When Republican Rhetoric Meets Reality: Obamacare Edition

Contrary to popular opinion, there is a great deal of bureaucratic and political wisdom wrapped up in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  It was a compromise bill that took as it’s guide Republican plans for health care which were written as opposition proposals to more liberal plans from Democrats.

But Republicans chose to encourage their rabid base in their hatred of either the President or an attempt at a government initiated solution to health care.  We know the reasons why, there are those interested in continuing to maximize profits or earnings from the private sector related to health care and there are conservative pundits and politicians that no good reason not to add fuel the Obamacare frenzy and every reason to enable the frenzy.

Now that there is no Democratic opposition, Republicans have to take another, more sober look at their plan and a David Leonhardt opinion piece today in the NYT does a good job at summarizing the results of many tea-leaf indicators of the decisions Republican leadership has before them. Although not mentioned in the article there have been several indicators that suddenly, now that they have a Republican President, Republicans are not as eager as they were during any of the 52 times they authored bills to repeal Obamacare under President Obama.  From President Trump’s meeting with Governor Kasich to indications that even Republican Governor Brownback of Kansas may have begun to understand that the ACA’s Medicaid expansion may actually be trying to help his constituents.
We’ll see where this leads, every day brings new news as Republicans continue their planned dismantling of the administrative state.  Something I call “ungoverning”.
Let’s stay active because we need all of us to review, digest, review, and oppose this multi-faceted decimation of our common interests.  From education to endangered species, from health care to foreign policy, the Republicans have control of at least 2 of the 3 branches of government and have made sure they will soon control all three.  We need all of us, keep up your interest and spirits.

The Fight for Obamacare Has Turned  (David Leonhardt. The New Your Times. 28 February 2017.)
“In drafting his health care plan, Barack Obama chose a moderate, market-based approach. It was to the right of Bill Clinton’s and Richard Nixon’s plans and way to the right of Harry Truman’s — and yet Republicans still wouldn’t support it.
Many liberals regret that decision. Obama, for his part, believes that a more left-wing version would not have passed. Either way, the version that did pass doesn’t leave Republicans much room to maneuver.”

Reflections: Tom Perez Elected DNC Chair

Let’s start with Senator Sanders:

…then this …

…and this sweet thought for Representative Ellison…

…but let’s also keep in mind this thought…

 

Unity is critical in an ongoing battle against ungoverning FDR’s nascent modern state which balances the excesses of the free market with the needs of America’s people.  The Republican Party has become the party of misdirection, misinformation and ungoverning.  We the people (as opposed to we the people with money and influence) must remain unified under the umbrella of the Democratic Party until that time there is a more effective political tool in our political tool shed.

That means we the people will win some and we’ll lose some but we can never give up.

If we give up, who will fight for doing all we can to avoid environmental catastrophes?  Who will fight against toxic income inequality and fight for equal opportunity for all while taking into account systemic and historic cultural and legal imbalances?

In short, who will fight for sustainable governing for all of us, not just those who can pay enough to access the levers of power?


references: (last one was updated after initial publishing)

(Glenn Greenwald. The Intercept_. 24 February)
In other words, Perez, despite his progressive credentials, is viewed — with good reason — as a reliable functionary and trustworthy loyalist by those who have controlled the party and run it into the ground, whereas Ellison is viewed as an outsider who may not be as controllable and, worse, may lead the Sanders contingent to perceive that they have been integrated into and empowered within the party.
(Clio Change. The New Republic. 23 February)
But members of the Democratic establishment don’t quite see it that way. The Hill reports, “Perez supporters have expressed concern about handing the party over to the Sanders wing of the party, arguing that Ellison would move the party too far to the left.” And the New York Times suggests that Democratic leaders pushed Perez to run because they viewed Ellison as too close to the Sanders wing.
(Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman. The New York Times. 22 November 2016.
But after steadily adding endorsements from leading Democrats in his bid to take over the party, Mr. Ellison is encountering resistance from a formidable corner: the White House.
In a sign of the discord gripping the party, President Obama’s loyalists, uneasy with the progressive Mr. Ellison, have begun casting about for an alternative, according to multiple Democratic officials close to the president.
The battle pits the titans of the Democratic Party against one another, with Mr. Obama’s camp at odds with figures like Chuck Schumer, the new Senate Democratic leader, and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
This call for an economic-centered brand of liberalism is what galvanized so many of his supporters

