Blogs from Center MD - Center Maryland - Maryland’s leading source of aggregated and original news and opinion on government, politics, business and more. http://mail.centermaryland.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=blogger&id=316&layout=listings&Itemid=178 Sat, 28 Mar 2020 20:22:28 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Venetoulis: Trump - The War Time President. http://mail.centermaryland.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=1725&Itemid=178 http://mail.centermaryland.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=1725&Itemid=178

Conversation between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Winston Churchill (circa Summer 1940).


W:    Sorry to interrupt you, Donald.
T:    No problem, Winnie, always great to hear from my favorite P.M.  How’s your golf game.
W:    Uh. Not well, Donald. As you know there’s a war going on…
T:    You’re kidding me.  A war.  Nobody told me.  That’s the problem around here. I’m always the last to know.
W:    Quite sorry about that.  It’s been in the papers.
T:    Fake news. Winnie.  We don’t read the papers.  Banned every damn one of them. Enemy of the people, everybody tells me.
W:    Uh… that may be Donald, but I’m calling to alert you that it’s inevitable that France will fall.
T:    France fall?  The stock? Should we sell?
W:    Not the stock.  The country.
T:        Lucky I didn’t make that Paris hotel deal.
W:    Now that the Nazi armies have swept through Europe, they will try to cross the channel.
T:    You’re not calling to blame me, are you Winnie.  It’s your channel, not mine. Hey, your buck stops with you, not with me. Anyhow, I don’t give a sh*t about your war.  You mind getting to the big stuff…you know -- something about me. Do they like me over there?
W:    Of course they like you and they would like you more if you gave us a little help fighting off Hitler.
T:    Hitler?  Who’s he?
W:    Uh…he’s a dictator. Wants to take over Europe.  A madman.  A malicious narcissist.
T.    Sounds like my kind of guy.
 W.     But we will never surrender -- we will fight them on the seas and oceans…we will fight  them on the    beaches…we will fight them on the landing grounds…in the fields…and streets…we will never surrender…  
T:    Hey that’s pretty good. Who writes your stuff. But Like I say, I’m not responsible, at all. Can’t get dragged into a war over there. Can’t piss off my base.  Hard-core isolationists.  America First you know -- Father Coughlin, Lindbergh, all these bible-thumping evangelists.  Want nothing to do with you foreigners.   
W:    But if you don’t help us fight them in Europe, you will have to fight them in America.  
T:    You got a point.  What can I do that I can say I never did it later?
W:    We’re told you have some old destroyers in dry-dock we could use.
T:    Who told you that?
W:    Speaker Pelosi.
T:    She what?  What’s she doing messing around? Presidents do war in this country not Pelosi.  Article 2.  Read it.  I do everything, anything I want.  Witch!  Too smart for her snappy pants suits.  Things are going to happen to her.
W:    Uh… if you say so, Donald…But we’d be happy to take those destroyers off your hands.  
T:    OK. But you can do me a little favor, though.
W:    What’s that sir?
T:    There’s this guy wants to run against me.  Could you investigate him for being a commy. Don’t have to really do anything, just hold press conference saying it. My Firsties hate commies.
W:    Uh, well, are you saying that if we accused your opponent of being a communist, we would get the destroyers? A quid pro quo?
T:    No. No quid pro quo.  I want nothing. But as you know I’m a businessman.
W:    But Donald. These are government destroyers, are they not?
T:    Come on Winnie.  Get real.  I’m the government.  They are my destroyers.
W:    But Donald, trading government property for our meddling in your election, doesn’t seem right.
T:    Of course it’s not right and that’s why I want nothing. Just call him a commie ratfink.
W:    But that’s a quid pro quo.
T:     Naw.  Nobody understands that Latin crap.
W:    Donald. Maybe we should meet at the White House to show Hitler that we are united.
T:    No problem.  First, one more thing.  
W:    Another favor.
T:    Of course not.  Winnie, the President of the United States never swaps the national security for some domestic political errand.
W:    Quite right, Donald, but what is it this time?
T:        Ivanka has this great jewelry stuff that would look good on the Queen if she’d like to order some.
W:    Jewelry for the Queen?
T:    Not just for the Queen but for the invitation to the White House, too.  Unless you don’t think her stuff is good enough.
W:    Oh, no sir I never said that.  It’s wonderful.  In fact I was thinking of getting something for Clementine this Christmas.
T:    So glad you guys still say Christmas over there. We’re into Happy Holiday bullshit over here.   I’ll have her call you; maybe she can work out a discount. And by the way, one more thing.
W:    Uh, what might that be?
T:        Stop talking to Nervous Nancy. Talk to Rudi. He’s my personal fixer. Or talk to Barr. He’s my inside fixer.               
 
