Category Archives: GOP

It’s Horror Film Season in D.C.

In most low grade horror films, particularly of the slasher variety, there’s a point where the hero, using the ‘Last girl’ thinks the killer is dead, only to have the bad guy rise and start attacking again. Like those poorly thought out monstrous plots the GOP is taken their ACA repeal and shown to the world that it is not dead.

Cassidy-Graham, the latest, and truly most likely to be final, attempt to repeal the ACA is shambling its way toward a vote on the Senate floor. This is likely the final push as the Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that the Budget Reconciliation bill must pass by Sep 30th.

There have been, of course, no debates (apparently only 90 seconds of debate remains on the clock.) No committee hearings or mark-ups, no public hearings, and there will be no CBO score letting us know the final cost and the number of people who will lose their insurance, but the GOP is plunging ahead despite all that.

This is an example of perverse incentives. Millions of people, perhaps tens of millions if the earlier bills are any guide, getting tossed off their insurance is something that would normally make an elected official very hesitant, but there’s something more terrifying to the sitting GOP members, a primary challenge.

For a number of years, approaching a decade now, the GOP has through a mixture of lies and hyperbole, painted the ACA (Obamacare) as the greatest evil, failure, and theft of liberty to have ever risen against the nation. (Death Panels anyone? Worse than Slavery?) They have convince their dedicated base that the law must be repealed and election cycle after election cycle they have promised just that, while lying their asses off about ‘replace.’ This cycle of lies and over promising fertilized the ground Trump’s candidacy. (gee, thanks.) If they don’t pass something, then a loud mouth with bigger lies and bigger promises will challenge them from the right in the primary. For senators that’s a serious threat and for House members it very nearly electoral death because safe districts make such challenges stronger than competitive ones.

Because of the calendar deadline if the Senate passes this bill the House will be faced with the choice of passing it as is or killing it. I would not bet on its death.

I have friends for whom this bill will be a terrible thing. There is no doubt that if it passes and is signed, millions and millions of people will be enraged and the Democratic party will be emboldened to go even bigger, having had their faces shoved in the fact the GOP will never compromise for market based solutions.

I keep hearing Jamie Lannister saying “How do you think this ends?”

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The C.O. is Always Responsible

When a ship or military unit suffers a disaster the reasonability falls on the commanding officer. It doesn’t matter if junior officers messed up, it doesn’t matter if the civilian government gave them unrealistic goal, it doesn’t matter if the weather turned terrible, the C.O. is responsible. It isn’t fair but it is the way it is.

The same is true in politics, hence Harry Truman’s ‘The Buck Stops here.’

From reviews from both her supporters and opponents it would seem that Hillary Clinton would like to pass the buck for her electoral loss. Certainly before her book was released I heard from the left side of my internet friends that she shouldn’t be blamed, that we should say she was a bad candidate, that other forces and events stole the election from her.

Bullshit.

Before I go further let me just make something clear. Trump is the worst person to ever occupy the office of President. I did not and do not want him there. His damages are incalculable.

Hillary Clinton won, in round figure, three million more votes than Donald Trump and yet she still managed to lose the election.

Yes, she had headwinds, the media’s obsession with her emails, the interference from foreign powers, being on the wrong side of the insider vs outsider divide. All these things hurt her campaign and made the road longer and rougher.

You know what? Life’s not fair. None of those elements were unknown during the campaign. None were so powerful that there was no counter. IN fact despite all those things she got those three million more votes still.

She lost because she ran a poor organization. She wasted resources on states like Arizona trying to run up the score while ignoring the cries for desperate from help coming out of states she had to have to win. She lost because for decades now that Clintons have favored loyalty over competence. It is why Barack Obama beat her in the 2008 primaries. Right or wrong the Clintons act from a state of continual siege, seeing enemies all around and because of that they pick their inner circle based on personal loyalty. (Trump is similar but loyalty for him equates subservience and boot licking yielding even worse people.)

Hillary Clinton was a bad campaigner because she could have won this election. She could have watched the details and focused on the states that mattered instead of assuming her opponent’s terrible nature would deliver the win she and the nation needed.