There was another serious pragmatic reason to believe the party needed Ellison. Like Sanders, he had the momentum and energy. Keith Ellison could get young people excited about Democratic politics. He had a way of connecting with people. Even Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post, who had supported Hillary Clinton, was incredibly impressed with Ellison when he spoke to him, because of Ellison’s unique gift for explaining progressive values in concrete and relatable terms. In an era where Democrats are losing incredibly badly at every level, they needed someone who could motivate people and get them to organize. They needed someone who would harness the force that led to Bernie Sanders’ massive rallies, an enthusiasm that Hillary Clinton could never generate. With a significant segment of those people seeing their candidate yet again blocked (this time by an even more absurdly undemocratic process, in which ordinary party members had absolutely no say), it’s hardly likely that Perez will be able to energize those same forces. Electing Ellison was essential because it could have kept more left-wingers from quitting the party in disgust, and helped bring back some (much needed) robust grassroots organizing.

Now, progressives in the party are further alienated. Good luck getting them to vote for Democrats. No matter how many people may have insisted that Ellison/Perez wasn’t a replay of Sanders/Clinton, it’s impossible to deny that in some ways it was. The progressives needed to receive some kind of gesture. And they have received one: an enormous middle finger.


once more for emphasis quote:

This call for an economic-centered brand of liberalism is what galvanized so many of (Bernie’s) supporters

  • Jonathan Martin & Maggie Haberman – NY Times.

DNC Chair Vote Today. (Not) Live Coverage!

Here is live coverage from The Hill.

And the final debate from last Wednesday.

 

This Democrat is crossing his fingers for Keith Ellison, but all the candidates are impressive.

Thank you Humboldt49 for spending time making calls on behalf of Congressman Ellison!

Some thoughts/notes/questions:

  • Not looking good for Ellison supporters.  214.5 needed to win.
  • From The Hill @11:30 PST:

Perez received 213.5 votes. Ellison got 200. The crowd is stunned. A second round of balloting is about to get underway. …The tension inside the room is off the charts.

Secede? No. Lead? Yes! #SB562

California has been a national leader, from the ongoing environmental leadership in culture and regulation to (ugh) Prop 13 and Presidents Nixon and Reagan.
Well it might be our chance to lead again.  Senate Bill 562 is another attempt at health care for all in California.  I didn’t remember this, but we were here before.  In 2006 and 2008 we had CaliforniaCare blocked by the Governator.  Well now that the Federal Government under President Trump and his pick to ungovern the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (R-Georgia) is going to do what it can to Make America Pay Again for being sick.
Of course this is outrageous and of course we can and should do better by our citizens (residents/visitors) AND by our businesses.  This Republican goal of a free market for health care is a disgrace when we humans know instinctively that health care is a fundamental right in a society that can afford it.
Here are a couple of infographics that can help frame the discussion as we consider affordable health care for all.
  • All the top developed countries (save the US) already have universal health care.
mf20healthcaremap20p
From The Atlantic.
Our cost of care is spectacularly expensive compared to other countries, we rarely see doctors (probably due in part to this expense), and our health outcomes are average compared to other developed countries.
cost_of_health_care_nat_geo
Oliver Uberti from National Geographic originally (I think)
To anyone paying close attention to politics in our country, the reason the wealthiest country in the world is also the only wealthy country without universal health care is because people make a great deal of money in the health care business and they have the power (and now leverage in Washington) to make sure the fleecing of Americans when they are sick can continue.
So as Washington abandons a national attempt at working toward coverage for all in favor of business and political interests, in Sacramento let us again show the country how to do the right thing.
#SB562.  Let’s do our research.  Let’s make sure Senator McGuire and Governor Brown is on board and let us remind the rest of the country what a modern society looks like.

references:

Sacramento Bee 2/17/17:  California bill calls for state-run health care system


advocacy emails:

From Shannon Jackson of Bernie’s Our Revolution: (received 2/22/17)

The California Legislature is on the brink of passing one of the most momentous bills in the history of the United States. S.B. 562 declares health care to be a human right, and its framework establishes a universal single-payer health coverage program for all Californians. With an effective cost control system, this bill guarantees health care to ALL people. In short, this bill will save people’s lives.

