July 30, 2017

Sunday School 7/30/17

I only had time for one classroom today, so I stopped in to see what was going on at NBC with Meet the Press, hosted by Chuck Todd.

HHS Secretary Tom Price was on, as was Maine's Senator Susan Collins, on of the three 'no' votes on the failed Skinny Repeal measure that, at least for now, ground discussion on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act to a halt.

Price parroted the same old, same old stuff we've been hearing from the Republicans since even before the ACA was passed. Here he is answering Chuck Todd's question on what he could have done differently
Well I think what the president has explained and punctuates is his seriousness about this issue and his passion for turning the healthcare system in a direction that puts patients first, not government and not insurance companies. We've all got a lot of work to do. We've continued to work with the members of the United States Senate. We look forward to continuing to work with them, and our house partners as well, to make certain that we move this healthcare system in that better direction, where patients and families and doctors are in charge, not Washington DC.
Here's a question, frankly, I didn't expect to see asked:
Do you feel it is your job at HHS to implement the affordable care act as it was meant to be or are you there to--some people think you don't want to see it work, so that's why we've seen cancelled TV advertising, the attempts to not get people to enroll, the cancelling of contracts that help with enrollment. And so some have accused that you do not want to see it work as it was intended. Can you explain?
Here's Price's answer:
Yea, no, our job is to follow the law of the land and we take that mission very, very seriously. And the role of the health and human services department is to improve the health, the safety and the wellbeing of the American people. And what we understand, what the American people understand is that their health and wellbeing is being harmed right now by the current law. And so our goal is to make--is to put in place, as well as the president's goal, is to put in place a law, a system, that actually works for patients. You can't do that under the current structure. You can't do that just with regulation. It requires an act of congress and that's why the president has been so passionate about making certain that the, that the congress of the United States repeals and replaces Obamacare. 
Todd pressed him again, asking
So if they come up with a fix that helps, essentially gives some certainty to the insurance companies to go into rural markets, are you then going to implement the affordable care act as it was meant to be, including encouraging people to sign up, encouraging enrollment, encouraging Medicaid expansion? 
Price's answer, again, was nonsense.
Well, our, as I said, our responsibility is to follow the law and again we take that responsibility very seriously and we will continue to do so. But remember that the current law right now is failing the American people... You've got premiums that are up, deductibles that are up, people having that insurance card and no care, got insurers fleeing the market. 83 insurance companies fled the health insurance market last year. That's before this administration came in. This system is imploding upon itself and that's what we're trying to care of. That's what the president has said. That's why we need repeal and replace. 
So, there you have it: the Secretary of HHS is admitting that his department, responsible for the Affordable Care Act, is pretty much going to continue ignoring the law because they don't like it and they think that Americans don't like it either. Glad to have that out in the open.

Susan Collins faced similar questions from Todd, including this one.
Are you confident, though, that Secretary Price at HHS is implementing - is trying to keep this law afloat, that is doing everything he can to create certainty or are you concerned that there are some aspects of HHS implementation right now that are actually undermining the law, attempting to sort of create more problems in order to force Congress to act?
Collins does not express that confidence. 
I’m troubled by the uncertainty that has been created by the administration. When it comes to the subsidies that are given to very low-income people to help them with their co-pays and their deductibles, I hear this described by some as an insurance company bailout. That’s not what it is. It is vital assistance to people who make between 100 and 250 percent of the poverty level and allows them to afford their out-of-pocket costs. And the uncertainty about whether that subsidy is going to continue from month to month is clearly contributing to the destabilization of the insurance markets. And that’s one thing that Congress needs to end. We need to make very clear that that subsidy is important to those very low income people and we need to appropriate the money to ensure that it continues.
Todd then asked if she was ready to tell Mitch McConnell that she'd never be in his corner unless he went to 'regular order' - hearings, testimony, bipartisanship - you know, legislating stuff.
I’ve made very clear that I believe we would produce far better legislation if we went through the normal process of having committee hearings, hearing from health care providers, from insurance regulators, from advocacy groups, from governors, from everyone involved and then produce bipartisan legislation with input from both Democrats and Republicans. That’s how we get the best legislation. And that is the best path forward to fix the very real flaws that Democrats and Republicans alike see in the Affordable Care Act. So that’s the path that I want to take and that means not going through reconciliation, but going through the normal committee processes I’ve been urging all along and as Senator John McCain urged in his very eloquent speech on the senate floor.
One can only hope that Collins, and Lisa Murkowski (the senator from Alaska who was threatened by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about her vote) are able to actually work on bipartisan solutions to fix the ACA. And when the moderate Republicans come knocking, the Dems better show up with good intentions and work to get something accomplished.

Voter Beware

Ah, Texas: one of my favorite red states to write about, where everything is bigger and more bigly, even. Like their attempts to make sure voter fraud doesn't happen.