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Questions for the GOP

Specifically these are some of the questions that I think the GOP needs to ask itself, it is not meant as a pile-on or as an option for others outside of the GOP to smugly assert their superiority. (And trust me questions aimed at the Democratic party would yeild people acting just as smugly. As I have head ‘self-righteousness is an addictive drug.’)

 

Why are neo-Nazi’s attracted to your party?

Why would neo-Nazis believe that they were welcome in the GOP?

Why do the racists and ethno-nationalist brand themselves as alt-right?

What actions and or policies have the GOP enacted or attempted to enact that may have welcomed the neo-Nazi?

Are there line of discourse that you have pursued that welcomed the neo-Nazis?

Why was a political novice and outsider able to become the leader of your party?

Which is more important victory or principles?

 

A serious and dedicated study and answer to questions I think are vital to the survival of your party.

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It’s Worthless

Trump’s belated and forced condemnation of the virulent ugly racism from some of his longest supporters is as worthless as any of his promises. As many others around the web have noted when Trump is genuinely angry there is very little that can be described as moderation or carefully considered. He lashes out with vitriol, hate, distortion, and lies. None of that was present in his forced condemnation. We know it, he knows it, and most important of all the racists know it.

They can see the political calculation as clearly as anyone else. Trump has their back, they know that. Trump employs their own, they know that. Trump has picked a side and it theirs.

Too many people in the Republican part thought that they could uses Trump to achieve their ends. The naïve believed that such tools still allowed them to produce pure results; the cynical didn’t care willing to use anything to achieve their personal petty ambitions. We are hurtling towards crisis and it may the crisis that defines this nation for generations. It is a crisis of the soul and it will define what it means to be an American.

 

Choose wisely.

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Is it Dead?

McCain’s refusal to vote for the idiotic ‘skinny’ repeal bill would seem to have killed the GOPs long promised but never planned repeal of the ACA but the ultimate question if is the repeal effort truly dead?

Like the killer in a bad 80s slasher movie this repeal effort has been declared dead several times already only to rise up again and threaten millions. Given that history how can we know if it is dead now or merely waiting to shamble forth?

I’ll give you the clue I look for and until I see that clue I will not consider their efforts over.

Are the Republicans working on tax cuts through a reconciliation bill?

The arcane rule of reconciliation as I understand them only allow 1 such bill per budget. The repeal was working off the 2016 budget and the tax reconciliation will work on the 2017. Once they move on to cutting taxes the rules will not allow them to go back to a closed budget year.

So watch what they are working on. Keep your powder dry and a weather eye open. That slasher may yet rise again.

 

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It is not a Distraction

Yesterday President Trump tweeted about banning transgendered persons from the U.S. Military and a number of people declared that the tweets were meant as a distraction, either from the Senate attempting to repeal the ACA or from the Russian election interference investigation. I am not persuaded. Chiefly I don’t agree because it would require a level of coordination and competence that this administration had not displayed but also because it doesn’t fit with what I believe is going on inside this very dysfunctional White House.

In my opinion there are thee factions vying for access, influence, and attention from our man-baby narcissistic president. When you see the president making statements or signing executive orders it can usually be seen as a victory by one of these factions. Understand the factions and you understand who is winning at the moment. Here are the factions presented in no particular order.

GOP Establishment: Centered around Chief of Staff Reince Priebus this faction represents the core Republican Party, you can be assured it’s looking to undo what the Obama Administration had done, cut taxes, and defer to big business in many matters. The recent hiring of a new communications director outside of the traditional GOP personnel along with spokesperson’s Spicer resignations might indicate that this faction is losing influence.

Family Interests: Centered around Ivanka Trump, Jarad Kushner and the president’s other adult children this faction is all about what is good, personally and financially for the Trumps. Their aim appears the be to make the post of president yields as much money as possible for their various enterprises and leverage its prestige to expand their financial dealings. Currently this faction is at the heart of the Russian scandal and appears to be having serious difficulties.

Alt-Right/Ethno-Nationalist: Centered around Steve Bannon this faction represents , in opinion, the most dangerous elements within the Trump administration. This faction is concerned with ‘a clash of civilization’, ‘The West’ versus other cultures, and a near maniacal reverence for a historical version of white western culture that never truly existed. Hostile to diversity, equality, and the modern nation/state they appear to be more interested in tearing down than creation.

