The Last And Best Word On Tr-mp’s Racist War On Black NFL Players

Nick Wright, of Fox Sports, has had no problem in the past talking beyond sports. Here is his five-minute take on Tr-mp’s racist rants against protests by black NFL players:

Advertisements

Theocracy And The Finger Of God

“And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”

—Exodus 31:18

“I’m not running for this position. I’m running to serve God and his will.”

—Judge Roy Moore

Today Republican voters in Alabama will quite likely choose Roy Moore, a twenty-four carat, lawbreaking theocrat, to be their nominee to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S Senate. And chances are, despite Democrats’ hopefulness, Roy Moore, a twenty-four carat, lawbreaking theocrat, will be Alabama’s next senator, after the December 12th general election.

Moore is infamous for a couple of law-ignoring moments. After he installed a two and one-half ton granite Ten Commandments monument in his courthouse in 2001 (he was chief justice of the state supreme court at the time), a federal judge ordered him to remove it. He refused. He then got canned by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. But he came back. He managed to get himself re-elected in 2012 as, again, chief justice of the Image result for roy moore and gunstate supreme court. In 2016, this lawbreaker decided it didn’t matter that his state’s ban on same-sex marriage was overturned by a federal judge. He ordered the probate judges in Alabama to keep enforcing the bogus law. He got suspended and eventually quit, after it became clear officials weren’t going to participate in his personally-enforced theocracy. (Although, interestingly and inexplicably there are still eight judges in Alabama who are honoring Moore’s dictum by simply not issuing anyone a marriage license.)

And, now the gun-toting zealot is back yet again.

Just the possibility that Roy Moore could sit in the Senate here in the 21st century tells us at least two things. One, it tells us Alabama is a very strange place. But we kind of knew that already. Two, though, it tells us that a large number of American Christians aren’t that far removed from Islamist theocrats all over the world, in terms of how much they despise genuine secularism. And make no mistake about it, we were designed to be a secular nation. Our Constitution is a secular document. It was not handed down by God, but handed down by some entity called “We the People.” And you won’t find any God-invoking language in the document. But, if it is God-invoking language you are after, you can find it in the Preamble to the Confederate Constitution. Wikipedia provides a handy comparison between the original and its treacherous imitator:

  • The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”[4]
  • The Preamble to the Confederate Constitution: “We, the people of the Confederate States, each state acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity — invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God — do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.”[1]

Even though the traitors invoked Almighty God’s “favor and guidance,” that didn’t work out too well (see: Appomattox Court House, Virginia, April 9, 1865, for evidence of that). But despite that massive failure, the idea—the idea that this is God’s country and not our own—still persists. Jeff Stein, of Vox, recently wrote a profile of Moore. Stein got to the heart of the matter:

Moore’s defense in the Ten Commandments case is instructive. One conservative defense of the tablets could be that local courts should have the freedom to erect whatever monuments they want. This was not Moore’s argument. Instead, he said that the Ten Commandments should stay because they really are divine, and therefore more important than human law.

“The Ten Commandments are not only a sacred text in the Jewish and Christian faiths, as the Supreme Court stated in Stone v Graham,” he writes. “They are God’s revealed, divine law and the basis on which our morality depends.”

Few Christians, of course, can cite or name most of the supposedly vital commandments (which are presented in different versions in the Old Testament). Stephen Colbert famously and hilariously, more than ten years ago, revealed the hypocrisy of a Georgia congressman named Lynn Westmoreland (also noted for referring to the Obamas as “uppity”) and by extension the hypocrisy of most theocracy-minded Christians:

COLBERT: You co-sponsored a bill requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

REP. WESTMORELAND: Uh-huh.

COLBERT: Why was that important to you?

REP. WESTMORELAND: Well, the Ten Commandments is not a bad thing, uh, for people to understand and to respect.

COLBERT: I’m with you.

