Thursday, December 8, 2016

Current Events Write-Up: The Trump Cabinet, Taiwan, Etc.

I was going to post my Current Events Write-Up tomorrow, but the links are piling up, so I’ll share them today!

The Trump Cabinet, or Potential Cabinet, or Trump Advisors, or Trump Allies

ABC This Week Transcript for December 4, 2016

I tape ABC This Week while I am at church, then I watch it when I come home. I liked something David Petraeus said:

“Well, I think [Trump]’s actually quite pragmatic. In our conversation what I enjoyed most frankly was the discussion of issues, or say campaign rhetoric, if you will, and then placing that in a strategic context.  As an example, he is not anti-trade, he is against — he’s anti-unfair trade.  The wall — well, the wall would be a — an element in a comprehensive effort to shore up our security on the southern border, which, by the way, as we discussed, would include more help to Mexico for the problems that it has in the broader rule of law area, and, indeed, perhaps with its southern border, which is so challenged, as well.”

I like the part about the U.S. helping Mexico with law enforcement and border protection.  But shouldn’t something also be done to alleviate the poverty in Mexico that encourages Mexican immigrants to come here?

Vice-President-elect Mike Pence said something about Medicaid that concerns me, from a compassion-for-the-poor perspective, but I am open-minded:

“With regard to Medicaid, though, I will tell you, there’s a real opportunity, there’s a real opportunity as we repeal and replace ObamaCare to do exactly what the president-elect also said on the campaign, and that is block granting Medicaid back to the states.  Allow states to do what Indiana was able to do, in part in the last couple of years, and that is innovate.  We actually — we actually have people on Medicaid the first time in the history of the program that actually have to make a monthly contribution to a health savings account to receive full benefits. We want to give states even greater flexibility in innovating and creating the kind of health care solutions that will work for their population.”

When I heard this, I wondered: Do the poor of Indiana need to contribute to a Health Saving Account from their own pocket, as if they have the money?  It seems so, but the amount is from $1 to $28.  Anyway, this article talks about how Indiana handles Medicaid, going into what people see as the positives and negatives of its approach.

The Federalist: Kellyanne Conway Would Be a Feminist Hero If She Were a Democrat, by Julie Kelly

I like this part: “After taking the helm of the listless Trump campaign in August, Conway helped shape a more disciplined candidate, with a message focused on a stronger economy and national defense. Conway is like the pretty brainiac who tamed the school jock, got him to shut up in class, and made him carry her books. Hell, she even got him to study once in a while.”

Forbes: Tom Price’s Health Plan Doesn’t Let Insurers Impose Pre-existing Condition Exclusions—-Sort Of, by Seth Chandler

Tom Price is President-elect Trump’s selection for Secretary of Health and Human Services.  In 2015, as a congressman, Price proposed the Empowering Patients First Act of 2015.  According to this article, the Act would have exempted patients from pre-existing conditions exclusions if they had their health insurance for eighteen months.  But, as the article says, there would still be challenges: what if you don’t have health insurance, for example, and you want to buy some?  Would you have to pay more if you have a pre-existing condition, or would you be denied coverage for that condition?  This legislation, like Obamacare, is trying to navigate between two extremes.  On the one hand, we don’t want the horrors depicted on Michael Moore’s Sicko, of people paying into policies and then their health insurance doesn’t cover something because it is a “pre-existing condition.”  On the other hand, we don’t want a situation in which people lack insurance, then they suddenly buy it once they get sick.  This article offers constructive criticism of Price’s legislation.

American Conservative: Mattis on Our Way of War, by Jon Basil Utley

James Mattis is Trump’s selection for Secretary of Defense.  In the quotes of Mattis in this article, and in the wikipedia article about him, Mattis comes across as someone who is judicious, cautious, learned, and concerned about not provoking anti-American sentiment abroad.  He also supports a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, which may set him apart from some of the other Trump appointees.

Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity: Trump’s Promised ‘New Foreign Policy’ Must Abandon Regime Change for Iran, by Ron Paul

On the other hand, there may be cause for concern!  Ron Paul contrasts Trump’s reservation about regime change during his campaign, with some of the belligerent statements by his appointees.

