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Medical Reversal

Donald Trump promises that he will repeal Obamacare (as the Republicans have been trying to do for a while) and replace it with a new tax deduction, certain changes to insurance markets including allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines, and converting Medicaid into a federal block grant to the states.

But a new study sponsored by the non-partisan Commonwealth Fund and carried out by the Rand Corporation concludes that Donald Trump’s replacements for Obamacare (like the tax deduction) will only help the rich, and will cause 20.2 million people to lose their health insurance. That reverses the gains made by Obamacare.

Even worse, the number of uninsured people whose health is fair or poor would triple under Trump. Generally, these people end up going to emergency rooms, the cost of which is passed on to other people in the form of higher health costs and consequently higher insurance premiums. That means that health insurance costs will rise even more under Trump’s plan.

The Associated Press had a prominent Republican expert on health care evaluate the study’s results, and he said that the overall conclusions seemed to be on target.

The same study also looked at Hillary Clinton’s proposals, which include a new tax credit for deductibles and copayments not covered by insurance, increased subsidies for people who cannot afford health insurance, and (most importantly) a “public option” health plan. The study concluded that Clinton’s plan would increase the number of people with health insurance by 9.1 million.

So do Trump’s plans save any money? Nope. Another recent non-partisan study concluded that Trump’s proposals would increase the federal debt by $5.3 trillion over the next decade. Clinton’s proposals also increase the federal debt, but by $200 billion (only 3.8% as much as Trump’s proposals).

So with Trump you get less and it costs more. And of course Trump ends up with more campaign contributions from the health insurance industry. He wins, you lose.


Late Night Political Humor

[Jokes from Sept. 9, 2016]

“Donald Trump said this week that Vladimir Putin has been a leader far more than our president has been a leader, and he’s got a point. I mean, if President Obama was as strong a leader as Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump would be dead by now. That would be the difference.” – Seth Meyers

“Vladimir Putin told Bloomberg Businessweek that Russia never interfered with the U.S. election and doesn’t plan to. Putin was like, ‘Trust me – it was hard enough rigging ‘The Bachelorette.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Last night North Korea conducted what they claim was a successful test of their biggest nuclear warhead yet. So congrats to them. I’m glad they’re finally figuring that out. Will someone please tell Kim Jong Un they like his new glasses and he looks like he lost weight so he doesn’t kill everybody on the West Coast?” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Don’t worry, though. Donald Trump is going to take care of all of this. How do you fight crazy hair? With even crazier hair.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“I don’t know if you saw this but some interesting photos of Donald Trump were released today from the year 2000. There he is [shows photo] at the U.S. Open with his then-girlfriend Melania, former President Bill Clinton and a lady in a Playboy Bunny shirt. How perfect is this photograph? Look at those two bitter enemies sizing each other up. It looks like the first three minutes of a ‘Girls Gone Wild’ video. It represents the United States at its peak. Before 9/11, before ISIS, before ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ — just two horny dudes yukking it up with a couple of swimsuit models. This is probably why Trump hates Hillary. She ruined this for them. She took his wing man away.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who will be moderator for the final presidential debate of election season, said in an interview this week that he doesn’t feel it’s his job to call out the candidates when they lie. ‘Super!’ said Hillary and Donald at the same time.” – Seth Meyers

“Fashion Week is in full swing here in New York City. During one interview, Kendall Jenner made the comment that Hillary Clinton might look good in a jumpsuit. Then Hillary said, ‘Well, hopefully they never find those emails or it’ll be an orange jumpsuit.'” – Jimmy Fallon


Debates for Dummies

Joel Pett
© Joel Pett

Didn’t want to watch the debate? Didn’t have time? Here’s all you need to know.


Trump Takes D Bait

(Get it?)

Trump claims that he won all but one of the post debate polls. Including CBS. Except, CBS didn’t do a post debate poll.

You know, sometimes I think Trump lies just to see if we are paying attention.

By the way, even if you are sick of news about the debate, this Colbert video is hilarious. Force yourself to watch it!

