Archive

January 29th, 2017

The dealmaker in chief in a dangerous world

    Those seeking to extract meaning from Donald Trump's foreign policy declarations usually land on the idea that he's planning to make himself dealmaker in chief. The tough tweets aimed at China, the sweet come-ons directed toward Vladimir Putin, the threats of sky-high tariffs to be imposed, along with the sky-high wall, on Mexico - it's all part of the setup for the quite sensible bargains Trump intends to drive. The capper will be "the ultimate deal," as Trump put it in one interview: an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

    It's comforting to consider this theory, as it suggests that some of Trump's far-fetched rhetoric, which has appeared to presage war with North Korea, a rupture with Beijing over Taiwan and the dissolution of NATO, need not be taken seriously. Thereare just two problems: The deals Trump has been hinting at are wildly unrealistic; and attempting to make them happen could be dangerous as well as futile.

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Republicans huddle as Trump begins to call the signals

    Even though it's only the third week of January, one of the most important meetings of the year is about to take place in Philadelphia. Think of the upcoming Republican Policy Retreat as the huddle at the start of the first game of the season, when everybody is listening for the new quarterback to call the play.

    The stakes are high as President Donald Trump meets with both the leadership and the rank-and-file members of the House and Senate Republican caucuses. This will be the first time that just about everyone who matters will be together in one place to talk shop.

    Despite some of the ragged edges surrounding the inauguration, I think there is a good vibe and a lot of positive energy building before the retreat begins. Republicans everywhere -- starting with GOP members of Congress -- sense a great opportunity not just to correct some of the problems created in the Obama years but also to fundamentally rewrite U.S. domestic policy, from health care and taxes to education and energy.

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Repealing the Affordable Care Act will kill more than 43,000 people annually

    Now that President Donald Trump is in the Oval Office, thousands of American lives that were previously protected by provisions of the Affordable Care Act are in danger. For more than 30 years, we have studied how death rates are affected by changes in health-care coverage, and we're convinced that an ACA repeal could cause tens of thousands of deaths annually.

    The story is in the data: The biggest and most definitive study of what happens to death rates when Medicaid coverage is expanded, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that for every 455 people who gained coverage across several states, one life was saved per year. Applying that figure to even a conservative estimate of 20 million losing coverage in the event of an ACA repeal yields an estimate of 43,956 deaths annually.

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January 28th

Brenda Barnes’ Wisdom, and Our Anti-Parent Workplace

    Brenda Barnes became a national figure 20 years ago when she quit her job as a top PepsiCo executive to become a full-time parent. Some people celebrated her decision, and others criticized it. But everyone seemed to agree that she was doing it for her children.

    Her children, however, initially had a different reaction.

    Because the family no longer needed to live near New York, Brenda and her husband decided to return with their three children — then ages 7, 8 and 10 — to the Chicago suburbs, where Brenda had grown up.

    When I asked Erin Barnes, the middle child, this weekend how she and her brothers had reacted to the news that their mom would be around a lot more, Erin laughed and said, “I think we were all just mad we were leaving Connecticut for Chicago.”

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Anti-Trump protests are welcome, but just a start

    Those of us who see the election of Donald Trump as a calamity for American democracy could take heart, the day after his poorly attended inauguration, in some of the biggest demonstrations in recent years. More than a million people, largely women, filled the streets and squares of Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and many other cities around the world in a stunning explosion of political energy. A range of personalities, from Madonna to John Kerry (who was perhaps remembering his own days as a long-haired countercultural hero) joined the protests, whose scale and intensity took the organizers themselves by surprise.

    It would be easy to dismiss this extraordinary mass spurning of Trump as, "Too late!" (Trump himself made the easy point that a similar outpouring in November might have changed the outcome of the election.) However low his approval ratings, an ego-driven unilateralist is now ensconced as president for four years -- proverbially a very long time in politics and certainly long enough to ruin a country, perhaps even the world at large. It is easier still to mock Madonna, the original Material Girl, who called for "sacrifice" and "revolution" at the march in Washington.

