The Federal Congress can be Bipartisan after all

Well, what do you know, the federal Congress can be bipartisan after all. The news came down yesterday that the Senate managed to pass a bipartisan criminal reform bill.

I’m not quite sure why anyone thinks this is a “win” for President Drumpf, since he had almost nothing to do with it. Besides, it still has to go back to the House before the President can sign it. But it proves that — oh my Gawd! — the Congress can actually get something done when there’s a will to do so.

There are some good and overdue reforms in there (although it could go a lot further) so let’s see if they actually manage not to screw it up before the Holidays are over. It might be a nice gift to those who have been unfairly incarcerated under circumstances that really do cry out for reform.

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Here we go with another Government shutdown

President Drumpf wants to shut down the government again in order to get his border wall. Right before Christmas. Oh boy, here we go again.

The Republicans were all ready to label it the “Shumer Shutdown” and blame it on the Democrats, but that plan was sabotaged when President-I-Have-No-filter-at-All announced in a public negotiation with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer that he would be “proud” to shut down the government in order to get the $5 billion for his border wall that he’s insisting on.

Okay, forget about the fact that his administration hasn’t spent most of the money that’s already been appropriated for a border wall.

Okay, forget about the fact that every expert who knows anything about this has repeatedly opined that a border wall would be completely ineffective in keeping migrants from coming to the border.

Okay, forget about the fact that we’d be much better off helping the countries like Honduras and El Salvador and Guatemala — from which most of these poor refuges come — with their economic and political conditions, so that they wouldn’t produce so many refugees.

(I mean has anybody ever asked the question why we don’t have so many refugees from Panama or Costa Rica or even Nicaragua?)

As it happens, a government “shutdown” wouldn’t impact most of the government, because most of the government has already been funded for this year. And even for the portion that hasn’t been, there are always those public safety exceptions that apply to “essential employee” that assure that the TSA employees have to continue working, even if they’re not getting paid.

But this is the Republican way now. Politics by brinksmanship. My way or the highway. If I can’t get what I want, I’m taking my crayons and going home.

Oh, and, happy holidays!

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The Affordable Care Act (Again!)

You know, when I come across news like this, it really makes me want to find a Republican and gouge their eyes out.

If you weren’t paying attention — and who would blame if you if you weren’t — a federal judge down in Texas struck down the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional because it no longer includes the individual mandate.

Say what?

Okay, let’s review.

  • When enacted, the Affordable Care Act included an individual mandate, which, (as I’ve repeatedly pointed out on this blog) was a Republican idea that came out of the Heritage Foundation.
  • The Supreme Court has already verified the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in a 2015 decision called King v. Burwell.
  • Last year, after repeated efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed, the Republicans managed to sneak a repeal of just the individual mandate into their tax “reform” bill (which was really a tax give-away to corporations, and had nothing to do with tax reform).
  • Still not satisfied, the eighteen Republican state attorneys general and two GOP governors sued, claiming that without the individual mandate, the Act is not constitutional (because the individual mandate is integral to the whole).

This is the argument that the judge in Texas bought into. Now, most legal scholars don’t think it’s a winning argument, but if the case ends up at the Supreme Court again — now with both Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh holding down the right wing of the Supreme Court — who knows WTF the court would decide.

By now it should be clear to any person with a brain that the Republicans have no plan for health care. They never had a plan. All they ever wanted to do was block Obama and keep him from having a major political victory.

Obama (in case our Republican friends have not noticed) is no longer in office. His legacy is what it is. But without the Affordable Care Act, we would go back to the days when millions upon millions of people don’t have health insurance and catastrophic health care bills become the leading cause of personal bankruptcies in the United States.

I mean, I understand scoring political points, but doesn’t there come a time when even Republicans care about the health care of ordinary Americans? Or have they become so cynical that political points is the only thing they care about.

And don’t come at me with the “Democrats are just as bad.” They’re not. It’s a false equivalency. For anyone who is willing to take their head out of their ass, they will quickly discover that it’s not the same on both sides of the aisle.

Oh, and, happy holidays!

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The kind of Republicans we used to have (and how that makes us giddy)

Yesterday, we had the services for George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States. Old Pops Bush looks pretty good these days, especially in comparison to the moron we having holding down the Presidency at the current time.

It’s interesting. When #41 was President I certainly wasn’t a fan, but I didn’t hate the guy. He seemed kind of goofy, and Dana Carvey of SNL did a great impression of him.

Now Bush is being feted as one of the last of the great traditional Republicans. Everyone is talking about his civility, that he was a gentleman, that you could negotiate with him. That he wanted to have a kinder and gentler nation.

Well, yes and no.

I mean, it was Bush who employed Lee Atwater[1] who created the famous Willy Horton ads. Dog-whistle racism, a preview of what we get from the Trumpster and his minions now all the time.[2]  In addition:

  • Bush is credited with signing the Americans with Disabilities Act, but more of the credit should really go to Senators Tom Harkin and Ted Kennedy. But Bush did support the ADA and did sign it.
  • Bush is credited with helping to stabilize NATO after the reunification of Germany, which made a lot of European governments nervous given the history of German militarism.
  • Bush is credited for his prosecution of the first Gulf War. Of course, it was also Bush’s ambassador April Glaspie who practically invited Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait.
  • Likewise, Bush was credited with the successful invasion of Panama to topple dictator Manuel Noriega. Again, the Americans under both Bush and Reagan had done much to first build up Noriega.

