Category Archives: Congress

Louie Gohmert’s Brain Scan

Reunion week continues at First Draft. Our old “friend” Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert Piles is spinning conspiracy theories this week. It doesn’t matter that the Uranium One mishigas has been debunked by Snopes and even by Fox Newser Shep Smith. Gohmert Piles and his ilk want a special prosecutor and they want one now. The president* is threatening to hold his breath until he turns blue.  It’s what wannabe dictators do.

Louie Gohmert Piles was so upset by the mockery he’s received outside the right-wing bubble that he went in for a brain scan. Here’s the feverish result:

That is, of course, not a brain scan; one must have a brain to be scanned, and Gohmert Piles has an empty space inside his head. Instead, it’s a flowchart he presented before the House Judiciary Committee. Your tax dollars at work.

Contemplating the stupidest member of Congress always gives me a stupid earworm of one of the stupidest rock songs of all-time. Here’s a quirky-n-off-kilter version from Cajun music titan, Michael Doucet of Beausoleil fame:

It’s lagniappe time. My nickname for the nasty dumbass Congressman is inspired by the lovable dumbass teevee character, Gomer Pyle who was the only Marine never deployed to Vietnam. Semper Fi, y’all.

If She Was Your Daughter

Do you know how many women I know, who told their fathers? Who told their mothers, their friends, a “trusted adult” that they were being hurt or had been hurt? Do you know how many of these people, who have daughters, did nothing?

Homeless shelters are full of girls and boys whose parents chose their abusers over them. It happens every day.

Let me tell you what they’d do, these upstanding Republican congressmen, if it was their daughters.

They’d say to their girls, their beloved girls who they taught to throw a ball just like a boy and who they said could do anything a man could do and whose report cards they pinned to the fridge, they’d say:

You’re making that up.

They’d say:

He didn’t really mean it.

They’d say:

You led him on.

 

They’d say:

You should forgive him.

You know why they’d say those things to the girls they read bedtime stories to every night? You know why they’d back down in the face of someone who bullied their own flesh and blood?

Because nothing matters more than the status quo.

Do you know how many of these men have already faced the fact that it was their daughters?

Do you know how many of them did nothing?

I can even understand it, you know. It’s a human instinct to protect your relationships, and so you gamble: You call out a man for hurting your child, he might leave. He might cause trouble for you. He might get you fired or fight you or find a way to make you less, turn all your friends against you, refuse to work with you, tell others and embarrass you.

Your daughter? She will probably stay. She will probably quiet down. She will probably stop talking about it.

She will probably minimize what happened in her own mind and minimize it for you, so that her relationship with you can stay intact. Nothing’s worth destroying your relationship with your family, after all. She’s been socialized since birth to provide for men’s comfort and that means comfort of mind as well as body.

You can hear her telling herself: She survived it. It wasn’t that bad.

It’s a much safer bet, to discount her version of events, so that’s your solution. It keeps everything the same. It keeps everybody comfortable. And she stays. And she feels just a little less important to you, and a little less real, because whether you think about it in these terms or not, you’ve demoted her. She was your daughter.

Now she’s just another woman, another wicked female, who you don’t believe.

So when someone who looks just like her goes on the news and tells everyone that a member of a political party you admire and identify with, or a celebrity you like, tried to assault her, hurt her, rape her, you don’t see your daughter.

You see someone who’s trying to do what your daughter tried to do. Upset everybody. Get attention. Get something out of this.

And if you face the facts and say out loud that this didn’t have to happen to this stranger, this girl you don’t know on TV who’s accusing a man who looks and acts just like you, is in politics just like you, if you say out loud that someone should have stood up for her, should have done something?

Then you face the facts and say out loud that this didn’t have to happen to your daughter, and you should have stood up for her. You should have done something.

And oh, then doesn’t the whole nice polite reasonable world come crashing down?

I said back when Trump and Billy Bush were cackling about grabbing women by the pussy that the most insidious person on that bus wasn’t Trump but Billy, because lots of of guys wouldn’t be the bully but they would be the coward who laughed at his jokes.

They wouldn’t react differently if Roy Moore had hurt their daughter. Chances are someone like him already did, and they didn’t believe her.

A.

The Aqua Buddha Gated Community Blues

Aqua Buddha by Bluewater Productions.

I’ve missed having Rand Paul aka Senator Aqua Buddha to kick around. The early days of his failed run for the White House were like spun satirical gold to me.  Just call me Rumpelstiltskin.

What other recent politician had their own comic book? I miss the halcyon days of the MSM swallowing his brogressive credentials. For some obscure reason, GOPers have stopped feigning racial tolerance. I cannot imagine why. #sarcasm

Apparently,  Aqua Buddha’s next door neighbor felt like kicking him around last weekend. Literally, not figuratively. A guy named Rene Boucher (he really oughta live in the Gret Stet of Louisiana) got into a  bizarre altercation with the junior Senator from the Bluegrass and Bourbon state:

Mr. Paul had just stepped off a riding lawn mower on Friday when Rene Boucher, a retired anesthesiologist who lived next door, charged and tackled him. Because Mr. Paul was wearing sound-muting earmuffs, he did not realize Mr. Boucher was coming, according to one of the Kentucky Republicans and a friend familiar with the altercation.

“Rand never saw him coming or heard him coming,” said the friend, Robert Porter, who visited Mr. Paul on Saturday.

The damage was severe. Aides to Mr. Paul said on Sunday that the Kentucky Republican had suffered five broken ribs and bruises to his lungs. When a Kentucky State Police trooper showed up at Mr. Paul’s home on Friday afternoon, the senator had small cuts around his nose and mouth, and had trouble breathing because of the injuries to his ribs.

Police have charged Mr. Boucher, 59, with a misdemeanor count of assault. Authorities on Monday were considering raising the charge to a felony, given the severity of Mr. Paul’s injuries.

Mr. Paul, 54, has long stood out in the well-to-do gated neighborhood south of Bowling Green, Ky., that he calls home. The senator grows pumpkins on his property, composts and has shown little interest for neighborhood regulations.

But the spectacle of the incident — one former doctor attacking another in broad daylight — was altogether different. Competing explanations of the origins of the drama cited stray yard clippings, newly planted saplings and unraked leaves.

He was knocked down like a Bowling Green bowling pin. Surely, there’s a bluegrass song in that.

It looks as if Aqua Buddha may have been assaulted over fauna. I don’t know about you but I wanna better explanation than fauna or even flora. I wonder if Dinah-Moe Humm is somehow implicated…

One would think that a retired doctor whose last name translates as Butcher would have a different method for taking out his NIMBY-ism on his neighbor. Instead he tackled the poor bastard. I’ve had a few cracked ribs in my day. They hurt like hell and very little can be done. Perhaps Aqua Buddha should fire up his boyhood bong. That’s good for pain. It beats the hell out of joining the “opioid crisis.”Party on, Rand.

We’ve all had our share of bad neighbors but as I said back in 2013, Rand Paul is a weirdo magnet. Perhaps he can call in the Confederate Avenger to deal with the French Butcher. They could duel with leaf blowers or chainsaws. I’d pay to see that but I’d need to borrow Aqua Buddha’s earmuffs.