Ted Venetoulis
Ted [DOT] Venetoulis [AT] gmail [DOT] com]]>
info [AT] centermaryland [DOT] com (Center MD) Blog Tue, 24 Mar 2020 18:27:19 -0400
Why Would Democrats Give Trump a Big Win on Healthcare? http://mail.centermaryland.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=1720&Itemid=178 http://mail.centermaryland.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=1720&Itemid=178 President Donald Trump is on the ropes.

He has refused to turn the corner on the scandals that have been a trademark of his first three years in office. Fresh off impeachment, he’s already mired in another scandal after tampering in the sentencing of crony Roger Stone. And thankfully, most of his major policy initiatives have flamed out in Congress. Anyone remember infrastructure week?

So why, with the 2020 election just months away, would Democrats hand Donald Trump a major policy win on the most important issue in America?

In 2018, Democrats were swept into office by voters who demanded action on healthcare. For years, Republicans have tampered with President Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms, attempting to make them as ineffectual as possible. Americans recoiled, asking Congress to fight for more affordable, more accessible healthcare.

Now, President Trump is putting his weight behind a plan that does just the opposite. For months, Congress has been working on a solution to surprise medical bills – the unexpected, unwelcome expenses that often arise when a patient has no choice but to receive out-of-network medical care. This can happen, for example, as the result of an emergency room visit, when patients just don’t have the luxury of figuring out whether the closest hospital and every specialist on staff is part of their insurance network. Patients need medical care, and instead of paying the bill, insurers pass the costs onto the sick and the injured while they are still recovering.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to tackle this problem. Unsurprisingly, President Trump has chosen the wrong way. He’s backed a proposal by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The Trump/Alexander approach is, unsurprisingly, a giveaway to insurance companies – the very party responsible for surprise medical bills in the first place. Trump has called on other congressional leaders to craft copycat legislation and get it to his desk.

The HELP bill purports to end surprise medical bills through a mechanism known as ‘benchmarking.’ Benchmarking is nothing more than an insurance industry-backed idea that allows them to maximize their profits and make it more difficult and more expensive for patients to get medical care. Under this proposal insurance companies are allowed to benchmark their out-of-network payments to their own in-network rate. In simpler terms: Trump wants to let big insurance companies set their own prices. This system allows them to cancel existing contracts to drive down the in-network obligations to manipulate the out-of-network rate, kicking patients out of network in the process. As a result, patients have fewer options and more out-of-pocket costs, while insurance profits continue to skyrocket.

It’s not surprising that Trump would back this big insurance bonanza. What is surprising is that Democratic leaders in Congress are more than willing to follow his lead, delivering him a political win in an election year and hurting patients in the process. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, a Democrat, has already cut a deal with Sen. Alexander to move ‘benchmarking’ through his committee and try to deliver it to Trump’s desk. Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee have already supported similar proposals. This is madness and Democrats should stop in their tracks before they hand Trump a victory he doesn’t deserve on the backs of patients.

Instead of supporting Trump’s big insurance giveaway, Democrats should support competing legislation that actually holds insurers accountable for surprise medical bills. Introduced by California Democrat Raul Ruiz – and more importantly, opposed by the Trump White House – this proposal that uses Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR) to stop surprise medical bills. Under IDR, patients never receive a surprise medical bill because they are only responsible for their in-network payment. Then, providers and insurers can use a simple, third-party arbitration process to determine a fair payment. Patients are protected and insurers are required to pay their fair share.

