Posts © 2011-2012 by Gerald G. Day







Saturday, December 30, 2017

December 30, 2017

Wishing each other a happy new year might seem to require more optimism than perception this time around. However, not all the signs are negative.
We should congratulate ourselves for being such a compassionate nation. Where else would people who are unable to reason, suffer from serious delusions, and wander about mumbling nonsense, find elite employment? Not only do such people find high-paying, influential positions in what used to be termed the news media, in part courtesy of that selfless benefactor, Rupert Murdoch, but we (sort of) elected one of them President. Don’t forget that Murdoch is an immigrant, illustrating another of our generous attitudes.
Where else would the representatives of the people put aside principles about deficits and debt in order to assist those in need, those struggling to pay for maintenance on private jets, yachts and third homes, those worried about passing their hard-earned wealth to deserving children.
We can be proud that America is exceptional, so exceptional that it will stand virtually alone among nations in ignoring climate change hysteria.
We can honor the Christian charity extended by evangelicals, ready to forgive sins in order that true Americans can be elected who will save us from evil liberals. We can extol the brave efforts of the NRA and other patriots to prevent the confiscation our guns, the symbol of our freedom and ability to resist oppression.
Yes, there is much to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

December 19, 2017

Just when one thinks that the Republicans have reached the limit in inanity and irresponsibility, more appears. As to the former, there’s a comment by Senator Lindsey Graham. His bill abolishing Obamacare was, acording to him, "the only process available to stop a march toward socialism." Stopping socialism is a conservative mantra, reaching back to the 1880s, and as a Republican, Senator Graham is wedded to the ideas of the past. Here is the official, modern, dressed up, but even more inane, anti-Obamacare rationale, courtesy of Paul Ryan: "Let’s give people more choices and more control over their care." That’s like refusing to toss a life ring to a drowning man, explaining that he has the choice of sinking or swimming, that he has control over his health.
However, the Republicans have topped that with a stunning example of irresponsibility, the tax plan. Not only is it a fiscal disaster, justified by lies and sleight of hand, but it is designed to financially benefit Trump and members of Congress. I suppose, given recent history, such venality shouldn’t surprise, but I cling to illusions about government of, by and for the people. The Republican Party has made a devil’s bargain with the super-rich, corporations, and their dupes in the Tea Party, and now with a demented fool who may stumble into blowing us up. 
Bring on November.

Friday, December 8, 2017

 
December 8, 2017 

An article in New York Magazine is entitled "New Reports Suggest Trump Might Not Be a Liar at All, But Truly Delusional." It notes that Donald Trump generally is considered to be a "con man," i.e., a liar. "But new reporting has opened up a second possibility: The president has lost all touch with reality." That appraisal is based on "accounts from insiders suggesting Trump habitually insists upon the impossible in private. He does not merely tell lies in order to gull the public or to manipulate allies. He tells lies in private that he has no reason to tell."

 An article in The New York Times of November 29 is one such account. Trump now denies that he made the crude comments on the "Access Hollywood" tape, that the voice isn’t his, even though he admitted earlier that it is. He still claims that he lost the popular vote due to voter fraud. He has returned to claiming that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. According to "a Republican lawmaker," not identified, Trump boasts of winning districts he did not win.

Donald Trump is a bad joke as President, but we have tended to see him as a fool, a braggart, a child in a job demanding an informed adult. He also is a man full of, virtually defined by, worrisome personality quirks. Now, in addition to leaks of his possibly delusional behavior, we have expert opinion, by way of a collection of essays by mental health professionals.[58]  A few days ago, I referred to a book entitled Dangerous Convictions, describing the state of the Republican Congress; now we have The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, which presents essays by two dozen mental health professionals, including psychiatrists and psychologists. They are of the opinion that, as stated in the Prologue, "anyone as mentally unstable as Mr. Trump simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the presidency."

It’s true that diagnosing mental illness from a distance is risky, potentially misleading and controversial. For psychiatrists, it is contrary to the so-called Goldwater rule, which was adopted after the 1964 election; it "prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions on someone they have not personally evaluated. . . ." The American Psychological Association has a similar rule. However, there is a distinction between diagnosis and informed comment about a public figure by those trained to evaluate mental health; it can be proper and useful and, at present, it is necessary.
Some of the essays come close to diagnosis at a distance and some generalize broadly about patterns of behavior. However, most offer expert insight into the behavior which all of us can see. As one contributor puts it, the Goldwater rule is not an impediment because the aim is not diagnosis, and the subject is not a patient.: "Our duty to warn is an expression of our concerns as citizens possessed of a particular expertise; not as clinicians who are responsible for preventing predictable violence from someone under our care." [59]  Put simply, "The issue that we are raising is not whether Trump is mentally ill. It is whether he is dangerous."[60]
In a sense, expert opinion isn’t required, as Trump’s deficiencies are obvious. However, many seem unaware of how serious the situation is, either from lack of attention or because they think that Trump, though he sometimes might be over the top, will solve what they see as the country’s problems. Others, harboring no illusions, hope to use him. All must be persuaded that his intellectual and emotional problems are too serious to ignore. Any input from those experienced in detecting and evaluating behavioral aberration is welcome.
Several of the essays describe Trump in terms of "malignant narcissism." One lists Trump’s traits which fit that description: lack of empathy for others, lack of remorse, lying and cheating; loss of reality; rage reactions and impulsivity. Because of this array of traits, Trump is "definitively and obviously dangerous."[61]  Another adds paranoia and sadism, illustrated by Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, and his threats aimed at protesters.[62]
Indulgence in conspiracy theories is an additional sign of instability. Trump has praised Alex Jones, who alleges wildly imaginary conspiracies to explain 9-11, the Sandy Hook massacre, Boston Marathon bombing and other events. The "birther" nonsense about Obama implies a conspiracy, and Trump claims that the Access Hollywood tape may have been altered.
One essay echoes the New York article in suggesting that Trump suffers from delusional disorder. It gives three examples; one might be dismissed as mere lying ("mere"?), but two do seem delusional: Trump’s claim of a huge inaugural crowd, in the face of photos showing the opposite, and his story that rain stopped as he began his inaugural speech, when it actually started then.[63]  The author offers solipsism, a term borrowed from philosophy, as an alternative descriptive category: "solipsism is the belief that the person holding the belief is the only real thing in the universe." Donald Trump does seem to live inside himself.
Robert Lifton, who wrote the Foreword to The Dangerous Case, in an interview also referred to solipsism in describing Trump: "Solipsistic reality means that the only reality he’s capable of embracing has to do with his own self and the perception by and protection of his own self. And for a president to be so bound in this isolated solipsistic reality could not be more dangerous for the country and for the world."[64]
Another essay sums up itself and the exercise. The issue is not mental illness, but there are "genuine, observable, and profound impediments in Mr. Trump's capacity to deal thoughtfully and reliably with the complex and grave responsibilities of being a reliable president and commander in chief." Whether or not he is delusional, he doesn’t acknowledge or, apparently, recognize having been wrong, and he doesn’t seem to learn or accept anything which might convince him of his errors.
"Donald Trump's presidency confronts the psychiatric profession and, much more important, our country with the challenge of dealing with an elected leader whose psychological style (marked by impulsivity, insistence on his own infallibility, vengeful retaliation, and unwarranted certainty in uncertain circumstances) is a profound impediment to sound decision making and presages the erratic and ill-considered exercise of enormous power."[65]
Unless "the Vice President and a majority of . . . the principal officers of the executive departments," acting under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, declare that "the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office," we’re stuck with this dangerous man for at least another year. We’d better hope for a Democratic landslide next November.


