Pithy Progressive #7

 Posted by at 4:22 pm  Politics
Jul 282017
 

Back in the day when Democrats could actually run as Democrats, we never had to ask questions like the ones we are looking at today:  How can we get Democrats elected to offices since a Teflon President has apparently passed on that mantle (now usually referred to as IOKIYAR) to an entire guilty party, for whom people CONTINUE TO VOTE?

I have kind of slacked off on this column, being, as everyone else, caught up in investigations and health care.  And, the Progressive I want to feature today, is not a newcomer aiming at first-time election, but someone with a progressive career.  But maybe all the more reason why we should listen to his own words, particularly since he is not, as some others are, at the top of the news every night.  Here is the email from Senator Chris Murphy:

Some days, over the last few months, I wished I wasn’t so emotionally invested in this fight. My moods see-sawed, the knots in my stomach came and went, my nerves frayed. Health care, whether I like it or not, is at the foundation of my public service. I arrived in Hartford, as a 25-year-old naïve state legislator who believed in universal health care. I rose to become the 29-year-old Chairman of the legislature’s Health Committee. I served on the committee in the U.S. House that wrote the Affordable Care Act. I defended it back home in endless town halls. I got elected to the Senate, and when no one wanted to stand up for the ACA in its early days, I took up the cause, going to the Senate floor nearly every week to extol its virtues.

It’s my passion because I have seen what the lack of health care means to people in my state, in my town, and in my neighborhood. I see the pain in a mother’s eyes when she can’t afford glasses for her daughter who can’t see. I listen to the anguish of families that go bankrupt because their insurance won’t cover their son’s cancer. I listen to doctors who are feeling overwhelmed by a system that rewards the volume, not the quality, of medicine practiced.

I’ve lived every high and every low of this debate, because it matters so much to the people I serve, and because it’s been the focus of so much of my career. And so yesterday – it should come as no surprise – was one of the most emotionally taxing days in my twenty years in public service. And I want to tell you about it.

Getting Ready for a Long Battle
I arrive in the office and have a few minutes to check in with my health care team before my first meeting. Today is clearly going to be big – the Republicans are intent on bringing their mystery “skinny” health care repeal amendment to the floor for a vote. Their plan is to pass a scaled-down version of their repeal bill to use as a vehicle to get to a conference committee where they can write the actual bill with the House of Representatives. That way, if the whole repeal enterprise fails, they can share the blame with the House.

My team is busy drafting amendments that we can offer to the bill. I have been one of the chief agitators in our caucus for a very robust amendment process on the floor once the Republicans offer their plan. I feel like we need to go down fighting, and that by offering hundreds of amendments, we might actually improve the bill if one or two passes, or at the very least, make clear the differences between the two parties on critical health care questions people care about.

Some other Democratic Senators disagree with this strategy – especially because it could entail the Senate staying in session and voting for hours upon hours – and their staff are beginning to call my staff to pressure us to back off. I quickly gather my senior staff in my office and tell them, “It’s going to be a long day.”

Pessimism
The Democratic Leader, Chuck Schumer, is an unapologetic optimist by nature. But he doesn’t sound confident as he kicks off our lunch meeting. He makes some cryptic comments about his conversations with John McCain, but he says that we need to assume that the Republicans will line up the votes on their “skinny” bill. I eat lunch next to Senator Cory Booker, my close friend and main co-conspirator on the lengthy amendment strategy. He doesn’t look well. “I’m sick as a dog, man. I just got back from the doctor,” he says to me. “Cory, I need you today. We need you.” “I know,” he says. “I’m napping every chance I get so I can be there for the long haul tonight.”

Near the end of the meeting, Bernie Sanders stands up and endorses the robust amendment idea. Schumer catches my eye and gives me a wink, acknowledging that Bernie will be a powerful ally if a fight breaks out within our caucus over late-night strategy. As the meeting winds down, I rush off to a quiet office in the Capitol to tape a segment for the popular “Pod Save America” podcast – I provide a short update on what will likely play out on the floor during the evening.

