Quick Takes: Trump and a Post-Truth Presidency

* James Fallows recounts a conversation he had on The Diane Rehm Show about how to deal with Trump lies.

You can listen to the whole segment here, but I direct your attention to the part starting at time 14:40. That is when Scottie Nell Hughes, Trump stalwart, joins the show to assert that “this is all a matter of opinion” and “there are no such things as facts.”

* Jeet Heer suggests that, when it comes to Donald Trump, the lying is a feature, not a bug.

This analysis [that Trump should be more careful about making wild accusations] assumes that Trump wants to govern like a normal president, so that if he’s caught in untruths, he’ll face a credibility gap like the one that plagued Lyndon Johnson. What it fails to entertain is the possibility that Trump’s lies aren’t just incidental to his approach to politics but essential to it, that the president-elect sees lying as the source of his authority rather than as something that undermines it.

To be able to constantly lie and get people to accept contrary statements is, after all, an assertion of power. And it’s a type of power Trump understands all too well.

* As a result, it becomes impossible to have reasonable discussions. Instead, you get this:

* Jesse Singal points out that Trump’s nominee to be Sec. of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, is a member of a group called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Here is a bit about them from an article by Stephanie Mencimer:

[D]espite the lab coats and the official-sounding name, the docs of the AAPS are hardly part of mainstream medical society. Think Glenn Beck with an MD. The group (which did not return calls for comment for this story) has been around since 1943. Some of its former leaders were John Birchers, and its political philosophy comes straight out of Ayn Rand. Its general counsel is Andrew Schlafly, son of the legendary conservative activist Phyllis. The AAPS statement of principles declares that it is “evil” and “immoral” for physicians to participate in Medicare and Medicaid, and its journal is a repository for quackery. Its website features claims that tobacco taxes harm public health and electronic medical records are a form of “data control” like that employed by the East German secret police. An article on the AAPS website speculated that Barack Obama may have won the presidency by hypnotizing voters, especially cohorts known to be susceptible to “neurolinguistic programming”—that is, according to the writer, young people, educated people, and possibly Jews.

* It looks like a few Republican Senators are trying to clip Paul Ryan’s wings when it comes to his plan to move forward on privatizing Medicare.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, was blunt about the outlook for a major Medicare overhaul.

“I think we should leave Medicare for another day,” he said. “Medicare has solvency problems. We need to address those, but trying to do that at the same time we deal with Obamacare falls in the category of biting off more than we can chew.”…

Most Senate Republicans agreed that there was still a lot of work to do on Obamacare before the topic of Medicare changes could even come up in the Senate.

“I’m all for a kind of step-by-step approach, so let’s do one thing at a time,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told TPM. “A step-by-step approach makes a whole lot more sense as opposed to something big and comprehensive. We don’t do big, comprehensive very well here in Washington, D.C.”…

“It’s just too much to bite off,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told TPM. He added that he thought Ryan’s plan was “worthy of consideration,” but that ultimately any changes to Medicare should be considered in a bipartisan manner.

* Every year a group called 24/7 Wall Street ranks the 50 states in terms of “the best to live in.” Here are the top and bottom five. Tell me if you see a pattern.

Top Five:

1. Massachusetts
2. Connecticut
3. New Hampshire
4. Minnesota
5. New Jersey

Bottom Five:

45. Alabama
47. Arkansas
48. Louisiana
49. West Virginia
50. Mississippi

* Finally, this is World AIDS Day. That reminds me of one small silver lining to the outcome of the presidential election: the Clinton Foundation can continue to do work like this:

When the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) was founded in 2002, only 200,000 people were receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS in low and middle income countries, with medicines that cost over $10,000 per person per year. Over a decade later, more than eight million people are receiving treatment and CHAI has helped reduce the cost of medicines to around $100 to $200 per person per year in many countries…For the first time, there is real promise that we can turn the tide against HIV/AIDS.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.