State and local editorial boards captured the outrage of Americans all across the country this past week. First, President Trump and the Senate Republicans failed- again- in their most recent attempt to rip health care away from millions of Americans all to give tax cuts to millionaires. Their effort can only be described as an embarrassing spectacle that culminated in forcing a vote on a bill no one read, without a hearing, in the dead of night.
Then, President Trump gave a highly inappropriate speech to the Boy Scouts of America- sparking such disgust that the organization actually had to apologize. If that wasn’t enough, President Trump desperately tried to change the subject from his failings by instituting an unconstitutional ban on transgender military service members. Again, President Trump met sharp rebukes from the Pentagon, his own party, and Americans all across the country for such an unpatriotic and unpresidential display against the brave men and women who risk their lives for our country.
So happy Monday! Here’s what Americans read in their local newspapers last week:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Trump, in his own words, at six months. Yikes
What about his son Donald Jr.’s meeting with the Russians? “Well, I thought originally it might have had to do something with the payment by Russia of the DNC (Democratic National Committee). Somewhere I heard that. Like, it was an illegal act done by the DNC, or the Democrats. That’s what I had heard.”
Six months in, we have a world wondering at America’s abdication of moral leadership. We have dozens of investigations and conflicts. We have a largely unstaffed administration led by a president full of sound and fury, who just … makes … stuff … up.
Raleigh News & Observer: Sessions rising on Trump’s agenda
In fact, of course, Sessions did the right thing, though he’s otherwise turning Justice Department policy back to the more oppressive, hard-right days. But the president continues to show that he views anyone in his administration as first responsible to the president and secondarily working for the American people. James Comey was fired as FBI director in part because he wouldn’t pledge loyalty to Trump.
And now it’s being reported that Trump has Robert Mueller, the respected former FBI head leading the Russia investigation, in his sights. He and his aides may be trying to work up a case against Mueller so Trump can orchestrate his firing. In fact, to fire Mueller would almost certainly bring on calls for Trump’s impeachment and make Republicans in Congress who already are nervous about Trump move even further from him.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Obamacare needs a nip-and-tuck job, not major surgery to survive
Congress could make more people eligible for subsidies, increase the size of subsidies to get more people to buy insurance, or make the penalties larger so fewer people would opt to pay them instead of buying insurance. Or it could do a combination of all three. Increase the number of customers buying insurance and premiums should go down.
Obamacare needs other fixes, but it’s not in a “death spiral.” In fact, New York had a 28 percent increase in enrollments this year, with 17 insurance carriers offering plans on the ACA exchange. Other states aren’t doing as well. But they might be if it weren’t for the partisan politics that for too long has been played with America’s health care.
San Jose Mercury News: Trump names an anti-science blowhard as ‘chief scientist’. Help! Congress….
It was bad enough that Trump’s choice as USDA Secretary, Sonny Purdue, thinks climate science is “obviously disconnected from reality” and “a running joke among the public.” This even though polls show 70 percent of Americans favor aggressive action to slow global warming.
Clovis calls climate change “junk science” and “not proven.” That goes against the consensus of more than 90 percent of climate scientists.
He’s entitled to his opinion. He’s perfect for today’s talk radio. He is not a scientist, let alone qualified to be a “chief scientist.” Congress needs to take a stand.
Times of Trenton: Trump’s EPA threatens kids’ health by rejecting pesticide ban
As the White House continues to systematically shred many of the safety nets put into place by previous administrations, it’s up to the states to act like the grown-ups in the room.
Governors, mayors, attorney generals and state lawmakers are increasingly resisting ill-conceived moves, such as President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accords, or taking the teeth out of regulations designed to keep our air safe and our water clean.
Now the New Jersey Legislature is taking a welcome stand against Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency and its chief, Scott Pruitt, over a pesticide called chlorpyrifos.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Trump takes a ‘Just Say No’ approach to sex education
Pulling the plug on research and programs proven to be effective in preventing pregnancies and abortions is the wrong way to go. Abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent pregnancy and disease transmission during sex, but there are too many other pressures on young people to become sexually active. They must be taught other ways to avoid pregnancy and disease.
