Tuesday, June 27, 2017

In Honor Of Pride Day: A Compendium Of Mike Pence Memes

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-by Noah

As I write this, today is Pride Day. By the time you read this, it will be over, however, that does not mean we shouldn’t spend some of our time reflecting on what it says about America that a vile, hate-filled homophobe named Mike Pence is our Vice President and 69 Million Republicans endorsed him and his severely mentally ill boss with their votes.

Here In New York, where I live, there’s one helluva large parade in support of the LGBTQ community. The parade began in 1970 as a way to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the Stonewall Inn rioting which galvanized the gay rights movement.


The parade is now the focal point of a whole week of gay pride and gay rights and heritage events. And, you don’t have to be non-hetero in any way, shape, or form to join in. I’m pretty sure that Mike Pence was nowhere to be found.


I even woke up this warm, muggy Sunday morning thinking of Pence. I know that’s a horrible way to start the day, but, it is what it is. So, instantly thinking what little thing a rapidly aging senior like myself could do about Pence, I made up a list… and chose one of the legal things.


As might be expected of me, I chose derision and snark, proudly. They are weapons that come naturally to me. I feel that one little thing we can all do for America is heap as much mockery and derision upon enemies of humanity as we possibly can. I do it in hopes of at least waking a few people up. The only other thing we have is the ballot box but that’s a ways off and I’m sure Putin is no friend of the LGBTQ community.


Since Mike Pence has such a virulent phobia in regards to so many of our fellow citizens, what better way to, as I say, legally, deal with such a malformed, horrid little man, a man who is the nation’s foremost supporter of torturing gay people with his Republican Party-endorsed sadistic dream of “gay-conversion therapy,” a man who soils the ground with every step he takes, a man who, because of that, was chosen for the VP slot by the orange fascist himself. Republicans have a very narrow idea of what a man or woman is after all.


When it came to choosing Pence and what he stands for, the Republican Party could not have stooped any lower but that’s who and what they are. Even now, in 2017, well into the 21st century, President Trump and his trusty sidekick are even being so petty as to “consider”, as apart of a review of the status of national monuments named in the last 21 years, particularly those named under President Obama, an effort to remove the landmark status of New York’s Stonewall Inn, a powerful symbol regarded as the flashpoint of the gay rights movement. Such a heinous act would be yet another in the endless expressions of hate for LGBTQ folks by Republicans. It would be no different than a political party (present or future) removing the cracked Liberty Bell from its display in Philadelphia and finishing the job, then melting down the pieces.


In the case of The Stonewall Inn, nothing should surprise us, not even Trump ending buying the property, tearing it down, and erecting another one of his gold-topped penis-compensating towers. But, I digress…

So, here’s to you, Mike Pence. It’s not giving you a dose of your own “medicine” but it will have to do. Not all of the memes below deal with your hate for gays but you have sooo many issues. Since there is so much speculation about you being a serious closet case yourself, I’ve even included a meme with a fictional quote about you and your own personal home “gay-conversion” machine. It is fictional, isn’t it?



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Is TrumpCare Toxic Enough To Help Tom Guild Win The Oklahoma City Congressional Seat?

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One of the states the DCCC isn’t looking at at all for 2018 is red, red Oklahoma. Trump won there, overwhelmingly 949,136 (65.3%) to 420,375 (28.9%). It was one of Trump’s best performances anywhere-- although that probably had more to do with the dislike many Okalhomans have for Hillary. Bernie beat her in the primary 174,228 (51.9%) to 139,443 (41.5%). And Trump came in a distant second in the GOP primary that same day, winning just 130,267 votes (28.32%), far fewer votes than Bernie got. Bernie’s message resonated with a lot of voters in "red, red Oklahoma." Trump’s weakest area, of course, was the district with the highest education level, OK-05 (Oklahoma City), where he only beat Hillary 53.2% to 39.8%. Trump did 6 points worse than Romney had in the district, but Hillary under-performed Obama as well. (If only…)

In the OK-05 congressional race, right-wing incumbent Steve Russell crushed a very weak establishment Democrat, Al McAffrey, 57.1% to 36.8%. Russell did better than Trump and McAffrey did even worse than Hillary. The Democratic primary for that nomination was the closest in the country. It pitted the wishy-washy careerist establishment guy against Berniecrat Tom Guild. There were two rounds. First:
Al McAffrey- 10,013 (36.8%)
Tom Guild- 10,000 (36.8%)
Leonora Leonard- 7,190 (26.4%)
And the runoff:
Al McAffrey- 8,032 (50.1%)
Tom Guild- 7,988 (49.9%)
McAffrey wasn’t even a serious candidate, just the establishment’s pawn to keep the nomination from going to an outspoken progressive and Berniecrat. Once he won the primary, the DCCC didn’t come in to help their guy take on Russell-- quite the contrary; they never gave OK-05 a second glance. McAffrey didn’t campaign at all and only raised $134 to the $847,193 Russell spent. What a tragedy, but that’s how the DCCC works-- keep a progressive out of the race and then… whatever.

Tom Guild is running-- hard-- again and he’s determined to knock on every door in the district. This time EMILY’s List will try to play the role of spoiler for their DCCC allies, the same way they're doing in WI-01. A local EMILY’s List ally, Kendra Horn will be announcing right after the 2nd quarter filling deadline, the kind of phony timeline crap establishment candidates controlled by DC consultants always do. She was executive director of Sally’s List in Oklahoma (renamed Women Leading Women), a pure identity politics play. It’s never about who the best candidate is on policy-- always about personal identity. But while she headed the organization, it was an utter failure even on their own terms. Horn’s stated goal was to increase the number of women in the Oklahoma State Legislature, a reasonable goal. But in her three years as ED the number of women in the legislature went down, not up. Her brittle, officious personality turned off everyone-- except the DC people at EMILY's List.

Goal Thermometer Blue America has endorsed Tom Guild-- not because of any identity stuff, but because he’s a stalwart, dedicated progressive with a populist approach to politics and a fierce platform for working families. Yesterday, for example, he sent the letter below to his Oklahoma supporters. Please give it a look and if you would like to see Tom go up against a very vulnerable Russell in 2018, consider contributing what you can by tapping on the Blue America thermometer on the right. Remember, a swing in OK-05 the size of the swing Democrats in Montana, Kansas and South Carolina just experienced in the special elections, would send Russell packing and finally turn this relatively swingy Oklahoma district blue. The DCCC isn't taking OK-05 seriously. We are. Here's the message Tom Guild, who has pledged to co-sign John Conyers' Medicare-For-All legislation as soon as he gets to Washington, sent out yesterday:
There they go again! The Senate GOP health care proposal severely cuts Medicaid, defunds Planned Parenthood, and eliminates the mandate that Americans have health insurance. The bill provides states the right to eliminate many of the benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), such as maternity care, emergency services and mental health treatment. The proposal is hazardous to your health!

