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 on: March 30, 2017, 10:33:55 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the Los Angeles Times....

Trump's attack on environmental laws won't save coal miners' jobs

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I PITY the poor coal miners who allowed themselves to be used as props by Donald Trump. On Tuesday, a group of them stood with the president as he signed his executive order gutting Obama-era climate change regulations. After signing the document with his flamboyant flourish, Trump turned to them and said, “You know what this is? You know what this says? You're going back to work.”

Well, maybe not.

Trump has repeatedly promised to bring jobs back to Coal Country, blaming federal regulations for the industry's decades-long decline. That promise is akin to a politician 100 years ago pledging to restore the economic fortunes of blacksmiths and buggy whip makers. That politician would have been a fool or a liar. Trump may be both.

Coal is as dirty as coal mining is dangerous. There are compelling reasons why the government has imposed rules to address the serious problems coal has created in public health, worker safety and environmental protection. Those rules probably did crimp the style of careless and callous coal company bosses and cut into their profits. But the real reason coal is in a slump is economic. Other fuels — natural gas, in particular — are cleaner and cheaper. The market for coal has shrunk and is destined to grow even smaller.

There are now about 70,000 jobs left in the coal industry. That compares with 650,000 jobs in the burgeoning renewable energy field. Trump's actions may temporarily save the jobs of a few coal miners in West Virginia and Kentucky, but many workers in other states could be endangered by what he is trying to do. Bob Keefe, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs, a national advocacy group for renewable energy businesses, told the Los Angeles Times that the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, the plan Trump is revoking, would have been “a huge economic catalyst.”

“President Trump is basically telling California's more than 40,000 clean-energy businesses and the 500,000 workers they employ that they don't matter to him,” he said.

Of course, as was the case with healthcare, the future of energy is a complex subject that is beyond the comprehension of the non-studious Trump. He is a man who prefers to follow his instincts and those instincts seem to invariably lead him to side with the business executives and billionaires who value profits, private jets and primo golf courses as much as he does.

Chief among those plutocratic cronies is Robert Mercer, a fabulously wealthy hedge fund tycoon who funds Breitbart News and was a strong supporter of Trump's presidential campaign. Mercer does not believe climate change is a problem, but government is. He has been quoted as saying he wants to see the federal government “shrunk to the size of a pinhead.” For him, getting rid of Obama's climate change rules is a no-brainer.

Having surrounded himself with people like Mercer, it is no surprise that Trump is so eager to abandon the leadership role the United States has taken in reducing carbon emissions. That is obviously a horrible idea if humanity is, indeed, facing future calamity caused by rising global temperatures, as most of the world's scientists say is the case. Even short of that, though, it is a pretty dumb idea to side with coal companies and oil men while ceding the renewable energy field to China and India and Germany. That is not the way to maintain American economic preeminence.

If we are lucky, Trump's executive order will be tied up in courts for years to come; not all environmental laws can be quickly erased with the stroke of a president's pen. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has announced he will join with his counterparts in several other states to aggressively oppose Trump's attack on the Clean Power Plan. Meanwhile, in a joint statement, California Governor Jerry Brown and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to keep their states working toward ambitious benchmarks to reduce greenhouse gases.

“Dismantling the Clean Power Plan and other critical climate programs is profoundly misguided and shockingly ignores basic science,” the governors said in their statement. “With this move, the administration will endanger public health, our environment and our economic prosperity.”

And, they might have added, this will not prevent jobs in the coal mines from fading away.


 on: March 30, 2017, 10:33:21 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

Sean Spicer loses his cool: ‘Stop shaking your head’

April Ryan asked a question about Russia, but Spicer wasn't having it.

By AARON BLAKE | 2:39PM EDT - Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Paul Spice, left, and April Ryan. — Photographs: The Washington Post.
Paul Spice, left, and April Ryan. — Photographs: The Washington Post.

WHITE HOUSE press secretary Sean Spicer finally seemed to reach a breaking point on Tuesday when it comes to questions about President Trump and Russia.

Spicer got testy in an exchange with American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan after Ryan announced a premise that Spicer disagreed with: that the White House has a Russia issue to deal with. By the end, Spicer accused Ryan of pushing her own agenda and even instructed her not to shake her head at him.

