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Friday wrapup: insurrection, Pence’s weird take on women, and capital punishment


This story got some media play yesterday: Trump’s threat that the angry white supremacist males with guns, who worship him and will obey his orders, will rise up and assault or kill Democrats

if the current investigations continue—which, by the way, they will, in the House of Representatives and in various Districts of the U.S. Justice Department.

That’s a huge, ugly threat, but it’s not one anyone should take seriously. Trump is insinuating that his hold on cops, soldiers and rightwing “bikers” is so strong that all he has to do is give them the green light, and they’ll form themselves into battalions and march into San Francisco, West Hollywood, midtown Manhattan, Oakland, wherever, and do what Hitler’s brownshirts did in the early 1930s: beat the shit out of liberals.

I’m not worried and neither should anyone else be. It’s just more Trumpian bluster, to reassure the most deplorable elements in his base that he’s still with them. They’d better not show up in Oakland. Our cops and our people will rise up and tear them to pieces. But that was only one of the weird stories yesterday that shows what psychopathic reactions the Trump regime has stoked in America. Another was this one about Vice President Pence refusing to take private one-on-one meetings with females, due to some strange twist in his Christian philosophy.

My Senator, Kamala Harris, in an interview rightfully called Pence out. I think that’s ridiculous — the idea that you would deny a professional woman the opportunity to have a meeting with the vice president of the United States is outrageous.” Kamala was being, well, Senatorial in her politeness. I am not so tactful. Pence is a lunatic. He believes in the literal interpretation of the Bible, with all its death sentences for dishonoring the Sabbath and “if a man shall lie with a man” etc. etc. There are only a few groups that are afraid to let men mingle with women privately: the Taliban, extreme Orthodox Jews of the type that rule Israel, and the kind of evangelical Christians whom Pence symbolizes. Pence’s excuse—that he wants to be above suspicion and not get accused of rape or flirtation—is insane, and proves his utter unfitness to hold any sort of high office. He is literally crazy.

Well, there’s your modern Republican Party: a bunch of white guys with guns running around waiting for the President of the United States to give them the order to start killing Democrats, queers, Muslims, Black activists, reporters and anyone else they deem “the enemy,” and a Vice President subscribing to a medieval view of sexuality by which women are seductive temptresses and men, horny devils that they are, cannot be allowed to be alone with them.

Finally, I want to comment on California Governor Gavin Newsom effectively ending the death sentence as long as he’s Governor of California.

I’m a supporter of the death penalty. Tit for tat: some crimes are so awful that the only fair way of punishing the criminal is death. But I have long recognized it’s a complicated issue, with pros and cons on both sides; and I’ve always been willing to change my mind. Gov. Newsom’s action strongly appeals to me. He hit the “pause” button; now, with the issue of capital punishment temporarily off the table, we can have a little breathing room to reconsider the issue. The Governor is taking a terrible beating for what he did: Republicans, predictably, are bashing him for being “pro-crime,” while even some Democrats are annoyed that Newsom seems to have flip-flopped on the issue. And particularly those Democrats in swing districts (which California still has a few of) now worry that their re-election chances have been diminished.

I don’t think so. The death penalty isn’t issue #1 for anyone in California. I think most fair-minded people are willing to give Newsom the benefit of the doubt. He’s still in his honeymoon phase, and is trying things out that he’s thought about for many years. Ultimately, I don’t believe the death penalty is a deterrent. I’ve never heard anyone testify that they would have killed someone, except that the death penalty made them not do it. That’s stupid. And finally, I like the idea of a society that isn’t addicted to vengeance. We can put the bad guys behind bars for the rest of their lives. In a way, that’s even worse punishment than a quick, easy death by injection.

In Utah, it’s against the law to discriminate against Trump supporters!


Every so often, I just have to laugh at the Party of Trump. Most of the time it drives me crazy, but now and then, it comes up with something really funny. Take, for instance, today’s report that “Utah approves hate crimes bill after GOP adds Trump supporters as a protected class.”

It seems that some Utah legislators introduced a bill that would protect racial minorities, LGBTQ people, and veterans” from various forms of discrimination. That’s good: for far too long, these minorities, and others, have suffered from discrimination, and they need the added protections that anti-hate crime legislation brings.

But “Trump supporters” as a protected class? The background is that there’s this far-right legislator, Karianne Lisonbee, who got “Trump supporters” added to the list. She’s one of the most viciously homophobic state legislators in America. In Utah, the issue of “conversion therapy” has been a hot one, as it has across the country. That’s the fake “science” in which conservative, usually Christian psychotherapists who are against homosexuality “work with” patients to try to get them to “go straight.” The practice has been universally denounced by reputable psychologists. Many states have rightfully banned it; California did so back in 2012.

