Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Other shoes to drop? The possible Russian connections are page turners.

Add December 11, 2017 https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/07/how-russia-played-trump-for-a-fool

Other shoes to drop?  So many connections have been reported in the press which may or may not be true.  . Some of this could show up later in Mueller indictments.. . Fasten your seat belts. The rocky ride is just beginning.   Connecting the dots: http://www.msnbc.com/…/new-commerce-secretary-at-nexus-of-l… And where is Mike Flynn? Did he flip? Deal? with the Mueller investigation? https://www.gq.com/story/mike-flynn-junior-in-mueller-investigation-schreckinger  Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' role as largest shareholder in Cyprus bank?  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/23/wilbur-ross-russian-deal-bank-of-cyprus-donald-trump-commerce-secretary      This saga is a page turner.


Regulators are reviewing loans from Deutsche Bank, which is also expecting to have to share information with the authorities investigating campaign ties to Russia.
NYTIMES.COM

Monday, October 30, 2017

Did Manafort shape Trump's foreign policy in 2016?


Update and revision Nov. 5,  2017 and Nov. 8, 2017https://www.skyhinews.com/news/muftic-did-trumps-associates-with-russian-connections-shape-his-foreign-policy/

Update Nov. 11, 2017:

Trump is deluded.

Pres. Trump tells press he believes Putin, but not US intelligence, that Russia did not meddle in US elections in 2016.  The bromance continues.https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/nov/11/donald-trump-tells-reporters-he-believes-putin/?utm_source=onesignal&utm_campaign=pushnotify&utm_medium=push

Mike Pompeo is not deluded. Trump's own appointee, head of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, confirms Russian meddling.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/11/11/despite-trumps-comments-cia-stands-assessment-russia-meddled-election/855212001/

Congress is not deluded:  Facebook postings by Russians in 2016 reached 146 million people.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/technology/facebook-google-russia.html?action=click&contentCollection=Politics&module=RelatedCoverage&


Back in scrutiny is whether Manafort caused the GOP platform to be changed regarding Ukraine and arming the opposition to Russian backed rebels. http://www.clarionledger.com/story/opinion/columnists/2017/11/03/investigation-trump-campaigns-russia-collusion-may-focus-ukraine-connection/829702001/

Revelations from  Congressional hearings  into  Russian use of social media to influence the 2016 elections , Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s indictments of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and  associate  Rick  Gates,  and the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos  have been eye opening. Aside from the  implications for  the integrity of future elections  or charges of collusion is whether  the Russian connections  permeating Donald Trump’s campaign and his White House administration shaped Trump’s US foreign policy toward Russia.   The case could be made that Trump  was a willing dupe of Russian influence. The timing of campaign pronouncements that became foreign policy specific coincided with Russian connected staff and volunteers  joining the campaign  in the Spring of 2016.


Before Manafort and  Mike Flynn became key players in Trump’s presidential campaign, Trump was focused on admiration of Putin’s strong man management style. Many were calling this a “bromance”.  Trump has never  uttered one word  of criticism of  President Vladimir Putin. This has been an eyebrow raiser, to say the least.
In  the early months  of 2016,   when  Manafort and company and Mike Flynn came on board the campaign, Trump’s bromance with Putin’s autocratic style  of governing morphed into policy specifics which were similar to  Russia’s policy goals.   Manafort  joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 and was named campaign chair in April, resigning in August because his Russian ties had become more public.  Beginning in March 2016  Trump  on the stump began his anti-NATO crusade.  Putin saw the NATO mutual defense treaty as a barrier to expansion into NATO member countries such as the Baltics and Poland.  Lifting US sanctions against Russia and Putin’s  oligarch friends enacted  in retaliation to Russian takeover of  Crimea and Eastern Ukraine and interference in 2016 elections is believed to be Putin’s  goal.  Flynn resigned as White House adviser  when he was caught fibbing about  conversations with Russians about  sanctions.

Gen. Mike  Flynn , who had appeared  seated near Putin in a Russian Television  (RT) anniversary celebration,  became famous in Trump rallies for his  attacks on Hillary Clinton’s character  with his “lock her up” chant.  There is plenty of evidence that Putin also wanted Clinton to lose and  had blamed her for drumming up anti Putin sentiment in his  prior reelection campaign while she was Secretary of State.


