Trump’s Out of Political Capital Already

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Trump Maladministration

Too bad for the so-called president that he can’t borrow political capital from his friends in the Russian mob, because he appears to be running low. This happened today:

Conservative House Republicans rebuffed an offer by President Trump Thursday to strip a key set of mandates from the nation’s current health care law, raising doubts about whether House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has the votes to pass the bill.

Trump met at the White House with the most conservative House Republicans, hoping to close a deal that would help ensure passage of the party’s health-care plan by shifting it even further to the right. But the session ended with no clear resolution, and some lawmakers said they needed more concessions before they would back the bill.

Apparently the bill is still being rewritten even as Paul Ryan is trying to get the House to vote on it today.  And why is today so gosh-darn important? Because today is the seventh anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act. [Update: No vote today. They'll try again tomorrow.]

House Republicans have been working to gut the bill even further from the version that the CBO said would cut 24 million people off from getting health care. But word is that there are enough Senate Republicans worried about their future re-election campaigns that such a bill is unlikely to pass in the Senate.

Greg Sargent wrote a couple of days ago:

The fate of the GOP health plan appears to hang in the balance, with GOP leaders still struggling to find the votes to pass it in the House. There is widespread disagreement both about the bill and its prospects for passage. But one thing appears to be widely agreed upon: President Trump has now “taken ownership” of this bill.

Yet Trump’s ownership of the GOP plan is not having the desired effect. It doesn’t appear to be moving many Republicans — indeed, GOP critics of it appear to be hardening in their opposition — and a new poll out this morning finds that support for it is dropping.

Possibly even Republicans can find the daily Gallup tracking poll showing approval for Trump slowly deflating like an old tire — he’s now consistently in the high 30s rather than the low 40s — and a new Quinnipiac poll finds substantial majorities of Americans could not say Trump is honest, has good leadership skills, or cares about most Americans. A majority still finds him intelligent, however, which means there are a few more scales to fall from a lot more eyes.

Perhaps they hadn’t yet read the latest Time magazine interview of Trump, in which he comes across as a spoiled 12-year-old, and a not very bright one at that. It’s so bad that after a few paragraphs I had to double-check it wasn’t a spoof. See also 9 bonkers things Donald Trump said in his new exclusive interview with Time.

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Where There’s Trump, There’s … Russian Mobsters

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Trump Maladministration

So it turns out Trump Tower was under surveillance by the FBI. But this wasn’t ordered by President Obama. It wasn’t a wiretap of Trump’s suite. And it ended in 2013. But, hey

For two years ending in 2013, the FBI had a court-approved warrant to eavesdrop on a sophisticated Russian organized crime money-laundering network that operated out of unit 63A in Trump Tower in New York.

The FBI investigation led to a federal grand jury indictment of more than 30 people, including one of the world’s most notorious Russian mafia bosses, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. Known as the “Little Taiwanese,” he was the only target to slip away, and he remains a fugitive from American justice.

But that doesn’t mean Trump was involved. Oh, wait …

Seven months after the April 2013 indictment and after Interpol issued a red notice for Tokhtakhounov, he appeared near Donald Trump in the VIP section of the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Trump had sold the Russian rights for Miss Universe to a billionaire Russian shopping mall developer.

That could be a coincidence …

ABC News conducted a review of hundreds of pages of property records and reported in September that Trump-branded developments catered to large numbers of Russian buyers, including several who had brushes with the law. Russian buyers were particularly drawn to Trump licensed condo towers in Hollywood, Florida, and Sunny Isles. Local real estate agents credited the Russian migration for turning the coastal Miami-area community into what they called Little Moscow.

Well, okay, that’s a whole lot of coincidence.

Josh Marshall wrote,

When you start piecing together the Trump story, basically everywhere you look, whether it’s residents in his Trump-branded buildings, or his business associates or investors in his projects, Trump is - there’s simply no other way to put it – tied up with it not just Russians but in many cases Russians tied to the criminal underworld and money laundering.