Lisonbee tried her best to keep the Utah legislature from banning conversion therapy, but she lost when the Mormon Church (which historically has been homophobic, and in fact was one of the leading funders of California’s Proposition 8), pulled a switcheroo. The Church, which has been stung by criticisms of its homophobia, actually reached a deal with LGBTQ advocates in Utah by which the Church agreed not to oppose anti-conversion therapy efforts. That infuriated Lisonbee. Turns out that her homophobia was so blatant, so insulting, so biased that many people understandably sent her emails suggesting that they disagreed with her! Well, that’s politics; if you can’t tolerate angry emails, you shouldn’t hold public office. But Lisonbee felt that she was being “attacked” simply for being a Trump supporter!!! That’s why she got “Trump supporters” added to the protected-class list. Her argument: “Is not having somebody threaten you making you a victim?”

And that’s where today’s giggle is. Consider the ramifications of Lisonbee’s rationale. Black people, LGBTQ people, handicapped people—the usual protected classes—are all what they are because they were born that way (or became that way through no fault of their own). That’s why it should be against the law to discriminate against them: they can’t help being Black, or gay, or whatever. But was Lisonbee born a rightwing homophobe? Obviously not. That is something she has chosen to be. She made the choice to be hateful, to condemn millions of people to half-citizenship status, simply because her intolerant religious beliefs have convinced her that God hates fags.

Well, that’s her right, of course. She can believe anything she wants, no matter how dumb. But “Trump supporters” as a protected class? It is true that we’ve seen reporting, from across America, that many Trump supporters are ashamed to reveal their true feelings to their families, co-workers and friends, for fear of being vilified. But that doesn’t make them “victims” in the sense that gays who get beat up by homophobes are victims. If someone is ashamed of supporting Trump, they should look in the mirror and ask themselves why. If they’re so proud of Trump, then proclaim it from the rooftops! Convince anti-Trumpers of the correctness of your thinking! But don’t put yourself on the same level as a gay person or a Black person or (for that matter) a Muslim woman in a hijab who’s attacked on the street! That’s just plain crazy.

Which is why I’m chuckling. The upshot, in Utah, is that LGBTQ leaders, bowing to political reality, have agreed to accept Lisonbee’s “Trump supporters” addition, if it leads to protections for LGBTQ folks. Does that now mean that if I go to Utah and tell some dude wearing a MAGA hat he’s a moron, I can get arrested for a hate crime? I don’t know and I’m not about to find out; Utah is one place I doubt I’ll ever visit. But while we’re on the subject, how about adding “democratic socialists” to the protected class list? They’re as oppressed, as insulted and as demeaned (by Republicans) as “Trump supporters” are (by Democrats), so what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Right?

The Web at 30: Not what its inventor hoped for


“There’s an interesting kind of restraint that you find. There’s not a lot of cursing or swearing. There’s not a lot of personal cuts. There’s not a lot of put-downs that one would expect to find. There’s not screenfuls of, you know, ‘Go to hell.’ It’s surprising.”

That was Marc Andreessen, in 1993. The inventor of the first World Wide Web browser, Mosaic (which morphed into Netscape), Andreessen was celebrating the intramural aspect of the Web: a convivial place for scientists to communicate with each other. The idea was the free, fair and factual exchange of truth.  No lies, no personal insults, no smears would be allowed.

Now here we are, 26 years later, and the Internet has become a fount of vitriol and falsehood. What happened to Andreessen’s hopes?

To answer that, you have to go back to the World Wide Web’s beginning, which is generally dated to 1989-1990, when a computer scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, who worked at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), wrote a paper of historic importance. “Information Management: A Proposal” sought to solve a persistent problem at CERN, the world’s biggest particle physics laboratory: how to keep track of the mega-amounts of information generated by thousands of employees. At the heart of Berners-Lee’s proposal was linking nodes of data (for example, CERN’s employees) with other related nodes (such as an organizational chart) through a “distributed hypertext system.” Berners-Lee defined “hypertext” as “Human-readable information linked together in an unconstrained way.”

The idea is the basis of the science of “information management”: with massive amounts of information flowing into a system, the data must be organized in such a way as to make it accessible to anyone on demand, searchable (so data would not get “lost in hyperspace”), “live” (in the sense of up-to-date), interactive (so that users could “add one’s own private links”) and “non-centralized” in the sense that new information systems or nodes could become part of the Web without “any central control or coordination.”