Trump, HHS Secretary Tom Price and Valerie Huber, the new HHS assistant secretary in charge of pregnancy prevention programs, oppose federal funding for birth control and advocate abstinence to control teen pregnancies. Just Say No didn’t work on drug use and it won’t work on teen pregnancy, either.
Lawrence Journal-World: An utter waste of time, money
“Throughout the campaign and even after, people would come up to me and express concerns about voter inconsistencies and voter irregularities which they saw, in some cases having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states,” Trump said at the commission’s first meeting.
The problem, of course, is that beyond a few isolated cases, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud that Trump alleges.
Critics believe the commission is nothing more than a conservative campaign to hinder groups that have traditionally leaned Democratic — younger voters, minorities and the poor — from registering to vote and casting ballots.
Newark Star-Ledger: Trump’s sabotage of Obamacare will come back to bite him
Trump’s admitted plan is to let the law fail, and blame Democrats. “We’re not going to own it,” he says. But he already does. A Kaiser poll found most Americans would hold Trump and the Republicans responsible if it falls apart. And rightly so. About 20 million fewer people are uninsured now than before the Affordable Care Act.
Trump is hoping the law’s collapse will force Democrats to make concessions. He is willing to hurt regular Americans to gain leverage in this political fight, a poisonous tactic, and one that is doomed to fail. The only question is how much damage he and his supporters will cause before they give up.
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Punish Russia and limit Trump’s power to ease sanctions
Congress must send an unmistakable message to those who act against this country. It also must assert its independence as an equal branch of government and disabuse Trump once and for all of the notion — tweeted by him over the weekend — that GOP lawmakers should “protect their President.” They are not his shield.
Akron Beacon Journal: ‘Reset’ to Russian realities
Veto the sanctions, and the president would side with Putin against his fellow Republicans in Congress (the measure likely to pass with huge bipartisan support). Then, there is the stance of the intelligence community, united in concluding that Russia attempted to influence the election.
“There is no dissent” is how Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, put it last week at a conference.
Add the further, and conspicuous, complication, evident Monday afternoon when Jared Kushner, the president’s son in law and senior adviser, spoke on the White House driveway, denying collusion with the Russians in the election intervention. On many occasions, the Trump team has rejected allegations of links only to retreat, as new information has surfaced.
Topeka Capital-Journal: Trump and Kobach have an obvious agenda
Isn’t it troubling that we have to ask the vice chairman of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity such basic questions? During the interview on MSNBC, Kobach said the “point of the commission” is to determine how susceptible our electoral system is to fraud and how much fraud has taken place. If this is the case, why do Trump and Kobach talk as if they already have all the information they need? Why does Trump make brazen pronouncements about “millions of people who voted illegally?” Why does Kobach robotically agree with him? What was the impetus for his obsession with voter fraud in the first place?
Racine Journal Times: Keep voters’ private data private
President Trump has insisted that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election. But Vox.com reported there have been multiple investigations — by academics, journalists, and nonpartisan think tanks — into voter fraud. None found evidence of anything close to millions of people voting illegally, as Trump has alleged.
Corvallis Gazette-Times: Commission on voting is a sham
It is almost as certain where the work of the commission is headed: toward efforts to make it more difficult to register and vote. It’s the wrong answer to the wrong question: We should be working to modernize voting machines and safeguarding election systems against hacking.
And any national effort to make it harder to register and vote runs counter to Oregon’s longstanding efforts to clear away obstacles to the franchise. It’s a shame that we’ll spend any time at all trying to restrict something so fundamental to our democracy.
Springfield Republican: White House must fix more than its message
One of his priorities, Scaramucci said over the weekend, will be stopping the leaks that have been so prevalent. It’s going to take a whole lot more than one disciplined guy to bring that to a halt.
But what matters more than that: It’s not the leaks that are the problem. It’s the incoherent policy.
Health care failed. Tax reform has barely gotten started. Infrastructure isn’t even being seriously discussed. There very likely won’t be any sort of a budget deal, just another omnibus spending plan thrown together in desperation at the last minute to keep the gears of the federal government from grinding to a halt.
San Francisco Chronicle: Senators to vote, but on what?
