Republicans rising

In recent weeks, Tweety has made something of a point of complaining that a simple majority of 51  senators is not enough to enact his agenda, and that the filibuster rule, which generally works to require 60 votes, needs to go.

fili

Like everything else that flies out of his Twitter, he got these ideas from watching “Fox & Friends”, where people like Sean Duffy, Republican representative from Wisconsin, are putting it forward.

duffy

For the moment, we have seen that even abandoning the filibuster rule wouldn’t be enough, as only 48 Republicans voted for repeal of the A.C.A., but you can be assured that the Republicans will do whatever they feel they need to, rules and tradition and bi-partisanship be damned, as was shown in the case of the Gorsuch vote (Tweety’s only “accomplishment” to date).

But they may not have to change the rules. Republican voters may give them what they need to get over 60 senators. Duffy pointed out that, since the passage of the A.C.A seven years ago, Republicans have gained “1000 seats” nationwide.  Politifact confirms the truth of this scary fact.

The big gains are mainly in state legislatures. Ballotpedia notes that the Republican Party held more seats in 82 of 99 state legislative chambers (82.3 percent) in January 2017 than it did in January 2009.

“During President Barack Obama’s two terms in office, Democrats experienced a net loss of 968 state legislative seats, the largest net loss of state legislative seats in this category since World War II. The second-largest loss occurred following Dwight D. Eisenhower’s two terms in office, when Republicans were handed a net loss of 843 state legislative seats.

In addition, Democrats have lost  their majority of seats in the Senate, as well as over 60 seats in the House. And 12 governorships, too.

I don’t know whether six months of Trump has done anything to stem this rising tide, but I doubt it. The “Lock Her Up – No Regerts” crowd is still firmly behind their man as far as I can tell, even while the reality-based voters are more and more sickened by the incompetence, recklessness, greed, vulgarity, mendacity, and willful ignorance of the current administration.

This article sums up our feelings well, but until it appears somewhere other than the eastern elite lying fake media, it just doesn’t matter.

fear

 

Advertisements

Please be advised…

We are apparently now living under a new form of government, the name for which is yet to be coined. It has major elements in common with “kakistocracy”, “kleptocracy”, and “plutocracy”, but none of those terms describe it precisely. “Idiocracy” doesn’t quite get the essence of it either. Neither does “dictatorship”, at least not yet.

But the ground is shifting beneath us daily, and could tilt more completely to any of these designations at any time. And then shift and veer more towards another, or something totally different the following day. I’m leaning towards “Twitterocracy” as the most accurate for now, given recent events.

Two quick examples from just yesterday make good indicators of this new paradigm.

The first is the President of the United States, using his own internet account, and with no consultation with anyone else, impulsively “Tweeting” an attack on a U.S. Senator in his own party, for casting a vote that he disapproves of.

lisa

This is an insidious change in our national discourse. Murkowski, and every other congressperson, is not an employee of the president, and not appointed by him. Each member of the legislature is part of an institution meant to exercise power equal to that of the presidency. Like all representatives, Murkowski was chosen by the people at home, and directed to vote their conscience and her own, which she has done. In choosing to attack someone this way, Tweety is talking directly to those who elected Murkowski, using the bully pulpit to undermine her.

He is also playing with fire, as there will certainly be someone back home who will now regard Murkowski as “the enemy” who lets the country down. And, since the normal way of doing things is clearly obsolete, that person may not bother waiting for the next election to express his displeasure. What I am saying is that Tweety is recklessly inciting the mob here, and there may be tragic consequences, which of course Tweety will deny responsibility for.

And he’s choosing to attack an ally, a member of his own party, and someone whose support he will certainly need going forward! His idea is to bypass the usual methods of persuasion, like calling her on the phone, or inviting her to lunch, or asking the Majority Leader to give her a message from him, or a million other more civilized options that historical protocol offers. Or simply accepting that she voted her conscience and that this is how our system works. Instead, he has decided that bullying works best. For him.

If Mitch McConnell were actually a leader in any sense of the word, this is where he would draw the line. He would tell Tweety, publicly and sternly, to lay off members of his caucus and to do his own job and let the Senators do theirs. But he is not a leader.