REP. WESTMORELAND: Where better place could you have something like that than a judicial building, or in a court house?

COLBERT: That is a good question. Can you think of any better building to put the Ten Commandments in than in a public building?

REP. WESTMORELAND: No. I think if we were totally without ’em we may lose a sense of our direction.

COLBERT: What are the Ten Commandments?

REP. WESTMORELAND: What are all of ’em?

COLBERT: Uh-huh.

REP. WESTMORELAND: You want me to name ’em all?

COLBERT: Yes. Please.

REP. WESTMORELAND: Umm. Don’t murder. Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Uhhh, I can’t name ’em all.

Funny stuff.

In any case, Sam Harris said of the Commandments (in Letter to a Christian Nation):

They are, after all, the only passages in the Bible so profound that the creator of the universe felt the need to physically write them himself — and in stone. As such, one would expect these to be the greatest lines ever written, on any subject, in any language.

Well, are they the greatest lines ever written? Let’s consider the second of the commandments (I chose Exodus 20:4):

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

Think about the absurdity of that for a moment. The alleged creator of the cosmos, omnipotent and omniscient, allegedly used his own finger to etch out that silly command, rather than publish some insight into, say, what causes many preventable diseases among his made-in-his-image creatures (we human beings finally began to figure that out in the middle of the 19th century, by the way). And consider the secondary absurdity that resulted from that ridiculously trivial commandment. Here is a passage from Wikipedia that demonstrates some of it:

In 726 Emperor Leo III ordered all images removed from all churches; in 730 a council forbade veneration of images, citing the Second Commandment; in 787 the Seventh Ecumenical Council reversed the preceding rulings, condemning iconoclasm and sanctioning the veneration of images; in 815 Leo V called yet another council, which reinstated iconoclasm; in 843 Empress Theodora again reinstated veneration of icons.[114] This mostly settled the matter until the Protestant Reformation, when John Calvin declared that the ruling of the Seventh Ecumenical Council “emanated from Satan”.[114] Protestant iconoclasts at this time destroyed statues, pictures, stained glass, and artistic masterpieces.[114]

All of that from essentially nothing.

There are more absurdities in the Ten Commandments, but Sam Harris deserves the last word on the last one, number 10 (don’t covet your neighbor’s house, wife, slaves, ox, ass, or anything else):

…what are we to make of the fact that, in bringing his treatise to a close, the creator of the universe could think of no human concerns more pressing and durable than the coveting of servants and livestock?

And what are we to make of the fact that a man who may become a member of the United States Senate can think of “no human concerns more pressing and durable” than pushing Iron Age dictates upon the nation and placing them above its man-made laws? As David Dinielli of the Southern Poverty Law Center put it, Roy Moore’s ideology “would allow those who think they know the unknowable and the mystic to impose their beliefs on everyone else.”

And unless a man-made miracle happens in Alabama either today or in December, we will have to deal nationally with a U.S. Senator who has a history of imposing his knowledge of the unknowable on his fellow citizens.

 

Tweet Home, Alabama

 Published 9/25/2017 @ 6:44pm

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, where about 3 1/2 million Americans live, was assaulted by Hurricane Maria and has been in severe distress. CNN reported it this way today:

Hurricane Maria whipped Puerto Rico with Irma-level winds, drenched the island with Harvey-level flooding, crippled communications, decimated buildings and damaged a dam that puts downstream residents at risk of catastrophe.

Yet help has been slow to come, officials and residents argue.”This is a game changer,” Governor Ricardo Rosselló told CNN Monday. “We need to prevent a humanitarian crisis occurring in America.”

Many believe the humanitarian crisis is well underway, as the island has turned dark due to the loss of electricity. Many also believe the Tr-mp administration, and Congress, are moving too slowly to confront the crisis. One of those many is Hillary Clinton, who tweeted:

President Tr-mp, Sec. Mattis, and DOD should send the Navy, including the USNS Comfort, to Puerto Rico now. These are American citizens.

