There are so many truly horrifying news stories today, most of which have some connection to Donald Trump, that I didn’t know where to even begin this morning as I sat down to write my afternoon post. So, instead I cleaned house, did laundry, and cooked. My hope was that doing something more physical, stepping back from the news for a bit, would help me gain focus, help my mental state achieve balance. Instead, I wore out my body and my mind is still on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Ah well, at least the house is clean, and we had a nice roast chicken with my world-famous stuffing, mashed potatoes and fresh green beans for dinner. Let’s see if we can squeeze some coherent thoughts from this mess.
First, let us talk about healthcare for a minute. An estimated 130 million people under the age of 65 have some sort of a “pre-existing condition”, whether it be as simple as high blood pressure or arthritis, or more complex, such as heart disease, diabetes or even cancer. Even pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition! One of the most important features of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was that applicants could not be denied coverage or charged higher premiums based on a pre-existing condition.
It is the duty of the Department of Justice to uphold the rule of law, to defend federal laws. Yet on Thursday, the Justice department announced that it will no longer defend the ruling under ACA that people with pre-existing conditions will not be discriminated against in health care. It all began in Texas, where a lawsuit has been filed claiming that certain provisions of ACA were “unconstitutional” and should be struck down, including the pre-existing condition clause. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a letter to Congress on Thursday that Trump, who campaigned on repealing the law and nearly did so his first year in office, approved the legal strategy.
Nicholas Bagley, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School who had been a Justice Department lawyer, says DOJ’s move is troubling.
“The Justice Department has a long-standing, durable, bipartisan commitment to defend acts of Congress. It’s a cornerstone of what they do. For the Trump administration to crumple that up and throw it out the window is galling.”
So, want to know what your illustrious republican representatives on Capitol Hill have to say about it all?
“We need to let that go forward and see if it goes anywhere. I don’t know if that legal logic will fly or not.” – Representative Tom MacArthur, New Jersey
Most legal scholars think the lawsuit stands very little chance, which is good news. BUT … the Trump administration and the Department of Justice have sent a loud and clear message to We The People that they have no interest in protecting our health and well-being. Look for this issue to arise again and again until finally, if he remains in office, somehow Trump will repeal the entirety of ACA, even if he has to do it piece by piece.
The G7 summit began this morning. Trump arrived late, missing a scheduled meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, and intends to leave early tomorrow, before discussions of climate change. I will have more on the G7 in the next day or two, but for now, one point stands out. Trump made it clear that he wants Russia re-instated, changing the G7 back to G8. Russia was expelled in 2014 after annexing the Crimea. Trump’s insistence on Russia being brought back into the fold tells me that my instincts have been right all along … Trump is indeed a tool, a puppet, of Vladimir Putin.
You may remember that in October 2017, Robert Mueller charged Paul Manafort with tax evasion, money-laundering and fraud, to name only a few. Manafort was confined to house arrest pending trial. Well, while on house arrest, Manafort and a Russian co-conspirator, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, made some phone calls. Who did they call? Potential witnesses. Why? To ask them to lie, to coach them for their future testimony. It’s called “witness tampering”, and thus, Bob Mueller has now added additional charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Two observations: First, I see no way out for Manafort. His guilt is as palpable as a tomato thrown in one’s face, yet he continues to proclaim he is but an innocent lamb. B.S. Second, house arrest should be automatically terminated and he should be sitting in a nice cell by nightfall. Mueller has asked a federal judge to tighten the conditions of the house arrest Manafort has been under — or revoke his pretrial release altogether.
On a sad note, long-time columnist, author and political commentator Charles Krauthammer wrote his final piece for The Washington Post today. Mr. Krauthammer has been battling cancer and a series of related illnesses for the better part of a year. Recent tests show that the cancer has returned, and his doctors have estimated he has only a matter of weeks left to live. He will be missed, for he was always, whether I agreed with him or not, the voice of reason.
There is much more detritus left bobbing around inside my head, but the rest can wait for tomorrow, by which time there will be still more annoying news to add to the mix. Hasta mañana.