Shove Your Thoughts and Prayers.

Yesterday a relative of my son-in-law died.
Yesterday his brother-in-law’s niece went to school. She’s a high school freshman. Fifteen years old.
Yesterday she was the last person, of 17, identified as a victim in Parkland, Florida.

A couple of years ago she and her family came to our vacation home in Boca Raton to spend a day at the beach with us. I have a group picture. She’s in the middle, three people over from me. She’s smiling, happy.

Today I am shaking at the news. My anger grows by the minute. Those who follow me on Facebook know how frequently I have screamed at the bullshit arguments of the NRA and their spineless political lackeys in the Republican party.

Today, following the slaughter, Nick Morton, a friend from Australia, reacted to my latest anti-NRA post:

You know, here in the civilised world we simply cannot understand America’s gun laws.
We see it as the greatest failing of your mighty nation.
We see it as a failure of logic.
We see it as government supporting big business over the (majority) will of the people they were elected to serve.
We understand there are emotive arguments involved, but we simply cannot understand why you continue to allow your children to be massacred.
We believe that logically, the government must do something to stop it, and their failure to do so is a damning indictment of their inability to support the common good.
The needs of the many must be considered more important than the wants of a few.
I feel so sorry for the families of those 17 kids, and I would love to see the politicians blocking gun reform actually look them in the eye and say there’s nothing that can be done.

In the first 45 days of 2018, there have been 18 school shootings in the U.S., twice the number that took place in the same period last year.

Yesterday, Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat from Connecticut, said on the Senate floor:

“Let me just note once again for my colleagues …This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America, this epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting. It only happens here, not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction.”

“We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else,” he later added.

How long are we going to wait? Why does your “right” to carry an assault rifle supersede that girl’s right TO LIVE?

Do something.  Give money, give time, give effort. Support leaders who stand up to the madness, and work to defeat those who bow down to the murderous NRA.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken

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Healthcare without the Care.

Republicans are mean. And by Republicans, I’m talking about the elected civil servants in the House and Senate.

They keep flailing and failing on the healthcare front. Good.

Not one of their proposed healthcare laws increased the number of Americans who would be covered with reasonable health care insurance. Not one moved us towards what Trump had promised during the campaign – coverage for everybody. Not one would have realistically reduced premiums.

Instead, each cold-hearted attempt at repeal-and-replace would have thrown millions onto the uninsured lists, creating massive burdens for society as a whole and specifically for the healthcare industry. Thank God they failed.

None of this should be a surprise to anyone. Republicans can’t come up with a “conservative” alternative to the ACA because the ACA already is a conservative plan. It’s based on an approach drawn up by the conservative Heritage Foundation; it was meant to get the freeloaders who didn’t buy insurance, but who burdened the system when they were sick or injured, to pay their fair share. Conservatives hate freeloaders!

So now they are spinning their wheels trying to replace Obamacare with something, anything, even more conservative. Why? Simply because they promised they would. We now know they had no plan of their own and nothing they come up with makes sense.

And most cold-hearted of all, now Trump wants to let Obamacare implode. (And he can do that.) Where is the pushback from Republicans? Do they not realize that Trump’s threat will imperil millions of Americans, including a huge faction of their own supporters?  Republicans would rather score political points than protect their fellow citizens. Even now, with Trump threatening to hold back insurance payments, GOP leaders in the Congress remain strangely silent.

Trump, for his part, badgered and belittled his fellow Republicans for their healthcare failures. What, however, has he done for the cause? Other than lip service, nothing. It’s painfully obvious that’s because he is astonishingly clueless on the issue. We all cringed when our president said “No one knew healthcare was so complicated.” No, clueless leader, everyone knew.

In 2010 when Obama was promoting his ACA plan – which had been hammered out over many months and with many public hearings — he went to a Republican caucus and stood before them, alone on live TV for over an hour, answering their toughest questions. That’s what a leader does.

A real leader, a real Chief Executive versus a carnival barker. Obama cared. Democrats care. Republicans apparently don’t.

Sad.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken

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DO Trust the Polls.

Starting almost immediately after the inauguration the polls have been delivering bad news for Donald Trump. Does that concern his hard-core fans? Of course not. They scoff at poll numbers, saying, “Yeah, you mean the same polls that showed Hillary winning in a landslide?!” I’ve read and heard that response too many times.

But it’s nonsense.

Look at what actually happened in the 2016 presidential race. On the eve of the election most polls showed Hillary up by around three percentage points nationally. She ended up winning the popular vote by 2.1%, which translated into nearly 3 million votes. Every poll cautions about its built-in margin-of-error which in most cases is 2 or 3 points. So the polls were, in fact, correct! They said more Americans were going to vote for Hillary than Trump, and that happened.