There are currently investigations under way in the Lone Star state to determine if there was some election fraud- which is absolutely a good thing. States should vigorously investigate and prosecute voter fraud, to protect the votes of the rest of us who participate in the process correctly and legally.  Here's what they're looking into, according to a Huffington Post article:
The Texas legislation comes as Dallas officials investigate a potential case of voter fraud. Election officials have sequestered 700 ballots from the city’s municipal election in May that they believe are linked to a fake name. Officials have also arrested a man they say collected a woman’s blank ballot, filled it out, forged her signature, and mailed it in.
As the investigation is under way, the Republican-majority Texas Senate is working simultaneously to strengthen the laws and punishment for such crimes. As part of that effort, they have dropped in language that appears to make it illegal for family members to talk to each other about elections or politics.

 Look at (a) (1) below (emphasis added):
SECTION 11. Amends Chapter 276, Election Code, by adding Section 276.013, as follows: Sec. 276.013. ELECTION FRAUD. 
(a) Provides that a person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally makes any effort to:
(1) influence the independent exercise of the vote of another in the presence of the ballot or during the voting process;
(2) cause a voter registration application, ballot, or vote to be obtained or cast under false pretenses; or
(3) cause any intentionally misleading statement, representation, or information to be provided to an election official or on an application for ballot by mail, carrier envelope, or other official election-related form or document.
(b) Provides that an offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
(c) Provides that an offense under this section is increased to the next higher category of offense if it is shown on the trial of an offense that the defendant was previously convicted of an offense under this code, the offense involved an individual 65 years of age or older, or the defendant committed another offense under this section in the same election.
(d) Authorizes the actor, if conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under any other law, to be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both.
SECTION 12. Makes application of this Act prospective.
SECTION 13. Effective date: December 1, 2017.
Oh boy - my whole family would be in jail under this provision, especially if my Dad were still alive. He and I talked politics and current events from when I was a pup. I remember 'voting' in 1968, going with him into the booth, him picking me up so I tug the cranky lever over to close the curtain. I'm pretty sure let me push a lever or two - heaven forbid.

Yeah, we'd be in jail for sure, and we'd still be talking politics.

The pols say their intentions are pure - we can't have anyone try and influence an old person, or a disabled person, whether through coercion or by having someone else fill out their ballot without their approval, and what not -- things that are included in other sections of the statute.  All of those include family member exceptions, and are specific to the physical ballot, how it must be mailed, and so on.

Maybe it's just me, but this seems more an attack on freedom of speech than it does a protection of the sanctity of the ballot.

There's a chance that the bill will be changed when it goes to the Texas House, and per the HuffPo article, it seems even some Republicans are willing to consider changes.  There's probably an equal chance that no changes will be made, though...

Let's keep an eye on this one -- because if it flies in Texas, it'll likely be on the legislative slate in all of the other red states, as Republicans continue their march to voter suppression and driving election outcomes in any way they can.

July 29, 2017

Sidebar: Merry Christmas, Boy Scouts

You know, it must be horrible to be American Legion Boys and Girls Nation attendees. I mean, they go to Washington, they go to the White House, they get to meet the president, and all they get is a couple of silly pictures.

I mean, what's the point of that?  How different things were on July 26th for that group, than for the Boy Scout Jamboree just two days earlier!

The Boy Scouts get some juicy gossip and innuendo about a rich dude on a yacht in the south of France, and the American Legion gets Ronald Reagan and the Berlin Wall.

What a ripoff.