The Congressional Budget Office has found that all the options before the Senate would deprive tens of millions of health insurance. Moderate Republican senators such as Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia are rightly concerned about the repercussions for their vulnerable constituents, but appeasing them alienates conservatives who are committed to undoing the Obama health care law. McConnell is therefore risking a free-for-all in a bid to get 50 votes for anything.
The alternative, according to Trump, is to “let Obamacare fail.” In fact, even as the administration has repeatedly claimed the Affordable Care Act is dying, it’s taken steps to poison it by depressing enrollment and threatening subsidies. Covered California, the state’s insurance exchange, had to postpone the release of next year’s premiums due to the uncertainty in Washington.
South Florida Sun Sentinel: Pull health care out of its ‘death spiral’
“If we don’t get it done,” Trump told the New York Times, “we are going to watch Obamacare go down the tubes, and we’ll blame the Democrats. And at some point they are going to come and say, ‘You’ve got to help us.’ “
This cynical scheme is breathtaking in its immorality. It plays political blackmail with the lives and financial security of virtually the entire American public.
Trump is deluding himself about who would get the blame. Polls show Americans disapproving by large and growing majorities of what the Republicans are up to. They prefer Obamacare. In recent results cited by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 61 percent disliked the congressional tack; 44 percent viewed it “very” unfavorably. More than seven in 10, including nearly half of Trump supporters, want a bipartisan effort to improve the ACA.
Asbury Park Press: Starving Obamacare mean-spirited
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to bring forth a better health care law, yet so far all he has done is attempt to undercut the one that exists. Slowly cutting away supports that have made Obamacare popular and effective is not a responsible way to govern. Rather, it is mean-spirited and irresponsible, and will only make life more difficult for people seeking health care coverage.
Des Moines Register: Trump administration dismantling student protections
This month attorneys general from 18 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against DeVos and her agency. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is rightly among the plaintiffs. The lawsuit challenges the department’s delay in implementing a rule allowing loan forgiveness for students victimized by the “education” businesses.
“This is a rule that was supposed to protect countless students who were defrauded and victimized by predatory for-profit schools. Unfortunately, these students are still on the hook with mounds of debt,” Miller told a Register editorial writer last week.
Trump is intimately familiar with how businesses masquerading as schools can dupe students into enrolling, charge a fortune and fail to deliver a legitimate education.
Unfortunately, as president of the United States, he is now in a position to ensure the federal government clears the way for schools to do exactly that.
San Francisco Chronicle: Trump’s unprecedented presidency
Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and Sessions’ recusal helped bring about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to lead that investigation. Undermining Sessions could enable Trump to hire an attorney general who could fire Mueller. Especially after reports that Trump’s top campaign advisers met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer offering dirt on Clinton — and that the president is exploring his power to pardon himself and his cronies — such a move against Mueller’s investigation would usher in a real crisis of law and order.
Boston Herald: The AG shouldn’t quit
Sessions could quit, to preserve his dignity in the face of this humiliating onslaught (and few would blame him). But if the president wants Sessions gone he should be forced to fire him, then deal with the fallout of a move that — whatever his cover story — would be about one thing only, and that is quashing the Russia investigation. And good luck to the president in finding another qualified AG willing to volunteer as tribute.
Omaha World-Herald: Sessions works for Americans and the law, not the president
Perhaps the president will succeed in forcing Sessions out one way or another, but the ramifications would be dire.
The forced removal of Sessions, due solely to political opportunism, would gravely erode the integrity of the presidency and shake the confidence of other Cabinet members.
Sessions’ removal also would have a big impact on the U.S. Senate — quite likely spurring a majority of senators, including many Republicans, to make sure a strong investigation continues into the Russia matter.
Trump should back away from his Sessions fixation and focus on his proper duties. The investigation needs to proceed and conclude as guided by law, so the public interest is served.
Los Angeles Times: Why Trump is abusing Jeff Sessions
This page opposed Sessions’ confirmation and we strenuously disagree with his positions on civil rights, sentencing, immigration and other issues. But it’s not Sessions’ wrongheaded conservative views, which echo the president’s, that are putting his tenure in jeopardy; it’s his adherence to ethical standards that any principled attorney general would abide by.
