Another Pep Talk. This One To A Conservative

In reply to my recent “Pep Talk” piece, a local conservative wrote in with a bunch of really depressing things to say. Here is my attempt to help him out:

1. My post was not a “statement of despair.” Quite the opposite. The Resistance to Tr-mpism is strong. Your post, though, is full of despair. You sound weary and discontented. Even for a conservative.

2. I will skip some of the things you wrote in order to first deal with something I find central to the differences between you and me, between liberals and conservatives, and, I suppose, the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Here goes:

You want to emphasize “terrible choices” that people make “that result in woe for sure.” You then call on Americans to “take more responsibility for their own conditions.” Hmm. Let me see now. People, as far as I know, don’t get to pick their parents. Thus, they didn’t make a decision as to how they would be raised, what kind of conditions they were raised in, what kind of economic advantages or, more often, disadvantages they had, and so on. Add to all that the fact that none of us got to pick our brains, which includes not only the quantity and quality of intelligence we have or don’t have, but other things in the chemistry of our brains that shape who we are.

In this vein, you decided to pick “the problem of drugs and alcohol,” saying I haven’t tried to “tackle” it. You mention the current opioid crisis. It’s a funny thing about that crisis. It wasn’t on most Republicans’ radars until it started affecting rural white people. Now that it is affecting such folks, Republicans have decided they want to “tackle” it. A generation ago, when black folks in cities were having a hard time with drug addiction and all the problems that go with it, the response typically was “let’s build more prisons.” That response wasn’t just limited to Republicans; some Democrats responded that way also (think: Bill Clinton). But despite all that, I am glad Bill Clinton apologized and I am ecstatic that Republicans have decided people actually need help, rather than incarceration. That’s progress.

That leads me next to the idea that drug addiction is a “choice” people make. Well, I suppose there’s no use telling you, since you seem to be set in your ways, that doctors these days see it as a chronic disease, a disease of the brain. I don’t know anyone, perhaps you do, who chose to have a brain disease. So, you can stop with the “terrible choices” argument. Because if you persist I will simply ask you why do they make those terrible choices? And if you say because of this or that I will ask you again, why are they this or that way? You get the idea. People don’t wake up one day and decide to be a drug addict. They don’t wake up one day and decide to be sick in other ways. Nor do they hop out of bed on a sunny morning and say, “I think I’ll be poor!” It’s utter nonsense. People do make lots of bad decisions, like voting for Republicans, but it is usually because they have faulty decision-makers in their skulls.

Next, you are skeptical about how successful drug treatment programs are. You wrote,

“Treatment” for addiction is a facade, pure and simple. It doesn’t work. There must be a fundamental change within each addicted individual and the medical profession has yet find a way to promote such changes.

First, notice how you contradicted your earlier claim that drug addiction is a “choice.” Here you say there “must be a fundamental change within each addicted individual.” That is a claim that there is something wrong inside that person, something beyond that person’s control, something like a disease. Yes! And, thankfully, there are professionals, like those at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (a government research institute), who disagree with your depressing claim that treatment “is a facade, pure and simple.” Here’s what the NIDA says:

Like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully. Treatment enables people to counteract addiction’s powerful disruptive effects on the brain and behavior and to regain control of their lives. The chronic nature of the disease means that relapsing to drug abuse is not only possible but also likely, with symptom recurrence rates similar to those for other well-characterized chronic medical illnesses—such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma (see figure, “Comparison of Relapse Rates Between Drug Addiction and Other Chronic Illnesses”)—that also have both physiological and behavioral components.

I have high blood pressure. My doctor told me I will always have it, despite the fact I take medicine for it. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t choose to have it. Some days, despite the medicine, it is higher than others. Hopefully, it won’t kill me anytime soon, but who knows? The point is that chronic diseases are difficult to deal with, and drug addiction is especially tough to deal with. Not all treatments work for everyone. I know this from personal experience.

A relative of mine was a severe drug and alcohol abuser. She had all kinds of help and support available. She went to rehab several times. I remember giving her a ride to my mom’s house one weekend on the day she finished a stay in rehab. She had a pint of whiskey with her when I picked her up. So, the treatment she got didn’t work. Nothing eventually did. Drugs and alcohol killed her. She died when she was 40 years old.

Now, does that mean all is hopeless for everyone with a drug problem? No. Listen again to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

Unfortunately, when relapse occurs many deem treatment a failure. This is not the case: Successful treatment for addiction typically requires continual evaluation and modification as appropriate, similar to the approach taken for other chronic diseases. For example, when a patient is receiving active treatment for hypertension and symptoms decrease, treatment is deemed successful, even though symptoms may recur when treatment is discontinued. For the addicted individual, lapses to drug abuse do not indicate failure—rather, they signify that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted, or that alternate treatment is needed…

Look at this graph:

If more of us began to see drug addiction like we see diabetes or high blood pressure, perhaps we wouldn’t be so quick to go to our ideological corners and argue about “personal responsibility” and all that. Maybe we would be able to agree that all chronic diseases are a problem and the people who have them, whether they live in our cities or in rural areas, deserve our compassion—and our help.

3. Like many conservatives, you attacked government employees. Mercilessly. You said they lack “spirit,” you said, “They are there only for the paycheck, the benefits and the retirement package with no consideration whatsoever for the ‘services’ they are suppose to provide.” As a former government employee, I can tell you that you are quite wrong—at least as far as the agency I worked for. And my guess is that civil servants in other agencies are like the ones I worked around: mostly hard-working, dedicated professionals who go to work to serve the public. Not all, mind you. But most. And do they do their work for the paycheck and benefits and retirement package? You’re damned right they do! Is that a problem for a conservative? Is working and expecting just compensation for your work a sin?

Oh, as a preface to your attack on government workers, you wrote about some of the problems you imagine are wrong with us as a people. You then said:

Government can no more fix those issues than fly to the moon.

Image result for July 20, 1969Huh? Were you awake in the 1960s? The government did in fact fly to the moon. And on July 20, 1969, three government employees not only flew to the moon, two of them landed on the damned thing, got out and walked around on it, then poked an American flag in the powder. They did that because of the hard work and dedication of countless government employees, or contractors hired by the government. And, yes, they all got a paycheck. And bennies. (Except for the moonwalkers.)

