Friday, April 21, 2017

NC Gen'l Assembly Squashing Some of the State's Best Entrepreneurs

The defeat of House Bill 500, which would have allowed North Carolina's craft brewers to build their businesses without fealty to wholesale overlords, is a very big deal, mainly for what it reveals about the corruption of the General Assembly when it comes to the campaign scash flow.

Kevin Siers got it exactly right in the Charlotte Observer:

NCGOP Counts Its Four Eggers Before They Hatch

So ... you know that the special session rewrite of elections boards in NC got struck down by a three-judge panel as an unconstitutional infringement on the executive branch of state government.

You may not know that the Republicans in the General Assembly rejiggered that law (to pass constitutional muster, they think), which still strips authority from the governor. That Senate Bill 68 passed both houses of the General Assembly and is sitting on Governor Cooper's desk. Cooper has already announced that he will veto it, but he hasn't yet.

The NCGOP under Chair Robin Hayes isn't waiting. He's named his choices for the new State Board of Elections and Ethics, one of whom would be Stacy C. Eggers IV ("Four"), that Watauga County paragon of open elections and sparkling ethics.

Four Eggers.

Four Eggers.

Four Eggers -- on the State Board of Elections and Ethics.

The man famous in Watauga County for much malfeasance but most famous for this: "One County Attorney, Two Hats: Documents Show Attorney as "Author" Behind Key Resolutions."

The lawyer who worked non-stop for years to suppress the vote of Appalachian State University students.

Yes. That guy. The guy who forced Elections Supervisor Jane Ann Hodges into early retirement, who schemed behind the scenes with Paul Foley, and who got his brother Luke appointed to the Watauga BOE when his own nomination was rejected by the State BOE because of an obvious conflict of interest.

Four Freakin' Eggers.

Of course, S68 will be passed over Roy Cooper's veto, but then it'll be back in court. So we figure that Four Eggers gets the publicity without the job. You're welcome!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Constitutionality of Last December's NCGA Special Session Challenged

The lawsuit filed yesterday by Common Cause North Carolina in Wake Superior Court seeks remedy for what was called an out-and-out coup d'etat last December 16, when the Republicans in the General Assembly sprung a sudden and totally unannounced special session of the legislature to bollix boards of elections and severely limit other abilities of a newly and duly elected governor of our state.

It was all done without public notice, without warning, without the ability of the public to know or to object. It was done cynically -- two sweeping changes to the structure and process of state government had been written well in advance and in secret, testifying to the appalling lack of honesty of the Republican leaders in the General Assembly.

Republicans are reacting to the lawsuit like Republicans always react -- with the howling of struck dogs.

More coverage of the lawsuit in this morning's N&O.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Watauga's Stella Anderson Is a Plaintiff in Law Suit To Overturn NCGA's Special Session Last December

Video of the press conference today announcing this lawsuit can be viewed here:

By GARY D. ROBERTSON, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — Laws approved by the Republican-dominated legislature that reduced powers of North Carolina's new Democratic governor are getting challenged again — this time on arguments that the December special session in which they were approved was illegal.

Government reform group Common Cause and 10 state residents sued Wednesday in Wake County Superior Court alleging that legislative leaders violated the state Constitution when the session convened Dec. 14 after only two hours' notice that it would occur. Republican lawmakers have said the session was called properly.

Lawmakers had quietly accumulated colleagues' signatures to convene themselves almost immediately after another session ended that had been called by then-GOP Gov. Pat McCrory for that week and in which they approved a Hurricane Matthew relief and recovery package.

By the time the second session had ended Dec. 16, GOP lawmakers had passed laws shifting control over administering elections from incoming Gov. Roy Cooper to themselves and subjecting his Cabinet to Senate confirmation.

Other laws approved under a compressed parliamentary schedule also reduced the number of employees Cooper could hire compared to McCrory, made appeals court elections officially partisan races and moved powers from the State Board of Elections to the state schools superintendent.

Cooper and others already have sued over the laws, with mixed results to date. While the elections administration changes were struck down by a three-judge panel last month, the confirmation mandate was upheld. Wednesday's lawsuit takes a different tact by arguing rights to due process and for the people to "instruct their representatives" within the state Constitution were violated by the swift session.

NCGOP's Use of "Voter Fraud" Exposed as Fraud

If you'll recall those dark days last November when Pat McCrory and the NC Republican Party were alleging all sorts of voter fraud to explain his loss of the governorship to Roy Cooper, some 600 voters in the state were accused of explicit wrong-doing.

DemocracyNC conducted a five-month investigation into all those charges of voter fraud and are now calling on prosecutors to charge the real villains: Pat McCrory and the NC Republican Party:
Democracy North Carolina talked with dozens of voter-victims, county election officials, and the Republicans involved in filing charges of fraud in various counties. This report, based on those interviews and a review of public records, reveals that the McCrory campaign and NC Republican Party engaged in a coordinated legal and publicity crusade to disrupt, and potentially corrupt, the elections process with what amounted to fraudulent charges of voter fraud. 

And more:
The crusade [to overturn the election of Roy Cooper] did not stop even after McCrory’s attorneys were told by some elections officials that their claims were wrong, that they were confusing voters’ names with other people, that they were using bad data. Instead of stopping, the attorneys caused more charges to be filed that maligned more innocent voters. And, in conjunction with the NC Republican Party, they continued a coordinated attack on the legitimacy of certain ballots and the election outcome, despite the clear harm inflicted on individual voters and the election process.
According to the N&O, DemocracyNC is sending its report to district attorneys in the 23 counties where the most protests were filed and to federal prosecutors in North Carolina.

Trump: "Everyone Must Buy American ... Except for Me and My Family"

Hypocrisy Watch: Trump went to Wisconsin yesterday to demand that everyone "buy American" while he and his family are very notorious foreign shoppers.

1. Trump's own clothing line is made overseas. His famous ties are made in China. Last July, he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he “bid out” production for his ties: "You have companies over in different countries where they devalue their currency and they make it impossible for American companies to compete.”

2. During the campaign, Trump said he would label China "a currency manipulator" as soon as he was sworn in (for the reason cited immediately above). But earlier this week, Trump decided against that, soon after he and daughter Ivanka had dinner with China's leader.

3. At the same time that Trump and Ivanka were having dinner with China's leader, Trump was also being awarded trademark protection for his name in China, something he had sought for more than a decade. Money, money, money!

4. Ivanka "has imported 56 shipments of Ivanka Trump products from China and Singapore, part of a total of 215 shipments from Asia since Jan. 1, 2016” (NBC News).

