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Bipartisanship? You don’t say!

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All this talk of bipartisanship is making me giddy! You have that so-called “Problem Solvers Caucus” in the House, whose co-chairman, a Republican named Tom Reed, claimed is “the last great hope for this country [to] work together.”

Well, that’s hyperbolic, but maybe he’s right. Reed represents a district in upstate New York that is swingy: he’s not a teabagger, but he was strongly in favor of “repeal and replace” until he experienced intense backlash, mainly from senior citizens, at his Town Halls. That experience seems to have made him more sober-minded: his most recent pronouncements on healthcare reform include a demand to allow pre-existing conditions to be covered, letting children remain on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26, and non-specific appeals for “common sense health care reform” in Medicaid and Medicare.

That’s a good start. As I’ve written before, the solution to the Affordable Care Act is to fix it, not end it—and Rep. Reed is realizing that, stupid Republican boasts to the contrary, plunging ahead with insane, impossible promises made in the heat of campaigns is not the way to govern.

Reed’s co-chair in the Problem Solvers Caucus is the Democrat Josh Gottheimer, from the far northern part of the state, heavily dominated by the liberal voters of Bergen County. The idea he brings to the table is funding for Obamacare’s cost-sharing, which means helping the poorest Americans afford coverage by siphoning $7 billion to insurance companies, to reduce patients’ out-of-pocket expenses.

It is that pool of money that Trump has threatened to cut off, calling it a “bailout” for insurance companies when he knows (or should know) that it’s nothing of the sort. Of course, were Trump to pull that money, it would effectively end Obamacare, or at least a large chunk of it, which is something the Obama-hating POTUS wants to do very much.

How will this current president work with the Problem Solvers Caucus? We can’t know yet, but bipartisanship appears to be blossoming in the Senate as well, where, yesterday, the Senate Health Committee surprisingly announced it will hold bipartisan hearings next month to stabilize and strengthen the individual health insurance market,” according to the Democratic Senator, Patty Murray. That’s good news for the Affordable Care Act, whose name must remain, and good news for the country, but bad news for Trump, who prefers confrontation over conciliation because his base would rather fight than compromise. I would think this is a clear warning from Senate Republicans that they’re close to the breaking point with him. With the new scandals boiling around Donald Jr.’s fake account of his meeting with the Russians—we now know that Trump himself scripted the lie—this regime is tottering on the brink of extinction, and even the dumbest Republicans are starting to realize that—as Floyd Flake put it—they need to build “an ark” to survive the flood that is Donald J. Trump. So here’s wishing bipartisanship in Congress good luck. May Trump’s days be short, and Breitbart’s tears bitter.

 


No W.H. chaos! Plus, Mooch is looking for a job

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Donald J. Trump ‏Verified Twitter account @realDonaldTrump

Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure: No WH chaos!

9:51 a.m. President fires W.H. Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci on advice of Chief of Staff Gen. Kelly

“No WH chaos!”

White House plumbing system goes down, toilets overflow

“No WH chaos!”

Washington Monument falls over, crushes West Wing

“No WH chaos!”

Aliens land in Rose Garden, kidnap entire staff

“No WH chaos!”

Twelve billion cockroaches invade Oval Office

“No WH chaos!”

Bankruptcy court rules Trump owes U.S. Treasury $100 billion

“No WH chaos!”

Mueller: “I am indicting President Trump for obstruction of justice and misprision of treason.”

“No WH chaos!”

Vladimir Putin: “I am releasing the sex tapes from that dossier of President Donald J. Trump in that Moscow hotel.”

“No WH chaos!”

Gen. Kelly resigns, says situation “just too weird for me”

“No WH chaos!”

Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, joint statement: “We urge President Trump to resign or face the certainty of impeachment.”

“No WH chaos!”

Trump’s hair starts eating his scalp

“No WH chaos!”

Gigantic sinkhole opens up under White House, swallows everything

“No WH chaos!”

And now, this just in:

Resume – Anthony Scaramucci

  1. Last Job: White House Communications Director. July 23, 2017 – Aug. 1, 2017

Duties: Did a lot of stuff for POTUS. Performed an incredible job, inspired nation, looked great on T.V.

Reason for leaving: Seeking greater opportunities.

  1. Next-to-last job: Entrepreneur-investor, 2001-2017. Made a gazillion dollars flipping real estate in New York City.

Reason for leaving: To become White House Communications Director.

I am seeking a fulltime position that utilizes my amazing talents:

  1. Super-hot dude
  2. Colorful language
  3. Good with children
  4. Able to bench press 175 lbs
  5. Snappy dresser
  6. Can toss a pizza round while singing the libretto from Aida
  7. Once had a perfect score at pinball
  8. Perfect hair

Compensation: Negotiable.

Contact: Mooch at Pennsylvania Ave. Starbucks. I am the handsome dude eating the pesto panini.


A desperate Trump goes to war with gays

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I don’t know if it was the furor of last week, or simply the cumulative weight of six unrelenting months of Trump scandals, but clearly, we’ve reached a point where it’s not just Democrats waiting for the end game on this dreadful presidency, it’s Republicans.