4. Finally, you said my “spirit” was good. You said you admired my “spunk” in fighting for what I believe is “right.” Thank you. But you said something else. You said “I will never change him or he change me in our fundamental beliefs.” You speak for yourself here. I don’t have a “you’ll never change me” gene in my body. How do you think I went from a raging right-winger to a sober liberal? So, I suggest you not project on me your own unwillingness—or inability!—to change, spunk or no spunk. If you want to change my mind, produce convincing arguments, offer irrefutable evidence, and otherwise behave rationally.

For now, though, cheer up and join the Resistance! We have a madman in the White’s House!

Duane

 

Just Who Is Beneath Their Office?

Predictably, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski again got under Tr-mp’s toilet-paper skin. If you watched Morning Joe’s broadcast today, which was quite hard on Agent Orange, you could sort of feel it coming. It came in two Tr-mpian tweets:

I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came…..to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!

Now, just as predictable as a Tr-mp hate tweet, was how The Woman Who Lost Her Soul To Donald Tr-mp, known as Sarah Huckabee Sanders, defended her master: “This is a President who fights fire with fire.” I suppose she had that one at the ready just in case Tr-mp really did shoot someone on Fifth Avenue. Too bad she had to waste it on a tweet.

In any case, it was also predictable that some Republicans would, reluctantly in some cases, mildly condemn the sexist tweet. Senator Lindsey Graham said it was “beneath the office.” Senator Ben Sasse said it was “beneath the dignity” of the office. Such comments from Republican legislators are probably the best we’re going to get, considering that Tr-mp has said and done much worse, in terms of his interactions with women, and yet still most Republican lawmakers have stood beside him, grinning from ear to ear, through it all.

But such mild condemnation is just not good enough. It’s won’t do to merely label Tr-mp’s revealing tweets as beneath the office or beneath whatever dignity is left in the office, now that Tr-mp has been sitting in it for five months. Until congressional Republicans go mika tweetfurther, until they say out loud (as opposed to whispering it behind closed doors) that Tr-mp himself is beneath the office, that he is a mentally unstable man who is not up to the job, that he is a national embarrassment, then they are to blame for the likely irreparable damage he has done and will continue to do to the presidency. They are to blame for every unseemly utterance, every twisted tweet, every vulgar violation of the emoluments clauses, every audacious attempt to obstruct justice. If they do nothing but condemn a tweet or two, they are beneath the dignity of their offices.

And they are especially responsible for not holding Tr-mp accountable for doing absolutely nothing about a cyber attack on our democracy and sovereignty by a foreign adversary—an adversary he openly begged for help during his horrific campaign—and for not preparing the country for the inevitable cyber attacks to come during the election seasons of 2018 and 2020.

In short, Republicans own Tr-mp. They own every nasty and petty tweet, every stupid and demeaning and illegal thing he does. And when the Russians try to muck up our elections again—perhaps next time to help Democrats—they will own that, too.

A Pep Talk, Mostly To Myself

A thoughtful reader and I exchanged thoughts on our present political situation. His last response made me think about how weary Tr-mp and Tr-mpism can make us. My reply:

Michael,

I’m sorry you feel the way you do.

I can only tell you my response to all we have seen and are seeing, a response that often fluctuates between despair and anger. There are days when I confess I just don’t get what’s going on and why it’s going on, and I begin to really consider the fact that we are doomed, or at least so grievously wounded that recovery is doubtful, or at best a long, long way in the distance.

Other days I just get pissed. I get pissed at Republican leaders and others in Congress who should—and most of them do—know better. Some are cynically using fear and ignorance to make their cruel ideological dreams come true. Some are paying back their wealthy donors. Some are hiding from Tr-mp cultists who might demand primary challenges against them next year. Most of them are cowards. Most of them are, as the current “healthcare” bill demonstrates, immoral politicians. Trading American lives for a tax reduction for wealthy people is indefensible. Except we see it defended every day, in some form or another. That tends to generate a lot of anger inside me.

So, as optimistic as I have been since I began this blog early in 2009, that optimism has taken a major hit. But, and I don’t want to overstate this, there is some hope out there. Polls are showing not only that Tr-mp is relatively unpopular outside his cult following, but that the GOP “healthcare” plan is wildly unpopular. And polls are showing a wide preference for Democrats to lead Congress next time. Add to that the fact that Democrats have overperformed in all the special elections recently. That’s not enough to, on an hourly or daily basis, overcome all the despair and anger I sometimes feel, but it helps. Well, it helps me at least.

The bigger picture is that more people voted against Tr-mp last year than voted for him. And people forget that Hillary Clinton, whatever you think of her, received more votes than any white candidate in history. And that was after fairly unprecedented attacks, from the right and from the left, from the Russians and from Russia-friendly Americans, on her integrity and decency. Her ideas and policy proposals, many of them innovative, were drowned out by all those attacks.

You said,

My instinct say that Democrats must do something different, something to disrupt this cycle. We’ve entered a domain of sameness that is deadly to real thinking and new ideas.

I guess I don’t agree with that. I also don’t agree with people who say the Democratic Party has to undergo some kind of fundamental change. We are who we are. And who we are, at least today, is a party of people who are outraged at what Republicans want to do to the country. We are outraged at the lack of compassion for those who need it. We are outraged at the fact that working class people in this country are barely making ends meet, let alone achieving what we now laughingly call the American Dream. And we are outraged that all this is happening while billionaires are, directly and indirectly, running the show.

We are a party who, yes, wants to redistribute some of the wealth in this fabulously wealthy country. We don’t like to see a small number of rich donors control our collective future, which means they have much control over our individual futures. We don’t want to see sick people go without care. We don’t want to see poor people—men, women, and children—go without food. We don’t want to see working people hopelessly struggle to own homes if they want to and send their kids to college if they want to go. And we want assurance that as we age, we won’t be forgotten—if we didn’t go to a great college, or go to college at all; if we didn’t manage a hedge fund or any fund beyond the one that kept food on our tables; if we didn’t own a successful business; if we didn’t win a state lottery; if we weren’t born rich.

You see, I just don’t think this “domain of sameness” that you hear, from me and other Democrats, is “deadly to real thinking and new ideas.” I think it is essential to hold on to who we are as a political party. I think it is crucial that we continue to emphasize compassion. I think it is necessary to keep reminding people that a society of cynical and selfish people is not a society at all.

