Days 152-158: No, Republicans Don’t Want People to Die…They Just Seem Callously Indifferent to the Short-term Human Cost of Their Anarcho-libertarian Pipe Dreams

rainbows.png

Some of the handful of Republicans I follow on Twitter have been complaining that we liberals are painting them with too broad a brush when we say they actually want millions of people to die. Of course they don’t; Republicans are not evil. They love their children. They love their pets. They just also happen to love small government.

Still, when it comes to the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, GOPers need to reconcile some fundamental contradictions. You can’t believe in releasing health care to the whims of the free market, in forcing poor people to have more ‘skin in the game,’ in letting insurance companies drop costly clients, etc. without acknowledging that many more people will get sick (and some will die). You want the federal government out of healthcare, then you’ve got to own the consequences (even if they are only short-term bumps on the road to your libertarian utopia). Otherwise, you are just doing a version of Trump’s rainbow-out-the-ass-unicorn promise to maintain coverage, protect pre-existing conditions, end the individual mandate, all while reducing premiums and cutting taxes.

And speaking of skin in the game, what the hell kind of ideology of personal responsibility takes away Medicaid from millions of children?

Advertisements

Days 123-151: For Whom the Bellwether Tolls

georgia

Now we know. We are riding a wave of progressive anti-Trump energy big enough to panic the GOP, broad enough to swing votes left from their historical trends in several different states, and deep enough for…bupkis. Clearly the midterms will not be an easy sweep; despite manifestly criminal incompetence of the executive, Republicans still (sometimes begrudgingly) back the president.

It’s Go Time

That being said, the midterms are months away and Senate Republicans have finally agreed to expose their Obamacare repeal bill to the light of day. Details are expected tomorrow, with a CBO score coming early next week–the bill careening toward a vote next Thursday. Given passage, House Republicans would no doubt swallow the new version, thus setting up for an actual enactment of this larcenous shit pile of a law. The Senate version is expected to smooth some of the rough edges from the House version while remaining fundamentally unchanged in its design to extract money from the poor and middle class to provide tax cuts for the rich. The proposed cuts to Medicaid are even more draconian than the house bill, exposing the lie that the repeal has anything at all to do with the socialist horrors of Obamacare’s fines for those unwilling to buy insurance (see also: defunding Planned Parenthood–protests expected).

So what to do? We have a few short days to organize. Call those Dems and encourage them to shut down the process. Call those Republicans and tell them you’ll support their eventual opponent. Call those friends who live in other states. Call your professional organizations. Call your mother (not about Obamacare, just call).

 

Days 111-122(ish): Eyes on the Ball, People

Yes. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, what with Cheeto Mussolini (not my coinage) proving to be just as incompetent at obstruction of justice as he is with keeping state secrets. Lefty-Twitter has also been all abuzz over whether Louise Mensch is a crackpot conspiracy theorist or prophet, as she has been asserting that IMPEACHMENT IS ALREADY UNDERWAY (AND I WILL SUE ANYONE WHO CALLS ME A CRANK OR STEALS MY SCOOPS, BTW).

So, yes, the administration continues to be a clusterfucktastrophe™ and seems more and more likely to bumble its way into impeachment. But from the point of view of policy that affects of the lives of millions of people, we need to keep our eyes on the ball (and not that shiny orb thing, whatever the hell it is). The Senate is still working on a counterpart to the Dickensian AHCA bill proposed by the House. Despite all that performative harrumphing about the House version being DOA in the Senate, the GOP could be planning another stealth operation to gut Obamacare while Americans are busy arguing about whether Trump bowed to the Saudis or merely gave a definitively manly America-First curtsy.

