Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Last Call For Giving Them The Business

Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald unloads on Trump's crooked empire in this cover story on The Donald's business conflicts of interests and how they are already a threat to national security, and Russia is only the tip of this brown, smelly iceberg.

Donald Trump hasn’t been sworn in yet, but he is already making decisions and issuing statements to world leaders that radically depart from American foreign policy, all to the benefit of his family’s corporate empire. Because of this, the next president of the United States is already vulnerable to undue influence by other nations, including through bribery and even blackmail. 
Given the vast scope of the clashes between the Trumps’ extensive business dealings and the interests of America, the president-elect vowed during the campaign to eliminate potential conflicts by severing ties to his company—yet, with only weeks to go until he takes the oath of office, he hasn’t laid out a credible plan. Trump’s sole suggestion to date—a “blind trust” run by his children—would not eliminate the conflicts, given that the money generated would still go to his family. Moreover, such a trust would be anything but blind: If Trump Tower Moscow goes under construction, Trump will see it while in Russia and know that his kids are making millions of dollars from it. That is why foreign leaders hoping to curry favor will do everything they can to help Trump’s family erect more buildings, sell more jewelry and make money through any means possible. Even if the family steps away from its company while Trump is president, every nation on Earth will know that doing business with the Trump Organization will one day benefit the family. The only way to eliminate the conflicts—sell the company, divvy up the proceeds—has been rejected by Trump, whose transition team refused to respond to any questions from Newsweek for this article. 
Some of the most egregious conflicts that have emerged involve countries in Asia and its subregions, particularly the Philippines. Global policy on the Philippines has been fraught with tension since the election in May of Rodrigo Duterte as the country’s president. Duterte, who boasted to voters during the campaign that he had shot a fellow law school student for teasing him, has championed the killing of suspected criminals and street children by vigilante death squads. In 2015, he said that if he became president, up to 100,000 people suspected of links to illegal drugs could be killed. Just months after his election, Duterte said he was eager to lead a genocide of up to 3 million drug addicts. “I'd be happy to slaughter them,” he said. “At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have [me].” And in September, an admitted hit man testified to a Senate committee in the Philippines that Duterte presided over a killing campaign when he was mayor of Davao City.

Despite universal condemnation of the ongoing slaughter of Filipinos, Trump signaled his approval of Duterte’s policies during a phone call on December 2. According to Duterte—an account that has gone uncontested by Trump—the president-elect endorsed his tactics as “the right way.” Duterte added: “[Trump] was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem.” (He also said Trump invited him to the White House, a courtesy not yet extended to Theresa May, the prime minister of Britain, America’s most important strategic ally.)As president, Duterte rapidly showed he was little concerned with the legal protections afforded to Filipinos suspected of crimes. 
During his first three months in office, 850 Filipinos were killed by death squads, apparently on little more than the suspicion that they were drug users and dealers. Since then, the estimated death toll has climbed to 4,500. The carnage has been condemned throughout the Western world; the Parliament of the European Union and two United Nations human rights experts have urged Duterte to end the massacre. One of the experts even appeared to suggest that Duterte and his government could be held legally accountable for committing mass murder in violation of international law. “Claims to fight illicit drug trade do not absolve the government from its international legal obligations and do not shield state actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings,” said Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on summary executions. In response to the denunciations, Duterte lashed out at the United States, threatening to align his country more with China.

So we're already cozying up to strongmen like Putin, Duterte, and Assad.  Hell, we *are* the new Axis of Evil these days, and the whole game is to make Trump and his family rich beyond their filthiest dreams of avarice.

Of course the rest of us will have to pick up the check.  And it's going to have an awful lot of zeroes at the end when the bill comes due.

Dispatches From Bevinstan, Con't

Another "Why did Kentuckians vote to take Obamacare away from themselves?" piece, this time from Vox's health reporter Sarah Kliff, as she takes a look at Kathy Oller. Oller's job is to help sign people up for Kynect in Whitley County, where 82% of the people there voted for Donald Trump in November.

Including, it turns out,  Kathy Oller.