Now, I think it is fair to say that most Republicans, as hard as it may be to believe right now, want to live in a decent society. I say that with the understanding that you have to see them in isolation from their party-tribe to accept my claim. Once they get together as a group, once they put on their Sunday Republican garb and listen to ideological preachers indoctrinate them with nonsense like trickle-down economics, something happens to them. We’ve all seen this phenomenon. Growing up we knew people who were decent and kind enough when we met them one-on-one, but once they got around a certain group of their peers, the dynamics changed. They treated us differently. They embraced the spirit of the group. I think that’s what we see at work today. Yes, there are deplorable Americans who are beyond redemption. And that number seems to be shockingly large. But I continue to hope, perhaps imagine, that the deplorables are not a majority of the Republican Party. We will soon see.

In the mean time, we know that the deplorables are not a majority of the country. Not even close. They can only define us as a people if we allow them to define us. As of right now, I’m in the fight to not let that group of deplorable Americans, or even those non-deplorable Republicans who reflexively support the harmful policies of their leaders, define who we are as Americans. If I, and those who are fighting this fight, lose that definitive struggle, then we are truly doomed.

That fight, that need to fight, is why we cannot give in to despair or anger or any other counterproductive, if understandable, emotion. I’m not saying I’m not tempted to give in. Some hours of the day I am. Some days in the week I am. Like you, I sometimes feel “numb” to it all, too. But to give in is a win for the deplorables, whoever they are and whatever their numbers. And I, for one, cannot bear the thought of telling my little granddaughter, not quite eight years old, that I gave up the fight for her future, gave up the fight for her kids’ future. I may be ashamed of what is going on now in our country, but I would be more ashamed if I weren’t part of the resistance to what is going on.

And that is why, despite all of its problems and imperfections and shortcomings, I remain a strong believer in the Democratic Party. As I have said many times, it is the only institution that can harness, much like a labor union does, our individual resistance to indecency and empower us with the collective ability to change what we see. And while you and I may have an “innate desire for something new and different,” what we really need is an old and familiar idea, expressed by Franklin Roosevelt in his nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in July of 1932:

My program…is based upon this simple moral principle: the welfare and the soundness of a Nation depend first upon what the great mass of the people wish and need; and second, whether or not they are getting it.

As old as those words are, the fight today is pretty much that simple for me.

Duane

new deal remedies.jpg

Republicans: Have Bill, Will Kill

It’s time we all face it. The Republican Party is morally bankrupt.

If the party wanted to cash a check of compassion, the Bank of Morality would return it marked “insufficient funds.”

If there were a Bank of Health, the Republican Party would be the guy with a gun in his hand at the teller window, wearing no disguise and demanding all the goods.

Pick your metaphor. Or make one of your own. It’s easy.

You can go to many sites to see analyses of the two GOP “healthcare” plans (which as Senator Al Franken said yesterday, really are tax plans), but now that the Congressional Budget Office has weighed in on both, there is no escaping the reality that any member of Congress who has voted for or will vote for any iteration of the overall plan, and anyone outside of Congress who thinks that the plan is good for the country, is a moral failure as a human being.

It’s just that simple.

And speaking of simple, as for an analysis of what is going on, here is the bottom line:

GOP will kill bill.jpg

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[images from MSNBC]

The Most Important (And Scary) Thing The Supreme Court Did Today

Most of the attention this morning and going forward, as far as the Supreme Court’s actions today, will focus on Tr-mp’s Muslim travel ban (the Court partially lifted the stay and will hear the case next fall). You can see the first reaction in this Huffpo header:

huffpo and sc

Other big news from the Court today was that it will hear a case about a bigoted baker who didn’t want to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado because Jesus said not to, or something like that. It’s unclear how the Court will rule, of course, but if the bigoted baker said Jesus didn’t like dark-skinned people marrying light-skinned people, would the Court see that hypothetical case (once upon a time—1967!—it wasn’t hypothetical) in the same way? It’s hard to imagine that it would, but after what we have seen for the last two years, who knows? At least this Court (only by a 6-3 vote) knocked on their pious posteriors the religious zealots who passed a law in Arkansas “that treated same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples on their children’s birth certificates,” as USA Today put it. So, the country hasn’t gone completely nuts, although…

The most disturbing thing that happened today, as far as this former evangelical is concerned, was the Court’s decision in the Missouri case of Trinity Lutheran Church wanting public funds—yours and mine if you live in Missouri—to improve its playground at its church school. Most folks have had the attitude that, “It’s just a playground. Stop making such a big deal out of it.” (And that was, essentially, the argument of five of the justices in the case.)

The details are these: Trinity Lutheran, of Columbia, applied for a grant from a Missouri state fund that subsidizes the purchase of recycled tires for use on playground surfaces. Image result for separation of church and stateThe church operates a learning center for youngsters and it apparently had pea gravel on the playground, much like most of the playgrounds at my elementary school had in Kansas back in the 1960s. The Missouri constitution, going way beyond our national Constitution, expressly forbids “any church, sect or denomination of religion”—that means Allah-based denominations, too, which I’ll get back to—from getting public dough. Period. Except, the conservatives on the Court and, sadly, a couple of the allegedly non-conservatives, Breyer and Kagan (not the first time they’ve strayed), decided that they would take the period away from that provision in the Missouri constitution and add a few more sentences, like these from the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts:

The consequence is, in all likelihood, a few extra scraped knees. But the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand.

So much for respecting the rights of states to control their own church-state destiny. This ruling will almost certainly have an effect on more than 30 other states across the country, who have sane and saintly restrictions on giving public money directly to church organizations. Let’s hope the Court’s conservatives (and Breyer and Kagan, whatever they are) keep all this in mind when it comes time to rule on bigoted bakers, who may or may not live in gay-friendly states.

In any case, I think it is important to read the introduction of the dissent in the Trinity case, written by Justice Sotomayor and joined by the great Ginsburg:

To hear the Court tell it, this is a simple case about recycling tires to resurface a playground. The stakes are higher. This case is about nothing less than the relationship between religious institutions and the civil government—that is, between church and state. The Court today profoundly changes that relationship by holding, for the first time, that the Constitution requires the government to provide public funds directly to a church. Its decision slights both our precedents and our history, and its reasoning weakens this country’s longstanding commitment to a separation of church and state beneficial to both.