In other policy pronouncements from spring 2016 through inauguration, Trump  supported  foreign policies that dovetailed neatly with Russia's, considering recognizing as legitimate the Russian grab of the Crimea, lifting sanctions against Russia,  calling NATO obsolete as a military defense alliance, demanding members pay more,  and  being fuzzy about whether Russia's ally Assad in Syria must go. None of those policies are in America's or our allies' interests since it weakens US allies’ ability to check Russian land grabs  in the Baltics and Balkans and increased Russian involvement in Syria on behalf of Assad. Later as President , Trump refused to back NATO’s stated purpose  to come to the defense when  NATO  member nations were attacked . He was forced to backtrack that as President. Likewise, his policy evolved  to stronger support of the pro west Ukraine government. Nonetheless, so alarmed was Congress that  President Trump would  lift  sanctions against Russia ,  this summer , 2017, Congress enacted legislation to prevent the lifting of sanctions and increasing them. .Trump signed the bill,  it but he  has ignored and  missed the  implementation deadline.


The significance of the Papadopoulos guilty plea and Russian use of social media:


The Papadopoulos indictment was the first evidence uncovered by Mueller  that Trump’s campaign had been interested in a degree of coordination with Russia. Papadopoulos communicated his Russian outreach initiatives and Russian  contacts to his campaign supervisor, Sam Clovis. Those contacts offered email dirt of Hillary Clinton months before the emails surfaced in the press.  Papadopoulos’ guilty plea was to lying to the investigators about his  having Russian contacts. It was not about the substance of his actions.   


Jaw dropping Congressional testimony by the icons of social media also revealed that Russian placed ads enhancing Trump’s racists and anti Muslim issues and hatred of Hillary Clinton. . These ads, tweets, and facebook postings reached nearly one out of every two US voters and were clearly geared to help Trump and hurt Clinton.

















Update 10/30/17

Aside from the criminal indictment, there are some other questions. Regardless of the validity of the   current indictment and another person's guilty plea, o borrow the title of a hit Broadway musical, there was "Something Rotten" going on in the 2016 Trump campaign.

Did Manafort and his associate influence Donald Trump's position on Russia in the 2016 campaign? Trump's position favoring  certain specific policy  issues involving Russia began to  be expressed after Manafort joined the 2016 campaign.  Is there evidence Russia also tried to help Trump win?

Assuming Trump was unaware that Manafort was so connected with either the Ukraine or Russia, was he just a willing dupe of that influence since he himself had so many business dealings with Russia, had wanted to have more business there, and who fundamentally and earlier  admired the governing style of Putin. The press coverage of Manafort's connections mid campaign in 2016, did result in Manafort's firing as campaign chair., though co indicted Rick Gates, Manafort's associate,  continued with his key role in the campaign. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/08/19/trump-campaign-chairman-paul-manafort-resigns/

On Oct. 3, 2017, George Papadopoulos plead guilty to Mueller's charge he lied about his  Russian connection meetings.   He was connected to the Trump campaign. http://www.newsweek.com/who-george-papadopoulos-trump-adviser-russia-650716     Speculation is that he could have plead to a lesser charge in return for turning into a state's witness that Russia did tamper with the election. election. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/us/politics/george-papadopoulos-russia.html?_r=0
The guilty plea paper indicates that this is evidence of  campaign coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia even before Mueller's appointment as special prosecutor. https://www.lawfareblog.com/george-papadopoulos-stipulation-and-plea-agreement
http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/30/politics/who-is-george-papadopoulos/index.html

  The "innocent dupe" theory could be Trump's defense against collusion, conspiracy charges. However, the continued Russian meddling in the campaign on behalf of Trump or against Clinton (either way), the suspected motivation of the Russians to get rid of sanctions against Russia levied after  the Russian invasion of the Crimea and later due to the election meddling,  could be the collusion element tied to Trump's team.  So far Pres. Trump himself is not directly tied to a conspiracy to collude.  That Trump tried to obstruct the investigation  is another matter, perhaps motivated by fears of what might be revealed about his family's and team's role in any collusion. As Nixon found out, a coverup had more serious repercussions than the connection to  original crime of breaking into DNC Watergate headquarters.