Dan Wasserman
© Dan Wasserman


Even Politico is Fed Up with Trump’s Lies

Politico has always been a right-leaning news organization, but even they have had enough of Donald Trump:

After he lied on Sept. 16 that he was not the person responsible for the birtherism campaign to delegitimize Barack Obama’s presidency, POLITICO chose to spend a week fact-checking Trump. We fact-checked Hillary Clinton over the same time. We subjected every statement made by both the Republican and Democratic candidates — in speeches, in interviews and on Twitter — to our magazine’s rigorous fact-checking process.

The result?

The conclusion is inescapable: Trump’s mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration so greatly exceed Clinton’s as to make the comparison almost ludicrous.

Over five days, Trump lied 87 times. During the same time, Clinton lied 8 times — more than an order of magnitude less. According to Politico, Clinton’s lies were mainly about herself (for example, her handling of emails), while Trump lies about almost everything (himself, Clinton, even easily verifiable facts like the political party of debate moderator Lester Holt). Trump even contradicts himself with impunity. On average, Trump lied every 3 minutes and 15 seconds when his mouth (or Twitter account) was open in public.

Here’s just Trump’s Top Ten lies from the five days:

Clinton plans a $1.3 trillion tax hike
Clinton’s war on energy will cost our economy $5 trillion
[ISIL is] very strong…They were started by Hillary Clinton
Right now, the world has no respect for our country
I was against going into the war in Iraq
Our local police are afraid of going after terrorists for fear of being accused of profiling
Clinton would bring in 650,000 refugees
We’re going to build the wall. Mexico’s going to pay for the wall.
Hillary Clinton is taking the day off again, she needs the rest
I won 42 states in the primaries
My foundation gives money to vets
Lester Holt is a Democrat


Parade of Trump Kids

After Donald Trump Jr. put his foot in it with his Skittles tweet, next we got a howler from his brother Eric Trump. Last week on Fox News, Eric claimed that his father built the Trump Organization from virtually nothing. “He’s built an amazing company. He’s become the epitome of the American dream. He’s gone from just about nothing into, you know, a man who …”

This was too much even for Fox News. The co-host interrupted. “Nothing? He got a million bucks. Wait, come on.”

I think she grossly understated the magnitude of the lie. Even more than the early million dollar loan or the later inheritance, the most important thing Trump received was his father’s connections, which made the son’s deals possible. According to the Washington Post fact checker, Trump’s father Fred Trump “paved the way for his success” though “numerous loans and loan guarantees” and though “lucrative trusts” that provided steady income. His father also bailed him out when the son got into trouble, like when the father illegally bought $3.5 million in gaming chips so his son’s casino would have enough cash to make payments on its mortgage.

Trump also received $885 million in tax breaks, subsidies, and grants from New York city alone. In other words, Trump is a welfare queen who was bankrolled by the taxpayers through deals often made possible through his father’s connections (at one point, Fred Trump was one of the richest men in America).

At least Donald Trump’s children are following in his footsteps, like Trump did with his father.


Trump Sniffs

Here it is, the full compilation of every sniff from Donald Trump during the debate last night.

Who’s not healthy?

Trump Sniffs


Trump Supporters

Tom Tomorrow
© Tom Tomorrow

How many people were brave enough to watch the first debate? What were your impressions? Will Trump show up for the rest of the debates?

Initial surveys show that 62% of viewers felt that Clinton won compared to 27% for Trump. However, there were more Democrats watching the debate, so we will have to wait a few days before making any more substantial judgement.

For now, the best indicator may be that the betting markets increased Clinton’s odds of winning from 69% (just before the debate) to 73% (an hour after it ended).

UPDATE: The New Yorker has a good summary of the debate titled “Hillary Clinton Brings Out the Real Donald Trump“. With his bragging or petulant responses and constant interruptions, Trump essentially admitted his guilt. When Clinton accused him of not paying any taxes at all, and of cheating his subcontractors and reneging on his business debts, Trump (again) interrupted and said “That makes me smart” — actually bragging that his greed and mendacity are somehow to be admired.

UPDATE 2: The late night shows aired live after the debates. Seth Meyers joked “After tonight’s debates several FOX News analysts said that Hillary Clinton is the clear winner. Maybe global warming is a hoax, because hell has frozen over.”