Sotomayor goes on, craftily, to state the mission of this particular church:

Founded in 1922, Trinity Lutheran Church (Church) “operates . . . for the express purpose of carrying out the commission of . . . Jesus Christ as directed to His church
on earth.” […] The Church uses “preaching, teaching, worship, witness, service, and fellowship according to the Word of God” to carry out its mission “to ‘make disciples.’”

She notes that the learning center the church operates is, by its own admission,

“a ministry of the Church and incorporates daily religion and developmentally
appropriate activities into . . . [its] program.” […] In this way, “[t]hrough the Learning Center, the Church teaches a Christian world view to children of members of the Church, as well as children of non-member residents” of the area…. These activities represent the Church’s “sincere religious belief . . . to use [the Learning Center] to teach the Gospel to children of its members, as well to bring the Gospel message to non-members.”

As you can see, it isn’t just about recycled rubber and children’s knees. It’s about whether people who don’t believe in the mission of this or any church are nevertheless forced to support it, through the agency of the state. It is here where, for me, Allah comes in. What if, instead of a religious entity called Trinity Lutheran Church, we had a religious entity called, say, the Islamic Center of Central Missouri, also located in Columbia (reminder: “Friday Prayers at 12:10pm and 1:10pm”). The mission of that mosque is as follows:

The Islamic Center welcomes visitors at all times in order foster a culture of tolerance and understanding in central Missouri.

Now, one might ask who would object to giving this mosque, if it ran a school (it so happens it does), funds for safer playgrounds? I know who would. Me. I wouldn’t want public funds spent on the mission of this mosque, no matter how noble it might be. But you know who else would object? The same people who are praising this 7-2 disturbing decision on behalf of a Christian church and school: the Radical Religious Right, like the reactionary Christian “non-profit” group called Alliance Defending Freedom, who led the fight in the Trinity Lutheran case. We can safely assume the ADF would be full of silence if a mosque wanted rubberized playgrounds subsidized by the state.

Oddly, the ADF’s senior counsel actually argued that “an old constitutional amendment from the 1800s,” should not be “applied in a strict way.” Would to God he felt the same way about certain biblical passages from the Iron Age, like “If a man lies with a male as with a woman…they shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:13). But he doesn’t. His group has been labeled as “virulently anti-gay” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and self-admits that it “seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries.” Yikes.

The ADF group was founded by extremists like James Dobson, who these days have allied with Tr-mp to crucify their own weird incarnation of Jesus. Dobson, who founded the godawful group, Focus on the [heterosexual Christian] Family, said that one of the reasons conservative Christians preferred a thrice-married sexual assaulter over Clinton was that she supported “the killing of babies through the entire period of gestation and delivery,” a position Tr-mp actually held until the day before he decided to court extremists like Dobson. But these religious fanatics trust that Tr-mp will appoint another justice or two who will actually overturn Roe v. Wade. “Trust Tr-mp.” Now that takes a lot of faith, a lot of Moses-parting-the-Red-Sea faith, a lot of Joshua-stops-the-Sun faith.

The point is that not only are these right-wing Christians hateful zealots—when it comes to gays and women who value their reproductive freedom—but they are hypocrites. They would not be spending their collection-plate money on any mosque in Columbia who wanted a rubber playground. The ADL (partially funded by the DeVos family) would not have taken on the case of ISLAMIC CENTER OF CENTRAL MISSOURI vs. COMER, DIRECTOR, MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES. Nope. We know better than that. Their hypocrisy is all part of a belief system that Christian civilization is under attack by non-Christian enemies, either secularists or Muslims or both.

As a footnote to this madness, here is a paragraph from an NPR story on the decision having to do with a dangling footnote that a couple of zealots want to disown:

Two justices, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, refused to sign on to a footnote explicitly stating that the court’s approval applied only to playground funding and should not be read as applying to parochial schools in general.

You get that? First we have Tr-mp’s and McConnell’s illegitimate justice, Gorsuch, making it clear that everything we heard about his reactionary views is absolutely true. And then we have both Gorsuch and Thomas declaring that they would go further, in terms of church and state entanglement. Perhaps, someday, we will pay the principals of religious schools for the public good. Or pay pastors to preach hate. Who the eff knows? Gorsuch wrote:

The general principles here do not permit discrimination against religious exercise — whether on the playground or anywhere else.

Some of us tried to scream from the rooftops just how dangerous it was for non-Republicans to flirt with anti-Hillary rhetoric long enough to hurt her in the general election and risk a Tr-mp win—and with it the guarantee of a Neil Gorsuch justice. Now, it is too late.

We have to do better next time.

Now, we have to hope against hope that the rumours that Justice Anthony Kennedy—not exactly a flaming liberal—is considering retirement are false. Now, we have to hope that Justice Ginsburg, and others on the Court who reject the damaging dogma of Gorsuch and Alito and Thomas, have a happy and healthy and long, long, life in public service.

Elizabeth Warren: “People Will Die”

Published on June 22, 2017

“Medicaid is the program in this country that provides health insurance to one in five Americans, to thirty million kids, to nearly two out of every three people in a nursing home. These cuts are blood money. People will die. Let’s be very clear: Senate Republicans are paying for tax cuts for the wealthy with American lives.”

—Senator Elizabeth Warren, commenting on the newly-released GOP healthcare bill

A as I was resting comfortably this morning, making my way through Minnesota Senator Al Franken’s latest book, Giant of the Senate, I had the TV on in the background. I saw protesters, many of them in wheelchairs, being removed from Mitch McConnell’s safe Image result for protesters in mcconnell office on capitolspace on Capitol Hill. I heard their passionate pleas. Then I saw the police take them away.

Today, of course, is the unveiling of the latest reactionary plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, which is essentially a typical Republican scheme designed to take from the poor and middle class and give to the rich (and defund Planned Parenthood, which would, sadly, increase the number of abortions Republicans say they hate). So, other than a few details, what was revealed today should not have come as a surprise to anyone. The wheel-chair protesters, obviously, knew what was coming.