We must ensure S.B. 562’s passage. Please call your state senator now to voice your support for a universal single-payer health care system.

No longer will sick people be denied health insurance due to pre-existing conditions or risk death by avoiding the doctor for fear of unaffordable insurance premiums. No longer will the cost of prescription drugs and medical procedures be unattainable. S.B. 562 would ensure that every person receives the health care they need when they need it.

The American people agree. In the years since the Affordable Care Act passed, millions of people became insured for the first time but many remain to this day without coverage. Now California has the opportunity to lead the nation forward.

Please call your state senators telling them to vote “YES” on S.B. 562.

In the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, people have a right to health care, no matter their income or medical history. Along with the immense outpouring of support from our friends at the California Nurses’ Union, your phone call can tilt the balance in our favor.

From Tim Molina of the Courage Campaign: (edited to remove (most) of the spamishness, emphasis is mine).  Received 2/22/17

California is leading the way again! As Republicans threaten to rob 30 million people of lifesaving health care, State Senators Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins just introduced the Healthy California Act, which would guarantee health insurance for all of our 38 million residents!

This is a gamechanger — health care for all would keep insurance companies honest, contain rising healthcare costs, and, most importantly, save lives. If it passes here, we’ll set an example that will spread to other states.

Passing this bill won’t be easy. An army of health care industry lobbyists will use every dirty trick in the book to try to stop any threats to their employers’ bottom line.

For years, Republicans have called for the death of the Affordable Care Act, with no meaningful plan to replace it. Now that they control both houses of Congress as well as the White House, they have the tools needed to gut the law, putting health care for millions of Americans in jeopardy.

Protecting the Affordable Care Act must be our first priority. But for the first time, California could have the political will to provide a real public option that could bring a long-term solution to America’s healthcare crisis. And that solution is a health care plan that works for all: a single-payer system.

Under single-payer, California would negotiate prices for services and prescriptions with providers, pharmaceutical companies and others. Every resident would be covered and have more choice. Health care funds would be pooled in a publicly run fund, using the bargaining power of California’s global economy. And if all goes as planned, prescription drug costs would be managed, and out-of-control co-pays and high deductibles would disappear.

This is not the first time California has tried to make single-payer a reality. Our state legislature passed a single-payer bill in 2006, but it was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was passed and vetoed again in 2008.

This time around, the energy and moment is there. With the health of millions at risk, California has the chance to both protect all of its residents and model what is possible to the rest of the nation. It’s an incredible opportunity. The power to capitalize on this opportunity is in your hands. Together, we can resist the Republican attacks on health care reform just like we’ve resisted Trump’s Muslim ban and immigration policies.

 

 

 


FYI for Tonight: Congressman Huffman’s Mother Passed Last Sunday

Some context for tonight’s meeting, explaining why there was almost no notice for the town hall which is at 5:30 at Arcata High.

From Congressman Huffman’s personal Facebook page…

If I could replicate just one thing from my mother Phyllis, who died peacefully last night just before she would have turned 87, it would be her authentic kindness and seemingly endless empathy. If you ever had a problem, she was the one to talk to – whether you were a family member, neighbor, or the person refilling her coffee cup at the diner.

She took a real interest in people from all walks of life, and went out of her way to offer them respect and compassion. If you wore a nametag on the job, you were going to be on a first-name basis with my mom. She’d ask where you are from. She’d tell you about her hometown of Independence, Missouri, and maybe her nomadic childhood moving up and down the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers because my grandfather maintained the navigation channels for the Corps of Engineers. Before the conversation ended, she would invariably find a way to brag about her three sons, two in California and one in Alaska. I know this because every time I picked her up at the airport, the porter who brought her out in the wheelchair would somehow know everything about me and my brothers!


 

Should Democrats Apologize for Slavery?

Why the heck not?

Seriously.  Could a Democrat please tell me why now is not the perfect time to do this?  Whether it is Representative Keith Ellison or Secretary Thomas E. Perez who wins the nomination to lead the D.N.C. (I hope it’s Rep. Ellison), Democrats may want to take up CNN commentator and right-wing troll Jeffrey Lord’s advise, let Democrats apologize for our party’s historic role in fighting to maintain the right of the Confederate states to hang onto slavery and our role in the number of oppressive government policies following the brief shining light of Reconstruction.