Stephen Colbert riffed on both debaters. On Clinton: “Hillary was so prepared my new nickname for her is Preparation H. In the primaries, she already proved she could soothe the Bern.” On Trump, who bragged that his temperament was his best asset: “Of course, we’ll never know if his temperament is really his strongest asset because he won’t release his tax returns.”

UPDATE 3: An hour after he said (during the debate) that not paying taxes makes him smart, he denied saying it.


Broken Promises

Donald Trump has been trying to appeal to blacks, although for some reason he keeps doing it in front of all-white crowds (the theory being that he knows he can’t actually get any minorities to vote for him, but at least he wants his supporters to be able to think that he isn’t actually racist). But this isn’t the first time Trump has pulled this trick (and gotten away with it).

In 1993, Trump descended on Gary, Indiana promising to make that run-down exurb of Chicago great again. Trump wanted to open a showboat casino off the Lake Michigan shoreline, in an area full of shuttered factories. But he needed a license from the authorities.

At first, Gary turned him down (he had just had two recent bankruptcies), so Trump went into hard sell mode.

Trump promised to revitalize the city’s waterfront by building a casino that would be a floating Shangri-La, and the the tax revenues would fill the city coffers to the tune of $19 million a year. He also promised that at least two-thirds of the employees would be local minority residents. The icing on the cake was that he formed a board of eight “local minority participants” made up of respected doctors, lawyers, and businesspeople. This group was promised a 7.5% stake in the casino. And he promised another 7.5% to go into a trust benefiting local charities.

And it worked. Trump got the license. And almost immediately he started reneging on his promises. The “local minority participants” weren’t given anything, and the money for charity was less than promised (sound familiar?). He also reneged on his promises to hire minority residents.

But here’s the really hypocritical part. Two of the “local minority participants” he had used to get the license sued, and at trial Trump claimed “I have never even seen them until this morning. I never had a contract (with them). I never even met any of these people. I was shocked by this whole case. I had no idea who these people were.” Trump lost the case but appealed and had it overturned because the judge ruled that his promises were not legally binding.

And then, in 2004, Trump declared bankruptcy again, leaving a boat with faded carpets and dated interiors. The money, the tax revenues, the jobs, pretty much everything he promised, he reneged on. But of course, Trump made money.

Has Trump ever kept a promise unless he couldn’t find a way to wiggle out of it?


Late Night Political Humor

[Jokes from Sept. 8, 2016]

“Last night was NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump gave live back-to-back interviews about national security, and the candidates decided who would go first with a coin toss. But there was an awkward moment when Trump saw the coin, grabbed it, and put it in his pocket. ‘So what? I didn’t see a coin, what coin, what are you talking about?'” – James Corden

“In all seriousness Donald Trump called heads, but just in case he lost he also called the whole thing rigged.” – James Corden

“Last night they held, like, an appetizer debate — an ‘amuse douche,’ if you will. It was called the Commander-in-Chief Forum. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump answered questions about national security. It was the first time the two of them were in the same room since Trump’s wedding.” – Stephen Colbert

“It took place right here in New York on the aircraft carrier Intrepid. Once the two of them were on board, a lot of people were tempted to cut it loose and let it drift out to sea.” – Stephen Colbert

“Matt Lauer interviewed Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton back-to-back in front of a crowd of American veterans. The winner, the leader who came off strongest and best last night, was Vladimir Putin.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“The one guy Donald Trump has nothing bad to say about is Vladimir Putin. Maybe he is afraid Putin will cut off his supply of wives.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Donald Trump loves Vladimir Putin. After all is said and done, if he doesn’t become president, at the least, Donald Trump will have amazing sex with Vladimir Putin.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“The forum was hosted by ‘Today Show’ host Matt Lauer and a lot of people were very angry with his performance last night. Not Apple-losing-the-headphone-jack angry, but they were angry.” – James Corden

“Much of the criticism stemmed from Lauer not pressing Trump when he lied or didn’t answer questions. My question is, how did Matt Lauer even end up with this job? Was there a conversation at NBC like, ‘You know who would be great for the presidential forum?’ And they were like, ‘Oh, the guy on ‘The Today Show’ who excitedly announces they’re now making pumpkin spice marshmallows.'” – James Corden

“Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence broke with his running mate yesterday, saying that unlike Donald Trump, he does not doubt that President Obama was born in Hawaii. Though interestingly, Pence refused to respond when asked if it was true that he was born in Lego Land.” – Seth Meyers


Front Row Debate Row

There seems to be a side competition going on. A few days ago, Mark Cuban tweeted:

Mark Cuban tweet

Cuban famously questioned Trump’s boasted wealth in Vanity Fair, inciting a feud between the two billionaires.