Now, it so happens that I was on page 80 of Franken’s book, when MSNBC was showing the protesters and discussing not whether the latest GOP plan would do damage to people, but how much damage it would do. That’s where we are these days. In any case, starting on page 80 of the book Franken explains what happened the day after he announced his run for the Senate in February of 2007. I will quote it at length:

…I visited a health clinic in Minneapolis where my friend Dr. Margie Hogan worked. I spent time meeting with health care providers and patients and listening to some of the horror stories that were commonplace before the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

One of the stories Margie told me became a mainstay of my stump speech. It involved an incredibly promising seventeen-year-old girl from a Hmong family [the Hmong fought on the U.S. side during the secret war in Laos during Vietnam; many thousands settled in Minnesota after the war] who was doing college-level work as a junior in high school. But she had lupus. And her family earned just enough money to no longer qualify for MinnesotaCare, a program that covered low-income families in the state. The girl lost her health insurance.

Lupus is a chronic disease, and the medication that controls it is extremely expensive. The girl told her parents to stop buying it so they could afford to take care of the other kids in the family. It broke their hearts, but she was right: They couldn’t afford the medicine, not with everything else weighing on the family budget. So they stopped buying it.

The next time Margie saw the girl was six weeks later, back in the hospital. But this time, she was in the emergency room, suffering from renal failure. She had to be put on dialysis, and doctors thought she might have to be on dialysis for the rest of her life.

“Now, that’s wrong,” I would tell crowds that had invariably gone quiet by this point in the story. “But it’s not just wrong—it’s stupid! How much is it going to cost our system to give her dialysis throughout her life? And how much is this going to cost her, in terms of her potential and her quality of life?”

According to the most recent data when my campaign began [in 2007], there were 46.6 million Americans living without health insurance, including 21.5 million who worked full-time and, worst of all, 8.3 million children. And on my radio show, I talked about this issue all the time with guests like Elizabeth Warren, who told me that half of all bankruptcies in America were tied to a medical problem.

But at bean feeds, I met people who had lived it. Or who would tell me about their sister or their cousin who had lived it. And traveling around Minnesota, stopping in cafés and coffee shops and VFW halls, I couldn’t help but notice the flyers up on bulletin boards announcing barbecues or potlucks or spaghetti dinners to benefit families that had gone broke because someone had gotten very sick or been in a terrible accident.

Getting to universal health care was always going to be a central focus of my campaign. But now, instead of talking about it just as a policy issue, I was also talking about it as a personal issue—because that’s what it was for so many Minnesotans.

Policy issues may be dry. They may be dull. They may be tough to talk about, what with all the numbers and legal writing and arcane parliamentary procedures. But this issue, this health care issue, this one that affects so many people—either directly and/or indirectly through an aging parent who needs nursing care—is personal. It is personal.

We all have heard stories like Al Franken heard from his doctor friend at a health clinic in Minnesota. We’ve all seen the donation jars or boxes with homemade signs in convenience stores asking us to help an unfortunate person with medical expenses. And we all know, or at least we should know, that things shouldn’t be that way in an unfathomably wealthy America.

They just shouldn’t.

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[photo: Doug Mills]

This Is Why We Have A Tr-mp

I want you to watch something utterly disgusting. It has to do with “the shove,” that Ugly American moment when Tr-mp, at his first meeting with NATO leaders last month, pushed aside the prime minister of Montenegro. CNN’s Jeanne Moos did a half-humorous segment yesterday that included some statements from a Frank Luntz (himself fairly disgusting) focus group.

There was one particularly Ugly American in the group who defended Tr-mp by saying, “We’re not rude, we’re dominant…He was just going to the front of the line where he belongs.” That woman represents all that is wrong with roughly 40 percent of the country. And she represents how hard it is to share a country with people so deplorably arrogant and utterly ignorant. Watch, laugh, weep, and keep resisting:

About That House Race In Georgia

I realize it is easy to say now, but I never thought Democrats would win Georgia’s 6th congressional district. Once the spotlight was glaring on that race, it was all over. Those folks were, after all, mostly Republicans. Hillary got close (1.5 points), but didn’t win in that district. And a very right-wing Republican named Tom Price, now a member of Tr-mp’s cabinet, won his last race there by a gazillion votes. The people who live in that district may not like Tr-mp all that much, but they like being Republicans. And that is the key to understanding why that race, why losing that race by four percentage points (as Jon Ossoff ultimately did), was actually good news for Democrats. Don’t let anyone, especially a Republican anyone, tell you differently.

Our family has a dog. He’s not a Pit Bull or a Rottweiler. He’s a miniature Dachshund. People don’t usually think of little wiener dogs as aggressive beasts, but they are. More so than Pit Bulls or Rottweilers or other breeds of dogs, according to some studies. And they don’t limit their aggression to strangers or other dogs. They also tend to bite their owners and family members. Our dog has done that. He almost bit the nose and lip off my youngest son. Why? Because one night our cute little wiener dog didn’t feel well. And my son didn’t know that. He got down in his face and tried to be nice to him. His reward was an hours-long trip to the emergency room and fairly extensive surgery. He still has the scars to prove that you don’t mess with sleeping sausages who aren’t feeling well.

E. B. White (the American writer who wrote the style guide, The Elements of Style, and the great children’s book, Charlotte’s Web) said the following about his Dachshund, Fred:

I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a dachshund to heed my slightest command. When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something he wants to do.

As I see it, the mostly Republican electorate in Georgia wanted to vote against Tr-mp. But they didn’t like all the instruction they were getting. All the publicity, all the money that 20161106_105254 (2)came pouring in from outside the district, caused Republicans there to respond like a disobedient wiener dog. They resorted to form. They voted Republican. That’s what happened there. It wasn’t a Democratic failure. It wasn’t a bad candidate (although it would have helped if he had actually lived in the district). It wasn’t a bad message. It was simply the fact that Georgia 6 was chock-full of irritated Republican dachshunds who didn’t like being told what to do. It’s pretty much that simple.

But given all that, Democrats did quite well. We should look at what happened in Georgia as a good sign. The wiener dogs were disobedient, of course. But when we compete in districts that don’t have as many wieners, we can win. Cheers!

