Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Great Republican Switcharoo: Guaranteed Healthcare? No, Guaranteed "Access" to Healthcare.

Here comes the Paul Ryan-Tom Price con: "access" to healthcare. What the hell does that mean?

Tom Price: Don't get me wrong, America. I want you
to have "the opportunity to gain access” to healthcare.

When someone starts to place words between one concept and the other, how many words and which ones matter. In the famous case that "Listerine helps prevent gingivitis" the "helps" is the sneaky word. Water also "helps prevent gingivitis." See?

So there's a significant difference between:
  • We want all Americans to have quality, effective healthcare.
  • We want all Americans to have the opportunity to gain access to quality, effective healthcare.

And that's the difference between Obamacare and Nobamacare. Read on:
During questioning, [Price] reiterated his support for what would be a fundamental change to Medicaid by requiring “able-bodied” people to be in work activities to qualify for benefits. Whitehouse pressed him repeatedly on whether people with addictions or mental health problems would be required to work.
After dodging the question a few times, the nominee responded, “I think people have an understanding of what able-bodied is, and it doesn’t [involve] the things you described.”
Got that? If you're unemployed -- a good reason to need Medicaid -- you don't qualify for it. Good to know. And do notice the number of words that Price puts between a simple answer (no) and the end of a word-salad sentence.

Watch as these debates unfold under the Trumputin administration. You don't get healthcare, you get access to it.

Or as I've said before: Choose the cure for cancer that fits your budget! (Oh no, my budget does not include not dying.)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Get Ready for the Trump Deficit

Here's a history lesson Conman Donnie -- and GOPers -- refuse to learn.

Via Mark Thoma -- here's the inside scoop from Kenneth Rogoff:
One only has to recall recent US economic history to confirm the insight of the Italian/Swedish model – and to see the absurdity of claims that Republicans always aim to balance the budget while Democrats always try to spend beyond the country’s means. Back in the 1980s, conservative hero Ronald Reagan was willing to tolerate enormous deficits to fund his ambitious tax-cutting plans, and he did so in an era when borrowing wasn’t cheap.
In the early 2000s, another Republican president, George W. Bush, essentially followed Reagan’s playbook, again slashing taxes and sending deficits soaring. In 2012, at the height of the standoff between the Republican-controlled Congress and Democratic President Barack Obama over deficits and the national debt, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney proffered an economic plan that featured eye-popping deficits to finance tax cuts and higher military spending.
 If a Trump presidency does entail massive borrowing – along with faster growth and higher inflation – a sharp rise in global interest rates could easily follow, putting massive pressure on weak points around the world (for example, Italian public borrowing) and on corporate borrowing in emerging markets. Many countries will benefit from US growth (if Trump does not simultaneously erect trade barriers). But anyone counting on interest rates staying low because conservative governments are averse to deficits needs a history lesson.
Since Trump has promised massive tax cuts, again aimed at the rich, he will drive massive borrowing leading to rising interest rates -- he has already called for them! -- there's no reason to believe we won't see a return to Republican fake fiscal responsibility. Why? Because it's a myth, and believing in it is irresistible to the servants of the donor class. Again, we're screwed.

My reaction? Get out of the stock market but quick.

Linguist George Lakoff Knows: Democrats Should Frame the Debate and Keep It Positive.

Conservatives have framed the debate for decades. It's time liberals clawed back the truth and took over the framing. Cognitive linquist George Lakoff tells us how.

I lucked into having dinner and other conversations with UC Berkeley professor and author George Lakoff more than a decade ago while attending a conference. (I had read him previously and was already a fan.) He also wowed the crowd as keynote speaker. He's still at it and is solid gold in the age of Trump.