The overriding issue between US foreign policy and Russia is the sanctions imposed by the US against Russia, especially targeting oligarch friends of Putin.  Congress in the summer of 2017 was so alarmed Trump was going to lift them, they passed legislation that basically tied Trump's hands. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/27/us/politics/senate-russia-sanctions-trump.html?_r=0

That Manfort was charged with conspiracy against the US leads to another question: Was Manfort acting as an agent of the former Ukrainian president or Russia and in their pay at the time of the campaign? Perhaps that could be the money laundering  connection yet revealed.
https://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/30/full-text-paul-manafort-indictment-244307

 The connection with the Cyprus bank is most interesting:  In my 3/22/17 blog posting: "
How likely is it  pro Russian sympathizers in his campaign  or transistion or White House staff influenced his  positions on foreign policy similar to Russia’s or influence the GOP platform?  His campaign staff , his cabinet and  White House advisers, were full of Russian friendlies .  His campaign chairman from May to mid August , Paul Manafort, had provided paid services to the now deposed Putin confident and former president of the Ukraine, and he signed a contract, for millions per year 2006-2009 with an oligarch close to Putin to promote Putin's interest in the world . Manafort also was also paid  as a consultant to the Montenegro government Russia was influencing. Roger Stone is suspected of communicating with Russian intelligence in cyber matters. Carter Page,active the the Russian energy sector and an open apologist for Putin, was a campaign hanger on. Two members of his cabinet have Russian ties. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was Exxon president and got official recognition for his friendship with Russia. Trump’s old friend and new Commerce Secretary, is Wilbur Ross, major investor in a  Cyprus bank known for money laundering  for Russian clients .   His constant campaign companion, and later  briefly national security advisor ,Gen Mike Flynn ,had  been paid to promote Russian state sponsored television."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/27/us/politics/senate-russia-sanctions-trump.html?_r=0

Here are some of my blog postings tracking the Manafort influence in the Trump campaign last year.

The House hearing on the Trump tweet and the Russia connection yesterday in which the FBI director and the national security chief publicly confirmed that they could find no evidence Pres. Obama ordered a wire tap on Trump towers and that since last July the FBI was investigatiing the Russia connection, was historical.  The red flags were flying even before then regarding the Russian influence in the campaign.  Below is myblog posting which was published in the Sky Hi News June 19, 2016.Paul Manafort, mentioned in the column, joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 and was named campaign chair in April, resigning in August.. Beginning in March 2106, Trump began his anti-NATO crusade. http://www.factcheck.org/2016/05/whats-trumps-position-on-nato/

By the September "Commander in Chief" forum, Trump's foreign policy was in synch with Russia's in many ways.  In a September 8 post in this blog, I wrote the following: "Donald Trump in the recent "Commander in Chief" forum called Vladimir Putin a better leader than President Obama.  That bromance between Trump and Putin is more than just a matter of flattery and egos.  It has real repercussions for future conduct of foreign policy if Trump is elected. 

 Trump supports foreign policies that dovetail neatly with Russia's,, excusing the Russian grab of the Crimea, going
along with the stealth invasion of Eastern Ukraine, calling NATO obsolete as a military defense alliance, and fuzzy about whether Russia's ally Assad in Syria must go, None of those policies are in America's or our allies' interests. Only when it comes to fighting ISIS do Russia and the US have much in common, but even then the devil will be when any peace agreements are negotiated, as Russia will be firm to protect Assad."

"
The June 19 post about the early red flags:
There are many in Grand County who have more than a passing interest in what happens to NATO.  They still have family in eastern European countries that are current members of NATO and were once Soviet satellites.  Lithuanians and Poles  have settled here and have become respected members of our community. Those countries belong to NATO.  Other Eastern European settlers in Grand County from countries not in NATO are Russians and Moldovans.
Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians (the three Baltic States) and Poles in particular must be looking at alarming statements from Donald Trump for his comments that “We don’t really need NATO in its current form. NATO is obsolete…if we have to walk, we walk.”  Many  look with raised eyebrows  at the  sometimes called “bromance” with Russian President  Vladimir Putin.  Putin called Trump  "a brighter person, talented without a doubt." Putin reiterated has admiration of Donald Trump June 19 on Fareed Zakaria ‘s CNN program, as well as asking why the West still needs NATO.
Trump’s public assertion that not only is NATO obsolete, but their members are not living up to their promises to contribute. There is far more at stake than money.
Russia is on the march in a seeming attempt to reassemble former Soviet satellites , restoring past glories.  Russians also resent and fear  their former neighboring buffer states becoming NATO members and permitting missile defense installations (even if the defense systems are turned toward the Middle East) . Their grabbing  or helping surrogates grab   parts of non NATO members of Georgia, the Crimea and eastern Ukraine has been seen as a threat in particular to the NATO member Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.  NATO was quick to move more forces to the Baltics in response as a warning to Russia not to mess with members of NATO. Without NATO, the small Baltic states in particular would be vulnerable to a Crimea and Ukraine like grabs, making Poland and Romania especially at risk. In his June CNN comments, Putin slyly ignored Russia’s land grabs which would have answered his question of Why NATO?