It will be interesting to be see how this unneighborly dispute plays out in the legal system. I wish Senator Aqua Buddha a speedy recovery. The only way I want him departing the political scene is if he’s defeated for re-election in 2022. He’s good for the satire business, y’all. Besides, us weirdo magnets gotta stick together.

Flaking Out

I briefly considered calling this post Republicans in Disarray. It has the virtue of counter punching against years of Democrats in Disarray type headlines. It’s also true. Then I came to my senses, stuck to my punny guns, and went with Flaking Out, which has the virtue of sounding like the Bravo  reality teevee show, Flipping Out,  featuring the antics of another Jeff, designer/house flipper Jeff Lewis.  Of course, flipping out is what Donald Trump does whereas the junior senator from Arizona just flaked out on the people he should be leading into battle: Republicans who still have a semblance of common decency.

When historians ponder why members of his own party let the Insult Comedian get away with his shit, they’ll also wonder why his most prominent senatorial critics have punworthy names: Corker and Flake. I know I’m pondering it while trying not to be a ponderous pundit.

I’m somewhere in the middle on the Jeff Flake/Bob Corker question. Unlike some in the MSM, I don’t view either as “heroes” for standing up to a president* of their own party. I’m also not as hard on them as my publisher and others on the left, notably Rude Pundit and Charlie Pierce. I think it’s important for GOPers to call Trump on his shit regardless of their voting records. Remember: Trump does not care about substance so attacks on his  persona and style, or lack thereof, are infinitely more wounding that attacking his shifting views on taxes, health care, and Bob Corker’s height or lack thereof.

Flake’s speech to the senate was excellent but it would have been more effective if he planned to run for re-election, especially as an independent. His colleague Lisa Murkowski did so after losing in the primary to a teabagger in 2010. The Alaska Senator isn’t as eloquent as Flake but she was rewarded for her stand against extremists in her own party. Grit and determination matter. Jeff Flake lacked those qualities in handing a temporary victory to Trump and Bannon.

In fairness, Flake looks like a gone pecan right now BUT there’s over a year to the 2018 general election and an anti-Trump conservative might look appealing to Arizona voters by then. If standing against Trumpism and white nationalism is as important to Flake as he says it is, he should be willing to stand for re-election against long odds. Now that’s heroic.

One significant difference between Flake and Corker is to the former’s credit. Flake refused to endorse Trump in 2016 whereas Corker drank the orange Kool-Aid and campaigned with the Insult Comedian. It’s one reason I’m more critical of the Tennessean than the Arizonan. I do, however, believe that converts to the anti-Trump cause should be welcomed. We need all the help we can get in alerting people to the perils of having a deranged president* with his  tiny finger on the nuclear trigger.

The reason for my relative indulgence of dissident Republican is rooted in my formative political experience: Watergate. I know what you’re thinking, there he goes again. The reason Nixon was driven from office is that elected officials in his party turned against him. It was a slow process but it was devastating as the Republican dominoes tumbled; culminating in the Senate and House GOP leaders, Hugh Scott and John Rhodes, and 1964 nominee Barry Goldwater telling Tricky the jig was up in August, 1974. The latter two were Arizonans who showed courage in bucking a president who they owed politically. It should be easier to break with Trump but at this point in time Jeff Flake, who still opposes impeachment, is showing more profile than courage. He still has more balls than Trump’s chief enabler Speaker Ryan.

Unless more Congressional GOPers grow a pair, it will take a Democratic takeover of the House for an impeachment process to commence as I believe it should. Even if they lose their majority, Senate Republicans will be crucial to removing a corrupt, stupid, and deranged president* from office. The reason Bill Clinton survived impeachment is that he held Democrats whereas Nixon’s GOP support melted like an ice-cube in the Louisiana summer.

That’s why I look at the big picture and believe in encouraging Republican office holders when they break with Trump. The stakes are high: Trump shows signs of bumbling into war with both Iran and North Korea. The latter would be a catastrophe for our friends in the Republic of Korea and Japan. And war in the Middle East is folly as we’ve learned to our eternal regret.

Stop the madness.

A Corker Of A Feud

For most of his political career, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker has been an off-the-rack mainstream conservative Republican. His views on most issues are ready-made, not bespoke. His 2006 campaign ran a race baiting ad against his opponent but otherwise he’s been stolid, solid, and boring. That ended with the electoral college victory of the Insult Comedian. The two men have traded the odd barb throughout the year but it exploded into the president’s* latest WWE-style feud yesterday.

The response was perhaps the best I’ve seen from a politician:

I don’t know if Corker mans his own twitter feed but that’s a masterpiece of social media snark. If it’s a staffer give her or him a raise. They’ll be out of a job by January 2019, after all.

There’s a post smackdown piece in the New York Times wherein we learned that Trump lied about Corker “begging” for his support:

Mr. Corker flatly disputed that account, saying Mr. Trump had urged him to run again, and promised to endorse him if he did. But the exchange laid bare a deeper rift: The senator views Mr. Trump as given to irresponsible outbursts — a political novice who has failed to make the transition from show business.

CNN confirmed Corker’s account. Besides, anyone who believes anything that comes out of the Insult Comedian’s pie hole is too stupid to live.

More importantly, Corker expressed genuine concern in the same interview about the militant craziness of Trump’s foreign policy:

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

Corker is referring to Trump’s increasingly unhinged and inaccurate comments about North Korea. The Kaiser of Chaos keeps confusing Kim Jong-un with both his father and grandfather. It’s unclear if he knows that the guy he derides as Rocket Man is the third member of the Kim family to be dictator since 1992. My hunch is that he hasn’t a clue, which would be par for the course for this president*.

Trump is out to disprove Teddy Roosevelt’s famous aphorism “speak softly, and carry a big stick.” Trump is screaming empty threats at the top of his lungs. At least I hope they’re empty threats. I’m afraid that the triumvirate (troika?) of Kelly, McMaster, and Mattis will have to bodily tackle Trump to prevent him from nuking Pyongyang.

I, for one, am glad that Republicans like Bob Corker are speaking out against Trump. Yes, some of them are responsible for electing the crazy motherfucker but Watergate teaches us that you can only dispose of a criminal president when their own party turns on them. Nixon was headed to conviction in the Senate. The reason Bill Clinton survived was that his party stuck with him. Thanks in part to research by Abbie Lowell who is now Slumlord Jared’s attorney. Ironies abound, y’all.

I’m in favor of building coalitions on an issue-by-issue basis. If previously hawkish Republicans are aghast by Trump’s insane pronouncements, working with them to stop a nuclear exchange is not only sensible but imperative. Does anyone think that Bob Corker wants to nuke North Korea? Donald Trump is the only one who seems to think making such threats is a winning strategy. He should look at a map sometime and see how close Seoul and Tokyo are to Rocket Man’s missiles. Of course, that would involve work and that’s not what this president* does. Instead, he watches teevee, golfs, tweets, and lies.

I eagerly await the next salvo in the war of words between the Republican president* and the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committe. It’s a Corker of a feud.