Alright, I know one answer might be this.  “Lookit, this is no time for identity politics, we have to focus on fighting for those working class votes we lost to President Trump.”

OK, then.  Why can’t Democrats do both?

In short, Democrats cannot give up the fight for civil rights we signed up for with President Johnson in 1964 and 1965.  Democrats have suffered mind-numbing political consequences over the past 50 years due to this act which those on the right either now conveniently ignore or outright deny ever occurred(1).  Democrats lost the entire Southern voting block and now, with Republican money and attention now focused in the broken industrial heart of America, Democrats lost the majority in the electoral college.

The thing is, despite Jeffrey Lord’s convenient rhetoric that Republicans are color blind, if you are paying attention to history and to policy we should all know, especially journalists, that Southern right-wing politics is all about race and identity politics.

Here is but one example of where Southern politics has taken our country and how this affects all of us. Take a look at these bullet points form the NAACP from their criminal justice fact sheet (highlights mine)

naacp

CNN commentator troll Jeffrey Lord was once a political aide to President Reagan and he often chooses to shoot his segments in front of a photo of The Ronald.

President Reagan understood the Southern Strategy.  One of his advisors, Lee Atwater, in a rare moment of candor which we will never get from Mr. Lord, explained it this way in 1981.

“here’s how I would quote that as a statistician or a political scientist, or no as a psychologist which I’m not, is…is how abstract you handle the race thing. In other words, you start out with, and now ya’ll don’t quote me now on this…i don’t want…

You start out in 1954 by saying nigger, nigger, nigger. By 1968, you can’t say nigger. That hurts you, it backfires, so you say stuff like…uh forced-busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all of these thing you talking about are totally economic things & the byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it, I’m not saying that. But I’m saying, that if it is getting that abstract and that coded …uh that we…we’re doing away with the racial problem one way or the other…uh you follow me? ’cause obviously sitting around saying uh we want to cut taxes, we want to cut this, and we want- is much more abstract than even the busing thing. uh… and a hell of a lot more abstract than nigger, nigger, you know. So I- any way you look at it, race is coming on the back-burner.”

Take another look at the fact sheet from the NAACP, if these numbers are not already seared in your mind.  The explosion in our prison/jail population happened in 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected.  Let’s be clear,  Democrats, even post 1965, are not angels in this, especially when vying for the Southern Democratic vote.

During the 2016 election we were able to take another look at how President Bill Clinton solidified his support among Southern Democrats.  Here is one particularly damning photo from 1992 that Democrats should probably recognize and understand. (You can find context to this photo here.)

prisoners-1024x646

In some absurd sense, I agree with Jeffrey Lord.  Democrats need to finally cleave the FDR Democratic wing from that of it’s founder whom President Trump rightly belongs in the office of the populist Republican President.  Of course there is a great deal of overlap historically, but Democrats have been largely on the side of right and light since 1964.  Because of an about-race on civil rights, Democrats have politically ceded the South for decades and possibly generations.  They did it because partially because their hand was forced by Dr. King and the civil rights movement, but also because it was the right thing to do.  As party of the people, there had to come a time when the Democratic Party addressed the paradox of being a Party that would support Jim Crow policies and it’s dedication to “wholesale oppression, control, disenfranchisement and exploitation of black Americans“. (see 1-d below)

lead_960
President Trump’s fondness for the First Democratic President.

And there is no more appropriate time, as President Obama’s term in office has ended, that Democrats make the break with their racist past clear.  I can not think of any good reason why Democrats should wait any longer to apologize for our Party’s historic support of slavery and the oppressive state-sponsored policies that followed.  Let’s say goodbye to the racist foundations of the Party’s founder, explaining why and talk about leaders like Republican President Abraham Lincoln and Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt who understood that we can become that modern nation that will serve in the interests of all it’s people while remaining that beacon of hope and light for the rest of the world that the Statue of Liberty represents.

Will an apology for slavery offend a few Trump supporters in the Midwest or South?  Maybe.  But I don’t believe Democrats have to chose between fighting for working class jobs, working for equal opportunity and protecting the vulnerable among us.  We can clearly do all of the above.  There is no good reason we can’t. (No, I’m not counting pandering to a Trump voter as a good reason.)


