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Make America Greater

The New Yorker has a must-read article about health care. If you can, go read it now.

Their point is that conseratives are treating health care as if it is just another business. A way to make a profit. But health care is not about economics, in fact, it is actually anything but.

Health care is better classified as an investment. Money we spent on health care now pays back handsomely in the future, in multiple ways. Everyone knows that treating an illness or injury early is far less expensive than treating it later after it gets worse.

But there is an even more important return on this investment:

In 1993, the economic historian Robert Fogel wrote an influential paper (it was his Nobel Prize acceptance speech) in which he demonstrated that improvements in health accounted for fully half of the economic growth in the United Kingdom in the first two centuries of the industrial revolution. Because of improvements in sanitation, food production, and medical treatment, people were living longer and spending much less time incapacitated by illness and hunger. Health was more important than railroads, electricity, mass production, and every other technology we more readily associate with economic success.

As if it weren’t obvious, I would rephrase this as “the health of a nation is critically dependent on the health of its people”. Healthy people are more productive.

And when people aren’t spending so much on health care, they have more money to pump into the economy.

Donald Trump promised repeatedly during his campaign that he would replace Obamacare with health care for everyone that costs less. It is time for him to keep that promise. It is the best way he could MAGA.

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Do you have regrets yet?

I’m not a huge fan of Bill Maher, but this one is actually pretty funny. Will Trump voters realize that they have been conned?

And speaking of being conned, consider the case of the Beristains. Roberto Beristain is a respected businessman who owns a popular restaurant, creates jobs, is a well-loved citizen of his town and father of three American-born children, is married to an American citizen, and is so squeaky clean he has never even gotten a parking ticket.

He is also an illegal immigrant, but he has fully cooperated with immigration authorities, who in the past granted Beristain a work permit, a driver’s license, and even a Social Security number so he could pay taxes. He has had a case pending since 2007 to rectify his status because he is married to a US citizen, but immigration is not known for doing anything quickly.

So when Beristain checked in with immigration authorities early this year, as he does every year, he was surprised that they detained him and are now deporting him back to Mexico. The mayor of the town where he lives and works even wrote in support of him, hundreds of people have signed petitions, and members of Congress have tried to intervene, but to no avail.

What makes this situation ironic is that his wife actually voted for Donald Trump. When she told her husband she planned to vote for Trump he was concerned because “He’s going to get rid of the Mexicans.” But she countered that Trump had promised that he would deport only the “bad hombres”.

Now, she regrets voting for him, saying “I wish I didn’t vote at all.” She and her husband were all for deporting illegal immigrants who were criminals, bringing drugs or abusing the system, “but not to get rid of all the people. This is not what America is, the land of the free.”

Also ironic is that there is now a twitter account, “Trump Regrets” that retweets disappointed and angry Trump voters. The account has already amassed over a quarter of a million followers.

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Don’t Make Him Angry

Stephen Colbert is angry because Donald Trump is distracting him from the real news out there. Listen and weep (with tears of laughter):

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Republicans Lose, Bigly

The Republicans have been trying to repeal Obamacare for seven years. While Obama was president, they passed bills over 50 times repealing the ACA, only to have them vetoed by the president (or die in the Senate). Back then, that was easy because they knew it wouldn’t ever become effective, so they would not have to suffer the blowback from 25 million people losing their health care.

But now, the GOP controls both houses of Congress and the White House, and they failed. Wasn’t even that close. It was so bad, they didn’t even dare bring it up for a vote.

Of course, immediately afterward Trump tried to blame the Democrats because none of them voted for a bill that would dismantle one of Obama’s greatest achievements:

Seriously? Is he saying he expected Democrats to vote for a bill that would take away health care from 25 million people and was deeply unpopular with Americans (even the Fox News poll showed opposition of 54% to 34%). If so, he really is insane.

The real truth is that the repeal failed because the House Freedom Caucus didn’t think the new bill was cruel enough. At the last moment, they talked Trump into adding a provision to the bill that would make it so that health insurance would not have to cover essential health benefits, including prescription drugs, emergency room visits, outpatient care, laboratory services, and even hospitalization. That just made Republicans from moderate districts realize that they would certainly lose reelection and drop the bill.