The Drama Begins
In the early evening, we come to the floor for a series of votes, and we begin to hear the details of what will be in the “skinny” repeal bill. It’s a disaster. A full repeal of the individual mandate, resulting in 16 million losing coverage because of resulting rate spikes, and a full defunding of Planned Parenthood. At 5:30 pm, three Republicans, including John McCain, hold a hastily arranged press conference to announce that they will not vote for the skinny bill unless they get assurances from the House that the bill will not become law. They want a guarantee that there will actually be a conference committee. I type out a tweet, “Seriously, this is weapons grade bonkers. 3 Senators just announced they will vote for repeal only if assured it will never become law.” By the end of the day, that tweet will have been viewed 1 million times.

Now that the outline of the skinny bill is known, Schumer calls us in for an emergency caucus meeting. He wants to decide what our strategy is if their bill succeeds. Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders and I make the case for the long amendment process. I explain that we cannot expect the American people to fight against this reckless law if we don’t fight inside the Senate. My colleagues have heard me give this speech a half dozen times. I’m worried I sound like a broken record. But I believe what I’m saying, and it seems like our side is winning most of the room.

Suddenly, one of Schumer’s aides rushes up to him to show him something on his iPhone. Schumer then reads to us Speaker Ryan’s statement in which he gives only a half-assurance that the House will move to a conference committee if the Senate passes the skinny bill. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, another of my closest friends in the Senate, jumps up and declares that a bunch of us need to go to the Senate floor immediately and make it clear that Ryan is not going to grant a conference – that the House is likely to simply pass the Senate bill. A group of us leave the meeting and rush to the floor. I give a speech about the bill and how it essentially amounts to health care arson, lighting our entire system on fire. I also talk about the process and how far we’ve strayed from how the Senate, supposedly the “world’s greatest deliberative body,” should operate. I end by saying that this isn’t why we all came here. No one gets elected to the Senate to vote for a bill they hope won’t become law because it’s such a humanitarian catastrophe. But that’s exactly what seems to be happening right now.

The Home Stretch
At around 10:00 pm, McConnell finally formally introduces the skinny bill, and schedules the vote on it in two hours. Senator Patty Murray, who is managing the floor debate for Democrats, comes over to me and asks if I will kick off the Democrats’ argument against the bill. It’s a real nice honor, and I wonder if I got the nod because Patty, a strong ally of mine in the Senate, remembers all those days in 2013 and 2014 when I was the lonely senator on the floor defending the Affordable Care Act. As I rise to speak, I look around and realize that most all of my colleagues are present and in their seats. It’s actually rare to speak to a Senate chamber full of senators, and it gives me instant butterflies. I just decide to go for it – pull no punches. I call the process “an embarrassment”. I call the bill “health care system arson”. I leave it all on the floor, and I feel good about it.

Social media is such a key organizing and communication tool, and I’ve made a major commitment to use it as a way to make the legislative process as transparent as possible. As soon as my speech is done, I run across the street to hold a Facebook Live session with my followers. Thousands of people instantly tune in – by the end of the night, 40,000 people have seen part of the livestream. I give an update on the debate, answer a few questions, and then head back to the Capitol.

On my way, I stop at the rally that is ongoing outside the Senate. It’s now 11:00 pm, and the crowd is still over a hundred. I tell them that our chances don’t seem great tonight, but they need to keep up the fight.

The Final Vote
I meet again with my staff to go over amendments. All the Senators who attended the 5:30 pm press conference are now leaning yes on the bill, except for McCain, who hasn’t said much lately. But we all expect that McCain will be strong-armed like the rest, and so we need to have our amendments ready. Senator Merkley and I huddle to talk about strategy. We’re ready for the long haul.

At 11:55 pm, I rush over to the Russell Senate Office Building for a quick appearance on MSNBC. I only make it in time for about 30 seconds of air time with Brian Williams before his show ends. My shortest cable appearance of my Senate career. I get in the elevator to head down to the basement to walk back through the underground tunnel to the Capitol. My elevator reaches the basement at the same time as the other elevator in the bank.

Off that elevator steps my friend Senator John McCain. It’s exactly midnight.