Berners-Lee based his approach to his new information management tool on the men and women of CERN whom he knew so well: they were smart, polite and respectful, they all were pursuing the same scientific goals to make the world a better place, they all subscribed to the same notions of truth and factualness, they all agreed on common goals and needs, and they all were willing to support a large project, if they were convinced of its rightness. It was a cooperative effort, but what Berners-Lee couldn’t and didn’t foresee was a day when non-cooperative people, who did not play by the rules of factualness and fairness, would hijack the Web.

Yesterday, Berners-Lee gave a speech in London to celebrate the Web’s thirtieth anniversary. While he praised the development of “wonderful things” like Wikipedia and blogs, he also conceded that some “nasty things” have occurred on the Web that “I couldn’t have predicted.” It was a case of “What could go wrong?”

“Well, looking back, all kinds of things have gone wrong,” Berners-Lee lamented last Fall, when he announced a new project, a sort of New Deal for the Web, to make it “more communicative, more peaceful and more constructive.” Among the problems Berners-Lee referenced were “fake news, problems with privacy, abuse of personal data, and the way people can be profiled and then manipulated.” He ended with an anodyne plea: “Everybody is responsible going forward for making the web a better web in different ways.”

If I were Tim Berners-Lee (now Sir Tim), I wouldn’t hold my breath. The horses are out of the barn: the civility and “restraint” Andreessen hoped for 26 years ago have almost completely disappeared, replaced by the “Go to hellput-downs.” And there are villains to blame: the Web’s lack of “centralized control” ensures that there are no adults in the room to admonish bad behavior. Meanwhile, the Web’s very openness, unconstrainedness and accessibility means that any bad player can participate, not just people who are committed to truth and impartiality, but those who choose to act with recklessness and malice. We see, in places like Breitbart and with Donald Trump’s tweets, the very opposite of what Andreessen hoped for: “cursing and swearing,” “personal cuts,” a wholesale disregard of truth and standards of decency. Andreessen, Tim Berners-Lee, and other pioneers of the Internet could not possibly have conceived such treachery as the Republican Party, the Russian government, and other bad actors have unleashed. And it’s probably too late to do anything about it now.

Pelosi just took Impeachment off the table!


I would guess millions of Americans were as surprised as I was today when Nancy Pelosi took Impeachment off the table.

She left herself an out: “…unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan,” she’s against Impeachment now. Well, we don’t know what the evidence is. We don’t know what Mueller is going to say. We don’t know what the Southern District of New York is going to say. They may well find evidence that Trump has committed “compelling and overwhelming” crimes.

Certainly most Democrats believe he has. Less than a month ago, a respectable poll found that 53% of Dems think Congress should Impeach Trump, a percentage that grew 14 points just since the start of the new year. The Catch-22 in Pelosi’s phrasing, however, is that pesky word, “bipartisan.” She’s insisting she won’t put Impeachment into play unless her reading of House Republicans is that at least a good portion of them would support it. But the same poll showed that support for Impeachment among Republicans is actually falling, with only 8% on favor. In other words, there ain’t gonna be any “bipartisanship” in the House of Representatives, which means there ain’t gonna be any Impeachment. Unless the Moon falls into the sea, Democrats can give up that dream right now.

Which, frankly, is pissing a lot of us off. We’ve put our hearts, minds and energies into resisting this disastrous president for more than two years. We’ve heard the evidence of what looks like rampant collusion: the Trump Tower meeting, the Wikileaks connections, the perjury and lies, the Moscow Hotel deal, Jared Kushner’s suspicious maneuverings, Trump’s firing of Comey—on and on and on. In fact, I’m stunned that only 53% of Democrats want to move forward aggressively on Impeachment. Why not 100%? What the hell more do they need? Maybe when Trump pardons Manafort, they’ll grow some spine.

My tendency is to trust Pelosi. After all, we’ve celebrated her as the smartest politician in Washington, especially after she engineered the Blue Wave in the 2016 elections. She’s old, but canny as an alley cat; she knows how to get things done in the Congress better than anyone else. So maybe there’s something she knows that we don’t. Republicans, naturally, will take Pelosi’s words to boast, “See? We told you all along there was no Russia collusion. Even Pelosi knows it, which is why she made that statement.” Trump hadn’t tweeted anything like that at the time I wrote this, which is odd; I had thought he’d be all over it like fleas on a mangy dog. Maybe Huckabee Sanders or Kellyanne is out there, peddling that line, and I just happened to miss it. Maybe Trump will tweet something about it tonight. We’ll see.