5. Cheap steel for Trump hotels comes from overseas -- we've all known that -- but the Business Insider reports that hotel furnishings and toiletries are also bought from foreign suppliers: ice buckets from Thailand, headboards from China, slippers from Hong Kong, shower gel from Italy, etc.

6. "Hire American"? Not that, either. According to the Washington Post, since 2013 Trump properties -- including Mar-a-Lago, Trump Vineyards, and Trump National Golf Club -- have sought to fill more than 500 positions with foreign workers under the H-2A visa program. "In total, those positions would have earned almost $1 million a month in salary over their durations."

If a Democratic president were this obviously hypocritical, can you imagine the uproar? If a Democratic president had achieved No. 3 alone, impeachment proceedings would already be underway in a Republican congress.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Trump's Taxing Problem

At least 100,000 citizens took to the streets last Saturday to demand that Trump release his taxes, including a crowd in Raleigh. A growing number of Republican lawmakers are beginning to agree with those citizens: Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Reps. David Young of Iowa, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, Ted Yoho of Florida, Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, and Justin Amash of Michigan — all have publicly agreed that Trump should release his returns.

It's become clear that his other big campaign promise to "reform the tax system" ain't going anywhere unless he does release his own returns ... not that Trump has a coherent plan for "reform." According to Alan Rappeport,
The president’s own vision for a new tax system is muddled at best. In the past few months, he has called for taxing companies that move operations abroad, waffled on the border tax and, last week, called for a “reciprocal” tax that would match the import taxes other countries impose on the United States.
Those tax protestors last Saturday, and everybody else for that matter, want to know how any tax code rewrite will benefit Trump and his family. He's certainly not been shy about which House Republican proposals he hates, like the Republican idea to get rid of a rule that lets companies write off the interest they pay on loans. Doing so would reportedly raise $1 trillion in revenue. But it would also reduce the appeal of one of Trump’s favorite business tools: debt.

Funny how that conflict of interest thingy works, ain't it?

Assessment of the Week

He knows little, believes in little, and shows signs of regretting what has happened to him.
--Sarah Ellison, evaluating Donald Trump at the conclusion of her piece of essential reporting, "The Inside Story of the Kushner-Bannon Civil War"

Monday, April 17, 2017

Don't You Even Look at Him, You Peasants!

Donald Trump is arguing in a Louisville, Ky., lawsuit that he can't be sued for inciting violence against protestors because he won the election. No kidding.

"Immune am I, because I am king of all I behold," sez the man with the authoritarian left brain.

The Kentucky lawsuit was brought by three protestors who were roughed up at a Trump rally while the candidate himself barked "Get 'em outta here!" from the podium. Federal Judge David J. Hale has already ruled that Trump can be sued, despite his current gilding as POTUS. Judge Hale noted that speech inciting violence is not protected by the First Amendment ("free speech" was Trump's first line of defense) and ruled that there is plenty of evidence that the protesters' injuries were a 'direct and proximate result' of Trump's words.

To complicate things for Trump, one of his supporters, who is also being sued for assault at that same rally, has explicitly said he punched a woman protestor "in response to — and inspired by — Trump and/or the Trump Campaign’s urging to remove the protesters.”

Hmmm. Dunno about the merits of the case itself -- at this distance it looks weak -- but Trump's newest claim that he's immune from prosecution because he's the emperor is just so much buffalo dust.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The President's Daughter and the Male Manikin

Interesting article in today's NYTimes about the Jared-Ivanka lock on power at the White House. They have risen as the only antidote to Steve Bannon.
"Even allies acknowledge Mr. Trump is impulsive, indifferent to preparation and prone to embracing the last advice offered."
--Peter Baker, Glenn Thrush, and Maggie Haberman
Jared Kushner
Son-in-law Jared Kushner is now in charge of so much he looks like Swiss Army Man. He's "fixing" everything, apparently, from the Middle East to your cousin's hydrocodone addiction. He can't be fired. Neither can Ivanka, who apparently made the case against Bannon most effectively: "He's puffing himself up, Daddy, at your expense."

Footnote: Stephen Miller, the young white nationalist from Duke University who wrote much of that Day of Doom inauguration speech, has pulled away from Bannon and attached himself to Ivanka. That's a rat leaving a sinking ship if we've ever seen one.

The Snake Oil Salesman and His Liniment

snake oil salesman -- someone who knowingly sells fraudulent goods or who is himself a fraud, quack, or charlatan
We've never had a fraud in the presidency like Donald Trump. He said all sorts of things during the campaign to make himself popular with the groundlings, but those promises proved to be mere quackery. Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, a concoction for menstrual cramps sold widely in the 19th century, made women feel better temporarily -- it was mainly whiskey.

"Drain the swamp." That was the snake oil salesman's main cry to the masses, who kept pushing toward the stage for a taste of that sweet, sweet relief. Here's what "drain the swamp" has turned out to contain:
WASHINGTON — President Trump is populating the White House and federal agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who in many cases are helping to craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck.
The potential conflicts are arising across the executive branch, according to an analysis of recently released financial disclosures, lobbying records and interviews with current and former ethics officials by The New York Times in collaboration with ProPublica.
In at least two cases, the appointments may have already led to violations of the administration’s own ethics rules. But evaluating if and when such violations have occurred has become almost impossible because the Trump administration is secretly issuing waivers to the rules.
Trump "eliminated an ethics provision that prohibits lobbyists from joining agencies they lobbied in the prior two years," and the recent decision to keep White House visitor logs secret will allow the swamp creatures to come out and play without fear of exposure.

The fact that most of Trump's supporters haven't yet tasted anything suspiciously oily in his concoction of lies and misinformation does not fill us with despair, because there are more of us than there are of them. The 2018 elections are coming.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lovely News for the Health of the Republic

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The White House announced Friday that it would cut off public access to visitor logs revealing who is entering the White House complex and which officials they are meeting....
Because secrecy is the hallmark of a free society, yes?

Because shielding your activities from scrutiny is an essential part of "draining the swamp," no?

Why would the public even want to know what donors and lobbyists and foreign agents are gaining access to the president and his top advisors, huh?

But this newest decision is totally in keeping with that other decision not to release Trump's tax returns, so a foolish consistency is now the hobgoblin nesting in Trump's orange thatch.

And what justification is Trump's mouthpiece offering for the secrecy? Why, the last dodge of an authoritarian mind-set ... "national security." You can't know who's going in and out of the White House on a daily basis because of "national security."