And not just in the Congress, where their fed-up-ness is palpable. My sense of GOPers in general is that one by one they’re slipping away. I saw a guy on CNN whom they described as an “average” Trump voter say that, while he still roots for Trump to create jobs, he’s lost all “trust” [his word] in him (his wife nodded in agreement). From there, it’s just a step or two for them to figure out that, Hey, it’s not like Trump’s the only one who can invite Tim Cook to the White House. Once that couple reaches their tipping point, it’s goodbye, Charlie. No more loyalty to the Trump family.

I must say I’ve been pleased with the national reaction to the transgender ban. I was up in Seattle staying with family when my niece told me, early one morning when I’d awakened, how Trump had tweeted that from now on trans people will not be welcomed in the U.S. armed forces. To say I was stunned is an understatement. My jaw dropped halfway to my chest. I’d been waiting for Trump to make a hostile move towards the LGBTQ community. He’d already spoken to Falwell’s Liberty University, and made nice with the likes of Franklin Graham, and then he had that embarrassing laying on of hands by some Pentacostals. (He probably took a hot shower immediately afterwards. Trump is a notorious germaphobe who once said he hates to even shake hands with people.) But he hadn’t made an overt attack on gays—until last week. Why then?

Obviously, to appeal to his base, or at least that truncated part that still supports him—namely, the Christian homophobes. But who or what put that idea into his head? Among all the other problems he faces, why now? Well, look no further than Ann Coulter, who was brought in by Bannon for a little chat with Trump before the trans slur.

There are lots of homophobes in America, sadly, but few are meaner and more disreputable than Coulter, a tumor of the far right. She accuses gay people of wanting to “destroy marriage” when in fact gay people want to preserve it by getting married themselves. And honestly, I could quote from her tweets for the next hour on all the awful, disgusting things she’s said about gay people. (She herself doesn’t appear to have a sex life.) I’m sure she told Trump something like, “Mr. President, you’re losing this RussiaGate battle, and the only way out is to double down on your evangelical support by attacking gay people.” And that is exactly what Trump—who once lied that gay people have no better friend than he–did.

I’m not really worried about gay rights being taken away: the cat’s out of the bag (or is it the horse is out of the barn? I’m no good at these animal metaphors), and not even Trump and his Christians are going to change that. The religious right is just going to have to live with gay rights, and damn them if they don’t like it. But I do find it tedious that we still have to defend gays every time some yahoo like Trump says something disparaging.

Yet, as I said, I’m pleased with the reaction to Trump’s hysterical trans tweet. The Navy announced it’s doing nothing to enforce the ban until it gets clearance from higher-ups. Meanwhile, the “generals” Trump lied about talking to are starting to weigh in, and they don’t sound any too pleased with enforcing a policy they know is wrong, divisive and harmful to military efficacy. Trump’s other lie—that we can’t afford healthcare for trans folk in the military—crumbled as soon as it was revealed that the Pentagon spends $40 million a year on Viagra, compared to $8 million on trans medical care. I guess in Trumpworld it’s more important for a straight male soldier to get an erection than for a trans Farsi interpreter or anti-hacker to hold her job.

And so here we go into the end game. Trump is desperately afraid of losing his job, of getting fired by his boss, the American people. “You’re fired!” is his nightmare. He’s grasping at straws, but it won’t do any good. It’s going to be fun watching him and his Republican Party melt down. I expect the revanchists on the far right are going to get more savage the worse things get for them. That will be fun, too. It’s always nice to see your enemies crater.


What Rand Paul has in common with Hitler’s Vice Chancellor

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Franz von Papen gave the world Hitler the monster. He was the powerful German politician and war hero who persuaded Hindenberg, Germany’s president in 1933, to appoint Hitler as Chancellor. A grateful Hitler made von Papen his Vice Chancellor, and later appointed him to several diplomatic posts.

In his “Memoirs,” von Papen describes his ultra-reactionary politics. He hated Germany’s Federal government, believing that power should be reserved to the states. He believed in individual “discipline and obedience,” which made him “conservative by nature.” He detested Marxism, which was a “struggle to overturn the capitalist system.” He was dedicated to the Catholic Church.

He was particularly incensed by the Weimar Republic’s turn towards socialism, which he defined as “the State [being] the ultimate factor in all our affairs…and the final repository of authority.” By von Papen’s reckoning, the “masses,” that vast collection of Germans, had no business turning to government for any rights. If they suffered, they should find “comfort in the teachings of the Church.” He was especially against “national insurance schemes,” a position he held “throughout my life.” Had von Papen lived in America today, he would have been a member of the tea party.

Last summer, Rand Paul said on Fox “News” that repealing Obamacare is not “about actuarial tables and insurance…this is about freedom…it’s about whether the individual knows best or government knows best.” For Rand Paul, the least government is the best government. For good measure, in his remarks he just had to get in a few insults of President Obama. “Are we too stupid that President Obama ha[d] to tell us what kind of insurance? Does he think Americans are too dumb to make their own decisions?” For Paul, letting the government have a hand in providing healthcare to Americans is “giv[ing] up our freedom.”