(1) Evidence of denial or obfuscation of the Southern Strategy and the resulting revolution in U.S. politics from  one person’s (my) consumption of media.

(a) Dinesh D’Souza’s “Hilary’s America”.

hillary_imac_dpx__00000-00_23_28_06-still0091

(b) Local links from our local libertarian Fred Mangles, in this case from Ayn R Key during a discussion of CalExit.

Allegedly the parties have reversed roles on the subject of race, so if California were to lead a new wave of secession by the Democratic Party it would lead to untying the concept of secession from the racism.

(Follow the link to discover that the revolution in politics was based, largely, on the increased use of air conditioning in the South.  Who knew!)

(c) When Googling DemExit (regarding progressives unhappy with Democrats) I found this lovely meme.

capture

(d) Jeffrey Lord over and over and over.

 Note:  We can start with an apology by using the clear words of Janell Ross from the Washington Post (click first “over”)

Let us be clear: When the group of former Confederate soldiers who founded the KKK began their bloody tirade, many if not all of them were, in fact, Democrats. They were members of a party that at that time counted among its central goals the wholesale oppression, control, disenfranchisement and exploitation of black Americans. As such, the Democratic Party at that time and for nearly 100 years more did not include black voters but was the political home of much of the most virulently and violently racist white Americans.

(e) And one more found while reviewing the intertubes for this post.  From a smart guy too, John Fund.

“The American Civil Rights Union, a conservative group that has filed suit in favor of voter-integrity measures, has had enough of such tactics. Its leaders include former attorney general Ed Meese and former Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell. ACRU has just published a booklet on the real history of Jim Crow. Available for free at TheTruthAboutJimCrow.org, it sets the record straight on a hidden racial past that many Democrats would rather see swept under the carpet. While Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” is constantly referenced in the media as a tool to attract white voters, less well remembered are Woodrow Wilson’s segregation of the entire federal civil service; FDR’s appointment of a member of the KKK to the Supreme Court; John F. Kennedy’s apathy toward civil-rights legislation; and the rise of Robert Byrd, a former member of the KKK, to the post of Democratic leader in the Senate in the 1980s.

*sigh*

In Defense of Liberals and Progressives

My brother Alex, who, for full disclosure, is my connection to the UN and Agenda 21 as with his work with the Environmenal Defense Fund, once asked me how I defined “liberal”.  I’m still trying to answer that question.

My focus has been to try to define a liberal philosophy from a conservative one.  Governing vs ungoverning given where we have been in post Eisenhower era is one clear policy distinction.   Another simplistic answer seems to be while conservatives allow for “punching down” to vulnerable communities in defense of mob rule against a minority population (ie the “republic” in Republican), liberals cannot/will not do this.

As Brother Alex knows, I’m still working on this.

But is there a significant need to understand the difference between a liberal and progressive?  Turns out there is, and I had no idea that this conflict existed.  Here is a link I received from a friend from a Google Group I belong to.  The link came with the following sentiment

“I’ve felt the same blowback the article describes.”

I have not experience this blowback myself.  I’m wondering if it is related to blowback from Clinton supporters that Eric Kirk describes here back on December 22nd.

Then afterwards, I’ve seen so many Clinton supporters blaming Sanders (who actually ran about the most kid gloves primary campaign I’ve seen in my adult life). Blaming young people for not turning out. Blaming third party candidates for running. Blaming the media for covering Trump events while she was attending private fundraisers. Blaming everyone and everything but Clinton and the campaign itself, and the insular culture which continues to permeate the Democratic Party as Nancy Pelosi barely held onto her leadership position and then cluelessly exclaims, “I don’t think Democrats want a new direction.” Well if she’s right, then the Democrats will continue to lose and lose, as will the rest of us. Cenk Uygar is right. Either the Democrats become populist now, or they will continue to lose. It’s really that simple.

6-20170206001345

But back to the article.  The author Caitlin Johnstone, a progressive writes this…

“For a few magical months it was actually considered cool to be a real progressive, and all our liberal friends treated us like real people when we’d share our political perspectives. We were considered naive but harmless at worst, and we were allowed to have a political voice at the table.”

I had friends calling me crying telling me their friends and family were being absolutely vicious to them for wanting to support Jill Stein.