Here's a taste from a interview:
If you’re a conservative going into politics, there’s a good chance you’ll study cognitive science, that is, how people really think and how to market things by advertising. So they know people think using frames and metaphors and narratives and images and emotions and so on. That’s second nature to anybody who’s taken a marketing course. Many of the people who have gone into conservative communications have done that, and know very well how to market their ideas.
Now, if instead you are a progressive, and you go to college and you’re interested in politics, what are you going to study? Well, you’ll study political science, law, public policy, economic theory and so on, but you’re not going to wind up studying marketing, most likely, and you’re not going to study either cognitive science or neuroscience.
What you’ll learn in those courses is what is called Enlightenment reason, from 1650, from Descartes. And here’s what that reasoning says: What makes us human beings is that we are rational animals and rationality is defined in terms of logic. Recall that Descartes was a mathematician and logician. He argued that reasoning is like seeing a logical proof. Secondly, he argued that our ideas can fit the world because, as he said, “God would not lie to us.” The assumption is that ideas directly fit the world.
They’re also, Descartes argued, disembodied. He said that if ideas were embodied, were part of the body, then physical laws would apply to them, and we would not have free will. And in fact, they are embodied, physical laws do apply to them, and we do not have absolute free will. We’re trapped by what the neural systems of our brains  have accumulated. We can only see what our brains allow us to understand, and that’s an important thing.
So what he said, basically, was that there are no frames, no embodiment, no metaphor — none of the things people really use to reason. Moreover if we think logically and we all have the same reasoning, if you just tell people the facts, they should reason to the same correct conclusion. And that just isn’t true. And that keeps not being true, and liberals keep making the same mistake year after year after year. So that’s a very important thing.
Got that, liberals? We're not doing it right. If reason doesn't work, what does? Lakoff says take over the debate the way conservatives have and Trump did. From Lakoff's latest article: Repetition, repetition, repetition.
Hillary Clinton won the majority of votes in this year’s presidential election.
The loser [Donald Trump], for the majority of voters, will now be a minority president-elect. Don’t let anyone forget it. Keep referring to Trump as the minority president, Mr. Minority and the overall Loser. Constant repetition, with discussion in the media and over social media, questions the legitimacy of the minority president to ignore the values of the majority. The majority, at the very least, needs to keep its values in the public eye and view the minority president’s action through majority American values.
Take over the debate, the frame, which should be Trump is the Loser-in-Chief, Mr. Minority. Don't argue with Trump, give him a nickname like Conman Donnie, then frame the debate, which means putting majority values first and not as a rebuttal.

In general, negating a frame just activates the frame and makes it stronger. I wrote a book called “Don’t Think of an Elephant!” to make that point. Liberals are often caught in this trap. If a conservative says, “we should have tax relief,” she is using the metaphor that taxation is an affliction that we need relief from. If a liberal replies, “No, we don’t need tax relief,” she is accepting the idea that taxation is an affliction. The first thing that is, or should be, taught about political language is not to repeat the language of the other side or negate their framing of the issue.
The Clinton campaign consistently violated the lesson of Don’t Think of an Elephant! They used negative campaigning, assuming they could turn Trump’s most outrageous words against him. They kept running ads showing Trump forcefully expressing views that liberals found outrageous. Trump supporters liked him for forcefully saying things that liberals found outrageous. They were ads paid for by the Clinton campaign that raised Trump’s profile with his potential supporters!
The basic lesson comes from a legendary story in framing circles. Lesley Stahl interviewed Ronald Reagan, bringing up stinging criticisms of Reagan. The morning after the interview ran on tv Reagan’s chief of staff called Stahl and thanked her for the interview. “But I was criticizing him,” Stahl replied. The response was jovial, “But if you turned off the sound, he looked terrific. The presidential image is what will be remembered.”
The more neural circuits are activated, the more the stronger their synapses get, and so the more easily they can be activated again and the more likely they will become permanent. The more the public hears one side’s language, or sees one side’s images, the more that side’s frames will be activated, and the more that side’s worldview will be strengthened in the brains of those who watch and listen. This is why political communication systems matter.
We can't hope that every journalist will call Trump Conman Donnie, but at least we can hope that the Loser-in-Chief will continually look angry and dismissive during his public appearances and in his middle-school tweets. All the while, Democrats should always argue not for regulations but protections (positive framing) and for a Healthy America for All, emphasizing that the Loser-in-Chief "wants to "Make America Sick Again." Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Trump is not the president, he's Putin's Punk, etc.

Listen, I'm not sure I'm especially good at this, but one thing I know has hamstrung liberals for ages, and that's that we always end up trying to argue civilly and reason with the other side. We can win arguments, but we can't always take the high road. We've tried that, and look where we are. Yes, we've won around the edges, like in the culture wars, but on the big-ticket items, like expanding Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and on the healthcare front in general, we've flopped. The social safety net has been trimmed, the federal minimum wage hasn't budged in eight years, and union membership has been shrinking since Reagan. So we have to change the argument in order to own the argument.

Lakoff says it's not "right-to-work," as the Republicans argue, but "freedom to negotiate" and "make better deals on wages." Let's co-opt Trump's language. UNIONS MAKE BETTER DEALS. That's a slogan that can win back the working class. Let's get started. Be better liberals. We own American values, we're the majority. Trump's the Minority Man. And read George Lakoff to know how.

Start at

Remember, Media: Trump's Popularity Is the Lowest in Decades. He Can -- and Will -- Be Beaten Down Further.

Buck up, journalists. You've got your work cut out for you, and you should be licking your chops!

He doesn't know it yet, but he can -- and will -- be taken down.