The Senate bill grants a huge tax cut to the wealthy, paid for by severe cuts in the Medicaid program. My opponent, incumbent Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), who supported the “mean” bill passed by the House last month, is a reliable vote in the GOP’s quest to destroy health care in America. Stop Russell by donating to our campaign via Act Blue

The Senate bill takes money out of the pockets of middle and lower-class families who need health care the most. The bill shamelessly provides the nation’s wealthiest individuals with large tax cuts, while severely cutting Medicaid and eliminating health care coverage for millions. We must ensure that every individual has access to health care, regardless of his or her economic status or pre-existing medical condition. This proposal is a dream for insurance companies and the wealthy.

The bill repeals Medicaid over a longer period of time, but more severely than the disastrous House bill that Russell supported. The Senate bill imposes larger spending cuts on Medicaid and phases out its expansion over a seven-year period, in contrast to the House’s three-year phase out plan. Medicaid currently serves one in five Americans, with approximately two-thirds of those in nursing homes.

The Senate bill eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood. The bill blocks Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood, which provides a wide range of women's health care and abortion services. This would be devastating to millions of women who have Medicaid and whose insurance would no longer cover these services.

The bill allows states to drop essential consumer protections. It does not allow states to drop the protection of patients with pre-existing conditions. However, it does allow wider opportunity for carriers in states with less stringent rules to offer plans that provide minimal help to patients with extensive health issues. States would not be allowed to waive the ACA requirements to grant everyone coverage and charge the same rates.

The bill was drafted without a single public hearing. The Congressional Budget Office found the bill passed by the House last month, and supported by Russell, would leave 23 million more people without insurance in a decade. The CBO score for the Senate bill is expected to be released soon and will shed light on the millions and millions of people who will lose coverage as a result of this proposal.

If you would like to support our campaign and stop Rep Steve Russell (R-OK) and congressional Republicans from further destroying our health care system, you can contribute online via Act Blue. You can also mail contributions to P.O. Box 6621, Edmond, OK 73083.

Thanks for your support!
Yours in the cause,
Tom Guild, Democratic Candidate CD5-OK

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How Much Longer Will It Take To Institute Single Payer Here In America?

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Saturday evening Bernie was in Pittsburgh Saturday for a Don’t Take Away Our Health Care rally at the Convention Center. He addressed Republican Pat Toomey directly. I hope he takes the same message to Ted Cruz in Texas and to Jeff Flake in Arizona, two Republicans up for reelection in 2018. (Dean Heller has already said he’s voting no.) Sunday he brought the message to Rob Portman in Columbus and then to Shelley Moore Capito in Charleston. Listen to his 27 minutes speech above; you can’t hear his points enough. “This so-called health care bill passed in the House last month is the most anti-working-class piece legislation passed by the House of Representatives in the modern history of this country,” he said to loud applause. “And the Senate bill... is even worse… We will not allow 23 million Americans to be thrown off of the health insurance they currently have in order to give over $500 billion in tax breaks to the top two percent, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, and to other multi-national corporations... What kind of a country are we if anyone can come before you and talk about cutting health care for children with disabilities in order to give tax breaks to the richest people on earth?”

After the Pittsburgh rally he appeared briefly on Meet the Press, where he told Chuck Todd much the same message he explained to the audience in Pittsburgh (and Columbus and Charleston), even though Todd just wanted to talk about disunity and divisiveness. Bernie’s learned how to use questions like that to springboard into getting to the message he wants to deliver. “For the last 9 years,” he replied to a question about why Ossoff lost, “Democrats have lost the White House, we’ve lost the Senate, we’ve lost the U.S. House. Two-thirds of governor’s chairs are controlled by Republicans. A thousand seats have been lost the Republicans in state legislatures all over this country… There is a massive amount of demoralization on the part of the American people, with the Democratic Party, with the Republican Party. I think the American people, in many cases, are seeing themselves work longer hours for lower wages. They’re worried about their kids not being able to go to college. They’re worried about what’s going to happen to them when they are retiring. They’re seeing almost all new income and wealth going to the top 1 percent. There is an enormous amount of pain in this country, Chuck. People are saying, ‘Does anybody in Washington know what’s going on in my life-- that I’m 60 years of age and I have nothing in the bank and I’m going too be retiring in 5 years or that I have $50,000 in college debt and can’t find a decent job. Does anybody know that? Do the Republicans know it? Do the Democrats know it?’ And I think what the Democrats have got to say is that we will be on the side of the working class of this country. We are prepared to stand up to Wall Street and the drug companies who rip us off everyday and the insurance companies. [at this point Todd got nervous that Bernie was attacking his advertisers and started trying to cut him off] And that we’re going to fight for an agenda that makes sense to working families.”

Ah, and there’s the rub… that elusive agenda. Look how close the Democrats in blue, blue California came to passing single-payer-- only to see Jerry Brown have Assembly Speaker Rendon kill it? The Intercept pointed out that someone who disagrees with Governor Brown’s opposition-- that single payer is too expensive, the Republican argument, which somehow always manages to manipulate the facts and forget to mention the “the efficiencies created from having one public insurer save a lot of money-- was, none other than presidential candidate Jerry Brown in 1992 (when he was still toying around with the idea of posing as a progressive).
It was a cornerstone of his unsuccessful 1992 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

In April of 1992, Brown passionately argued for this system in a debate with then-Arkansas Democratic Gov. Bill Clinton on the nationally-syndicated Phil Donahue Show.

“My preference is that we create a single system, put everyone under a universal health care system. We treat health care not as a commodity to be played with for profit but rather the right of every American citizen when they’re born,” he explained.

He then went on to explain how this system would save money:

“You cut out all the private health insurance. You have one single payer either at the national level or through the 50 states. And that one single payer will be the one that negotiates with the doctors, the hospitals, and the other providers. And since you have only one source of income in the whole medical establishment, you can drive down the cost. With the holding down of the cost, you can eliminate the intermediary, the middle man, the bureaucracy. In some of these hospitals there’s more people doing the billing then there are in direct patient care on an eight-hour shift. It doesn’t make any sense. But through a single payer, as we’ve seen in Canada, you can eliminate tremendous amounts of paperwork both for the doctors, the hospitals, and the part of the insurance companies.”
We ran the video of this moment of Brown's long past progressive dalliance here yesterday, if you want to check it out. Here's the whole Meet the Press interview from Sunday morning:



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Monday, June 26, 2017

Don't Buy Into The Idea That Trumpcare Is Too Horrible To Pass-- That's Not Criteria Republicans Use

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George Stephanopoulos had two very different Senate Republican opponents of TrumpCare on his show Sunday, Susan Collins (R-ME), who finds the bill cruel and even draconian, and Rand Paul (R-KY), who doesn’t find it nearly draconian or cruel enough. He started with Rand Paul, pointing out to him that his position is at odds even with Señor Trumpanzee, who said the bill that bears his name should “have more heart.” Paul scoffed and ran off in directions unrelated to the debate outside of the one in his own head.
Well, you know, the fundamental flaw of Obamacare was that it added regulations to insurance, mandates, which made insurance more expensive, but then it also told individuals, you know what, if you don't want to buy now, you can wait and buy it after you're sick. That still remains, 10 of 12 regulations that add cost to insurance remain under the Republican bill. And we still say you can still by insurance after you're sick.