Love Is (Luther) Strange But Roy Moore Is Even Stranger

Yeah, I know, the Senator who was appointed to replace Jeff Sessions by disgraced former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley lost to a lunatic. I’d been meaning to use the first part of the title forever but ain’t it funny how time slips away.

Republicans are rallying around the erratic former Alabama Supreme Court Justice. I’m not sure if it’s because of the hat he wore at a recent rally, the gun he waved around, his homophobia, or Islamophobia:

 Those bearhugs come in spite of Moore’s decades-long bigotry and radicalism.

He has suggested the 9/11 attacks happened because America turned its back on God, called Islam a “false religion,” claimed parts of the Midwest were already living under Islamic Sharia lawwarned that “immorality, abortion, sodomy, sexual perversion sweep our land,” and continued to claim that President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. — and that’s just in the course of this current campaign.

In past years, Moore has argued Muslims should be barred from serving in Congress and that “homosexual conduct should be illegal.”

Crazy is in right now thanks to Donald Trump and the morons who voted for him. I guess Ken Kesey would have called him the Bull Goose Loony In Chief. Of course, Trump is a sinner and Roy Moore is a religious zealot who’s out to baptize the world. In a sane world, the religious right would hate the twice divorced Trump but, at the risk of being repetitive, crazy is in right now. Bigly.

There are two good things about Moore’s victory. First, Strange’s loss caused a presidential* hissy fit with the tiny finger of blame pointed at Chinless Mitch. Second, Moore is so barking mad that he’ll automatically be the most entertaining member of the Senate. And the most appalling.

The chances of Moore losing the general election to Democrat Doug Jones are slim and slim is  unlikely to turn out to vote in December. The reasons are obvious: it’s Alabama where Trump’s brand of crazy is still popular and Moore’s hardcore supporters will vote even if it’s raining hellfire.

A brief word about Luther Strange. Trump dubbed him Big Luther in the closing days of his doomed campaign. Strange is 6’9″ and played college hoops at Tulane from 1972 to 1975.

He wasn’t much of a player. His stats are those of a graceless white goon, which apparently carried over into his career in Alabama politics. Btw, I still don’t know what the hell a Green Wave is.

I never heard whether or not Moore attacked Strange for having lived in Sin City whilst in college and law school. I guess the big fella (God, not Luther Strange) didn’t tell him to do it.

The lessons of Roy Moore’s success are that bigotry works and that Trump cannot control Trumpism. I doubt if he even wants to: he thrives on chaos and disorder. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. I predict he’ll have an uneasy relationship with Roy Moore who fancies himself a contemporary old testament prophet. Trump is into profits, not prophets.

That last word goes to the song that inspired the post title. I’m not sure what Mickey and Sylvia ever did to deserve this:

 

Malaka Of The Week: Bill Cassidy

Republican attempts to repeal the ACA started before the ink was dry on the bill.  After the 2010 Teabagger wave election, the House GOP’s hobby was voting for a bill that could not become law because there was a real president ready to veto it. But the bad repeal and replace idea refuses to die. It has more lives than a bad cat thanks to Little Lindsey and one of my senators. And that is why Doctor/Senator Bill Cassidy is malaka of the week.

There’s a lot of talk about the Zombie Health Care bill. The analogy is apt but trite due to the gazillion zombie shows and movies out there. I prefer to think of the Graham-Cassidy atrocity as belonging to the Frankenstein family of horror flicks wherein the characters are reanimated, not undead. The current clusterfuck reminds me of this scene from The Bride of Frankenstein:

That was a (James) Whale of a movie but Graham-Cassidy is an ugly, mean-spirited bill that should be buried, not reanimated.

2017 has been a weird  year in American politics but this week *may* take the cake. We have the supporters of a reality show host president* telling a late night talk show host to STFU and stay out of politics. This is more surreal than a gallery full of gory Dali paintings or any Edward Gorey image for that matter.

The Bill Cassidy-Jimmy Kimmel face-off has really been something. The chat show host has accused the Gret Stet Solon of “lying to my face.” Doctor/Senator Cassidy has compounded the lie by asserting that Graham-Cassidy passes the Jimmy Kimmel Test when it clearly does not. The comedian has asked Cassidy to stop invoking his name but Cassidy has no shame and is unlikely to do so. He’s the center of attention. What pol would exit such a glaring spotlight?

Here’s a tweet from a certain internet smart ass on the Graham-Cassidy-Kimmel mishigas:

I was referring to the fact that Cassidy double billed LSU for his work when he was quacking his way around the Gret Stet public health care system. Take a gander at my publisher’s recent piece about that at the Bayou Brief. That’s right, Senator Malaka is an expert at ripping off the government and poor people. It’s second nature to this so-called moderate.

I also tweeted about the Jimmy Kimmel factor:

I am impressed with Kimmel’s guts and fortitude on this issue.  I am ready to light a torch and stand beside him as we storm Double Bill’s castle or some such shit.

A few words about Cassidy. I called him Cassidybot throughout his successful 2014 challenge to incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. He is stiff, lifeless with beady, sunken eyes, which makes the Frankenstein monster analogy spot on. Cassidy’s Victor Frankenstein was our old “friend” former Senator David Vitter. Vitter recruited Cassidy to run against Landrieu and dictated his campaign strategy. It involved relentless dog-whistle attacks on then President Obama, especially over the ACA. It worked.

As  long as Vitter was in the senate, Cassidy was his creature. He didn’t do anything unless his master approved. I guess he was more like Igor in Young Frankenstein at that point. Vitter’s departure from the political scene left Cassidy adrift: he’s a follower, not a leader. In 2017, Cassidy made fucking up the health care system by fucking over the poor and elderly his life’s work. Graham-Cassidy is the fruit of his labors. I liked him better when he was a fake moderate.

I have no idea what’s going to happen in next week’s vote on this hastily stitched together legislation. It’s the worst version of repeal and replace yet. But it has the aura of respectability of being sponsored by phony moderates like Graham, Cassidy, and Dean Heller whose master is right-wing casino mogul Steve Wynn. It savages Medicaid, which is bad for Louisiana. It stripped away the last bad bill’s  provisions to help with the opioid epidemic, which could put a few votes into play. In the end, it may come down to whether or not John McCain believes what he’s said about restoring regular order. Everything about this bill is irregular including the insane deadline of September 30. This is nuts. Believe me.

Here’s hoping that the MSM will stop calling the likes of Graham and Cassidy moderates. This bill is not only procedurally irregular, it is substantively immoderate. The attempt to destroy the ACA was dead until Doctor/Senator Cassidy reanimated this monster. And that is why Double Bill Cassidy is malaka of the week.

Speaking of monsters, the last word goes to Edgar Winter and Rick Derringer:

 

The Buck Passer In Chief’s DACA Debacle

We all knew it was coming. We all knew that Donald Trump would rescind DACA. I actually believe that he has qualms about ending the program, not because he “loves the dreamers,” but because even he understands the optics of rounding up some 800K young people and deporting them. The title of Josh Marshall’s blog post after the announcement says it all:

Trump Wishes Dreamers Luck as He Tosses Them Out of the Plane

As does this passage in Josh’s post:

What the President is doing is the executive action equivalent of flying the plane up to 10,000 feet, tossing the Dreamers out the door and yelling after them, “I hope you have a parachute or if you don’t that Paul Ryan can get you one really fast!’ Actually, one small difference. He had Jeff Sessions toss them out of the plane.