“No, we don't have that,” Spicer said when Ryan cited the White House's Russia issue. When Ryan continued with her question, he cut in again: “No, no. I get it. But I've said it from the day that I got here until whenever that there's not a connection. You've got Russia.”

Spicer then offered this zinger: “If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection.”

When Ryan tried again to ask her question, Spicer said, “I appreciate your agenda here…. At some point, report the facts.”

Spicer pointed to those who have said there is no proof of collusion between Russia and the Trump team — which is true but is only a part of the inquiries and is still being investigated by the FBI. He added, “I'm sorry that that disgusts you. You're shaking your head.”

Spicer then told Ryan that she was “going to have to take ‘no’ for an answer” when it came to the idea of collusion with Russia.

Ryan moved on, asking about former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's visit to the White House and the fact that she wasn't a Trump supporter. But Spicer again took issue.

“It seems like you're hellbent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays,” Spicer said.

After some more back-and-forth, Spicer again spotted Ryan shaking her head and told her, “Please, stop shaking your head again.”

This is hardly the first time a White House press briefing has featured a pitched battled between reporters and Spicer. And Spicer hasn't been afraid to accuse reporters, including CNN's Jim Acosta and ABC's Jonathan Karl, of pushing their own agendas — especially on issues like Russia.

But the exchange with Ryan sure seemed to venture into different territory. Instructing her to stop shaking her head came off as demeaning, and a number of White House reporters took issue with it on social media.

What's even more puzzling about it is that Spicer continues to point to the lack of evidence of collusion while ignoring the fact that the FBI is investigating possible ties between Trump and Russia. The idea that an FBI investigation involving the administration doesn't amount to a hill of beans just doesn't make much sense. Yet the mere premise that Russia is an issue for the White House seemed to set Spicer off.

Ryan, meanwhile, had just one word:

• Aaron Blake is senior political reporter for The Fix at The Washington Post.


More on this topic:

 • VIDEO: Spicer: If Trump uses ‘Russian salad dressing … somehow that's a Russian connection’

 • VIDEO: Two incidents spark conversation about black women at work


 on: March 29, 2017, 11:24:12 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

So sorry, Alex Jones.
Your ‘Pizzagate’ apology doesn't change a thing.

The Infowars conspiracy theorist says he regrets spreading lies, but the damage is done.

By MARGARET SULLIVAN | 2:23PM EDT - Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Alex Jones, the InfoWars host, has apologized to the owner of Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant. — Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters.
Alex Jones, the InfoWars host, has apologized to the owner of Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant.
 — Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters.

A HEARTFELT APOLOGY can be a beautiful step toward healing.

Alex Jones's “Pizzagate” apology doesn't come close.

For one thing, the motivation seems to spring from his wallet, not the depths of his heart. Its timing strongly suggests that he wanted to minimize legal consequences for spreading, on his Infowars website, the bizarre and dangerous lie that a child-sex-trafficking ring was being run out of a Washington pizza parlor, Comet Ping Pong.

What's more, his words — even if you believe them — don't fix the damage.

That damage lingers in the effects on James Alefantis's restaurant business, not to mention his and his employees' peace of mind, considering that they have received death threats.

It lingers in the fear that neighborhood residents continue to feel months after a gunman — who came from North Carolina to “self-investigate” the situation — opened fire there in December.

And it lingers in the continuing, if evidence-free, belief of gullible people about what was claimed to be happening there — not only that the restaurant was the site of sex trafficking but that Hillary Clinton and her presidential-campaign chairman, John Podesta, were deeply involved.

“I made comments about Mr. Alefantis that in hindsight I regret and for which I apologize to him,” said Jones in a six-minute video released last week, titled “A Note to Our Listening, Viewing and Reading Audiences Concerning Pizzagate Coverage.”

“We relied on third-party accounts of alleged activities and conduct at the restaurant,” Jones said. “We also relied on accounts of reporters who are no longer with us.”

This has about the same level of sincerity as the downcast “sorry” muttered by a 6-year-old after kicking his brother while Dad glowers over him with a yardstick in hand.

Jones, of course, is a great favorite of President Trump, who was interviewed on his radio show last year. Trump has cited as fact some of Jones's outlandish ideas — for example, that the news media has covered up terrorism by Islamist extremists — and has complimented his “amazing reputation.”