If you add those two together, you still get the death spiral. The Republican plan acknowledges that we're going to still have this death spiral, which is sicker and sicker people in the individual market and the healthy people don't buy insurance, they acknowledge this by putting over $100 billion of insurance bailout money to try to say, oh we're going to tamp down prices. We're going to fix the problem, we're going to acknowledge the will continue forever and we're just going to pile taxpayer money into it. That is just not a conservative notion to add a new federal program to bailout insurance programs… I'm not voting for something that looks just like Obamacare and still doesn't fix the fundamental flaw of Obamacare.
It was a weird discussion. Stephanopoulos kept babbling about the politics on the bill-- how many no votes are there? What will it take for McConnell to get your vote? That kind of stuff-- while Paul just wanted to make a tired libertarian case about abolishing all regulations. So George said au revoir and moved on to Susan Collins. He started by asking her if there is “any way this week for Senator McConnell and President Trump to come up with a bill that both you and Senator Paul can support?”
Collins: It's certainly going to be very difficult. For my part, I'm very concerned about the cost of insurance for older people with serious chronic illnesses, and the impact of the Medicaid cuts on our state governments, the most vulnerable people in our society, and health care providers such as our rural hospitals and nursing homes, most of whom are very dependent on the Medicaid program.

So threading that needle is going to be extremely difficult.

Stephanopoulos: You just heard Kellyanne Conway say though that those are not Medicaid cuts. What is your response to that?

Collins: Well, I respectfully disagree with her analysis. But this is why we need the Congressional Budget Office assessment of the impact of the Senate bill on costs and coverage, including its analysis of Medicaid. And that will be coming out tomorrow.

But based on what I've seen, given the inflation rate that would be applied in the outer years to the Medicaid program, the Senate bill is going to have more impact on the Medicaid program than even the House bill.

Stephanopoulos: So that means-- if that's true, and if that is confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office, you're a no?

Collins: I want to wait to see the CBO analysis. But I have very serious concerns about the bill.

Stephanopoulos: You also have concerns about Planned Parenthood. This bill would deny funding of Planned Parenthood for a year. I know you're planning on introducing an amendment with Senator Murkowski that would restore the funding for Planned Parenthood.

If that amendment fails, will you oppose final passage?

Collins: Well, first, let me say that it makes absolutely no sense to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood. There already are longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion. So that's not what this debate is about. And Planned Parenthood is an important provider of health care services, including family planning and cancer screenings for millions of Americans, particularly women.

And they should be allowed to choose the health provider that they want. That's one of the issues that I care deeply about. But there are many others as well.

Stephanopoulos: Even though you think you'll prevail on the amendment, but if you don't, I understand that you have other concerns with the bill as well. Is Planned Parenthood funding a bottom line for you? If this bill denies funding to Planned Parenthood, are you against it?

Collins: It is one of many factors and a very important one that I will consider in casting my vote. But I'm also very concerned about the Medicaid cuts, what it means to our most vulnerable citizens. And I'm very concerned about the cost of insurance premiums and deductibles, particularly for that very vulnerable group between the age of 50 and 64.

They are particularly at risk, based on my initial analysis. So I'm going to look at the whole bill before making a decision.

Stephanopoulos: Are there a critical mass? We know that Senator Paul and three other conservatives want more repeal from their perspective. How many more senators do you believe share your views on Medicaid?

Collins: Well, there are several of us who have been meeting under the leadership of Senator Rob Portman to look at the Medicaid provisions. And there are about seven to eight people in that group. I can't speak for them. But suffice it to say that they are certainly concerned. And that is why the CBO analysis quantifying the cuts and the impact is going to be so important.

You can't take over $800 billion out of the Medicaid program and not expect that it's going to have an impact on a rural nursing home that relies on Medicaid for 70 percent of the costs of its patients. So this is an access issue as well as one having to do with cost.

Stephanopoulos: Does the bill pass this week?

Collins: It's hard for me to see the bill passing this week. But that's up to the majority leader. We could well be in all night a couple of nights working through what will be an open amendment process. And I think that-- that at least is good. The process could have been a lot better. I would've liked to have seen the Democrats step up to the table and negotiate with us now, not wait till the bill is passed or defeated.

So now the CBO score she was waiting for is out-- higher premiums for less insurance-- not to mention 22 million kicked off healthcare-- include 15nnext year. How's that, Senator Collins? Ultimately, I don’t see any Republican tanking the bill. Cruz, for example, already said that if he’s the deciding vote, he’ll hold his nose and vote YES, as always, a real man of principle. I think McConnell will give Dean Heller (R-NV) a pass if his NO vote doesn’t kill the bill, because of the local politics. But I can’t see Rob Portman, Collins or the 2 Alaskans finding the courage to actually vote NO, no matter how much worse they make the bill to please the far right fringe. Odd that none of them fear their constituents enough-- other than Heller-- to back away from a bill that only about 20% of the country supports. Maybe they have some surprises during the long break that starts next week. And while her staff is going over the CBO analysis, she might want to look at this analysis too, since it pertains to her own constituents in rural northern Maine.




...And The UPDATE:

Even Lindsey Graham is predicting that the CBO score will make it much harder for McConnell to get to 50 votes. And just a few hours ago, Susan Collins said that not only is she a NO, she'll vote against even allowing the vote to take place! She tweeted that the Republicans should work with the Democrats to improve Obamacare instead-- the first Republican senator to come to that very logical conclusion. Meanwhile House Freedom Caucus sociopath is railing that the Senate bill will be blocked by the Freedom Caucus because it isn't conservative enough. This guy is insane! (Help repeal him and replace him with Matt Coffay, the very vocal Medicare-For-All supporter running in western North Carolina for the seat Meadows holds.)



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Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon Tosses California TrumpCare Victims Overboard

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Remember how the first version of TrumpCare in the House wasn’t quite good enough for the far right savages in the Republican caucus? So they called in Freedom Caucus lunatic Mark Meadows to work with spineless south Jersey multimillionaire Tom MacArthur and they came up with a far worse and more deadly version that the radical right could-- and did-- get behind. That same process is playing out in the Senate now. You have the off-the-cliff extremists like Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and Mike Lee threatening to tank the bill if it doesn’t kill more people than the bill already worse than the House version will kill. And your have jellyfish Republicans like Rob Portman, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Dean Heller whining that the bill is already too extreme but… ready to make a deal with Cruz, who’s father was implicated in the assassination of JFK, as you know-- just ask the obese orange baboon who took a moment out from obsessing about his role as Putin’s cockholster to tweet some nonsense over the weekend about Obamacare being dead. In any case, soon after Pence was summoned into the Koch presence Friday, Koch operative Tim Phillips, went publicly bonkers that TrumpCare 3.0 isn’t “conservative” enough, describing it as an “immoral… slight nip and tuck” in the far right’s war against healthcare for working families. “This Senate bill needs to get better,” drooled the well-paid fascist Koch mouthpiece. “It has to get better.” By “better,” they want to see higher projections for likely annual deaths, thousands apparently not sufficient to sate their bloodlust.