One reason the bill was so unpopular was that Donald Trump promised repeatedly that his Obamacare replacement plan would provide “insurance for everybody” and would lower the cost of insurance (for example, by allowing Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate directly with drug companies). He also promised that he would not cut Medicaid. Trump said his replacement would provide “great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.” But this bill was none of those things.

The lies don’t stop there. Trump promised that he was the ultimate deal-maker. Instead, he ended up looking incompetent.

This might look like a big victory for the Democrats, but it isn’t over. Trump claims that Obamacare is in a “death spiral” and that when it fails on its own, the Democrats will be to blame. First of all, according to fact checkers, the ACA is not in a death spiral. Yes, there are many things that could be done to improve the ACA, but this is not unusual. Medicare required decades of improvement to get to where it is today. Indeed, the Republicans even added prescription drug coverage under Dubya, although the ACA had to fix the big “donut hole” problem with that.

The problem is that Republicans will not allow any improvements to the ACA. In addition, there are many ways that Tom Price, Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, can sabotage the ACA and make it worse. After all, the Republicans sued the government to try to kill the ACA, and (as a direct result of one such suit) 19 Republican-controlled states refused to expand Medicaid, resulting in millions of people not getting health insurance.

I predict that this is their plan. Sabotage Obamacare so that costs rise dramatically, so they can repeal it later. Unless we are vigilant, that might work.

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The Reality Show Just Got Weirder

I have to hand it to Donald Trump, he has put together a reality show as president that is as hard to look away from as a train wreck.

Wednesday, Time magazine published an almost verbatim short interview with Trump. The topic is about lying and Trump’s credibility (or, lack thereof). Trump agreeing to this interview is amazing. Reading it is like watching one of the better episodes of The Twilight Zone.

Trump seems to be proud of the fact that he can lie and get away with it. But he never admits that he lies. Instead, he claims he says things on “instinct” and that his instincts are good, so he doesn’t need any evidence or proof. The few times he said things that were totally wrong, Trump claims he was just quoting someone else, so it wasn’t him that was wrong. The buck never stops at Trump.

Reading this reminds me of dictators-for-life of countries like North Korea, where the leader is reported by the controlled media to have super-human abilities and powers. And it also makes me think that Donald Trump is a psychopath. The problem is all the people who have been taken in by him.

Read it all the way through. Like I said, it is short. At the very end, Trump says:

Hey look, in the mean time, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not. You know.

New York magazine has an interesting take on what this line portends:

This small line is an important historical marker of the bizarre and disconcerting reality into which American politics has plunged. Trump is not merely making an attack on truth here. He is attacking the idea of truth. His statement is a frontal challenge to the notion that objective reality can be separated from power.

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Actual Voter Fraud

Steven Curtis is a conservative talk radio host and former chair of the Republican party in Colorado. Last October, Curtis said on his show:

It seems to me, and correct me if I’m wrong, but virtually every case of voter fraud I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats.

You could probably see this coming, but Curtis was just charged with forging his ex-wife’s signature on a mail-in ballot in the 2016 election, just weeks after that show.

If convicted, Curtis would face a maximum three years in prison for forgery and 18 months for ballot tampering. In addition, for 2016, 100% of the voter fraud in Colorado will have been committed by a Republican.

He was caught because his former wife found out she couldn’t vote because someone had already submitted a mail-in ballot for her, with a questionable signature. Which makes Curtis look not just like a criminal, but pretty stupid.

I want to point out that this is actual voter fraud, where someone voted illegally, which potentially could change an election result. Not voter registration fraud, where someone is registered in more than one state (usually by mistake, because they moved and didn’t notify the state they left). Republicans often use alleged voter registration fraud as an excuse to pass harsh laws to make it harder for Americans to register to vote in attempts to suppress the vote from demographics that often vote Democratic.

Indeed, Republicans defunded and destroyed community organizers ACORN because their voter registration drives sometimes resulted in voter registration forms being submitted with false names — for example, Donald Duck — on them. However, there is no evidence that Mr. Duck actually tried to vote in any elections.