No surprise, then, that Jones, who at best can be called a conspiracy theorist and at worst a cynical wacko, recently bragged about his ability to get White House press credentials, should he want them. Trump's crony, the political trickster Roger Stone, said he thinks that's a good idea.

If Jones were really interested in cleaning up the bilge he spreads, he wouldn't be starting now.

He would have apologized for the disgusting claim that schoolchildren were not gunned down in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 and that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a government-run hoax to take away gun rights.

He would have taken back claims that fluoridated water is a government plot to control your mind.

He would have done penance for spreading the lies that 9/11 was an inside job and that Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

But none of those lies seem to have merited an apology.

As my colleague Paul Farhi reported over the weekend, the timing of Jones's apology suggests he was concerned about a potential lawsuit, since his remorse came after he received a letter from Alefantis's lawyer last month.

Farhi wrote: “Under Texas law, the Austin-based Jones had to retract or apologize for the stories by Friday — one full month after receiving Alefantis's letter — to avoid exposing Infowars to punitive damages in a libel suit.” And Friday, indeed, was the very day that Jones's apology video was aired.

Friday was also the day that the Comet Ping Pong gunman, Edgar Welch, pleaded guilty to assault and weapons charges.

But some of the true believers haven't changed their minds one whit. Apparently they aren't moved, despite Jones's admission of “an incorrect narrative.”

Last weekend, The Washington Post reported, about 50 people demonstrated Saturday near the White House, demanding an investigation of the supposed sex-trafficking at Comet.

The article quoted one demonstrator, Kori Hayes, a corrections officer who drove with his wife and three kids from Middleburg, Florida.

“I don't have any doubt that Pizzagate is real,” said Hayes, who called Infowars “the only place you can get the news nowadays where it's not opinion.”

Like a hundred other conspiracy theories gone viral, this particular Pandora's box of lies, once opened, can't be neatly closed up again.

And no apology can change that.

• Margaret Sullivan is The Washington Post's media columnist. Previously, she was The New York Times public editor, and the chief editor of The Buffalo News, her hometown paper.


More on this topic:

 • Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones backs off ‘Pizzagate’ claims

 • VIDEO: Real consequences of fake news leveled on a D.C. pizzeria and other nearby restaurants

 • VIDEO: Alex Jones: The louder he yells, it seems the more people listen


 on: March 29, 2017, 11:21:04 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

U.S. leads major powers in protesting U.N. effort to ban nuclear weapons

The Trump administration boycotts the session as more than 100 nations begin work on a binding U.N. ban.

By ANNE GEARAN | Monday, March 27, 2017

Flanked by French Deputy Representative to the United Nations Alexis Lamek (left) and British Representative to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft (right), U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation Nikki Haley speaks on Monday to reporters at the United Nations headquarters in New York on a nuclear weapons ban treaty, which the U.S., Britain and France oppose. — Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.
Flanked by French Deputy Representative to the United Nations Alexis Lamek (left) and British Representative to the United Nations
Matthew Rycroft (right), U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation Nikki Haley speaks on Monday to reporters at the United Nations
headquarters in New York on a nuclear weapons ban treaty, which the U.S., Britain and France oppose.
 — Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

THE United States, Britain, France and other major powers protested on Monday as the United Nations began work on what backers said would be a binding prohibition on nuclear weapons.

Russia and China also sat out the opening General Assembly session. Russia had voted against launching the effort last fall. China abstained.

The proposed ban, backed by Pope Francis, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and dozens of humanitarian and nonproliferation groups, sets most of the major nuclear powers against more than 100 smaller non-nuclear states who seek a treaty this year.

“As a mom, as a daughter, there is nothing I want more for my family than a world that has no nuclear weapons,” said Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. “But we have to be realistic. Is there anyone who believes that North Korea would agree” to give up its nuclear weapons on the U.N.'s orders?

She and representatives from Britain and France spoke to reporters as the U.N. General Assembly began discussion on the issue. More than 30 nations sat out the first session, many at U.S. urging, in support of the argument that a blanket ban now is impractical or dangerous.

“Is it any surprise that Iran is supportive of this?” Haley asked. “It is not.”