“Murph!” he yells, and swats me on the back. Someday, I’ll get to tell my grandkids what he said next. We didn’t talk long – he shot off like an arrow with his coterie of staff. But I will remember the moment for the rest of my life, a reminder of why there is no one else in politics, and there will never ever again be anyone in politics, like John McCain. The original Maverick. A man with a sense of dignity and purpose that is all too rare nowadays in public life.

I walk onto the Senate floor just behind John. He goes over to Senator Schumer and they talk briefly. John then finds the Assistant Republican leader John Cornyn, and they have a short, tense conversation. McCain then goes to his seat. And sits.

I text my wife. “Turn on C-SPAN. Something is about to happen you need to see.”

McCain sits alone for a while, and then the visits begin. First, it’s his Arizona colleague Jeff Flake. Then Vice President Pence enters the chamber and approaches McCain. I stand on the other side of the floor with Patty Murray, just watching. All the while, as various figures come to try to persuade McCain, he is flanked by his best friend, Lindsay Graham, and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of the two firm “no” votes on the bill (for all the focus on McCain’s heroic vote, it is Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, who were iconoclastic “no” votes all along, who will go down as the original heroes).

Time seems to stand still. And finally, the vote is called. The clerk slowly runs through the roll. Collins and Murkowski vote no. When McCain’s name is called, he isn’t in the chamber. The suspense builds. Then he enters the chamber again, walks to the clerk’s desk, puts up his hand to be recognized, and gives the thumbs down sign. A loud, audible gasp erupts from the floor and the gallery. Schumer, from his seat up front, shushes everyone urgently.

The last few votes trickle in, and the presiding officer, Senator David Perdue from Georgia, announces the vote. 49 Yes. 51 No. The amendment fails. McConnell promptly rises and pulls the bill from consideration.

It’s over.
McConnell gives a speech. Schumer gives a speech (which is excellent – watch it if you can). And we adjourn. Perdue comes down from the dais and walks over to me. “You ready to work together, Chris?” he asks. “You bet,” I say.

I walk back out to the rally and thank the crowd for sticking with us. Everyone is exuberant, and they should be. “Reports of democracy’s death were greatly exaggerated, huh?” I tell them, borrowing a line from my favorite Connecticut satirist Mark Twain.

I walk back to the office with David Bonine, my legislative director, and Joe Dunn, my longtime health staffer. It’s 2:00 am.

There are so many days when you wonder whether a career in public service is worth it. All the frustration, the personal attacks, the gridlock – it often makes you wonder whether there’s a better way to spend your life.

And then a day comes like today. A day when out of darkness, something truly amazing happens. It’s days like that, all too few and far between, that keep you coming back, to try and try and try again.

I hope not to see too much snark in response to Senator Murphy’s bipartisanship, which he makes very clear.  It’s also clear he has fought hard for us on this (and other things).  Being able to talk with, even like, some Republicans is not in itself a bad thing.  I doubt I could do it, but I’m glad a few are.

Cross posted to Care2 here.

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Mar 142017
 

Well here I am . . . another rainy day in Lotus Land!  At least there is no snow here in Metro Vancouver and the temperature is 10 C (50 F).  Back in Ontario where my brother lives, they are digging out.  And this house, just south of them on the shores of Lake Ontario in NY state gives new meaning to ice.

I think I'll take the rain, thank you!  I'm off to a meeting very shortly and will send links when I get back.

Short Takes

Politico — … House Republican leaders plunged into damage control mode Monday after a brutal budgetary assessment of their Obamacare replacement threatened to upend Senate GOP support and armed their critics on the left.

Speaker Paul Ryan’s team quickly pinpointed rosier elements of the report by the Congressional Budget Office, from cost savings to lower premiums. But the bottom line — that the number of uninsured Americans would climb by 24 million within a decade — threatened to upend the GOP leadership’s fragile efforts to unite congressional Republicans around the plan.  …

"After reviewing this legislation and receiving the Congressional Budget Office score today, it is clear that this bill is not consistent with the repeal and replace principles for which I stand," he [Rep Rob Wittmann (R-VA) said in a statement. "I do not think this bill will do what is necessary for the short and long-term best interests of Virginians and therefore, I must oppose it." …

“Every single House Republican owns this catastrophic bill and should be prepared for backlash at the ballot box, particularly given the anticipated loss of coverage for 14 million people as early as next year,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Tyler Law.