Yowza.

Trump the phony tough guy  once again proved his cowardice by having true believer white supremacist Jeff Beau make the announcement.  As always, Jeff Beau prevaricated and demonized his way through the statement. I’m surprised he didn’t gleefully rub his hands together in celebration like a cartoon villain. Bigots like Jeff Beau have much to celebrate: mass deportations of service people, first responders, teachers, and on and on and on. DACA has a rigorous vetting process so its beneficiaries are the best of the best. I doubt many people at the Trump White House could pass muster. Slumlord Jared would have to amend his form because he’s such a forgetful boy.

What Trump has done is to punt this clusterfuck to the Congress. The six month deadline is an arbitrary one and major legislation rarely passes both houses in six months or less. The president’s* sole aim is to accept as little responsibility as possible for this heinous and callous action. Feral Trumpers will howl in approval but this is yet another incredibly unpopular move done solely to placate the MAGA Maggots.

There *may* be majorities in both Houses of Congress to pass a new Dream Act. I’m uncertain if there’s a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and dubious that it can get past the so-called Hastert Rule in the House. The rule named for Coach Pervert applies to the Republican caucus: only legislation with majority support in the caucus reaches the floor. There are enough nutbars and white nationalists to keep it off the floor UNLESS the GOP leadership gets around a rule named for a convicted felon. It’s a caucus rule, not a law, after all. Stay tuned but I am not optimistic. Speaker Ryan is as cowardly as the Insult Comedian.

The administration* is sending mixed messages about its DACA debacle. Trump is holding out hope of a change in plans but nobody believes anything he says about anything. If LBJ had a so-called “credibility gap” on Vietnam, Trump has a credibility canyon on everything. I put more stock in a White House memo telling dreamers to prepare for deportation.

A detestation of buck passing was instilled in me as a child. I always got in more trouble with my parents if I deflected responsibility for my words and deeds. They went easier on me if I fessed up and took the blame. Donald Trump is incapable of taking responsibility for his actions. It’s never his fault, the finger of blame always points elsewhere.

Trump’s perennial buck passing made me think of Harry Truman who famously had “the buck stops here” sign on his White House desk. This is Trump’s second pairing with a man whose ass he is not fit to wipe. Trump’s stunning 2016 electoral college victory surpassed Truman’s 1948 shocker as the biggest upset in American political history. Thanks to the DACA debacle, Trump is now fated to be the anti-Truman. Just call him the Buck Passer in Chief.

A new nickname has been born. And a new benign earworm has hatched. Let’s hope it doesn’t come true.

I’ll give the last-ish word to the late Ted Kennedy. It’s the closing passage of his 1980 speech to the Democratic convention. It is *not* about the dreamers but it could be:

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

It’s time for people to both hit the streets and call their GOP Congresscritters. Make the fuckers squirm like the worms they are.

When people are devastated, we shouldn’t care if Ted Cruz was an asshole

As the stories of neighbors helping neighbors begin to recede like Harvey’s floodwaters, the rush of stories on which politician is being an asshole is heading full steam toward us. Most of the stories are about the downside of humanity, in which people find ways to remind us that basic, common human decency isn’t common or basic for some people.

While some reporters are trying to help people figure out where damage is or where their loved ones are, you have this asshole tweeting a fake shark photo and this ABC reporter ratting out “looters” to the cops and bragging about it on social media.

While some companies are pitching in with water and supplies, you have insurance agencies trying to figure out what “isn’t covered” and people perpetuating scams on hurricane victims and those hoping to help them.

And while you have some politicians who are trying to figure out how to get these people help, you have people like these assholes, who voted against packages that helped victims of Superstorm Sandy, already trying to “reframe” their votes as to not look hypocritical.

Looking for the basic humanity and honest decency in most politicians is like digging through a pile of dog shit to find a diamond earring you think the dog swallowed: That’s a lot of shit to go through for something that might not be there and even if it is, it’s probably tainted in some way. In that regard, calling out Ted Cruz and his Texas brethren of Sandy “no votes” is a pointless task.

Even more, I wouldn’t care if Texas had elected three demons and the anti-Christ to congress at this point: People are suffering and we should help them. It’s the right thing to do. Why don’t more people who decide where money goes think like this? Is it that they are so myopic about politics that they can only see things in a “win/lose” context that strengthens or weakens an affiliation to a nebulous ideology?

When I pulled over to the side of the road to help a guy with a flat tire, I didn’t ask, “Now wait a minute… Did you vote for Scott Walker? If so, I’m punching a hole in another tire and setting your trunk on fire.” No. He needed help. That’s what he got from me, as best as I could.

I know some of the kids in my classes voted for people who fucked me out of raises and benefits and undercut my mother’s union. Would the world be better off if I refused to help those kids improve their writing or said they couldn’t come to office hours for career guidance? No. The kid needs help, the kid gets help. It’s how things work.

One of the many things I like about this blog is that we don’t agree about everything or all the time. We can be different, but we recognize basic humanity. When A put out the Batsignal for Houston, we chipped in what we could.

Even more, I have no idea who will get that money, nor do I care. Will it help a racist old lady who refers to our 44th president as “that colored boy?” Will it provide an “unearned benefit” to a guy who flew a Stars and Bars flag over his house and kept all his money in Jack Daniel’s Elvis decanters? Will it “give away” something to people who showed up at rallies for Cruz or Trump and chanted, “Build that Wall!” and “Lock her UP!”

I have no goddamned idea and neither do you. All we know is that somebody is getting a warm meal, a change of underwear, a dry blanket, a safe bed and a dozen other things they wouldn’t have otherwise. That’s important.

When people are hurting, they last thing they need is a lecture about how they should have thought about that shit when they voted for Ted Cruz. They don’t need to hear shit about how, “If you Texans are so tough, what do you need our help for?” They don’t need snide shit about attaching a lawnmower engine to their belt buckle and just boating out of there on that. They need to hear, “Hi, we’re here to help.”

And maybe after all this, the people who got that help will be better able to help the next group of people who desperately need it.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – unskinny bop edition

Might as well jump right in :

Skinny Repeal Failed

July 28, 2017 | Pinkbell

Posted on 7/28/2017, 12:40:04 AM by Pinkbell

Sorry if there is a thread; I didn’t see it.

McCain, Collins, and Murkowski voted No.

Republicans spent 7 years promising this, and they couldn’t get it done.

The Republicans don’t like Trump all that much, but he is willing to fulfill their promise that they made. Meanwhile, McCain, the GOP hero, helped kill their promise.

1 posted on 7/28/2017, 12:40:05 AM by Pinkbell
7 years.
Seven fucking years they have tried to crap on President Obama’s legacy.
50 attempts to toss as many people as possible off their insurance.
50.
As John Wilkes Booth once said: “Useless……..useless……”
To: Pinkbell 

McCain literally has a defect in his brain.