Baltimore Sun: Trump’s erratic behavior not just a ‘message’ problem
Even those of us who have little good to say about Attorney General Sessions are somewhat flabbergasted at the lengths Mr. Trump has gone in recent days to denounce a cabinet member who serves at his pleasure. “Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes…” was how President Trump began his Tuesday at 6:12 a.m. And that’s after the president described Mr. Sessions as “beleaguered” in a Monday morning tweet, his anger apparently raging over the attorney general’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation in March. March!
Springfield Republican: Sanctions against Russia trouble for Trump, Putin
There isn’t much in Washington these days that can get the two constantly warring political parties to come together. Except for run-of-the-mill legislation to rename a post office or something similarly forgettable, nearly any proposal from a member of one party is almost immediately rejected by most of those on the other side of the aisle.
But not sanctions against Russia. What Putin and his cronies did last year was nothing less than an attack on the very core of our democracy. In America, the people have the ultimate power. The people choose their officials.
Even if Trump and many of those around him remain not a little fuzzy on this concept, the Congress sees it clearly. And understands well the need to respond forcefully. (The sanctions are not only for Russia’s election shenanigans, but also because of Putin’s expansionist policies in his own neighborhood.)
San Jose Mercury News: GOP health care reform is a farce, badly acted at that
As usual, President Trump’s remarks were wholly disconnected from reality: “I want to congratulate the American people, because we’re going to give you great health care.”
Really? Is this the version that takes away health insurance from 30 million people, or just 20 million?
Republicans’ attempts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare have nothing to do with improving health care in the United States. Every plan presented has been designed to take away coverage for millions of Americans and send premiums soaring.
The GOP’s intent is, and always has been, to take the money that Obamacare has spent improving the health care of millions of low-income Americans and instead give it to the wealthy in the form of massive tax cuts.
Loveland Reporter-Herald: Believe your local officials about elections
On Monday, a federal court in Washington, D.C., cleared the way for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to seek state voter data that commission members hope to use to answer the question of whether there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election.
We can save them some time. There wasn’t.
In the aftermath of the 2016 election in which President Donald Trump won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton, a very small number of people — starting with Trump himself — have latched onto the idea that the only possible reason Trump could have lost the popular vote is because of fraud. Hence, the creation of a commission to restore “confidence” in the voting system.
Concord Monitor: ‘Mr. Trump really needed to be here’
The seven-year effort to repeal Obamacare has become Republican orthodoxy. Only Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, states where expanded Medicaid has made life better for thousands of constituents, voted against opening debate on a bill that doesn’t yet exist.
The senators who voted “yes” put their boots on the backs of the people in line at the county fairground in Wise. A lack of health care is one of the things keeping them down and out.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act or damaging it more than the constant uncertainty that’s driven insurers out of the market means the people in Wise will have to line up in the sun again next year. They will not get the preventive care that allows them to keep their teeth, see the world clearly, or manage diabetes and other chronic conditions.
Tampa Bay Times: Trump assaults rule of law by attacking attorney general
Sessions may be a member of Trump’s Cabinet. But as attorney general he is not the president’s lawyer but the country’s top law enforcement officer. Trump has shown he has no regard for the independence of his own federal prosecutors or for the integrity of the Russia investigation. Some members of Congress have come to Sessions’ defense, but it’s time the attorney general publicly defend the Justice Department. The president has crossed a line and sent a challenge to the two other branches of government. He needs to be told in no uncertain terms that the law and due process trump loyalty.
Santa Rosa Press-Democrat: President Trump should fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions rather than shame him
The man once known for barking “you’re fired” on network TV seems to lack the fortitude to use the words in earnest, at least as it concerns the head of the Department of Justice. Instead, President Donald Trump appears content with denigrating him in tweets and media interviews, possibly in hopes that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the man known for being the first member of the U.S. Senate to support Trump for president, will step down.
But so far Sessions appears to be standing firm — as he should. If Trump wants Sessions out, he should have the courage to sack him himself rather than resort to the kind of shaming that, in a schoolyard context, would be considered cyberbullying.