__________________

58. The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, Lee, ed. (2017)

59.
Id., at 153

60. Id., at 172

61.
Id., at 89-91


62. Id., at 96-98


63. Id., at 113


64.
http://billmoyers.com/story/dangerous-case-donald-trump-robert-jay-lifton-bill-moyers- duty-warn/


65.
The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, at 158

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December 5, 2017
The current Republican Congress is a menace to good government — to any government — as demonstrated by its votes on health care and taxes. However, any thought that the present-day Party is uniquely destructive, unusually captive to an anti-government philosophy because of the advent of Donald Trump, vanishes with a brief glance at its history.

A book written by a former Congressman, Tom Allen, Dangerous Convictions: What’s Really Wrong with the U.S. Congress, describes the tax cuts of 2001 under a Republican Congress and President. A speech by George W. Bush shortly after his inaugural, pushing his tax cut proposal, described the "reality" of his plan: increased discretionary spending, $2 trillion of debt paid off, $1 trillion in a contingency fund, and money left over. "Bush was in fact not talking about ‘reality,’ because none of it was true."[55]  It reminds one of the claims this year by Congress that the tax cuts would help middle class families and create jobs, and Trump’s assertion that the cuts wouldn’t help him.

Allen notes that Paul Krugman exposed the lies in his book, Fuzzy Math; Krugman said this: "There's something about the tax cut crusade that gives the crusaders a disdain for petty concerns, like telling the truth about their own proposals. . . . [T]he arguments made for tax cuts have been startling in their intellectual dishonesty." Although extreme partisanship was present under Gingrich in the 90s, Krugman saw a new form after 2000: "[W]hat has happened since Bush moved to Washington—the deliberate mis-statements and suppression of the facts—is, as far as I know, unprecedented in the history of American economic policy. It would be a shame if this style of governing succeeds, because it will set a precedent for future administrations."[56]  He certainly was right in the last observation.
In 2006, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, scholars of, and partisans for, Congress —to them the First and most important Branch of government — wrote a book entitled The Broken Branch, describing Congress’ decline. That same year, they wrote a column for The Los Angeles Times in which they described a bill pushed by the Republican Speaker of the House: "Hastert and his fellow House Republicans have refused to say exactly what they will include in the 300-page court security bill . . . ." Again, a familiar pattern. "If this were one isolated instance of a Congress pushing through sloppy and ill-considered legislation . . ., we would wince but move on. But this breach of the normal legislative process is all too typical of today's Congress. Over the last five years, Congress has abandoned the web of rules and norms that have long governed how a bill is considered, how votes take place and how outcomes are decided."
In a later book, It’s Even Worse than It Looks, Mann and Ornstein put it more bluntly: "Today’s the Republican Party. . . has become an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition, all but declaring war on the government."[57]
Republicans’ contempt for social policy is illustrated by comments by two Senators. Orrin Hatch expressed his disdain for "entitlement" programs: "I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything." Not to be outdone, Chuck Grassley proclaimed: "I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies." Or on food, shelter, other such luxuries.
I suppose that having such contempt for ordinary people — you know, the ones Trump promised to protect — makes it easier to be flunkies for the favored few.

___________________

55. Dangerous Convictions (2013), 43-44

56. Fuzzy Math (2001). 8-9

57. It’s Even Worse than It Looks (2012), 102-03

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 3, 2017

The Senate, with one dissenting Republican vote, passed, at about 2 a.m. December 2, a tax-cut bill which is massive in size, and so much a work in progress that it was amended by handwritten notes in the margin. Its contents were better known to lobbyists than to Democrats; the former provided the latter with a list of amendments.

The bill, by every independent analysis, rewards corporations and the rich, and adds a trillion or more dollars to cumulative deficits, and therefore to the national debt. Unable to destroy Obamacare directly, the Greedy Obfuscating Party did it by eliminating the individual mandate.

The aim was to reward donors and starve government, goals so important that the usual pretense about avoiding deficits was abandoned. If anything is done by the wrecking crew later on that score, it probably will involve cuts in Social Security and Medicare. This fraud has been perpetrated with the lying approval of a President who ran as a friend to working people.    

Although not the goal, the possible effect of the bill and its House counterpart will be to finally awaken voters to the fact that Republicans cannot be trusted with the reins of government.