In line with Trump’s bogus claim-- terrorism, pure and simple-- that Obamacare is dead, The Hill reported yesterday that “One of the primary arguments from Republicans for repealing ObamaCare is that the healthcare law is ‘collapsing.’ But experts warn that the GOP’s legislation might destabilize insurance markets even more over time” and drive premiums through the roof.
The Senate’s ObamaCare repeal bill, released Thursday, would abolish ObamaCare’s mandate for people to have insurance, but it would still bar insurers from denying people coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Experts warn that arrangement would allow people to wait until they get sick to buy insurance coverage, likely driving up premiums.

  On top of that, the GOP bill cuts back on ObamaCare’s tax credits, providing less financial assistance to help people afford a plan. So in addition to the lack of an enforcement “stick” to get healthy people to enroll, there would also be less of a “carrot,” in the form of financial assistance.

This combination could lead to more insurers pulling out of the market or spiking premiums, experts say, exactly the problems under ObamaCare that Republicans have talked about solving.

“A combination of repealing the individual mandate and diminishing premium subsidies would tend to destabilize the market,” said Larry Levitt, a healthcare expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Rodney Whitlock, a former Republican congressional staffer now a healthcare consultant, wrote on Twitter that the lack of a mandate combined with lower financial assistance “is pretty much the definition of a death spiral.”
The GOP seems to have rigged the bill to trigger a real collapse of the healthcare system to kick it in 2022, so after Trump or Pence theoretically wins the White House. So we were all waiting for California to offer the alternative, right? The state Senate passed a single payer bill and the state Assembly has a massive super-majority so… no brainer, right? Wrong. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who often pretends to be a progressive-- I realized he wasn’t when he endorsed uber-corrupt conservative Isadore Hall over progressive reformer Nanette Barragan last year-- killed the bill for at least a year by locking it up in the Rules Committee, claiming SB 562 is “woefully incomplete.” The L.A. Times explained what Rendon had done, aside from committing career suicide:
Liar? Coward? Both?
Rendon announced late Friday afternoon that the bill, SB 562 by state Sens. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), would not advance to a policy hearing in his house, dampening the measure’s prospect for swift passage this year.

“SB 562 was sent to the Assembly woefully incomplete,” Rendon said in a statement. “Even senators who voted for SB 562 noted there are potentially fatal flaws in the bill, including the fact it does not address many serious issues, such as financing, delivery of care, cost controls, or the realities of needed action by the Trump Administration and voters to make SB 562 a genuine piece of legislation.”

Rendon took pains to note that his action does not kill the bill entirely-- because it is the first year of a two-year session, it could be revived next year.

But the move is nonetheless a major setback for legislation that has electrified the Democratic party’s progressive flank.

The California Nurses Assn., the bill's sponsors and the state's most vocal advocates for single-payer, blasted Rendon's decision as "cowardly."


"Acting in secret in the interests of the profiteering insurance companies late Friday afternoon abandons all those people already threatened by Congress and the Trump administration," Deborah Burger, the union's co-president, said in a statement.

Burger continued: "The people of California are counting on the Legislature to protect them now, not sometime next year, and as polls have shown Californians support this proposal by a wide majority. A solution to this health care emergency could be at hand; Speaker Rendon is standing in opposition."

In a joint statement, Lara and Atkins, the measure's authors, said they were "disappointed the robust debate about healthcare for all that started in the California Senate will not continue in the Assembly this year."

"This issue is not going away," they added.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who had signaled wariness about the proposal's costs, said in a statement that Rendon "made the case that there’s clearly more work to do before anyone is in a position to vote on revamping California’s healthcare system."

"I recognize the tremendous excitement behind the measure, but basic and fundamental questions remain unanswered," Brown said.


Many Democrats are embarrassed. Ro Khanna spoke up first, tweeting that Rendon should reconsider his decision. But he wasn’t the only one. Newly elected Democratic Party chairman, Eric Bauman, a former nurse, who is committed to single payer, has been politically close to Rendon. But that didn’t stop him from blasting him in a statement to the media:
"Today’s announcement that the Assembly will not be moving forward on single-payer, Medicare-for-All healthcare for California at this time is an unambiguous disappointment for all of us who believe that healthcare is a right for every Californian. We understand that SB 562 is a work in progress, but we believe it should keep moving forward, especially in light of the widespread suffering that will occur if Trump and Congressional Republicans succeed in passing their cold-blooded, morally bankrupt so-called healthcare legislation.

I call upon our Legislative Leaders to work together to find appropriate and acceptable solutions to enable SB 562 to advance as soon as possible.

Hundreds of thousands of people in California stand to lose their health insurance if Trumpcare 3.0 is signed into law. Countless Democrats passionately believe that Medicare-for-all healthcare is a bedrock principle of the Democratic Party, and I stand with them. Our message to our Legislative Leaders is clear: SB 562 must be given the chance to succeed.”



UPDATE: All Fingers Point To The Governor

Today’s bullshitter was yesteryear’s visionary, as you can see in the 1992 video clip below. But, alas, Jerry Brown seems to have changed his mind-- and Anthony Rendon’s mind. Will he now take the whole California Democratic Party down with him? Imagine him shrieking menacingly at Kevin De Leon: "Don't you dare let that bill hit my desk," with KDL stomping out of his office, unphased, not blinking, muttering, "Let the 562 veto be his legacy." He passed it through the Senate… and then Rendon blinked-- just as the details of the TrumpCare tax giveaway were hitting.



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California Blue Dog Ellen Tauscher Is Back-- Lock Away Your Wallet

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She's back-- and up to no good again!

It’s 10 years later and right-wing Democrat Ellen Tauscher-- once the head of the New Dems, a vice chair of the DLC, and a proud Blue Dog-- is rearing her head in Democratic politics again. She’s the chair of the California 7 Project (AKA- Fight Back California), which purports to being trying to defeat 7 California Republicans in 2018: Jeff Denham and David Valadao in the Central Valley, Steve Knight in the L.A./Ventura 25the district and the 4 vulnerable GOPers in Orange County, Ed Royce, Dana Rohrabacher, Darrell Issa and Mimi Walters. Typical of crooked political operations, Tauscher’s outfit-- a shady SuperPAC-- is raising money for itself, not for any Democratic candidates. Tauscher told Roll Call she plans to raise $10,000,000, money that could be used to defeat conservatives that will instead be used to bolster conservatives and, in all likelihood, Tauscher’s and her cronies’ own accounts. You just have to trust she’ll spend it right. But you shouldn’t… because history shows exactly how she’ll spend it.