San Jose Mercury News: Ban transgender soldiers? Why not just stop covering Viagra?
At stake in the budget squabble was funding for Trump’s increasingly lunatic border wall. (Now it has to be a see-through wall so Americans can look out for 60-lb. packages of drugs being tossed over it from Mexico and hitting people on the head. Really. He said this. Apparently drug cartels have adopted Wile E. Coyote delivery methods.)
By varying estimates there are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender active-duty service members and another 1,500 in the reserves, where medical benefits are more limited. At a time when recruiting is not exactly easy and re-enlistment is a tough sell — with wars of indeterminate purpose and length heating up — can the nation really afford to toss those people away?
Boston Globe: Trump’s cruel, unnecessary transgender ban
What Trump has proposed threatens not only the rights of transgender people — and, in the case of already serving service members, their livelihoods — but the well-being of a country that deserves a military best equipped for the unknown challenges ahead. To demean those who seek to honor this nation by serving in its armed forces is more than spiteful and cruel. It’s un-American.
Ocala Star Banner: Don’t repeal it, try improving it
Trump claimed that failure of the ACA will lead Democrats to negotiate with the Republican leadership. Despite the president’s insistence that neither he nor Republicans in Congress will “own” the failure of Obamacare, they will be blamed, once Americans begin to lose their coverage, for failing to either improve the ACA or replace it with something better.
Stabilize-and-improve should be the immediate goal.
If leaders of Congress, including those in the House of Representatives, which passed a partisan bill worse than the Senate’s, need help conducting bipartisan discussions, they should consult with a group of 11 governors who oppose repeal without replacement and offer guiding principles for legislation.
Syracuse Post-Standard: Don’t fire independent counsel Robert Mueller, Mr. President
Mueller must finish his investigation. Any attempt to short-circuit it will lead the American people to conclude you have something to hide, and are willing to use the power of your office to hide it. They will not abide a president who puts himself above the law. Even a Congress led by the president’s own party would have no choice but to act.
Let Mueller be Mueller, Mr. President.
Who is he? A decorated Marine veteran of Vietnam; FBI director under two presidents, a Republican and a Democrat; architect of the agency’s terror-fighting mission; the man a former Justice Department colleague describes as “utterly incorruptible” and “ramrod straight in his integrity.” This was how he was described upon taking the job and nothing since has occurred to taint that sparkling reputation.
Baltimore Sun: Yet another terrible health care idea from the GOP
Just when you thought Republicans had exhausted the universe of bad ideas for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears poised to pull out yet another loser: the “skinny repeal.” What’s so bizarre about it is that it does nothing to address — and even exacerbates — the aspects of Obamacare that have been driving the effort to repeal and replace the act for the last decade. It is at best a cynical ploy to make conservative voters believe Republicans have followed through with their years of promises to repeal the ACA, and at worst, it’s a sneaky plan to ram through a more radical bill with even less transparency than the GOP has managed so far.
Chicago Sun Times: Squabbling Trump and Sessions team up against LGBTQ people
Trump would like to fire Sessions so that he can appoint a bigger weasel of an attorney general to kill a Justice Department investigation into Russia’s involvement in the presidential election. The two men are not getting along.
But they are bullies of a kind when it comes to beating up on LGBTQ people.
Anniston Star: AG Sessions won’t be the last let down by this president
What a letdown this must be for Sessions, who placed his trust in the president.
Our prediction: Before his term is up, many Trump supporters who believed his outlandish promises on health care that will “take care of everybody,” a huge expansion of domestic manufacturing, Mexico’s willingness to pay for a wall or revival of the coal industry will find themselves in the same spot Sessions is in today.
New Haven Register: Trump betrays American soldiers
The president happened to make his declaration precisely 69 years after President Harry S. Truman abolished racial discrimination in the U.S. Armed Forces. Generations later, it seems remarkable that it took two world wars before a president deemed such bias unacceptable.
But it’s more astonishing that Trump would describe the Armed Forces as “burdened” by any person who puts their life on the line for our nation, and to characterize their service as a “disruption.” Their service not only deserves our respect; it demands it.