Deep In The Woods On Whether Any POTUS Should Be Subject To Criminal Indictment

“Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”

—The Constitution, Article 1, Section 3

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If you’re like me, you probably don’t really know why it is that, effectively, nothing can be done to Tr-mp, in terms of trying him in court, for committing any type of federal crime like obstructing justice, should the Special Counsel point in that direction some sweet day. Well, we’re in luck. Bob Bauer, courtesy of the Lawfare blog, has come to help dissipate our ignorance and offer us the faintest bit of hope that something can be done. I warn you, though, it is a very faint hope and this is not a short exercise.

But before I get to Bauer’s post, allow me to quote something, something that perhaps we’ve all grown too comfortable with, that should absolutely stun us. The quote is from an article by Jonathan Rauch (“Impeaching Tr-mp is a Heavy Lift“), a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who argues that so long as Tr-mp remains popular among Republicans, there isn’t much hope of an impeachment:

Might some decisive event—Tr-mp’s own version of the smoking-gun tape—kick the Republican props out from under Tr-mp? Maybe. But Tr-mp’s strategy is antithetical to Nixon’s. Nixon maintained a façade of probity and normalcy. Trump doesn’t bother. He has publicly asked the Russians to tamper with U.S. elections, publicly helped cover for their having done so, and then publicly acknowledged firing the FBI director for investigating the matter. His weaponization of flagrance, as I have argued elsewhere, draws his supporters into complicity. Given that his Republican approval has stayed in the eighties, the GOP base appears to have priced in, so to speak, his deviant and erratic behavior.

We all need to take time to let that sink in. Especially what Rauch said about Tr-mp not bothering to maintain even a facade of honesty or normalcy:

He has publicly asked the Russians to tamper with U.S. elections, publicly helped cover for their having done so, and then publicly acknowledged firing the FBI director for investigating the matter.

That triad of wrongdoing in and of itself ought to be enough to rid us of Tr-mp. But politics makes that almost impossible, so long as Democrats a) don’t have a majority in the House (necessary for initiating an impeachment proceeding) and b) don’t control two-thirds of the Senate (necessary for a conviction). So, with impeachment a distant possibility at this point in time, we turn back to the law and to Bob Bauer’s post on Lawfare.

Bauer, who was the White House Counsel when we had a real president named Obama, titled his piece, “A Disabled Executive: The Special Counsel Investigation and Presidential Immunities.” He discussed the famous United States v. Nixon, the case from 1974 in which the Supreme Court, in an 8-0 shellacking, told Nixon to fork over his secretly recorded tapes and other material. That decision effectively put some serious restrictions on any president’s power to claim “executive privilege” and withhold subpoenaed evidence relevant to a judicial proceeding. In other words, the Court found that the president can’t hide behind a claim of privilege to shield himself or others from their accountability to the law. This is the idea, we all have heard, that “the president is not above the law.”

Well, he is. Sort of. But Bob Bauer has a fix in mind.

Bauer sets the contemporary scene regarding the Special Counsel’s investigation and its obvious negative effects on the current Executive Branch, and asks a couple of questions that demand answers:

The investigation is beginning to consume the Trump Administration. Most notably, the president seems to have little capacity for managing these pressures. As suggested by his inability to stay off Twitter, he is evidently not one to “compartmentalize” sufficiently to push the inquiry to one side while carrying on regular business. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is barely into his task and so one might ask: what happens when the investigation begins to accelerate and, worse, if indictment becomes a possibility?

It is at this point that the long-standing constitutional question, so far unaddressed by any court, is again raised: do the strains on a presidency under investigation require the conclusion that the president cannot be indicted while in office?

It’s important to emphasize the fact Bauer pointed out: the idea that POTUS cannot be indicted while he’s still in office has never been tested in the courts. Never. In the Nixon case, the Watergate grand jury, while indicting other White House officials for their part in the burglary that began it all, did not indict Nixon himself. He was, famously, labeled an “unindicted co-conspirator,” so as to avoid that “long-standing constitutional question” Bauer referenced. And, as we all know, Nixon boot-scooted out of the White House soon after the Supreme Court took his executive privilege away. So, the can-POTUS-be-indicted question is still open.

And Bauer helpfully points us to two crucially influential opinions on the matter issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). The first opinion, issued in 1973, took the position that a sitting president cannot be indicted. And the other, issued in 2000, affirmed that original OLC conclusion. It is important to keep in mind that these opinions, as influential as they are, were written by Justice Department lawyers, not judges in a court case. Bauer summarized the reasoning supporting the OLC conclusion:

OLC has taken the position that while the Constitution does not explicitly provide for immunity from indictment or prosecution, and the record on the Founders’ views of the question is inconclusive, the constitutional role of the president requires that he or she be afforded temporary immunity. Indictment and prosecution would have a “dramatically destabilizing effect” on the president’s capacity to discharge his or her duties. The executive’s energies would be diverted into the “substantial preparation” needed for his legal defense. The mere stigma and opprobrium of indictment, and possibly conviction, would result in “undermining the president’s leadership and efficacy both home and abroad.”

The 2000 opinion landed hard on conclusion that “given the potentially momentous political consequences for the Nation at stake, there is a fundamental, structural incompatibility between the ordinary application of the criminal process and the Office of the President.” Of course, delay in either indictment or trial until a term ended would be costly to the administration of justice: but “while significant, [they] are not controlling. In the case of clear and serious criminal wrongdoing, Congress can act to impeach, and this outcome is more consistent with democratic values than “shifting an awesome power to unelected persons lacking an explicit constitutional role vis-à-vis the President.”

Bauer attacks the “weakness” of this position by pointing out how little difference, in terms of disruption, there is—in Tr-mp’s case—between what may be the late stages of the process and the current investigatory stage:

From the beginning it was unclear how the OLC’s reasoning distinguished between indictments and prosecutions, on the one hand, and investigations, on the other. The institution of a serious investigation into presidential wrongdoing has been sufficient to lead to” mass hysteria” in the West Wing. It has clearly and heavily burdened the president—one need only read his tweets—and disrupted normal business and the recruitment of personnel for key positions. So, while few doubt that the president is subject to investigation, it is hard to see how these disruptions can be easily distinguished from those associated with indictment. The difference is one of degree, not of kind, and as the Nixon experience established, those differences are indeed fine.