I’m not and will never be a Republican. In George Lakoff’s model of moral politics, I’m not into the “strict father” model of government. By contrast I believe in the notion of a Commonwealth, where we actually take care of people’s needs and try to level the playing field.

But all of that notwithstanding, the point is this: George H.W. Bush was a decent human being. He was a human being one could negotiate with, a human being  who actually felt some compassion. He was a human being who actually had the courage to serve in World War II, where the plane he was piloting was shot down.[3] He was so much better than the conman/übernarcissist who currently resides in the White House, that it’s made us all giddy with nostalgia.[4]

That’s where we’ve arrived at in politics in 2018 in the United States. Sad!, as the Coward-in-Chief might tweet.

[1] Lee Atwater eventually became famous for his deathbed confession, in which he appeared to regret some of the cruel ways in which he went about his business. But then, that may have been more about the perception from others that Atwater was a racist then genuine regret for the way he went about his business.

[2] Some commentators have noted that Bush left the attack dog aspects of his campaign to associates, so that he could continue to play the role of the “proper gentleman” in his own dealings.

[3] Bush had the good fortune to be rescued by a submarine.

[4] We’re so giddy that there was a meme going around Facebook because a camera caught George W. (#43) sneaking some candy to Michelle Obama because – gasp! – they’re actually friends. There is practically no person on Earth who is friends with #45.

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Some day the Conman-in-Chief will also get a state funeral, and that burns me

I realized, watching video of George H.W. Bush lying in state at the national rotunda, that some day the Conman-in-Chief will also be getting a state funeral.

For some reason that really burned me.

The Conman-in-Chief doesn’t deserve a state funeral. He deserves an end closer to that of James “Whitey” Bulger, who was essentially beaten to death in a federal prison. For all the people that the Conman-in-Chief has lied to, has deceived, has caused pain to, or who died because of the actions of the Conman-in-Chief, that’s what he deserves.

Sorry folks, that may be harsh, but that’s how I feel.

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This was a seriously odd High-Five

Some of you may have noticed the very odd high-five between Vlaidmir Putin and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G-20 summitn in Argentina last week.

That’s the same Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who was recently found to have ordered the assassination of Washington Post Journalist Jamal Kashoggi.

Boy these two guys really seem to like each other.

Naturally, SNL spoofed the whole thing, including how none of the other leaders at the G-20 summit seemed to want to have anything to do with the Trumpster.

It sure makes you wonder. What the hell is going on out there in this great World of ours.

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America Should be Ashamed of Itself

On Tuesday night Mississippi elected Cindy Hyde Smith as its Junior Senator. The election happened now, at the end of November, because it was a run-off. The original election, back on November 6th, was not decisive because neither candidate got the required 50%.[1]

In the runoff it was close.[2]

And all of this happened even though Cindy Hyde-Smith was heard saying some of the most remarkable things on the campaign trail. For example, she said about Colin Hutchinson, a cattle rancher who had just praised her, that ‘If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.’[3]

Say what?!

Oh sure, Hyde-Smith “apologized” if anyone had been “offended.” [3] She said that it was just meant as a “joke.”

The joke is that someone like this can get elected Senator in 2018 in the United States.

Oh and later she “joked” about voter suppression. Haha, that’s funny as well!

This is the fourth time that we had a “moral victory” and the fourth time that we came up short. The other three were:

  • Ron Gillum
  • Stacey Abrams
  • Beto O’Rourke
  • Bill Nelson (sort of)

Ron Gillum and Stacey Abrams – both African-Americans – ran for Governor in Florida and Georgia respectively, and they came close to knocking off their Republican opponents. It’s pretty clear that in both states voter suppression played a big (and probablydecisive) roll in keeping them from winning.[4]

Beto O’Rourke – the “new Obama” – came close to knocking off übervillain Ted Cruz, but it wasn’t enough.

Bill Nelson, the incumbent white senator in Florida would also likely have  won his re-election if not for voter suppression in that state.

And now Mike Espy forced a run-off with Cindy Hyde-Smith.

I can only say, fuck the moral victories.

We need to be winning these things. And we should be ashamed as a nation that we let people like Cindy Hyde-Smith win, that we let people like Brian Kemp suppress voters and win, that we let down great candidates like Beto O’Rourke who don’t win. Shame on us.

Following the Hyde-smith win, NPR had a story on how shocked election officials around the World are when they hear that election officials in the United States can sometimes regulate their own elections.

In the meantime President Dumpf and his Republican allies are braying about voter fraud and about how illegal immigrants allegedly vote in large numbers.

They don’t.

They can’t.

But let’s not let reality supersede a good story, while the real villains not only get away scot free, but  actually get themselves elected.

In the United States.

In 2018.

[1] Another right-wing Republican, Chris McDaniel, received 16.5% of the vote, enough to deny Hyde-Smith her 50%. Even so, Hyde-Smith was at 41.5% while Mike Espy, her Democratic opponent was slightly behind at 40.6%. Combined, both Republicans (Hyde-Smith and McDaniel) were at about 58%, so clearly above 50%.

[2] No it wasn’t close. It was only close if you think of a 7.7% difference as close. It isn’t.

[3] The video of her saying this prompted lots of outrage – for crying out loud, even Walmart Stores Inc. pulled its support for her campaign and asked for her to return a $1,000 donation – and it was clear to just about everyone that she was referring to lynchings, of which there have been far too many in Mississippi.

[4] Brian Kemp was the Secretary of State in Georgia before running for Governor (or really, while running for Governor), and it’s clear that he in particular engaged in voter suppression efforts.

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