seriously can’t believe this guy is an option. The choice for Labor Secretary is a guy who advocates turning his restaurants into automated kiosk. These restaurants currently employ 20,000 people. He is also responsible for the gross “Put it in my Mouth” campaign, which basically equated eating hamburgers to sucking dick. And on a personal level, using a swimsuit clad Paris Hilton washing a Bentley to pimp fast food — have a little self respect.

In a Presidential cabinet defined by greed, misogyny, and spite, this guy is a cut above the rest. The troubling thought is if there is a bigger prick out there for the job, Mr. Trump will find him.

 

The QVC White House

On talk show train wreck Fox & Friends, Kellyanne Conway decided to shill for her boss’s daughter.  Mrs. Conway said, “It’s a wonderful line. I own some of it. I fully — I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.” They only problem is her boss is the President of the United States.

It may come as a shock to some, but the Office of Government Ethics prohibits using public office for private gain. This prohibition extends not only to those who hold office, but also their friends and relatives. It appears Presidential Advisor Kellyanne Conway violated this prohibition by going on television and encouraging Americans to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff”.

Ivanka is President Donald Trump’s oldest daughter. The “stuff” in question is her fashion apparel line. This line includes clothing, shoes, handbags, and other assorted accessories. And Mrs. Conway endorsement appears to be a response to the Nordstrom’s decision to drop Trump’s fashion line.

And Mrs. Conway wasn’t the only unclear with the “not using public office for private gain” concept.

“My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly,” the President tweeted from his private account. “She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”

President Trump later re-tweeted the message from the official presidential account, @POTUS. I’ll concede tweeting on your private account is one thing, but using the official presidential account takes it to another level.

http://khon2.com/2017/02/14/ethics-office-white-house-should-investigate-adviser-for-endorsing-ivanka-trumps-product-line/amp/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-attacks-nordstrom-for-dropping-ivanka-trumps-clothing-line_us_589b4c41e4b09bd304bf2c7b

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/10/politics/kellyanne-conway-tweets-potus-supports-me/index.html

I don’t shop at Nordstrom. And if I did, I wouldn’t buy purses, shoes, or whatever Ivanka Trump pimps. So for me, this entire topic is stupid. And yet, I’m writing about it because people in high places can’t differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable. If you hold public office, you shouldn’t use that office to make money. It is basic government 101 and basic common sense.

Yet this administration can’s seem to differentiate between televised political events and a QVC commercial.