Liberals dominate public discourse in America. They dominate it so much you’d assume they must also dominate government elections if you didn’t know better….We need to take that away from them, that dominance of public discourse. We need to fight it, and fight it hard, because if we don’t we can kiss this whole revolution goodbye.

I am a Bernie Democrat.  I agree with Ms Johnstone that there is a media dominance that seems to dismiss ideas like universal health care, a complete re-jiggering of our foreign policy, or real solutions to our outrageously over-populated prisons or our outrageous wealth inequality.

I was miffed this election season by almost all media outlets I trusted such as Media Matters, the NYT, even the DailyKos.  All of these outlets had a finger or hand on the balance for Hillary Clinton.  But we do have to take this in context and remember that Senator Sanders wasn’t a Democrat and the entire Democratic establishment began the campaign with the idea that this was Hillary’s time.  Another important context that can’t be forgotten that much of this was also wrapped in our countries deep need for this to be a woman’s time.

But as someone who identifies as a liberal, we also have to consider this tendency to “middle” ourselves in an increasingly asymmetric political climate.  Here is an example that is seared in my memory from one of my top two favorite bloggers, Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum.

Bernie Sanders Would Have Lost the Election in a Landslide

It comes with this handy graphic

blog_postwar_democratic_candidates

So what does this mean?  Does this mean that we, on the left give up?  Is it only the right wing that gets to move from Eisenhower, miss on Goldwater, then go to Nixon, Reagan and now Trump with ever increasing movement away from policies, especially economic, that actually support middle and lower rungs on the wealth ladder?

That’s my beef with the dominate left-of-center conversation of our country, it’s not one of progressive vs liberal.  Yes, there is much I disagree with in Ms Johnstone’s article and links, especially when it comes to foreign policy, but these are not deal-breakers for me.

The problem I have with Ms Johnstone’s piece is not one of policy, it’s one of our existing political infrastructure.  There are rules to the game and these need to be respected, during the election cycles themselves, for our own good.  There is nothing we can do about it during a given contest.  If you want to change the rules, I’ll support you, but we have to take it to the American people pre-election, not during or post.

This includes impediments to most of today’s left-of-center politicians like the electoral college for presidential elections, Citizens United for all elections and the need to reform the practice of partisan gerrymandering.

But here is a another very important rule that doesn’t have an easy solution unless you change the structure of our government or the nature of elections.  We have a system that requires two parties.  If you don’t vote for Hillary, you are going to get Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.  You are going to have the entire government apparatus working to destroy everything those who came before fought hard to put into place in an attempt to create a modern nation build for all of us.

I put the words “needs to be respected” in bold.  I don’t like them, they are illiberal, they are regressive.   But please note that they are followed by the words “for our own good”.  We have to be smart about this.  We have to coordinate with each-other.  We have to understand that governing is complicated and it when we do get in power we are governors of all of us, those on the left and those on the right.

If the goal is to produce a pure governing system from one’s own perspective, this goal is not only unobtainable, but probably not something many of our friends on the left would agree on.  That’s why Dennis Kusinich could never have done what Bernie Sanders did.  Even though Senator Sanders used the phrase “revolution” as a campaign slogan, he is the epitome of someone who has worked with his socialist principles in-tact from within the system.  He is working with others to evolve the system while clearly defining the goals where we need to end up.

Senator Sanders as President, wouldn’t have gotten us Medicare Part E for Everyone.  He wouldn’t have gotten us free college education, not with a Republican Congress.  Not in four years, not in eight.  These are battles that will take years and will have to start with a united dialog explaining exactly why these programs are not only good for most or all Americans, but as importantly, we need to remind people why these ideas are essentially American.

I hope this post isn’t another example of blowback to Caitlin or my friend who linked to the piece.  I love your ideas, our ideas even those for which I may believe are not politically feasible at this time.  I also don’t think it’s fair or right that in our county we are going to have a Justice Gorsuch, or an Andrew Pudzer as Secretary of Labor or a Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, or a ….

One way or another, we on the left have to find ways to win every Presidential election until that time Republicans decide to govern in the interests of all our citizens again, not just campaign contributors who, btw, happen to need government’s protection the least.  We have to be smart and persistent and we have to be able to join together despite our differences.  For now and the foreseeable future, we will do this in the Democratic Party.