Tauscher is working with her original campaign manager, strategist Katie Merrill, who loses all her races, and they hiding who has already funneled 6-figures into their SuperPAC. So just what you would expect of a slimy character like Tauscher-- dark money fueling her efforts to sucker the grassroots into contributing to… probably herself and a gaggle of dreadful right-of-center Republican-lite candidates just like herself. Their main goal will be to make sure no Berniecrats win any nominations, just Tauscher-like offal from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. One source told me she’s getting money from the lottery winner the DCCC wants to sell the CA-39 nomination to, Gil Cisneros, but it’s impossible to confirm who’s giving Tauscher’s operation the cash, since she’s taking advantage of the dark money Supreme Court rulings to hide her sources.

My history with Tauscher goes back a ways. In 2006, she recruited an “ex”-Republican to run against the grassroots candidate in California she and Rahm were eager too defeat, Jerry McNerney. They decided McNerney was too liberal to beat Republican Natural Resources Committee chair Richard Pombo and they dug up a Republican masquerading as a Democrat instead. McNerney slaughtered the interloper in the primary and Tauscher and Rahm put a hex on the district, calling donors and telling them not to contribute to McNerney in the general. That’s how Rahm taught the DCCC to play-- a practice continued by Steve Israel and whoever tells the hapless Ben Ray Lujan what he should do. In any case, McNerney pulverized Pombo, shocking the GOP (and Tauscher’s and Rahm’s Republican wing of the Democratic Party). It was one of the biggest races of the year and McNerney, propelled by grassroots enthusiasm, took 109,868 votes (53.3%) to Pombo’s 96,396 (46.7%). Pombo spent $4,629,983 that year, to McNerney’s $2,422,962. The NRCC came to Pombo’s defense with a then-massive $1,442,492, while Rahm grudgingly allowed the DCCC to spend a mere $295,366, less that the Sierra Club or even the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

The media has always white-washed Tauscher and given her favorable treatment. Ten years ago, I wrote about a Washington Post puff piece on her.
Eilperin and Grunwald have written an inherently dishonest piece-- pure Inside-the-Beltway ass-kissery for the powers-that-be. Reading their whitewash you would never know that Tauscher recruited and pushed a pro-corporate, anti-grassroots shill to run against Democratic grassroots hero Jerry McNerney, only that she's being victimized by some left wing bullies for being a hard-working "moderate." From Eilperin and Grunwald a reader would reasonably conclude that Tauscher had merely "supported McNerney's centrist opponent in his primary, to the disgust of the Net roots." Not a word about the Tauscher-inspired financing that nearly caused McNerney to have to spend all his non-corporate, grassroots money in the primary, endangering his bid to oust the hated Pombo.

And every time Eilperin and Grunwald vomit out "moderate," as though the 135 House Dems with more progressive voting records than her are not moderates, but extreme leftists and dangerous communists, my skin crawls. Only reactionary Democrats have voted more frequently with the Republican extremists on substantive issues than Tauscher has, yet in the Post they phrase it a little differently: "Since 2003 she has voted with her party more than 90 percent of the time. This year, she has marched in lock step with Pelosi. But to Net-roots sites such as Daily Kos, Firedoglake, and Crooks and Liars, she's Lieberman in a pantsuit. 'I don't think it's a fair comparison,' Tauscher said. 'My colleagues look at this and say, "If they're going after Ellen Tauscher, holy moly!'" Yeah, holy moly! What's next? Will someone challenge Jim Marshall or John Barrow or David Scott, 3 Georgia Democrats who spend an awful lot of time voting with Republicans?

…This oversimplification to the point of willful distortion is a perfect example of how the Eilperin and Grunwald have delivered for Tauscher today. The Democratic grassroots' dismay with Tauscher is not about "a vote" in 2002 for Bush's Iraq War. Between October 10, 2002 and May 25, 2005, the House voted on 44 Iraq War bills. Tauscher's Iraq voting record is one of the worst of any Democrat's, and far from being in "lockstep" with Nancy Pelosi's, as Eilperin and Grunwald deceitfully attempt to convey. Starting on October 10, 2002 with Roll Call 454 on H.J. Res. 114, the final resolution authorizing Bush to use force against Iraq, Tauscher didn't vote with Nancy Pelosi and other progressive Democrats-- and the majority of Democrats in the House; she voted with Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt and the worst reactionary, warmongering scum in the Congress to give Bush the authority to do what he's done in Iraq. Bad enough to remove Tauscher? Absolutely. But that was just the beginning. Since then she voted with the right-wingers 13 more times to carry out Bush's war policies.
As one of McNerney’s top campaign staffers in 2006 told me yesterday, "Tauscher’s backing a former Republican against McNerney in 2006 almost saved Pombo's hide." Like me, he’s very wary of her current efforts. A former investment banker at Bear Stearns and Drexel Burnham Lambert, Tauscher is now on a number of corporate boards, like Southern California Edison, and, unfortunately, a few weeks ago Jerry Brown appointed the former Ready For Hillary corporate shill to the University of California Board of Regents. While she served in Congress, she was a virulent anti-progressive on every possible level, including, of course, policy. She worked with the Republicans to gut the estate tax and to screw consumers with a reactionary bankruptcy law written by credit card company lobbyists. She was also a bug proponent of NAFTA and every other unfair trade policy that helped wreck the Democratic Party brand and impoverish working families. A long-time war-monger, she voted against most Democrats to back Bush’s attack on Iraq. But she’s pro-Choice and pro-gay, so she can pass herself off as a "liberal," which is patently absurd... and dangerous to the serious efforts going on to win these seats and swap out conservatives for actual progressives.



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The Anti-Medicaid Bomb in the Republican "Health Care" Bill

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Tom Toles/Washington Post (source)

by Gaius Publius

Just one more note on the Senate "health care" bill, to add to the information you're already reading. Via Robert Reich, the bill's real aim is the destruction of Medicaid (see explanation below), one of the three great social programs passed by FDR and his fervent New Deal acolyte, LBJ.

There's a trick with the Medicaid death trap though — most of the destruction is timed to occur after the CBO's 10-year analysis window, which means it's not going to show up when the CBO scores the bill.

Will Americans be fooled? Who knows? Will Republicans think Americans will be fooled? Likely.

Here's Reich on that (h/t Naked Capitalism; source RobertReich.org; emphasis mine):
The Secret Republican Plan to Unravel Medicaid

Bad enough that the Republican Senate bill would repeal much of the Affordable Care Act.

Even worse, it unravels the Medicaid Act of 1965 – which, even before Obamacare, provided health insurance to millions of poor households and elderly.

It’s done with a sleight-of-hand intended to elude not only the public but also the Congressional Budget Office.

Here’s how the Senate Republican bill does it. The bill sets a per-person cap on Medicaid spending in each state. That cap looks innocent enough because it rises every year with inflation.

But there’s a catch. Starting 8 years from now, in 2025, the Senate bill switches its measure of inflation – from how rapidly medical costs are rising, to how rapidly overall costs in the economy are rising.

Yet medical costs are rising faster than overall costs. They’ll almost surely continue to do so – as America’s elderly population grows, and as new medical devices, technologies, and drugs prolong life.