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When in Doubt, Lie

Pretty much every day or so a new tie between the Trump campaign and the Russians appears. Documents from a lawmaker in the Ukraine link Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort with money laundering for Viktor Yanukovych, the deposed former Ukrainian president who was propped up by Moscow and is now wanted on corruption charges but is hiding out in Russia. Manafort worked for Yahukovych for almost a decade.

So how does the Trump administration respond to this? Do they defend Manafort against the charges? No, they throw him under the bus and pretend they really don’t know Manafort at all. Press secretary Sean Spicer blatantly lied that Manafort “played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time” in the Trump campaign. Spicer claimed that Manafort joined the campaign “in June”, when he actually started in March.

As for having a limited role in the campaign, when Ted Cruz suspended his campaign for president during the primaries, securing the nomination for Trump, the first person that Trump thanked in his victory speech was Paul Manafort.

Even allies of Trump said that Spicer was “delusional” for his comments attempting to deny connections between Trump and Manafort.

And Manafort officially left the Trump campaign in August when reports of his work for pro-Russian leaders (including Yanukovych) started to get attention. But Manafort kept working for Trump, including after the election.

As one Republican put it “Sean Spicer goes out there everyday, and the people who speak for the president, and they know what their marching orders are, and it’s not telling the truth. It’s telling the truth as Donald Trump perceives it to be.”

What I find particularly hypocritical is that the Trump administration will lie about anything, including simple, verifiable facts.

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Stephen v. Stephen

Stephen Colbert’s conservative alter-ego makes an appearance on The Late Show, to complain about Trump’s budget:

BTW, in the “interesting silver lining” category, after lagging behind the two Jimmies ever since it started, Colbert’s The Late Show has now been the top late night talk show for seven weeks. In other words, ever since Trump became president.

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Late Night Political Humor

[Jokes from Feb. 2, 2017]

Today is Groundhog Day, and Punxsutawney Phil came out of his burrow, and was immediately captured and detained for extreme vetting. Things have changed since last year, Phil. — Seth Meyers

Today was Groundhog Day, the day where we predict six more weeks of winter if the groundhog sees his shadow. The groundhog has been predicting weather since 1887 and has been wrong 61 percent of the time. And yet, this is still front-page news every year. So I guess fake news isn’t a recent phenomenon. – James Corden

You know that this isn’t actually based on any science, right? And for that reason, Donald Trump has just appointed the groundhog to a special committee on climate change. – James Corden

That’s right, today was Groundhog Day. The groundhog looked down and saw six more executive orders. — Seth Meyers

Today is Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil came out and saw his shadow, which means Trump is going to start fights with six more countries. – Jimmy Fallon

Happy Groundhog Day! I don’t know if you saw the late-breaking news, but today America’s foremost psychic rodent, Punxsutawney Phil, came out of his hole and indeed saw his shadow. So the bad news is six more weeks of winter. The good news — we have six more weeks! — Stephen Colbert

Trump is causing all kinds of trouble this week. In fact, Israel just had to apologize to Mexico, after their prime minister tweeted support for Trump’s border wall. So not only has Trump failed to solve the Middle East conflict, somehow he’s dragged Mexico in the middle of it. – Jimmy Fallon

President Trump today had lunch with Harley Davidson executives. Oh, I guess that’s why he was wearing that helmet. “I want a motorcycle helmet — gold, no strap.” — Seth Meyers

According to President Trump’s doctor, Trump takes four different pills every day. Well, it’s actually one pill cut into four pieces that are small enough for him to hold. — Seth Meyers

On Saturday, our president spoke with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and lashed out at Turnbull on the phone call. Please don’t pick a fight with Australia! They’ll cut off our supply of Uggs, koala jerky, and Hugh Jackman. — Stephen Colbert

Trump was upset about a previous agreement for the U.S. to accept over 1,000 refugees being held in Australia, tweeting, “Do you believe it? The Obama administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!” What? Don’t you know humanitarian aid is not a deal? UNICEF doesn’t go to refugee camps and say, “All right, I’ll trade you this bag of rice for your juice box and a Captain America pencil.” — Stephen Colbert