Another critic of Tr-mp’s response is Clinton’s former spokesman, Brian Fallon, who tweeted today:

Trump’s racist neglect of Puerto Rico is threatening lives. It is time to start caring about the crisis there.

As for Tr-mp, he’s been busy, rallying and tweeting. But not about Puerto Rico. As we all know, he has more important things on his mind: uppity blacks “disrespecting” the flag by daring to take seriously what it stands, or is supposed to stand, for. Tr-mp tried to sell his racist gobshite in Alabama, where racism, judging by the rally-goers’ reaction to his “sons of bitches” tantrum, is still a valuable commodity.

Puerto RicoI suggested on Twitter that if Puerto Ricans want immediate help, they should rename their island “Alabama.” Maybe borrow a southern dialect when they beg Washington Republicans for help. Perhaps wear a Tr-mp trucker hat and refer to themselves as part of the “white working class” when they post pleas on Facebook. Whatever it takes.

The truth is that the disaster in Puerto Rico just hasn’t received, at least up until now, the attention it would have received if it had happened in, say, Alabama. If those Puerto Ricans were part of the white working class, a subject of much press coverage for months and months, they’d be bathing in clean water by now. And if you think that a big part of the reason they are not is because the Americans in Puerto Rico have something in common with the athletes in the NFL and NBA that Tr-mp is so preoccupied with, you are onto something. Tr-mp is, most clearly, a racist. In fact, his racial identity, and the way he used it during the campaign, more than anything else explains why he is where he is.

Ta-Nehisi Coates began his latest thought-provoking article (“The First White President“) with this sentence:

It is insufficient to state the obvious of Donald Tr-mp: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact.

The rest of that fantastic piece demonstrates why such a statement is insufficient. Read it, if you haven’t already. You won’t be disappointed. Some of what Coates has said I have tried to say for eight years now. But I can’t say it like this:

For Tr-mp, it almost seems that the fact of Obama, the fact of a black president, insulted him personally. The insult intensified when Obama and Seth Meyers publicly humiliated him at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011. But the bloody heirloom ensures the last laugh. Replacing Obama is not enough—Tr-mp has made the negation of Obama’s legacy the foundation of his own. And this too is whiteness. “Race is an idea, not a fact,” the historian Nell Irvin Painter has written, and essential to the construct of a “white race” is the idea of not being a nigger. Before Barack Obama, niggers could be manufactured out of Sister Souljahs, Willie Hortons, and Dusky Sallys. But Donald Tr-mp arrived in the wake of something more potent—an entire nigger presidency with nigger health care, nigger climate accords, and nigger justice reform, all of which could be targeted for destruction or redemption, thus reifying the idea of being white. Tr-mp truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president. And so it will not suffice to say that Tr-mp is a white man like all the others who rose to become president. He must be called by his rightful honorific—America’s first white president.

Coates rightfully complains about those “theoreticians”—like libertarian Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve—who believe Tr-mp’s rise is the fault of liberals who despised and condescended to “the white working class.” If you have read any of the post-election analysis, which is still going on, you have no doubt heard this point made. Even some liberals, like Anthony Bourdain, have fallen for that nonsense. Coates quotes him:

The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now.

Well, let’s see. Is that what liberals, whether “Eastern” or anywhere else in America, do? And even if we do, is there some truth in it? You tell me, after you read a piece published recently (“For those in the Party of Tr-mp, the Republicans—not the president—are to blame“) by Jenna Johnson, a reporter for the Washington Post. She interviewed Tr-mp voters in a small town (population: 8,461) in Granville County, North Carolina, a place she described as a long-time “Democratic stronghold” that “was one of six rural counties in North Carolina that flipped from voting twice for Barack Obama to voting for Trump last year.” (Tr-mp won by less than 700 votes.) Johnson began her piece this way:

During one of their usual morning gatherings at the Bojangles’ restaurant in this rural town near the Virginia border, a group of retirees from a local Baptist church shook their heads at the failure of Washington to repeal Obamacare, lower the national debt, build a wall along the southern border, kick people off welfare or get anything else accomplished.