Which means that after 2025, Medicaid will cover less and less of the costs of health care for the poor and elderly.

Over time, that gap becomes huge. The nonpartisan Urban Institute estimates that just between 2025 and 2035, about $467 billion less will be spent on Medicaid than would be spent than if Medicaid funding were to keep up with the expected rise in medical costs.

So millions of Americans will lose the Medicaid coverage they would have received under the 1965 Medicaid act. Over the long term, Medicaid will unravel.
Note that date — after 2025. That means that the bulk of the damage will occur outside the 10-year window of the Congressional Budget Office's typical analysis.

Reich again:
Does anyone now know this time bomb is buried in this bill?

It doesn’t seem so. McConnell won’t even hold hearings on it.

Next week the Congressional Budget Office will publish its analysis of the bill. CBO reports on major bills like this are widely disseminated in the media. The CBO’s belated conclusion that the House’s bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would cause 23 million Americans to lose their health care prompted even Donald Trump to call it “mean, mean, mean.”

But because the CBO’s estimates of the consequences of bills are typically limited to 10 years (in this case, 2018 to 2028), the CBO’s analysis of the Senate Republican bill will dramatically underestimate how many people will be knocked off Medicaid over the long term.

Which is exactly what Mitch McConnell has planned. This way, the public won’t be tipped off to the Medicaid unraveling hidden inside the bill.
The long-term goal? To entirely delete the New Deal from U.S. social policy. This is step one:
For years, Republicans have been looking for ways to undermine America’s three core social insurance programs – Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. The three constitute the major legacies of the Democrats, of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. All continue to be immensely popular.

Now, McConnell and his Senate Republican colleagues think they’ve found a way to unravel Medicaid without anyone noticing.

Don’t be fooled. Spread the word.
The wicked plan might just work.

The Neoliberal Republican End Game

Have you ever wondered what will happen in this country if right-wing neoliberalism ("free market economics" in its most aggressive form) ever succeeds absolutely?

Imagine repealing...
...in a single two- to four-year span. Would the country not tip into chaos of the most unimaginable sort at that point?

And would Paul Ryan care? There's a word for behavior like this, and it applies perfectly.

I personally think Republicans like Paul Ryan would sacrifice any Republican chance of holding office for a generation if they could accomplish that transformation. Once destroyed, the New Deal government, as degraded as it has become, would never ever be rebuilt, even in the lifetime of the last person born tomorrow, were she to live to the age of ninety, and even if the Democrats achieved the kind of Congress and mandate Obama enjoyed in 2009.

The New Deal would fall to the floor of the historical past, never to rise in this country again.

And every Republican who helped pull off this coup, if they could do it, would be so richly rewarded by the Kochs of the world, they'd never need to work for a living again. They could float to their graves on Thank You money, enjoying government-paid health care right till their final breath.

Will they succeed? Who knows? But they're giving it their very best shot, and they have the votes in the Senate if they can get the Susan Collins of the world ("I vote Republican, but only when it matters" ) to cast them.

Will Democrats succeed in blocking them? They had better be giving it their very best effort. The next "designated Democratic villain" to step out of line — looking at you, Manchin and Heitkamp, McCaskill and Coons — might just be signing the death warrant for the entire rest of the Party as she does it.

GP
    

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Screw Mitch And The Turtle He Rode In On

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Sometimes people ask me to put them on the Blue America mailing list. I don’t know how-- literally; no idea. The only way I know to get on the list is to contribute-- even if just one dollar-- to any of the candidates on any of our endorsement lists-- like this one for the House or this one for the Senate or this one for worthy incumbents or this one for primarying Blue Dogs… or this one to send Paul Ryan back to the weinermobile. There are others too… always fun to come up with new pages. Anyway, pick a page, pick a candidate, give a buck-- or 20 bucks or 1,000 bucks and you’re automatically on the mailing list. And if you were yesterday, you would have gotten this e-mail from Blue America by Digby, albeit with a slightly more family-friendly subject line.

“We are living,” she began in way of introduction, “in a Dickens novel come to life: Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump are planning to steal our tax money. Money that sick children, disabled adults and nursing home patients need in order to stay alive-- only to brazenly distribute it all among Eric, Don Jr., Ivanka, Jared Kusher and their investor class friends. They have no shame. They have no hearts. This has to stop. Can you pitch in something for our candidates, to help them get into Congress where legislative resistance can occur? And then she went after that fucking Turtle and his cronies.

Another week in Trump's America and it just gets worse and worse. Everyone said that when the atrocity known as Trumpcare was barely passed in the House that we shouldn't worry. "They'll fix it in the Senate" they said. Well, they didn't. They tweaked it a little bit in some ways, but overall they made it worse. This week they're planning to vote on it and then skip town before anyone has a chance to chase them down the halls of Congress holding pitchforks and torches.

If they get that done when they return from the 4th of July break they may skip the usual conference committee to reconcile the two bills, quickly pass the very similar Senate version through the House and then get ready to play their roles as props in the the greatest show on earth: the Oval Office in which President Trump will bask in the glow of his greatest success so far-- enacting the cruelest piece of legislation in modern memory.

By all accounts that's Mitch McConnell's plan anyway. At this moment there are still a number of possible choke points. The so-called “moderates” who will have to face voters are nervous, but they're known for their cowardice so it's highly likely they will accept some superficial changes and then rush before the cameras to defend the lie that it's been substantially "improved" from being monstrous and evil to simply malevolent and brutal. Counting on them to stop this heinous disgrace of a "health care" bill is a fools errand.

It's much better to look to the ruthless sadism of the far right and "libertarians" such as Rand Paul and Mike Lee. They are known for their refusal to take for an answer when offered the opportunity to rip holes in the safety net because they demand its total destruction all at once. Unfortunately, counting on them would require one more wingnut vote in the Senate, probably Ron Johnson from Wisconsin or Ted Cruz from Texas. Johnson is the most "intellectually limited" man in the chamber so it's a totally random shot with him. Cruz is well... Cruz. He will be the hero who votes for it unless it won't pass anyway at which point he will join the "rebels" and pretend he was their leader.

If it does pass the Senate they will have to go home next week and face their constituents before a final vote. It's not going to be pretty. If you saw the appalling footage of the disabled protesters in front of Mitch McConnell's office being pulled out of their wheelchairs and dragged down the hall by police you know what it's going to look like. This is what it's come to.

The stark fact of the matter is that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and virtually every member of the Republican Congress are trying to pass a bill that will literally result in the deaths of tens of thousands of people, bankruptcy for many more and suffering for millions. And why are they doing this? They want to get their hands on 800 billion dollars that funds Obamacare, so that for the first time since 1986 they can give permanent, retroactive tax cuts to the likes of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Because when you get down to it, that’s all they care about.

The Democrats are unified in opposition, thank God. (As you well know that's not always a given...) And activists around the country are gearing up for energetic protests over the next few weeks. We'll see what happens.

But if this week has shown us anything it's that it's vitally urgent that the Democrats take back the House in 2018.

