Let's Fix This Country
healthcare

The Underside of Healthcare: Rife with Greed and Corruption

So, one cheer for Sessions' Justice Department

One has to look past a number of odious policies adopted by the Justice Department under Jeff Sessions — his latest is to restore police stealing from people to fund their departments — in order to find one bright spot.

And that was, a couple of weeks ago, the arrest of 412 people, across 20 states, in a Justice Department crackdown against
healthcare fraud amounting to $1.3 billion. Perpetrators had billed Medicare and Medicaid for drugs that were never disbursed, treatments and tests that were never administered, had sold prescriptions to patients for cash, and a third of them were involved with the horrific opioid scourge that is ravaging this country, taking the lives of 91 daily according to the Centers for Disease Control.

At a news conference, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said that, of the 56 doctors caught up in the sweep, some had prescribed more for controlled substances in a single month than had entire hospitals. "This event again highlights the enormity of the fraud", said Attorney General Sessions, who intends to crack down on drug crime as a priority, but that regrettably includes mandatory sentencing for minor possession that has filled prisons and ruined…

voting rights

Are We Headed Toward a Permanent Republican Majority?

The campaign to purge voter rolls

In November after the election, when Donald Trump tweeted that he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally”, it seemed like more nonsense from a narcissist who insists he has won everything no matter what foolishness it takes to make the case.

But three days after his inauguration, there it was again. He met with congressional leaders and spent the first 10 minutes to make the same claim, that
had 3 to 5 million illegal immigrants not cast ballots (all for Hillary Clinton, apparently), he would have taken the popular vote as well. The claim had become an embedded belief. Four days on, he promised a "major investigation" into voting irregularities designed to prove himself right.

Trump was spurred along by one Gregg Phillips, a "conservative activist" out of Texas, who claimed he had proof of the illegal votes, to be revealed "as soon as we get done with the checks". Like the investigators Trump sent to Hawaii to forage in birth records to prove Barack Obama was born in Kenya who "cannot believe what they're finding", with nothing ever coming of that lie, nothing came of the Phillips vote count either. But Trump intended to nevertheless use the U.S. government…

policy

Incredibly Shrinking America »

By pulling out of the Paris Accord, we cede world leadership to China

In a stunning move with only his re-election in mind, Donald Trump has turned his back on the rest of the world taking another step destined to create hostility with allies and cede world leadership to China. As we have painfully been made
aware, by quitting the Paris climate accord, the remarkable alliance of 195 nations given birth by decades of careful negotiation, we now keep company with only Syria and Nicaragua.

Withdrawal from the climate agreement is the stupidest policy blunder since George W. Bush decided to invade Iraq. It is not even required to believe in global warming to know this. Rejection of a world movement has already triggered ramifications that will erode our leadership position in the world and in turn harm our industries and economy for years. Trump's first retreat was his outright cancellation of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) of 12 nations that Obama had engineered as a counter to China's influence. China immediately stepped into the breach to create its own coalition which will now enable them to set the rules of trade for that half of the globe. And at the NATO summit Trump uniquely refrained from voicing the standard pledge that the United States would come to the defense of any member nation if attacked, which has Europe worried that it cannot rely on the U.S. And now comes this.

deaf ears

In January, 630 businesses and investors — major U.S. corporations — signed an open letter to the president-elect and Congress pressing for lowered carbon policies and continued membership in the Paris alliance. In May, 25 companies…

the presidency

Constitutional Clash on the Horizon?

The President complained to The New York Times that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had been "unfair" in not telling him that he would recuse himself from any involvement in the Russian probe. Aides are reported to be "stunned" that Sessions didn't resign upon hearing Trump's criticism. But hanging in the air is Trump's having laid down a premise for firing Sessions.

The Washington Post has now made clear that Sessions had ample reason to recuse himself, breaking the story that signals intelligence had picked up the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, reporting to his superiors that he had discussed "'substantive' discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration". In his confirmation hearing Sessions couldn't recall that meeting a year ago April.

On the same day of this latest Post thunderclap, the much beleaguered White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, resigned over the hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as his boss. MSNBC reporter, Katy Tur, said that, when Scaramucci had earlier been considered for a White House post, Steve Bannon had said "to his face" that he would be hired "over my dead body".

why fire sessions?

Only the Justice Department… Read More »

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summit

Who to Believe After Trump’s Meeting With Putin

He had many times complimented Vladimir Putin, calling him a "true leader", and had dismissed the conclusions of the entire U.S. intelligence community that it was the Russians who had hacked into last year's election. So there was
intense focus on whether he would challenge the Russian leader in their first face-to-face encounter.

He did, said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Not really, said Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. The circumstances leading to this meeting puts us in the awkward position of believing Lavrov.

We'll get to that, but first comes recognition that, if you think the U.S. should improve its relations with Russia, if your view is the realpolitik that Russia is a major country that poses threats to Europe and planetary existential danger should conflict arise, a country led by a ruthless and corrupt autocrat who opponents have tendency to die (the going count is 40) but whose cooperation would be useful in Syria and against North… Read More »

zeitgeist

The World Thinks Less of Us, Says Survey, and Trump Is a Factor »

The world's opinion of the United States has plunged, according to a survey by Pew Research. Donald Trump has made a troubling contribution to our worsening reputation after only five month in office, the survey says, and this was before the recent misogynistic tweets against television host Mika Brzezinski — which continue two days after universal condemnation, even by the few Congress members who had principles enough to speak out.

The survey spanning 37 nations comes up with a median rating of just 22% confidence that Trump will do the right thing in international affairs. Republicans and a smattering of Democrats thought Barack Obama's foreign policy performance was disastrous, but the world rates confidence in him at 64%. Only Israel and Russia rate Trump higher than Obama.

The world's view of the United States as a country seems closely linked to…

governing

A Government Gone Missing »

Hollowed out and now hard to fill

Part of what drew votes for Donald Trump was the belief that he was a successful businessman who could impart decisiveness and management efficiency to the job, following a president viewed by many as overly professorial and diffident. Instead, the turmoil in the White House has been stunning and Donald Trump's inattention to the rest of his government even more so.

There are some 1,200 positions in the federal government that require Senate confirmation — far too many, but that's its own subject. Of those, the
President Trump's cabinet did not hold its first meeting until June 12th.

Partnership for Public Service names 556 as key to policymaking. On the campaign trail, Trump bragged of his managerial experience repeatedly, so it is puzzling that filling those key posts has been seriously neglected. It is a formidable job, admittedly, but it's an essential management commandment first…

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