This decision for official cover-up follows closely on the White House's refusal to release the visitor log for Congressman Devin Nunes' midnight stroll on White House grounds to pick up classified information that might have helped Trump prop up his lie that President Obama had wiretapped him. It's a piece of the same cloth.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sobering Thoughts, But Then I'm Not the One Drunk with Power

About that Kansas special election Tuesday night, and the shifting of votes:
Republican Mike Pompeo last won that district in 2016 by 30 points.
Republican Ron Estes won it Tuesday night by 7.
Yikes. That's a 23-point diminution of fortune.

Some people good at math applied that sudden reversal to all the House races of a few months ago, which would have given us a Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress. If the trend continues into 2018, and if Trump remains a pinball caroming off every electric bumper, then his mid-term congressional elections could be the whirlwind that rips the sheet.

We will know better if it's a trend after next Tuesday's special election in Georgia.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

All Eyes on Kansas Tonight

Maybe Republican Ron Estes, Kansas state treasurer, will win the special election today in the 4th Congressional District to replace Mike Pompeo (who's become Trump's CIA director), and maybe not.

The Republican National Committee is suddenly pumping all kinds of money into southern Kansas to try to save Estes. His Democratic opponent, James Thompson, is just a whisker behind him in some polls. In other polls, he's a whisker ahead.

So Vice President Mike Pence cut a robocall for Estes. So did Trump, signaling panic: “Ron Estes needs your vote and needs it badly.” Sen. Ted Cruz did a fly-in. The Kansas 4th District is home to Koch Industries, so you would think....

According to David Weigel, "Estes rarely mentions Trump," and that alone tells us a great deal about Republican panic in this year of His Orangeness. Every special election this year for Republican Congressional seats -- and there are about to be four of those, starting with the Kansas 4th District -- is going to be a virtual referendum on Trump.

Ron Estes
Among other things hurting Estes, despite his rugged good looks, is the deeply unpopular Republican Governor Sam Brownback, polling below 25%. That's gotta hurt Republican turn-out.

Even if Thompson loses, the near-death experience for Estes might provide a sobering prophecy for Republicans who allowed Trumpism to take them over.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Donald Trump Ain't No Christian

Wake Forest pastor John Pavlovitz has written a piece on his personal blog that's gone viral (I found out about it because of an article in today's News&Observer): "It's Time We Stop Calling Donald Trump a Christian."

It's certainly time that a Christian pastor called out all those other Christian pastors who decided for purely political reasons to crown Caesar and bow to him.

Between a Rock and an Even Rockier Rock

Mike DeBonis, appreciating the blind alley that the Republicans have cornered themselves in:
Recent opinion polls have found dismal public ratings for the GOP health-care bill, while the Affordable Care Act’s approval is at an all-time high, according to Gallup. But for a variety of reasons, Republicans are loath to give up efforts to repeal former president Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement — most important, out of fear of alienating a conservative base that has elected GOP lawmakers for seven years expecting them to repeal Obamacare.
 Okay, all together now: We feel your pain, you poor deers dears!

Saturday, April 08, 2017

How To Train Your New Puppy

Rule # 1: Never reward your new puppy for peeing on the rug. Next he'll be peeing on the couch.

Rule # 2: Don't let the tail wag the dog.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Devious Devin

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)
The Beav has left the building!

Republican Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, has temporarily stepped aside from the probe of Russian interference into our election, mainly, he said, because mean liberals have caused the House Ethics Committee to investigate allegations that “Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct.”

The ethics probe is all about that Nunes midnight visit to the White House "grounds" to look at secret stuff that could then be divulged to the press in order to distract everyone from the Russian investigation.

Maybe the House Intelligence Committee can get something done now ... but not holding our breath. Trey Gowdy is one of the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee who'll be taking over for Nunes. Trey Gowdy also sits on the Ethics Committee. How convenient is that?

Kushner Beating Bannon in the White House Power Struggle?

Back on January 10, ten days before the Inauguration, I wrote here that I had decided that the appointment of Jared Kushner to a White House job was something I considered hopeful, at a time when all hope seemed lost.

Kushner -- who may actually be an escaped upscale department store mannikin -- appears to be on the ascendancy in the Trump White House, with Steve Bannon in eclipse. Bannon lost his seat on the National Security Agency. Bannon opposes any intervention in the Middle East. Kushner's for intervening, which makes the Tomahawk strikes last night possibly some of his work.

Leaked details this morning of a verbal confrontation between Bannon and Kushner in the White House concludes: "Finally, Mr. Bannon identified why they could not compromise, according to someone with knowledge of the conversation. 'Here’s the reason there’s no middle ground,' Mr. Bannon growled. 'You’re a Democrat.' ”

Yes, Kushner is, though what kind of Democrat marries himself to this administration is left to your fantasy works. Bottomline for us: Whatever kind of Democrat Kushner is must be shades better than the kind of Dementor that Mr. Bannon is.

The awesome warfare in the air of mighty competing powers. According to Maggie Haberman and her colleagues:
On one side are Mr. Bannon’s guerrilla warriors, eager to close the nation’s borders, dismantle decades of regulations, empower police departments and take on the establishment of both parties in Washington. On the other are Mr. Kushner’s “Democrats,” an appellation used to describe even Republicans who want to soften Mr. Trump’s rough edges and broaden his narrow popular appeal after months of historically low poll numbers.
Between Kushner and Bannon is the man in the Oval Office, who doesn't know what he's doing, who relies on first one and then the other of these competing forces, which produces chaos and uncertainty and horrible public policy. Better hope that Kushner prevails.

Russian Collusion To Elect Trump -- Ain't Going Away

Eric Lichtblau is reporting this morning:
WASHINGTON — The C.I.A. told senior lawmakers in classified briefings last summer that it had information indicating that Russia was working to help elect Donald J. Trump president, a finding that did not emerge publicly until after Mr. Trump’s victory months later...
 Other findings:

1. A split developed last summer between counter intelligence agents at CIA and the FBI, with the FBI resisting analysis that Russia was actually trying to help elect Trump rather than just disrupting our election process.

2. The CIA director at the time became so concerned about the Russian interference that he briefed the top Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, along with leaders of both chambers' intelligence committees 10 weeks before the election. Mitch McConnell knew. Paul Ryan knew.

3. Based on CIA briefings, Sen. Harry Reid wrote the FBI in August, asking Director Comey to open an investigation into collusion between Trump associates and the Russians. Unknown to Reid, the FBI had done just that a month earlier, but the FBI inquiry into connections between the Trump campaign and the Russians "was kept secret even from members of Congress."

4. "It was not until early December, a month after the election, that it became publicly known in news reports that the C.I.A. had concluded that Moscow’s motivation was to get Mr. Trump elected."

5. "Last month, Mr. Comey publicly acknowledged the continuing investigation for the first time at a House hearing on Russia’s influence on the election and said the F.B.I. was examining possible links between Trump associates and Russia for evidence of collusion."