All this comes after days of Tweety similarly attacking his own Attorney General, someone he hand picked for his loyalty and seemingly blind support just months ago. Attacking Jeff Sessions as “weak”, etc., is also unprecedented, not to say nutty, just like so many things Tweety has done. I’m tempted to say “everything” he has done, actually, as I’m having trouble thinking of a single example of Tweety observing presidential protocol or tradition. At least, in this case, the A.G. is someone he appointed, not someone elected by others. But that in no way justifies this method of showing displeasure.

Tweety has had many, many opportunities to talk to Sessions face-to-face about his complaints, as they were both in the same building at the same time on several occasions. But Tweety was holed up in “his private residence”, apparently in a FoxNews-induced trance. He chose to shame and humiliate and antagonize Sessions publicly instead. Sessions, it turns out, isn’t even on Twitter, so not only wasn’t the barrage meant for his ears only, it wasn’t meant for his ears at all. At least not directly.  WTF?

The second example is Tweety “deciding” that transgender people are no longer welcome in the military. He woke up in the morning, “consulted with his generals”, picked up his Twitter, and blasted away.

trans

“Please be advised…? Thank you.” That’s it? That’s all it takes now to disrupt the lives of thousands? That’s all it takes to change policy? No bills passed in congress after a spirited debate? Not even an Executive Order? Just 140 characters randomly blasted out to the world?

“Please be advised…”?

What’s next?

“Please be advised that from today forward, you will drive on the left hand side of the road. Thank you.”

“Please be advised that vegetables will no longer be allowed in grocery stores. Thank you.”

“Please be advised that your existing plumbing systems may no longer be used. If you choose to use water, you may purchase approved brands only. Thank you.”

water

Folks, we’re in uncharted territory here. I don’t know if this form of government has a name yet. Any suggestions?

McCain’s parrot

There have really been only two Republicans in the U.S. Senate that have been openly critical of Tweety to any real extent: Lindsey Graham and John McCain, and their criticism has been generally dismissed as mainly sour grapes from presidential wannabes.

Yesterday, McCain got out of bed, where he had been recovering from recent brain surgery, to come to Washington to cast his crucial vote to open discussion on repealing the A.C.A. He gave a good speech in which he said that Senators should ignore the internet, talk radio, etc., because those people really aren’t concerned with getting anything done for the American people, and that the Senate needs to finally get to work and accomplish some things, because they haven’t been doing their job.

It would have been great if McCain had seized that moment to vote against further discussion of repeal, and made his speech about how it was time to work together with Democrats to fix the problems in the current law.

He didn’t do that for the same reason that no Republican will get off this crazy hobby horse and stop trying to pass something that only 12% of the American people approve of: he would immediately get “Koch”ed in the next primary, i.e. face a hand-picked, well-financed challenger who will rigidly toe the Koch line.

It’s not clear why that would matter to McCain at this juncture, given his health and age, but it’s probably that no one wants their legacy tarnished at the end of their career by a campaign of vitriol, bitterness and accusations against him, which is actually already well under way in McCain’s case. Its spearhead is Kelli Ward.

Kelli Ward was beaten soundly by McCain in the 2016 Republican senate primary in Arizona, and is now running against incumbent Jeff Flake for the other senate seat.

She’s a real piece of work. After McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer and before his surgery, she said that “the medical reality of his diagnosis is grim,” and he should step down and have her take his place. She sounds a lot like Trump when she speaks – lots of bragging, hyperbole, and distortion, as well as liberally quoting “some people”:

“You know, he outspent me nearly 10 to 1. He has a super PAC called Grassroots Action PAC spent over 10 million dollars seeking to destroy my character, my reputation, and my political future.

“However, I have emerged from those ashes much stronger and really I am beating the pants off of Jeff Flake already. You know, some people told me that Jeff Flake would do well to encourage the governor to appoint me because that would take the pressure off of him.”

ward

Note the flag pin. See, that means she loves America. Unlike McCain, who never wore one and therefore does not love America. Earlier this year, she said McCain is too old and will likely die on the job. When McCain got his diagnosis, she ramped it up:

“Senator McCain has an aggressive brain cancer that is both devastating and debilitating. When the time comes that Senator McCain can no longer perform his duties in the Senate at full capacity, he owes it to the people of Arizona to step aside” 

Ward continued, saying that if McCain does leave office, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey would be required to appoint a replacement senator to serve until the 2018 midterm election. When asked if her name was being considered as a replacement, Ward responded: “I certainly hope so.”