North Korea developed nuclear weapons through a rogue program and is attempting to field a long-range missile that could deliver a weapon to U.S. shores, according to U.S. officials. It can already target U.S. forces and allies in Asia, they have said.

Iran denies it sought a nuclear weapon, but agreed to curtail its nuclear program in an international deal led by former president Barack Obama and heavily criticized by President Trump.

Although Obama had set the eventual eradication of nuclear weapons as a goal, his administration also opposed a U.N. ban.

The Trump administration has not yet said whether it will affirm the long-range goal of eliminating nuclear weapons or pledge to further shrink the U.S. arsenal. The White House is conducting a new nuclear posture review expected to take a year or more.

Haley said on Monday that the United States and other major powers boycotting the U.N. discussion “believe in” the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The landmark treaty that took effect in 1970 commits nations with nuclear weapons to move toward disarmament while prohibiting non-nuclear states from obtaining the weapons. Signers of the treaty also agree that all nations may have access to nuclear power and other peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

As a presidential candidate, Trump suggested that U.S. allies Japan and South Korea could develop nuclear weapons and defend themselves, instead of relying on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and suggested that nuclear weapons could be effective against Islamic State militants. He said both that he wanted the United States to have an up-to-date and perhaps expanded nuclear arsenal, and that he would like to see a nuclear-free world.

At the General Assembly session on Monday, diplomats said they would pursue a draft document this spring. A model is the two-decade-old U.N.-backed ban on land mines, which is credited with reducing use of those weapons even though major nations including then United States, Russia and China have declined to sign it.

Toshiki Fujimori , a baby when he survived the 1945 U.S. nuclear bomb attack on Hiroshima, Japan, addressed the opening session.

“Everybody thought I would die, yet I survived. It's a miracle,” Fujimori said. “I am here at the U.N. asking for the abolition of nuclear weapons…. This is the mission I am given as a survivor.”

It faces a steep hurdle. The U.N. Security Council's five permanent members — who hold veto power — are the five original big nuclear powers: The United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China.

“The U.K. is not attending the negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons because we do not believe that those negotiations will lead to effective progress on global nuclear disarmament,” British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said on Monday. “They cannot and will not work.”

• Anne Gearan is a national politics correspondent for The Washington Post.


Related stories:

 • U.S. diplomat accuses U.N. of bias against Israel

 • Hiroshima's ex-mayor urges Trump to meet atomic bomb survivors


 on: March 29, 2017, 12:26:05 pm 
Started by nitpicker1 - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

(click on the picture to read the news story)

 on: March 29, 2017, 08:33:06 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the Los Angeles Times....

Taxpayers pick up the tab for Trump's pricey golf excursions

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Tuesday, March 28, 2017

“Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” — the TV show from the 1980s and 1990s that wallowed in the obscene excesses of the super wealthy — needs to be brought back to do an extended series on America's new First Family. There would be an ironic twist in the theme this time around: The Trump family's lavish living is being heavily subsidized by taxpayers who struggle to pay their bills every month.

Donald Trump has made plenty of deals in which he got richer while other people got hoodwinked (think Trump Foundation) or swindled (think Trump University), but getting himself elected president is the sweetest deal of them all.

After criticizing his predecessor, Barack Obama, for his occasional games of golf, and despite his campaign declaration that “I would rarely leave the White House because there's so much work to be done,” Trump has spent nearly every weekend of his presidency on a golf course. Most of those outings were not on some fancy fairway near Washington; they were in Palm Beach, Florida, at his swanky Mar-a-Lago resort.

The cost of getting the part-time president and his entourage to the Sunshine State for his frequent getaways is not cheap. Each trip costs taxpayers more than $3 million, according to estimates.

Meanwhile, Melania Trump is shunning the government housing that has been good enough for first ladies since Abigail Adams. Melania and her son, Baron, spend most of their time in New York. According to The Washington Post, the Secret Service has asked for an extra $27 million to cover the cost of protecting Melania in her golden bower atop Trump Tower.

The Secret Service has also requested an additional $30 million to cover other ballooning travel costs. The agency not only has to pay the added expense of the president's weekend golfing expeditions in Florida and the first lady's preference for life in the Big Apple, but they must accompany Trump's sons and daughters on their far-flung business trips and ski vacations.