These members of our military were ambushed from within. Declaring this policy change via Twitter trivializes their service as well as the office of the president.
Intolerance has no place in a playground, in the workplace or in the armed services. This demonstrates that it has a haven in the White House.
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot: Yet again, Trump takes the low road
The setting for the 2017 spectacle was the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia, a state that voted for Trump in last year’s election. This is, sadly, a relevant footnote.
And that is because Trump, who was not a Scout, gave a nakedly political speech to the tens of thousands of people in attendance.
In it, he lambasted Hillary Clinton and former president Obama. He urged the boys to decry the “fake news” to which he objects. He celebrated his Electoral College victory, ever a favorite topic. And he offered an anecdote that veered dangerously close to lewdness.
None of it was appropriate for the audience or the event. And many people involved in Scouting or linked to the BSA — even those who may be sympathetic or supportive of Trump’s agenda — have rightly criticized the subject matter covered by the president.
Richmond Times-Dispatch: Trump’s Scout speech deserves a badge of dishonor
The organization may be rethinking the standing presidential invitation after Trump’s speech.
It started well enough. At the beginning of the speech, he told the young men that he was going to “put aside all of the policy fights” because “who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts, right?” Not the greatest choice of words — but it seemed somewhat promising.
Things went south quickly as he proceeded to speak of little besides politics and self-praise over the next 38 minutes. He had in front of him prepared remarks on the greatness of Scouting and America and apple pie, but as usual, he couldn’t stay on script. Instead, he rambled on, criticizing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, threatening to fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, bashing the media, and rehashing the 2016 election.
York Dispatch: Can’t pardon Trump’s sins
The absurd implication that an independent investigation can only be conducted by a team that has spent its adult life collectively supporting one party or another is just the latest presidential effort to muddy the waters and plant public doubt. That it can even be suggested is yet another reflection of the astoundingly divided state of American politics.
Talk of pardons and otherwise undermining the probe has surfaced in the immediate wake of word that Mueller is expanding the investigation into Trump’s business dealings. Trump even refused to dismiss the possibility of firing Mueller during a freewheeling interview with the New York Times last week.
Greenfield Recorder: Trump’s EPA fails to protect
Jones, whose tenure spanned Republican and Democratic administrations alike, makes a valid point. Valid, that is, unless Pruitt and his boss have as their agenda a rapid retreat from policies crafted over the EPA’s 47 years to protect and improve the air we breathe, water we drink and food we use to nourish ourselves, our children and the generations of Americans yet to be born.
It seems as if Pruitt and Trump want to change the P-word in EPA from “protection” to “plundering.” We can only hope that Massachusetts Congressional representatives will rally their colleagues to stand in opposition to the assault on protections, and that citizen activists — which is to say, all of us who care about the environment — will make their voices heard.
San Francisco Chronicle: Senate health debate descends into farce
Passing such a measure would have been a travesty. First, to scrap “only” the individual mandate, for example, was to pretend that such unpopular requirements don’t enable the ACA’s popular results, such as the availability of coverage regardless of existing illness. Moreover, the bill would have served as a Trojan Horse allowing a House-Senate conference committee to draft new legislation something like earlier “repeal and replace” bills, which the Senate has been unable to pass for good reasons. And the skinny repeal, which did not even exist as legislation well into the Senate’s second day of debate, endured no public or legislative scrutiny; it was reportedly cooked up over a GOP lunch Thursday. “On the day that the Senate was supposed to vote, the future of American health care may have gotten an overhaul between the salad course and the entree,” said Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Syracuse Post-Standard: What makes a good soldier? A lot more than gender identity
The controversy has had one positive effect: We now know the names and stories of some of the estimated 11,000 transgender military members on active duty and in the reserves. Most people know the name Chelsea Manning. But have you ever heard of Kristin Beck? Before transitioning, she was Christopher Beck, a decorated 20-year veteran of the Navy SEALs, including the elite SEAL Team 6. Beck said any problems with unit cohesion and morale were” a leadership issue, not a transgender issue.”
“Let’s meet face to face and you tell me I’m not worthy,” Beck challenged the president.
We choose Beck’s heralded bravery over the faux bravery of tossing cultural grenades over the Twitter transom any day.
