Quick hits (part II)

1) Oh man do I love this Donald Trump quote on health care.  He can fix it!

This will be a plan where you can choose your doctor, and this will be a plan where you can choose your plan. And you know what the plan is. This is the plan. It’s a complicated process, but actually it’s very simple, it’s called good health care.

It’s called double-digit IQ.  Seriously.  The man has some obvious skills, but, come on.

2) It would be nice when you hear all those dramatic stories about rising health care premiums if they pointed out just how few people they actually apply to.  This NYT feature does.

3) I gotta say, as a man whose job it is to explain things for a living, this whole “mansplaining” thing to shut down men really gets to me at times.  Because I really value expertise, I literally cannot imagine trying to explain something to someone in their field of expertise just because they are a woman.  I don’t doubt that there are men that do this– and it’s wrong and stupid– but let’s not blame the whole damn gender for a few jerks.

4) NYT Editorial on the stupidity (interesting, how often that word comes up around the Trump administration) of proposed Homeland Security budgets:

Instead, Mr. Kelly is giving every indication that he and his vast department are fully on board with executing Mr. Trump’s fixation on protecting the nation from an imaginary siege at the southern border, while waging an all-out deportation campaign against millions of unauthorized immigrant workers and families who pose no threat to the nation. It’s a misguided, self-destructive direction to take the country. Mr. Kelly should be stepping on the brakes, not the gas.

The latest evidence, first reported by Politico, is a draft Department of Homeland Security budget that would bulk up border spending at the expense of the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Coast Guard would be cut 14 percent, from $9.1 billion to $7.8 billion. Cuts to the T.S.A. and FEMA would be about 11 percent, to $4.5 billion and $3.6 billion, respectively.

The senselessness of such cuts is obvious if you understand some basic concepts. Like, the Coast Guard guards our coasts. It plays a major role in interdicting drugs at sea. The T.S.A. keeps bombs off our planes. FEMA helps people after disasters. If your goal at Homeland Security is security for the homeland, you recognize that the job is more complicated than contracting out one 2,000-mile wall.

5) It is worth noting that the AHCA is a complete violation of many of Trump’s promises.  But, of course, he never actually cared about (or, clearly, understood) health care policy.  Keeping non-white Christians out of America?  That he cares about.  That’s MAGA.

6) I’ve never been much for warm-up or cool-down with exercise.  That said, there’s some good evidence that that FIFA 11+ protocol is great at reducing injury.  It’s also long and complicated.

7) Kristoff: connecting Trump’s dots on Russia.  Who knows what’s really going on, but there sure are a hell of a lot of dots.

8) Yglesias with important point on the routinized lying, etc., coming out of Trump,  This is incontroveribly bad for democracy:

The issue was the release this morning of a strong jobs report indicating continued growth in the economy, which many Republicans took the opportunity to crow about. Given the frequency with which candidate Trump had questioned the integrity of government economic data (calling them “phony numbers” and “one of the biggest hoaxes in American politics”), the question went, was President Trump confident that today’s report was accurate?

Spicer, with a wry grin on his face, said, “They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.”

Reporters laughed at the absurdity of the answer and the absurdity of the overall situation. And given the number of different things the White House is currently facing scrutiny over — from a national security adviser who was working as an agent of a foreign governmentto a health care plan that betrays all of Trump’s campaign promises to the bizarre assertion that White House staffers don’t need to follow government ethics rules — it’s a little hard to blame reporters for not wanting to get bogged down in an argument over some transparent BS.

 That said, it’s a pretty good indicator of how much Trump has succeeded in lowering the bar in terms of standards of conduct.