Friday, November 17, 2017

November 16, 2017
Donald Trump is bizarrely unqualified to be President, but that has not led to his rejection, by Congress or by those who voted for him. Support by Congressional Republicans can be discounted to a considerable degree, as they rally around more out of a desire to use him than from any illusion of his merit. Some of his fans among the public seem to be true believers, an extreme example being the woman who, in the presence of the great man, held up a sign reading "Thank you, Lord Jesus, for President Trump." Some fall between adulation and opportunism, such as the white nationalists who see him as an ally. Whatever the motivation, the support is surprising given his obvious and overwhelming unfitness for office.
Trump’s job rating among the general public never has been high, ranging between 33% and 43% since July 1, according to numerous polls, and between 33% and 40% on the Gallup tracking poll. Several polls over the same period produced "favorability" ratings ranging from 28% to 46%.[52]  According to Gallup, his job approval rating for November 6-12 is 38%; the ratings for the nine previous Presidents for November of their first years range from 49% to 87% Leaving aside the highest number, for G. W. Bush, aided by 9-11, the range is 49% (Clinton) to 79% (Kennedy).[53]   Therefore, Trump is performing below par, but his numbers still strike me as high, given his record and character.
The explanation, if it can be so described, is that, over our selected time frame, self-identified Republicans have given Trump job approval ratings between 78% and 87%.[54]  Making due allowance for party loyalty, cultural divisions, the influence of the far right, the cheerleading of Fox News and the low level of attention paid by many citizens, those numbers are mind-boggling.
One additional, and ironic, element is that Trump is so bad that we become used to his deficiencies, and new ones fail to register. He is such a clown that no one expects calm, rational, consistent behavior.


54.
Ibid.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

November 16, 2017
In the last post, I referred to Kansas as an example of the failure of Republican economic theory. That state (What’s the Matter with . . .?) also is a center for vote suppression, another feature of Republican governance at the state level.
Kris Kobach, the Republican Secretary of State of Kansas, is a leader of the vote-suppression movement. As Ari Berman, who has written extensively on voting rights, puts it, "No state has been as aggressive as Kansas in restricting ballot access, and no elected official has been as dogged as Kobach."[47]  He now is vice chairman of a Trump commission supposedly created to discover and fight fraudulent voting. It more likely is designed to soothe Trump’s bruised ego by "finding" those illegal votes that cost him the popular election, and also aimed, as many state measures are, at suppressing Democratic votes. That likelihood was summarized by the Brennan Center for Justice. Kobach’s "naming as vice-chair is very meaningful: For the better part of the last decade, he has been a key architect behind many of the nation’s anti-voter and anti-immigration policies."[48]
He is joined in the vote-manipulation crusade by Scott Walker and the Republican legislature of Wisconsin. A study demonstrated that many registered voters in Wisconsin did not vote last year because of the limited types of ID accepted at polling places.[49] Other studies demonstrate that those prevented or discouraged are disproportionally minorities and the poor, who might vote Democratic. 
Gerrymandering is another way to control voting, and Republican legislatures have gone some distance toward perpetuating a Republican House through partisan redistricting. In the 2016 election, the Republicans won 55.4% of seats in the House, but received only 49.1% of the total votes; Democrats received 48%, but won 44.6% of seats. Not all of that is due to gerrymandering, but some is; an Associated Press study found that "Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats over what would have been expected based on the average vote share in congressional districts across the country."[50] 
Gerrymandering exists at the state level as well. A case before the Supreme Court involves Wisconsin’s 2011 redistricting, by Republicans, of its lower legislative House. As a result of the new map, in 2012 Republicans won 60 of the 99 seats (60%) despite winning only 48.6% of the state-wide vote; in 2014, they won 63 seats (63%) with only 52% of the vote.
_________________________________
Here’s another, entirely unrelated but revealing, example of the depths to which the Republican Party has fallen: under the House version of the tax "reform" bill, interest on student loans no longer would be deductible. College tuition has exploded, most students and families cannot pay it out of pocket, education is even more necessary than before, and the House, in order to cut taxes for the favored few, will make that education more difficult to obtain. 

_______________

47.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/magazine/the-man-behind-trumps-voter-fraud- obsession.html?_r=0


48.
https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/uncovering-kris-kobach%E2%80%99s-anti-voting- history

49.
http://billmoyers.com/story/voter-suppression-wisconsin-voter-id-law-2016/

50.
https://www.apnews.com/e3c5cc51faba4b7fb67d8a3f996bdaca

Sunday, November 12, 2017

November 12, 2017
The fact that so many people continue to vote for Republicans is a puzzle. Last Tuesday’s results were encouraging, but we’ve a long way to go to restore rational government.
To be sure, voting for the GOP once was a perfectly sensible thing to do, but that day has passed. At the national level, Republicans can’t govern; no party that doesn’t believe in government could. To the extent that they have a program, it is to cut taxes, cut regulations, shrink government and dump everything on the states, but beyond that, they appear to be irrational: denying climate change, ignoring environmental risks, pretending that more guns are the solution to shootings, opposing improvements to a health care system that delivers less at higher cost than other advanced countries, pretending that the market will solve all problems.
There is, however, one partial explanation for their behavior: follow the money. The Republican Congress is attempting to pass a tax-cut bill which will favor the rich and corporations, and increase the deficit. The former is true to GOP ideology, but the latter runs counter to its pose as a party of deficit hawks. The bill It is widely unpopular, and one would suppose that incumbents want to be reelected, so why push it? One Republican member of the House, in a burst of candor, gave the game away: "My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’ "[44] The administration agrees about the focus; Gary Cohn, chief economic advisor, declared: "The most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan."[45]  He also observed that "we see the whole trickle-down through the economy, and that's good for the economy.[46]
The Republicans in Congress continue to support President Trump. Up to a point, that is natural; he is their Party leader and, according to the most recent Gallup poll, 83% of self-identified Republicans approve of the way President Trump does his job. However, he has, among other examples of irrational, dangerous behavior, preferred the opinion of Vladimir Putin to our intelligence agencies, and abandoned the Paris Accords; until recently, we had the dubious distinction of being joined in that position by Syria, but now we stand alone.
We are told that Republicans have done good things in the states, but the best test of their economic policy is in Kansas, where its application has been a disaster.