Here's the boring speech Trump gave, which you can compare to the fulsome one he delivered to the Scouts. I've added emphasis in bold.
The American Legion has held this meeting for seven decades.  Just think of the history that has occurred during that time.  When the first group of students met in 1946 -- oh, that’s an important day, you know why?  That’s when I was born.  (Laughter.)  I hate to admit it.  (Applause.)  I hate to admit it.  Oh, 1946.  Oh wow.  I shouldn’t have said that, Bob.  (Laughter.)  
Our nation had just welcomed home our brave heroes whose spirit and courage achieved victory over tyranny in World War II.  Just over twenty years later, young men and women like you watched a man land on the moon and dreamed of new frontiers in space.
In 1987, Americans all across this nation joined their hearts with President Ronald Reagan in the hope, the prayer, and the conviction that the Berlin Wall would crumble in the face of truths, justice, and freedom.  You know all about that.
AUDIENCE:  Yes, sir.
In each of these moments, and so many others, America triumphed.  We win.  We know how to win, right?  
AUDIENCE:  Yes!  (Applause.) 
And we win because of the spirit of our people.   Believe me, that's a big part of it.
Just think of the amazing moments in history you will witness during your lifetime.  Well, you saw one on November 8th, right?  (Applause.)  That was a pretty amazing moment we have -- and we're doing a good job.  Our country is doing so well now.  We're doing a good job.  You all happy?
AUDIENCE:  Yes!  (Applause.) 
Because you have what it takes to be the leaders that will shape this future.  Some of you may want to come back to the capital -- someday, you're going to be back, many of you -- and help make the laws that will guide this nation and govern our land.
Others may choose to answer the call of duty, put on the uniform, and risk everything for our nation and for our nation’s people.  Still others may become business leaders, teachers, artists, and inventors.   We have them all, and we have them all here today.  
And some of you don't even really know what it might be, but we have people that are going to be so successful, so incredible in their lives.  And you're going to be happy.  Do what you love.  Do what you love.  Follow what you love.
So I want to just tell -- as you pour your whole heart into everything you do, really you're doing it for your family, you're doing it for your country, but you're also doing it for yourselves.  Because ultimately you have to do it for yourself.  It’s better for your country, and your country wants you to succeed so much.
But there’s no country like the United States of America, and there’s no country that can give you the kind of opportunity that we give you in the United States. (Applause.) 
Being successful is about finding your purpose in life and never ever giving up.  Do you ever give up?  No.  Does anybody here give up?
AUDIENCE:  No, sir!  
What about here?
AUDIENCE:  No, sir!
You're right.  (Laughter.)  And I think they mean it.  I think they mean it.
A PARTICIPANT:  Yes, sir, they mean it.
You were chosen for this program because you believe in America’s future and because you have the ambition and the heart to ensure that America will always be victorious and will always prevail.
Through Boys and Girls Nation, you are learning the values that are necessary for a nation to endure and for a nation to thrive -- pride in our history, loyalty to our citizens, and allegiance to our great American flag.
In the decades to come you will help our nation reach new heights -- we’ll be so proud of you -- discover new frontiers, and strengthen the bonds of loyalty between our country and its people.
It is my honor to meet with you all today, and it was my greater honor to come out here early before the press got here to take all of those pictures that we took, and I hope they send you the right pictures.  (Laughter and applause.)  And they will.
As I look out at the audience, I see the next generation of American leaders. I see the promise of our future. I see the strength and love of the American spirit. And because of young people like you, I am more confident than ever in the future of the United States.
Together, we will make America greater than ever before.  I mean that.  We're going to make America greater than ever before, and we're on our way.  You see what’s going on.  We're building up military.  We're getting great job numbers -- best in 17 years.  Best job numbers in 17 years.  The enthusiasm for manufacturers and business is at just about the highest point since they started taking those tests.
So I just want to tell you: Go out there. Go get them. I have no doubt you're going to -- every one of you -- be successful.  
Never quit.  Never give up.  Always do what you love.  Take great care of your family and your parents because we love your parents.  You probably wouldn’t be here without your parents, right?  (Laughter and applause.) 
So thank you again to the American Legion, and congratulations to you all.  God bless you, and God bless America.  And thank you for being at the White House.   (Applause.) 
(A song is performed.)
AUDIENCE:  USA! USA! USA!
You got the last word.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Bob.  Thank you everybody.  Have a great life and love your country and love your God.  Okay?  Bye everybody.  Bye everybody.  Thank you.  (Applause.) 
Bye, everybody.

July 27, 2017

Trump in Transition (v20)

"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individual to serve in any capacity in the US Military.

Our Military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you."

No, Mr. Trump, thank you for being so considerate of our tax dollars and how the military blows them on healthcare.

People have actually investigated this issue, the burden of the "tremendous medical costs" that would become crippling to the military if transgender members were allowed to serve. For example, here is some info from an article in Scientific American (which might actually be somewhat of an oxymoron under the Trump administration):
June 2016 study from the RAND Corporation estimated that there were between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender active-duty service members — out of 1.3 million service members in total — and noted that not all of them would seek treatment related to gender transitioning. The study also estimated that the cost associated with medical care for gender transition would only increase military health care expenditures by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million each year — an increase of between 0.04 and 0.13 percent.
The same article references another study, too:
September 2015 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reached similar cost estimates.
 The study estimated that there were about 12,800 transgender service members who would be eligible for medical care. But it hypothesized that fewer than 200 would require care for gender transition each year, based on the percentage of transgender people who sought such care outside the military and the percentage of Australian service members who sought transition-related care.
The overall estimated cost to the Pentagon: $4.2 million to $5.6 million — what the study’s author called “little more than a rounding error in the military’s $47.8 billion annual health care budget.”
It's good that Trump is paying attention to out of control costs in the military, even as he proposes massive increases in military spending. Perhaps he's aware of this article in the failing NY Times back in 2010 which discussed comments by former Bush and Obama administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who tried and failed to make changes to the military's health insurance program:
"Health care costs are eating the Defense Department alive," Mr. Gates said in a much-noticed speech in May. Defense budget analysts say that rising health care costs will make less money available for new weapons, repairs to a worn-out arsenal and quality-of-life programs like schools on military bases. 
"In the long run, it could actually limit our ability to field a military of sufficient size," said Todd Harrison, a senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington.
That's some scary stuff right there, don't you think? Military healthcare costs may actually be putting you and me in jeopardy!

There's lots of information on efforts to reign in these costs, including raising the minuscule 'enrollment fee' for the military's TRICARE insurance plan, which is offered for life even to the millions of military retirees who now work in the private sector and are eligible for health insurance through their jobs. As Robert Gates and others who came after him found, the military lobby is large, it is active, and it has the ear of Congress, so change does not come often, or quickly.

But, the reality is, not accepting or allowing trans people to serve in any capacity - not as translators on the front line, not as analysts, not as cyber experts, not as drone pilots -- isn't going to make a dent in the military's health care budget.

But there is something that can be done that would make a dent, I think: accepting and allowing only people who choose a lifetime of dependent-free living. Single, no kids, no baggage, and no plans to ever stop being singe, kidless and baggage-free.