And more to the current situation, recent polls show that Americans are waking up to the disaster the Trump administration has become:

(Trump’s) overall disapproval among Americans has reached record highs…Just 37 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing just over five months into his tenure, while 51 percent disapprove.

The polling agencies compete hard against each other. Each wants to, needs to, deliver reliable figures.

So, dear Trumpsters, feel free to add or subtract one or two percentage points to any particular poll, but know that it’s certain your guy is deeply unloved. And know that when they say less than 20% of Americans approve of the new healthcare plans, it’s truly a warning sign of deep dissatisfaction.

And here’s the juiciest finding:

In addition, by a 24-point margin, Americans believe former President Barack Obama was, by far, a more effective leader in comparison to Trump, 58 percent to 34 percent.

HA! Poor Donny. That’s gonna leave a big fat bruise on his delicate ego.

And finally, let’s look at one aspect of the only “poll” that counts, the actual election. The most embarrassing loss that can happen to any presidential candidate is to lose his or her home state. Well, Trump lost New York State by 21 percentage points. That’s bad. Very bad. Probably unprecedented in U.S. history. Far worse, however, is what happened in his home county, Manhattan. Those folks have had Trump in their faces for decades. They know him better than anyone. Do you know how Trump did in his hometown?

He won a pathetic 9.7% of the vote! Hillary got 86.6%.

Too bad NYC didn’t do a good enough job of telling America what we’ve all known for years – that “The Donald” is, was, and always will be a narcissistic scam artist. And we didn’t need a poll for that.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken

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The Real Tragedy Behind Comey’s Firing.

Most press coverage of Trump’s sacking of the FBI director has focused on the timing and strange circumstances of the action. And certainly that all needs to be looked at. There is, however, something more far reaching than the immediate issue.  As a result of Trump’s actions, the post of FBI director has become politicized, and the regrettable repercussions of that fact will last for decades.

The 10-year term of the Director was specifically chosen to overlap presidential administrations. Remember, prior to this week only one other FBI Director had ever been fired. Back in 1993, President Bill Clinton, six months into his first term, fired then-FBI Director William Sessions. But here’s the difference: back then, a Justice Department investigation found that Sessions had engaged in a pattern of unethical behavior and expense-account padding.  In other words, there was a clear legal rationale for the sacking, aside from any political consideration.

Why, on the other hand, was Comey fired? Trump said he was a “showboat” and a “grandstander.”  Which, of course, coming from the King of Bluster, is laughable.  And he said the FBI was “in turmoil.” No, it wasn’t.

But wait, you might say. Didn’t the Democrats want Comey fired for what he did to Hillary?

As I posted on Facebook:

No, the Dems are NOT two-faced.

They wanted Comey’s hide when, DURING THE CAMPAIGN, he broke all precedent by talking about the ongoing email probe.

But then IN THE MONTHS AFTER THE ELECTION he made it clear that there was an FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Dems and all patriotic Americans surely want that probe to continue — without political interference.

The firing absolutely looks like there is an attempt to quash that investigation. And THAT’s why Dems are screaming.

Here’s the other overlooked fact. President Obama surely was furious at Comey for what he did during the campaign. He could have canned Comey.  But he didn’t.  He knew better than to let his personal animosity supersede the historic independence of the nation’s premier law enforcement agency!

Now Trumpty Dumpty has permanently laid waste to the long-held separateness between the Executive branch and the FBI. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to fix it.

The bottom line is that in the future, whenever a president is unhappy with the FBI director, he or she will feel much less hesitation about swinging the ax. The dangerous precedent has been set.

It’s a damn shame.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken

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Colbert Should Apologize…

A couple of nights ago late night TV host Stephen Colbert went on a particularly venomous – and hilarious – rant against Trump. The trigger for his outrage was Trump’s interview on CBS’s Face The Nation during which the president insulted the host, John Dickerson, a highly respected journalist.

“I call your show Deface the Nation” our leader said with a smirk. And later on Trump turned and walked out, mid-sentence, on Dickerson when the questions made him uncomfortable.

So Colbert forcefully shot back, defending his CBS colleague, and now some folks say he must apologize for one or two things that were, frankly, raunchy and probably over the line.

Should Stephen Colbert apologize? Only under certain conditions.

Colbert should say, “Mr. President, I’ll apologize when you apologize to President Obama for falsely accusing him, without any credible evidence, of illegally wiretapping you.

“I’ll apologize when you apologize to the thousands of dedicated poll workers whom you defamed by claiming, falsely, that Hillary Clinton received millions of illegal votes.