__________________

44.
https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/11/08/get-it-done-or-don’t-call-me-again- gop- admit-their-tax-plan-all-about-rich-donors

45.
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/cohn-big-ceos-most-excited-group-about- trump-tax-plan.html

46.
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/09/gary-cohn-trickle-down-is-good-for-the- economy. html

Sunday, November 5, 2017

November 5, 2017
The New York Times has run two columns in the past few months which advocated centrism as a Democratic strategy.[43] Obviously the target of those critiques was any tendency of the Party to move leftward. However, those authors’ rejection of such a move apparently was not sufficiently non-liberal for one of The Times’ resident pundits. On October 27, Bret Stephens’ column was entitled "Communism Through Rose-Colored Glasses." In reading it, I had the feeling of passing through a time warp.
He referred to a recent book which describes enforced famine, under Stalin, in Ukraine in 1932, and asked: "How many readers, I wonder, are familiar with this history" or, he added, with "the deportation of the Crimean Tatars" (1944), Peru’s "Shining Path" (active primarily in the 80s), or "the Brezhnev-era psychiatric wards that were used to torture and imprison political dissidents" (Brezhnev ruled the USSR from 1964 to 1982). Stephens added a comment by Raymond Aron in 1955. What is the point of this stroll through the past? It is that "so many of today’s progressives remain in a permanent and dangerous state of semi-denial about the legacy of Communism a century after its birth in Russia."
He offered examples by asking more questions: "Why is Marxism still taken seriously on college campuses and in the progressive press?" Is it? If so, he might note that Marxism and capital-c Communism are not identical. "Do the same people who rightly demand the removal of Confederate statues ever feel even a shiver of inner revulsion at hipsters in Lenin or Mao T-shirts?" These questions are worth asking, he tells us, "because so many of today’s progressives remain in a permanent and dangerous state of semi-denial about the legacy of Communism a century after its birth in Russia." Apparently he moves in different circles than I.
These unidentified people "will attempt to dissociate Communist theory from practice in an effort to acquit the former. . . . They will say that true communism has never been tried." Here is, perhaps, an indirect distinction between Marxism and Communism. "They will write about Stalinist playwright Lillian Hellman in tones of sympathy and understanding they never extend to film director Elia Kazan." The last is an odd claim, apart from wondering who has so sympathized: the main difference between the two is that Hellman refused to aid the HUAC witch hunt by naming names, while Kazan did so. Creating a blacklist apparently is an act of patriotism.
However, apparently it isn’t really Communism that worries Stephens, it’s anything progressive (or, maybe, they aren’t different to him): "Bernie Sanders captured the heart, if not yet the brain, of the Democratic Party last year by portraying ‘democratic socialism’ as nothing more than an extension of New Deal liberalism." Isn’t it? He doesn’t say. "But the Vermont senator also insists that ‘the business model of Wall Street is fraud.’ Efforts to criminalize capitalism and financial services also have predictable results." (He’s really making the same argument as Douglas Schoen did in his column in The Times on October 18: be nice to Wall Street). No one is trying to criminalize either, merely to curb their excesses and hold accountable those who game the system.
Two overriding oddities of Mr. Stephens’ warnings about Communism and Stalinism and progressives are that people associated with the Republican administration — not generally considered to be leftist — have cozied up to Russia, and that Russia interfered with the election in aid of Republicans. Granted that Russia no longer is officially Communist, that country, successor to the USSR, still is a major adversary. What would HUAC think of those connections?

_______________

43.
I commented on them on August 27 and October 21.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

October 21, 2017

The New York Times editorial section seems determined to convince us of — let’s be fair; acquaint us with — the arguments in favor of centrism as the proper strategy for the Democratic Party. On August 27, I commented on one opinion piece to that effect, which had appeared on July 6. The October 18 issue of The Times presented another, entitled "Why Democrats Need Wall Street."
According to the author, Douglas Schoen, "a pollster and senior political adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2000," President Clinton "acknowledged the limits of government and protected the essential programs that make up the social safety net." However, Clinton did not so much acknowledge, as declare, those limits: "the era of big government is over."
Mr. Schoen praises Clinton for "moving the party away from a reflexive anti-Wall Street posture," but dismantling big government and cozying up to Wall Street resulted in the repeal of the Glass-Stiegel Act, allowing Wall Street to become larger, more dangerous, vulnerable, damaging to homeowners, and expensive to the taxpayer. This, however, is his fantasy of that episode: "the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 removed regulations placed on financial institutions by bureaucrats and expanded opportunities for Wall Street to engage in mergers and acquisitions, adding wealth to the retirement accounts and other investment portfolios of millions of middle-class Americans."
As to the safety net, Clinton fulfilled his 1992 election-campaign pledge to "end welfare as we know it" by cutting back on benefits. All this Mr. Schoen describes as "the program of the party’s traditional center-left coalition." If so, we need less of that supposed coalition.
Schoen thinks that "Hillary Clinton’s lurch to the left probably cost her key Midwestern states that Barack Obama had won twice . . . ." No such lurch was detectable, and her loss of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and therefore of the election, had more to do with her campaign’s failure to address voters’ economic concerns: a failure to articulate a liberal position which would help people of ordinary means. It is significant that about 12% of those who voted for Senator Sanders — certainly a liberal — in the primaries, voted for Trump in the final. They wanted a candidate who would recognize their needs, not one identified with the elite, with money. Schoen acknowledges that "the American people are certainly hostile to and suspicious of Wall Street," but does not draw the obvious conclusion. Perhaps it is ironic that many voters saw Mrs. Clinton, not Trump, as allied with monied interests, but that appears to be the fact, and it refutes the author’s argument.
He wants laissez-faire on both ends of the equation: "the Democrats have simply had an ineffective, negative and coercive economic message. Advocacy of a $15 minimum wage and further banking regulation does not constitute a positive, proactive agenda."
"Democrats,: Mr. Schoen asserts, "should keep ties with Wall Street for several reasons." Of his reasons one, sadly, one makes sense: "The first is an ugly fact of politics: money. Maintaining ties to Wall Street makes economic sense for Democrats and keeps their coffers full." There stands an excellent reason to overturn Citizens United.
Otherwise, his argument is simply that Democrats should become Republicans, and we have enough of those.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