If you’re a Republican, that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

Why is he allowed to vote anymore?

3 posted on 7/28/2017, 12:41:42 AM by DesertRhino (Dog is man’s best friend, and moslems hate dogs. Add that up.)

Why are you allowed to breathe anymore?
To: Pinkbell

 

McCain is not, never was and never will be a hero to me. He probably is terminal, so I’m reluctant to go full bore in speaking ill of him (…)

6 posted on 7/28/2017, 12:44:36 AM by Avalon Memories (The question about fighting back is not what average people can to do, but how to do we do it?)

Oh, I’m sure we can find a Freeper or thousand to step up to the plate for you :
To: LeoWindhorse
.
I hope McCain croaks tomorrow
.
5 posted on 7/28/2017, 12:43:33 AM by LeoWindhorse (America First !)
To: Pinkbell

 

Filthy evil McCain came back just to save Obamacare, which he claims to oppose. What a rotten creature.

10 posted on 7/28/2017, 12:46:26 AM by Williams (Stop tolerating the intolerant.)

….and about 100 more just like those…
And just think – even The Darnold loved him last week:
To: princess leah
TrumpTweetMcCain
He is an ungrateful and unrepentant traitor . I hope that President Trump states that he will never say his name again . Never , not even in memorium . I hope Trump decides to shun any further mention of him altogether .
34 posted on 7/28/2017, 1:07:59 AM by LeoWindhorse (America First !)
And, to wrap it up with a neat and putrid bow on it, a new thread :
John McCain is an piece of Crap
vanity
Posted on 7/28/2017, 12:40:41 AM by JPJones

Sorry for the vanity.

1 posted on 7/28/2017, 12:40:41 AM by JPJones
HannityConfused
No, he said: VANity!
The Freeperville campers are not happy, so let me pour them a fresh glass:
Tears
Click on the “continue reading” to continue reading.
.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: I Should’ve Known

Dog Eat Dog by Joni Mitchell.

It was a helluva week with one of the most eventful Thursdays in recent memory. We all thought the “skinny repeal” atrocity would pass. While I’m glad that John McCain voted NO, the real stars of the vote were Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. Team Trump has done many stupid things since coming to power but threatening Murkowski takes the cake. This is one tough woman. In 2010, she lost the Republican primary to a teabagger, ran as an independent, and won. Threatening her with an open political grave was futile, she’d already been declared politically dead and came back with a vengeance. Besides, the Murkowskis are a dynasty in Alaska with a collective 36 years in the Senate between Lisa and her father Frank. Take that Ryan Zinke. Z is for zero, zed, and Zinke.

On the local front, the big news was the surprising resignation of Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand. Normand is one of the most popular elected officials in the Gret Stet of Louisiana and a genuine maverick. I’ve both praised and blasted him over the years. You may recall that he was the guy David Vitter hired a gumshoe to spy on. Normand played an important role in defeating Vitter’s goober bid in 2015. On the down side, he was named malaka of the week for one of many bombastic press conferences he gave as Sheriff. He’s becoming the afternoon man at WWL talk radio. I suspect that the station’s money was what did the talking.

The reasons for selecting an Aimee Mann tune as the Saturday post theme song for a second time will be made clear after the break. Suffice it to say that it’s a great tune with a message that fits the post quite neatly. We like things tidy here at First Draft even if  my house is a cluttered mess. Neither Oscar nor Della will lift a paw to help clean. So it goes.

We begin with the 1993 promo video followed by a live version on the Beeb.

I’ve always loved the “dot, dot, dot” harmonies. I originally thought they were singing “bop, bop, bop” but I should’ve known…better. Ponder that as we go to the break.

Continue reading

Skinny Repeal?

I wrote the bulk of this post *before* the Senate turned into an old fashioned insane asylum lacking only the padded walls. I looked in vain for McMurphy and Chief Broom. They were too sane for this bunch. All day long, we saw a series of Senators who claim to hate the “skinny repeal” bill say that they’re voting for it only if it doesn’t become law. This is madness. I think Little Lindsey should be fitted for a strait jacket, especially after he bought Paul Ryan’s vague assurances that there would be a conference committee. Ryan is a seasoned liar and Graham is a gullible fool.

I’m going to sleep before the final vote and posting this via timer. I hope I’m wrong but I think they’ll pass the bill that *everyone* hates. I still think the rest of this post has merit so why not post the fucker? It was written yesterday afternoon when the world was *almost* sane:

It’s beginning to look like Chinless Mitch’s plan is to pass something, anything health carewise in the Senate and take the resulting mess to a conference committee with the House. I have my doubts that Ryan intends to  convene a genuine one. Something Anything is a great early Todd Rundgren album, but it’s no way to run a railroad or the United States Senate for that matter. It’s Mitch McConnell’s latest crime against an institution he claims to revere. It’s high time to restore regular order and send this abomination to the relevant committees. They won’t but they should. So it goes.

Skinny repeal was scored to eliminate coverage for 16 million people and cause premiums to rise 20%. So much for helping the “victims of Obamacare.” Btw, it’s not a “failed left-wing experiment.” The ACA is based on conservative plans and Romneycare in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  That’s why they’re having such a hard time repealing the ACA.

The latest Trumpcare (nothing skinny about him) mess reminds me of the Huey Long quote I trotted out last week. In this instance McConnell is skinning us from both “the ankle up and the ear down.” The Turtle is both High Popalorum *and* Low Popahirum. Who knew such a thing was possible?

All this talk of Skinny Repeal has given me a benign earworm, I’ll give Ray Davies and the Kinks the last word. I mean it this time.

UPDATE: It’s good to be wrong. McCain joined Murkowski and Collins in voting NO. The Turtle got skinned. So much for his wizardry.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Walt Disney’s Musical Monkeyshines Meets Trumpcare Instant Analysis

I’ve done more than my share of strange posts over the twelve years I’ve been blogging. This mashup may well take the cake but somehow it works. The title may be awkward but these are awkward times.

There were plenty of monkeyshines on Capitol Hill yesterday. The motion to proceed to debate the mystery Trumpcare bill passed in the Senate. That’s not the whole ballgame but the bad guys have the momentum right now. If anyone from Nevada is reading this post, it’s time to go off on Senator Dean Heller who tops the list of most endangered GOPers in 2018. I’ll be calling Double Bill Cassidy’s office again but he’ll do what he’s told by the leadership.

This is not the time to give up. Keep calling your Senators. They need to understand that they will pay a price for this vote. Senators *still* do not know what they’re actually voting for. If this weren’t so deadly serious, it would be funnier than a barrel of monkeys or the Marx Brothers’ flick Monkey Business. It’s time to send a big FUCK YOU to congressional Republicans for their health care votes. And what the hell is skinny repeal? It’s got nothing to do with Blake Farenholdt, that’s for sure. If he fought a duel with Collins or Murkowski I have no doubt who would prevail. It wouldn’t be the congresscritter who was once malaka of the week.