First, a couple of polls:
This sets the table for why the press should be sanguine about the future under a Trump presidency:
Trump wants to bully the press and profit off the presidency. He's told us this clearly in his own words. We need to accept the reality of both. The press should cover him on that basis, as a coward and a crook. The big corporate media organizations may not be able to use those words, I understand, but they should employ that prism. The truth is that his threats against the press to date are ones it is best to laugh at. If Trump should take some un- or extra-constitutional actions, we will deal with that when it happens. I doubt he will or can. But I won't obsess about it in advance. Journalists should be unbowed and aggressive and with a sense of humor until something happens to prevent them from doing so. Trump is a punk and a bully. People who don't surrender up their dignity to him unhinge him.
Trump's Twitter war will begin to bore people -- I've said the best response is "meh..." -- and become increasingly ineffective. Savvy journalists will realize that the biggest scoops of the Trump era will be those that really sock him in the eye, and we can count on Trump himself to produce the material for those scoops, if they don't exist already.

Alec Baldwin has an early lead on insulting and abusing -- and cutting down to size -- Donald Trump, but others will blossom, too. Have at him!

And on a serious note, Paul Waldman points out how Trump continues to be his own worst enemy, as well as enemy to the GOP that was forced, in a way, to adopt him:
We should begin with the assumption that nothing Trump says can be taken at face value; the “plan” that he claims is being devised could be no more real than the secret plan to defeat the Islamic State he used to claim that he had formulated. But that’s not the point. What matters is this: Donald Trump just emphatically promised universal health coverage. That’s an absolutely gigantic promise, and it’s one that Republicans have no intention of keeping.
But now they’re stuck with it. Democrats will be saying, “President Trump promised that everyone would be covered!” every day for as long as this debate goes on. Every time a congressional Republican is interviewed on this topic, they’ll be asked, “President Trump said that everyone would be covered. Does your plan do that?,” and they’ll have to bob and weave as they try to avoid admitting the truth.
Randomly saying what pops into his head -- trusting his "gut" -- will get increasingly harder for Trump to cope with, as the above example will likely prove. Saying your plan will be "great" and "cheaper" and "cover everybody" might feel good, but laying down markers caught on video tailormade for Democrats to point out ad nauseum is not a plan, it's a trap, one you've laid for yourself. Good luck with that, Donald.

Don't get me wrong. Trump is smart, and much of what he says and does is "planned," but much is also by a man who is narcissistic beyond reason and thus prone to mistakes. This can, and very well might, set him up to be brought low.

The Ultimate Trolling of Trump, BBC-Style!

OMG and it's George Takei doing it:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Biggest Fight in the Trump Era? Preserving Truth in a Post-Truth America

John Lewis called out Trump's delegitimate election, and Trump responded with tweets based on wildly incorrect assumptions of what kind of district a Black Man must be representing. Hey Trump, be racist much?

Paul Krugman wasn't the first to notice the blatant racism inherent in Donald Trump's anti-John Lewis tweets following Lewis' candid assessment that after hearing the outrageous disregard for a true and fair election inherent in the FBI's inaction on Russian hacking and the FBI's clearly political handling of the Hillary Clinton email non-scandal. But once on the job, Krugman pounced the way he knows how: with facts. (Thanks, Paul, for the above graph.)

As you can see from the above graph, what crime infestation? Did Trump even check? Also, is Lewis' district "in horrible shape and falling apart?"
Nearly nine out of 10 residents of the Fifth District were high school graduates or had education beyond high school, and about four out of 10 residents had at least a bachelor's degree, according to Census estimates.
The largest single chunk of employed residents in Lewis' district, about half of the civilian work force, worked in a field grouped by the Census as "management, business, science, and arts occupations." The district includes Atlanta's downtown and main business district, and includes the headquarters of the Coca-Cola Company in Midtown and Delta Air Lines near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It also covers the campuses of Georgia Tech and Emory University as well as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many of the city's major cultural and arts institutions.
The district also has the Ritz-Carlton. Read the whole article to see what a modern black-majority southern city can look like. Among other things, it's not the nightmare Donald Trump assumes about the black "inner cities" that he campaigned against.

It's going to be a long four years (if that, oops, wishful thinking), and the most important thing we in opposition can do is keep the truth out there.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Trump's Crazy Attempt to Legitimize Fake News While Attacking CNN, NBC, BBC

Here's Donald Trump using Twitter to link to a really, really fake news site to trash the controversial BuzzFeed "dossier." This is getting weirder by the day!

Trump refused to call on CNN, calling them "fake news." Dissed BBC, too.

Oh boy, did Donald Trump jump the shark on Twitter this morning.

His claim that "intelligence insiders" now claim the Trump dossier is a fraud may itself be a fraud, as he offers no proof, and I've seen nothing in the "papers." And this link to @OANN is rich indeed. Here's a glimpse into the One America News Network:

This man who will be president in less than a week just tweeted a link to a "news" site that he prefers over CNN, NBC, or BBC. We're screwed.

BTW, comments are mixed on this video's YouTube page, but it's not hard to deduce from reading them that people are generally aware that this isn't, er, "fact checking." Thank heaven's for that. Those positive comments that like this "news" are case studies in cognitive bias.

Update. There are those that believe Trump's attempts to delegitimize the mainstream media may actually work and is as dangerous as any other thing he's attempting to do.