He spent months routinely maligning the work of career civil servants for no good reason. And now that it’s convenient for him to accept their work, he’s going to start accepting it. But there’s no apology and no admission of error — and it’s not even a big story. Just another day at the office. [emphasis mine]

9)  Really good Wonkblog piece from Ana Swanson on how the good jobs report is not necessarily all that helpful for Trump’s blue-collar, white supporters.  I think this graph is particularly key to contemporary American politics:

10) Relatedly, Ronald Klain on how Democrats should be attacking Trump on his failed economic promises:

The list of “kitchen table” concerns on which Trump promised focus and action — “immediately” — in his first 100 days as president goes on: affordable child care, middle-class tax relief, simpler tax forms, savings accounts for elder care and more. But Trump has not offered plans to do any of these things thus far — not one.

Not only is Trump failing to deliver on the economic promises he made during the campaign, but also he is breaking new ones he made as president…

But most voters still don’t like Trump, and other than a single good performance before Congress, he’s done little to assuage their anxieties and much to exacerbate them. This puts the burden on Trump — even more than most new presidents — to deliver on his audacious campaign promises or risk being viewed as just another “all talk, no action” politician.

11) Tillerson may be the weakest Secretary of State ever.

12) Catherine Rampell takes her whack at AHCA:

Let’s abandon the pretense.

Republicans’ “health care” bill is not really about health care. It’s not about improving access to health insurance, or reducing premiums, or making sure you get to keep your doctor if you like your doctor. And it’s certainly not about preventing people from dying in the streets.

Instead, it’s about hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts — tax cuts that will quietly pave the way for more, and far larger, tax cuts…

For those keeping score, that means fewer people would have insurance, those who get insurance on the exchanges would pay a higher price for it and Medicare’s solvency would be jeopardized as a bonus.

Hard to see how this achieves any of President Trump’s stated goals to “lower costs, expand choices, increase competition and ensure health-care access for all Americans.”

13) Krugman:

But Republican leaders weren’t willing to bite that bullet. What they came up with instead was a dog’s breakfast that conservatives are, with some justice, calling Obamacare 2.0. But a better designation would be Obamacare 0.5, because it’s a half-baked plan that accepts the logic and broad outline of the Affordable Care Act while catastrophically weakening key provisions. If enacted, the bill would almost surely lead to a death spiral of soaring premiums and collapsing coverage. Which makes you wonder, what’s the point? …

Given the sick joke of a health plan, you might ask what happened to all those proclamations that Obamacare was a terrible, no good system that Republicans would immediately replace with something far better — not to mention Donald Trump’s promises of “insurance for everybody” and “great health care.”

But the answer, of course, is that they were all lying, all along — and they still are. On this, at least, Republican unity remains impressively intact. [emphasis mine]

14) And David Brooks— sounding far more center-left than center-right– to me:

The central debate in the old era was big government versus small government, the market versus the state. But now you’ve got millions of people growing up in social and cultural chaos and not getting the skills they need to thrive in a technological society. This is not a problem you can solve with tax cuts.

And if you don’t solve this problem, voters around the world have demonstrated that they’re quite willing to destroy market mechanisms to get the security they crave. They will trash free trade, cut legal skilled immigration, attack modern finance and choose state-run corporatism over dynamic free market capitalism.

The core of the new era is this: If you want to preserve the market, you have to have a strong state that enables people to thrive in it. If you are pro-market, you have to be pro-state. You can come up with innovative ways to deliver state services, like affordable health care, but you can’t just leave people on their own. The social fabric, the safety net and the human capital sources just aren’t strong enough. [emphasis mine]

New social crises transform party philosophies. We’re in the middle of a transformation. But to get there we’ve got to live through this final health care debacle first.

 15) Thomas Edsall interviews a bunch of really smart political scientists about what to make of what’s going on with the bases of the political parties.

16) I’m so tired of reading about people falsely convicted based on junk science.


17) That said, this is great news.  Maybe we’ll have less wrongful convictions based on false confessions.

18) This is great— 1950’s sexist print ads set to Trump quotes.

19) Paul Waldman is right– you can basically sum up Republican ideology as “you’re on your own.”


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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