If the Democratic Senators can hold their seats and pick off a couple of Republicans all the better. But it's imperative that we stop Ryan and McConnell. They are so drunk with power, they are now trying to enact bills that will literally kill people with no other purpose than to pass out money to rich people.

You know what to do. If you can, over the next couple of weeks contact your Indivisible, Our Revolution, Move On or whatever groups with whom you are involved to find out where they are planning to protest in your area. Call your Republican Senators and congressional reps and remind them that lives are on the line.

And please, contribute what you can to good candidates for congress like those Blue America has endorsed for 2018. We simply have got to stop these obsessed, bloodthirsty Republicans and their cretinous imbecile of a leader before it's too late.

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

How Many Trump Supporters Would Rather See Their Families Die Than See The Policies Of A Black President That Help Them Succeed?

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That was my favorite tweet yesterday and I have to admit that I almost wish he gets his way. Almost. I don’t want to wish death on anyone, not even a vicious, racist Trump moron. Unless you define anyone who voted for Trump as a moron-- not an unreasonable conclusion to jump to-- you have to admit that not all Trump voters are morons. Racists, perhaps but not morons. Some are college graduates with good jobs in complicated fields. Although a friend of mine told me the other day that he was picked up by a black Uber driver with a MAGA cap who ranted and raved like a maniac for the whole trip about the greatness of his idol.

Nick Harwood, reporting for CNBC, wrote last week about a study that shows that racism was a bigger factor for the Trump electorate-- except that Uber driver-- than issues like faire trade. If that shocks you… have you met any of them?
A broad-based group of analysts conducted the study with support from the Democracy Fund. Emily Ekins of the libertarian Cato Institute identified five distinct groups of Trump voters.

Most of them are consistent Republicans. The least loyal Republican group, which formed the core of Trump's support for the nomination from the beginning, is what Ekins calls "American Preservationists." [a nicer word than racists]

She described this segment-- about 20 percent of Trump backers overall-- as having relatively low levels of income and formal education. They are the most likely Republican group to be on Medicaid and to be disabled.

These voters lean left on economic issues such as trade, income inequality, anger at Wall Street and support for federal entitlement programs. For those reasons, Trump's rhetoric about protecting entitlement programs and raising taxes on the rich offered a natural fit.
When people talk about Trump voters with 2-digit IQs, this is part of the bunch they’re talking about. I know one personally. These vile, contemptible, sub-human racist slobs “American Preservationists” were willing to let everything else slide-- like the imbecile in the tweet up top-- in return for a wall to, in their simple minds, would keep out the Mex’cans.
They "have a strong sense of their own racial identity… and believe that anti-white discrimination is as pervasive as other forms of discrimination," Ekins wrote. "They have cooler feelings toward minorities. They agree in overwhelming numbers that real Americans need to have been born in America, or have lived here most of their lives, and be Christian."

And the study found that those views of racial solidarity helped propel Trump's general election victory more than his "populism" on trade or entitlements. [In other words, they don’t care that he lied about not cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and long as he sticks it to the colored folks.]

"What stands out most," concluded George Washington University political scientist John Sides, "is the attitudes that became more strongly related to the vote in 2016: attitudes about immigration, feelings toward black people and feelings toward Muslims."

As president, Trump has reflected their attitudes through a series of actions. His administration has toughened immigration enforcement, pursued his travel ban targeted at six majority-Muslim nations, and targeted Obama administration initiatives designed to change law enforcement and sentencing practices.

Though five months of controversy have eroded the president's public standing, polls show Trump retains backing from roughly 8 in 10 Republicans. What's unclear now is whether a direct hit from health-care legislation could trigger accelerated fallout among his base of white working-class support.

In the swing states Trump carried, those voters gained health insurance coverage in large numbers from Obamacare. They included 376,000 whites without college degrees in Ohio, 355,000 in Michigan, and 242,000 in Pennsylvania, according to an Urban Institute analysis.

Trump states such as Kentucky (279,000), Arkansas (128,000) West Virginia (119,000), also reduced the proportion of noncollege whites without health insurance by 47 percent or more. All have Republican senators who have wavered on the legislation.

Yet few doubt that Trump will sign whatever health bill House and Senate Republicans agree on-- and count on his ability to hold his core supporters. The same is true of forthcoming tax-reform legislation, which from all available indications will confer disproportionate benefits on the wealthiest Americans.

"I'm not sure they will punish him," said Sides. The economy is currently healthy, insurance cutbacks will take years to phase in, and Trump's emotional bond with those voters has been strong.

Republican House members and some senators, however, must face voters in 2018, two years before Trump does. An economic downturn could upset their calculus.
Including an economic downturn in their own households if TrumpCare passes and gets signed into law. No one knows how toxic Trump and Ryan will be in the 2018 midterms, but everyone is eager to find out. If there was no DCCC botching up the Democrats' chances of winning seats, the disaffection and resulting swing away from the GOP we saw in the special elections indicate as many as 70-something Republican incumbents going down. With the DCCC doing there thing... we'll be lucky to see the bare 24 needed for a House power-switch. Very lucky.



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Was It The Lobotomizing Of Conservative Intellectualism That Guaranteed The Rise Of Trumpy-The-Clown?

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The end of the GOP?

Friday, writing for The Atlantic, former Bush staffer David Frum noted the “mounting evidence” that Putin inflicted Trump on us by putting him into the White House and asked a poignant question for all Americans: What Happens When A Presidency Loses Its Legitimacy?. For many millions of Americans, perhaps most Americans, that’s already happened. Frum points to a n”thick cloud of discredit over the Trump presidency” that grows darker by the day and reminded his readers that, unaware he was being taped, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy admitted his his members that Trump is on Putin’s payroll.
It’s not seriously disputed by anyone in a position of authority in the U.S. government-- apart from the president himself-- that Donald Trump holds his high office in considerable part because a foreign spy agency helped place him there. So now what?

…The U.S. government is already osmotically working around the presidency, a process enabled by the president’s visible distaste for the work of governance. The National Security Council staff is increasingly a double-headed institution, a zone of struggle between Kushner-Flynn-Bannon types on one side, and a growing staff of capable, experienced, and Russia-skeptical functionaries on the other. The Senate has voted 97-2 to restrict the president’s authority to relax Russia sanctions. It seems the president has been persuaded to take himself out of the chain of command in the escalating military operations in Afghanistan. National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster recently assured the nation that Trump could not have done much harm when he blabbed a vital secret to the Russian foreign minister in the Oval Office, precisely because the president was not briefed on crucial “sources and methods” information.