At the current rate of spending, The Washington Post estimates that travel and protection costs will surpass half-a-billion dollars by the end of Trump's four-year term, vastly more than has been spent for any other president.

Citizens in New York and Palm Beach are paying additional costs for having the Trumps in their towns so often. All that police protection does not come free. All the interrupted business has an economic impact. Florida's Republican Senator Marco Rubio (who Trump demeaned as “Little Marco” during the GOP primaries) has complained that the president's visits are a burden on the local economy that needs to be addressed. That means more federal dollars spent to ease the impact of Trump's trips to the links.

The plutocrat who sold himself as a populist could save plenty of tax dollars if he stayed home more often, but Trump and his wife do not seem to like slumming in the White House. Apparently, they require much more ostentatious elegance. And if the taxpayers are on the hook paying for their rich tastes, so what? The chumps asked for it.


 on: March 28, 2017, 03:31:42 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the Los Angeles Times....

Meet Indivisible, the young progressives
leading the resistance to President Trump

Invisible — and so visible: the activist group that has bedeviled GOP lawmakers nationwide.

By KURTIS LEE | 4:00AM PDT - Sunday, March 26, 2017

Constituents concerned about repeal of the Affordable Care Act converge last month outside the closed district offices of Representative Daniel Donovan (Republican-New York). — Photograph: Andrew Lichtenstein Corbis/Getty Images.
Constituents concerned about repeal of the Affordable Care Act converge last month outside the closed district offices of
Representative Daniel Donovan (Republican-New York). — Photograph: Andrew Lichtenstein Corbis/Getty Images.

THE IDEA started with a public Google document.

In the weeks after Donald Trump won last year's presidential election and Republicans kept control of Congress, Sarah Dohl, along with a handful of friends and former Capitol Hill colleagues, wanted Americans — mostly distraught Democrats — to know their voices could still be heard.

Not expecting much, they published online a 26-page document in mid-December, outlining a succinct idea: resist.

Its title, “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda”, quickly drew interest. George Takei, the actor who starred in the television series “Star Trek”, tweeted it to his 2.2 million followers. So, too, did former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who worked in the Clinton administration.

“We just had no idea it would turn into this huge movement,” Dohl, 33, said on Saturday from her house in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. “We thought our moms might read it.”

What at first started with a small group of young progressives batting around ideas on how to move forward under a Trump administration has blossomed into a national movement, known as Indivisible. The mission centers on grass-roots advocacy targeting members of Congress inclined to work with the new administration and those who, in Indivisible's view, don't do enough to oppose it.

In keeping with the loose structure of other movements such as Black Lives Matter, Indivisible isn't a hierarchical organization with a national headquarters and local chapters. Instead, it's a collection of groups committed to the same goal, employing tactics and operating on principles shared by Indivisible's founders online.

Early on, the focus was attacking Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Members of the movement have caused representatives to flee town halls and, at times, cancel public events altogether. They've corralled constituents, visited district offices and made phone calls en masse demanding answers.

Not all people who flooded congressional town halls in recent weeks were part of — or had even heard of — Indivisible. But many were.

“Every member of Congress cares about how their constituents view them and the narrative being formed in their districts,” said Dohl, who has held several jobs on Capitol Hill, including communications director for Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat, whose district includes parts of Austin, Texas. “And we're not just focused on Republicans. This is about Democrats standing up and having a spine and pushing back against Trump and Republicans.”

A chapter within the Indivisible guide is titled “How your member of Congress thinks and how to use that to save Democracy”. It offers up a simple point:

“To influence your own Member of Congress (MoC), you have to understand one thing: every House member runs for office every two years and every Senator runs for election every six years. Functionally speaking, MoCs are always either running for office or getting ready for their next election — a fact that shapes everything they do.”

The strategy, said Dohl, echoes the Tea Party movement that sprang up in 2009. At the time, President Obama's efforts to pass the Affordable Care Act caused a conservative uproar. Images of constituents, angered by the legislation and jabbing fingers in lawmakers' faces, filled television screens and front pages nationwide. The next election cycle, Democrats, who at the time had controlled both chambers of Congress, lost the House.

Now, members of the movement hope it's the reverse.

“We're seeing people who have never been involved in politics now motivated to speak up,” said Ezra Levin, who came up with the idea for the online guide and is now president of Indivisible Guide, which recently registered as nonprofit group. He worked with Dohl on Capitol Hill in 2009, during the rise of the Tea Party.