“I’ll apologize when you apologize to the patriotic members of the Intelligence community whom you repeatedly slandered with false accusations.

“I’ll apologize when you apologize to the American people for the five years of lying about the citizenship of the first black President, and your lies about having investigators in Hawaii (“you won’t believe what they are finding”) when there were no such investigators.

“I’ll apologize when you apologize to the American people for lying about your tax returns, your involvement with Russia, your charitable donations, and your promise to divest yourself from your businesses.

“And finally, I’ll apologize when you apologize to John Dickerson, the staff at Face the Nation and CBS News, and the thousands of hard-working, loyal American journalists whom you slander daily with your lies about ‘fake news’ and who are doing their job by trying to bring truth to the American people. The First Amendment was written precisely to counter would-be tyrants like you who seek to demean and diminish the vital importance of a free and vigorous press corps.”

And then, and only then, should Stephen Colbert apologize.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken

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The Russian Connection

You see it on social media every day: Trumpsters question why Congress and others are looking into, as Trump likes to say, “what the hell is going on?” between Russia and Trump’s inner circle.

OK, Trumpkins. Let’s look at what we know for sure.

  1. FBI director James Comey announced on March 20th that his agency is actively investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election. We can assume evidence had already been discovered by his team or else he would not have gone public with that disturbing news.
  1. The Russians wanted to tip the scales in Trump’s favor. Fake news stories about Hillary were sent out by the hundreds from Russia and its neighbors. As Hillary kept pointing out in the debates, 17 U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that Russia interfered in our presidential election—and every bit of it was against Hillary and therefore pro-Trump. Why? What were they expecting for their efforts?
  1. Over the past few years Trump has criticized seemingly every person and entity except Russia and Vladimir Putin. Why?
  1. His hidden tax returns. Lots of smoke there…

We know Trump lied about his tax returns when he said, “I’ll be happy to release them once the audit is over.”  But we now know that an audit (if there really is an audit!) has nothing to do with the ability to release returns. Plus he could have released tax returns from other years. By being the only presidential candidate in decades to hide his returns we can say with certainty that he has something he doesn’t want you to see. For just one worrying concern: To whom does he owe money?  If it’s Russia, as many suggest, we need to know that. (Check my earlier column on what he’s likely hiding.)

  1. The list of people close to Trump who have questionable connections to Russia keeps growing. And those folks – including new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, senior advisor and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and others – lied or tried to mislead about those connections.  Why?

Those are the facts.  And every one of these points is A BIG STORY.  New evidence pops up daily.

So please don’t say “this is a witch hunt.”  It’s not.  In this case, there is a thick layer of smoke, and where there’s smoke, there’s liars.

Spread the word. We have to keep the pressure on. Our democratic values and America’s reputation as a trusted world leader are at stake.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken

 

Trumpcare’s Pre-Existing Condition

Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. It may turn out that Obamacare will be seen in a similar light.

Democrats readily acknowledge that the Affordable Care Act needs revision. This is a massive program and we knew going in that it would take years to work out the kinks. It is certainly not in a “death spiral” as some say. The uninsured rate is low and millions of folks have health care insurance for the first time in their lives. (For a quick reminder of what Obamacare really is and why it was needed, check out this column.)

But Republicans are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to come up with something better. Right now CNN is reporting that 21 GOP members of Congress are leaning towards a NO vote on Trumpcare. That puts it on the cusp of failing to pass. Politically, they’re stuck; if they make the plan more lenient the conservative wing will bolt, and if they make it even more stringent (the CBO says 14 million people will lose insurance in the first year!) more “moderates” will defect.

Here’s the GOP’s problem in a nutshell. Insurance is pure numbers. The insurance companies need to balance X expected income against Y expected outflows. When Obama said those firms could no longer discriminate against those with a pre-existing condition, and that they could no longer set life-time caps, it was based on having large numbers of younger, healthier folks sign up for health insurance. Hence the mandate; it forced those younger people to buy the insurance.

But now President “Nobody knew health care was so complicated!” (um, everyone knew) has promised to keep all of Obamacare’s good parts. Heck, he went further and promised to deliver health care for all Americans. Great.  Now go figure out how to do it. Without Medicare for everyone, or some sort of mandate to increase the pool of insured people, you can’t make the numbers work. Period. Thus the Republicans have boxed themselves into a corner.

The great irony is that if any form of Trumpcare passes a vast swath of Trump voters will be the ones hurt most by the new plan. Then again, they are the ones polls show are most likely to not know that Obamacare is the Affordable Care Act. Which would be funny … were it not a matter of life and death.