According to the 2015 Demographics Profile of the Military Community (emphasis added),
Overview of Military Families Across the Active Duty and Selected Reserve population, there are 2,120,505 military personnel and 2,783,141 family members, including spouses, children, and adult dependents.
Here are some facts about those dependents:

  • Of the military personnel, 43.1 percent are single with no children, 34.9 percent are married with children, 15.6 percent are married without children, and 6.3 percent are single with children. 
  • Overall, 41.2 percent of military personnel have children in 2015, compared to 39.9 percent in 2000. 
  • Of the 1,758,365 total military children in 2015, the largest percentage are between birth and 5 years of age (37.5%), followed by 6 to 11 years of age (31.3%), and 12 to 18 years of age (24.2%). Fewer children are between 19 and 22 years of age (7.0%); however, children ages 21 to 22 must be enrolled as full-time students in order to qualify as dependents. 
  • More than half (50.5%) of military personnel are married
  • Of the 1,012,251 military spouses, nearly one-quarter (23.5%) of spouses are 26 to 30 years of age, while 21.3 percent are 31 to 35 years of age, 20.3 percent are 41 years of age or older, 20.1 percent are 25 years of age or younger, and 14.8 percent are 36 to 40 years of age.

I would suggest that providing healthcare for these 2.78 million freeloaders is considerably more costly than it is to provide health care for a small handful of trans people who may decide to transition on the government's dime.

Not only that, but the constant disruption of worrying about spouses, adult dependents, and children while trying to achieve decisive and overwhelming victory must be a huge and bigly burden on our troops, their commanders, and even on Trump's personal generals. We clearly need to nip that worrying in the bud.

And we certainly cannot continue to abide the more than 6% of military people who are single parents -- that is completely unacceptable! We know the only good family is one with a daddy and a mommy who are married to each other.

And here's another idea - check out this graphic, again, from the 2015 Demographics Report:



There were more than 865,000 civilian DoD employees?  For heaven's sake, outsource them! Get them off the government payroll and into the private sector where they belong!

Have the Dealmaker in Chief personally negotiate a cut-throat bargain with the private companies to give us these services on the cheap. Let the private sector treat these budget-suckers like the rest of Americans are treated -- you know, the people caught in the pro-business, market-driven deregulate-a-thon who go to bed every night wondering if they'll still have benefits when they wake up in the morning.

And the best part of my plan?

No one has to check anyone's 'particulars', if you will, to make the decision. It's clean, clear, and straightforward; no messing around in medical records, and no brightly-lighted inquisition rooms required.