On Saturday, the two celebrated the GOP collapse on healthcare. A day earlier, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled a bill that would have repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, because it did not have enough support. Many in the Freedom Caucus, among the most conservative members of Congress, thought the bill did not dismantle Obamacare enough. Democrats and moderate Republicans thought it went too far.

Levin, 31, credits Indivisible groups for influencing moderates such as Representative Barbara Comstock, a Republican who represents a swing district in Virginia.

For weeks, Comstock declined requests from constituents — some of whom are associated with Indivisible — for an in-person town hall. Her Capitol Hill and district offices were also flooded with phone calls from constituents seeking more access to her.

On Friday, hours before the bill was pulled, Comstock said she would not support it.

“This is setting the tone for members of Congress to know that constituents are paying attention,” Levin said. “And they're not going to stop. This is going forward for months and years.”

Laynette Evans, 64, a career coach and resume writer, is among the early organizers of Indivisible Reno.

The Reno group has about 1,100 Facebook members and has met a handful of times in recent months to talk about how to get their representatives at all levels of government — Democrats and Republicans alike — to hear them out on issues including healthcare and immigration.

“It's putting politicians on notice,” said Evans, a Democrat. “With the election of Donald Trump, I think more people are becoming engaged in politics and how our country is being governed.”

In January, a day after Trump's inauguration, millions of people joined women's marches nationwide. As protests of Trump have ensued, several states have sought to pass legislation that would discourage or criminalize protest. And Trump has described protesters — those at town halls or marching in the streets — as paid professionals who specialize in disrupting Republicans.

After the failure to repeal of Obamacare, Trump has indicated he's ready to move on to other issues, such as tax reform.

Whatever the proposal, Trump and Republicans will probably face Indivisible, Levin said.

The resistance, Levin said, is not going away.


 on: March 28, 2017, 07:49:00 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the Los Angeles Times....

Healthcare debacle results from Republicans believing their own myths

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Monday, March 27, 2017

DONALD TRUMP and congressional Republicans created a political debacle for themselves by believing a set of scare stories about Obamacare that came back to haunt them. It is an object lesson in how false realities ultimately pop like soap bubbles when pricked by plain old truth.

There are five fatal fibs the GOP sold to supporters and to themselves:

Obamacare is socialistic, government-run healthcare: Actually, the ideas that led to the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, were developed in conservative think tanks in the 1990s as an alternative to a government-run, Canada-like, single-payer scheme. The testing ground for these ideas was Massachusetts under Republican Governor Mitt Romney. It was a middle-of-the-road idea that kept the private insurance industry at the heart of healthcare, something many Democrats, such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, considered a terrible compromise.

The American people hate Obamacare: While it is true that quite a few Americans came to detest Obamacare, what they did not like was the Republican-created myth that Obamacare is onerous, oppressive and expensive. The very name Obamacare was a GOP marketing tool to make it less attractive to conservative voters. In reality, most people — especially all those in employer-run plans — were not affected much one way or another by the ACA. Many others had no idea what it really was. In interviews, some voters famously said they hated Obamacare but loved the ACA.

Obamacare will be repealed and replaced: Republicans made this promise for seven years and Trump made the same pledge throughout his campaign. When it came down to it, though, they discovered there was vast disagreement within their party about how to do it. The priority of the so-called Freedom Caucus in the House GOP was to eliminate entitlements and toss the whole healthcare mess to the states. Meanwhile, Republicans from swing districts recognized that they would put themselves in political peril if they began taking away healthcare from older people with limited means and serious medical conditions or from pregnant women or from the working poor or from young people on their parents' plans — all the people who were beneficiaries of the ACA.

The House GOP healthcare plan is what Trump promised on the campaign trail: Trump seems to have sold this big fib to himself. Even after the harsh details of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan's healthcare bill became clear, Trump continued to say it was a “beautiful plan” that would give everyone access to healthcare and end the “nightmare” of Obamacare. Talking nonsense might get you to the White House, but it doesn't guarantee you can pass legislation once you get there. Off the record, some Republican members of Congress who met with Trump said they were shocked by how ignorant he was of the bill's provisions.