Should we call these folks “ridiculous” for desiring to build Tr-mp’s ridiculous wall or to kick people off welfare? Or should we try to sympathetically address their “white working-class” mentality, which they undoubtedly carried into retirement?  How about this from the article:

“I think he’s an idiot, but I voted for him,” another church member chimed in, as others laughed and a woman sitting across from him countered with: “As opposed to what was in there before?”

Should liberals dare to call out this brand of stupidity? Should we be afraid to say critical things about someone who proudly admitted they voted for a candidate they considered “an idiot”? More than that, should we back away from saying harsh things about someone who is dumb enough to suggest Tr-mp is not as much of an idiot as Obama was? Huh?

How about this:

Many of the church members gathered at Bojangles’ last week pointed to the president’s Christian faith, saying he brought the Bible and prayer back into the White House. Even though Trump rarely attends church himself, he frequently talked about religion on the campaign trail, promising that with him in the White House, Christians would once again feel free to openly say “Merry Christmas.”

“President Trump has talked more about Christian values than any of the last two or three presidents that we’ve had,” said Wayne Overton, 79, who is retired from the Postal Service and now raises cows on a farm a few miles outside of town and tours the country in a motor home. “And I admire him for picking the vice president that he picked. If something happened, our country would be in good hands.”

I don’t care what Charles Murray thinks. I don’t care what Anthony Bourdain thinks. I don’t care what anyone thinks, if they think this kind of ignorance and irrationality and thoughtlessness shouldn’t be addressed forcefully just because it exited the lips of white people, working or retired, in North Carolina or Alabama or anywhere else white folks think they are an oppressed people. These white “Christians” are rubes and their views deserve contempt. And those who think the election of Tr-mp had very little to do with racism are part of the problem and deserve, if not contempt, at least fierce criticism. And those who argue, as Tr-mp’s press secretary laughingly tried to do today, that his remarks in Alabama about athlete-protesters—who all happened to be black—have nothing to do with race, they are either liars or don’t understand the country in which they live.

After charging liberals with some of the same sins as right-wingers, Coates quotes Bernie Sanders:

Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and just deplorable folks. I don’t agree.

Coates responded to this perfectly:

This is not exculpatory. Certainly not every Trump voter is a white supremacist, just as not every white person in the Jim Crow South was a white supremacist. But every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one.

You see, those white church folks in Granville County, North Carolina, or those rally cultists in Huntsville, Alabama, last Friday night may or may not be closet white supremacists themselves, but they put all of us in the hands of a man who without a doubt had no trouble sending the message of white supremacy during the campaign and who, also undoubtedly, sits in the White’s House because of that strategy. Coates notes how even Barack Obama underestimated Tr-mpism, underestimated “the power of whiteness.” He puts it in a way I can’t:

Trump, more than any other politician, understood…the great power in not being a nigger.

That’s what Tr-mp was doing in Alabama. That’s what he was doing by trashing black NFL players who have been solemnly kneeling during the national anthem. That’s what he was doing by disingenuously disinviting Steph Curry, NBA champion, from a visit to the White’s House (Curry had already said he wasn’t going). Tr-mp was exercising, in front of people who well understood what he was doing, the “great power in not being a nigger.”

It will surely come to pass that Congress will offer some substantial relief help to Puerto Rico. And it will surely come to pass that Tr-mp will visit the islanders and photo-op his way from place to place. But that rally in Huntsville on Friday, and his subsequent tweets over the weekend, demonstrate where his heart is and has always been.

And it is up to us, those of us who have seen this backlash against Obama coming, to call out all of those who prioritize the “white working class” and refuse to admit the obvious: Tr-mp is using his whiteness, as orange-tinted as it is, as a tool to keep himself in power, to keep himself where, if the ideals of America still matter, he most certainly doesn’t belong.