One might think that the new Republicare bill is a 'hail Mary' attempt at healthcare reform.  But House Republicans are divided on the subject, and Democrats are opposed.  The CBO analysis indicates that an additional 24 million people will be without health insurance, and the death rate will increase.

As Shakespeare said in Hamlet's solioquy in Act III Scene I "Aye, there's the rub.".  Do Republicans do what will help get them re-elected in 2018, or do they stand firm with this ideological piece of crap legislation that will result in the deaths of tens of thousands of citizens who will not be able to afford health insurance?

Daily Kos — In a presidency largely defined by lies, one pants-on-fire whopper now stands out as Donald Trump’s biggest — and deadliest — yet.

Conservative politicians, pundits and people across the nation loved parroting one of the biggest lies of the Obama era, that — all together now — “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”

On the campaign trail in the fall of 2015, Trump promised to “take care of everybody.”

“Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now,” the billionaire businessman told CBS News. “The government’s gonna pay for it,” he said, raising right-wing eyebrows and ire, as he did when he rightfully praised Canada’s superior universal health care system.  …

Enter the American Health Care Act, which House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said was the product of Republicans keeping their promise to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare, but which critics from both sides of the political aisle are calling a disaster. Yes, even Republicans — especially Republicans — have been blasting the proposed bill, with Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) calling it “Obamacare 2.0,” former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin slamming it as “socialized medicine” and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) even warning the bill might cost Republicans their House majority come the 2018 midterm elections.  …

…people will die. A lot of people will die.

Need I say more?  Republicans don't care about anybody but themselves and money . . . the more money that can go to the 1%, the better.

YouTube — Gutting Health Care Will Kill Americans | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann | GQ              

There is a petition on Care2 that anybody can sign.  I urge you to tell Congress: Reject Trump's New Health Care Plan!

Amen Keith!

My Universe

Have your volume turned down for part of this.  There are some industrial cat fits!  Nameless, is your furbabe this noisy when he has to go in his carrier?

 

 

 

 

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Mar 132017
 

Well, here I am again.  It's TC's birthday and you may have seen the cartoon on his personal update which says "Crappy Birthday!"  He is still under the weather and is curled up in his cat bed where he belongs right now.  That means  you're stuck with me.  Today has been very rainy.  I'm in the living room with one cat on the ottoman draped over my feet and my little girl curled up in the rocking chair.  I think my other boy is upstairs in bed, his favourite snuggling place.

Short Takes

Second Nexus — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau further won the hearts of feminists and liberals by pledging $650 million of the national budget to sexual and reproductive health and rights initiatives. The funding would support contraception, reproductive health, legal abortion, sexuality education, and advocacy work worldwide, and it aims to make up for the loss of U.S. leadership and financial support in the wake of President Donald Trump’s global gag order.

The plan, proposed on March 8, International Women’s Day, could use advocacy funds to fight for abortion rights in the 125 countries where abortion is illegal, according to The Globe and Mail.  …

Trudeau was clear in his statement announcing the Canadian plan:

“Like men, women should be able to choose when they want to start a family, how big their family should be, and who they want to start that family with. When women have equal power and equal weight and equal leadership influence, the kinds of decisions are better.”

This came in an e-mail from George Takei.  There sure won't be a bromance between Trudeau and Drumpfenfarten!  Trudeau is far from perfect, but I am proud of him for standing up to this insanity called Drumpf's global gag order.  Kudos Mr Prime Minister!

Distractify — … there's a good chance that some people are being a little too overly sensitive about Donald Trump's St. Patrick's edition, "Make America Great Again" hats.  But then again, considering his overly critical and oftentimes hypocritical speech, can you really blame people?

The green MAGA hat features Reagan's campaign quote that Trump appropriated on the front, and a four-leaf clover on the back.  There's only one problem.

The three-leafed shamrock is the official symbol of St. Patrick's Day.  Four-leaf clovers have nothing to do with Ireland.

This too came in an e-mail from George Takei.  So much for Drumpfenfarten making America great again, eh!  Not only did he steal Reagan's slogan, but he screwed up the shamrock!  I wonder if that is anything like breaking a mirror . . . seven years of bad luck?  LMAO!!!