Republicans speak for the American people when it comes to healthcare: Unlike Trump, the public grasped the details of the Republican scheme. In one poll, just 17% of voters favored it. That is pretty hard evidence that Republican politicians need to abandon their self-created myths about the ACA.

Here is the truth. Obamacare is far from perfect. Middle-income people in rural states have been hit especially hard by the changes that have come about in the healthcare market since the ACA was passed, but the Republican plan did nothing to help them while it took away care from millions of poor people and threatened to cause a stark erosion in the quality of coverage for many of the older working-class whites who are the heart of the Trump constituency.

Unless you are an anti-government, free-market absolutist or just a rich guy who hates paying taxes, Obamacare does not need to be repealed or replaced. It needs to be fixed. Republicans, working with Democrats (what a crazy idea that is!), should repair it, improve it, call it by whatever name they want, but stop pretending that most Americans have not already decided that healthcare is too vital not to be a right guaranteed to everyone.

Of course, that is not what will happen. Instead, insurance companies will continue to exploit the weaknesses of the ACA, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will do everything possible to undermine the system as it is, and Trump will be playing golf at Mar-a-Lago until, to use the president's own term, the country's healthcare system “explodes.”

“Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated,” Trump said in a revelatory moment a month ago. It gets even more complicated when self-delusion runs so deep in a president and a political party.


 on: March 27, 2017, 11:35:30 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

Scott Pelley is pulling no punches on the nightly news
 — and people are taking notice

Some think the CBS anchor is being snarky, but he’s just
defending facts in Trump's fact-challenged world.

By MARGARET SULLIVAN | 4:40PM EDT - Sunday, March 26, 2017

“CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley. — Photograph: Sonja Flemming/CBS.
CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley. — Photograph: Sonja Flemming/CBS.

WITH the words “credibility questioned” prominent on the screen, Scott Pelley once again is doing what network evening-news anchors generally don't do: abandoning careful neutrality in favor of pointed truth-telling.

He is talking on Thursday night about President Trump. And here are some of the words he is using: “his boasting and tendency to believe conspiracy theories.”

It's nothing new. Pelley, of CBS Evening News, has set himself apart — especially in recent weeks — with a spate of such assessments, night after night.

Perhaps the most notable one, on February 7th, went like this:

“It has been a busy day for presidential statements divorced from reality. Mr. Trump said this morning that any polls that show disapproval of his immigration ban are fake. He singled out a federal judge for ridicule after the judge suspended his ban, and Mr. Trump said that the ruling now means that anyone can enter the country. The president's fictitious claims, whether imaginary or fabricated, are now worrying even his backers, particularly after he insisted that millions of people voted illegally, giving Hillary Clinton her popular-vote victory.”

And then Pelley added a reality-check kicker: “There is not one state election official, Democrat or Republican, who supports that claim.”

There are plenty of other examples: One evening last month, he described Trump aide Kellyanne Conway as “a fearless fabulist.” Another night, he referred to the president as having had “another Twitter tantrum.”

Far more than his competitors — Lester Holt on NBC and David Muir on ABC — Pelley is using words and approaches that pull no punches.

It's not that the others don't provide fact-checks or report on criticism; they do. But Pelley, 59, despite his calm delivery, is dogged, night after night — and far blunter.

“He is not biased or grinding an ax, but certainly some of those lines have bite in them,” said Tom Bettag, a former executive producer at four networks, including the CBS Evening News; he was the longtime executive producer of ABC's “Nightline” in the Ted Koppel years.

Bettag's University of Maryland journalism students have been struck by Pelley's approach, he told me.

“Some of them think it's snarky,” he said. “There's the sense of ‘You can't say that, can you?’” Others in the class like Pelley's directness: “It splits about 50/50.”

Bettag's students aren't alone in noticing.

The Associated Press's David Bauder did a recent roundup of some of Pelley's zingers. Bauder quoted this criticism of Tim Graham of the conservative Media Research Center: “We're going to remember, this is not the way you were with other presidents.”

But Bauder also included the positive assessment of media consultant Andrew Tyndall: “To me, it's not commentary. It's actual reporting.”