October 4, 2017

Several news reports described Trump’s comments on the Las Vegas mass shooting as "presidential." When it’s newsworthy that a President has managed to sound like one, the bar has been lowered quite a bit. His long prepared speech sounded as little like Donald Trump as an address in French, so it probably was an aide who came up with "presidential" comments.
The speech called for an end to evil, but said nothing about guns, without which the murders could not have happened, and which are responsible for a great deal of evil. Press Secretary Sanders was dismissive of the notion that there should be prompt attention to the gun issue: this isn’t the time for that, she said; it’s a day of mourning, a time to come together, not a time to discuss policy. When reminded that, immediately after the shooting in Orlando in June 2016, Trump called for a travel ban — a policy issue — Mrs. Sanders dismissed that too: "There is a difference between being a candidate and being the President." In Trump’s case, that isn’t even accurate. Though discussing policy isn’t appropriate, she managed, a little later, to do so: "The president has been clear. He’s a strong supporter of the Second Amendment."
The unlikelihood of any rational response regarding guns is illustrated by a bill pending in Congress to make it easier to purchase a silencer .
Trump’s sincerity in the face of tragedy is more accurately displayed in his response to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico. He led off with an excuse for slow aid in his inimitably inane manner: "This is an island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water." He blamed Puerto Rico’s infrastructure, then it was "poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan."
Asking for help is a sign of weakness: "They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort." Any criticism must be political: "We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates . . . people are now starting to recognize the amazing work that has been done by FEMA and our great Military. All buildings now inspected." No one seemed to know what the last comment referred to, if anything.
During his brief visit to the island surrounded by water, he implied that the impact there was not a "real catastrophe," and complained that the cost of relief would upset the budget. Such compassion.
Under this government, a natural disaster will be met with indifference, and a disaster of human origin will be greeted with efforts to make it worse.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

 
October 1, 2017
Post-war Germany always has seemed to be admirable in its ability to acknowledge and reject its Hitler-era past. Apart from the odd neo-Nazi there has been little sign of turning back. That image and history prompted Dirk Kurbjuweit, a writer at Der Spiegel, to declare that, to quote Sinclair Lewis, it can’t happen here, that Germany will never be led by someone like Trump: "Seven decades after World War II, a leader like President Donald Trump would have almost no chance of political success in Berlin.[41]
We, sadly, are different. "Why," he asked," does the U.S. — the political, moral and military leader of the Western world since the end of World War II — now have a dangerous laughing stock, a man who has isolated his country, as its president? Why does Germany, a former pariah, now enjoy a more positive political standing than ever before?" One of his answers is that Germans have a better grip on reality, that, unlike Americans, they do not confuse it with fantasy.
"Ronald Reagan was an actor before he became a politician. Jesse Ventura was a professional wrestler, which is to say a showbiz star, before he became the governor of Minnesota. Arnold Schwarzenegger was an actor before he became the governor of California . . . . Donald Trump was the lead character in a reality show before he became president. . . . The American wall [between dreams and politics] is low, if it exists at all -- the worlds of reality and dreams flow into one another."
Electing actors doesn’t necessarily support that thesis, but add the proliferation of movies and video games about superheroes and aliens, crammed with cartoonish violence, and it’s easy to see his point. 
Americans, he thinks, believe in salvation, originally in the religious sense, now the political; "Even today, some people still believe that the One will come and make everything great again." Germans don’t (now) indulge in apocalyptic visions; they "once believed they had found a savior, but then he tried to destroy the world, and now their belief in salvation has vanished." The myth of American exceptionalism feeds that need for a charismatic leader, and the decline of political parties opens the way for demagogues.
Kurbjuweit notes that "there is no truly powerful right-wing [news] medium in Germany," nothing like Fox, to support right-wing incompetents like Trump. He acknowledges that the internet can partially fill that role, and concludes that it "is here where the possibility arises, faint though it may still be, of a German Trump."
He offers a few other observations, some of which are a stretch, and concludes, too confidently, that " ’Germany first’ is not a slogan that could work well in Germany."
The recent parliamentary election has shown otherwise. Alternative for Germany (AfD), which became the third-largest party in the Bundestag by winning 13% of the vote and 94 seats in the recent election, contains some of the same conflicting elements as the GOP: an elite core making common cause with nativist, nationalist forces which are resentful of immigrants and disillusioned with the establishment. "Its ranks, even its leadership, include people who openly court far-right positions, who want to take a positive view of the German military's actions in World War II, who play down the Holocaust and want to abolish the remembrance of it."[42]  Its lead candidate in the recent election announced that "we will take our country back," a Trumpian echo. A local AfD leader declared: "When Donald Trump says, ‘America first,’ we say, too, ‘Germany first’," in effect following Trump’s advice at the United Nations: "I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first." Another party leader donned a baseball cap reading "Make Germany Safe Again," presumably an anti-immigrant reference. We would like to think of our country as a leader, but not toward the far right.
What the AfD, the radical wing of the GOP and other right-wing parties have in common is a sense of cultural decline, but many of them define decline, and their nationalist response, in ethnic or religious terms. Nationalism also leads to rejecting globalism and alliances, such as the Paris Accords or the EU. We’re still distinctive, though, in the inanity, childishness and incompetence of our leader. Kurbjuweit may be right that Trump couldn’t happen in Germany, or possibly anywhere else, except perhaps North Korea.

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41.http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/why-germany-will-never-have-a-trump-a- 1161054.html

42.http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/opinion-a-new-germany-a- 1169634.html#ref= nl-international.
See also http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/germany-right-wing-afd-celebrates-entry- into-parliament-a-1169631.html#ref=nl-international.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

September 16, 2017
Could Donald Trump be impeached? Here is the relevant Constitutional provision, Article II, Section 4:
The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Treason is not a likely ground, due to the definition: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." Article III, Section 3. Apparently "enemies" are only those with which we are at war. As to bribery, see below.

