Friday, July 6, 2018


Republican rules are thus:

"Be ultra critical of others yet hypersensitive to criticism."

Brett Kavanaugh, a Supreme Court front-runner, once argued in favor of very broad grounds for impeachment (of a democrat).

Kavanaugh once argued that President Bill Clinton could be impeached for lying to his staff and misleading the public, a definition of obstruction of justice that would be damaging if applied to Donald Trump.

Kavanaugh’s arguments — expressed in the report of the independent counsel, Kenneth W. Starr, which he co-wrote nearly 20 years ago — have been cited in recent days by Republicans with reservations about him and have raised grave concerns among people close to Mr. Trump.

A federal appeals judge and onetime law clerk for Justice Kennedy, Judge Kavanaugh, 53, is one of only two or three candidates Mr. Trump is still considering for the opening on the court. The others are Raymond M. Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett.

But Judge Kavanaugh’s role in the investigation of Mr. Clinton’s affair with a White House intern, which resulted in his impeachment in 1998, has raised a red flag among people close to Mr. Trump.

At a minimum, his views about when to impeach a president are sure to come up during a Senate confirmation hearing and would allow Democrats to shine a spotlight on Mr. Trump’s handling of the Russia investigation.

White House officials said Mr. Trump was aware of Judge Kavanaugh’s views. While people close to Mr. Trump said Democrats could exploit his Clinton-era statements, they did not believe this issue torpedoes his nomination.

Mr. Trump’s advisers urged him to make a final decision on his choice for the court before he left Washington on Thursday morning for his Montana rally, so they would have time to prepare proper spin for a rollout of "the winner." But several said they had resigned themselves to the fact that Trump would flip-flop several times before he meets with Putin again. Perhaps Putin will decide.

“We fully expect the Senate will find the president’s choice to have the qualifications, intellect and temperament to serve in [sic] the Supreme Court,” said a deputy press secretary, Raj Shah.

As a Yale Law graduate in his early 30s, Judge Kavanaugh was one of the primary authors of Mr. Starr’s report to Congress, which said Mr. Clinton had lied under oath and concealed evidence of his relationship with an intern, Monica Lewinsky.

The report laid out 11 grounds for impeachment, two of which are drawing scrutiny in the context of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is looking into whether Trump associates aided Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — in an investigation that has been expanded to include whether the president tried to obstruct the inquiry itself.

First, the Starr report said that Mr. Clinton lied to his aides about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, “knowing that they would relay those falsehoods to the grand jury.” Second, it said he lied to the American public, and that senior officials, including the press secretary, then relied on those denials in their own misleading public statements.

“The president’s emphatic denial to the American people was false,” the prosecutors wrote. “And his statement was not an impromptu comment in the heat of a news conference. To the contrary, it was an intentional and calculated falsehood to deceive the Congress and the American people.”

By that standard, Mr. Trump’s misleading statements to the news media, his miasma of tweets and his protracted public debate over whether to speak with Mr. Mueller could all be used against him.

The Starr report faulted Mr. Clinton for refusing six invitations to testify before a grand jury, saying the refusals substantially delayed the investigation.

Mr. Trump has been debating for months whether to accept Mr. Mueller’s invitation to give an interview, and his lawyers have argued against it.

Under the standard set by the Starr report, Congress should consider that as potential grounds for impeachment.

Mr. Trump also personally dictated a misleading statement to The New York Times about a secret meeting that his son arranged with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign. Mr. Trump’s lawyers and the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, then repeatedly and falsely denied that Mr. Trump dictated the statement.

The Starr report faulted Mr. Clinton for turning his press secretary and other White House officials into “unwitting agents of the president’s deception.”

The House ultimately did not adopt all these grounds when it voted to impeach Mr. Clinton. But Judge Kavanaugh’s involvement in drafting them creates the possibility that Democrats would try to make his confirmation hearing a referendum on the standards of impeachment.

And it would force the White House to talk about the Russia investigation during what would otherwise be a welcome reprieve.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Trump, the turd

Insults, misstatements, exaggerations and outright falsehoods began from the White House just after sunrise.

Trump started the 4th by taking credit for averting a war with North Korea (that he almost started), charged without proof that President Barack Obama had secretly granted citizenship to thousands of Iranians as part of nuclear disarmament negotiations and suggested that customers of Harley-Davidson were psychic.

He called a sitting congresswoman “crazy” and “corrupt.”

He branded the National Security Agency’s handling of millions of telephone call records “a disgrace” — and suggested it was connected to the special counsel investigation into whether his campaign worked with Russia to interfere in the 2016 elections.

“Witch Hunt!” he wrote at the end of that tweet.

The posts had two tired themes: Attacks on Mr. Trump’s “rivals,” and trumpeting his "achievements" in the face of broadening public criticism.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Heroic Medicine

When it comes to America's health care costs, many claim the problem begins with “the 5%.”