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Oh What a Marvelous Distraction

Steve Bannon's Wings Clipped

On the farm we regularly clipped the wings of our laying hens -- Leghorns, usually -- who decided to fly the coop and raid the vegetable garden. That put a stop to marauding scratchers.

Trump appears to have done something similar to his most powerful laying hen, Steve Bannon. Bannon's been kicked off the National Security Council.

Haven't decided what is more startling ... the fact of Bannon's sudden demotion or the cover story the White House is telling to explain why Bannon ever got that seat on the NSC with cabinet-level people in the first place: "Mr. Bannon had been put on the principals committee to keep an eye on Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn...."

That's some chicken scratch right there, boys!

Trump put as head of the National Security Council a retired general (and agent for foreign governments) who needed to have someone keeping an eye on him? Holy crap. And the guy they chose to keep that eye on him was the man who's publicly said his goal is to dismantle government as we know it? Holy crap on a stick.

According to leakers in the White House, Bannon threatened to quit the whole clown car and let Jared Kushner drive. Bannon is now denying that. "Lately, Mr. Bannon has been conspicuously absent from some meetings," like yesterday's Trump presser in the Rose Garden.

That Bannon's demotion may be a by-product of Trump's imperial ego is just icing on this particular cake: "Mr. Bannon’s Svengali-style reputation has chafed on a president who sees himself as the West Wing’s only leading man. Several associates said the president had quietly expressed annoyance over the credit Mr. Bannon had received for setting the agenda — and Mr. Trump was not pleased by the 'President Bannon' puppet-master theme promoted by magazines, late-night talk shows and Twitter."


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Gosh. Didn't See That One Coming

President Donald Trump defended Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly amid revelations that O'Reilly and the network paid out millions to settle sexual harassment claims by five women.

"I think he shouldn't have settled; personally I think he shouldn't have settled," Trump told the New York Times on Wednesday. "Because you should have taken it all the way. I don't think Bill did anything wrong," he said.

"I think he's a person I know well — he is a good person," he said.

[Source: NBC News]

Monday, April 03, 2017

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Trump Learning the Hard Way That Words Have Consequences

In March 2016, during a campaign rally in Louisville, Ky., Trump exhorted his audience about some protestors: "Get 'em outta here!" Trump repeatedly rasped, and the crowd responded. They punched, kicked, and shoved the protestors.

And the protestors then sued Trump for inciting violence.

According to Aaron Blake, "Trump's attorneys sought to have the case dismissed on free speech grounds, arguing that [Trump] didn't intend for his supporters to use force. But [Federal Judge David J.] Hale noted that speech inciting violence is not protected by the First Amendment and ruled that there is plenty of evidence that the protesters' injuries were a 'direct and proximate result' of Trump's words."

There were worse examples than that Louisville rally. Will there be more lawsuits?

Let's Not Forget This Other Trump Scandal

Posted March 31, in the Washington Post:
A federal judge has given final approval to a $25 million settlement to litigation against Trump University, a now-defunct real estate seminar program once owned by Donald Trump.
Trump had agreed not long after his election to settle two class-action suits filed by former customers of the program in California, as well as a New York state lawsuit. The suits argued that Trump University defrauded customers, some of whom paid more than $30,000 to participate in the seminars, with false advertisements promising that they would learn Trump's personal real estate tricks and that Trump had hand-picked seminar leaders. In depositions, Trump acknowledged he did not choose instructors.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Trump Presidency: Wrapping Itself Around Its Own Axle

There's no keeping up any more. Trump and his guys are stonewalling the investigation into Russian collusion, and every day chunks of that stone wall crack, crumble, and silt down into a pile of useless dust. It'll be that slow process of dissolution that ultimately destroys this administration. Trump already seems well past his sell-by date. That Gallup tracking poll smells of soured and curdled milk.

Trump now seems desperate to distract people from the other truth: He's a loser. A loser with the magic touch: He turns others into losers too.

Sean Spicer.

Devin Nunes.

General Michael Flynn.
“If you’re not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for, right?”
--Donald Trump last September, at a campaign rally in Orlando 
“Mike Flynn should ask for immunity...."
 --Donald Trump, yesterday morning
Devin Nunes is the perfect deer in the headlights. Leave it to Beaver to get called up to the White House to look at some secret papers that kind of, maybe, might suggest that Trump was spied on before the election and then trot back up to the White House to brief the White House on what the White House just showed him. Devin Nunes has ruined himself. When will he join Sean Spicer as a caricature on Saturday Night Live?

Seen on Facebook recently: "Dammit, Trump should not be allowed to appoint a justice his last year in office."

Friday, March 31, 2017

"NCAA Should Tell NC to Pound Sand"

The repeal of HB2, which is now giving Gov. Roy Cooper a black eye for caving too soon, is getting panned everywhere.

Here's Charlotte Observer sports columnist Scott Fowler's conclusion:
I can’t see how the NCAA will do anything but tell North Carolina lawmakers that Thursday’s shot just rimmed out. No, worse than that. This compromise that pleases hardly anyone is an airball, and should be labeled as such by a passionate crowd that just saw a terrible misfire in a packed arena.
While state legislators and Gov. Roy Cooper are hailing this as a last-minute collaborative victory, it looks to me a lot more like smearing lipstick on a pig. It does not fulfill Cooper’s promises to the LGBT community. It does not allow local governments to pass anti-discrimination ordinances until at least December 2020, and that was one of HB2’s most basic and controversial sticking points. The new bill leaves all gay people vulnerable to unequal treatment until past the next presidential election.
Emmert used a large part of a previously scheduled news conference in Arizona Thursday to answer questions about the HB2 repeal. Said Emmert: “HB2 is gone and no longer the law of the land. We made clear that absent any change in the law we weren’t going back to North Carolina. They’ve changed the law. Now the question is.... whether or not this new bill has changed the landscape sufficiently that the board is comfortable in returning to North Carolina.”
Emmert said he had not lobbied anyone on either side of HB2 – “that’s not our business to do that,” Emmert said – but added that he had talked frequently to Gov. Roy Cooper and numerous lawmakers over the past few days.
So, there has been a lot of talk, and now it’s time for some NCAA action.
I am not sure what happened Thursday will convince the NCAA to ultimately decide to put some of its championships back into our state.
But it shouldn’t.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Repeal of HB2 Happening Today

Apparently, there's no greater motivator for doing something in the NC General Assembly than a threat from the National Collegiate Athletic Association: repeal HB2 (or at least change it considerably) or lose the state's ability to host any sports championships through 2022. The NCAA's deadline for repeal is later today. So what else: The NCGA will be voting on a compromise deal to repeal HB2 this morning in Raleigh. Boom!