“Because, you know, I have a proven track record from years in the state Senate of being extremely effective and of listening to the voice of the people that I represent,” she said.

I don’t really know why, but this ugliness, self-regard, entitlement, and greed reminds me of that scene in “Zorba the Greek” where the bouboulina is sick and being tended to by Zorba. The envious old women of the village get wind that the “foreigner is dying”. They swoop in to her apartment like starving ravens and start grabbing at everything they see – clothes, drapes, jewelry, plates. Everything. And she’s not dead! She’s right there on the bed looking at them.

By the time she does die, there is nothing left of her things. Her lifetime of accumulated mementos and treasures – her legacy – has vanished before her body is cold. Only the parrot survives to give voice to what she was.

zorba

Healthcare in the good old days

Ron Johnson, Republican Senator from Wisconsin, pointed out the other day that,

“In the ‘40s, 68 cents of every health care dollar was actually paid for by the patient. Today it’s only 11 cents. So nobody cares really what they pay for anything, which is why costs run out of control.”

He was saying that we’ve become a nation of self-entitled sissies that needs to straighten up and take some personal responsibility, because Obamacare is ruining everything. (I’m paraphrasing here. Liberally, if you’ll pardon the pun).

But hearing his argument took me aback a little, until I started to reflect on what a specious, dishonest load of bull it really is. He’s getting his facts from this 46-year-old report, and, yes, they’re basically correct. But it’s not the whole story.

First, let me say that the 1940’s were not the good old days, especially if you weren’t a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, and no one should be pining for them. But I’ll just confine today’s discussion to health-related things.

We didn’t know much about a lot of things back then, e.g. that if you worked in a watch factory making radium dials, you shouldn’t be painting your nails with the stuff for smiles. This picture is from a book review of, “The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women. The tagline is, “they literally glowed from their work- and then it started killing them.”

radium

Want to lose weight and have more energy? Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette!

Little kids played with the liquid mercury they took from old thermometers – so much fun! DDT was sprayed on everything until Rachel Carson started pointing out a few problems with it in the 1950’s.

Kids routinely suffered through all the childhood diseases back then, before immunologists figured out how to prevent them.

“Female troubles”? You’re in luck.

ultrasound

And you just might get polio and live the rest of your life with a serious disability, like President Franklin D. Roosevelt did. Or like Mitch McConnell.

In the 1940’s the life expectancy at birth for a man was 60 years. Now it’s 79.

Health care costs more today because we’ve made a lot of advances, and technology isn’t cheap. Think about all the stuff they can do for you today that didn’t exist back then: C/T scans, laser surgery, organ transplants. The list goes on and on. In those good old days, your GP came to your house if you were sick, and you didn’t have a lot of access to specialists.

The question boils down to whether we care about the health of our citizens as much as every other industrialized and “civilized” country on the planet. Or do we want a country where your health, good or bad, is an opportunity for an insurance or pharmaceutical CEO to pay himself even more obscenely.

To Ron Johnson, I would say: Why stop at the 1940’s if we’re looking for the ideal period in health care history?  Let’s go back to those glorious days of our nation’s beginnings, in the 1790’s. What did the founding fathers think? Back then, you were expected to pay 100% of your own “health care”.  None of this namby-pamby 11% nonsense. Freedom! You were a real American – self-sufficient, proud and strong.

And sick. If you had appendicitis, you were a goner. Toothache? Let me get my pliers out. Off your feed? Got some fresh leeches right here to give you a nice, healthy bleed.

But if we know one thing about Republican Senators, it’s that they practice what they preach. To prove it, the GOML Investigative Reporting Team has been able to acquire an actual photo of the contents of Ron Johnson’s medicine chest, and we now have evidence that he is NOT a hypocrite and he loves the Good Old Days.

snake

 

Tweety wants an “accomplishment”

Your president has changed his message so many times on Obamacare, it’s hard to keep it all straight. He’s veered wildly from asserting he had a “beautiful” health plan ready to go, saying that Obamacare should be replaced with a Republican alternative, saying it should be repealed first and replaced within hours or days, and so on. But, really, what difference does it  make? Don’t burn any calories trying to decipher today’s “message”, because it will certainly change by the time you’ve done it.