The (dubious?) public comment email address HealthReform@finance.senate.gov is apparently closing after today, but of course you can still call the committee members directly:

McConnell, Mitch, (202) 224-2541

Hatch, Orrin, (202) 224-5251

Alexander, Lamar, (202) 224-4944

Enzi, Michael, (202) 224-3424

Thune, John, (202) 224-2321

Cruz, Ted, (202) 224-5922

Lee, Mike, (202) 224-5444

Cotton, Tom, (202) 224-2353

Gardner, Cory, (202) 224-5941

Barrasso, John, (202) 224-6441

Cornyn, John, (202) 224-2934

Portman, Rob, (202) 224-3353

 

Days 108-110: Tuesday Night Massacre

nixon

You’d think that thirteen dudes deciding the future of American healthcare would be headlining this week, but our master of incompetent distraction has delivered another whopper. The administration is spinning a tale about how Donald The Petulant had been pondering giving Comey the ax since inauguration day, but was pushed over the edge by revelations that the FBI director had misrepresented the gravity of new revelations in the Clinton email investigation. Aside from the improbability of Trump suddenly defending Clinton, the new story line also has Trump getting his undies in a bunch over the weekend, though the revelations about Comey’s misstatements seem to have happened Monday (at least for the rest of us). And speaking of timing, since CNN reported yesterday morning that grand jury subpoenas were expected soon for members of Team Trump and Comey had indicated an expansion of the Russia probe, we could call that a Nixonian coincidence.

Care to share your opinions on this investigation with members of the esteemed Senate? Here’s a list of how they stand on appointment of a special prosecutor, and here are all their office phone numbers (20 or so of which I called today).

Days 105-107: Get Mad, and Get Even

As you know, the GOP’s zombie AHCA bill has risen from the grave again, as it is at present lurching across the rotunda toward the Senate. This profoundly unpopular bill may face an icy reception in the Senate, but it’s nothing we can count on. On the bright side, this ridiculous sham legislation has inspired a flood of donations to liberal/progressive organizations, possibly $2M in the days since the bill passed. I’ve mentioned in the past that some organizations have created systems that allow you to fund the as yet unknown opponents of your favorite AHCA-supporter. For example, SwingLeft has started what they call district funds, allowing donations to be held for the eventual Democratic candidate in a given district. For example, I’ve just donated to the IL-06 fund, which will help defeat Peter Roskam in the 2018 elections. That money may go to Kelly Mazeski, who has just joined what could be a national wave of novice politicians by announcing her candidacy for his seat, but no funding will be awarded until the primary results are in.

Days 101-104: Another Day, Another Repeal Vote

IMG_20170501_163505

House GOP leaders dug up $8 billion to appease moderate republicans concerned about the loss of coverage for preexisting conditions in the AHCA, so they have apparently whipped enough votes to at least bring it to a vote tomorrow. Despite the hat tip to covering those pesky chronic conditions, this version of the bill-that-refuses-to-die is more conservative than the previous version, making it a tough sell in the Senate. Still, a defeat in the House would be more satisfying, perhaps allowing us to think about something else for a while.

Speaking of distractions, how about those violations of the emoluments clause? If only we had some kind of government body to provide a sort of constraint on the behavior of the executive. Slate’s Amicus podcast had a great interview with ethicist Norm Eisen in which he describes in great wonkish detail the many offenses of our kleptocrat-in-chief. It’s worth a listen, and Eisen’s organization (CREW) is worth a look, and you can donate on their site to help with their lawsuits against the president.

Pictured above, a stack of prepaid post cards to bring a little old school flavor to my congressional correspondences. 38 cents each.

Days 99-100: The Reckoning

It’s been a long 100 days. Those first couple weeks made it seem like we might not even make it this long, what with mass protests and daily revelations about cabinet officials and their ties to Russian puppet masters. But it’s amazing what you can get used to. Now it’s another day, another ridiculous tweet, another set of cynical Spicerian fabrications, another wave of outrage–while the few actual executive appointees dutifully grind away at the last protections for the marginalized against predation by the privileged.

We have learned a few things I think. First, the incompetence has been a kind of blessing. Think of where we’d be if the White House were not full of backbiting half-wits thrown together merely  through their pledge of fealty to an illiterate narcissist. The ideological incoherence has also helped. Imagine if the right-wing nationalism had not been self-sabotaged by Bannon’s anarcho-nihilism. It could have been a lot worse (and it may still be). Yes, having a distractible toddler in our highest office is often frightening, but that lack of focus also means we are still part of NATO, there’s no trade war with China and Seoul is not a nuclear ash heap (for now).