Governor Roy Cooper was reluctant to accept the deal (see below for why). The Republican House caucus, where the crazies go to fledge, was very reluctant (so reluctant, according to Colin Campbell and Jim Morrill, that the Republican leader in the House will have to have Democratic votes). Democrats bailing out Republicans from their leaking boat? How novel!

The deal itself does not make everyone happy, particularly the LGBT community. The bill will...
▪ Repeal HB2.
▪ Leave bathroom regulation to the state, essentially returning to the status quo before Charlotte passed a 2016 ordinance allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their gender identity.
▪ Enact a moratorium on similar ordinances until Dec. 1, 2020.
Let the far-right recriminations begin! Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, we're looking at you. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Virginia Foxx, On the Freaking Record

We can't demand Trump's tax returns, for we must protect his sacred privacy. But here's everyone's browsing history on the Internet. Sell it, trade it, invade it. We don't care!
The wonderful world of Republican morality!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

To the Bottom of Things

Jeff Darcy,
Last night on "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes actually said this:

“I’m sure that the Democrats do want me to quit because they know that I’m effective at getting to the bottom of things.”

Just gets hilarious-er and hilarious-er.

The cartoon makes perfect (if bizarre) sense. Trump is notorious for masquerading as his own press agent to plant stories about himself. Jeez!

Monday, March 27, 2017

All Eyes on the 6th District of Georgia

Photo: Dustin Chambers/Jon Ossoff for Congress
Special election to fill Tom Price's old congressional seat, the 6th District of Georgia -- which was also Newt Gingrich's old seat -- has already begun with early voting.

Trump's unpopularity among suburban, Republican-leaning voters has fueled expectations for Democrat Jon Ossoff, a former congressional staffer who's never run for nor held elective office. But he's now a proven money-raiser ... some $3 million at last count.

It's a "jungle primary," with candidates from both parties -- some 11 Republicans alone -- running altogether at the same time to make it to the all-important run-off. Top two finishers on April 18 will face off head-to-head. One might have thought it would be two Republicans in this cherry-red district of affluent suburbanites, but Ossoff is considered not only competitive in the primary but also in the run-off.

A bridge too far? Maybe. Maybe not. We'll soon find out just how powerful the Trump backlash will be in 2018.

According to Richard Fausset and Jennifer Steinhauer,
The outcome of the election here may provide clues to how Mr. Trump’s presidency might, or might not, be deployed in local races. That is particularly true in wealthy suburban districts where Mr. Trump did not fare particularly well in November — and where Republicans may be especially vulnerable in 2018.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

GOP, Unfit for Government

So with huge Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, Trump blames Democrats for the massive belly-flop his Trump-Ryancare bill suffered yesterday.


The man learns nothing.

Meanwhile, it takes a Republican member of Congress to put his finger on exactly the psychological condition that makes this bunch so lame at governing:
“We have to do some soul-searching internally to determine whether or not we are even capable of functioning as a governing body,” said Representative Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota. “If ‘no’ is your goal, it’s the easiest goal in the world to reach.” ("In Major Defeat for Trump, Push To Repeal Health Law Fails")

Friday, March 24, 2017

Trump: All Hat, No Cattle

Amazing how fast Trump abandoned his repeated (and repeated) campaign promise to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something far better. Much, much better. So better it'll make your head swim. Believe me.

Those were applause lines, and Trump loves applause. He loves applause a whole hell of a lot more than he loves public policy, and he's never had (a) much of an idea what was even in the Ryan health insurance bill and certainly not what got changed to please the Freedom Caucus and (b) a plan of his own. He doesn't care what's in the bill. He just wants to sign a bill. Because that would be winning.

So he threw a snit-fit late yesterday and sent a stern message to recalcitrant Republicans in the US House -- demanded, really -- told 'em to take an up or down vote on the Ryan bill (as changed, mainly to remove more and more "essential insurance services" from coverage, like emergency room visits), and if it didn't pass, he said, then WE KEEP OBAMACARE FOR ETERNITY.

So much for the art of the deal and the magic touch of the almighty businessman.

And about all that applause that Trump laps up like a pussy cat laps cream and which he always gets when he promises to repeal Obamacare:
A Quinnipiac University national poll found that voters disapproved of the Republican plan by lopsided margins, with 56 percent opposed, 17 percent supportive and 26 percent undecided. The measure did not even draw support among a majority of Republicans; 41 percent approved, while 24 percent were opposed.
Meanwhile, into the face of that adverse wind, Trump tweeted out at 7:28 a.m. yesterday morning, “Go with our plan. It’s going to be terrific.” Nobody with at least two active synapses believes the fool, and fewer and fewer are even listening to that kind of empty talk.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Republicans Caught on the Horns of a Dilemma

What will they do today? More specifically, what will Virginia Foxx do? (We know. We just love to ask.)

Either Republicans will pass the Ryan-Trumpcare bill that will wreak havoc with their own voters and impact their own re-election prospects.

Or they will vote it down, undermining President Steve Bannon's agenda.

If the bill fails, “How do we have any momentum to do anything else?” asked Representative Richard Hudson, Republican of North Carolina. “Without this bill, I don’t know how you do tax reform,” he said. If the bill fails, “it’s going to have negative repercussions for all of us.”

But what if it succeeds? (And of course Foxx will vote for it, because she's a company suck.) For true right-wingers, success for this bill means abject failure for the promise to repeal Obamacare: “The bill maintains Obamacare’s overall structure and approach, an approach that cements the federal government’s role in health insurance” -- Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.).

For more moderate Republicans (you mean, there are still some of those left on this earth?!), success for this bill will mean more hardship for their constituents. Doctors, nurses, and hospitals have come out strongly against the measure, and insurance companies have been largely "skeptical," to put it mildly.

"Much has changed in the years since the Affordable Care Act passed, with millions of Americans, many in red states, now getting health insurance as a result of the law, as well as treatment for the prescription drug addictions that have plagued scores of communities" (Jennifer Steinhauer).

Spending money to help people is exactly what the Republican "Freedom Caucus" intends to stamp out. Ordinarily, Virginia Foxx would be right there with them, but she owes Paul Ryan for her committee chairmanship. So "Obamacare Lite" is fine with her.

Devin Nunes, Tattle-Tell

Devin Nunes (R-Calif.),
Chair of the House
Intelligence Committee
FBI Director James Comey threw a clod in Trump's churn on Monday, confirming that there is an investigation into collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russians, and he threw a second clod in there when he refused to validate Trump's lie that President Obama had wiretapped him during the transition.