Democrats should be in the business of standing up for patients and standing up to big insurers – and Donald Trump. It’s time for Democrats in Congress to shift gears and back IDR, a plan that actually protects patients from surprise medical bills. Continuing down the path toward benchmarking is a double whammy for Democrats – it’s bad policy and it gives Trump a big win in an election year. We can do better.

 By: Barry O’Connell

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info [AT] centermaryland [DOT] com (Center MD) Blog Fri, 13 Mar 2020 06:59:13 -0400
P. Michael Errico and Perry White Ross & Jacobson to Create Strategic Partnership http://mail.centermaryland.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=1719&Itemid=178 http://mail.centermaryland.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=1719&Itemid=178
Michael Errico has decades of experience in local government and land use development, serving Prince George’s County as Director of Public Works and Transportation, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Government Operations and Environmental Services and its Chief Administrative Officer. Errico also served as Deputy General Manager for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and has earned a reputation as a highly respected engineer and strategist tackling many of the State’s most challenging projects.

Perry, White, Ross & Jacobson (PWRJ) formed in 2013 and has become one of Maryland’s leading government relations firm with a specialization in land use and development consulting. PWRJ assists Maryland companies communicate with communities and their leaders as well as navigate permitting and regulatory issues.]]>
info [AT] centermaryland [DOT] com (Center MD) Blog Tue, 03 Mar 2020 06:38:12 -0500
Venetoulis: Seven Days in February http://mail.centermaryland.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=1718&Itemid=178 http://mail.centermaryland.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=1718&Itemid=178
It was a State of the Union Speech.  A speech that was less to do with the future functioning of the state of our country, then with the current malfunctioning of the state of a presidential mind. A Speech that will not be remembered for what it was about but for how it ended.  After listening to remarks packed with falsehoods and partisan rants and watching a balcony of theatrics including the First Lady fixing a Presidential Medal of Freedom around the neck of an unscrupulous hate monger who turned venom into a profitable business, that made her an accomplice to an act that will forever haunt her and her husband -- after listening to the President’s Mt Everest of lies, Speaker Pelosi, our own Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi, ripped up her copy of his speech. Criminal, according to the President – who knows a great deal about criminal behavior.  Indecorous, piled on Fox News and a few pundits who in service to the church of false equivalencies actually criticized her behavior as downright Trumpian.   

And then there was the Prayer Breakfast that featured an unworldly presidential breakdown, where the divine leader delivered a rancid rage of Presidential petulance challenging the “faith” of his critics.  

The Breakfast was followed by a White House celebration of vengeance before a gaggle of giggling grovelers, featuring the President spouting the language of a drunk drill sergeant including the first recorded use of the words “sleazebag” and  “bullshit’ in the East Room.  Trump knocked Purple Heart patriots, whistleblowers, congressional critics, intelligence agencies and any notion that civility was a valued commodity in a free society.

It was also the prelude to a Stalin-like purge where the President dismissed one of his handpicked ambassador, fired a Purple Heart veteran and his twin brother and bluntly warned those who would dare speak truth to power that he would instruct his Attorney General, America’s infamous legal lapdog, to launch criminal investigations into their behavior.   

With all this, Trump sent to Congress a Budget that ripped apart his pledges more violently then Speaker Pelosi speech-ripping-- a budget that would cut Medicare, food stamps, shrink the nations long protected and cherished safety net and still add billions to the annual deficit and national debt.

Finally, as if this was not an exhaustive display of presidential abuse, he ended the week with a brazen sentencing intrusion hammering the concept of an independent judicial system and setting the stage for election-timed investigations and the real whopper --a post-election parade of pardons—his idea of reducing prison crowding.

All of this was hailed as Trump’s “best week” in office.

Let’s get this straight:  Using a wrecking ball to crush the Constitution, throwing mud on political civility, and demonizing decades of institutional norms—this was his best week!  