Analysts are noting that Instagram is the only major social media network where President Trump does not have a strong presence. Yeah, he’s got more of a face for Twitter. — Seth Meyers

White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced that four reporters would receive Skype seats for press briefings rather than being there in person. Spicer said he picked the four reporters at random. Then said: “CNN, BuzzFeed, The New York Times, and Telemundo.” Just random names. – Jimmy Fallon

President Trump spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning. Of course, ever since he was elected, every breakfast is a prayer breakfast. “Please, God, don’t let these be my last Froot Loops.” — Seth Meyers

The government in France has instituted a national ban on refills for sugary soft drinks. That’s right, it’s illegal to refill your soda but don’t worry, you are still allowed to mime getting a refill. – James Corden

Two students in England were hospitalized after taking part in a caffeine research study where they were accidentally given the equivalent of 300 cups of coffee. This accident resulted from putting a decimal point in the wrong place. And the lab technician responsible said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t have my morning coffee.” – James Corden

It was announced yesterday that the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will make all of its medals from recycled cellphones. Well, they’re going to make the Olympic torch out of a Samsung Galaxy. – Jimmy Fallon

A study was conducted which examined dogs’ responses to different genres of music. The study has found the music dogs love the most was reggae music. They saw a huge change in dogs after playing them reggae music. Meanwhile, a different study has found that cats still hate everything. – James Corden

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Donald Trumped

Yesterday, FBI Director James Comey testified under oath to Congress two things. First, that there is no evidence to support Donald Trump’s claim that Obama had Donald Trump wiretapped during the presidential campaign. Or, to put that in plain English, Trump lied, and continues to repeatedly lie (since he is allergic to apologizing — or just backing down — even when he is caught blatantly lying).

One thing that is interesting about this is it is apparent that Trump got his original claim from Andrew Napolitano, who made the claim on Fox News. And Napolitano in turn got it from RT, the Russian state-sponsored news network. So the Russian government starts some fake news, which is repeated by Fox News, and then by our president. Sad.

Which brings us to the second thing in Comey’s testimony. Comey confirmed that the FBI is investigating connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Could it get any worse? Yes it can!

In response, Trump tweeted “The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process.” Yup, Trump lies again. That’s not what they said at all.

Trump mentions the NSA, and they did also testify to Congress. They said that Trump is endangering the security of the US. Trump has claimed that Obama had the Brits wiretap Trump during the election. The NSA said these claims are nonsense, and “clearly frustrates a key ally of ours”. Trump also insulted Germany by reminding German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week during her visit that the US had wiretapped her. That wiretap became public because of leaks by Edward Snowden (who is now living in Russia). That leak stirred anti-US sentiment in Germany, and Trump bringing it up again just causes problems for both the German and US governments.

Meanwhile, Trump took another weekend vacation at Mar-a-Lago, playing golf rather than working on his promise to get Obamacare repealed. He even failed to show up for a meeting with Senator Ted Cruz, who flew to Mar-a-Lago to talk about the health care bill.

Meanwhile, Trump’s approval rating continues to drop. It is currently at 37%, with 58% of Americans disapproving of his performance as president.

Is it too soon for impeachment?

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The Boy from Mar-A-Lago

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Keeping us Safe?


© Ruben Bolling

Humans are really bad at evaluating risks. We are scared to death of terrorists, but not of the things that are far more likely to kill us.

Just Wednesday, Donald Trump announced that he is rolling back fuel economy standards that were put in place under Obama. And he has not ruled out abolishing the standards entirely.

So we will burn more fossil fuels, our air will become more polluted, we will have more smog, and we will become more dependent on oil from foreign countries. As demand increases, the price of oil will go up, and some people will not be able to afford to heat their homes or pay for gas for their car. Plus we will have more global warming. It will slow the rollout of hybrid and electric cars, and dampen energy innovation.

How many American lives will that one seemingly small change ultimately cost? Easily more than the deaths from immigrant terrorists.

Now, multiply this one small change by hundreds of other changes. Like repealing Obamacare. Or cutting funding to the State Department in ways that will make it more likely that we end up fighting more wars. Or doing things that end up helping Islamic extremists recruit new fighters and terrorists.