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The leaks coming out of the Trump White House cast the boss as a clueless child

    All White Houses leak. Sometimes the leaks are big, sometimes small. But there are always people willing to talk to reporters about the "real" story or about why the chief executive made a mistake in regards some decision he made.

    That said, I've never seen so much leaking so quickly - and with such disdain for the president - as I have in the first six days of Donald Trump's presidency.

    Two recent examples:

    1. This from The New York Times Thursday on Trump's impulsiveness:

    "Mr. Trump's advisers say that his frenzied if admittedly impulsive approach appeals to voters because it shows that he is a man of action. Those complaining about his fixation with fictional voter fraud or crowd counts at his inauguration, in their view, are simply seeking ways to undercut his legitimacy.

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The Daily 202: Is President Trump surrendering America's moral high ground?

    Not even a week into Donald Trump's presidency, some liberal internationalists find themselves privately pining for George W. Bush.

    Despite acts of brutality that were perpetrated on his watch, Bush always insisted publicly that the United States did not torture. He understood that copping to the enhanced interrogation techniques he had secretly approved could undercut our moral standing on the world stage, provide terrorists a potent recruiting tool and give our enemies an excuse to torture Americans.

    Trump doesn't think like that. "I have spoken as recently as 24 hours ago with people at the highest level of intelligence," the new president told ABC News in an interview that aired Wednesday night, "and I asked them the question, 'Does it work? Does torture work?' and the answer was, 'Yes, absolutely.' "

    Explaining why he wants to reconsider the use of waterboarding, Trump added: "We're not playing on an even field. . . . As far as I'm concerned, we have to fight fire with fire."

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Donald Trump just forfeited in his first fight with China

    Donald Trump meant what he said about trade.

    When he isn't getting attention for telling demonstrable falsehoods about the size of his inauguration crowd, Trump has been busy filling his administration with people who want to get tough on China, threatening to put tariffs on companies that outsource jobs, and, as he did on Monday, pulling the United States out of big trade deals. Indeed, he officially killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and is expected to announce that he wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement as well.

    How much does this matter? Well, when it comes to the TPP, maybe not as much as you might think for an agreement that would have created a single market for most of the Pacific rim other than China. At least not in economic terms.

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Don't like what a woman is saying? Call her ugly.

    After millions of women descended on downtowns around the world to march in support of women's rights Saturday, several conservative lawmakers took to social media for commentary. Did they critique the marchers' message? Nope. Question the efficacy of protests? Not that either. What they did was make fat jokes.

    "Just think about this," Judge Bailey Moseley, a state judge in East Texas, wrote on Facebook. "After just one day in office, Trump managed to achieve something that no one else has been able to do: he got a million fat women out walking."

    Indiana State Sen. Jack Sandlin, R, posted a similar sentiment on Facebook, sharing a meme that featured a photo of marchers in pink hats under the words "In one day, Trump got more fat women out walking than Michelle Obama did in 8 years." Sandlin claims he's "[n]ot sure how that ended up on my Facebook wall." According to the Indianapolis Star, "[s]creenshots show Sandlin's account sharing the message directly from another Facebook page, not another account sharing to Sandlin's Facebook page."

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1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Palace of Lies

    Every day, tourists from across the country and around the globe flock to the White House, where they stand before our national shrine in awe for what it represents: democracy, freedom, equality. But no more.

    Today, sadly, it represents something else: a fact-free zone where nobody tells the truth. Under Donald Trump, the White House has become a Palace of Lies -- and he's only been there one week.

    Can't we all agree on this? It's not the job of the president to tell lies. And it's not the job of the White House press secretary to repeat and defend those lies. Apparently, nobody's informed Donald Trump or Sean Spicer of that. In these early days of the administration, we've seen nothing but a cascade of lies from both the president and the press secretary.

    It started the day after his inauguration when Trump, the ultimate size-ist, refused to accept the fact that fewer people turned out for his inauguration than for Barack Obama's in 2009. That was more than his so-easily bruised ego could bear.

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