There may not be a conspiracy involved, just a case of Trump’s ignorance or isolationist advocacy or wanting to make a deal with Russia,  but there is an interesting connection with his most inner advisor. It is his campaign chairman,  Paul Manafort, who was a political consultant to  once  president of the Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych was attempting to stop some in his country who wanted greater trade ties with the West, while he was closely connected to Russia  and wanted his country to be more connected to them. A revolution followed in 2014.  During that revolution, Yanukovych fled first to the eastern Ukraine and now resides in exile in Russia.

Many in the United States’ foreign relations community on both sides of the aisle  look at Donald Trump’s foreign policy with alarm.  A particularly large howl was raised in a March open  letter  by 121 GOP national security leaders.  George W Bush’s secretary of State, Richard Armitage, announced  this month he would vote for Hillary Clinton.

 http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/06/16/richard-armitage-plans-vote-hillary-clinton/he would vote for Hillary Clinton.

policy/

https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/07/trump-nato/492341/


http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/06/16/richard-armitage-plans-vote-hillary-clinton/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/18/politics/donald-trump-vladimir-putin-bromance/index.html

Saturday, October 28, 2017

GOP tax plan puts money in one pocket, takes some out of another

Roll out of the bill is now rescheduled until Nov. 2
Update: Nov. 28, update CBO Score: The new score includes the impact of removing the individual mandate from Obamacare. It verifies that premiums would rise so much, 4 million could not afford health insurance by 2019 and 13 million by end of bill. Also, the middle class cuts go away and hurts them.

https://secondnexus.com/news/report-new-cbo-score-senate-tax-reform-plan/

The CBO report, released Sunday, estimates that lower-income groups would foot a bigger bill from tax cuts than previously expected. In 2019, all income groups under $30,000 would have a bigger burden under the bill, the CBO projected.
In 2027, that would extend to all income groups under $75,000, as individual tax reductions expire.
The change largely stems from the bill effectively getting rid of the Obamacare provision requiring most Americans to have health insurance or p...
See More


Update: Nov. 15, Sabotage of Obamacare, elimination of individual mandate, attached to Senate bill
Nov.15, 2017 Repeal of individual mandate in Obamacare attached  is to tax reform bill in Senate. How did this end up as a tax issue? Calling the penalty on those who do not have health insurance a tax. A rose is a rose but this one stinks. The budget and deficit implications also fit into the tax reform bill because it would reduce government expenses by $338 billion. Leading advocate and voice  Sen. James
Lankford  (R-OK)on MSNBC today called this penalty  a tax on the poor who could not afford to pay the premiums.  Oklahoma already has one of the  worst uninsured rate in the US.second only to Texas. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/visualizations/2017/comm/hi-uninsured-map-4.jpg
Oklahoma refused to expand Medicaid. If they had, 84,000 would would have access to health insurance. 
https://www.kff.org/uninsured/issue-brief/the-coverage-gap-uninsured-poor-adults-in-states-that-do-not-expand-medicaid/
https://www.healthreformvotes.org/congress/412464

CBO score on eliminating the individual mandate would leave 4 million uninsured by 2019, 13 million by 2027 nationwide. and increase individual market premiums by 10% in most every year for the next ten years.  https://www.cbo.gov/publication/53300