Both von Papen and Paul share the belief that human beings should depend on themselves for the things they need. Von Papen, in “Memoirs,” wrote vividly of the Germany he grew up in: a rural heartland, in which religion, family, the military and hard work were the central pillars of life. Paul, too, reveres those simpler values. If Americans want healthcare insurance, they can turn to their families, their churches, or various charities for help. But they should expect nothing from the government: not healthcare, not Social Security, nothing at all, except for a strong military to protect them.

The reason why Rand Paul is so fantastically incorrect in his political thinking is that America is no longer a rural heartland of farms, churches and closely-knit white Christian families. Paul’s version of libertarianism is peculiarly ill-suited for our modern nation, which is so diverse. There are things only government can do, besides national defense, and one of those is to get into the healthcare business. Until we rid healthcare of private insurance companies, for-profit hospitals and greedy pharmaceutical companies, adequate healthcare is simply going to be too expensive for the vast majority of Americans to afford. But if we get rid of the capitalism factor in healthcare, the only thing that can take its place is government.

National health insurance seems to work in every civilized country in the world. America is an outlier, and one of the reasons is arch-conservatives like Rand Paul, who insist on unrestricted capitalism, which means letting corporations gouge people as much as they can. I find it hard to believe that Rand Paul, himself a doctor, actually believes the nonsense he spouts. I suspect he’s feeding us the line that his wealthiest donors want him to. Because of Citizens United and its allowance of dark money, we can’t know where Rand Paul’s campaign funds come from. The Center for Responsive Politics has assembled this list of his top contributors; the Koch Brothers are right up there, but I’m sure their money, and the money of their friends like the DeVos family, is flowing to Rand Paul in ways we’ll never know. The aim of these billionaires is to keep as much of their money as they can, to maintain their power, to crush whatever socialistic incursions they perceive into their capitalistic monopolies, and to persuade Americans to vote for people like Rand Paul, who is so inimical to the interests of working-class folks.

Von Papen’s career didn’t end well: he was tried at Nuremberg. He was acquitted, although it was a close thing: the British and American judges declared him not guilty of war crimes, while the Russian and French judges found him guilty. Under the rules, he was set free—but not before the Court said he had committed “political immoralities.”

Rand Paul has committed political immoralities, too. He has not stood in front of a tribunal—yet. Perhaps someday he shall.


Dems in “I told you so” mode as Trump’s sickness becomes apparent

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“I told you so” is a natural human response when you know you were right about something, and someone else didn’t believe you. We members of the anti-Trump Resistance are in full-fledged “I told you so” mode these days, as all but the most unconscious of Republicans are starting to realize what a disaster this orange-haired monster is.

Every day is worse than the preceding one. He is incapable of governing.. What’s worse, the entire country—no, the entire world is seeing how insane he is. When Senator Jack Reed was caught on a “hot mike” the other day whispering to Senator Susan Collins, “I think he’s crazy,” and Collins, a Republican, replied, “I’m worried,” they were simply emblematic of the dawning realization throughout Washington that the President of the United States is mentally ill. When I heard that, my only question was, “What took you so long?” Some of us saw Trump’s paranoia, narcissism, and other clinical abnormalities well before the election. Now, as the scales fall from their eyes, everybody is seeing them

Have you noticed, though, how reticent the media are to talk about a mentally deranged Trump? There’s a reason for that. Back in the 1964 election (yes, I remember it well), there was overt speculation that Barry Goldwater was insane. The media got a lot of criticism for that, and maybe it’s well that they did, so they stopped calling politicians mentally ill, even when most of them thought one was—Nixon, for example, who was widely viewed by reporters as crazy as a loon. That reticence was called “The Goldwater Rule.”

But then Trump came along. A few days ago, the prestigious American Psychoanalytic Association notified its 3,500 members that they are now allowed to “use their knowledge responsibly” in interviews, which means that, for the first time, all those psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, therapists and social workers [will be able] to diagnose Donald Trump” if asked to do so on television, radio, print, blogs, or any other medium. That means you can expect Trump’s mental health to become a very hot topic of national conversation, starting soon.

Mika Brzezinski already got the ball rolling on national television when, following Trump’s assault on her, she said on Morning Joe, “It’s possible that he is mentally ill…At the very least he’s not well.” While it may take Republicans a little more time to come ‘round to the conclusion that Trump is mentally sick (many Republicans are “not well” also, which makes rational thinking impossible for them), Daily Kos reports that “It’s slowly dawning on Republicans that Trump just might be the worst president ever.” That’s good news: it means that even people who have trouble processing reality eventually stumble into the truth. From my point of view, I don’t care if Republicans think Donald Trump is mentally sick, or if they simply think he’s the worst president ever. It works the same either way: his base starts to erode, craven Republicans like Ryan and McConnell start to sense it’s okay to be against a dangerous president, and then we’re in the home stretch towards impeachment, or Article 25, or whatever form the eventual denouement takes.

 

 


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