There are other relevant provisions pertaining to the duties of the President.
Article II, Section 1:
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:–‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’
Article II, Section 3: "[H]e shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed . . . ." 

We have two relatively recent instances of impeachment or proposed impeachment, Clinton and Nixon, which illustrate how the Constitutional provisions are invoked. The boilerplate language of impeachment was virtually the same in each case. Here is the recital from Article I, as approved by the House Judiciary Committee, against President Nixon :
In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice, in that: . . . .
Here is Article III of the impeachment of President Clinton, with the only variation in language italicized:
In his conduct while President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice, and has to that end . . . .
The other articles in each case mirror that language.

Does any act or omission by Trump rise to impeachable level? The New York Review of Books has an excellent article reviewing two recent books on impeachment.[40]  It notes that "high crimes and misdemeanors" is a term of art referring to public office; the terms are not used in the criminal-law sense. "The words ‘crimes’ and ‘misdemeanors,’ . . . do not distinguish acts of different gravity, as they do in criminal law, but were intended as synonyms. More important, the adjective ‘high’ does not mean ‘very bad,’ but rather that the crimes are committed by high government officials in the course of their duties . . . ."
The House voted two articles of impeachment against President Clinton, one alleging perjury, the other obstruction of justice. Neither had any relation to a core duty of the presidency (note the evasive "while President"); both related to his tawdry affair with Monica Lewinsky and his attempt to hide that. There was an indirect connection to a civil case against him for sexual harassment dating to his days as Governor of Arkansas. Perhaps by the loose standards of that case, grounds might be found to impeach Trump. However, the Clinton impeachment was a misuse of the power. In Federalist 65, Hamilton described its purpose:
The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.
Clinton’s impeachment was political in the sense of partisan, but not in the sense intended by Hamilton: relating to government. 

Because impeachment must refer to conduct while holding, and related to, an office, Trump’s pre-inaugural acts and statements probably would not support impeachment, unless they somehow carried over, for example in obstruction of justice. The investigation into collusion with Russia during the campaign could produce such a charge. As the NYRB article puts it: "Trump’s acknowledgment that he fired James Comey because he would not drop the FBI’s investigation of the Russia scandal is as close to a presidential confession of obstruction of justice as we are likely to see."
The other obvious ground is financial corruption, using the office to promote personal enrichment. Trump’s financial conflicts of interest are numerous and clear and, even if his financial benefits do not rise to the level of bribery, there is reason to find that some of them violate this provision of the Constitution: "no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust [of the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State." Article I, Section 9. The obvious intent of the Emoluments Clause is to ensure that a public official serves the nation, and not his pocketbook, and that his decisions on public matters will not be influenced by private dealings, obligations or prospects. No amount of tap dancing by Trump’s lawyers around the definition of emolument will cause the conflict of interest to between his financial interests and his duty as President disappear.

Impeachment, though, unavoidably is also a political act in the partisan sense. This Republican Congress does not seem to be a likely source of impeachment or conviction. However, Trump’s cushion is smaller than Nixon’s, and not only because of his personal inadequacy. In 1972 Nixon won the popular vote by 17.8 million; Trump lost by 2.86 million. Nixon carried 49 states, Trump 30; he started from a weaker position in terms of popular support. His present level of approval, according to Gallup, is only marginally higher than Nixon’s at this time in 1973, with the Watergate investigation well under way. Congressional Republicans at some point may consider Trump’s presumed support for their agenda less important than reelection. His recent flirtation with Democrats and the reaction of some of his supporters may begin that process. 

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40.
"What Are Impeachable Offenses?" Noah Feldman and Jacob Weisberg, September 28, 2017 Issue

Friday, September 8, 2017

September 7, 2017

During parts of July and August we were in the Balkans; we turned on TV only once, to BBC, and the The International New York Times was difficult to find, so Trump, while never entirely out of mind, was not a daily concern. A few random thoughts about him since returning:
Donald Trump, as President, poses a challenge to anyone attempting to understand or describe him, whether a columnist, a politician of his or the opposite party, or an ordinary voter. One could intelligntly and meaningfully criticize George W. Bush or Barack Obama because they were normal men whose strengths and weaknesses, assests and liabilities, could be assessed on a familiar scale. Various of Trump’s characteristics can be listed and criticized — he is inept, ignorant, self-centered, dishonest — but taken as a whole individual there is no meaningful standard because he doesn’t conform to any recognizable pattern, unless we assume that he is mentally incompetent, which does not appear to be true in any technical sense. Clearly he should not be President, but he was duly elected.
I’m not sure that the country will avoid major disaster until he can be voted out in 2020, but impeachment can’t be based simply on his unfitness; high crimes and misdemeanors must be found. "Ridiculously unqualified" is good reason not to vote for him (again), but impeachment will require specifics.
Trump is not so much an individual as a symptom. At any time I can remember, any politician with his characteristics never would have been elected, even by our nutty electoral-college system. The question to be asked is what has happened to the country.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