(The Legislative Branch has its own factions and they have their own goals and motivations. Perhaps I’ll cover them in another post someday.)

Yesterdays announcement may have come from Trump’s phone but it reeks of Bannon and the alt-right. Of the three factions they are the most focused on traditional masculine and feminine roles. (I think that Vice-President Pence and his social evangelicals have only minimal influence in this administrations and his presence was the work of the GOP establishment.) The wide-scope of the immigration bans is also the work of the Bannon Faction, this latest ban, an attempt to turn back the clock on rights and enforce traditional gender roles, is precisely the sort of thing that motivates the alt-right. It’s not coordination it is that we have several factions in and outside of the administration trying to do all sorts of things and we need to fight several fronts at once.

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This Opera is not Over

Today the U.S. Senate will vote to advance to debate a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act, AKA ObamaCare. There are two bills under consideration by Senate leader McConnell and as of the time of this writing, the freaking morning of the vote, it is not know which bill or bills the Senate will be voting upon.

Consider that for a moment, the forces pushing and pulling at the GOP are so implacable that they are moving forward on legislation that they not only have not read, have not studied, and for which the parameters are unknown but that the exact bill is unknown. Because their margin of votes is tiny, by using reconciliation they avoid the legislative filibuster, they have even brought Senator McCain, still recovering from surgery and fresh off his diagnosis of an aggressive and dangerous cancer, up from Arizona to supply his single vote. (Presumably in favor of stripping healthcare from millions of Americas as he fights for his life with those same resources he is about to strip from thousands that voted for him.)

Whichever bill is advanced, the repeal and replace that will cause about 22 million to lose their healthcare insurance or the repeal and delay that will make that number as high as 32 million, it will be a disaster for individuals, the United States, and the Republican Party. If it’s such a disaster why are they doing it?

Because the GOP politicians, individually, are trapped.

One the House side migration, the rural/urban divide, and gerrymandering, quite a few GOP representatives come from ‘safe’ districts where the Republicans simply cannot lose the general election. However this does not free up the GOP rep to vote as he please, it rather forces him or her further right with each election cycle. Knowing that no one from their ‘left’ can threaten them these representative fear their ‘right.’ To be challenged in their primary is their greatest fear and failing to vote for the end of the hated ‘ObamaCare’ will almost certainly provoke a challenge. That they can lose. It doesn’t matter that this issue is so grave and so damaging that it can flip a safe district. If they do not survive the primary the general is meaningless. So they dig their own graves hoping for a miracle to save them. Moderate Republicans are even more vulnerable to this process as they are already viewed with suspicion by the party members at large.

Senators, facing statewide election and not gerrymandered districts, are less prone to this process but even at the state levels the same forces are at play, some states tilt so far ‘left’ or ‘right’ as to be consider ‘safe.’

I do not know where this will end. Until they are working on and debating the next big bill, likely to be their true love, taxes, the fat lady has not sung.

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John McCain A Lifetime of Service

This week it was announced that John McCain the senior senator from Arizona has been diagnosis with a brain cancer, and worse yet one of the more aggressive varieties of that terrible disease. The 5-year survival rate for patients over 55 is truly bad; the statistics I have read place the number around 2 to 5 percent. Senator McCain has beaten long odds before and I hope he triumphs one more time.

That’s not to say that I am a supporter of the senator. As a politician he has too often been on the wrong side of an issue, he has too often played the team player instead of living up to his image as a maverick, but he is by far not the worst politician in our current political environment.

It should also be remembered that this man has spent a lifetime in service to his country. As naval pilot he has survived the loss of multiple aircraft, survived the heart of the terrible fire aboard the USS Forrestal, and endured years of captivity and torture. When his North Vietnamese offered him a chance to go home early, outside of the proscribed rotation for returning Prisoners of War, an opportunity he knew would give them tremendous propaganda value because he was the son of an Admiral, he refused, insisting he be released in the same order as al the other POWs.

There are many reasons why I do not think John McCain has been a particularly good politician, many way in which I think he has not served the public good, many errors that have made use less safe and less free, but he has always been an opponent and never an enemy. Too often in our politics we take those terms as synonyms.