Buch and countless other transgender military members have chosen to serve their country and, possibly, die for their country. Turning them away is a slap in the face.
So, too, is the use of a tweet to make such an announcement and, in this case, it’s also a slap in the face to the military experts that were supposed to be studying the merits of and/or possible mistakes in making a change in the current policy.
Once again, the presidential tweet was anything but presidential, which is a slap in the face of the American people.
Tampa Bay Times: Democracy survives amid chaos, failing presidency
This has been quite a chaotic week in Washington, but there is a silver lining. Despite a president who remains unfit for the office in every way and shows no sign of maturing, our system of government still works. The checks and balances are in good order despite the dysfunction in the White House. This remains a resilient democracy that is demonstrating that even under stress it cannot be broken by a failing, flailing presidency.
Now that the Obamacare repeal has crashed and burned in the U.S. Senate, this is what would happen if we had a president who knew how to govern and a Congress that could work together:
There would be a bipartisan summit to come up with ways to fix and strengthen the Affordable Care Act to slow rising premiums and create more competition in California and across the country.
Unfortunately for all of us, that’s not what we have in Washington, D.C.
Instead, President Donald Trump declared that he wants to “Let Obamacare implode, and then do it,” even though that would devastate millions of Americans, including many who voted for him.
Chicago Tribune: Trump in August: Can his flailing presidency ever deliver results?
Our underlying premise is that he should be judged above all on his policy agenda for the country, which includes spurring economic growth and creating jobs. Where Trump gets himself in the most trouble is when his rash temperament and classless comments distract from important issues and derail political progress. Infighting among aides exacerbates the sense of chaos. On Friday, Trump ousted chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Trump promised to repeal and replace struggling Obamacare with a better health care plan, but he failed to develop a strong working relationship with the Republican-led Congress. His tax plan awaits his attention. He burned political capital on a Mexican wall instead of crafting immigration reform. Allies in Europe and Asia are still not sure they can trust Trump. Perhaps if the president stopped rehashing his victory over Hillary Clinton he’d have more time to think about the future.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Health care too important to be part of Trump’s ‘Game of Thrones’
The president has a predilection for revenge preceded by humiliation. Rather than fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose recusal from the Russian election tampering investigation led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump prefers to insult Sessions, apparently hoping to goad him into resigning.
Instead of firing his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, which he finally did Friday, Trump hired a new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, whose tweets obliquely suggested Priebus was part of a swamp of White House leakers, which must be drained. Palace intrigue is fine for television’s Game of Thrones, but it’s not what America wants or needs in a president.
Akron Beacon-Journal: Trump comes to Youngstown
And yet what is so dismaying about this presidency was on full display during the speech. The president wants respect, but he shows little in return. He makes passing references to one nation, or the idea of unity, yet he appears most equipped to divide.
Consider the ugly passages concerning immigration. No question, the border must be protected, criminals deported and the drug trade fought. As he did as a candidate, the president presented a sweepingly dark portrait, referring to “animals” who “prey on innocent young people,” who “we’ve been protecting for so long,” adding: “They’re not being protected any longer, folks.”
Does that include Jesse Lara, deported last week after living in Willard the past two decades, working, the father of four American children, a respected member of his community? The president allows no room for the sharp increase in deportations under his predecessor or the slowing of illegal immigration in recent years — now a net outflow.
Trump adds to the anxiety with his Twitter anti-diplomacy and naiveté about the geopolitics of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea is clearly on course to be his administration’s first crisis. Disturbingly, his administration has not laid out a clear plan to address it. That could mean another effort at international diplomacy, such as the Six Party talks. A military strike must be the absolute last option.
The nation waits, as the doomsday clock ticks closer to midnight.
South Whidbey Record: Trump’s trans ban is a step back in anti-discrimination
Outlawing slavery, desegregation of the military, civil rights, Don’t ask Don’t tell, allowing transgenders to openly serve in the military — Americans have been fighting discrimination and working toward a society where all people are truly created, and treated, equal for more than 150 years.
This is a step back from those efforts, and truly makes us less.