We’ve also definitely learned some things about the current state of our democracy. We’ve seen that when a president is forced by a partisan congress to legislate through executive action, much of that legacy can be quickly unraveled by the next administration. We’ve learned that basic standards of political discourse and practice can be flauted, and yet the central checks and balances continue to function.

I hope we’ve also learned to avoid reductionist dismissals of those who voted for this flimflam man. Was it racism, or economic insecurity, or sexism, or Fox News, or social marginalization or rebellion against the condescending finger wagging of coastal elites? Yes. It was all of these things. And while many liberals bristle at the idea of having any sympathy for the people who got us into this mess, we now know that a lot of damage can be done while we write off fly-over country and reassure ourselves that we are ultimately on the right side of history.

Days 96-98: Hiding in Plain Sight

TM

You’ll remember a recent post in which I talked about how you might or might not defend yourself against ISPs selling your browsing history. As I mentioned, VPNs can protect you against ISP snooping, but you are still required to trust your VPN provider instead. Rather than blocking or encrypting your secret browsing habits, another approach is to bury it in a flood of nonspecific activity. This privacy by obfuscation approach was recently profiled in a good episode of Reply All. There’s a browser plugin that runs random searches in the background, and another that clicks all the ads on any page you are viewing (apparently banned from Chrome). Finally, another app can ping random URLs for you (though that one is not particularly user-friendly).

Day 95: Once Upon a Time There Was a Great Country, a Beautiful Country, a Huge Country

And then a horrid man with little interest in the well-being of his fellow citizens snatched the reins of power.  He surrounded himself with odious and misshapen creatures and half-listened to their mewing advice.  The task in front of him was huge, it would take monumental focus and energy.  But then whoever said that bringing a great and proud nation to its knees would be easy?  First things first, truth in all of its one shade would have to be challenged daily, hourly, insistently.  Alternative facts would have to be created, Diogenes’ lamp would have to be shattered, and attempts must be made to cow those who purport to report events in a accurate manner.  Next distrust and, if possible, hate for ones neighbors must be instilled in the population.  The quaint notion that all residents of a nation share a certain je ne sai quoi and therefore a fraternity must be quashed.  The populace must understand that some people (and animals) are more equal than others.  The next step is economic mayhem and following that is the invasion of anther country to further deplete a nation’s treasury.

“Did this really happen?” one might ask.  The author apologizes if he has misled the reader by starting this off with “once upon a time …”, but, alas, yes this did happen.  Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980 in what was known as “the breadbasket of Africa”, the Republic of Zimbabwe.  1980 to 2017 is thirty-seven years.  For thirty-seven years Mugabe has managed to stay in power by bringing the breadbasket of Africa down to the beggars basket of Africa.  He had great success in his attempts to muzzle the press. He sowed seeds of hate between the Shona and Ndebele resulting in “gukurahundi” or acts of ethnic cleansing.  He created economic mayhem by a ham handed handing over of flourishing farm land to those with little experience farming.  By all means, those who had been forced to the least arable land while the country was known as Rhodesia surely had claim to some of the better land but a period of transition might have prevented decades of food shortages.  Last but not least Mugabe sought to really set back his country but getting involved in the Second Congo War.

A real textbook example of how to create a failed state.  It has happened elsewhere in various forms and could certainly happen again.  This is why we resist and must continue to resist for all 1461 days that any Mugabe Doppelganger might be in power.

Days 91-94: In for the Long Haul?

With the 100-day milestone approaching, the incompetence and malevolence of this regime are both manifest on a daily basis. Still, many of the civil/constitutional institutions that are meant to check the power of a rogue presidency seem to be working reasonably well, even as the vile villains continue to bumble their way into doing serious damage.

For me personally, the concern/outrage continues, but the bastards have worn me down. It’s hard to find the energy to write these posts and also do some actual concrete resistance every day. Not coincidentally, readership has also fallen off, possibly indicating a similar enervation in the movement as a whole, or simply exhaustion with my writing in particular.

What should we do to get the momentum back? Are there readers out there who would like to contribute posts here?