Do we wonder why the nation is stunned, pundits are confused, and Democrats, in the midst of a quadrennial squabble to select a leader for the Loyal Opposition, are so angry they can’t figure out who would be best to deal with this lunatic.  Is he a mob boss, a thug, a mad monarch, a creepy dictator?  Is he the Godfather, Dr. Strangelove, a Russian asset?  Is he Mel Brooks leading a chorus of Springtime for Hitler, or is he playing the title role in a Mussolini musical bellowing obscenities from a balcony while the crowd below shouts Il Duce.  Maybe it’s Catch 22 – where we are all Yossarians challenging our own sanity as we grudgingly tolerate one level of unlawful presidential behavior until he jolts us by escalating to another even worse unlawful level.  And, anticipating a wave of a digital anger, dare we suggest that the parallel might be Europe in the l930’s overrun by fascism, Nazism and communism -- where thoughtful German citizens were transformed into a nation of mutes led by a hierarchy of enablers who sat silent as their new savior harangued the press as the enemy of the people and  weaponized the judicial system to rattle critics, round up Jews, prosecute opponents, rig trials and organized massive rallies  where followers  were incited to shout:  LOCK THEM UP!  

What America saw these Seven Days in February was the Full Trump!  History will show it was the week when  an unleashed, unhinged, uncontrollable President declared war on his own country.  His band of merry enablers left us with the amiable admonition:  Just Get Over It!

I don’t know about you.  But I’m not getting over it.

I stand with Pelosi.

I stand with Schiff.

I stand with Romney.

I stand with fearless diplomats in the State Department.  With heroic members in the military. With  Fed-up lawyers in the Justice Department. With unyielding members of Congress.  With gutsy whistleblowers,  zealous journalists and impassioned critics. And I stand with millions of my fellow Americans who will not just rip up Trump’s speech, but who can’t wait for Election Day – and -- to stoop to a Trumpian vulgarity -- give our leader a farewell finger!

Ted Venetoulis

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info [AT] centermaryland [DOT] com (Center MD) Blog Fri, 14 Feb 2020 06:26:29 -0500
Kim Pieper: New tech tool to expose the influence of big business in politics http://mail.centermaryland.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=1715&Itemid=178 http://mail.centermaryland.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=1715&Itemid=178 Everyone talks about how big business has too much influence over our political process, and sadly, many of us have witnessed it firsthand. Through meeting after meeting, I’ve watched CEOs and their lobbyists make demands to elected officials that were not in the best interest of their customers. Something was misaligned. Shouldn’t corporations be pushing political agendas that benefit their customers, the people who buy their products and keep them in business?

The problem is that consumers haven’t had an easy way to access information about company policies and practices, so we keep supporting them, and corporations have no reason to change. What we’ve been waiting for is an easy, trackable way to vote with our dollars.

Enter Tribe.

This new and amazing tool instantly shares information about company practices while you shop. Simply add Tribe to your web browser, and when you select a product for purchase on Amazon, a small box appears in the corner of the screen that tells you about a company’s policies and practices. Are their products cruelty-free? Do they support policies and programs that you disagree with? If a company is doing something you don’t like, Tribe suggests products from other companies you may want to support instead. Most importantly, we let the companies know how their practices are affecting their own bottom line.

Currently, Tribe shares information with consumers on companies’ animal cruelty practices. In 2020, Tribe will roll out new information that will provide consumers with a company’s broad political contributions (Democrat or Republican). And we’ll continue adding issues at our users’ requests. I invite you to add Tribe to your browser now and join our beta users in helping us shape our vision for 2020. Go to jointribe.us to be a part of our tribe.

Just as mass movements have come from great people taking ONE decisive act, we must start influencing corporations who hold an inordinate amount of power over our lives in the same way. Corporations have a duty to maximize profits to their shareholders. Tribe simply shows companies that consumers value more than the product they are purchasing. They value the way a company does business. By demonstrating that their political, social, and environmental practices impact companies’ profit margins, we can compel companies to change.

We are a tribe of 7 billion people on this planet. And when we all have access to information, we can change the world. One small act at a time. I hope you’ll join us.

You can get Tribe at www.jointribe.us

- Kim Pieper

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info [AT] centermaryland [DOT] com (Center MD) Blog Thu, 05 Dec 2019 01:34:09 -0500