The New Yorker — The middle-school student who wrote the Republican health-care bill that was unveiled earlier in the week complained on Friday that he still has not been paid for his work.

Kevin Tenco, a seventh grader from House Speaker Paul Ryan’s congressional district, in Wisconsin, said that Ryan hired him two weeks ago to write the American Health Care Act with the promise that it “wouldn’t be too much work” and that he would be paid handsomely for his effort.

“He said I would get paid, like, five hundred dollars, and I could buy a Nintendo Switch,” Tenco said.

Taking Ryan at his word, the thirteen-year-old, from Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, “pulled several all-nighters” to complete the health-care bill in time for its Monday unveiling.

“I basically went to the Wikipedia page for Obamacare, cut and pasted a bunch of stuff and then threw in some tax cuts and whatnot,” he said. “It doesn’t sound like a lot of work, but I was super tired by the end of it.”

Given the rancour and rush over the American Health Care Act just within the Republican party alone, it would seem to have been written by a 13 year old.

Daily KosHouse Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) just nailed the Republican Party with another example of their blatant ACA v. Wealthcare hypocrisy.

In 2009 and 2010, when President Obama and Democrats were seeking the passage of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, Republicans including Paul Ryan viciously accused Democrats of trying to ram the healthcare plan through — without any participation from the public. Oh!

Fast forward to the present. The newly elected Maryland Congressman Raskin presents the truth with facts — something America is starving for right now and can’t seem to get from Trump-loving Republicans.

Another Republican lie debunked!  Kudos to Jamie Raskin (D-MD)!

Think Progress — During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump said he would turn down any salary as President. Then, in his first big interview as President-elect in November, he again insisted, “No, I’m not gonna take the salary. I’m not taking it.” Instead of accepting the $400,000 presidents get paid each year, Trump would take just $1 a year.

Well, it’s been almost two months and President Trump has received at least one paycheck — and he kept it.

Part of his struggle to keep his promise is that the Constitution gets in his way. It requires the president to receive compensation and prohibits the amount from being changed (in either direction) during the course of a presidential term.

In light of this, the White House tweaked the promise in February, with spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders explaining to Politifact, “He is required to get a paycheck but will be giving it back to (the) treasury or donating.”

But there has been no evidence to support this claim, and this week the White House refused to provide NBC News with any documentation that he’s taken such actions.

Even I, as a Canadian, know that Drumpfenfarten is restrained by the Constitution from doing anything with the presidential salary other than donating it to charity after the fact.  But I'm not holding my breath on this "promise"!  As my momma would say, he lies like a rug!  Mind, in 7 weeks as POTUS, when ever did an insignificant thing like the Constitution ever stop Drumpfenfarten from doing what he wanted? 

 

Resist and Persist!!!

My Universe

Happy Birthday TC

Happy Birthday Uncle TC

from the Squance kids + 2 friends

Happy Birthday TC

from all of us!

 

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Mar 132017
 

I slept in this morning so I missed church.  After that, it was a day of chores with kitty kuddles interspersed amongst them.  Right now, said kitties are sleeping about me . . . my little girl in the rocking chair, one boy on the ottoman, and the other on top of my foot on the floor.  Oh to be so loved!  TC is still sick but taking medication to kill the bugs.  Hopefully he have a spring in his step in a few days.  Please keep him in your thoughts or prayers. 

Short Takes

The Guardian — When Donald Trump delivered his first address to Congress 10 days ago, sticking dutifully, for once, to the teleprompter, the media praised him for sounding statesmanlike and presidential. But one person, sitting in a front-row seat just a few feet away, thought differently.

Bernie Sanders was growing more aghast with every sentence. Then, when Trump began to talk about the environment, the 75-year-old independent senator from Vermont nearly laughed out loud. Earlier that day, the president signed an executive order that gutted federal controls against the pollution of rivers and waterways. Now he was standing before US legislators pledging to “promote clean air and clear water”.  …

“The hypocrisy was beyond belief!” says Sanders, still scarcely able to contain himself. “To talk about protecting clean air and water on the same day that you issue an order that will increase pollution of air and water!”