I wish him a full and speedy recovery.

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The Ultimate Insult

What is the worse political insult you can throw at a person? It’s not fascist. It’s not Nazi. It’s not Communist. I think the worst insult you can hurl a person is either liberal or conservative, and more specifically Democrat or Republican.

Now those sound pretty tame compared to the others mentioned. Surely, it must be far more insulting to be named a Nazi than a Republican. Well that depends on who is doing the naming. Those on the left expect to be called Communist and such from the right and liberals have long named Conservatives Nazi. In a partisan political combat those are practically medals. However if you are a conservative and a fellow traveler on the right calls you a liberal, that burns, that’s a wound. The same is perfectly true from the left. During the last presidential election the insult thrown with the most emotional weight at Hilary from fellow Democrats was that she was really a Republican.

This is the apogee of tribalism. It ceases to be about ideas, solutions, or even principles but everything devolves down being a good member of the team. I certainly know this effect well.

I believe in a second amendment right to bear arms; I believe in capital punishment; I believe a flat tax rate; I believe that capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any other system, and more than once I have had conservative friends call me a left-wing liberal.

I believe in marriage equality; I believe in a woman’s right to control her body; I believe in social safety nets and universal care; I believe that corporations are not people, and more than one liberal friends have called me a right-wing conservative.

To me being called a liberal or a conservative is hardly noticeable, but to a partisan it is the supreme insult. It is to be called traitor, a turncoat, a quisling for the enemy. People who are partisan will contort and twist to avoid this. If it means taking up the same side or cause as the opposition they will stand silent on events that may otherwise inflame them.

This is opposed to reason and discourse. Free yourself from your tribe; think and speak for yourself.

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Some Random Thoughts While Recovering

This week has been a rough week. Every single of the week I have suffered a migraine attack. Individually each one has been a mild to mid-grade headache, not enough to keep me home but severe enough to seriously reduced my productivity and enjoyment. This morning I awoke with another migraine and after yesterdays I decided to take the serious step to break the cluster. That means staying home from the day job and taking two does of my medications about four hours apart. This nearly always stops a cycle but leaves me fog-headed and a little unsteady. Right now, for the first time in a week, I do not feel like a headache is about to explode.

 

The Republicans have released the Senate’s bill for repealing and replacing the ACA with their own version. It is cheaper, skimpier, and will result in lots of people losing their coverage. If they pass it and Trump signs it, not a certainty as the man’s alignment is Chaotic Greedy, I think they this victory will serve them as well as Imperial Japan’s victory at Pearl Harbor. They will have won a battle but plunge into a war that looks far worse for them. This will have taught the Democratic party two very valuable lessons. First that it is futile to consider the conservative position on health care. The attempt at a mixed mode or public and private systems produced no benefits at all. Second that reconciliation is the method to achieve their goals; that there is no penalty paid for shutting out the other party. In addition to those lessons further making the ground worse for the conservatives the conversation on health care has changed in a very basic manner; the population in general believes that more people should have access to health care and that it’s a proper role of the Federal Government to make that happen. One of the few consistencies in the Trump campaign was his promise to make healthcare cheaper and covering more people. Trump is salesman and he was telling people what they wanted to hear. It is what they want and the GOP plan does the opposite of that. They might make that sale with a fast talk roll and a quick vote but once implements there’s no three-card monte way to hid the results. Let me close out the political thoughts with one more observations. Conservative positions are a package deal, they are all sailing on the same ship. If the GOP sinks the ship over healthcare it will take down everything else that conservatives might care for, tax cut, ‘pro-life’ policies, gun rights, all of this I think is imperiled in the long term. Is that a trade you really think is worthy? Is this the hill to kill your movement on?

 

I’ll wrap up with an artistic observation. I am quite happy with the releases of Mad Max: Black & Chrome and Logan Noir. After the advent of cheap and easy color film, remember The Wizard of Oz and The Adventures of Robin Hood were 1939 but common color films didn’t come about until the late 1960s, B&W film were for only art house releases and the odd film released wide in B&W generally did not do well. Seeing the special editions in the theaters give me hope that we are seeing a generation of general theatergoers who are more open and interested in artistic expressions that go beyond just the basic entertainment.

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