But, for the record, here’s Tweety’s current wisdom:

repeal

Tweety wants to accomplish something, anything at all, really,  to add to his non-existent list of already-accomplished accomplishments.

The phrasing is kind of odd, though, suggesting “Republicans should…”. Shouldn’t that be “We should…” or “”We Republicans”? I suppose this is what happens when you only give yourself 140 characters to enunciate policy and couldn’t be bothered about working with legislators to understand the details of what you’re offering.

Or maybe it’s just another way to distance yourself from those losing losers who will be blamed for not delivering on the “promise” that swept them all into office.

Remember? They all promised to take away health insurance from the tens of millions who were able to acquire it after the A.C.A. was passed seven years ago (oh, and cut taxes for rich people who don’t have to worry about coverage). And all their ecstatic constituents waved their flags and chanted “lock her up” at the prospect. So much winning.

sick

Problem is, many of those same constituents have started to rub the pixie-dust from their eyes and have woken up to the reality of what’s about to happen, even though Mitch McConnell did his best to ram the whole scam into law without anyone knowing what they were voting for, even his fellow senators.

According to this Failing New York Times piece, entitled Old Truth Trips Up G.O.P. on Health Law: A Benefit Is Hard to Retract , Susan Collins, Republican (in name only) from Maine,

“said she was besieged by constituents who urged her to oppose the Republican plan: a conservative Republican who was worried about the impact on her grandson, who has cystic fibrosis; a small-business owner in a town where the hospital depends on Medicaid for more than 60 percent of its revenues and is the second-largest employer; a working single mother and her 9-year-old daughter who, for the first time in the girl’s life, were both able to get affordable insurance.”

Interestingly, most of the Republican opposition in the Senate is not of the Collins variety, though. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas, are opposing the bill because it’s still too “generous”. They want not only to repeal Obamacare, but completely gut Medicaid as well.

For the moment, the repeal effort is dead and Tweety will have to accomplish something else instead. On the plus side, he’s doing very well in the polls. His approval rating dropped to a record low 36%, but he noted that that’s almost 40%! Not too bad!

polls.JPG

Tweety, you’re the best and no one can deny it. Everyone loves you.

 

Repeal and Replace

For seven years, Republicans have been howling about Obamacare. They’ve never stopped suing, appealing, and trying to weaken and overturn it for one second during that time. In all that time, they’ve never offered a better plan.

They’ve said it’s a job-killer, that it raises healthcare premiums, that it puts the government between you and your doctor. They’ve said it means you’ll have to stand before death-panels of government bureaucrats who will determine if you live or die. And worst of all, it has the name “Obama” right in it!

Meanwhile, tens of millions of people have health insurance with Obamacare that didn’t have it before.

It was only after the election that gave them control of both houses of congress and the presidency, that the Republicans added “Replace” to their promise to “Repeal”. Before that, it was just get rid of the A.C.A. and let the devil take the hindmost. And it was easier to stand on the sidelines and criticize than attempt to provide something useful to the American people, especially since the health care coverage of congress-people was assured in any case.

When they finally got the power to “Repeal” Obamacare, they realized they’d better come up with something to “Replace” it with after all. Otherwise their hypocrisy and blind obstructionism would be revealed for what it was.

What’s the biggest problem Republicans have claimed to have with Obamacare? The “Individual Mandate”, meaning it forces people to buy health insurance whether they want to or not. This was bad, because, you know, Freedom!

I’m going to leave aside the argument that the health of any individual affects the health of all. You may have the “freedom” to reject vaccines for contagious disease, but when you raise your own chance of getting them, you raise mine, too. And if you go uninsured to the Emergency Room for your care, well, you’re costing all of us anyway.

For the moment, I’ll just stay on the “evil” of asking you to pay for something you think you don’t need. In fact there are similar mandates all over the place that everyone accepts without complaint. It’s all part of a little thing we like to call “society”.