July 25, 2017

Merry Christmas, Boy Scouts

Unedited, but with some emphasis added, the honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America addresses his troops (as shared by the White House press office). 
6:32 PM
Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. (Applause.) I am thrilled to be here. Thrilled.(Applause.) And if you think that was an easy trip, you’re wrong, but I am thrilled -- 19th Boy Scout Jamboree -- wow -- and to address such a tremendous group.  Boy, you have a lot of people here. The press will say it’s about 200 people. (Laughter.) It looks like about 45,000 people. You set a record today. (Applause.) You set a record. That’s a great honor, believe me.  
Tonight, we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. -- you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that. (Applause.) We’re going to put that aside. And instead we’re going to talk about success, about how all of you amazing young Scouts can achieve your dreams. What to think of -- what I’ve been thinking about -- you want to achieve your dreams. I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right? (Applause.)  
There are many great honors that come with the job of being President of the United States, but looking out at this incredible gathering of mostly young patriots -- mostly young -- I’m especially proud to speak to you as the honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America. (Applause.)  
AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!
You are the young people of character and integrity who will serve as leaders in our communities, and uphold the sacred values of our nation.
I want to thank Boy Scouts President Randall Stephenson, Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, Jamboree Chairman Ralph de la Vega, and the thousands of volunteers who have made this a life-changing experience for all of you, and when they asked me to be here I said absolutely, yes. (Applause.)  
Finally, and we can’t forget these people, I especially want to salute the moms and the dads and troop leaders who are here tonight. (Applause.) Thank you for making scouting possible. Thank you, mom and dad -- troop leaders.  
When you volunteer for the Boy Scouts, you are not only shaping young lives, you are shaping the future of America. (Applause.) The United States has no better citizens than its Boy Scouts. (Applause.) No better. The values, traditions, and skills you learn here will serve you throughout your lives, and just as importantly they will serve your families, your cities, and in the future and in the present, will serve your country. (Applause.) The Scouts believe in putting America first.(Applause.)  
You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians, and I see the swamp. And it’s not a good place. In fact today I said we ought to change it from the word swamp to the word cesspool or, perhaps, to the word sewer. But it’s not good. Not good. (Applause.) And I see what’s going on, and believe me I’d much rather be with you.  That I can tell you. (Applause.)
I’ll tell you the reason that I love this and the reason that I really wanted to be here is because as President, I rely on former Boy Scouts every single day, and so do the American people. It’s amazing how many Boy Scouts we have at the highest level of our great government. Many of my top advisors in the White House were Scouts. Ten members of my cabinet were Scouts. Can you believe that? Ten. (Applause.)  
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not only a Boy Scout, he’s your former national president. (Applause.)  
The Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence -- good guy -- was a Scout, and it meant so much to him. (Applause.) Some of you here tonight might even have camped out in this yard when Mike was the governor of Indiana, but the scouting was very, very important. And by the way, where are our Indiana Scouts tonight? (Applause.) I wonder if the television cameras will follow you. They don’t like doing that when they see these massive crowds. They don’t like doing that. Hi, folks. (Applause.) A lot of love in this big, beautiful place. A lot of love, and a lot of love for our country. There’s a lot of love for our country.  
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is here tonight. Come here, Ryan. (Applause.) Ryan is an Eagle Scout from Big Sky Country in Montana. (Applause.) Pretty good. And by the way, he is doing a fantastic job. He makes sure that we leave our national parks and federal lands better than we found them, in the best Scouting tradition. So thank you very much, Ryan. (Applause.) 
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, of Texas, an Eagle Scout from the Great State. (Applause.)  The first time he came to the national jamboree was in 1964. He was very young then. And Rick told me just a little while ago, it totally changed his life. So, Rick, thank you very much for being here. And we're doing a lot with energy. (Applause.) 
And very soon, Rick, we will be an energy exporter. Isn’t that nice -- an energy exporter? (Applause.) In other words we’ll be selling our energy instead of buying it from everybody all over the globe. So that's good. (Applause.) We will be energy dominant. And I’ll tell you what, the folks in West Virginia who were so nice to me, boy, have we kept our promise. We are going on and on.  So we love West Virginia. We want to thank you.  
Where’s West Virginia by the way? (Applause.) Thank you.  
Secretary Tom Price is also here. Today Dr. Price still lives the Scout Oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our Secretary of Health and Human Services. And he’s doing a great job. And hopefully, he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that's really hurting us, folks. (Applause.)  
AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!
By the way, you going to get the votes? He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he better -- otherwise, I’ll say, Tom, you're fired. I’ll get somebody. (Applause.) 
He better get Senator Capito to vote for it. You got to get the other senators to vote for it. It’s time. After seven years of saying repeal and replace Obamacare, we have a chance to now do it. They better do it. Hopefully they’ll do it. 