No, The Republican Party Is Not Splitting In Two

Ezra Klein wrote a short piece today—after a week of Tr-mp receiving some undeserved praise for his embarrassing conduct at the United Nations—that simply points out what everyone in the pundit-dominated media should, but doesn’t, know:

It’s become a joke on politics Twitter that Trump’s pivot is always around the corner, that the media can’t stop announcing that this is the moment Trump finally became president. But there will be no pivot. There will be no moment Trump suddenly and permanently grows into the job.

Most of us know this, at least those of us who don’t play the game of pretending that Kelly or McMaster or Mattis can transform an ignorant and disturbed clown into a serviceable chief executive of the country. Not gonna happen. But the media game goes on.

Another media game going on right now is an attempt to separate the Republican “establishment” from the Tr-mp cult, which pundits universally call his “base.” While media commentators have long tried to divide the GOP into those who think Tr-mp is an Orange Jesus and those who are allegedly just tolerating the Apricot Anti-Christ for “agenda” purposes, the job began in earnest recently when Tr-mp made a “deal” with “Nancy” and “Chuck” over DACA—a deal not worth the paper it wasn’t written on. Today, NBC News, through its “First Read” publication (authored by Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann), kept the game going with this:

How Donald Trump Is Splitting the Republican Party in Two

The article began with a confident lede:

We now have data to prove that today’s Republican Party is split in two — between a Trump Party and your more traditional GOP.

My first reaction was: horseshit. We hear such talk all the time. We hear how there are really two GOPs. We hear talk of a Tr-mp versus Ryan-McConnell dynamic. We hear how Tr-mp despises those “establishment” leaders and how they don’t much like him either. Again: horseshit. Even if that were true, it doesn’t mean a damn thing. In politics, especially Republican politics dominated by white men, it doesn’t matter if you like the white guy you’re dealing with, so long as he will do your dealing. The real dynamic that means something in this drama is this: for Tr-mp, it is whether the GOP leaders in Congress can give him something—anything—he can sell to his rally cultists as a Big Win; for the GOP “establishment” it is whether Tr-mp will sign regressive legislation like gutting Medicaid and giving tax cuts to bazillionaires.

The truth in all this is that there really is very little practical difference between those who self-identify to pollsters as “Tr-mp supporters” and those who identify as “Party supporters.” The latest poll, upon which the article above was based, used the distinction:

This week’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked this question to Republican voters: Do you consider yourself to be more a supporter of Tr-mp or a supporter of the Republican Party? Fifty-eight percent of them answered Tr-mp, and 38 percent said the GOP.

The Tr-mp supporters are more likely to hail from rural areas and to be men, while Republican Party supporters are more likely to be women and residents of the suburbs. And the differences between them — on their views of GOP leaders, immigration and race — are fascinating.

Get that? First, almost six in ten Republican voters identify as Tr-mpers. Less than four in ten identify with the party itself. But let’s look at the “fascinating” results. Exactly how fascinating are they? Well, here’s the first result presented:

_________________________________________
Approve of Tr-mp’s job performance
Tr-mp supporters: 99 percent

Party supporters: 84 percent
__________________________________________

You tell me just how “fascinating” it is that almost all Tr-mp cultists support their cult leader? Who didn’t know that? But also tell me how fascinating it is, in terms of an alleged split in the party, that 84% of Image result for trump is the republican partysupposedly establishment “Party supporters” also support Tr-mp? That’s not much difference. Yet NBC pundits tried to make that a stunning difference, so much so that, remember, the title of this article was “How Donald Trump Is Splitting the Republican Party in Two.” Is a 99 and 84 Tr-mp approval rating result evidence of a split between the cultists and the establishment? Especially of a split in two? Huh? Of course not. But the evidence provided by their own poll was shaped to fit the narrative of the writers.