A word about John McCain. Every time I go soft on him, he does something terrible. I felt tremendous compassion for him over the de facto death sentence that was his diagnosis. I had planned to make his 2016 primary opponent Kelli Ward malaka of the week for crudely urging McCain to step aside. I deleted that post during McCain’s ludicrous speech after he voted AYE on the motion. If he was really concerned about the institution and “proper order” he would have given that speech *before* the vote and then voted NAY. I rarely yell at the teevee but I did Tuesday afternoon.

Shorter Adrastos:

This is the first time I’ve morphed an Album Cover Art entry into an instant analysis post and it will probably be the last. Lots of things are unprecedented in 2016.

Here’s the cover art. That’s all I got for you.

Awkward Dinner Conversations

Two things. The first is this thread, which will teach you more about what’s really at the heart of Trump’s support than a thousand New York anthropological examinations of Midwestern noble savages ever could:

The second is St. John McCain, pretending once again to be above the process he is in up to his neck, scolding his colleagues as if he could do nothing that would influence their actions:

McCain bemoaned the tone of modern politics, suggesting that wild partisanship was paralyzing the country’s political institutions and tearing the country apart.
“Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and the television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good — our incapacity is their livelihood. Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order.”

And that’s really the heart of it all. Shit had gotten awkward at dinner, for John McCain and for a lot of the wealthier supporters of Trump and his merry band of blithering GOP dicksmacks. It had gotten awkward talking around racism and sexism and general misanthropy and it was harder and harder to find cover for one’s overall contempt for the poor. People had grown less willing to believe in the inherent good will of a party that would start an illegal war, spy on Americans, burn a black president in effigy and grab women by the pussy. The invitations must have stopped coming, or at least slowed down.

How about this, though? NOBODY IN WASHINGTON IS ELECTED TO LIKE EACH OTHER THEY ARE ELECTED TO HELP PEOPLE.

I think it’s nice that there are friendships and bromances (until today, Kerry/McCain 4 EVA). Generally I think it is good that we have a society. I think it’s good to get along with your coworkers. But not when you’re people and they’re skin sacks filled with bees. And not when it requires you to balance your need to keep your buds with your need to serve your constituents, ie do your fucking job when you’re on the clock and bump fuzzies on your own time.

The most heartbreaking thing about all of this, though? Democrats would forgive it tomorrow.

I mean the elected ones, mostly, but also a lot of the rank and file.

If it meant we could help people some more, we would forgive all the horrific things that were said and all the horrific things that were done. For two years of a campaign and the first year of his presidency Barack Obama was subjected to the most vile racist attacks in modern political history.

His response? To try to give the very people who voted against him for vile racist reasons health insurance.

For her entire life Hillary Clinton was subjected to the most vile sexist attacks it’s possible to subject a white woman to, while she served her country with distinction.

Her response? To fight to protect that health insurance.

So I have very little doubt the Democratic Party would forgive it all tomorrow and go back to trying to help people. Some of us wouldn’t forget, but we’d go right back to work. Hell, some of us are still working, dark though our prospects are, to stop this while we still can.

The civility that the GOP is disingenuously begging for? After all this, we’d give it to them. If modern dinner conversation requires that liberals hold themselves in contempt for the very things that the contemptuous public says it wants politicians to do to help them, liberals would sign up for that shit tomorrow because taking one for the team is kind of our entire THING. Our fate is your fate, bitches.

I keep hearing that the past 6 months are the fault of dumb libtard feminazi bitches like myself who impose their political correctness by banning the words “Merry Christmas” and not valuing traditional American values. If my 12-years-of-religious-ed ass agrees that you can say whatever politically incorrect shit to me that you want, can we let people keep their baby’s chemo?

I’d consider that a fair bargain. I think a lot of my fellow libtards would as well, so babies can keep their cancer treatments. So that nobody has to face a bill they can’t pay after their baby dies. I think we would let people lecture us about traditional values. I think we would let them do it and we would fucking smile.

Just let us help people, that’s all we’re asking.

After all this time.

A.

The Finger Of Blame

I don’t know about you but I’m enjoying all the finger pointing over the failure to repeal the ACA. The Turtle is violating every principle of Congressional leadership and making his caucus vote on a bill that cannot pass. Wait a minute, it’s what they’ve been doing since 2009. Of course, they’re in the majority and control the executive branch now. The finger of blame points at them.

POTUS* is pouting and pretending he had nothing to do with it. He claims that he doesn’t “own” this failure. Guess what, Donald, you don’t get to choose what you own when you’re the Oval One. That’s up to the voters. Democrats took the fall for the economy in the 2010 mid-terms even if the finger of blame pointed at the Bush administration and Wall Street greedheads. You don’t get to choose.

It must be great to be Donald Trump. Imagine never having made a mistake in your life. #sarcasm. It’s always someone else’s fault. Now he wants to burn down the health care house because he’s mad. Arson seems to be big in 2017. In politics it usually involves self-immolation. It’s a fiery finger of blame and it’s pointed directly at the Republican party. They own this president*.

It’s time to revisit my Russell Long paraphrase from Monday evening. His mantra was about taxes but all one needs to do is substitute blame for tax and Bob’s your uncle. I still don’t know who Bob is; perhaps he’s a white rural Trump voter or one of their explainers.

Since it’s 2017, let’s meme the Long paraphrase:

The original picture was taken on the 50th Anniversary of Huey Long’s assassination. It’s why he’s peeking out from behind Russell Long. If the Kingfish were around today, he’d probably wonder which part of this story fits the 21st Century GOP:

“The Democratic Party and the Republican Party were just like the old patent medicine drummer that used to come around our country. He had two bottles of medicine. He’d play a banjo and he’d sell two bottles of medicine.

One of those bottles of medicine was called High Popalorum and another one of those bottles of medicine was called Low Popahirum.

Finally somebody around there said is there any difference in these bottles of medicines? ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘considerable. They’re both good but they’re different,’ he said.

‘That High Popalorum is made from the bark off the tree that we take from the top down. And that Low Popahirum is made from the bark that we take from the root up.’

And the only difference that I have found between the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership was that one of ’em was skinning you from the ankle up and the other from the ear down — when I got to Congress.”

As a seasoned Long paraphraser, I’d substitute McConnell and Trump for the parties, but I’m uncertain which is High Popalorum and which is Low Popahirum. Btw, this was a question posed to me on twitter by my friend Sam Jasper. I wish I had a better answer. All I have for her is a shout-out.

Back to the blame game. It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys and more disconcerting than a ferret down your trousers. As of this writing, Corey Lewandowski  is claiming that the president* is going to close a deal on Obamacare repeal today. I can count both votes and lies. The votes for ACA repeal are limited and lies from Team Trump are innumerable. You’d think that they’d screw up and tell the truth at some point.

The finger of blame is a venerable phrase but it was used memorably by Neil Finn in the Crowded House song, Fall At Your Feet. I guess you know who has the last word:

Instant Analysis: When The Spell Is Broken

The myth of Mitch McConnell as a master tactician and strategist took a huge hit this evening. His latest gambit to return the GOP’s position to repeal and replace the ACA is tantamount to declaring political bankruptcy. Repeal may not be dead forever but McConnell lacked even the votes to open debate in the Senate. Nobody should spike the ball in celebration because public pressure is what caused the Senate leadership, not the erstwhile moderates, to cave. People should keep calling their Senators but the spell is broken. The Senate seems to have resumed its role as a brake on rotten legislation.