Still, that will be the interpretation at Fox “News” and on the rightwing talk radio shows and conservative papers like the Wall Street Journal. Which makes it all the more unfortunate that Pelosi made her statement at this particular time. Why now? One possible interpretation is that she knows Mueller is about to release his Report imminently, and that it will not, repeat not contain impeachable charges. So she’s trying to inoculate Congressional Democrats from the fallout. If the Report comes out sans impeachable charges, Republicans will demand that Democrats denounce Impeachment immediately—to which they can reply, “But we already did. See Speaker Pelosi’s statement.” Admittedly, that’s a pretty lame response—but the truth is, Pelosi just handed Trump a great, big, fat, juicy cheeseburger—and his birthday isn’t until June 14.

So I’m in some bewilderment. The news cycle over the next few days may shed some light on the situation. Or it may not. Either way—and it pains me to say this—Trump has been having a good week. And Pelosi just made it better. He can run with the “No collusion!” mantra right through the 2020 election, and a lot of Americans will think to themselves, “You know what? He’s right. He may be a really bad man, but he hasn’t done such a bad job as president, and those Democrats really persecuted him.” That kind of thinking may just get Trump re-elected.

Newsom vs. Trump


Our new Governor here in California, Gavin Newsom, has found himself on the receiving end of Trump’s barbs lately, which is surely a sign that Trump fears him. Just over the weekend, Trump called Newsom “grandstanding,” which he meant as an insult, I suppose, although it’s not at all clear just how he thinks the Governor has earned that epithet. It’s true that Newsom has taken to Twitter with the same ferocity as has Trump; the Governor posts numerous times each day. But there’s a big difference between Newsom’s and Trump’s tweets. Newsom keeps his strictly to policy issues. He doesn’t insult, or brag, or lie, or accuse, or smear. He has certain well-known priorities, such as climate change, human rights (including women’s rights and gay and trans rights), sensible gun control, and fairness in immigration policy, that he believes passionately in, and for which the people of California elected him. He uses Twitter effectively to spotlight those issues and to frame his approaches to them. But there’s no negativity, no archness or sarcasm, as there is with almost everything Trump tweets. Instead of Trumpian Sturm und Drang, you get the well-considered political philosophy of an intelligent, stable leader.

So why is Trump needling Newsom, who isn’t even running for President? Couple reasons. For one, Trump just likes picking fights. It makes him feel alive and vital; for a man whose inner life is fundamentally sterile, it lights a spark within him. For another, Newsom is a Democrat, and hasn’t shied away from directly criticizing Trump, particularly on the Wall.

It must gall Trump that the governor of the richest, most populous state in the nation, with a big border with Mexico, has called out Trump’s Wall as useless and pointless, has described Trump’s “national emergency” as fake, and is working with California’s Attorney-General to sue Trump over the “emergency.” We know that Trump doesn’t like to be disagreed with, by anyone, but when the sitting governor of California is the disagreer, it drives Trump up the wall.

It must be really hard to be Donald Trump and to feel you have to be gladiatorial all the time. Trump is president, true, but he’s also just a person, and most people like to think they get along with others. We all have people who rub us the wrong way, but generally we try to avoid them, and to keep from getting into overt fights with them. Not Trump. He hates a lot of people, not necessarily because he even knows them, but because somehow, they threaten something important to him. Leading such a pugnacious life has got to be tedious. I think of our greatest presidents—Lincoln, Washington, FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, JFK, Obama, even Ronald Reagan—and they were all people who had a fundamental affection for other human beings. They were social creatures, comfortable in their own skins, enjoying social interactions, with many friends—kind, peaceful men, instinctively gregarious, quick to laughter. That doesn’t describe Trump. Does he have any friends? We know almost nothing of his private life. Does he hang out with anyone? Even Nixon had Bebe Rebozo! JFK, the model of a modern president, had friends to spare. We’ve read how he loved to share a drink and a cigar with them, to laugh and relax and play touch football. We know that Reagan too loved to share a cocktail or glass of wine when the workday was over, even with his political “enemies” such as Tip O’Neill. FDR famously would invite his friends to his living quarters in the White House during the evening and mix up his own martinis. Obama had a circle of buddies to play basketball with. These were nice men, happy, psychologically secure, who loved and wanted to be loved. They were normal.