But here comes little Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) yesterday to change the subject and sow confusion by immolating himself in front of the press. Nunes is the chair of the House Intelligence Committee and is supposed to be leading the House's investigation into the Russian subversion of our election. But he was also a member in good standing of Trump's transition team, so yuge conflict of interest.

But yesterday was the capper:

1. Nunes suddenly called a press conference and charged American spy agencies of gathering and sharing information unrelated to the Russian charges that was inadvertently picked up in "communication intercepts" of conversations involving foreign nationals who are presumably targets for investigation. (According to the NYTimes, "American intelligence agencies typically monitor foreign officials of allied and hostile countries, and they routinely sweep up communications linked to Americans who may be taking part in the conversation or are being spoken about.")

2. Nunes also admitted that he had no evidence that Trump or his associates had been directly eavesdropped on.

3. The real horror, Mr. Nunes told reporters, was that "he could figure out the identities of Trump associates from reading reports about intercepted communications that were shared among Obama administration officials with top security clearances. He said some Trump associates were also identified by name in the reports." Which is why he went running to the White House with the leaked information to tattle to the man he's supposed to be investigating.

4. In a second impromptu press conference on the driveway outside the White House, following his moment with Trump, Nunes was clearly trying to steer everyone away from the Comey bombshell on Monday by dangling the newest shiny object: dastardly leaks of classified information and inappropriate behavior by the intelligence agencies.

 5. Nunes said he received the information from an anonymous source ... after criticizing the media for publishing leaks.

6. He shared it with the press before his Intelligence Committee colleagues, including ranking Democrat Adam B. Schiff of California.

7. He went to the White House to brief Trump about the material despite leading an investigation involving the Trump administration.

For his part, Trump was clearly refreshed that Nunes had set himself on fire on the White House driveway: “I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found.”

What would be happening today in America if this spectacle of improper tattling had happened between a Democratic House investigative committee chair and, say, President Hillary Clinton? Hmmm? Any idea?

The noose is tightening around this White House. Yesterday actually started with an AP investigative report that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had "agreed to advance Vladimir Putin’s political interests beginning in 2006 under a multimillion-dollar contract with one of the Russian president’s key allies."

It's always the cover-up that gets 'em.

In the meantime, Nunes must go. Go quickly. Go far away from any semblance of public trust.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Donald Trump Has Become His Own Cartoon

“He’s deeply, deeply insecure about how he’s perceived in the world, about whether or not he’s competent and deserves what he’s gotten. There’s an unquenchable thirst for validation and love. That’s why he can never stay quiet, even when it would be wise strategically or emotionally to hold back.”
--Tim O’Brien, author of “TrumpNation,” a 2005 biography that documented Trump's early years

"As a presidential candidate, he wanted to look dour, and vetoed any campaign imagery that so much as hinted at weakness, aides said. Which is why every self-selected snapshot — down to the squinty-eyed scowl attached to his Twitter account — features a tough-guy sourpuss. 'Like Churchill,' is what Mr. Trump would tell staffers when asked what look he was going for."
--Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman

“With almost every barbed, unscripted tweet, he deletes some story his administration wants to tell,” said David Axelrod, one of Mr. Obama’s top advisers. “He reacts to every affront, real or imagined, in Pavlovian fashion. He beats every perceived slight to death and, even when he’s won the point, continues beating.”

Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trump Installs Loyalty "Commissars" in His Cabinet Departments

They are sent from the White House to keep an eye on the "loyalty" of Trump's top lieutenants. They demanded -- and got -- prime office space right next to the cabinet secretary's office. They appear at all high-level staff meetings to spy for Trump and report back to the White House. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has already gotten pissed off about the unsolicited advice, so he reportedly banned his "commissar" from many staff meetings.

According to Lisa Rein and Juliet Eilperin,
The arrangement is unusual. It wasn’t used by presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. And it’s also different from the traditional liaisons who shepherd the White House’s political appointees to the various agencies. Critics say the competing chains of command eventually will breed mistrust, chaos and inefficiency — especially as new department heads build their staffs.
But what's a little more mistrust, chaos, and inefficiency in this particular administration?

The problem of "watchers" in the cabinet agencies is exacerbated by the fact that Trump has failed to even name appointees to high-level deputy positions in many departments, let alone get them through the confirmation process. He clearly intends for his departments to go understaffed, which is fine if you're filming an independent porn film, perhaps, but may be disastrous for our government.

But never mind. Trump's spies will report to HDQs about the wreckage.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Board of Elections Power Grab Ruled Unconstitutional

A three-judge panel on Friday issued decisions about three contested power grabs by the Republicans in the NC General Assembly. Just weeks before Democrat Roy Cooper took office, the GA passed a law changing the composition of the state Board of Elections (and all county boards) that would effectively keep Republicans in charge of elections in even-numbered years; another law taking the power of appointment of executive branch workers away from the new governor; and another law mandating an NC Senate confirmation process for Cooper's top ten department heads.

The three-judge panel threw out the first two laws and in a 2-1 split decision, kept the last one. All of this is likely to be appealed to the NC Supreme Court by one or both sides.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Just Another Day in Trumpland

The leader of the Free World met yesterday in the Oval Office with the militaristic white nationalist leader of a fading empire, and the jerk refused to shake her hand.

The white nationalist had been harshly critical of Chancellor Angela Merkel last fall for allowing refugees into Germany. Refugees.

For her part, Merkel said, “I’ve always said it’s much, much better to talk to one another, and not about one another.” Which perhaps prompted the white nationalist to attempt a joke that both he and Merkel had been wiretapped by Barack Obama. Joke fell flat.

As Merkel and the white nationalist sat together in front of TV cameras in the Oval Office, the press pool began asking for the historic handshake, a request that Trump ignored. When Merkel turned to him and asked, "Do you want to have a handshake?" Trump wouldn't even look at her. That's how an asshole behaves.

Trump has now insulted, demeaned, or belittled many of the world leaders he's met with. And that's how a white nationalist behaves.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Virginia Foxx's Statement on Trump's Budget

Virginia Foxx never lacks for an instant press release on anything Trump says or does. She pretty much did the same for Obama, though the tone was different. Foxx was out today with cautious words about Trump's proposed budget.

What She Said
President Trump has promised to begin getting our nation’s fiscal house in order, and this budget shows that he intends to keep his promise.
What She Meant
I have never felt sexier in my life!

What She Said
No one will agree with every proposal outlined in this budget, and it is up to Congress to carefully review the details. That is precisely what we will do in the coming weeks.
 What She Meant
I'm tingling down to my toes. I'm taking my shoes off! I'm counting my toes! I have all ten. They are brilliant digits!