Re: GOP tax reform: Schumer's claim that the GOP is 'kicking 13 million people off health insurance' is a semantics problem. Per a fact checking source I respect, .It will cause non-subsidized Obamacare premiums to rise 10% for everyone.. It mostly benefits the rich and will cause a tax increase for the middle class because of the way the inflation rate is calculated and its temporary nature. The question is by removing the penalty/mandate for all in the tax bill, to require the young the healthy to have health insurance, will it kick 13 million off of Obamacare? No, it will just make it unaffordable for thirteen million who do not qualify for the subsidy and who voluntarily choose to go without insurance  https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/11/16/schumers-claim-that-the-gop-is-kicking-13-million-people-off-of-health-insurance/

Update Nov. 13, 2017:Per the link to Pew Charitable Trust...http://www.pewtrusts.org/…/federal-tax-deductions-and-credi… About 32.6% of Colorado tax filers itemize deductions; about 29% claim real estate deductions...which the GOP Congressional tax plans are attempting to eliminate.

Republican plans to eliminate or modify federal tax deductions for state and local taxes have sparked criticism from lawmakers from states that would be largely affected. Who uses the deduction and how…
FACTCHECK.ORG

Also visit: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/everything-know-senate-gop-tax-200055321.html

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News Nov. 1: http://www.skyhinews.com/news/muftic-gop-tax-plan-middle-class-draws-short-straw/
Gideon John Tucker in 1866, as Surrogate of New York, wrote in a decision : "No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session."
Tax reform is currently being considered in Congress with the GOP leaders' goal of passing tax reform before Thanksgiving. The GOP proposed a plan that would likely put some money in  middle class pockets and but then they take some out of another pocket by closing  middle class tax loopholes, credits, and deductions. Recent legislative action set deficit and tax cut totals, but the operative details are what we get Nov. 1.  

These GOP bills containing specifics have been kept secret until now but will possibly be buried in the news of the more explosive coverage of Special Prosecutor Mueller's indictments regarding the Russian connection. Nonetheless, tax reform will affect your family's pocket book for years, so listen up to see which GOP proposals could or will be included. The Tax Policy Center estimates individual taxes would increase by $470 billion over the next decade and taxes on business will be reduced by $1.6 trillion and taxes on estate and gift taxes will be reduced by $200 billion.

True, individuals will get to claim double their current standard individual deductions , and get some relief for LLC pass through. However, be prepared to withhold more from your paychecks.   The GOP wants to tax employer provided  health insurance as personal income . Your ability to invest in your 401K and defer taxation until retirement would be reduced from $18000 per year to $2400. For those who have used itemized deductions to lower their tax bills, the GOP proposed to close popular loopholes, deductions and credits benefiting the middle class. If you do not file the standard deduction, but itemize, you would no longer be able to deduct state and local taxes  anymore, but compromise on this issue may happen. The poorer have benefited by earned income tax credits and others with child related tax credits, but those may left in the dust, too. Mercifully your mortgage and charity giving will not be affected.

A key word  search of corporate  business loopholes proposed to pay for tax cuts to the rich and reductions in corporate taxes, brought up little results yet they are getting the bulk of the tax cuts.  Would tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations organically trickle down to you in the form of more jobs and higher wages instead of going to shareholders? Nothing proposed by the GOP requires that to happen. Whether you believe it will is a matter of faith since it has rarely happened in the past and when it has, the circumstances are not the same as now. Thanks to loopholes, corporations do not pay full taxes now anyway, so that lowering their rate from 35% to 20% per the GOP proposes lowers it close to the effective rate they are paying now.The projected deficit allowed in the resolutions will be an additional $1.5 trillion to be covered by a projected growth rate stimulated by the tax cuts, but considered unrealistic by many.

Some of the financial harm to the middle class is outside of the tax bill or related to the recently passed resolution . For example, your health premiums will rise by 20%  due to Trump’s recent executive order on Obamacare that has affected the health insurance market this year and next . The CHIP children health care program serving 9 million low and middle income kids was not renewed. 32 states will run out of money within the next six months, including Colorado. The budget resolution recently passed by the House and Senate permits $1.5 trillion cuts in Medicaid and Medicare over the next ten years.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-gop-budget-taxcuts-20171026-story.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/janetnovack/2017/09/29/trump-plan-delivers-massive-tax-cuts-to-the-1-and-sharp-kick-to-upper-middle-class