Until the last few days, Republican Senators have been acting like cattle and following their leader and president* to the political slaughterhouse. They’re now in revolt against McConnell and his team. What form it will take is unclear because but they’re revolting in  different ways; pun obviously intended. Some of them like Aqua Buddha and his bobo Mike Lee want a *worse* bill; others are scared shitless of the reaction back home if they strip away aspects of the ACA that have always been popular including Medicaid expansion. Susan Collins was treated like a conquering hero in Maine because of her stand against Trumpcare.

I threw away my crystal ball after last year’s election but something fundamental has changed. It will be interesting to see how the blame game will unfold. It reminds me of an aphorism attributed to former Gret Stet Senator Russell Long: “Don’t tax you. Don’t tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree.” All you have to do is substitute blame for tax and you have a winner.

Chinless Mitch is trying not to be the “fellow behind the tree.” I’m not sure who his designated patsy will be, but someone will have to take the fall with the more rabid members of the Republican base. It could be a lunatic with a twitter addiction or an overrated Speaker. In short, the Turtle has crawfished on Trumpcare.

Stay tuned

I’ll give Richard Thompson the last word:

First Draft Potpourri: Sanity Clause Edition

I’ve spent the last 177 days feeling like we’re living through a Marx Brothers movie. Until last week, I was certain it was Duck Soup wherein Groucho is the lecherous President of Freedonia, Rufus T. Firefly. The more we learn about Trump Junior’s infamous meeting with the Russian mouthpiece and a cast of thousands, the more it sounds like the stateroom scene in A Night At The Opera. That movie contained this classic exchange between Groucho as Otis B. Driftwood and Chico as Fiorello as they haggled over a contract:

Fiorello: Hey, wait, wait. What does this say here? This thing here.
Driftwood: Oh, that? Oh, that’s the usual clause. That’s in every contract. That just says uh, it says uh, “If any of the parties participating in this contract is shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.”
Fiorello: Well, I don’t know…
Driftwood: It’s all right, that’s, that’s in every contract. That’s, that’s what they call a ‘sanity clause’.
Fiorello: Ha ha ha ha ha! You can’t fool me! There ain’t no Sanity Clause!

There isn’t one when it comes to being president*, alas. The country needs a sanity pause as well as a sanity clause but we’re unlikely to get either as long as the Insult Comedian watches teevee in the White House.

Let’s break things down First Draft potpourri style. I should post the segment titles in the form of a question but it’s too hot to do so. I have to preserve as many of my diminishing little grey cells as possible.

The Dog Ate The Country: Trump spokescreeps and apologists have been making some very lame “the dog ate my homework” excuses. In this case, it’s more like the dog ate the country. One of my favorites is the “they’re inexperienced” excuse. Paul Manafort was at that meeting. He’s not a rookie, he’s a veteran shitbag. One might even call him a grizzled ratfucker.

The latest lame excuse comes from Trump’s  bible thumping shyster, Jay Sekulow. He opined that the Secret Service should have prevented Trump Junior’s stateroom scene meeting. The Secret Service is supposed to protect family members from outsiders, not themselves. They’d have to expand their remit dramatically since they didn’t stop Billy Carter from meeting with sinister Libyan types when his brother was president. I’ve gotten used to writing president with an asterisk and had to stop myself. We used to have real presidents instead of the mountebank we have now. So it goes.

Let’s move on to health care deform, I mean “reform.”

The Walnuts Factor: The fact that Chinless Mitch has postponed any votes on his health care bill until John McCain recovers from surgery and is back in town is an indication of weakness. As of now, they don’t have the votes.  It’s either going to pass 50-50 or lose by 6 to 10 votes. If it’s a sure loser, the rats will flee the sinking ship but we’re waiting on a third firm no vote to join Susan Collins and Aqua Buddha. Can they make like Claus vov Bulow and have a stunning Reversal of Fortune? Absolutely. As of now they’re more like the comatose Sunny von Bulow…

One more thing. I know people who think that Mitch McConnell is some sort of legislative wizard. When it comes to obstructionism, maybe so. This is an entirely different matter as it involves passing legislation. An online friend of mine compared him to Tom Brady who engineered a wild comeback in the last Super Bowl. A reminder: Brady led an undefeated Pats team into the Super Bowl against the New York Giants and lost. Shit happens. Nobody’s a wizard except in Harry Potter world.

Not Everything Sucks: This is Athenae’s mantra but I felt like borrowing it from her. You can have it back, A. Promise. The BBC announced the identity of the 13th Doctor Who and it’s the first woman, Jodie Whittaker. She’s best known for playing Beth Latimer in Broadchurch, which co-stars the 11th Doctor, David Tennant. It’s a splendid choice.

Some fan boys are acting as if they’ve been castrated but a female Time Lord comports with the Doctor Who universe. There’s *already* an evil female Time Lord, Missy. If you’re not a Whovian, I assume your eyes just glazed over like a rogue donut.

Here’s the BBC announcement tweet:

That concludes this edition of First Draft potpourri. I’m just trying to restore a hint of sanity to the world. I think a sanity clause should be mandatory for future Oval Ones.

I’ll give Groucho and Chico the last word:

Hail Freedonia.

Say It With Me … RACISM!

I just can’t wrap my mind around why the GOP won’t defend the fundamental conservatism of Obamacare: 

Republicans are engaged in a brutal civil war between hard-liners and moderates as they struggle to craft legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. The episode invites an almost existential question for the GOP: Why, after seven years of nearly endless war against Obamacare, is the party unable to deliver a more conservative policy that provides access to health care to a similar number of Americans?

Give me a minute. It’ll come to me.

As a life-long Republican who has spent months contemplating this question, I’ve come to an answer that will be hard for many conservatives to swallow: Passing an Obamacare replacement is difficult because the existing system is fundamentally a collection of moderately conservative policies.

But it was championed by a black president! HOW can it be conservative? HOW can it be familiar to, say, a Mitt Romney or a John McCain? How, when it has the fingerprints of a man named Barack all over it?

To be sure, the suggestion that Obamacare is based on conservative principles is anathema to the modern incarnation of the GOP. Opposition to the legislation has become so central to the party’s agenda that simply writing these words will surely brand me as a Republican apostate.

I can’t imagine why that would be true.

If you force insurance companies to cover people who are already sick, you need market interventions such as the individual mandate and sufficiently generous tax subsidies to prevent a death spiral. And for people with few resources, these subsidies follow the wisdom of Reagan and provide Medicaid coverage.

Unfortunately, these marketplace realities run afoul of the Republican Party’s newly developed preternatural love for completely unfettered markets — a love that is simply incompatible with reality and our party’s history.

No, your party’s history is much more compatible with virulent racism and horror stories about black people mooching off the system. You suck Ronald Reagan’s legacy long and hard throughout this piece but fail to mention that his anti-government rhetoric relied entirely on a worldview driven by fear of nonwhites.

Where you said “love for completely unfettered markets?” You meant “love for gerrymandered votes that can only be won by promising to punish poor minorities and women.”