The “distractions will worsen,” Bauer says, as the “current investigation continues.” There will be interviews, document requests, lawyers upon lawyers hired by witnesses, and inevitable “leaks.” Bauer argues:

The more serious and far-reaching the investigation becomes, the greater will be disruption. By the time of his resignation, President Nixon had not been indicted, but his capacity for governance had been all but extinguished.

Here Bauer, for the sake of argument, entertains a dubious idea related to the claim that there is a meaningful distinction, in terms of disruption in the Executive Branch, between indictments and investigations:

It is possible, of course, to believe that for just these reasons OLC did not go far enough, and that it should have clearly extended temporary immunity to the investigative stage.

Now, think about that. The OLC could have extended “temporary immunity” to a president that covered an investigation of wrongdoing. Merely investigating whether a crime was committed would then have to wait until POTUS was out of office. And the logic of the OLC reasoning, as Bauer points out, leads in that direction. Fortunately, the authors of those two OLC opinions were not imprisoned by their own logic:

The drafters in 1973 and 2000 declined to take this next step. Doubtless they were constrained by a powerful democratic norm, reflected in the Supreme Court’s pointed rejection in United States v. Nixon of any suggestion that the president, as the head of a unitary executive branch, is somehow “above the law.”

Image result for justice scalesThat “democratic norm,” that POTUS is, like the rest of us, subject to the law, has “only gained force” since the 1973 OLC opinion and that famous and suddenly relevant 1974 Court decision, Bauer says. Even though there is still a judicially unanswered constitutional question lingering around about whether a sitting president can be indicted, tried, and possibly convicted, we still have in force the minimalist norm that a president can at least be investigated. But Bauer is not content to leave it there. He still has serious problems with the OLC logic that indictments and trials and prosecutions—but not investigations—would have a “’dramatically destabilizing effect’ on the president’s capacity to discharge his or her duties.” Bauer focused on that 2000 OLC opinion:

It tried gamely, but more or less in passing, to show that investigations can be managed without undue disruption. In a footnote, it noted that a grand jury could still “collect” and “preserve” evidence, available for use once the president has left office. The picture it presented is that of the grand jury working quietly in the background. More realistic is what we had in the Nixon era and may be seeing develop today: a full-fledged investigation from within the executive branch, by special counsel dedicated to this purpose. It is not a question of a grand jury collecting and preserving but of the Special Counsel investigating. The process is active, not passive….

A major inquiry at full boil is most often an indication of the seriousness of the potential charges, and yet it is here—where the public interest in a presidency accountable to law is keenest—that the OLC’s concern with disruption is most obviously triggered. By a strange twist of constitutional logic, the president under investigation for the most serious wrongdoing would then have the most compelling claim to immunity.

Bauer then criticizes the OLC for not seriously engaging “the question of how temporary immunity from indictment or prosecution can be reconciled with the due administration of justice.” He writes:

For example, it included the president’s exposure to the stigma of a criminal charge among the “dramatically destabilizing effects” of an indictment. Of course, unresolved questions of criminal misconduct also cast shadows on a presidency, as the Nixon saga showed. The opinion did not explain how the president’s credibility is enhanced by charges left hanging and defended only by a claim of immunity. It might be just as persuasively argued that the president who engages with the criminal justice process does more honor to the office and invites closer consideration of the merits of his self-defense. “I did no wrong, and here is why” has a more presidential ring and better serves the rule of law than “You can’t get me.”

We can all see, by his behavior, that Tr-mp isn’t interested in any high-minded notion like “honor to the office.” And we can all imagine, at some future time, him shamelessly utilizing the “You can’t get me” defense. Tr-mp isn’t concerned with anything fundamentally essential to a stable democracy like the concept of “the due administration of justice.” But Bauer is. He criticized the OLC opinion for falling back,

on a comforting image of a grand jury operating silently and (somehow) mostly out of sight and out of the way.

But that is not how it goes with high-profile, high-stakes investigations. We have them or we don’t: there is no quiet, non-disruptive version. And if we have them, accepting the disruptions they entail, then it is difficult to argue that they cannot be brought to one possible conclusion, if justified by the evidence: indictment. If a president can be investigated, then, it seems, a president can be indicted; if not in the second case, then not in either case, because it cannot be said that the government in the throes of a major investigation is measurably or reliably safer from severe “disruption” and massive loss of presidential credibility. The better, more internally consistent view in line with democratic “rule of law” norms is that the president is subject to investigation and, if the evidence supports it, indictment.

Bauer discusses the truth that “the president could use his executive authority to thwart an investigation,” through dismissing successive prosecutors until he finds an individual with Marco Rubio’s or Ted Cruz’s compromised blood running through his or her veins. But Bauer has faith, too much in my opinion, that in such a case “Congress would intervene via the impeachment process to restoring the ‘rule of law.'” He says, with way too much confidence given what we have seen from Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders:

It is in constitutional theory only that a president may order an end to an investigation directed against him. In practice, he will fail.

I have a feeling we will find out if Bauer is right. In the mean time, Bauer offers us a novel solution (at least it was to me) to the problem of what to do, should his theory prevail some day that there is no difference, in terms of disruption, between indictments and investigations:

If a president is not, then, immune from investigation or indictment, the “dramatically destabilizing effects” on government may be addressed in one of three ways. The president could resign. Congress could move to impeachment. Also available  is the 25th Amendment, which permits a president to temporarily vacate the office while fighting the indictment and standing trial—perhaps, in the thick of an investigation, while fending off indictment.

The 2000 opinion was equivocal in its treatment of the 25th Amendment, particularly as an answer to the possible incarceration of a president following conviction. But it also conceded that “the amendment’s terms ‘unable’ and ‘inability’ were not . . . narrowly defined, apparently out of a recognition that situations of inability might take various forms not neatly falling into categories of physical or mental illness.”

I find that a rather stunning argument. The president should be subject to investigation, indictment, and possible prosecution, and if the process proves so disruptive that he can’t adequately perform his duties, there is a 25th Amendment remedy. Bauer’s conclusion:

In a case where, as of now, neither impeachment nor resignation is probable, the 25thAmendment supplies more of an answer than OLC would credit to the problem of an incapacitated presidency. It is also more convincing than temporary immunity from indictment or prosecution that is grounded in dubious reasoning about the implications of the “constitutional structure” and that, if taken to its logical conclusion, would also insulate a president from investigation into serious criminal wrongdoing.

