News and Opinion Based on Facts

Friday, April 21, 2017

Trump Has the Worst 100 Days of Any President in History

Historian Douglas Brinkley, who CNN once said knew more about the presidency than any person alive, said Donald Trump's presidency has had the worst start of any administration in U.S. history.

"This is the most failed first 100 days of any president," Brinkley told the Washington Post Tuesday. "To be as low as he is in the polls, in the 30s, while the FBI director is on television saying they launched an investigation into your ties with Russia, I don't know how it can get much worse. "
Brinkley, who is a best selling author, a professor of history at Rice University and a CNN presidential historian, made the comments after FBI director James Comey told a congressional panel his agency is conducting an investigation into possible Trump administration ties to Russia.

Trump's approval ratings show a stark contrast between previous presidents at this point in their administration. According to Gallup, Trump had an approval rating of 39 percent during polling conducted between March 13 and 19. Other presidents had far higher approval figures in March of their first year in office: Barack Obama had a 62 percent approval rating, George W. Bush had a 58 percent approval rating and Bill Clinton had the previous lowest rating at 53 percent.

Dwight Eisenhower had the highest approval rating at in March of his first year at 74 percent, just ahead of John F. Kennedy at 73 percent.

This isn't the first time Brinkley has called the young Trump administration historically bad. Just a few days after January's presidential inauguration, Brinkley questioned whether Trump was sabotaging himself after he made dubious claims about the crowd size at his inauguration.

"The truth of the matter is he had a successful inauguration with a respectful crowd. The transition of power went off without a hitch. His supporters were amiable by and large," Brinkley told Politico on Jan. 22. "But then he can never let go and stop watching cable TV. Now he's off to the worst start of a presidency in a very long time."

Monday, April 17, 2017

Is this the real reason Trump won't release his taxes?

You can't escape Trump news at the moment, but like it or not, entrepreneur and game-show host Donald J Trump is now the leader of the free world, However, given the choice, I imagine there are a few stories The White House would like to see disappear.

There are his policies, his controversial appointments, the reports of civilian deaths during his first authorized military operation, and of course the fabled dossier. I could carry on, but I'm going somewhere with this and I do want to get there.

From banning Muslims to repealing the Affordable Health Care Act, there are at least some promises #president Trump intended to keep, but chief amongst those he did not, is the issue of his tax returns.
There has been much speculation over this, and despite Kelly Ann Conway's assertion that only the press want to see them, according to an ABC/Washington Post poll, 74% of the public do too.

So why won't Trump bow to pressure and hand them over?

There are two favourite theories doing the rounds. First, there's Hillary's suggestion that he doesn't pay tax. An assertion that came during the second of the live televised debates and one to which he enigmatically added that if it were true, it would mean he was 'smart'. The second theory is a bit more cloak and dagger, and suggests the real reason President Trump won't release his tax returns is to prevent folks from seeing where his money comes from. Hushed words in dark corners allege that the President has ties to Russia and other shady players on the world stage. Could the Trump regime be hiding secret contributions? The truth is we may never know. But what if there was a third reason, something less clandestine; a simple rational explanation hiding in plain sight? What if Trump didn't want to disclose his tax returns because he is broke?

Stay with me on this one; it's not as far-fetched as it sounds. You don't need to be a detective to work out Trump's business dealings are opaque, but respected newspaper the Wall Street Journal did manage to get under the lid. Its investigation discovered that Trump's debt is at least $1.5 Billion higher than anyone had previously thought.

What else is Trump Hiding?

If you take those figures into account and then consider his refusal to place his business interests into a blind trust, there's an argument that things aren't as rosy in Trump town as we've been lead to believe. Then there was the story in Vanity Fair about Trump's campaign staff walking out because they weren’t paid - and it's common knowledge the Trump organisation is no stranger to bankruptcy. Even the former president Barack Obama had a pop at Trump's business acumen, going as far as to say that Trump had left a trail of lawsuits.

There's been much talk about President Donald J Trump’s motivation for running. Some are unfair, others only outright tin hat tomfoolery, but if this journalist had to guess... well, I can't help but wonder if it's all about the money. We may never know for sure, because if President Trump was penniless before he entered the White House, chances are he's set to refill his coffers. An interesting article entitled A Trial Balloon for a Coup, on Medium noted earlier in the week that the President has already filed his intent to stand in 2020. This means he's already eligible to accept campaign donations.

Ignoring the obvious potential conflicts of interest involved in the chain of Trump hotels, gold course and even the fact that US taxpayers are hiring apartments from him to house his secret service, Trump now has the power to make dollar slump or soar with just 140 characters.