Cedar Rapids Gazette: Trump should rescind his transgender order
Transgender Americans already are serving and have served their country in our armed forces. Portraying their service as a burden is insulting and misinformed. A RAND Corporation study requested by the Pentagon found allowing transgender people to serve openly would have little effect on health costs and “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness.” Trump’s “tremendous” cost is a fallacy.
Trump’s order appears to be less about military concerns and more about appealing to his social conservative base at a politically challenging moment. Among them are some of the same people who insisted same-sex marriage and other LGBT civil rights victories would spawn dire consequences and societal harms.
Columbus Dispatch: Trump’s tirades are reason for concern
Read what the president said to a cheering crowd: “They don’t want to use guns because it’s too fast and it’s not painful enough. So they’ll take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15, and others, and they slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die. And these are the animals that we’ve been protecting for so long. Well, they’re not being protected any longer, folks.”
Such lurid demagoguery debases the presidency. As for the president’s message of hope for the economically struggling Mahoning Valley, it consisted of broad promises unsupported by any plan or evidence.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: After all the furor, Affordable Care Act still must be fixed
The individual insurance markets must be shorn up by making it possible for insurers to turn a profit selling policies on the ACA’s health exchanges. Until mid-June, when Centene Co. of Clayton announced it would offer ACA policies in 40 Missouri counties next year, 25 counties in western Missouri were facing a barren marketplace.
Congress can’t look to the White House for leadership on this issue, or perhaps any other. Indeed, President Donald Trump has threatened to withhold subsidies for private insurers, which would create the “death spiral” he likes to talk about in his singular drive to deliver a humiliating defeat to his predecessor.
Trump is the one who wound up being humiliated by the resounding defeat in the Senate, which probably weighed heavily in his decision to oust his chief of staff, Reince Priebus.
Newark Star-Ledger: Memo to Trump: The response to attacks on journalism is more journalism
Donald Trump’s attacks on the press have an added desperation of late, which is understandable given the relentless pummeling his administration has taken from the mainstream media over the first 191 days – a daily obsession that seems to float around his head like space debris.
This president already appoints close relatives to key positions, welcomes the subterfuge of foreign adversaries to tamper with elections, uses his office for personal gain, blames minorities for economic anxiety of the majority, celebrates despotism, and smears the press the “enemy of the people.”
But now he has lifted another page out of the autocrat’s handbook, and is using verifiable lies to discredit the New York Times.
Staunton News-Leader: It’s time for Trump voters to look inward
Just in recent days, more revelations about Russian collusion, a rotating cast of back-stabbing White House characters in something that sounds and feels like a NSFW episode of the Sopranos, ousting of the last high-level administration connection to the party the president supposedly represents. Once it was the party of Lincoln, Reagan and Bush. Now it’s the party of The Donald and The Mooch.
Yes, both parties have overreached when given the chance, but the current situation has no parallel. This is not normal. Nor is it healthy. For any of us.
And as the president’s agenda implodes and Congress turns on itself, America suffers at home and abroad.
Wisconsin State Journal: Trump targets loyal troops with tweets
In a series of tweets Wednesday, Trump said he “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” which “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that … would entail.”
But a government report counters those assumptions. Allowing openly transgender people to serve has a “minimal” financial impact, according to a RAND Corp. study. It estimated the additional expense for transgender-related health care and readiness at “between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually” — out of a Pentagon budget of more than $500 billion. And just 29 to 129 active-duty personnel would seek gender transition-related services — out of 1.3 million members.
Trump’s claim that transgender soldiers cause disorder is the same excuse that was used to bar blacks, then women, then gays from serving their country. The American military needs the best people it can recruit and retain, not a discriminatory policy aimed at a tiny minority of patriotic and proven troops.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: GOP hardliners move to whack impartial Congressional Budget Office
The CBO couldn’t have anticipated that the Supreme Court would allow states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, nor that so many people would ignore mandates to buy insurance and opt to pay penalties instead. The CBO admits that its numbers are not precise but points out that its numbers are usually far more accurate than partisan analyses.
This was the perfect fight for the Trump era: When the facts are against you, attack the source, develop alternative facts and hope people don’t notice.