In 2008 and 2009, just 5% of Americans were responsible for 50% of the country's medical spending.

Besides such a tiny fraction being responsible for so much expense, high spenders often repeat from year to year.

Drill even deeper and health care has its own “1% crisis.”

In 2009, the top 1% of patients accounted for 21.8% of all medical expenditures.

Who ARE these 1%ers?

Those chronically ill patients skewed white, and old, and republican!

This is well depicted by the “Mr. Creosote” episode in Monty Python.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R) at a healthcare reform meeting in New Port Richey, Florida. His false claim of 'death panels' in the ACA was PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" in 2009.

When it comes to America's health care costs, the real problem is parasitic capitalism. (Where wealthy profit first from your medical insurance AND then from your medical care thereafter).

Is it any wonder that Medical Tourism is a rapidly growing industry?

Eight CEOs at the largest publicly traded insurance companies got a pay raise last year. Combined, those eight executives made $171.8 million in total compensation in 2016 -- enough to cover the average annual premium for about 59,150 people enrolled in the most popular ObamaCare plan (on the federal marketplace). (Data from a Modern Healthcare analysis of company proxy statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.)

These included (in alphabetical order) Aetna, Anthem, Centene Corp., Cigna Corp., Humana, Molina Healthcare, UnitedHealth Group, and WellCare Health Plans.

And, folks that OWN STOCK in health insurance companies (and for-profit hospitals) demand their pound of flesh (dividends).

I once spoke to "an investor" who felt that there should be a law against any hospital that is NOT for-profit! Health care profits are A TAX paid to the rich by the poor! (Or, in the case of corporate profits, undistributed wages that are withheld from the workers to compensate the "jobs creators.")

Before ObamaCare, people let their medical issues worsen until a preventable condition became an expensive medical issue.

Classical Example: Steve Jobs died regretting that he had spent so long attempting to treat his cancer with alternative medicine before agreeing to undergo surgery.

I never knew Steve Jobs had a medical education!

Monty Python's Flying Circus - Frontiers in Medicine

Monday, July 2, 2018


• The US and Russia arranged a summit between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

• Experts say the US has nothing to gain and everything to lose from a meeting between Trump and Putin given current US-Russia relations and Trump's personal affinity for Putin.

•"But that seems to be the pattern of Trump's dealmaking," said one former State Department official.

• "We move the US embassy to Jerusalem and get nothing in exchange.

• We give the North Koreans a summit and get nothing in exchange.

• We pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and get nothing in exchange.

• This is par for the (Trump) course."

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Is Trump's number up?

Six hundred days after the 2016 election, many US voters remain deeply skeptical of, if not hostile to, political polling.

The national polls in 2016 were actually fairly accurate: Hillary Clinton was supposed to win the popular vote by about three points and she ended up winning by two.

Many Americans feel that Trump is harming the country and question any survey that seems like good news for him; they believe numbers exaggerate the strength of the president’s political position.

When Trump hit a personal best 45% overall approval rating immediately after meeting “rocket bot,” boosted by a 90% approval rating among Republicans.

Last Monday, Gallup had Trump back down at 41%, as Americans learned more about his dishonest policy of separating migrant families at the US border. Aside from that, Trump’s approval rating has been “incredibly stable” within a band from about 36% to 43%.

Under normal circumstances, an overall approval rating much under 50% would spell doom for an incumbent president, ruling out re-election. And 90% in-party support is not unusual in recent presidential cycles.

Some voters find it hard to understand how Trump could maintain such strong support from Republicans. Trump is an unusual president but his robust party support is true to historical patterns.

In positive news for critics of the president, robust support from the Republican party might not be what it used to be, as the party is shrinking. Democrats have built a seven-point advantage in registered voters, according to Gallup’s tracking poll, up from two in November 2016.

“Today’s GOP is the president’s plaything.” -- George Will

Republicans are suffering high-profile defections, recently including Steve Schmidt, who ran the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign and worked in George W Bush’s White House.

In his most recent Washington Post column, George Will urged fellow Republicans to vote Democratic in the midterm elections.

“In today’s GOP, which is the president’s plaything, he is the mainstream,” Will wrote. “So, to vote against his party’s cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation’s honor while quarantining him.”

But Republican defections might not be the place to focus. Probably more important to the defeat of the Trump bloc in future elections, analysts say, will be factors such as turnout among minority voters, whom Trump lost in 2016 by 53 points.

Another important group are the white, working-class Americans who voted for Barack Obama. A New York Times analysis of official voter files in three states found that almost one in four white working-class voters who supported Obama switched to Trump in 2016.

Will those voters stick with Trump? The 2016 electorate has soured on Trump. The president’s approval rating in the ‘working-class Americans‘ poll was seven points underwater, 41% a significant slide from 48%.

For some American voters across the political spectrum, the answer is simple. No matter what the numbers say: ignore the polls and vote.