I have many problems with Obamacare, but they don’t stem from a belief that any government intervention in markets is a nonstarter. Such a belief cannot be, and frankly has never been, the litmus test for policy in the Republican Party.

You sweet summer child. Right now the litmus test for policy is “will it piss off my liberal sister-in-law?” A litmus test based on actual government intervention would be a step UP. I swear, we’re gonna spend the next 4 years (if we’re unlucky, the next 40) twisting ourselves into knots to pretend none of what’s happening is driven by racist spite when that’s all our politics are anymore.

A.

Quote Of The Day: Health Care Edition

I like to call my friend Clancy DuBos the dean of New Orleans political commentators. I’m not sure if he likes the nickname as it sounds rather bureaucratic. Perhaps I should call myself the vice-dean whatever the hell that means. I *could* promote Clancy to chancellor, but it’s a title that evokes British or German politics, not the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

That was a roundabout way of praising Clancy for one of the best columns he’s ever written. He urges Gret Stet GOP Senators John Neely Kennedy and Bill Cassidy to put country and state ahead of the more rabid members of their base and fix the ACA, not destroy it:

So the question Kennedy and Cassidy must answer is “Whom do you represent?”

It appears Kennedy is inextricably in the thrall of the GOP’s right wing, his world-class education notwithstanding. The more moderate Cassidy, on the other hand, appears genuinely torn between his conscience (including physicians’ legendary oath to “first, do no harm”) and his political party.

To his credit, Cassidy has pledged not to support any bill that fails the “Jimmy Kimmel test” in terms of adequate coverage for all (as Donald Trump promised during the campaign). Cassidy also joined fellow Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine to introduce the Patient Freedom Act of 2017. Their bill, which would provide transparency on health care prices, has been ignored by the Senate’s GOP leadership.

Given the Senate’s slim, two-vote GOP majority, Cassidy could influence the future of American health care policy not only because he is a physician but also because he has at times shown the courage to speak the truth, even when truth doesn’t serve the interests of his party. I wish I could say the same of Kennedy.

Both men will cast their votes soon. Will Dr. Cassidy do no harm, or will he follow the money? His decision, like senators’ votes on civil rights bills in the 1960s, will determine how future generations remember him.

Both Kennedy and Cassidy are former Democrats who identified with the center-left of the party. Kennedy did so as an elected official and statewide candidate, so he’s forever overcompensating by hicking it up and pandering to the Trumpers. Why a well-educated, articulate man like Neely is willing to sound like a peckerwood in public is one of the mysteries of Gret Stet politics. Public Peckerwood? That would be a helluva name for a bluegrass band.

Senator/Doctor Cassidy is reachable but has been a follower, not a leader in his political career. As a doctor who practiced in Louisiana’s public hospital system, he *should* know the devastating impact the proposed changes to Medicaid will have. People will die if McConnell’s reverse Robin Hoodism becomes the law of the land. Make that the law of the jungle. Transferring wealth from Medicaid recipients to the 1% is Social Darwinism at its worst.

I hereby challenge Senator/Doctor Cassidy to live up to both his titles and do the right thing. He will be forgotten after he leaves office if he remains in the pocket of leader McConnell. He has a chance to prove that he’s his own man, not merely Bitter Vitter’s creature. Health care is a fundamental human right that should not be bartered away. Doctor Cassidy knows that. It’s time for Senator Cassidy to vote his conscience, not the party line.

‘if we all are willing to be okay with helping others and being helped’

There’s a whole thread here worth reading but this is the part I want to talk about, as a way of addressing with the sensitivity our GOP masters demand the shortcomings of their latest attempt at legislation:

Every night, as a lullaby, I sing Kick Forever Young.

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others and let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung
And may you stay forever young

In the dark sleepless nights, I often pondered that third line. Its latter half. I know the rationale behind doing for others. Why would you wish to have someone let others do for them? Why would you want that for them? And what I settled on in those thin hours was that accepting help without fear of it was a grace we make far too little of.

You have to be able to reach your hand out. You have to know your own powerlessness if you’re going to survive it. You have to know that you can be at others’ mercy, utterly, and that you will be okay. You have to know that you will not be okay, and you will be okay.

How many of us are afraid to reach out, to not just help but be helped? How many of us have told ourselves, have been told, over and over, for years, that we have to wall ourselves up, wall ourselves off? That nobody’s gonna help us, that nothing’s gonna change? I mean it, how many? The whole world’s out to get us, that’s the message on every TV screen every night, so stay inside and be afraid.

It’s no wonder we’ve rationalized it. Otherwise you’d look at the world — traffic accidents, guns, carcinogens in the air, a sidewalk crack sticking up for your foot to catch — and go stark raving mad inside a second.

If an illness is not something bad that happens to anyone, but some deep inner flaw, some error in judgment or planning or faith, then your illness cannot happen to me, a virtuous hard-working person who Is Good. If you can be made to somehow deserve what happened to you (and injuries do just happen; two years ago I could run three miles a day) then nothing will happen to me.

I think a lot of the rank-and-file GOP “personal responsibility” rhetoric you hear from people who are likely to be hurt by the same policies of austerity they voted for comes from that fear. I think a lot of them are convinced that if they just shove the suffocation that is knowing human frailty into a suitcase and bury it in the yard, they will be fine. I think a lot of them quake with the knowledge that this is all a crap shoot, we are all one phone call away from disaster, all the time, always.

No one, a very wise friend once explained to me patiently, wants to think of themselves as having benefitted OR suffered from a system beyond their control. They’re afraid to help others because they’re afraid to be helped. Being helped means being weak, and being weak means losing. I think a lot of them are afraid.

Some of them, of course, are just horrific motherfucking assholes who’d sell their own fucked mothers for a tax cut and the chance to kick a hobo. However, I am trying to have the compassion our GOP critics want us to have for their feelings and sincere beliefs, for their philosophies and needs and wants. I am not being mean; this is the most generous possible view: They are cowards.

Cowards won’t let others do for them. Cowards don’t put themselves at the world’s mercy. Cowards don’t admit to the randomness of fate. Cowards lock their doors and pretend that there is a slavering horde out there and that a door or a lock will stop it. Cowards can’t admit they need help. Cowards can’t accept it, and cowards certainly can’t offer it. Cowards think alone protects them. Cowards think they’re alone.

There is no way to live your life without others. There is no way to be alone. Contact is inevitable, leading to information bleed. Every story ever told is a hand reaching out to another, saying see, I too am here. It’s not that no man is an island; you can set yourself apart. But you’ll do it in the most strenuous opposition to your every human instinct. We are built to love and care for each other. That’s all we’re for. We forget that at our peril.

When we forget it, this is what happens. We take the only thing that is all of us together taking care of each other — government, as those filthy hippies like to call it — and we just decide to fail it on purpose. We turn on our own, on ourselves, and we make up lies about imperfect systems being worse than us all being together and trying to fix things. We vote for people who promise to drown us in the bathtub, burn us to the ground, make us disappear.

We’re so afraid of doing for others, letting others do for us. We build a ladder, but it isn’t to the stars.

A.