I sincerely doubt President Trump's anti-Islamic immigration policy will do anything to make the USA safer, but as the dollar buckled in the aftermath of its announcement, I had to wonder just how money he made. Oh, and I can't help wondering, since he is seldom off it, just how much President Trump and his sons have invested in Twitter.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Medical Theory for Donald Trump’s Bizarre Behavior

Many mental health professionals believe the president is ill. But what if the cause is an untreated STD?

Al Franken recently raised a provocative question about Donald Trump: Is he mentally ill? On HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher last week, the Minnesota senator claimed that some of his Republican colleagues have “great concern about the president’s temperament,” adding that “there’s a range in what they’ll say, and some will say that he’s not right mentally. And some are harsher.” Two days later, he told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “We all have this suspicion that—you know, that he’s not—he lies a lot…And, you know, that is not the norm for a president of the United States, or, actually, for a human being.” Last year, Jeb Bush said of his Republican primary opponent, “I’m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but the guy needs therapy.” Senator Bernie Sanders recently called Trump “delusional in many respects, a pathological liar.” And Congressman Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, is introducing legislation that would require the White House to have a psychiatrist on staff. “I’m looking at it from the perspective of, if there are questions about the mental health of the president of the United States, what may be the best way to get the president treatment?” he told the Huffington Post. Meanwhile, a debate is raging among mental health professionals about Trump’s mental state, and whether it’s unethical of them to speculate publicly about someone whom they haven’t examined (doing so violates psychiatrists’ code of ethics, the relevant section of which is called “the Goldwater rule” because of its association with a magazine survey of psychiatrists about Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential nominee, in 1964). One online petition with nearly 24,000 signatures calls for Trump’s removal because he “manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President.” Another with 36,000 signatures declares that “Trump appears unable to control his compulsion and displays characteristics of all nine criteria to officially diagnose an individual with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” Physicians like me have also taken notice of Trump’s bizarre, volatile behavior. Given our experience, we can’t help but wonder if there’s a medical diagnosis to be made. After all, many medical conditions exhibit their first symptoms in the form of psychiatric issues and personality changes. One condition in particular is notable for doing so: Neurosyphilis. Syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection, is sometimes referred to as “The Great Imposter” because of its ability to mimic many other conditions. It is commonly broken down into three stages. Primary syphilis is the most widely recognized form of the disease. It is characterized by the development of an ulcer, usually genital, a few weeks to a few months after sexual contact with an infected person. If the ulcer is not noticed, or not treated, it heals on its own, and the disease enters a dormant phase. But during this time, the bacteria—a spirochete called Treponema pallidum—spreads throughout the body without causing any symptoms. A secondary stage of the disease is seen in some patients weeks or months later. These patients may develop a variety of systemic symptoms, such as rash, fever, and swollen glands. If not treated, the infection enters a prolonged latent phase, which can last decades. During this time, it is asymptomatic and it is not contagious. In some cases, this is followed by a tertiary stage, which is the most serious and may involve any organ in the body. It is seen 10 to 30 years after the initial infection, and is best known for causing neurologic and neuropsychiatric disease: Neurosyphilis. The symptoms of neurosyphilis are protean, varying widely from one individual to another. Commonly recognized symptoms include irritability, loss of ability to concentrate, delusional thinking, and grandiosity. Memory, insight, and judgment can become impaired. Insomnia may occur. Visual problems may develop, including the inability of pupils to react to the light. This, along other ocular pathology, can result in photophobia, dimming of vision, and squinting. All of these things have been observed in Trump. Dementia, headaches, gait disturbances. and patchy hair loss can also be seen in later stages of syphilis. Does Trump suffer from this condition? I cannot, of course, establish this diagnosis from a distance. There’s a great deal of information I don’t have access to, which could be critical in reaching the correct conclusion. In Trump’s case, there are many diagnostic possibilities, and we have very little background information because the slim medical summary he released was vague, unverifiable, and possibly outdated. On the other hand, every time I see a new patient, he or she comes to me with incomplete information, or sometimes no information at all. Part of my training is to ask the right questions to get a sense of what the problem might be and make a list of possible diagnoses that could explain the problem. This is called the “differential diagnosis.” From there, additional questions, examinations, and tests are performed that narrow down the list, usually to one unifying diagnosis. Trump poses with Miss America contestants on his yacht in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1988.JACK KANTHAL/ASSOCIATED PRESS Given the limited information available, neurosyphilis belongs in the differential diagnosis. We know Trump was potentially exposed to syphilis based on his own statements that he was sexually promiscuous in the 1980s, a period when syphilis cases were rapidly increasing in the U.S. “I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world,” he told Howard Stern in 1997, referring to his dating life the decade prior. “It is a dangerous world out there—it’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam era. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave solider.” If indeed Trump has neurosyphilis, he’d be in famous company. Al Capone had it. So did composers Frederick Delius and Franz Schubert. Many others were suspected of having it, including Hitler, Mussolini, and Ivan the Terrible. What might enable us to eliminate Trump from this group? Two simple blood tests, in combination, can determine whether a patient has syphilis now or had it in the past. If both tests are negative, then he doesn’t have neurosyphilis. If one or both tests are positive, further evaluation, probably including a spinal tap, would be in order. The importance—both to Trump and the nation—of establishing or ruling out this diagnosis cannot be overstated, because this infection is treatable. Without treatment, however, the disease is progressive: It can make for a rather ugly end to one’s life. Whether Trump emerged unscathed from his “personal Vietnam” is now a question that he should explore with his personal physician. Dr. Steven Beutler has spent over 30 years practicing medicine, specializing in infectious diseases.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Republicon Lies About Healthcare