Breitbart: How Ben Carson Can Save the Liberal Millennials Who Disdain Him, by Greg Ferenstein

Ben Carson has been selected by Trump to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.  Ferenstein talks about free-market approaches that Carson can pursue to increase housing and help alleviate economic inequality.

Yahoo Finance: Student Debtors, This Trump Ally Wants to Be Your Friend, by Shahien Nasiripour

“U.S. Representative Tom Reed this week formally endorsed a law originally proposed by House Democrats. Though a long shot, the bill would do more for America’s roughly 42 million student debtors than the one proposed two years ago by Warren, the liberal firebrand from Massachusetts.”

American Conservative: A Populist-Conservative Melting Pot, by Robert Verbruggen

I loved this article because it said what I have been thinking.  Trump’s cabinet looks like an interesting mix!  You have establishment Republicans, but also populists who diverge from the establishment.  Some of my favorite passages: “The treasury secretary will promote huge tax cuts while free-trade deals are being fed through a shredder, and everyone’s heads will explode at the Wall Street Journal.”  “A wild bit of speculation: the conservatives will have the upper hand while Republicans control Congress, but the populists will find more common ground with Democrats—who if history is any guide will gain seats in 2018.”

Other Domestic Policy and Issues 

Info Wars: Standing Rock Water Protectors vs. Globalist Agitators

Info Wars is Alex Jones’ site.  Alex Jones is a conspiracy theorist and has spoken positively of Trump.  My heart is warmed that his site is speaking in favor of the protesters at Standing Rock.

ABC News: Donald Trump Meets with Climate Advocate Al Gore, by Jordyn Phelps

I am concerned about Trump’s selection of Scott Pruitt for EPA, but I am pleased that Trump met with Al Gore.

Forward: The ‘Anti-Semitism Awareness Act’ Is the Opposite of What Jews and Muslims Need Now, by Rachel Roberts

Rachel Roberts is a friend of mind.  We both attended Jewish Theological Seminary.  She expresses concerns about the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act,” which is sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League.  She is concerned that it may conflate anti-Semitism with criticisms of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.


I have come across a lot of articles that defend Trump’s phone conversation with the President of Taiwan, or at least that deny it’s the beginning of the apocalypse!  For a sample, see the articles about this issue in The Weekly Standard, The Ron Paul Liberty Report, The Daily Beast, The Daily Wire, and Reason.  (Just click on the links, and that will take you to the articles.)

Some of my favorite articles about the topic:

Foreign Policy: How Bad Was Trump’s Taiwan Phone Call, by Michael Green

This article argues that Reagan managed to improve relations with both Taiwan and China!  It also talks about the difference of opinion within his Administration on Taiwan, as even some of the Cold War hawks opposed outreach to Taiwan.

American Conservative: The Folly of Provoking China, by Daniel Larison

This article presents another perspective.  “Our hawks tend to overlook nationalist sentiment in other countries, and they dismiss how other states define their vital interests, and then they agitate for policies that meddle in the very issues that can trigger a nationalist reaction.”

Is Trump Calling Out Xi Jinping?, by Patrick J. Buchanan

My impression is that Buchanan wants to applaud Trump on the Taiwan phone conversation, but he has some reservations.  Buchanan also notes where China’s interests overlap with ours.

New York Times: Bob Dole Worked Behind the Scenes on Trump-Taiwan Call

So this conversation wasn’t some careless faux-pas on Trump’s part.  Bob Dole worked on it.

Off-Guardian: Red-Baiting, Putin-Scaremongering Democrats Are Now Suddenly Worried About Offending China, by Caitlin Johnstone

The title says it all!

Historical Interest

The Humanist: Ron Capshaw’s review of Richard Weikart’s Hitler’s Religion

Was Hitler a Christian?  This article argues that the public Hitler used Christian rhetoric, but the private Hitler disdained Christianity and held pantheistic beliefs.

Ron Paul Liberty Report: FDR’s Pearl Harbor Bait, by Jacob G. Hornberger

This article argues that FDR egged the Japanese on.  Some of the comments underneath the article disagree.

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