People still remember when Trump joked that he could shoot a guy dead on 5th Avenue and still keep his supporters on Team Trump. Well, one of his tenants, Eduard Nektalov, a diamond dealer from Uzbekistan, actually was shot to death in broad daylight on 6th Avenue in a gangland assassination. He was reported cooperating at the time with the Feds. …

…As I told someone yesterday, sometimes it’s helpful to clear away any suggestion of geopolitical or intelligence shenanigans from the Trump story and see what’s left. What’s left is a guy who almost lost everything and then clawed his way back with a lot of pretty unsavory money. Look at Trump, any of his business partnerships and really anything else and you keep finding Russians with tons of money and frequent attention from the FBI. The idea that Trump associates may have connived with a Russian intelligence operation against the US electoral process is such a shocking and singular possibility that it tends to obscure this pretty shocking set of facts that are pretty much in plain view.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Where there’s Trump, there’s Russian mobsters.

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The Western Wildfires

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Trump Maladministration

I don’t watch television news much, so I hadn’t heard about the wildfires on the prairies until I read this article in the New York Times yesterday.

Death comes with raising cattle: coyotes, blizzards and the inevitable trip to the slaughterhouse and dinner plate. But after 30 years of ranching, Mark and Mary Kaltenbach were not ready for what met them after a wildfire charred their land and more than one million acres of rain-starved range this month.

Dozens of their Angus cows lay dead on the blackened ground, hooves jutting in the air. Others staggered around like broken toys, unable to see or breathe, their black fur and dark eyes burned, plastic identification tags melted to their ears. Young calves lay dying.

Ranching families across this countryside are now facing an existential threat to a way of life that has sustained them since homesteading days: years of cleanup and crippling losses after wind-driven wildfires across Kansas, Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle killed seven people and devoured homes, miles of fences and as much as 80 percent of some families’ cattle herds.

But for many, the first job after the fire passed was loading a rifle.

“We did what had to be done,” Mr. Kaltenbach, 69, said. “They’re gentle. They know us. We know them. You just thought, ‘Wow, I am sorry.’”

“You think you’re done,” he said, “and the next day you got to go shoot more.”

These are not big agribusiness corporate type cattle ranchers, but what remains of the old family-owned ranches that began in the 19th century. A lot of the families have at least one member with a “regular” job to make ends meet. The wildfires have burned 2 million acres, an area larger than the state of Delaware, it says here.

And I felt sad for this guy:

Beyond the toll of the fire, a frustration also crops up in conversation after conversation. Ranchers said they felt overlooked amid the tumult in Washington, and were underwhelmed by the response of a new president who had won their support in part by promising to champion America’s “forgotten men and women.”

“This is the country that elected Donald Trump,” said Garth Gardiner, driving a pickup across the 48,000-acre Angus beef ranch he runs with his two brothers. They lost about 500 cows in the fires. “I think he’d be doing himself a favor to come out and visit us.”

Mr. Gardiner voted for Mr. Trump, and said he just wanted to hear a presidential mention of the fires amid Mr. Trump’s tweets about the rapper Snoop Dogg, the East Coast blizzard and the rudeness of the press corps.

“Two sentences would go a long way,” Mr. Gardiner said.

One suspects the so-called president has forgotten them already. I did some searching and cannot find that Trump has yet addressed the wildfire situation, although he was quick to criticize President Obama last November for not speaking up quickly about the wildfires in Tennessee that devastated Gatlinburg.

So far the people affected by the fires have received little word about government aid, although farmers in other states and some farm organizations have sent hay, fencing and other supplies to the burned areas.

“This is our Hurricane Katrina,” Mr. Sawyers said. The political response to the fires convinced him that Washington, even with an administration supported by 83 percent of Clark County voters in the election, was still “out of touch and didn’t care about us.”

“None of them are worth a damn, Republicans or Democrats,” he said.

If there actually are any elected Democrats representing the folks in the burned areas, I’d suggest they get their butts in gear and try to do something. However, I suspect we’re looking at all Republicans — and climate change deniers as well.