I hate the fact that many of the verbs in this post are in the imperative tense, but until that time we have enough influence to change the rules, understanding the rules going into each and every electoral contest just happens to be imperative.  imho.

Elizabeth Warren Regarding The Stolen Seat.

From the Senator’s statement in the Boston Globe.

“Judge Gorsuch has been on this list for four months. His public record, which I have reviewed in detail, paints a clear picture.

“Before even joining the bench, he advocated to make it easier for public companies to defraud investors. As a judge, he has twisted himself into a pretzel to make sure the rules favor giant companies over workers and individual Americans. He has sided with employers who deny wages, improperly fire workers, or retaliate against whistle blowers for misconduct. He has ruled against workers in all manner of discrimination cases. And he has demonstrated hostility toward women’s access to basic health care.

“For years, powerful interests have executed a full-scale assault on the integrity of our federal judiciary, trying to turn the Supreme Court into one more rigged game that works only for the rich and the powerful. They spent millions to keep this seat open, and Judge Gorsuch is their reward.


  • The NYT editorial helps define the stolen seat.
  • And a couple of right wing replies for your reading pleasure and so we don’t forget their perspective and rational for ungoverning.
  • And below the NYT has compiled 241 years of history that prove that this isn’t tit-for-tat partisanship.   This isn’t about a “Biden rule”.  This obstruction of a duly-elected President was obstructed for a full 342 days.  The Senate had never taken more than 125 days to nominate a successor previously. It’s Republican ungoverning, that they used to GOTV for a nominee many Republicans promised would never happen.  Democrats have never done anything like this and as the last standing party committed to a functioning and effective government, I believe they never would.
  • This is not two sides of the same coin and we all need to be very clear about what’s actually occuring in our national politics.

supreme-courtsupreme-court-2supreme-court-3

Today’s Survivalist Tools for the Trump Administration

  1. Thank goodness for the intertubes and Wikipedia.  Are you feeling bombarded by the most recent outrage by the Republicans in Congress and their lackey in the White House? Here is another tool you can use to find out if that outrage you may be remembering was a nightmare you had recently or actually happened.  Wikipedia’s list of President Trump’s Executive Orders and Presidential memorandum.  On this list you can find the now infamous order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” or the order “Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal” or the return of Reagan’s Mexico City Policy the Presidential memo “Barring international non-governmental organizations that perform or promote abortions from receiving US government funding“.
  2. Of course information itself only goes so far to help us cope with Republican ungoverning.  So here is a little humor to help us all realize we are not alone in our understanding that there is something dreadfully wrong with ungoverning.

The Netherlands accept America First, but they are shooting for second.  Seems fair, even amazing.

Switzerland is apparently vying for second too.

#OurWild

Just one of the many new aspects of life under the 115th Congress and the 45th President of the United States.  The push to privatize our public lands.

January 3rd:

From the Washington Post:

House Republicans on Tuesday changed the way Congress calculates the cost of transferring federal lands to the states and other entities, a move that will make it easier for members of the new Congress to cede federal control of public lands.

The provision, included as part as a larger rules package the House approved by a vote of 233 to 190 during its first day in session, highlights the extent to which some congressional Republicans hope to change longstanding rules now that the GOP will control the executive and the legislative branches starting Jan. 20.

Many Republicans, including House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), have been pushing to hand over large areas of federal land to state and local authorities, on the grounds that they will be more responsive to the concerns of local residents.

Under current Congressional Budget Office accounting rules, any transfer of federal land that generates revenue for the U.S. Treasury — whether through energy extraction, logging, grazing or other activities — has a cost. If lawmakers wanted to give such land to a state, local government or tribe, they would have to account for that loss in expected cash flow.

Bishop authored language in the new rules package that would overturn that requirement, saying any such transfers “shall not be considered as providing new budget authority, decreasing revenues, increasing mandatory spending, or increasing outlays.”

From Think Progress…

A new rule, written by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), establishes as fact that any legislation to dispose of public lands and natural resources would cost taxpayers exactly $0. This paves the way for the new Congress to get rid of vast swaths of public lands — all at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Under Congressional Budget Office accounting rules, the House is required to account for the cost of any legislation it considers. Now, the House does not need to even estimate any financial losses from giving away public land. Bills to dispose of public land will skip several steps in the normal legislative process, coming up for a vote without any discussion of the costs and benefits. The House approved the rules change by a vote of 234 to 193 on Tuesday.