I spent last week in southeastern Kentucky talking to Obamacare enrollees, all of whom supported Trump in the election, trying to understand how the health care law factored into their decisions. 
Many expressed frustration that Obamacare plans cost way too much, that premiums and deductibles had spiraled out of control. And part of their anger was wrapped up in the idea that other people were getting even better, even cheaper benefits — and those other people did not deserve the help
There was a persistent belief that Trump would fix these problems and make Obamacare work better. I kept hearing informed voters, who had watched the election closely, say they did hear the promise of repeal but simply felt Trump couldn’t repeal a law that had done so much good for them. In fact, some of the people I talked to hope that one of the more divisive pieces of the law — Medicaid expansion — might become even more robust, offering more of the working poor a chance at the same coverage the very poor receive
The political reality in Washington, however, looks much different: Republicans are dead seton repealing the Affordable Care Act. The plans they have proposed so far would leave millions of people without insurance and make it harder for sicker, older Americans to access coverage. No version of a Republican plan would keep the Medicaid expansion as Obamacare envisions it. 
The question is not whether Republicans will end coverage for millions. It is when they will do it. Oller’s three years of work could very much be undone over the next three years. 
In southeastern Kentucky, that idea didn’t seem to penetrate at all — not to Oller, and not to the people she signed up for coverage. 
We all need it,” Oller told me when I asked about the fact that Trump and congressional Republicans had promised Obamacare repeal. “You can’t get rid of it.”

And that's typical.  The noise machine spent six years convincing white America that Obamacare was doomed to fail with all those people on it, so they voted for Republicans who would tweak the program and cut off those people who didn't deserve benefits.  Not like hard-working Americans like the people of Whitley County, Kentucky.

As Sarah Kendzior said back in May, Donald Trump won because he was the candidate of anguish.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, who seeks to continue Barack Obama's legacy, or Bernie Sanders, who offers hope through sweeping change, Mr. Trump homes in on anguish. He assures Americans that their fate is not their fault. He pledges to end their pain. And he does so by promising the public persecution of the most vulnerable citizens: ethnic, religious and racial minorities
In Mr. Trump's campaign, long-time losers – the mostly white industrial workers whose jobs began to disappear in the Reagan era – are promised to become instant winners, through means he has yet to articulate. The rest will be fired: denounced, deported, devalued. Mr. Trump redefines America through the politics of exclusion. He is tearing the country apart, and he will likely win what is left of it in November.

They're finding out now that the bulk of people on Obamacare were always poor white folk from the hills anyway, and that they're going to be the first people with their heads on the block when the axe comes thundering down. But guess what?  I have little sympathy for people who thought they were gladly condemning others to lose their health care in order to benefit themselves.  They voted for Trump because he was going to "fire" those people and make white America great again. Trump sold them the dream and they bought the coming nightmare hook line and sinker.

"Trump will take Obamacare from those people who don't deserve it, but never from me and my family."

That'll be on the gravestone of the Affordable Care Act in 2017.

It should be on the gravestones of a lot of Kentuckians over the next four years too.

You Get My Trump TV Whether You Want It Or Not

Looks like the GOP is going to Trump his broadcast propaganda arm after all, and we'll get to pay taxpayer dollars for it. Because why should Vladimir Putin have all the fun with state-run news agencies?

FOR YEARS, members of Congress have fumed about what they regard as ineffective U.S. public diplomacy, including the failure of broadcasting operations such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to match the reach and apparent influence of networks such as Russia’s RT and Qatar’s al Jazeera. A frequent and arguably fair focus of criticism has been the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the body created to supervise government-funded media outlets while serving as a firewall between them and the political administration of the day. 
A radical change to that system is now coming — and it looks like one that Vladi­mir Putin and Qatar’s emir might well admire. An amendment quietly inserted into the annual National Defense Authorization Act by Republican House leaders would abolish the broadcasting board and place VOA, RFE/RL and other international news and information operations under the direct control of a chief executive appointed by the president. The new executive would hire and fire senior media personnel and manage their budgets.

With a confirming vote by the GOP-controlled Senate, President-elect Donald Trump will be able to install the editor of Breitbart News or another propagandist of his choice to direct how the United States is presented to the world by VOA, or how Russia is covered by RL. If Congress’s intention was for U.S. broadcasting to rival the Kremlin’s, it may well get its wish

You'd better believe that days of oversight of Voice of America and Radio Liberty are done with. They are now straight propaganda arms of the White House: Trump's White House.

How long before these outlets have "exclusive access to the President"?


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