Still, it does seem odd that I’m seeing only a little reporting on this. Maybe there’s more about it on television, but it’s not reflected on the Web. Rural America really is invisible.

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What About Those Hearings, Huh?

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Trump Maladministration

I didn’t get to watch, but I just read Josh Marshall’s rundown on what we know and what we don’t. See also Martin Longman’s look at why the Republicans at the hearings were obsessing over Michael Flynn.

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Health Insurance Is a Racket

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Trump Maladministration

People who get insurance through their jobs often think the premiums deducted from their paychecks are the entire cost of their insurance.  Or, they might dimly understand that their employer chips in part of the cost, too.

But the reality is something else entirely.

This guy explains it pretty well. Note that he’s talking about his own employee benefit health insurance:

My family’s generous health insurance costs about $20,000 a year, of which we pay only $4,000 in premiums. The rest is subsidized by taxpayers. You read that right. Like virtually everyone else on my block who isn’t old enough for Medicare or employed by the government, my family is covered by private health insurance subsidized by taxpayers at a stupendous public cost. Well over 90% of white households earning over the white median income (about $75,000) carried health insurance even before the Affordable Care Act. White socialism is nice if you can get it.

Companies can deduct the cost of their employees’ health insurance while employees are not required to report that benefit as income. That results in roughly a $400 billion annual transfer of funds from state and federal treasuries to insurers to provide coverage for the Americans least in need of assistance.

This has been going on since the post World War II years, and because The System hides the real cost of insurance from most Americans, they have no idea how expensive it really is.

There’s a thing called the Milliman Medical Index that figures out how much health insurance costs. “In 2016, the cost of healthcare for a typical American family of four covered by an average employer-sponsored preferred provider organization (PPO) plan is $25,826,” the Milliman Medical Index says. And this was the lowest increase in premium cost they’ve seen for many years. The lowest, mind you.

So how come everyone was squawking about insurance going up last year? Milliman noted that employees share of cost took a leap last year, pushing up their health care paycheck deductions while employers gave themselves a break. If you were paying for private insurance purchased on an exchange, I understand that the insurance companies decided to crank up their prices for this year because they’d been lowballing in previous years.

In other words, Obamacare didn’t do anything to make insurance more expensive. This was the insurance companies’ doing, or your employer, or both.

It gets better. It’s hard to find anyone who actually likes the Republican’s Obamacare replacement plan. But the plan has one enthusiastic supporter — Anthem, the country’s second largest insurer. Here’s why.

Anthem, which is based in Indiana, is already the largest insurer in California, Kentucky, Virginia and elsewhere. Two years ago, its chief executive, Joseph Swedish, made a big bet. He decided to put public pressure on Cigna, another major insurer, to accept a merger. Eventually, Swedish succeeded, and Anthem agreed to pay $48 billion to buy its rival.

But the Obama administration’s Justice Department filed suit against the merger, arguing that it would force consumers to pay higher prices. Last month, a federal judge agreed and blocked the merger. Cigna isn’t happy with the deal anymore either and has filed a $14 billion lawsuit against Anthem. None of it makes Swedish look good.

Anthem’s best remaining hope for the deal is probably to persuade the Trump administration to take a different view of the merger and unblock it.

Against this backdrop, Swedish wrote a carefully worded letter last week to Congress praising the Republican health bill. He stopped short of supporting the entire bill, as Jordan Weissmann of Slate has noted. Rather, Swedish lauded a few provisions (which would clearly help Anthem’s bottom line) and offered enough kind words that the White House could claim Anthem supported the bill.

“The time to act is now,” Swedish wrote. The bill, he added, “will ensure more affordable health plan choices for consumers in the short term.” More objective evaluators of the bill — like the Congressional Budget Office — are less sanguine.

Regardless of its accuracy, though, the letter seemed to make the White House happy. “Progress on repeal & replace: Major insurer supportive,” Kellyanne Conway tweeted, linking to Politico’s story about the letter.