You can’t buy a car without buying car insurance. You have to pay into the Social Security system whether you want to or not. Your income tax is a “mandate”, forcing you to support all manner of things you object to, from military adventurism to plush benefits for those in congress, including a health care program better than any you’ll ever have. You have to pay property or other taxes to pay for schools whether you have kids or not, and a fire department even if you never have a fire. This list goes on and on – life is absolutely chock-a-block with Individual Mandates.

Republicans know full well that their objection to the “Individual Mandate” is a red herring, What they actually object to is any government program that supports people other than their own greedy selves.

Obamacare is paid for with a 3.8% tax surcharge on individual income over $125,000, thereby creating the dreaded “transferring of wealth”. Call me a communist, but it wouldn’t kill them to transfer a little wealth back to the have-nots after decades of the actual transfer going their way – creating the greatest disparity between rich and poor we’ve ever had and decimating the ranks of what used to be known as the “middle class”.

The problem now is that any effort to “Replace” will have the same effect. And, of course, there’s also the problem that their constituents don’t want to lose health coverage and don’t really want to see others lose it either.

So why insist on this pointless cruelty, when even the man-baby called their ideas “mean”?

Finally we come to the bottom of it all. The reason they keep going with this craziness is that they’ll lose their jobs if they don’t continue with their absurd crusade. The Kochs will see to it. 

Do you think Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is the cause of all the problems we have in this country? Think again.

kochs

What’s with all the Pelosi hate?

In the aftermath of the most recent Democratic Party failure, the defeat of Jon Ossoff in the special election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district seat, I’ve seen approximately 10 zillion articles explaining the result as a repudiation of Nancy Pelosi.

The winner, Karen Handel had campaigned heavily on the made-up notion that Ossoff was a Pelosi admirer and therefore must be defeated. Here is an “explanation” piece about the Georgia election entitled “Nancy Pelosi is not where we need to go”, that says, in part,

Nancy Pelosi is not where we need to go. She’s failed leadership. While she might be doing some great things in her district, the truth is she’s the person who’s been leading this front that we’ve been running on for years, so she has to go as leadership.

What she’s doing isn’t working. She’s the leadership, it’s failed and, ultimately, it’s her responsibility.

Her name alone is apparently some sort of dog whistle about what’s wrong.

What’s going on? Maybe it’s because I don’t follow politics as closely as I should, but I am completely unaware of the damage Pelosi is doing and has done to America that makes her so radioactive. I mean, I get it, she’s the Minority Leader in the House, so she’s perhaps the most “powerful” Democrat left standing at the moment, but is that it?

Obama and Hillary are out of the picture (though Trump is still campaigning against both of them), so, um, we have to pretend Nancy Pelosi is the devil?

As far as I can make out, the knock on Pelosi is that she is from San Francisco, and that’s enough. That makes her “cosmopolitan” and not really “American”, a member of the 1% not like the rest of us, and someone who is heavily immersed in the “culture” that San Francisco represents, i.e. “progressive”.  She therefore is the poster-child for Everything That’s Wrong With America.

The comments section of the piece linked above has many mentions of Pelosi. All agree that she is the problem, but they’re all over the map about why. This one explains she’s not strong enough:

Time to face the facts, the Democrats are all but uselessly ineffective. They don’t have the machine, the rigged districts not the balls to deal with the GOP. It’s like watching a Girl Scout go up against The Hell’s Angels. Is it lack of guts, naivte, or just ineptness? Whatever it is, they can’t save us from even the likes of trump. An inconsequential bunch of flower children unable to stand up to real force. Step one, get some spokespersons. Nancy Pelosi may well be a brilliant strategist or diligent soldier but she is not the bulldog we need to hear from. Reserved and well spoken work best when the enemy knows you can actually bring something, other than shaming words, to the fight. They don’t see it. Take the gloves off or just go home, we don’t need anymore of your empty kumbaya pleading. It’s a knife fight, get up, get ready and go to battle!

While this one says she has the wrong focus:

I agree that Ms. Pelosi has to go. She is too closely aligned with Identity politics that panders (not addresses) to every minority concern. We as a nation must begin to break free of identifying ourselves as Liberals or Conservatives.

They don’t agree on why Nancy Pelosi is the problem, but they agree that she is.  And from the Republican point of view, Nancy Pelosi is the gift that keeps on giving. 

I really don’t get it, which, I guess, is why Trump is president and so many of us are wondering how it could happen.