“This is what they should do,” he says, pumping out the Bern. “They should take a deep reflection about the history of this country, understand that absolutely these are very difficult and frightening times. But also understand that in moments of crisis, what has happened, time and time again, is that people have stood up and fought back. So despair is absolutely not an option.” [emphasis added]

Bernie Sanders has been making the rounds to various venues around the country trying to ignite the progressive grassroots and moving people to get involved in municipal and state politics.  In this interview, he talks about the disaster that is the Drumpf administration and what it is going to take for the Democrats to get back to their base.

Read the full transcript of the interview HERE.

The Nation — …Hitler wasn’t directly elected to power, his appointment as Reich chancellor was legal and constitutional, the result of political intrigue surrounding Germany’s aging conservative president, Paul von Hindenburg. Many people in Germany thought that Hitler would be a normal head of government. Some, like the conservative politician Franz von Papen and the leaders of the German National People’s Party, thought that they’d be able to control him, because they were more experienced and formed the majority in the coalition government that Hitler headed. Others thought that the responsibilities of office would tame and steer him in a more conventional direction. They were all wrong.

Hitler won mass support between 1928 and 1930 because a major economic crisis had driven Germany into a deep depression: Banks crashed, businesses folded, and millions lost their jobs. Hitler offered voters a vision of a better future, one he contrasted with the policies of the parties that had plunged the country into crisis in the first place. The poorest people in Germany voted for his opponents, notably the Communist Party and the moderate left-wing Social Democrats, but the lower-middle classes, the bourgeoisie, the unorganized workers, the rural masses, and the older traditionalists—Protestants and evangelicals who wanted a moral restoration of the nation—switched their votes from the mainstream centrist and right-wing parties (save for the Catholic Center Party) and gave them to Hitler instead.

Whereas other politicians seemed to dither or to act as mere administrators, Hitler projected purpose and dynamism. They remained trapped within the existing conventions of political life; he proved a master at denouncing those conventions and manipulating the media. The first politician to tour the country by air during an election campaign, Hitler issued an endless stream of slogans to win potential supporters over. He would make Germany great again. He would give Germans work once more. He would put Germany first. He would revive the nation’s rusting industries, laid to waste by the economic depression. He would crush the alien ideologies—­socialism, liberalism, communism—­that were undermining the nation’s will to survive and destroying its core values.

This rather long read on the rise of Hitler is fascinating.  I've heard said that we should not compare Drumpf's ascendancy to Hitler's because the times were different, the history was different, but I still saw similarities.  As I read this article, Drumpf's name is not mentioned but he is definitely there, and the similarities are even more glaring as a result.  One pundit said he wouldn't be surprised if Drumpf tried to stay in power for 16 years.  I would not say that because I think the American people would eventually throw him out of the WH on his ear.  Read through the rest of the article to see if you see the similarities that I do.

YouTube — John Oliver on the American Health Care Act

 

John does have a way with words . . . and humour!

My Universe

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Mar 112017
 

Sorry this is so late.  With TomCat down, I told him I would put out an Open Thread but I wasn't anticipating computer issues.  It kept freezing so I had to put it to bed for several hours.

Short Takes

msn.com — A first-term congressman who spent three decades as a physician — and is now part of a group of Republican doctors who have a major role in replacing Obamacare — is facing backlash after saying that poor people “just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”

Rep. Roger Marshall, (R-Kan.), a member of the GOP Doctors Caucus, said comments he made to Stat News were not meant to suggest that poor people take health care for granted. The comments were published in a story last week about his burgeoning role in the fight to replace the Affordable Care Act.  …

He added that “morally, spiritually, socially,” the poor, including the homeless, “just don’t want health care.”

Well isn't he just precious.  I suppose this Republican idiot thinks everyone is made of money.  Take a WalFart employee who is being paid the minimum wage.  Many have used SNAP because their paycheques do not cover the cost of food for the family.  It is people like this, the working poor, that want healthcare but cannot afford it.  The arrogance of this doctor is astounding, but then I guess it should not be . . . he's a Republican.