More significantly, President Trump and Tom Price, the Health and Human Services secretary, granted Swedish a private meeting this week. At it, Swedish lobbied for changes to the bill that would benefit Anthem, according to reports in Bloomberg and Modern Healthcare.

Anthem’s chief financial officer, John Gallina, all but bragged the next day at an industry conference about the meeting’s success: “We feel very good, very encouraged, by the fact that the president and his team are listening and actually making changes based on feedback that the industry is providing.”

Translation: We’re going to kiss Trump’s ass, and he’ll see to it we get our merger.

Of course, health care itself is expensive. There are few more naive than a young person who has never had to pay a hospital bill. Such as:

It’s lunchtime at the Main Street Grill. The place has a rusted metal sign swinging above the front door. There’s a TV that plays Fox News a lot. On the wall, there’s a sign from the original Ellaville High School and photos of teens who worked here before going off to the military.

Blake Yelverton is taking a break with a burger that doesn’t cut any corners. Cheese and bacon and everything. He’s 23, a burly young man with a big red beard, and he works on his father’s cow farm.

“I don’t believe it’s the federal government’s job to provide health care,” he said. “It’s communism, socialism anyway.”

Yelverton hopes Trump trashes the whole thing, and he’s not too fond of the GOP plan being discussed in Congress either. “They’re doing a lesser evil of Obamacare,” he said.

His insurance?

“I’m on my parents’ plan,” he said.

So, Yelverton, it turns out, benefits from Obamacare. That’s because the law allows parents to keep kids on their insurance until age 26 — a widely-popular element of Barack Obama’s signature health law that Republicans intend to keep in their replacement plan.

Confronted with that information, he pauses for a moment.

“I haven’t been to the doctor in four or five years,” he said.

The young folks often don’t see the point of insurance because they have absolutely no idea how ruinously expensive medical care is. This kid has no clue that only the extremely wealthy can pay for it out of their own pockets. The rest need tax subsidies, whether we’re getting them directly through the exchanges or indirectly through an employee benefit plan.

But it’s becoming increasingly clear that the health insurance companies aren’t adding any value to this system even as they take their own cut.

And then there’s Paul Ryan, the absolutely useless dimwit and chief author of the Republican plan, who said that insurance cannot work if healthy people have to pay more to subsidize the sick. Which, um, is exactly how insurance works. The healthy pay for the sick. The people who didn’t crash their car into a tree pay for the one that did. The guy whose house burned down will get a new house paid by the homeowners who never filed a claim. That’s how it works.

Maybe we should send the whole country to night school to study how health insurance works before we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot with stupid health care plans.

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Trump vs. Merkel

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Trump Maladministration

The meeting between the so-called president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel seemed a bit prickly to me, although of course I wasn’t there. Germans were upset that the so-called president failed to shake her hand at one point. But that seems the least of it.

Trump apparently believes that Germany is screwing the U.S. in trade deals.

Trump told Merkel and the press that Germany had gotten the better end of the stick in trade deals with the US in the past and that he was looking to rectify that situation.

“The negotiators for Germany have done a far better job than the negotiators for the United States,” he said. “But hopefully we can even it out.”

We know what “even it out” means, and it is an absurd notion. It means negotiating a bilateral trade deal with Germany and somehow ignoring the rest of the rest of the European Union.

Merkel explained to Trump that  “The European Union is negotiating those agreements for all of the member states,” but whether he grasped that is hard to tell

Of course, what Merkel says about it doesn’t matter in a White House that is gripped by the delusion that Germany can just tell the EU to take a hike — at least, it will be gripped by this for as long as that policy is directed by Trump’s trade head, Peter Navarro.

Navarro, in a much-derided speech this month, said Germany “uses the argument” of being in the eurozone to avoid trade deals with the US, and that because of this Germany would be “one of the most difficult trade deficits we’re going to have to deal with.”

Navarro has gone as far as to accuse Germany of being a currency manipulator for using the euro. He thinks that because countries with weaker economies than Germany’s are factored into the euro’s value, Germany can sell its manufactured goods more cheaply than it could if it had its own currency.