In other words, as it stands right now, using only the reasoning of Justice Department lawyers from long ago, Tr-mp is essentially beyond the reach of the law and we have little hope of a House impeachment and little hope of a Senate conviction. And the truth is, although Bauer’s idea is solid and soundly reasoned, we also have little hope that anyone who matters will pay the slightest bit of attention to it.

Remarks On The Shooting In Virginia

Published on June 15, 2017

Okay. This shouldn’t have to be said. But here we go again.

♦ Mentally ill people, people with histories of violence and lawbreaking, whether they be right-wing nutjobs or left-wing nutjobs, shouldn’t have an easy, lawful pathway toward the purchase and possession of guns. Period. Will that stop all the shootings? Hell no. But it might stop some of them.

♦ There are major differences between the two big political parties on the issue above. One party wants to make it harder to obtain weapons, the other wants to make it much, much easier. Therefore, one party is much, much more to blame for the ridiculous amount of gun violence we see in the United States. That is indisputable. Don’t even bother trying.

♦ It’s not okay for Americans to settle political differences with violence. It should be obvious that even right-wing reactionaries like Steve Scalise deserve to live their lives without the slightest fear of getting murdered because of their political views. (Here’s to his full recovery, by the way, as well as all those who were shot.)

♦ One party nominated and then helped “elect” a guy who has, very publicly, said he would “pay the legal fees” of people who took his advice “to knock the crap” out of potential tomato-tossers at his rallies. That’s unacceptable. Or at least it should be.

♦ One party nominated and then helped “elect” a guy who has, very publicly, embraced and praised thuggish autocrats around the world (he even begged one of them for help during the election) who use violence to control their noisy citizens or, as in the case of the Turkish Thug, use violence to silence protesters—on American soil, for God’s sake. That’s unacceptable. Or at least it should be.

♦ It is true that we ought to be able to fight—metaphorically—over policies, priorities for the country, and what our future should look like without demonizing each other. It’s also true we ought to respect each other as we engage in these fights. But until Republicans stop supporting Tr-mp they will not, speaking only for myself, get my respect. Nope. No respect until they throw out of office the guy who enthusiastically supports thuggish behavior. No respect until they reject the guy who begged a thuggish Russian for election assistance. No respect until they turn away from the guy who patted the Turkish Thug on the back—after he fraudulently manipulated a referendum that essentially massacred democracy in Turkey. No respect until they impeach the guy who is using his office for financial gain and who, just this morning, said the following about those public servants who are, apparently, investigating him for obstruction of justice regarding the Russia probe:

You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people!

To Tr-mp, all who oppose him, or have a job to do to make sure he’s not breaking any laws or violating the Constitution, are “bad” people. Bad. And that tweet came a day after the shooting of a congressman and others in Virginia, a day after Tr-mp said the following regarding that shooting:

We may have our differences, but we do well, in times like these, to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country.

Tr-mp, of course, didn’t mean that. He read what someone wrote for him. He stuck to the script. The next day, likely the next hour, he was back in “some very bad” people mode, referring to those people serving “in our nation’s capital.”

I will say this again: Tr-mp didn’t start all this stuff. He merely represents what years of Republican tolerance (and some amount of encouragement) of lies and distortions by Rush Limbaugh and Fox “News” and the Drudge Report—and now including Breitbart and Infowars, explicitly embraced by Tr-mp himself—has produced. Such dishonorable tolerance has almost destroyed our democratic immune system. And until Republican Party leaders—now wholly responsible for Tr-mp and Tr-mpism—call out the standard-lowering, truth-killing demagogues in its tent, they will get no respect from me, even if, as an American, they will always have my pledge of peaceful resistance.

♦ Finally, there is a rather noble idea going around today regarding the annual Congressional Baseball Game between D’s and R’s, for which Scalise and other R’s were practicing when the shooting began. Huffpo’s Ed Mazza put it this way:

Instead of having the two parties play each other, as tradition holds, many people would like to see the teams mix rosters to show they’re all really on the same side: America.

Now, I confess I also thought of that idea when news of the tragic shooting first started unfolding yesterday. But something about the notion, as well-meaning as it sounds and is meant to be, didn’t quite sit right with me. I wasn’t quite sure why until I read one of the suggestions, posted by Noah Gittell on Twitter, in Mazza’s piece:

If Congress really wanted to make a meaningful gesture, they’d get rid of this Dem vs. Rep crap and mix the two teams.

I understand the emotion behind that suggestion. I really do. But the suggestion itself doesn’t make sense. The annual baseball game between political rivals is suppose to be a metaphor for the idea that people with very important political differences can still come together—as who they are—and compete under the rules of an old, old game. They can, as partisans, fight like hell to win and not, when it’s all over, take a bat to the heads of Image result for congressional baseball gametheir opponents. Mixing the two teams would send exactly the wrong message. We can’t “get rid of this Dem vs. Rep crap” any more than we can get rid of any important differences between us. What we can do is—and, again, this is what the game tonight is suppose to celebrate—learn to live with those differences, learn to fight with each other over those differences, but do so under certain rules of engagement, rules that both parties respect and follow, rules that insure a peaceful future for an always-divided America.

Political parties, as messy and unsatisfying as they often are, do represent something important in our democracy. They are consolidations of ideas about what America should look like, what it should be. Thus, they are institutions with often conflicting visions for our national future. And one of our parties, one of those institutions, has gone completely off the rails, forgetting all the old rules and conventions of the game that both sides accepted and honored, and making new ones up to advance their—and only their—agenda.

They support a democracy-disabling man named Tr-mp. They intentionally sabotaged Obamacare and now pass important life-and-death bills without hearings (the House) and in secret (the Senate). They purposely blocked judicial nominees President Obama was entitled to have confirmed, and are now attempting to fill those same positions with Tr-mp people, complete with all the bigotry that goes with him. Republicans have done all this and much, much more. And we, as Democrats or as independents, can’t help them get back to playing the game the right way until we are willing to hold them—peacefully—accountable for their politically deviant behavior.

And no disturbed man with a gun—a gun he shouldn’t have had—should stop us from doing that.

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