You hear it from Republicans, pundits and even some Democrats. It’s often said in a tone of regret: I wish Obama had done health reform in a bipartisan way, rather than jamming through a partisan bill.
The lament seems to have the ring of truth, given that not a single Republican in Congress voted for Obamacare. Yet it is false —demonstrably so.
That it’s nonetheless stuck helps explain how the Republicans have landed in such a mess on health care. The Congressional Budget Office released a jaw-dropping report Monday estimating that the Republican health plan would take insurance from 24 million people, many of them Republican voters, and raise medical costs for others. The bill effectively rescinds benefits for the elderly, poor, sick and middle class, and funnels the money to the rich, via tax cuts.
The AARP doesn’t like the bill, nor do groups representing doctors, nurses, hospitals, the disabled and people with cancer, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, it’s a great bill.
If Republicans still pass it, they will take political ownership of the flawed American health care system — after making it much more flawed. Tom Cotton, the Republican senator from Arkansas, has said the bill is so bad that it would “put the House majority at risk next year.” On the other hand, if Republicans fail to pass their own bill, they’ll look weak and incompetent, which is also not a good look to voters.
How did the party’s leaders put themselves in this position? The short answer is that they began believing their own hype and set out to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
Obamacare obviously has flaws. Most important, some of its insurance markets — created to sell coverage to the uninsured — aren’t functioning well enough. Alas, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump are not trying to fix that problem. They’re trying to fix a fictional one: saving America from a partisan, socialistic big-government takeover of health care.
To understand why that description is wrong, it helps to recall some history. Democratic attempts to cover the uninsured stretch back almost a century. But opposition to universal government-provided insurance was always too strong. Even Lyndon Johnson, with big congressional majorities, could pass programs only for the elderly and the poor — over intense opposition that equated Medicare with the death of capitalism
So Democrats slowly moved their proposals to the right, relying more on private insurance rather than government programs. As they shifted, though, Republicans shifted even farther right. Bill Clinton’s plan was quite moderate but still couldn’t pass.
When Barack Obama ran for president, he faced a choice. He could continue moving the party to the center or tack back to the left. The second option would have focused on government programs, like expanding Medicare to start at age 55. But Obama and his team thought a plan that mixed government and markets — farther to the right of Clinton’s — could cover millions of people and had a realistic chance of passing.
They embarked on a bipartisan approach. They borrowed from Mitt Romney’s plan in Massachusetts, gave a big role to a bipartisan Senate working group, incorporated conservative ideas and won initial support from some Republicans. The bill also won over groups that had long blocked reform, like the American Medical Association.
But congressional Republicans ultimately decided that opposing any bill, regardless of its substance, was in their political interest. The consultant Frank Luntz wrote an influential memo in 2009 advising Republicans to talk positively about “reform” while also opposing actual solutions. McConnell, the Senate leader, persuaded his colleagues that they could make Obama look bad by denying him bipartisan cover.
At that point, Obama faced a second choice – between forging ahead with a substantively bipartisan bill and forgetting about covering the uninsured. The kumbaya plan for which pundits now wax nostalgic was not an option.
The reason is simple enough: Obamacare is the bipartisan version of health reform. It accomplishes a liberal end through conservative means and is much closer to the plan conservatives favored a few decades ago than the one liberals did. “It was the ultimate troll,” as Michael Anne Kyle of Harvard Business School put it, “for Obama to pass Republican health reform.”
Today’s Republican Party has moved so far to the right that it no longer supports any plan that covers the uninsured. Of course, Republican leaders are not willing to say as much, because they know how unpopular that position is. Having run out of political ground, Ryan, McConnell and Trump have had to invent the notion of a socialistic Obamacare that they will repeal and replace with … something great! This morning they were also left to pretend that the Budget Office report was something less than a disaster.
Their approach to Obamacare has worked quite nicely for them, until now. Lying can be an effective political tactic. Believing your own alternative facts, however, is usually not so smart