Obviously, that’s not currency manipulation. That’s just the reality of the euro’s makeup.

But it means Merkel faces a scenario in which the president of the United States and his top trade adviser think one of their closest and most important allies is lying to them about its need to respect the EU. Trump and Navarro think this is a choice Germany is making about the US, not an obligation that is part of the fabric of its political and economic systems.

Peter Navarro is director of the National Trade Council, a newly formed bureaucratic thingie in the executive branch somewhere. This is from an article about him:

It is sometimes difficult to get a detailed, direct answer from President Trump and his surrogates on their economic policy.

During the campaign he slid past substance by making sweeping claims of how, under a Trump administration, the US would ‘”win bigly” and “stop being taken advantage of.”

Those pronouncements continue.

But luckily there is one voice coming from the White House that clearly articulates the direction in which it wants this country to head economically. That voice belongs to Peter Navarro, the head of Trump’s newly formed National Trade Council.

Over the past few weeks, Navarro has given a number of interviews that explain the administration’s propensity for victimhood, an obsession with Germany, and a deep-seated desire to change the face of the American economy as we know it.

All these factors have contributed to growing fears that this administration will start a trade war with any of the countries it has scapegoated — Mexico, China, or, yes, now Germany.

I missed this, but in January Trump suggested a 35 percent tariff on BMWs imported into the U.S., and Germans probably are still pissed about that —

Germany’s deputy chancellor and minister for the economy, Sigmar Gabriel, said on Monday morning that a tax on German imports would lead to a “bad awakening” among US carmakers since they were reliant on transatlantic supply chains.

“I believe BMW’s biggest factory is already in the US, in Spartanburg [South Carolina],” Gabriel, leader of the centre-left Social Democratic party, told the Bild newspaper in a video interview.

“The US car industry would have a bad awakening if all the supply parts that aren’t being built in the US were to suddenly come with a 35% tariff. I believe it would make the US car industry weaker, worse and above all more expensive. I would wait and see what the Congress has to say about that, which is mostly full of people who want the opposite of Trump.”

In an interview with Bild and the Times, the US president-elect had indicated that he would aim to realign the “out of balance” car trade between Germany and the US. “If you go down Fifth Avenue everyone has a Mercedes Benz in front of his house, isn’t that the case?” he said. “How many Chevrolets do you see in Germany? Not very many, maybe none at all … it’s a one-way street.”

Asked what Trump could do to make sure German customers bought more American cars, Gabriel said: “Build better cars.”

Trump was never a manufacturing guy, so he doesn’t understand supply chains. And he doesn’t understand how the EU works, and neither does his trade guy, Navarro. What else doesn’t he know?

After tweeting from Mar-a-Lago that he had a GREAT meeting with Angela Merkel, in spite of what the FAKE NEWS said, he stepped in more doo doo.

Um, what is he talking about? I didn’t think the U.S. collected money to run NATO. 

And, of course, it doesn’t. Nobody owes NATO money. Nobody owes the U.S. anything on behalf of NATO. The issue is that NATO members commit to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense, and most of them don’t. Germany spends 1.2 percent, although Merkel has said that will increase. But framing this issue as if Germany is somehow victimizing the United States is just  … weird.

See also Oops, he did it again: Donald Trump just can’t stop himself from blurting out state secrets.

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Put the Trumps on a Budget

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Trump Maladministration

More compassionate conservatism:

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at a press conference Thursday that Meals on Wheels “sounds great.” But he said that along with other anti-poverty programs, it is “not showing any results.”

“We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good,” Mulvaney told reporters. “We’re not going to spend money on programs that cannot show that they actually deliver the promises that we’ve made to people.”

Trump’s budget would strip $3 billion from the Community Development Block Grant program, which supports a variety of community-development and anti-poverty programs. Those include Meals on Wheels, which provided 219 million meals to 2.4 million seniors in 2016.