Trump responded Saturday by tweeting:


Flowers is a former model who had an extramarital affair with Bill Clinton in the 80s. Even though Flowers supported the candidacy of Hillary Clinton back in 2008 and said she had no interest in bashing her, reportedly she has accepted the invitation from Trump, writing on Facebook “Hi Donald Trump… I’m in your corner. Of course I will see u at the debate !!”.

Trump famously is very thin skinned, but this is ridiculous. Is he even taking the debate seriously?


Quantum Media?

Tom Tomorrow
© Tom Tomorrow

Gotta love references to “Dr. Strangelove“. Except now the enemy are no longer communists.

The media no longer report on the news. They are the news. Marshall McLuhan’s dictum that “the medium is the message” has finally become true.


It’s All about History

There is an amazing interview of President Obama by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in Vanity Fair. I’ll give you one extended quote from Obama, but you really should read the whole thing:

Early in my presidency, I went to Cairo to make a speech to the Muslim world. And in the afternoon, after the speech, we took helicopters out to the pyramids. And they had emptied the pyramids for us, and we could just wander around for a couple hours [at] the pyramids and the Sphinx. And the pyramids are one of those things that live up to the hype. They’re elemental in ways that are hard to describe. And you’re going to these tombs and looking at the hieroglyphics and imagining the civilization that built these iconic images.

And I still remember it—because I hadn’t been president that long at that point—thinking to myself, There were a lot of people during the period when these pyramids were built who thought they were really important. And there was the equivalent of cable news and television and newspapers and Twitter and people anguishing over their relative popularity or position at any given time. And now it’s all just covered in dust and sand. And all that people know [today] are the pyramids.

Sometimes I carry with me that perspective, which tells me that my particular worries on any given day—how I’m doing in the polls or what somebody is saying about me … for good or for ill—isn’t particularly relevant. What is relevant is: What am I building that lasts?

More than anything, this interview reminds me of why I love Barack Obama, his ambition, his introspection, and his humility. And it reminds me to look beyond today’s politics and news cycles and take the long view.


Two Ferns

Hillary Clinton appears with Zach Galifianakis on “Between Two Ferns“:

I typically don’t enjoy Zach’s show because I’m not really into humor that is designed mainly to make you feel uncomfortable. But it is still worth watching just for Hillary doing a pretty good deadpan act.


If I Shut My Eyes, Racism Doesn’t Exist?

A Trump campaign county chairwoman in Ohio has resigned after an interview with The Guardian in which she said a whole bunch of ignorant racist things:

She called the Black Lives Matter movement “a stupid waste of time”.

She blamed low voter turnout among blacks on “the way they’re raised”. Which is strange because in her county voter turnout is actually higher among black people than white people. Maybe it’s the way they’re raised?

She actually said (yes, this was on video):

If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity, it was given to you. You’ve had the same schools everybody else went to. You had benefits to go to college that white kids didn’t have. You had all the advantages and didn’t take advantage of it. It’s not our fault, certainly.

Then she blamed racism on Barack Obama. On the racial tensions that were rife in the 60’s (which is when she graduated from high school):

Growing up as a kid, there was no racism, believe me. We were just all kids going to school.

About segregation and the civil rights movement:

I never experienced it. I never saw that as anything. I don’t think there was any racism until Obama got elected. We never had problems like this […] Now, with the people with the guns, and shooting up neighborhoods, and not being responsible citizens, that’s a big change, and I think that’s the philosophy that Obama has perpetuated on America.

When the interviewer pointed out that some people might find her remarks offensive, she pulled a Trump and replied “I don’t care, it’s the truth.”