Links for 05-27-17

Paul Krugman: It’s All About Trump’s Contempt

"The mother of all sucker punches":

It’s All About Trump’s Contempt, by Paul Krugman, NY Times: For journalists covering domestic policy, this past week poses some hard choices. Should we focus on the Trump budget’s fraudulence — not only does it invoke $2 trillion in phony savings, it counts them twice — or on its cruelty? Or should we talk instead about the Congressional Budget Office assessment of Trumpcare, which would be devastating for older, poorer and sicker Americans?

There is, however, a unifying theme to all these developments. And that theme is contempt — Donald Trump’s contempt for the voters who put him in office. … He is … betting that he can break every promise he made to the working-class voters who put him over the top, and still keep their support. Can he win that bet?

When it comes to phony budget math — remember his claims that he would pay off the national debt? — he probably can. …

The bigger question is whether someone who ran as a populist, who promised not to cut Social Security or Medicaid, who assured voters that everyone would have health insurance, can keep his working-class support while pursuing an agenda so anti-populist it takes your breath away. …

So what did [Trump voters] think they were voting for? Partly,… they … believed that he was a different kind of Republican. Maybe he would take benefits away from Those People, but he would protect the programs white working-class voters … depend on.

What they got instead was the mother of all sucker punches.

Trumpcare, the budget office tells us, would cause 23 million people to lose health insurance, largely through cuts to Medicaid… It would also lead to soaring premiums — we’re talking increases on the order of 800 percent — for older Americans whose incomes are low but not low enough to qualify for Medicaid. That describes a lot of Trump voters. Then we need to add in the Trump budget, which calls for further drastic cuts in Medicaid, plus large cuts in food stamps and in disability payments. …

So many of the people who voted for Donald Trump were the victims of an epic scam by a man who has built his life around scamming. …

Will they ever realize this, and admit it to themselves? More important, will they be prepared to punish him the only way they can — by voting for Democrats?

Links for 05-26-17

More women are being put behind bars. Fewer should be

ONE of Mexico’s newest prisons allows inmates to receive a conjugal visit every week. The rooms set aside for these visits at Coatlán del Río have clean beds, showers and toilets. Any married inmate can use them, as can same-sex couples, if they tied the knot in a Mexican state where gay marriage is allowed.

Alas, the conjugal rooms are barely used. This is a women’s prison and their menfolk are a bit unreliable. “Women in prison are often abandoned,” says an experienced guard at the prison. Of the 1,400 inmates, how many receive regular conjugal visits? “Only one,” she sighs. Another inmate was sentenced for smuggling drugs to her husband in a different jail. He was released and promptly found another woman, says the guard.

Serious criminals are nearly all male, which is why less than 10% of the world’s prisoners are women. But the number of female prisoners has soared by 50% since 2000. This is worrying. Women in prison are far less likely than men to…

Too many prisons make bad people worse. There is a better way

“DO YOU want a coffee?” It is a chilly morning on the ferry to Bastoy, an island prison in Norway. Two burly ferrymen greet a visiting journalist with a hot drink. Asked if they work for a local ferry company, they reply: “No, we are prisoners.” One is serving 14 years for attempted murder. The other, nine years for “drugs and violence”. The ferry is moored and there is no one around. Either man could easily make a run for it. But neither does. Hardly anyone tries to escape from Bastoy.

It has been called the “world’s nicest prison”, but this misses the point. The rooms are pleasant enough. The inmates can wander where they like on the island, go cross-country skiing in the winter and fish in the summer. So long as they keep it tidy they can enjoy the beach (see picture). Yet what is most unusual about Bastoy is not that it treats prisoners like human beings, but that it treats them like adults.

Prisons in other parts of the world try to stop inmates from laying hands…

Links for 05-25-17