Trump is not normal. Even his fans know that. They know that there’s something deeply twisted in his makeup. I doubt that his most ardent supporter thinks he or she could relax with Trump, or that Trump could relax with him or her, should they find themselves alone together. What must it be like to always be on guard, always looking for the next enemy, the next insult, the next threat, the next attack? What a horrible way to live.

I’ve been with Governor Newsom. He laughs easily, including at himself. He listens carefully, with the attentiveness of someone who cares about the thoughts and feelings of the person he’s with. He genuinely cares about the welfare and happiness of those who are less well off than most: the immigrant, the outcast, the victim. Does anyone sincerely believe that Trump cares about anyone except himself and his family?

I do a lot of talking about the virtues of caring and compassion, even as I know that I’m not the nicest person in the world. That’s why I look for politicians to set examples of decency in the world, to express our better angels: I want them, who have so much power, to do God’s work, in all the ways in which I cannot. I want them to do better than I can. That’s why I’m a liberal and a Democrat. Democrats don’t always do the right thing, but they tend toward rightness, in the way Dr. King said the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. That’s all we Democrats ask: Let America bend toward justice, even if it often fails to realize it. With Donald Trump, the moral arc bends toward disintegration, anarchy, vengeance. It bends toward the end of morality. That is what the Republican Party now stands for.

Jews to Trump: We are not in play


As a Jew I have no problem with what Rep. Ilhan Omar said. We have never reached the point in this country where it’s impermissible to criticize the policy of an Ally. The closest we ever came was during World War II, when the Soviet Union became our unlikely partner in the struggle against Nazi Germany, and Americans tactically decided to demur in their denunciation of Communism, at least for the duration of the war. We largely did; but criticism of the Soviet system (the gulags, collective farms, one-party system, absence of civil liberties, etc.) never entirely abated; and if someone did manage a criticism, he was not denounced in the way Republicans (and a few Democrats) are excoriating Omar.

I myself have frequently criticized Israel, Likud and Netayahu for their racism, and for making a settlement regarding the Occupied Territories impossible. That doesn’t make me anti-Semitic! Nor does it make me anti-Israel. Anti-Semitism, in fact, is almost exclusively found in the U.S. on the Republican right, among the neo-nazis and white supremacist “Christians” who constitute Trump’s base. Which makes Republican accusations against Omar all the more grotesque.

Well, grotesque is what we’ve come to expect from the Party of Trump, and they never let us down. Now the Democratic House, and Pelosi in particular, are in something of a pickle. Jews have been a reliable Democratic constituency, for obvious reasons, but the Trump regime has worked diligently to peel some Jews off into the Republican camp; and this Omar business will perhaps help them a bit. Most American Jews support Israel in a kind of intellectual, token way. It’s nice that there’s a Jewish homeland after the atrocities Hitler committed against Europe’s Jews. It’s nice that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. It’s nice that there’s a place for American Jews to visit that feels like home. At the same time, most American Jews (and I feel confident saying this, even though it’s only anecdotal) disagree with Likud’s approach to the Occupied Territories. We feel that the Settlements are a real poke in the eye to Palestinians. We know (although we may not like to admit it) that virulent racism against Arabs and Muslims is widespread among Israel’s Jews. We believe that Netayahu has allied himself with the most profoundly racist, fascist elements within Israel; the ultra-Orthodox, ultra-nationalist parties Likud partners with to maintain its majority are Israel’s equivalent of the Franklin Graham-Ralph Reed Christian fascists in America. It’s important to call these facts out, and that’s what Omar did.

She may have been clumsy about it. As Speaker Pelosi noted, Omar may not have realized how her words would be interpreted, or used against her by Republicans. If so, this has been a valuable lesson for Rep. Omar. The word “allegiance” was intemperately selected. But we shouldn’t let that obscure her real meaning: that Israel, under its current regime, is doing bad things.

There’s an old slogan I remember hearing as a kid: “My country right or wrong, but still my country.” It meant that America might occasionally do some really stupid stuff (like interning Japanese-Americans), but that we still were required to love our country and never desert it. This may be the case; but I don’t think anyone is twisting the slogan to mean, “My country’s allies right or wrong, but still my country’s allies.” Allies can have healthy disagreements. When Obama was president, everybody knew that he was sympathetic to the Palestinians; that for all the stupid stuff they’ve done (and there’s been plenty), they at least have a strong case for a national homeland that includes the Occupied Territories. That sympathy got Obama in heaps of trouble with Netayahu, and with rightwing Republicans. It’s important also to realize that these rightwing Republicans, who frequently are evangelical and pentecostal, have no inherent love for Jews. No, their allegiance—above and beyond the Constitution—is to their Christian God and Jesus Christ. The only reason they support Israel is because, in their reading of certain Biblical passages, Israel must exist before Jesus can revisit Earth in a Second Coming, which would lead to the Rapture which they all await. When that happens, I assure you, Christians will demand that Jews instantly renounce their faith and convert to Christianity, or be consigned to the fires of Hell.

