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17 February 2017


President Trump’s New Clothes

President Trump’s February  16, 2017, impromptu press conference was notable for a great number of things, including his statement, on being called out for exaggerating the size of his 2016 Electoral College victory--“I was given that information .”  Of course, he expected everybody to believe his claim just because he said it.
“But he has no clothes on!” shouted the little boy in Hans Christian Andersen’s fable.   Donald Trump has surrounded himself with sycophants (or Svengalis) in his “fine-tuned machine” of an administration.

This country will not be able to look to its new President for leadership.  Rather he will smoothly translate into convincing policy goals the schemes of friendly manipulators who represent special interests.  That’s his expertise; that’s his art of a deal.

16 February 2017


Insurance Company Pull-outs

The announcement on 15 February 2017 that Humana will pull out of Obamacare’s insurance exchanges is only confirmation that insurance companies think that under Trump the ACA will inevitably be ended.  They are happy that there will be a return to a free market for medical insurance, and higher profitability for their business.

Many people will lose their newly –won medical coverage, the economic cost of American health care will go up, and the country’s short flirtation with something approaching universal medical insurance will fade away.  It was probably a pipe dream that the vaunted U.S. ideal of private enterprise could be successfully rolled into a government-subsidized healthcare system , anyway.  Now we will know another consequence of the 2016 presidential election.

11 February 2017

Reality Elections

The recent decision by the D.C. U.S. District Court in Level the Playing
Field et al  v Federal Election Commmission ordered the FEC to reconsider the
evidence presented by the plaintiffs that by keeping all presidential
candidates but the Democratic and Republican Party nominees out of the
Presidential Debates is discriminatory and vitiates the supposedly non-
partisan role of the Commission on Presidential Debates in the U.S. election
process. The plaintiffs state that this allows our Presidential Elections to
be dominated by two private organizations in violation of the objective of
the U.S. Constitution to establsh a free and neutral process of democratic
government.

Why wouldn’t a non-party-organized political system be any more immune to
manipulation than a two-party system?  As shown by Donald Trump in 2016, it
is possible to manipulate the traditionally inactive electorate by mobilizing
unsophisticated voters who respond to the type of publicity techniques that
sell reality TV shows.  Freeing the presidential election debates of control
by the two parties risks making them vehicles for demagogues.

The election of Donald Trump (or for that matter the Democratic nomination of
Hillary Clinton) was a failure of the Republican party adequately to vet its
candidates.  The parties were supposed to be the screening tools for our
elections.  Instead, they have become captives of the career ambitions of
their members.  The money that buys the outcome of their nomination process
would also determine the outcome of a non-vetted competition.  If we cannot
improve the evaluation procedures of the two parties and somehow remove the
monetary advantages of political careers  then we have no choice but to
abdicate control of the political system to dome benevolent dictator—Big
Brother here we come.

30 January 2017


Trump’s Best Deal Yet

I must confess that I haven’t read ‘The Art of the Deal.”  However, by observing Donald Trump these last few months, I suspect that the secret to a good deal is to convince the other party to it that he can live with it.  It doesn’t make any difference what principles have to be espoused in order to win the consent or allegiance of the other deal maker, because the only important consideration is getting what you want. 

It is important to avoid breaking the law so that enjoying the fruits of your deal is not at risk.  Therefore, lying is ok, as long as it is not under oath.  And a slew of other undesirable acts are also allowable, as long as they are not illegal, including abortion, welching on verbal agreements (like refusing to pay contractors whose work is not protected in writing), etc.  The key is to hire good lawyers.

President Trump surely won the support of an electoral majority with a campaign that made them believe that they would get a good deal from his being in the White House.  It still doesn’t matter whether his justifications of the election victory or his claims of enthusiasm for the coming Trump Presidency are based on objective truth.  Not to him.  He has gotten what he wants—he has shown everyone that he is better than they.

 

26 January 2017


Multiple Registrations Explain Low Voter Turnout

If, as has been pointed out, many of President Trump’s entourage are registered to vote in more than one state, and they presumably voted only in one place, their turnout was only 50% or less.  Many others probably are registered in more than one place, not to mention those who have died or otherwise lost their eligibility to vote and failed to have their former registration cancelled.

It would be interesting to know how many of such cases exist.  If it is significant, the low percentage of American voter turnout for elections may be overstated.

25 January 2017

Treating Trump's Supporters with Dignity

Jonathan Capehart interviewed Arthur Brooke, head of the American Enteprise Institute, in the January 25, 2017 Washington Post.  Brooke attributed some of Trump's victory to the new President's delivery of dignity to the segment of the population who gave him his winning margin in the key states. 

It is admirable, indeed, to treat everyone with dignity.  However, how deserving of dignity are people who rely on appeals to their prejudices against other ethnicities, other religions and other races for their consent to provide electoral support to a presidential candidate.  For that matter, with how much dignity did President Trump treat his opponent, Secretary Hillary Clinton, during the campaign?

22 January 2017


Trump’s Healthcare Bait and Switch

One of President Trump’s first executive orders was to order a relaxation of the mandate on federal agencies to enforce non-participation penalties on taxpayers eligible for coverage by the ACA.   It is my understanding that that feature of Obama Care was included in order to assure that enough funds would be available to finance its benefits by forcing greater participation by healthier and younger potential subscribers.  The result of elimination of this disincentive from the ACA would appear to be the need to subsidize the Plan with general federal revenues in order to pay for the healthcare of those who choose not to pay for their own private plans.

What it comes down to is that there is no silver bullet.  Somebody has to pay for ersatz universal health care.  Obama Care is an attempt to disguise an expensive plan to cover everyone with healthcare insurance by forcing those not covered through their employers or under costly independent private plans to subscribe for a government-brokered private plan whether they thought they needed it or not.  It modeled itself on Social Security, which has young wage-earners financing retirees’ benefits through payroll deductions. 

So who’s complaining that a champion of smaller government is responding to disappointment that Obama Care cannot be a free ride by allowing evasion of its primary mechanism for avoiding insolvency?  The relaxation of penalty requirements on those who refuse to participate will inevitably lead to relying on general federal revenues in order to finance ACA’s benefits.  Universal health insurance is too attractive now that we have it.  The ultimate accomplishment of Obama Care may then turn out to be acceptance of universal healthcare  by conservative policy-makers.  Was it “bait and switch?”   Perhaps a deft use of that tactic.

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