Maclean's — Moscow has been waging an increasingly daring clandestine war against western democracies. Under the direction of President Vladmir Putin, Russia is targeting most of the major members of the western alliance. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned of Russian attempts at cyber attacks. In France, Moscow has funded right-wing populist Marine Le Pen and is alleged to be spreading false propaganda about her opponents. There are now reports from British parliamentarians that Russia may have meddled with the Brexit campaign. And, of course, Putin’s interference in the U.S. Presidential election has lit a tire fire in Washington that may bring down the Trump administration, and at the very least has left America’s political institutions reeling, and its alliances weakened.

So is Canada next?  Or have the Russians already started their campaign of disinformation and lies.  As the sub headline of the article says "The smear job on Chrystia Freeland is only the start."  The Ottawa Citizen outlines just one such attempt.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s ambitious foreign affairs minister, is secretly itching to draw Canada into a showdown with Russia because of the seething hatreds she inherited from her Ukrainian grandfather, a Nazi collaborator and war profiteer she never told us about. She’s been lying about her family’s sordid past all along, and she’s been lying to Canadians about what’s really going on in Ukraine. She’s dangerous.

The main problem with all this is that it’s rubbish, from top to bottom. It’s also the hottest political news story in Canada right now.

All countries must keep their wits about them.  And coming back to the recent US experience with Russia,  it is interesting to note that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian influence investigation but has not called for a special independent prosecutor, but he has called for a special prosecutor to investigate the accusations made by Drumpf that Obama authorised the wiretapping of Trump Tower.  While wiretapping American citizens is illegal, the Russia affair is far more dangerous from a national security perspective.  Misplaced Republican priorities?

The Hill — Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said his office on Monday would formally join a suit filed by four other states, Reuters reported

"The administration persists in an effort to implement a policy that is inhumane and unconstitutional, but also makes us less safe, not more safe," Frosh said in a statement.

The states are pushing for a temporary restraining order similar to the one that halted President Trump's first order.

Maryland joins New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D), Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D), Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) and Washington state in challenging the new ban.

In addition to these five states, Hawaii is also launching a suit against the travel ban, but its suit is based on economic criteria and not constitutional criteria.  May the force be with them!  Update — Seattle U.S. District Court Judge James Robart on Friday declined to apply his first order to the new ban.  Lawyers need to file more extensive court papers.

My Universe

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Dec 012016
 

The beginning of the last full month of even partial sanity in the US has been an incredibly busy day.  In addition to my normal first of month record keeping tasks, I have changed the poll and collected all the data for and made all the graphics for tomorrow’s Monthly Report, so I’m getting a late start here.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:58 (average 5:31).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From YouTube (GQ Channel): Government-Backed Attackers” May Have Hacked My Account | The Closer with Keith Olbermann

 

Shit!!  What else is there to say?

From Daily Kos: Trying hard not to roll my eyes too much.

People in poverty-stricken Clay County [Kentucky] worry about what will happen to their health care if Gov. Matt Bevin’s and President-elect Trump’s ambitions to overhaul Medicaid proceed.

In Clay County, 60 percent of residents are covered by Medicaid. They voted for Republican Matt Bevin 71-27, and for Donald Trump 86-11. Neither Bevin, nor Trump, made their opposition to Obamacare secret.

As much as I hate to say it, I’m not sympathetic to the plight of people who did not oppose Trump and will suffer because of his evil Republican policies. At least they will be suffering the consequences of their own idiocy, unlike the plurality of Americans, who knew better, voted responsibly, and will still share equally in those sufferings. Responsible deserve relief first.

From The New Yorker: President-elect Donald J. Trump will no longer have day-to-day responsibility for driving his businesses into bankruptcy and will instead focus on bankrupting the country, one of his leading surrogates said on Wednesday.

Appearing on Fox News, Kellyanne Conway said that while Trump no doubt could “plunge both his businesses and the country into bankruptcy at the same time,” he feels that he “owes it to the American people to put them first.”

Acknowledging that Trump has no government experience, Conway said that his years of bankrupting a variety of companies would prove “invaluable” as he does the same to the United States.

Dang Andy! You’ve hit on a skill at which Fuhrer Drumpfenfarten will surely excel.

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