CNN reporter Jim Acosta asked Mulvaney if the funding cuts were “hard-hearted.” Mulvaney responded that reducing government spending on ineffective programs is “probably one of the most compassionate things we can do.”

There’s a post being shared all over social media saying that it’s costing taxpayers $183 million/year to provide security for Melania Trump and little Barron so they can live in New York City. I checked; according to Snopes, it’s probably closer to $50 million/year. Still, $50 million is a lot of money.

Trump’s weekend visits to Mar-a-Lago cost taxpayers $3 million a pop, Politico says. Since the inauguration, that’s been five weekends. For argument’s sake let’s say he will make 40 trips to Mar-a-Lago this year. That’s $120 million.

McClatchy reported that in eight years of the Obama Administration, the nation paid a total of $85 million for presidential family vacations.

And the adult Trump children are getting security, too. For example,

When the president-elect’s son Eric Trump jetted to Uruguay in early January for a Trump Organization promotional trip, U.S. taxpayers were left footing a bill of nearly $100,000 in hotel rooms for Secret Service and embassy staff.

It wasn’t a vacation, but it wasn’t government business, either. And I still want to know how embassy staff got mixed up in Eric’s business trip.

But I say that if we’re going to be so compassionate as to stop providing meals to elderly shut-ins, we ought to do the Trumps a favor and put them on a budget for vacation travel and non-White House residence expenses.  And we’ll be at least as generous to Trump as the nation was to Obama. So $85 million divided by eight is $10,625,000 a year for Trump to vacation and Melania to live anywhere she wants. Since the Obamas sometimes took other vacations (such as the famous “date night,” I’d be willing to round that up to $11 million to make it even.

Back to Mr. Mulvaney,

“You’re only focusing on half of the equation, right? You’re only focusing on recipients of the money,” Mulvaney said. “We’re trying to focus on both the recipients of the money and the folks who give us the money in the first place. I think it’s fairly compassionate to go to them and say, ‘Look, we’re not going to ask you for your hard-earned money anymore.'”

I appreciate what you say, Mr. Mulvaney, and I want you to know that I resent the hell out of being asked to pay taxes so that the president can pop down to his Florida resort every weekend. The closest thing I’ve had to a vacation for the past several years was the family reunion in Moline, Illinois last summer.

Of course, I don’t have the stresses that a president has. But if the POTUS were to agree to spend his weekends at Camp David — which I understand is perfectly nice — instead of Mar-a-Lago I’d be happy to give him some de-stressing meditation tips. It’s got a golf tees/greens area and a swimming pool. They’ve got marines guarding the place all the time, anyway, so it’s not that much of an additional expense.

Trump could still go to Mar-a-Lago whenever he wanted, but once his annual budget is used up he would have to pay the expenses out of his own pocket. Likewise Melania and Barron might have to move into the White House. But, y’know, there are people who have it worse.

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Trump to Save Detroit Like He Saved Health Care

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Trump Maladministration

This is happening now:

President Donald Trump announced plans Wednesday to re-examine federal requirements governing the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks, moving forcefully against Obama-era environmental regulations that Trump says are stifling economic growth.

Trump was set to reveal his plans during a speech at an automotive testing center near Detroit, but he previewed the announcement during a round-table meeting at the American Center for Mobility with auto company executives and workers, just before the speech.

“This is going to be a new era for American jobs and job creation,” Trump said.

Some of you probably know the auto industry better than I do. Was it really just those awful old auto emissions standards that killed Detroit? Especially since the current standards were agreed to in 2009, after the auto industry was already on life support?

Trump’s announcement, while having no immediate effect, is expected to set the stage for weaker fuel efficiency standards as well as drawn-out legal battles with environmental groups and states such as California that adopted their own tough tailpipe standards for drivers.

Trump’s EPA director, Scott “What Global Warming?” Pruitt, doesn’t think California should be allowed to set its own emissions standards.

Scott Pruitt said at a contentious confirmation hearing Wednesday that he cannot commit to keeping in place the current version of a decades-old federal waiver that allows California to set emissions standards stricter than elsewhere in the United States.