Since the move applies only to House rules, it is not subject to approval by the Senate or a presidential signature. It is effective immediately.

January 18th:

Push back from commercial interests in our public lands:

It is an American right to roam in our public lands. The people of the United States, today and tomorrow, share equally in the ownership of these majestic places. This powerful idea transcends party lines and sets our country apart from the rest of the world. That is why we strongly oppose any proposal, current or future, that devalues or compromises the integrity of our national public lands.

Yet as the 115th Congress begins, efforts are underway that threaten to undermine over one hundred years of public investment, stewardship and enjoyment of our national public lands. Stated simply, these efforts would be bad for the American people. They include the potential of national public lands being privatized or given to states who might sell them to the highest bidder. This would unravel courageous efforts by leaders from across the political spectrum up to the present day, including Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt.

This is not a red or blue issue. It is an issue that affects our shared freedoms. Public lands should remain in public hands.

January 24th:

H.R. 621 referred to committee.  The sponsor is Utah’s 3rd Representative Jason Chaffetz.  It’s a bill that would have privatize 3.3 million acres of public lands over 10 states.

chaffetz-bill-map

BTW, numbers!  The federal government owns roughly 640 million acres, about 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. (from December 29th, 2014)

February 2nd:

Representative Chaffetz retracts H.R. 621.

Despite this recent reprieve from further privatization of our public lands under unbridled Republican ungovernance, the provisions to allow Congress to give away public lands under H.R. 5 remain.


Here are the national results of the vote from govtrack.us.

All voting for the bill were Republicans (234), all but three voting against the bill were Democrats (193).

Here are the results of the votes from the California delegation of Representatives.  Maybe keep a mental note of the Republican Representatives and talk to your niece or uncle who might live in their districts.

h-res-5


Coverage from The Guardian:

January 19th:

Congress moves to give away national lands, discounting billions in revenue

“The Congressional devaluation of national property is the most far-reaching legislative change in a recent push to transfer federal lands to the states. Because of the Republican majority in Congress, bills proposing land transfers could now swiftly diminish Forest Service and BLM lands across the country.

“We didn’t see it coming. I think it was sneaky and underhanded. It exemplifies an effort to not play by the rules,” said Alan Rowsome, senior director of government relations at The Wilderness Society. “This is the worst Congress for public lands ever.”

This latest effort comes on the heels of a bill adopted in 2016 that directs the Department of Agriculture to transfer 2m acres of eligible Forest Service lands to each state.

Giving away national land has been part of the Republican Party platform since the mid-80s, after Reagan declared himself a Sagebrush Rebel, but it’s regained steam in the past few years as 20 states have introduced some form of legislation suggesting that federal property be given to local governments.”

January 31st:

Republicans move to sell off 3.3m acres of national land, sparking rallies

Chaffetz introduced the bill alongside a second piece of legislation that would strip the BLM and the US Forest Service of law enforcement capabilities, a move in line with the Utah delegation’s opposition to all federal land management.

“The other bill hamstrings our ability to manage and ensure that our public lands are being kept safe,” said Bobby McEnaney of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “When you have those two combined, it’s a fairly cynical approach to how public lands can be managed.”

Chaffetz’s proposal might in fact be in violation of the common-law Public Trust Doctrine, which requires that the federal government keep and manage national resources for all Americans. Courts have upheld the policy that sale or use must be in Americans’ interest.

February 2nd:

Republicans back off bill to sell 3.3m acres of public land after outcry

In the small hours of Thursday morning, US congressman Jason Chaffetz announced that he would withdraw a bill he introduced last week that would have ordered the incoming secretary of the interior to immediately sell off 3.3m acres of national land.

In his statement, Chaffetz did not mention a second piece of legislation he introduced last week, the Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act (HR 622), which would strip the Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service of its law enforcement capacity. These two federal agencies have been criticized by supporters of Cliven Bundy and some Republican politicians for enforcing federal grazing laws.

While Chaffetz tagged his post #keepitpublic, a slogan that defined the opposition to his bill, it’s unclear whether the congressman or the Republican party would step back from a broader commitment to transfer national land to private entities and the states.