So I say to my fellow Jews, don’t be misled by Republican attempts to fool you. You do not want these people to have any more power than they already hold. Trust the liberalism that always has inspired Judaism, the same liberalism that inspired FDR, JFK, and the Civil Rights movement. We know what it’s like to be hated, discriminated against, shut out and spat upon. We cannot do that to others. Israel must get along with their Muslim neighbors, and the only way is to give Palestinians a country, and then to hold that country accountable to the highest standards of behavior. We have no reason to think that Palestinians are incapable of that. It’s Republicans in our own country that are unable to behave civilly.

Republican opposition to expanding healthcare coverage is based on lies and fear-mongering


David Brooks is the New York Times’ token “conservative” columnist. He’s not a hardcore rightwinger, and he’s not 100% behind Trump in everything. But Brooks is, ultimately, a Republican, which means his overriding motivation, when he writes a column, is to undermine Democrats. That’s exactly what he did the other day, in a piece so misleading, the Times really should not have run it.

The column was about “Medicare For All,” the proposal to extend America’s successful Medicare program to everybody, not just people 65 and older. Medicare For All has been embraced by just about every Democratic politician, from our California Governor, Gavin Newsom, to of course presidential candidates including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders. There’s no precise meaning to the phrase, but still, the concept is enormously popular among the American people: a year ago, a Reuters-Ipsos poll reported that Medicare For All was supported by an overwhelming 70% of Americans.

More recently, however, Republicans have made much of the fact that another respected poll, from Hill-HarrisX, found that only 13% support universal coverage (which Medicare For All would accomplish). Did the idea suddenly run out of steam? No. What Republicans didn’t tell you was that this was only if “universal healthcare” means private health insurance was completely eliminated, leaving Medicare For All the only option available. In fact, the Hill-HarrisX poll also presented other options: universal coverage with a private supplement had 32% approval, while universal coverage with a private opt-out had 26% support. In other words, universal coverage, in some form or other, had the approval of 71% of the American people, while only a puny 29% were opposed to it in any form.

David Brooks argues that, while Medicare For All sounds good on paper, “the trick is in the transition” from the current welter of systems into whatever will replace it. He paints what is certainly an overly-gloomy picture, and a misleading one, of what that transition would look like. “[P]ublic health care would destroy this [insurance] industry, and those people would have to find other work,” he laments, as if it were the duty of the American people to keep the medical insurance industry alive and profitable. I don’t feel that way; do you? Hospitals, he warns, would close. (No proof of that is offered.) Doctors, he threatens, would suffer (again, offering no proof), while “Similar shocks would ripple to other health care workers.” Again, no proof, not even a logical argument. Brooks’ final scaremongering is that patients would find themselves waiting endlessly for doctor appointments—again, no evidence to point towards that conclusion.

Each of Brooks’ scare tactics has been a healthcare industry P.R. device for decades. Whenever any change was proposed to the exclusively-private nature of healthcare provision, the hospital-Big Pharma-insurance industry cartel has launched a massive advertising campaign to scare Americans out of their wits; and the Republican Party has cooperated in that scare campaign to mislead the American people. Now, they’re at it again, using so-called moderate Republicans, like Brooks, to carry their water.

No doubt that a complete transition from our current patchwork system to one of 100% universal healthcare, run by the government, cannot be done overnight. Nor is anyone proposing that it can. What Democrats are proposing is simply to make the current system better, more efficient and inclusive, and cheaper. Why Republicans should stand in opposition to such sensible goals is understandable only when you consider that (a) Republicans in the Congress have a gold-standard health insurance program, one that is far better than almost anyone else has, and they don’t care about anyone else; and (b) they know that if they stand in solidarity with the healthcare cartel, they’ll be able to get more campaign contributions from it, and also to get lucrative lobbying jobs when their constituents finally throw them out of office. Americans should not be deceived by Republican opposition to better healthcare coverage. As with most Republican positions, it’s not good for most people.

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