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfMkt7LqZKE       Joe Scarborough calls trickle down bullshit

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/28/business/401k-limit-tax-cuts.html?emc=edit_th_20171029&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=33304952&_r=0

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/whats-middle-class-gop-dems-141515462.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/politics/tax-breaks/?tid=a_inl   chart per adjusted gross income

http://econofact.org/government-budget-deficits-and-economic-growth

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/2/16405112/voxcare-chip-funding-expired

https://www.fatherly.com/love-money/child-care-tax-credit-everyone-agreed-disappears-gop-proposal/


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/23/business/a-starting-point-for-tax-reform-what-reagan-did.html


http://thehill.com/opinion/finance/355147-middle-class-families-are-the-real-winners-in-the-gop-tax-plan

https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/reports/53009-costsharingreductions.pdf


http://theweek.com/speedreads/733158/cbo-estimates-bipartisan-alexandermurray-healthcare-bill-cut-deficit-by-38-billion

https://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/eliminating-state-and-local-tax-deduction-to-pay-for-tax-cuts-for

reduce deductions for 401k from annual of 18K to 2,400K  any more than 2.400 taxed
https://www.google.com/search?source=hp&ei=_u_xWcnzNOmf0gKzqY_oDQ&q=401+k+tax+benefits&oq=401+K+tax&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0i20i263k1j0i20i263i264

http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/25/news/economy/401k-tax-break-changes/index.html
     tax in income health insurance


medicare/medicaid
   http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/billions-proposed-budget-cuts-medicare-medicaid-threaten-provider-compensation

tax on health insurance as income from employers
http://www.newsweek.com/taxing-employer-funded-health-insurance-would-be-disaster-649830

http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/25/news/economy/401k-tax-break-changes/index.html
     tax in income health insurance

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-senate-budget-taxcuts-20171019-story.html

http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/billions-proposed-budget-cuts-medicare-medicaid-threaten-provider-compensation

http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/25/news/economy/401k-tax-break-changes/index.html
     tax in income health insurance

https://www.brookings.edu/research/taking-stock-of-insurer-financial-performance-in-the-individual-health-insurance-market-through-2017/

Tucker quote from Wikipedia
   


 




Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Dancing with the devil..The route many voters choose.

Judge Roy Moore, GOP Senators, and the meaning of a Faustian bargain

From Wikipedia
"Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust is a tragic play in two parts usually known in English as Faust, Part One and Faust, Part Two. Although rarely staged in its entirety, it is the play with the largest audience numbers on German-language stages. Faust is considered by many to be Goethe's magnum opus and the greatest work of German literature.[1]...."

From Wikipedia:" Mephistopheles makes a bet with God: he says that he can lure God's favourite human being (Faust), who is striving to learn everything that can be known, away from righteous pursuits. The next scene takes place in Faust's study where Faust, despairing at the vanity of scientific, humanitarian and religious learning, turns to magic for the showering of infinite knowledge. He suspects, however, that his attempts are failing. Frustrated, he ponders suicide, but rejects it as he hears the echo of nearby Easter celebrations begin. He goes for a walk with his assistant Wagner and is followed home by a stray poodle (the term then meant a medium-to-big-size dog, similar to a sheep dog).
In Faust's study, the poodle transforms into the devil (Mephistopheles). Faust makes an arrangement with the devil: the devil will do everything that Faust wants while he is here on Earth, and in exchange Faust will serve the devil in Hell. Faust's arrangement is that if he is pleased enough with anything the devil gives him that he wants to stay in that moment forever, then he will die in that moment."


The dilemma faced by voters in the election of Judge Roy Moore are faced with a moral choice. If they believe his accusers that he did commit sexual assault on underage girls or pedophilia, yet would rather vote for a pedophile than a Democrat so they keep their GOP Senate seat red .They are making a moral bargain with the devil worthy of a Faustian drama. Others have refused to make that kind of a decision and stuck with their moral values by hearing no evil and not believing the accusations, claiming they were politically motivated by attention seekers.