As we can see just by looking at our government, in America, Scouts lead the way. And another thing I’ve noticed -- and I’ve noticed it all my life -- there is a tremendous spirit with being a Scout, more so than almost anything I can think of. So whatever is going on, keep doing it. It’s incredible to watch. Believe me. (Applause.)  
Each of these leaders will tell you that their road to American success -- and you have to understand, their American success, and they are a great, great story was paved with the patriotic American values as traditions they learned in the Boy Scouts. And some day, many years from now, when you look back on all of the adventures in your lives, you will be able to say the same: I got my start as a Scout just like these incredibly great people that are doing such a good job for our country. So that's going to happen.  (Applause.) 
Boy Scout values are American values, and great Boy Scouts become great, great Americans. As the Scout Law says: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal” -- we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.  
AUDIENCE:  “helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”  (Applause.)
That was very impressive. (Laughter.) You've heard that before.  
But here you learn the rewards of hard work and perseverance. Never ever give up, never quit. Persevere. Never, ever quit.
You learn the satisfaction of building a roaring campfire, reaching a mountain summit, or earning a merit badge after mastering a certain skill. There’s no better feeling than an achievement that you’ve earned with your own sweat, tears, resolve, hard work. There’s nothing like it.  Do you agree with that?  
AUDIENCE:  Yes!
I’m waving to people back there so small I can't even see them. Man, this is a lot of people. Turn those cameras back there, please. That is so incredible.By the way, what do you think the chances are that this incredible, massive crowd, record-setting is going to be shown on television tonight? One percent or zero? (Applause.)
The fake media will say: President Trump -- and you know what this is -- President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today.
That's some -- that is some crowd. (Applause.)  
Fake media. Fake news. Thank you. And I’m honored by that, by the way, all of you people they can't even see you. So thank you  I hope you can hear. 
Through scouting you also learn to believe in yourselves -- so important -- to have confidence in your ability, and to take responsibility for your own life. When you face down new challenges, and you will have plenty of them, develop talents you never thought possible, and lead your teammates through daring trials, you discover that you can handle anything. And you learn it by being a scout. It’s great. (Applause.) 
You can do anything. You can be anything you want to be. But in order to succeed, you must find out what you love to do. You have to find your passion. No matter what they tell you -- if you don't -- I love you, too. I don't know. It’s a nice guy. (Applause.) Hey, what am I going to do? He sounds like a nice person. He, he, he, he. Thank you. I do.  I do love you.  
AUDIENCE:  We love Trump!  We love Trump!  We love Trump!
By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?  
AUDIENCE:  No!  
And we’ll be back. We’ll be back. The answer is no, but we’ll be back.
In life, in order to be successful, and you people are well on the road to success, you have to find out what makes you excited. What makes you want to get up each morning and go to work? You have to find it.
If you love what you do and dedicate yourself to your work, then you will gain momentum, and look -- you have to, you need to. The word momentum -- you will gain that momentum, and each success will create another success. The word momentum.  
I’ll tell you a story that’s very interesting for me when I was young. There was a man named William Levitt -- Levittowns, you have some here, you have some in different states. Anybody ever hear of Levittown? (Applause.) And he was a very successful man. He was a homebuilder -- became an unbelievable success, and got more and more successful. And he built homes, and at night he’d go to these major sites with teams of people and he’d scour the sites for nails and sawdust and small pieces of wood. And they’d clean the site so when the workers came in the next morning, the sites would be spotless and clean, and he did it properly. And he did this for 20 years, and then he was offered a lot of money for his company.  
And he sold his company for a tremendous amount of money. At the time especially -- this was a long time ago -- sold his company for a tremendous amount of money. And he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go any more than that because you’re Boy Scouts, so I’m not going to tell you what he did.
AUDIENCE:  Booo -- 
 Should I tell you? Should I tell you?  
AUDIENCE:  Yes!
Oh, you’re Boy Scouts, but you know life. You know life. So -- look at you. Who would think this is the Boy Scouts, right?  
So he had a very, very interesting life, and the company that bought his company was a big conglomerate. And they didn’t know anything about building homes, and they didn’t know anything about picking up the nails and the sawdust and selling it -- and the scraps of wood. This was a big conglomerate based in New York City, and after about a ten year period they were losing a lot with it. It didn’t mean anything to them, and they couldn’t sell it.  
So they called William Levitt up and they said, would you like to buy back your company, and he said yes, I would. He so badly wanted it, he got bored with this life of yachts and sailing and all of the things he did in the south of France and other places. You won’t get bored, right?  You know, truthfully, you’re workers. You’ll get bored too. Believe me. (Applause.) Of course, having a good few years like that isn’t so bad. (Applause.) But what happened is he bought back his company, and he bought back a lot of empty land. And he worked hard in getting it zoning, and he worked hard on starting to develop.  
And in the end he failed, and he failed badly. Lost all of his money. He went personally bankrupt, and he was now much older. And I saw him at a cocktail party, and it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party.  it was the party of Steve Ross who was one of the great people -- he came up and discovered -- really founded -- Time Warner, and he was a great guy. He had a lot of successful people at the party
 