August 27, 2017
Recent election defeats have led to various suggestions for the key to future Democratic victories. A little perspective is required. Yes, Donald Trump is President, but he lost the popular election by over 2.8 million votes, a margin of 2.1%, the third largest percentage margin since such numbers have been kept, and the largest since 1876.  He lost it to a weak candidate who ran a poor campaign. Fewer than 80,000 votes, spread over three states, 0.0567% of the national total, gave Trump the win. Even the magnified effect of those few votes in the electoral college left Trump’s margin in that vote 46th out of the last 58 elections.
Democrats have lost four special elections for the House this year, but did relatively well. These were Republican districts, and the Republican’s winning margin this year, compared to 2016, dropped by 59% to 84%.
Trump’s favorability rating is depressingly high, but as noted earlier, not out of line with historic Republican support.
That is not to say that change in Democratic philosophy is not required — and focusing on the national picture ignores Democratic weakness in many state governments — but some of the suggestions are misdirected. One proposal is to respond to right-wing victories by moving rightward. On July 6, The New York Times ran a column by Mark Penn ("chief strategist" to Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign) and Andrew Stein advocating a "return" to the center, as if the Party had not been occupying that space for some time.
According to Penn and Stein, "In the early 1990s,the Democrats relied on identity politics, promoted equality of outcomes instead of equality of opportunity and looked to find a government solution for every problem." As Richard Eskow, puts it, "Everyone who remembers that Democratic Party, raise your hands."  That imagined situation changed in the mid-90s, according to Penn and Stein, when "President Bill Clinton moved the party back to the center in 1995. . . ."
From that they conclude: "The path back to power for the Democratic Party today, as it was in the 1990s, is unquestionably to move to the center and reject the siren calls of the left, whose policies and ideas have weakened the party." The move is required because, they think, "the last few years of the Obama administration and the 2016 primary season once again created a rush to the left. Identity politics, class warfare and big government all made comebacks." Leaving aside the imaginary move to the left under Obama, any leftward tendency in 2016 was located in the Sanders candidacy; there wasn’t any radicalism in the Clinton campaign. (She recently "pled guilty" to "being kind of moderate and center.")
In any case, to the dedicated non-leftist, "big government" probably means regulation of business (they complain that "the old brick-and-mortar economy is being regulated to death,") and "class warfare" means taxing the rich. (There is concern now that "centrist" Democrats may go along with Republican tax cuts.)   We don’t need that sort of centrism. Penn and Stein have a few valid insights; one has to do with "identity politics." According to them, working-class voters "saw the party being mired too often in political correctness, transgender bathroom issues and policies offering more help to undocumented immigrants than to the heartland." Obama’s record on immigration hardly qualifies as leftist, and the rest is exaggerated, although liberals do tend to be annoyingly righteous about sometimes-marginal issues.
They mentioned in passing issues concerning rural voters. This is an area to which Democrats have given too little attention; an article by John Nichols in The Nation summed up the issue for Democrats: "The problem isn’t based in rural America, but in the negligence and ignorance of Democratic Party leaders." In other words, those voters can’t and shouldn’t be dismissed, to borrow a phrase from Mrs. Clinton, as "deplorables." As Nichols put it, "The Democratic Party ceded rural America to the Republicans quite some time ago."
Penn and Stein would have Democrats "reject socialist ideas." Sanders’ campaign helped to convince many that they needn’t fear that term or concept, that unregulated capitalism isn’t some sort of mystic formula for prosperity, that fairness and equality don’t appear from nowhere, that government activity — intervention, if you will — is necessary. The Party should build on that.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

July 8, 2017>/b>
Recently I expressed puzzlement at the continuing level of support for Trump. An article by Frank Rich in New York Magazine[33] puts the subject in context by referring to the Watergate scandal. As the news grew worse for Richard Nixon, his approval rating fell steadily until, according to Gallup, it reached the mid-twenties near the end of 1973. It then remained essentially flat until the end. As Rich puts it, "at least a quarter of the American populace had no problem telling pollsters that they were still behind a president who had lied repeatedly and engaged in unambiguously criminal conspiracies. They still saw Nixon as ‘one of us,’ as he billed himself on posters in his first House run in 1946, and as a fighter who took on ‘them’ — essentially the same elites that Trump inveighs against today." Even as he resigned, Nixon had the approval of 24%.
That doesn’t make Trump’s level of support any less mysterious, in the sense of wonder at how so many people could continue to support someone so dishonest and inept, but it does demonstrate that such a reaction is not unprecedented. Rich goes a step further: it to be expected. His core supporters "will no more abandon Trump than their parents and grandparents did Nixon. If anything, Trump’s ascent has once more confirmed that this constituency is a permanent factor in the American political equation."
Another indication that Trump’s support is nothing unusual is that its present level matches the lowest popular vote for Republican presidential candidates in this century. Alf Landon drew 36.5% against Franklin Roosevelt in 1936, Goldwater 38.5% against Johnson in 1964, and Bush the Elder 37.5% against Clinton in 1992. (Technically, 1912 was even worse, Taft drawing only 23.2% against Wilson, but Theodore Roosevelt, also a Republican but not on the ticket that year, drew 27.4%).[34]  Trump’s approval rating in the Gallup tracking poll has ranged between 36% and 42%, since June 1, an average of 37.9%.[35]
Trump resembles Nixon in being unstable, resentful of media coverage, and prone to self-destructive comments. Nixon was a smart, tough, experienced politician who understood issues and did some good, but went too far in trying to destroy enemies; his comments were intended to be private, but were revealed when his taping system was disclosed. Trump isn’t bright, is basically weak, has no political experience or knowledge about government, seems to have neither the interest nor the attention span to required to perform his duties, and makes his inane, damaging comments intentionally. Nixon was active, aggressive and driven. Trump is detached, reactive, and uninterested in anything but himself. Take away the bluster, and there is little left.
Many of the policies he has advanced, supported or permitted work against the welfare of the people who cheer for him at rallies. At some point, that will sink in, at least for some, and Trump has a small margin of safety: Nixon had an approval rating of about 60% during his first year in office;[36] Trump only can dream of that.

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

July 2, 2017
The phrase "Can Nixon Survive Dean?" came to mind in the days leading up to the testimony of James Comey. (I remembered only that it had been on the cover of a magazine; it was, I discovered, on the Time cover of June 9, 1973). The testimony of James Comey had the potential for the same sort of confrontation. Would Comey be as devastating a witness against Trump as John Dean had been against Richard Nixon? My guess was no, and so it turned out, or at least it has had little effect so far.
Dean said that he has a sense that Nixon was recording conversations. That led, during the testimony of Alexander Butterfield, to the disclosure of Nixon’s taping system, which led in turn to his downfall. Here we have Trump hinting that he taped conversations with Comey and the latter saying that he hopes so. There have been demands that Trump turn over the tapes, but probably there aren’t any, although his subsequent seeming retraction left room to find some when convenient: "With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings." More likely, he was just giving himself an excuse for his original threat.