There are others who refuse to make a Faustian bargain..
Senators Flake, Corker, McCain advocate many policies I do not support. However, there are matters more important to our democracy than even the details of policies. . The most important point Flake made was that Trump was a danger to democracy. His second point: moral outrage at a lying president and a character that is not a good example to the world and our children. He was unwilling to make the tradeoff, tolerating this just to get his agenda passed. This is the classic tradeoff: make a pact with the devil to achieve ones' goals. Dancing with the devil has in the long run resulted in being consumed by the devil. The reality is even those voters who are willing to ignore Trump's character issues to get their legislative and issue and policy agenda enacted are also dancing with the character/anti democratic (small d) devil. That is the political reality of the condition in the Republican party.now. Republican voters are going down that road and Flake recognized that. While the Democratic party has no message other than they would give middle class voters a better deal and they are not Trump, they at least support policies that poll better than the GOP., they can combine that with moral and character outrage.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/roy-moore-scandal-alabama-might-slow-bannons-insurgency-gop-leaders-hope-223029129.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/11/what-hillary-knew/546170/

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/16/alabama-gop-roy-moore-support-245556

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/roy-moore-accuser-got-him-banned-mall-202603315--abc-news-topstories.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/24/us/politics/jeff-flake-transcript-senate-speech.html?_r=1
http://www.people-press.org/2017/10/24/political-typology-reveals-deep-fissures-on-the-right-and-left/?utm_source=adaptivemailer&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=17-10-24%20typology&org=982&lvl=100&ite=1874&lea=398584&ctr=0&par=1&trk=

From literature, opera: Goethe's FAUST making a bargain with the devil is a classic theme. In one ending, the message is that there is hope for redemption. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goethe%27s_Faust

Duke Dumont - Ocean Drive lyrics
We're riding down the boulevard
We're riding through the dark night, night

With half the tank and empty heart
Pretending we're in love, but it's never enough, nah
As the sirens fill the lonely air
Oh, how did we get here now, now, now babe

We see a storm is closing in
Pretending we ain't scared


[Chorus: Boy Matthews]
Don't say a word while we dance with the devil (uh)
You brought a fire to a world so cold (uh)
We're out of time on the highway to never
Hold on (hold on), hold on (hold on)

Don't say a word while we dance with the devil (uh)
You brought a fire to a world so cold (uh)
We're out of time on the highway to never
Hold on (hold on), hold on (hold on)


Monday, October 23, 2017

The chemical industry's influence on EPA is deja vu all over again

This reminds me so much of the Reagan administration. Reagan appointed Ann Gorsuch (yes, part of that Colorado clan including the new Supreme Court justice) to head the EPA. I was active in Colorado politics then and a friend of mine with a major Chicago law firm was tasked with vetting her.on behalf of a chemical industry client Knowing her anti environmental record in the State Legislature and the controversy about super fund sites, I remember telling my lawyer friend.."Your client will love her". I was right and she became the first cabinet head in history who was cited for contempt of Congress and she was forced to resign for her bungling of superfund money and cleanup of toxic chemicals.
A scientist who worked for the chemical industry now shapes policy on hazardous chemicals. Within the E.P.A., there is fear that public health is at risk. (At right, a…
NYTIMES.COM

Friday, October 13, 2017

Introducing America's new health care system: Trumpcare

Updated 10/15/17 A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News, Oct 18, 2017 http://www.skyhinews.com/news/muftic-welcome-your-new-health-system-trumpcare/
Introducing America’s new healthcare system: Trumpcare.  Donald Trump just  broke the old one; he owns the new one.   He can no longer blame Congress that  also tried to break it and failed.  He is the one who broke it all  by himself with his own executive orders. It gives some the choice of cheaper policies, but their new choice is between bad, worse and useless. All premiums in and out of exchanges will rise. The financial impact will be felt immediately in everyone’s pockets. Trump has opposed any  suggested fixes that would make his orders unnecessary.


However, facing 2018  Congressional elections, he claims he is ready to make a deal with Democrats , it appears . No wonder. The political repercussions will be felt in time for the 2018 midterms when the  millions of lower income and middle class voters will feel the pain in their pockebooks and realize  in real time  they  just  been taken to the cleaners by Trumpcare. Given insurance policies fine print, most will only learn the consequences when they get sticker shock, paying full price for needed services not covered by terms, deductibles, and lifetime and annual caps. The most affected are red states that use more of the subsidies he just halted and who voted for Trump Alternatives such as single payer and Medicare for All will begin to look better and better to more. If Trump blames greedy insurance companies, then single payer solves that problem: it cuts out private health insurance participation.  Congressional  Democrats in the short term are united in support of fixing Obamacare in contrast to Trumpcare. Deal with Trump? Chuck and Nancy have already been bitten with DACA's deal with him over that. They were double crossed later . Don't blame them if they do not take him up with his offer.