Bettag says that makes perfect sense to him since Pelley's background is as “a great reporter,” one who has been a war correspondent, who broke major stories in the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal, and who has done award-winning work for the network's flagship news show, “Sixty Minutes”. Pelley took over as the evening news anchor in 2011 and also holds the title of managing editor.

“Scott sees himself in the Murrow and Cronkite tradition,” Bettag said, referring to the legendary, and sometimes outspoken, CBS journalists Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.

Pelley, and others at CBS, declined to comment for this column, saying the work speaks for itself. There is clearly every wish to avoid setting up CBS as anti-Trump or as partisan.

But, accepting Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite Award last November, Pelley tipped his hand: “The quickest, most direct way to ruin a democracy is to poison the information.”

Does something as old-school as the nightly news still carry weight in these days of 24/7 cable and self-reinforcing information sources? Undoubtedly, yes.

Together they reach 24 million viewers on a typical weeknight (with CBS the lowest-rated of the three).

The viewers, because they skew older, are probably more likely to be voters; and because they are watching the nightly news, rather than a pick-your-poison cable network, may be less likely to have their minds made up.

The broadcasts' influence — though surely not what it was 40 years ago — remains important. And so does analytical reporting that consistently goes beyond mere stenography.

So does the context: How do you report on a president who often veers from reality, without appearing to be biased, and without turning off fair-minded citizens who are trying to stay informed?

We're seeing examples from all over, as news organizations get outside their comfort zones.

We saw it last week when Time magazine did a full interview with the president on the question of his own credibility, producing a magazine whose cover asks, “Is Truth Dead?”

We saw it on the Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial page, which criticized the president for insisting that his predecessor had had him wiretapped, using this startling metaphor: Trump is “clinging to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle.”

And we're seeing it on the CBS Evening News, where Scott Pelley, quietly and backed by reporting, may say, as he did last month:

“The president's real troubles again today were not with the media but with the facts.”

• Margaret Sullivan is The Washington Post's media columnist. Previously, she was The New York Times public editor, and the chief editor of The Buffalo News, her hometown paper.


 on: March 27, 2017, 11:34:42 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

Nearly 1 out of every 3 days he has been president,
Trump has visited a Trump property

He has made 13 visits to his own golf courses since becoming president,
likely playing golf on at least 12 of those occasions.

By PHILIP BUMP | 1:42PM EDT - Sunday, March 26, 2017

President Trump's motorcade arrives at Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Virginia, on March 25th. — Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters.
President Trump's motorcade arrives at Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Virginia, on March 25th.
 — Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters.

FOR THE eighth weekend in a row, President Trump has visited a property that bears his name. He has done so on 21 of the 66 days he has been in office, meaning that for the equivalent of three full weeks of his just-over-nine weeks as commander in chief, he has spent all or part of a day at a Trump property — earning that property mentions in the media and the ability to tell potential clients that they might be able to interact with the president. And, despite his insistence on the campaign trail that he would avoid the links — “I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to go play golf,” he said in August — he has made 13 visits to his own golf courses since becoming president, likely playing golf on at least 12 of those occasions.

Below, a breakdown of Trump's visits to his properties. They include:

  • Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C.

  • Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Virginia.

  • Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.

  • Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump has announced that he plans to host the Chinese president at Mar-a-Lago next month.

The one occasion on which he went to a golf course but clearly didn’t play golf came Sunday, when he made a relatively short visit to Trump National during which, his team says, he held three meetings. Last week, press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump's visits to golf courses didn't necessarily mean he was playing golf.

“Just because you go somewhere doesn't necessarily mean you did it,” Spicer told reporters. “So, on a couple of occasions, he's actually conducted meetings there, he's actually had phone calls. So, just because he heads there, it doesn't mean that that's what's happening.”

On every occasion, save the visit on Sunday, Trump has spent multiple hours at the club, usually out of view of the media. On some occasions, such as on Saturday, social media posts emerge showing him on the course.

As of writing, it's not clear who was included in Trump's three meetings at Trump National. A post on Instagram tagged at the club on Sunday appears to show Trump and two other people watching television in the course's clubhouse.

If Trump traveled to Trump National for meetings, it raises another question: Couldn't those meetings have been held at the White House?

• Philip Bump is a correspondent for The Washington Post based in New York City.


Related media:

 • PHOTOGRAPH GALLERY: See what President Trump has been doing since taking office


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