In their way, these workarounds are almost as dangerous to the American system of government as the Trump presidency itself. They tend to reduce the president to the status of an absentee emperor while promoting his subordinates into shoguns who exercise power in his name. Maybe that is the least-bad practicable solution to the unprecedented threat of a presidency-under-suspicion. But what a terrible price for the failure of so many American institutions-- not least the voters!-- to protect the country in 2016 from Russia’s attack on its election and its democracy.
I don’t think he was responding to Frum yesterday, but Bruce Bartlett, another former Republican staffer-- this one for Reagan and then Bush’s father-- wrote in Politico that he only endorsed Trump-- and voted for him in the primary-- last year because he “thought he would lose to Hillary Clinton, disastrously, and that his defeat would cleanse the Republican Party of the extremism and nuttiness that drove me out of it. I had hoped that post-2016, what remained of the moderate wing of the GOP would reassert itself as it did after the Goldwater debacle in 1964, and exorcise the crazies.” But that’s not what happened. Instead, the crazies are in running the GOP asylum.
Almost everything that has happened since November 8 has been the inverse of what I’d imagined. Trump didn’t lose; he won. The Republican Party isn’t undergoing some sort of reckoning over what it believes; his branch of the Republican Party has taken control. Most troubling, perhaps, is that rather than reassert themselves, the moderate Republicans have almost all rolled over entirely.

Trump has turned out to be far, far worse than I imagined. He has instituted policies so right wing they make Ronald Reagan, for whom I worked, look like a liberal Democrat. He has appointed staff people far to the right of the Republican mainstream in many positions, and they are instituting policies that are frighteningly extreme. Environmental Protection Administration Administrator Scott Pruitt proudly denies the existence of climate change, and is doing his best to implement every item Big Oil has had on its wish list since the agency was established by Richard Nixon. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is actively hostile to the very concept of public education and is doing her best to abolish it. Every day, Attorney General Jeff Sessions institutes some new policy to take incarceration and law enforcement back to the Dark Ages. Trump’s proposed budget would eviscerate the social safety net for the sole purpose of giving huge tax cuts to the ultrawealthy.

And if those policies weren’t enough, conservatives-- who, after all, believe in liberty and a system of checks and balances to restrain the government to its proper role-- have plenty of reason to be upset by those actions Trump has taken that transcend our traditional right-left ideological divide. He’s voiced not only skepticism of NATO, but outright hostility to it. He’s pulled America back from its role as an international advocate for human rights. He’s attacked the notion of an independent judiciary. He personally intervened to request the FBI to ease up on its investigation of a former adviser of his, then fired FBI Director James Comey and freely admitted he did so to alleviate the pressure he felt from Comey’s investigation. For those conservatives who were tempted to embrace a “wait-and-see” approach to Trump, what they’ve seen, time and again, is almost unimaginable.


And yet as surprising as this all has been, it’s also the natural outgrowth of 30 years of Republican pandering to the lowest common denominator in American politics. Trump is what happens when a political party abandons ideas, demonizes intellectuals, degrades politics and simply pursues power for the sake of power.

…Republicans took control of Congress in 1994 after nationalizing the election into broad themes and catchphrases. Newt Gingrich, the marshal of these efforts, even released a list of words Republican candidates should use to glorify themselves (common sense, prosperity, empower) and hammer their opponents (liberal, pathetic, traitors); soon, every Republican in Congress spoke the same language, using words carefully run through focus groups by Republican pollster Frank Luntz. Budgets for House committees were cut, bleeding away policy experts, and GOP committee chairs were selected based on loyalty to the party and how much money they could raise. Gone were the days when members were incentivized to speak with nuance, or hone a policy expertise (especially as committee chairs could now serve for only six years). In power, Republicans decided they didn’t need any more research or analysis; they had their agenda, and just needed to get it enacted. Only a Democratic president stood in their way, and so 100 percent of Republicans’ efforts went into attempting to oust or weaken Bill Clinton and, when that failed, elect a Republican president who would do nothing but sign into law bills passed by the GOP Congress.

…Republican policy analysis and research have virtually disappeared altogether, replaced with sound bites and talking points. The Heritage Foundation morphed into Heritage Action for America, ceasing to do any real research and losing all its best policy experts as it transformed from an august center whose focus was the study and development of public policy into one devoted mainly to amplifying political campaign slogans. Talk radio and Fox News, where no idea too complicated for a mind with a sixth-grade education is ever heard, became the tail wagging the conservative dog. Conservative magazines like National Review, which once boasted world-class intellectuals such as James Burnham and Russell Kirk among its columnists, jumped on the bandwagon, dumbing itself down to appeal to the common man, who is deemed to be the font of all wisdom. (For example, the magazine abandoned the ecumenical approach to immigration of Reagan, who granted amnesty to undocumented immigrants in 1986, to a rigid anti-immigrant policy largely indistinguishable from the one Trump ran on.)

One real-world result of the lobotomizing of conservative intellectualism is that when forced to produce a replacement for Obamacare-- something Republican leaders had sworn they had in their pocket for eight years-- there was nothing. Not just no legislation-- no workable concept that adhered to the many promises Republicans had made, like coverage for pre-existing conditions and the assurance that nobody would lose their coverage. You’d think that House Speaker Ryan could have found a staff slot for one person to be working on an actual Obamacare replacement all these years, just in case.

With hindsight, it’s no surprise that the glorification of anti-elitism and anti-intellectualism that has been rampant on the right at least since the election of Barack Obama would give rise to someone like Trump. Anyone who ever read Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here, which imagined a fascist dictator taking power in 1930s America, recognizes that Trump is the real-life embodiment of Senator Buzz Windrip-- a know-nothing populist who becomes president by promising something for everyone, with no clue or concern for how to actually accomplish it. Windrip was “vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his ‘ideas’ almost idiotic,” Lewis wrote. “Certainly there was nothing exhilarating in the actual words of his speeches, nor anything convincing in his philosophy. His political platforms were only the wings of a windmill.”

…Having so badly miscalled the 2016 election, I’m not going out on a limb here and predicting a 1974-style defeat for GOP members of Congress next year, and I am fully aware that Democrats are always capable of seizing defeat from the jaws of victory. But the preconditions are falling into place for a political transformation between 2018 and 2020 that could result in the type of defeat that I think is necessary for my old party and the conservative movement to rebuild themselves from the ground up.

Ideally, I’d like to see an intellectual revival on the right such as we saw after the Goldwater defeat and the Watergate debacle. Freed from the stultifying strictures and kowtowing to know-nothing Trumpian populists-- perhaps building on new outlets and institutions that celebrate intellectual rigor and reject shallow sound bites-- a few conservative thinkers can plow a path toward sane, responsible conservative governance, just as people like Irving Kristol and Jack Kemp did during the Carter years. (Some conservative thinkers, such as the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, speculate that Mitt Romney may emerge as the leader of a sane, modern, technocratic wing of an intellectually revitalized GOP.) If a leader doesn’t emerge, moderate Republicans-- many of whom did not and will not support Trump-- could be lost to the Democratic Party for good.
God forbid! Although the Rahm Emanuels, Steny Hoyers, Chuck Schumers, Joe Crowleys, Cheri Bustoses and Wasserman Schultzes-- that whole Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- would gladly welcome them into the hierarchy of the party, they Democratic Party brand is tarnished enough without taking in the conservative dregs of an increasingly fascist GOP.





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