What She Said
We look forward to working with the president to implement fiscally responsible policies that promote economic prosperity, keep workers safe, and help ensure all Americans have access to an excellent education.
What She Meant
I can't wait for that first magical moment at Mar-a-Lago -- the gilding, the marble, the potted palms! The hand of Donald, gently guiding me over the threshold. Heaven should be so bounteous! (Heaven can wait.)

Death of a Salesman

Budget Director
Mick Mulvaney
Trump's budget director Mick Mulvaney defended his proposed budget yesterday, and we were all edified. Short version: The president has determined that the poor have too much and the rich, too little. Shorter version: Take all the money and give it to the military. Shortest version: Screw everybody.

People have been focused since yesterday's news on the projected loss of programs like Meals on Wheels. Those hot meals go most frequently to people who watch Fox News all day and who probably voted for Trump. They live predominantly in rural areas that boosted Trump over the top in swing states.

But Meals on Wheels is the least of the damage, really, to Trump World, as all sorts of programs that benefit farmers, small-town educators and their students, rural redevelopment, infrastructure replacement -- the list gets long very fast -- are also fingered for destruction. The Appalachian Regional Commission, which built 4-lane highways in West Virginia for the coal industry, and supports the delivery of health care all over Appalachia -- you're dead!

But never you mind. Mulvaney's budget is just an indication of the smallness of his soul and has zero prospect of actually passing Congress. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), the powerful former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, spoke for many Republicans who haven't yet fallen off the right side of the known universe: “While we have a responsibility to reduce our federal deficit, I am disappointed that many of the reductions and eliminations proposed in the president’s skinny budget are draconian, careless and counterproductive.”

Draconian. Careless. And counterproductive. That's an apt selection of adjectives, Congressman!

Speaking to reporters, Mulvaney was sunny in his disposition about his budget rollout, saying in effect, "What did you effing expect from this particular president?" We're very accustomed now to a Trump who makes no apologies, but Mulvaney wanted to underline that trait:
[Mulvaney] said that after-school programs had failed to help children in schools, that housing programs were “not well run,” that government health research had suffered “mission creep” and that grants to local communities “don’t do any good.”
...And he said that the president made no apologies for eliminating the government’s efforts to curb climate change.
“We’re not spending money on that anymore,” Mr. Mulvaney told reporters at the White House. “We consider that a waste of your money to go out and do that.”
A smiling death's head
The people Trump said he would never forget -- those coal miners in West Virginia, those rural poor in Wisconsin, those scrambling farmers in Texas -- they're officially and resoundingly forgotten in this budget. Never mind the environment. Never mind public radio and PBS. Never mind the encouragement of art and the humanities. They will go because they're supported by liberals. All the other stuff that poor people depend on -- it will go because Steve Bannon wants to destroy government, and Trump is Bannon's puppet.

This budget will not pass, not as proposed. But it will stand as an object lesson for the kind of minds that have taken control in the White House.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

President Rollerball: “I've been reading about things”

Trump went to a friendly corner last night (Tucker Carlson's show on Fox News) to make shit up that his supporters will likely believe.

Carlson asked the obvious question: Why did Trump tweet that President Obama had him wiretapped in Trump Tower? Trump hilariously answered that he had been reading the New York Times -- make that "the failing New York Times" and its "fake news" -- and suddenly, it dawned on him: “Wait a minute, there's a lot of wiretapping being talked about.”

Yes, the president of the United States actually said those exact words last night on Fox News.

Trump also claimed that "information" would soon be revealed that could prove him right, but he would not explain what that "information" might be. He said he would be “submitting certain things” to a congressional committee investigating the matter and that he was considering speaking about the topic next week.

“I think you're going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks,” Trump said, like a green grocer about to introduce a new line of Venezuelan peaches.

If you were a jazz musician, you would call what Trump just did "vamping" -- looping a repeated phrase while trying to think where to go next. Trump always does that -- promises additional "information" -- really earth shattering stuff that will knock everyone back on their heels -- in just a few more days. He did that same thing about those three million illegal voters he claims denied him the popular vote last November. No big revelation ever materialized, nor will it ever.

He's constantly caught in a lie, and he vamps.

Carlson then suggested that Trump “devalues his own currency” by tweeting things that are not true. Trump's response was as limp as overcooked pasta: “Let's see whether or not I proved it .... I mean, let's see whether or not I prove it. I just don't choose to do it right now .… I think we have some very good stuff, and we're in the process of putting it together, and I think it's going to be very demonstrative.”

"I just don't choose to do it right now." BWAhahahaha!

Then he took what he obviously considered a foolproof escape hatch out of the trap Carlson had maneuvered him into: “Don't forget, when I say 'wiretapping,' those words were in quotes. That really covers, because wiretapping is pretty old-fashioned stuff. But that really covers surveillance and many other things. And nobody ever talks about the fact that it was in quotes, but that's a very important thing.”

What? Oh, we get it. If Trump tweets something in quotes, it's not real. Like the failing New York Times.

I don't think we're going to survive this perjurer, America!

Another Republican Scheme To Make the NC Judiciary a Partisan Tool

If there's one thing Republicans in Raleigh are good at, it's thinking up new ways to grab more power and then to keep it.

They've been thwarted over and over by court rulings that find many of their power grabs unconstitutional. So what to do? Change the courts, and they've got new court-packing laws wending their way through the General Assembly right now.

They intend to deprive the governor of his ability to appoint special superior court judges and new judges to vacancies on district courts. Who are they proposing to give the appointment power to? Why, to themselves, of course! More pernicious, they intend to shrink the size of the NC Court of Appeals from 15 to 12, explicitly to prevent Governor Roy Cooper from making appointments for three Republican judges who have mandatory retirements coming up during his first term.

The proposed court-packing bills are all the work of this man, Rep. Justin Burr, who represents Stanly and Montgomery counties. In a party full of power mad manipulators, Burr stands out as exceptional.

The NCGA's own Lex Luthor.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pat McCrory: Forever the Whiner

The popular meme these days among the conservative brethren is "snowflake," applied to "libruls" and especially to the young people who flocked to vote for Bernie Edwards last year ... "snowflake" because they supposedly melt at the first sign of heat, like hearing grown men exercise their god-given and constitutional rights to insult women, minorities, the disabled, the poor, and Michelle Obama.

You wanna study a real snowflake? Look no further than ex-governor Pat McCrory, who has not drawn a non-whining breath since he was defeated for reelection last fall. McCrory recently did an interview with an Asheville-based evangelical podcast during which he complained that he lost reelection because college students voted illegally (taking a page from Trump), that "most people have no idea what [HB 2] really is," that the Human Rights Campaign "thought police" is out to get him, and that, consequently, he's having trouble landing a job because everyone thinks he's a bigot.