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Late Night Political Humor

[Jokes from Feb. 1, 2017]

Last night, President Trump nominated Colorado Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. That’s right, he’s from Colorado. Which explains his most famous case, Regular Funyuns v. Flamin’ Hot Funyuns: “I hereby rule that they’re both awesome.” – Jimmy Fallon

Ahead of last night’s big Supreme Court announcement, President Trump brought both of his top two candidates to the White House. Trump said, “One of you will be the nominee, the other will go home crying in the back of a limo.” – Jimmy Fallon

We’re now learning a little bit more about Neil Gorsuch. For instance, I read that he actually has a barn where he raises horses, chickens, and goats. That experience will come in handy when he spends the rest of his life side-stepping all the crap in Washington. – Jimmy Fallon

In New York City, two supermodels joined a protest against Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. After hearing this, Trump said, “Maybe I should rethink things.” – Conan O’Brien

President Trump referred to CNN as “fake news” during a Black History Month event, today. Said CNN, “No, it really is Black History Month.” – Seth Meyers

Guys, it is the first day of February. Which of course is the shortest month, with just 28 days — as opposed to January, which felt like it had 200. – Jimmy Fallon

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie yesterday slammed the rollout of President Trump’s executive order on immigration, saying it was terrible. Christie added, “It was the worst rollout since that time I got stuck in a hammock.” – Seth Meyers

It’s rumored that Melania Trump has decided not to live in the White House at all. Man, Donald Trump is keeping immigrants away left and right. – Conan O’Brien

Former President Obama was spotted on vacation in the Virgin Islands yesterday, wearing a backwards baseball cap and flip-flops, and completely ignoring the Bat Signal. – Seth Meyers

Scientists have discovered a long-lost continent under the Indian Ocean. After hearing about it, half of Americans asked, “When can we move there?” – Conan O’Brien

Hillary Clinton is reportedly writing a book of personal essays due to be released this fall. It will be the first political memoir written entirely in all caps. – Seth Meyers

It was announced that Hillary Clinton will deliver the commencement speech at Wellesley College. The title of Hillary’s speech will be “What’s the Point of Anything?” – Conan O’Brien

Hillary Clinton will be the 2017 commencement speaker at Wellesley College — while Joe Biden is getting ready for freshman orientation at UMass. – Seth Meyers

CNN will host a debate next week between Sens. Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders. They’re calling it “Alien vs. Senator.” – Seth Meyers

Today, a top football prospect for Michigan State was unable to sign his letter of intent because he’s in jail. Sounds like somebody’s ready for the NFL! – Conan O’Brien

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What’s At Steak?

Donald Trump’s most die-hard fans didn’t blink at his “locker-room talk” about grabbing pussy. They didn’t seem to mind his “alternative facts” when he lied to them. But now he seems to have finally angered them.

A few weeks ago, the Independent Journal Review reported that Donald Trump had dinner at the Trump Hotel in DC, and “The President ordered a well-done steak. An aged New York strip.” But what got the attention of his fans was this: “He ate it with catsup as he always does.”

That was just too much. After an outcry, Public Policy Polling conducted a national poll to see what people thought about this:

And finally we polled on two of the important food debates that have gripped America over the last month. By a 47/32 spread, Americans approve of having pineapple as a pizza topping. But by a 27/56 spread, they disapprove of using ketchup as a condiment on steak. This is a rare issue where even Donald Trump’s own voters abandon him on something- only 34% of them approve of ketchup on steak to 52% who disapprove.

That’s right, even Trump voters don’t like him him slathering ketchup/catsup on his steak. “The distaste cuts not only across party lines, but also gender, race and age. America has spoken.”

Now that Trump has driven a well-done wedge between himself and his fans, what’s next? Indeed, the same poll reveals that even some Trump voters (a healthy number) don’t like Trumpcare either. And they are really starting to dislike the wall (especially if we have to pay for it).

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Mocking Maddow

Stephen Colbert hilariously mocks Rachel Maddow for how she overhyped the release of Trump’s not-all-that-interesting tax return:

He then goes into full V-neck mode to mock how Maddow stretched out her not-all-that-interesting reveal into an hour-long snooze:

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