His offer to testify under oath displayed the same pattern of bluster, followed by face-saving; his press secretary, Sean Spicer, claimed that Trump meant only that he might testify to Mueller under oath, not to Congress, although Trump did not so state and the context of his promise was Comey’s testimony to a Congressional committee.

The appropriate question this time around may well be: "Can Trump survive Trump?"  His constant flow of tweets reveals, among other worrisome characteristics, an insecurity so overwhelming that he is incapable of dealing with criticism. He doesn’t stop at labeling the media enemies of the people, but lashes out at specific members of that disloyal profession.
Morning Joe, on MSNBC, at times said nice things about Trump. Like many others, its hosts became more critical, and Trump retaliated in his customary style and medium, having so much to say that it spread over two tweets: "I heard poorly rated Morning Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came . . . to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!" Apart from what it reveals about Trump’s character, that is a self-destructive response. At some point, even the faithful may realize that this man-child shouldn’t be in a position of power.
He wasn’t through; the network is evil also: "Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!" Some Republicans are beginning to take notice; here are reactions to the first outburst. Senator Lindsey Graham: "Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America." Sen. Ben Sasse:"Please just stop. This isn't normal and it's beneath the dignity of your office." Sen. Lisa Murkowski: "Stop it! The Presidential platform should be used for more than bringing people down." Sen. Susan Collins: "This has to stop . . . We don't have to get along, but we must show respect and civility."[31]
The White House is circling the wagons. Associate press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered this slightly garbled defense of her boss: "The president has been attacked mercilessly on personal accounts by members on that program, and I think he's been very clear that when he gets attacked, he's going to hit back." In case anyone had missed the point, that critics had better be careful, she added: "I think the American people elected somebody who's tough, who's smart, and who's a fighter, and that's Donald Trump. And I don't think that it's a surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire."
It takes an extreme case of loyalty to describe Trump as smart, and poor judgment to excuse his every instance of outrageous behavior. If Trump’s staff want him to survive, they should abandon sycophancy and offer a few fire-me-if you-want lessons on how grown-ups with important jobs behave. It isn’t likely to happen or to be effective if it did. That’s probably all to the good; if his staff and Fox continue to protect him and to justify his immature, vindictive behavior, even Republicans may decide that this has gone on long enough.
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31. The reactions are recorded at http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/29/politics/ lawmakers-react-trump-tweet-joe-scarborough-mika-brzezinski-morning-joe/index.html.
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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 28, 2017
I must be naïve. After decades of observing American politics, it still amazes me that many of those elected by the people to do the people’s business go to such lengths to harm them. The Senate "health care" bill, following a similar effort by the House, was designed to do just that. It was, however, not bad enough for some.
One of those is Ron Johnson, whose election in 2010 and re-election last year add to the puzzlement over what has happened to Wisconsin. During the 2010 campaign, George Will, in an approving column, quoted Johnson’s philosophy: "First of all, freedom." Like many conservatives, freedom to Johnson means property and the right to keep it, especially the right to avoid having it taxed: "The most basic right is the right to keep your property." Once that was possible: "For a brief moment" (when, under Reagan, the top income tax rate was 28 percent), "we were 72 percent free."
Senator Johnson wrote a column for The New York Times on June 26 setting forth his views on the ACA (Obamacare), which levied some taxes, and the Senate’s proposal to terminate its evil effects. His argument consisted of a string of conservative clichés, along with some inconsistencies.
"Washington believes that the solution to every problem is more money." Apparently he is, after six years, not part of Washington, which consists only of irresponsible liberals. Do conservatives not throw money at the Pentagon? Never mind.
"Like Obamacare, [the Senate bill] relies too heavily on government spending, and ignores the role that the private sector can and should play." Ah, yes, the private sector, in which no waste occurs, and every action results in the public good.
"[P]ursuing continuous improvement and root-cause analysis are core ideas in private-sector problem-solving. From what I’ve seen in six years in office, these concepts are foreign to government." This is nonsense; the core concept, the principle aim, of private business is making a profit. Medicare, not burdened with shareholders, overpaid executives or lobbyists, applies a far greater percentage of its revenue to patient care than do insurance companies.
The health care system has "virtually eliminated the power of consumer-driven, free-market discipline from one-sixth of our economy." How, pray, would that discipline work out in health care? Does he think that patients will be inclined, or able, to shop for care, comparing fees (if disclosed) between providers? Would insurance companies, with their network model, even allow that? The Senator really can’t make up his mind as to the system he wants. He complains that our health care system results in "separating patients from direct payment for health care," but contemplates reliance on private insurance, which largely accomplishes that separation.
Apparently, though, I’m making this too complex: "[A] simple solution is obvious. Loosen up regulations and mandates, so that Americans can choose to purchase insurance that suits their needs and that they can afford." The Senate Republican bill, to Senator Johnson isn’t drastic enough: it "turns its back on this simple solution and goes with something far too familiar: throwing money at the problem."
These are not unique beliefs, nor are they new for Johnson. When he decided in 2010 to run for the Senate, he claimed: "The Health Care Bill is the greatest assault on our freedom in my lifetime. It will do great harm to the finest health care system in the world."[30]  Our health care system is more accurately described as an embarrassment, a term used in one review of international results. Every study in recent years has shown that we spend more for poorer results than other developed countries. The ACA has reduced the number of uninsured, but our system is far from the finest, measured before or after that law’s enactment.
Would the Senator’s solution, removing government help, make health insurance affordable for all? Hardly, and that isn’t his aim. The result would be, he says, that people "can choose to purchase insurance that suits their needs and that they can afford." For many people, what they can afford won’t be much, if anything, and therefore won’t suit their needs.
His philosophy is aptly summarized in an article in The Nation: "The [Senate] bill makes an equivalence between affording care and deserving care." In other words, according to the foes of government, everyone deserves the level of care he can afford, and no more: health care is a privilege, not a right.

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30. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/26/opinion/senate-health-care-bill.html?_ r=0