And I was doing well so I got invited to the party. I was very young, and I go in -- but I’m in the real estate business -- and I see 100 people, some of whom I recognize and they’re big in the entertainment business. And I see, sitting in the corner, was a little old man who was all by himself. Nobody was talking to him. I immediately recognized that that man was the once great William Levitt of Levittown, and I immediately went over -- I wanted to talk to him more than the Hollywood show business communications people.  
So I went over and talked to him, and I said, Mr. Levitt, I’m Donald Trump. He said I know. I said, Mr. Levitt, how are you doing? He goes, not well, not well at all. And I knew that, but he said not well at all. And he explained what was happening and how bad it has been and how hard it has been. And I said what exactly happened?  Why did this happen to you? You’re one of the greats ever in our industry. Why did this happen to you? And he said, Donald, I lost my momentum. I lost my momentum. A word you never hear when you’re talking about success. When some of these guys that never made ten cents, they’re on television giving you things about how you’re going to be successful, and the only thing they ever did was a book and a tape. 
But I’ll tell you, it was very sad, and I never forgot that moment. And I thought about it, and it’s exactly true. He lost his momentum. Meaning, he took this period of time off long -- years -- and then when he got back, he didn’t have that same momentum. In life, I always tell this to people, you have to know whether or not you continue to have the momentum, and if you don’t have it that’s okay. Because you’re going to go on and you’re going to learn and you’re going to do things that are great. But you have to know about the word momentum.  
But the big thing: Never quit. Never give up. Do something you love. When you do something you love -- as a Scout I see that you love it. But when you do something that you love you’ll never fail. What you’re going to do is give it a shot again and again and again. You’re ultimately going to be successful, and remember this, you’re not working. Because when you’re doing something that you love like I do -- of course I love my business, but this is a little bit different. Who thought this was going to happen? We’re having a good time. We’re doing a good job. (Applause.) Doing a good job. But when you do something that you love, remember this, it’s not work
So you’ll work 24/7, you’re going to work all the time, and at the end of a year you’re not really working. You don’t think of it as work. When you’re not doing something that you like or when you’re forced in to do something that you really don’t like, that’s called work. And it’s hard work and tedious work.  
So as much as you can, do something that you love. Work hard, and never ever give up, and you’re going to be tremendously successful. Tremendously successful. (Applause.) 
Now with that, I have to tell you our economy is doing great. Our stock market has picked up -- since the election November 8th. Do we remember that date? (Applause.) Was that a beautiful date? (Applause.) What a date. Do you remember that famous night on television, November 8th, where they said -- these dishonest people -- where they said there is no path to victory for Donald Trump? They forgot about the forgotten people. By the way, they're not forgetting about the forgotten people anymore. They're going crazy trying to figure it out. But I told them, far too late. It’s far too late.
But do you remember that incredible night with the maps and the Republicans are red and the Democrats are blue, and that map was so red, it was unbelievable, and they didn't know what to say?  (Applause.) 
And you know we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College -- popular vote is much easier. Because New York, California, Illinois -- you have to practically run the East Coast. And we did. We won Florida. We won South Carolina. We won North Carolina. We won Pennsylvania.  (Applause.)  
We won and won. So when they said, there is no way to victory, there is no way to 270.  I went to Maine four times because it’s one vote, and we won. But we won -- one vote.  I went there because I kept hearing we're at 269. But then Wisconsin came in.  Many, many years -- Michigan came in.  
And we worked hard there. My opponent didn't work hard there because she was told -
AUDIENCE:  Booo!
She was told she was going to win Michigan, and I said, well, wait a minute, the car industry is moving to Mexico. Why is she going to move -- she’s there. Why are they allowing it to move?
And by the way, do you see those car industry -- do you see what’s happening, how they're coming back to Michigan? They're coming back to Ohio. They're starting to peel back in. (Applause.) 
And we go to Wisconsin -- now, Wisconsin hadn’t been won in many, many years by a Republican. But we go to Wisconsin, and we had tremendous crowds. And I’d leave these massive crowds. I’d say, why are we going to lose this state?
The polls -- that's also fake news. They're fake polls. But the polls are saying -- but we won Wisconsin. (Applause.) So I have to tell you what we did, in all fairness, is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for Make America Great Again. (Applause.) 
AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!
And I’ll tell you what, we are, indeed, making America great again. What’s going on is incredible. (Applause.) 
We had the best jobs report in 16 years. The stock market on a daily basis is hitting an all-time high. We're going to be bringing back very soon trillions of dollars from companies that can't get their money back into this country, and that money is going to be used to help rebuild America. We're doing things that nobody ever thought was possible.
And we've just started. It’s just the beginning. Believe me. (Applause.) 
In the Boy Scouts you learn right from wrong, correct?  
AUDIENCE:  Yes!
You learn to contribute to your communities, to take pride in your nation, and to seek out opportunities to serve. You pledge to help other people at all times. (Applause.) 
In the Scout Oath, you pledge on your honor to do your best and to do your duty to God and your country. (Applause.) 
And by the way, under the Trump administration, you’ll be saying, merry Christmas again when you go shopping. Believe me. Merry Christmas. (Applause.) 
They've been downplaying that little, beautiful phrase. You're going to be saying, merry Christmas again, folks. (Applause.) 
But the words duty, country, and God are beautiful words. In other words, basically what you're doing is you're pledging to be a great American patriot  (Applause.) 
For more than a century that is exactly what our Boy Scouts have been. Last year you gave more than 15 million hours of service to helping people in your communities. (Applause.) 
Incredible. That's an incredible stat.  
All of you here tonight will contribute more than 100,000 hours of service by the end of this jamboree -- 100,000. (Applause.) 
When natural disaster strikes, when people face hardship, when the beauty and glory of our outdoor spaces must be restored and taken care of, America turns to the Boy Scouts because we know that the Boy Scouts never, ever, ever let us down. (Applause.) 
Just like you know you can count on me, we know we can count on you because we know the values that you live by. (Applause.) 
Your values are the same values that have always kept America strong, proud, and free. And by the way, do you see the billions and billions and billions of additional money that we're putting back into our military?  Billions of dollars. (Applause.) New planes, new ships, great equipment for our people that are so great to us. We love our vets.  We love our soldiers. And we love our police, by the way. Firemen, police -- we love our police. (Applause.)  Those are all special people. Uniformed services. 
Two days ago, I traveled to Norfolk, Virginia to commission an American aircraft carrier into the fleet of the United States Navy. (Applause.) It’s the newest, largest, and most advanced aircraft carrier anywhere in the world, and it’s named for an Eagle Scout, the USS Gerald R. Ford. (Applause.) Everywhere it sails, that great Scout’s name will be feared and revered, because that ship will be a symbol of American power, prestige, and strength. (Applause.) 
Our nation honors President Gerald R. Ford today because he lived his life the scouting way. Boy Scouts celebrate American patriots, especially the brave members of our armed forces. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) 
American hearts are warmed every year when we read about Boy Scouts placing thousands and thousands of flags next to veterans’ gravesites all across the country. By honoring our heroes, you help to ensure that their memory never, ever dies. You should take great pride in the example you set for every citizen of our country to follow. (Applause.) 
Generations of American Boy Scouts have sworn the same oath and lived according to same law. You inherit a noble American tradition, and as you embark on your lives, never cease to be proud of who you are and the principles you hold dear and stand by.  Wear your values as your badge of honor. What you've done, few have done before you. What you've done is incredible. What you've done is admired by all. So I want to congratulate you, Boy Scouts. (Applause.) 
Let your scouting oath guide your path from this day forward. Remember your duty. Honor your history. Take care of the people God put into your life, and love and cherish your great country. (Applause.) 
You are very special people. You're special in the lives of America. You're special to me. But if you do what we say, I promise you that you will live scouting’s adventure every single day of your life, and you will win, win, win and help people in doing so. (Applause.) 
Your lives will have meaning and purpose and joy. You will become leaders, and you will inspire others to achieve the dreams they once thought were totally impossible, things that you said could never, ever happen are already happening for you. And if you do these things -- and if you refuse to give in to doubt or to fear -- then you will help to make America great again. You will be proud of yourself, be proud of the uniform you wear, and be proud of the country you love. (Applause.) 
AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!
And never, ever forget, America is proud of you. (Applause.) 
This is a very, very special occasion for me. I’ve known so many Scouts over the years. Winners. I’ve known so many great people. They've been taught so well, and they love their heritage. But this is very special for me. And I just want to end by saying very importantly: God bless you. God bless the Boy Scouts. God bless the United States of America.  
Go out. Have a great time in life. Compete and go out and show me that there is nobody -- nobody -- like a Boy Scout.
Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.) 
END
7:10 P.M. EDT