Trump’s  threats to stop payments to insurance companies who help low income pay insurance premiums (not to prop up their stock prices as Trump claims)  have already caused exchange premium prices  to rise 20-25% in some states since  insurers anticipated his move. October 12 he made good on that threat with his order.  Per a recent Congressional Budget Office score , the impact on all  premiums  of the payment stop will  be an average increase of  20-25%..  An estimated seven million who buy insurance through the insurance exchanges  will find premiums hiked, but so will the subsidies increased to help them pay.  This order   will raise the deficit by $194 billion over ten years since the government will make up the difference in subsidies and insurance companies will pas on costs to everyone else in higher premiums, or the insurance companies will just drop out of the program.
Trump’s order includes a creation of a parallel system of  cheap association plans. There  will be no  requirements for  them  to cover anything so essential to many: prescription drugs, hospitalization, low co pays or affordable deductions, maternity care, cancer screenings including prostate and mammograms,  annual physicals,  pre-existing conditions, mental health care and drug rehab. Consumers buying into association plans  wanting  to make up the the unanticipated loss of uncovered benefits  would pay extra  from their pockets at  full  market price or go without. That is Trump's definition of "great care".

Currently fourteen million buy their insurance through the exchanges. The only ones who benefit from Trumpcare will be the two million  buying  insurance through the exchanges who make too much money now  to get subsidies. Even then, Trumpcare  will  bait and switch them  to accept his "great care"  association plans that resemble  a hamburger with   two buns but with  little meat and condiments .

The eventual   financial failure  of Obamacare is not the death spiral caused by Obamacare,  but it a death spiral engineered by the Trump administration on purpose as part of their plan to de facto repeal  it.  In time, the entire  Obamacare private insurance  based exchange system will collapse as the  parallel  association system will destroy the ACA’s “pool” comprised of  both those  with the healthy  who lightly place claims and  those with pre-existing conditions or with health problems.The  healthy will be  lured into cheaper stripped down plans. The result will be virtual high risk pools left to the sicker who   will see their premiums soar to become unaffordable.


This executive order  is such a fundamental change to the intent and financing of Obamacare, that it is the mother of all executive overreach.  resulting in court challenges which will further drag out uncertainties and  will cause continued premium increases  for everyone as the market is destabilized.

______________________________________________________________________________
Footnotes: A bipartisan "fix" to the subsidies has emerged from a Senate committee, but its fate is unknown.  GOP Senate leadership may refuse to bring it to the floor. Then it must pass the Senate and go to the House and require the President's signature.  Trump has issued various conflicting views on his support. http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/17/politics/health-care-csr-payments-deal-reached/index.html

Trump  may want to pay attention to the following impact on his core base of supporters and red states:
Criteria: access, quality, numbers applied for financial aid to afford health care in a recent study revealing 15 worst states to get health care. https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/worst-states-live-want-decent-health-care.html/
All but one (Nevada) voted for Trump in 2016. The 5 worst: in order of the worst first
Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Alabama. W. Virginia.

According to the Associated Press. Nearly 70 percent of those benefiting from the so-called cost-sharing subsidies to insurance companies live in states Trump won last November. https://twitter.com/AP/statuses/919246698081288192



https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2017/10/08/how-narrow-networks-doom-trumps-insurance-sales-across-state-lines/#7e4ea38a35f9.


"Blog posting: 9/271/17 Heads up: GOP's Repeal/replace Obamacare is a cat with 9 lives
ies https://www.pbs.org/newshour/amp/bb/trump-ending-obamacare-subsidies-health-insurers-heres-ends-paying

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-trump-health-care-executive-order-20171012-story.html

https://www.yahoo.com/news/pro-trump-states-most-affected-health-care-decision-134810734.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/10/12/trumps-health-insurance-order-pushes-association-plans-drive-down-costs-some/752816001/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/key-senators-reach-bipartisan-health-care-subsidy-deal-and-trump-expresses-support/2017/10/17