In recent years, California regulators have used the waiver to force automakers to build more efficient vehicles, which has helped the state cut its greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks by nearly a third since 2009.

More than a dozen other states have adopted the California standard as part of their own efforts both to clean their air and fight global warming.

The other states include Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont; all together, states with their own high emissions standards make up about 30 percent of the American market, it says here.

Wingnuts love states’ rights as long as states are doing things they approve of. Otherwise, not so much.

But isn’t it a fact that most first-world industrialized nations have auto-emissions standards? Even if Detroit is allowed to knock off cheaper cars to sell domestically, what about international sales? And will foreign auto makers cut the standards for cars they sell in the U.S., making them cheaper, too?

And I doubt  doubling down on internal combustion is really a smart long-term strategy, given that much of the rest of the world is moving toward electric cars. Or so I’ve read.

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The CBO Bomb

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Trump Maladministration

So, what do you think of the bomb the CBO dropped on Trumpcare yesterday? And let us not forget all of Trump’s bigly promises (image from Talking Points Memo) —

Let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth —

So what are we really going to get?

  • The CBO estimates the Trump/Ryan bill would leave 14 million fewer people insured in the first year, 24 million fewer by 2026.
  • The CBO says deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs will be higher.
  • The CBO says premiums for private insurance will go up 15 to 20 percent until after 2020, when they could come down. But premiums will come down because the bill pushes out older, sicker people, leaving only younger and healthier people able to buy insurance.

As a lot of people have already pointed out, this is not a health care bill. It’s a tax cut bill.

What are the odds this monstrosity will pass? Discuss …

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What Do You Mean by “Our” Civilization, Wingnut?

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Trump Maladministration

Rep. Steve “Calves Like Cantaloupes” King tweeted this recently:

Kind of takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

Slammed because his tweet was rather nakedly racist, King said on CNN,

“I’ve been to Europe and I’ve spoken on this issue and I’ve said the same thing as far as ten years ago to the German people and to any population of people that is a declining population that isn’t willing to have enough babies to reproduce themselves. And I’ve said to them, you can’t rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies,” King said on CNN. “You’ve got to keep your birth rate up and that you need to teach your children your values.”

King then lamented that the U.S. has “aborted nearly 60 million babies” since 1973 and claimed that there is an effort to “replace that void with somebody else’s babies.”

“That’s the push to bring in much illegal immigration into America, living in enclaves, refusing to assimilate into the American culture and civilization,” he said. “Some embrace it, yes. But many are two and three generations living in enclaves that are pushing back now in resistance against the assimilation. It’s far worse in Europe than it is today here in the United States, but I want us to be looking at that, promoting the birth rate in America, restoring the rule of law, putting an end to illegal immigration and recognizing that we need to be a country that’s pulled together on similar values.”

Never mind that in the 19th century Americans were saying the same things about the Irish that they’re saying about Syrians now.

The CNN host told King that the congressman has appeared to push for white people to raise their birth rate, prompting the congressman to argue that he has talked about “culture,” not race.

“I did defend western civilization,” King said. “If we have an element of Americans here — and that’s a big element — that reject western civilization, then what have we? This is an effort on the left I think to break down the American civilization and the American culture and turn it into something entirely different.”

“This western civilization is a superior civilization and we want to share it with everybody,” he added.

The Republican-dominated federal government is poised to do away with the National Endowment for the Arts, and this clown is concerned about western civilization because there aren’t enough (white) American babies? That’s rich.

Western civilization is doing just fine, actually. There’s an all-Beethoven program scheduled for the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. The National Ballet of China will be performing “Giselle” later this month (and also that perennial favorite, “The Red Detachment of Women”). And check out the schedule for the Royal Opera House Muscat in Syria.

What’s great about western civilization is widely appreciated just about everywhere but in the U.S., it seems. And I don’t think that has anything to do with who’s having babies.

See also Charles Pierce, “This Is the Most Blatantly Racist Statement from a Member of Congress in 50 Years.”

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