July 24, 2017

The Update Desk: Charlie Gard

Yesterday, I wrote about the horrible situation faced by the parents of Charlie Gard, the 11-month old British boy suffering from a terminal illness and other medical complications, and their desire to bring their son to the US for experimental treatment.

The point of my post, which you can read here, was about our House of Representatives initiating efforts that would provide legal permanent resident status to Charlie during the middle of their efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act which, by all accounts, would take health insurance away from millions of Americans over some period of time. And, that this is just another in a long line of politicians getting in the middle of these situations, for better or worse.

We learned today that Charlie Gard will not be coming here after all; his parents announced they would no longer fight the courts but will instead allow him to slip away after life support is removed.

Even with that decision made, and taking out the meddling by our politicians, there's a lot to digest in this case.  This article in The Daily Mail touches on many of them.

In the end, there could really be no winner, as there never is in cases like this.  The justice in the case summed it up this way:
It is impossible for any of us to comprehend or even begin to imagine the agony to which Charlie's parents have been subjected in recent weeks and months as they have had to come to terms with the decision that they have now made. 
A lot of things have been said, particularly in recent days, by those who know almost nothing about this case but who feel entitled to express opinions. Many opinions have been expressed based on feelings rather than facts. My task today is to deal with the applications that are before me and to make the declarations which are now unopposed. 
Before I do so I must, again, pay tribute to Chris Gard and Connie Yates for the love and care which they have at all times given to their wonderful boy Charlie. 
I said in my judgment on 11 April that there are few, if any, stronger bonds known to humankind than the love that a parent has for his or her child; to lose a child, particularly at such a tender age, and in such tragic circumstances, is grief of a magnitude of immense proportions. 
These parents should know that no parent could have done more for their child. 
They have, however, now accepted that Charlie's life cannot be improved and that the only remaining course is for him to be given palliative care and to permit him to die with dignity.
The parents have announced that money raised through an online fundraiser will be used to start a charity to help children with the same disease.

July 23, 2017

Sunday School 7/23/17

The Mooch hit the Sunday talk shows, and man, he has a way with words.

On Fox News Sunday, here's what Anthony Scaramucci, Trump's new communications director, told host Chris Wallace about his plans:
So, my three simple things is I would like to reset the culture inside the comms department so that people recognize that I'm actually there to serve them, and they're going to be working with me, not for me. That's a very big distinction. And that all of us are there to serve the president of the United States and his agenda.
So first for me is I want to hit a cultural reset button, second thing is we've got to get the leaks stopped. If we don't get the leaks stopped - I am a businessperson and so, I will take dramatic action to stop those leaks.
And the third thing is I'll be traveling with the president this week and we're going to focus and refine the messaging from the White House. He's one of the most effective communicators that's ever been born and we're going to make sure that we get that message out directly to the American people and I think that albatross spread, the gap between how certain people think of him and how I see him - or say like someone like Ivanka sees him, that will start to narrow soon.
 Um, I can't possibly imagine wanting to think of the president the way the Mooch does (which is apparently a bromance of massive proportions) and I want even less to think of him as my Daddy.

Scaramucci gave us this, too, about the president's agenda:
This is a president - this is a jobs president. This is a president who's going to help middle class families, lower middle class families.
 You want to talk about gaps, Chris? There is a wide income gap that many elites do not feel, but the president feels it. And members of his staff feel it. And people in the middle of America feel it. And you know what we're going to do? We're going to put policies together that close that gap.
If people want to talk about these nonsensical scandals, I'll let them do that, but I'm going to be missile-locked on focusing on the president's agenda, and helping people to understand the president the way I know him and the way I love him.
"Love, love me do, you know I love you, I'll always be true..." Oh, puh-LEASE!!

On CNN's State of the Union, he was super focused on telling us what Trump is super focused on. It's not Twitter, though - honest.  Full disclosure: I added the emphasis, so you could really feel the love.
He is super focused on his agenda, OK? He is super focused on getting the health care reform passed. He's super focused on working on tax reform, the two main pillars of what we're going to do this year. 
He's super focused cleaning out all the deregulation -- unnecessary regulation in the United States. He's super focused on manufacturing jobs, 50,000 new manufacturing jobs and getting people back to work in the United States. That's the stuff he's super focused on.
I'm super focused on getting out of this classroom. See you around campus.