"Heck, it's even impacted me to this day, even after I left office," McCrory told his interviewer. "People are reluctant to hire me because, oh, my gosh, he's a bigot, which is the last thing I am."

On Monday, McCrory told the News & Observer that he's been considered for part-time teaching positions, but university leaders are worried about student protests. (Never you mind! Samantha Bee has offered help fluffing McCrory's resume.)

Jeffrey C. Billman has offered the best summation of snowflake Pat: "So weird how people who fall over themselves to make political piƱatas out of vulnerable populations [witness his signing of HB2 minutes after it passed] demand safe spaces the second they encounter the consequences of their actions."

How Do You Run Government When You Hate Government?

Watching the Republicans in Congress flounder on health insurance reminds us all that they have no talent for making government work. Their big talent is for bashing government, for screaming "un-American" about any progressive idea, and for shredding the social safety-net the minute they have power.

Radio yakker Laura Ingraham is warning Trump that the Paul Ryan replacement for Obamacare is "a trap" that will take Donald down in 2020. Is Trump too far into the trap to suddenly get out? He threw his Twitter support behind Ryan's bill before anyone told him what's in it, and he's holding a big campaign rally in Tennessee later today to promote it. Because being applauded by a few thousand supporters is the same as conducting wise government.

Love what former Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said about this current moment in Republican mismanagement: "Most of the people who are in opposition to this [Ryan's bill] have never governed, don’t know how to govern, and don’t want to govern. Unfortunately, Republicans now control the government and have to learn how to govern. The Laura Ingrahams of the world, who make their money agitating, aren’t functional in a situation where the president has to govern.”

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Paul Ryan and Virginia Foxx Believe It's Every American's Right NOT To Have Health Insurance

According to the Congressional Budget Office report released yesterday, Trumpcare, the GOP bill to revise the Affordable Care Act, would nearly double the share of Americans who are uninsured from 10 percent to 19 percent over the coming decade. That comes out to 24 million more people who will go without health-care coverage over 10 years if the bill is enacted, including 14 million next year alone.

Anticipating this devastating news, a 501(c)(4) issue-advocacy group closely aligned with Paul Ryan had TV ads already cued up to run in 15 congressional districts represented by Republicans who've managed to get the Trumpcare "stank" all over their fine clothes.

The ads urge viewers to “thank” the GOP lawmakers for living up to their promise of “replacing the Affordable Care Act with the better health-care you deserve.” The ads do not use the word “repeal.” The new, product-tested verb is "improve." Because 14 million fewer insured people during the first year of Trumpcare will be an improvement.

"The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" commercial looks like this in Congresswoman Barbara Comstock's district in Virginia:

The same ad is running or will run in the following congressional districts (where, evidently, the Republican incumbents are now considered vulnerable because of Trumpcare): Jeff Denham (Calif.), David Valadao (Calif.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Rod Blum (Iowa), David Young (Iowa), Don Bacon (Neb.), Greg Walden (Ore.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Kevin Brady (Tex.), Will Hurd (Tex.), and Paul Ryan Hisownself (Wisc.).

Who believes this propaganda? Some people, no doubt, but probably not the Republican congress members who've hatched it, and the ad above sorta proves that they're chumming the waters with their own precious bodily fluids and drawing the sharks.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Trumpcare = Public Resentment

“If you ask someone to give up something, there will be resentment. If that claims my congressional career, so be it. It will be worth it to me to have effected this change.
--Representative Michael C. Burgess, Republican of Texas and chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health
Congressman Burgess's comment reveals the current kamikaze attitude among US House Republicans. Trump needs a legislative victory. Trump doesn't know what's in that bill repealing the Affordable Care Act. He certainly hasn't read it. It doesn't come close to fulfilling the promises he made about insuring every American. But none of that matters. "Get it passed!" So Rep. Burgess is ready to go down in flames to give Trump his victory.

Congresswoman Foxx just luvs Trumpcare
The Congressman's comment also reveals the truth of the matter (something none of them have admitted in public and certainly not in front of TV cameras): "We Republicans are taking away health insurance from you idiots who voted for us." Republicans would take away more if they could get away with it ... Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security ... the entire social safety net that they've always despised. Look no further than Congresswoman Virginia Foxx to see the mean face of Republican intentions. Conservative Republicans are actually fighting Paul Ryan's repeal bill on the grounds that it isn't mean enough, does too little to reduce subsidies for the poor.

If Rep. Burgess and Foxx get their wish, and if the US Senate goes along, chaos will ensue and will fulminate well into the 2018 general election season. According to Robert Pear and Thomas Kaplan, "A growing chorus of Republican policy experts and senators are pleading to slow the process down or risk a political blood bath."

But Trump enjoys a good blood bath. He takes his almost every morning between 6 and 7 a.m.

Trumpcare -- we're not supposed to call it that, but too bad -- has been harshly criticized by medical professionals, hospitals (especially rural hospitals), insurers, and various state officials, who said it "could increase the number of uninsured and destabilize insurance markets." The Congressional Budget Office is expected to render its verdict on the legislation this coming week. Republicans should maybe brace for bad news. Not that they give a good goddamn about the truth. They're living in a post-truth, alternative facts universe.

Trump World! You have to get there through the looking glass (but please exit through the gift shop!).

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Virginia Foxx Makes the New York Times for a Planned Invasion of Privacy

Yes, Madam Foxx is all over the press for introducing a bill, the innocently named "Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act," which would allow employers to gather genetic data on their employees and also penalize them for not participating in a company's wellness program.

Big Brother, meet Aunt Sassy.

According to Reed Abelson, "The bill ... has already provoked fierce opposition from a wide range of consumer, health and privacy advocacy groups.... Critics claim it undermines existing laws aimed at protecting an individual’s personal medical information from use by an employer and others."

“We strongly oppose any legislation that would allow employers to inquire about employees’ private genetic information or medical information unrelated to their ability to do their jobs, and to impose draconian penalties on employees who choose to keep that information private,” a group of advocates -- including AARP, the American Diabetes Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Epilepsy Foundation, the March of Dimes and others -- wrote in a letter to Foxx.

Under Foxx's bill, workers could be coerced into giving up private medical information, such as weight, blood pressure, and "whether they are at particular risk for cancer."

I've seen this movie! Gattaca (1997), "a biopunk vision" of a future society driven by eugenics and genetic discrimination. Only the best specimens get anywhere.

Wonder if the Madam would like to have her genetic profile taken and shared. I suspect not.