Although there are more significant differences between Tr-mp voters and GOP establishment types on some of the other issues, on the only issue that matters, whether Tr-mp is performing well, the two groups are almost in complete agreement. And so long as Republican leaders in Congress look at these polls showing such support—among all Republicans—for Tr-mp, they will be afraid to act against him—even if Robert Mueller, bless his heart, gets the goods on him. Again, fear of those who approve of Tr-mp is all that matters.

I know it is hard for some folks in the news business to admit it, but Tr-mp not only belongs to the Republican Party, what is more important is that the Republican Party, almost every bigoted square mile of it, belongs to him. When it comes to Donald the Dotard, there is no split.

Stealthcare

Republicans claim they have a “health” care plan. Oddly, though, nobody but Republicans can see any health in it. And even some of them are having trouble with their eyes.

My go-to person when it comes to analyzing these kinds of things for amateurs like me is Sarah Kliff, who now works for Vox. She wrote:

I have spent the bulk of 2017 writing about the different Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Graham-Cassidy, in my view, is the most radical of them all.

While other Republican plans essentially create a poorly funded version of the Affordable Care Act, Graham-Cassidy blows it up.

Kliff features the most cynical part of the proposed legislation, cynicism so breathtaking that even in the age of Tr-mp it stuns:

The bill offered by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy takes money from states that did a good job getting residents covered under Obamacare and gives it to states that did not. It eliminates an expansion of the Medicaid program that covers millions of Americans in favor of block grants. States aren’t required to use the money to get people covered or to help subsidize low- and middle-income earners, as Obamacare does now.

Now, that first part—that the bill steals money from states that expanded Medicaid and gives it to those that refused to do so—hasn’t received enough attention on the cable news shows I have watched. It is goddamned disgusting that Republican Senators, like Ron Johnson of Wisconsin (a co-sponsor of the monstrosity and one of the biggest creeps in the U.S. Senate), are willing to go on TV or write editorials telling people that his red state has been getting ripped off by Obamacare while other states, blue states, have been making off with the loot. In USA Today, Johnson wrote:

Under Obamacare, three states with 20% of our population — California, New York and Massachusetts — get 36% of the funding. Our bill fixes that.

Johnson was on MSNBC this morning and said the same thing—without being challenged. In fact, I have yet to hear a cable news host or interviewer confront any Republican senator, who tries to sell such bullshit to voters, with this simple question: “If you feel that way, if you believe your state has been on the short end of the Obamacare stick, why haven’t you demanded that your Republican governor expand Medicaid under Obamacare and take care of more of your people?”

The reason red states don’t generally benefit as much from the ACA is because 20 Republican-controlled states have refused to expand Medicaid coverage to their citizens, the funding of which is almost all paid for by the federal government. And now the block-granting scheme in this new legislation will essentially reward those worthless Republican governors and legislatures by giving them money, in amounts that won’t do the job ultimately, that doesn’t have Obama’s name on it—and excising the “Obama” from Obamacare means more than anything to these cynical schmucks.

And speaking of those cynical schmucks, possibly 50 of them in the U.S. Senate are willing to vote for a scheme that not only is bent on damaging or destroying Medicaid, but its stinginess will have to be reauthorized in 2026, else there will be no Image result for poor people on medicaidfederal money, not a dollar, spent on health insurance for those who need it. I have heard Senator Cassidy, a physician who forgot his oath, essentially say, “Ah shucks. Don’t worry. Nobody’s gonna get hurt. Congress will keep the spending coming after ten years. Trust us.”

No thanks. There’s too much at stake, as the chart above demonstrates.

In any case Sarah Kliff goes on to discuss more of the GOP deathcare bill:

Insurers in the private marketplace would be allowed to discriminate against people with preexisting conditions, for example. And it would eliminate the individual mandate as other bills would have, but this time there is no replacement. Most analysts agree that would inject chaos into the individual market.

Taken together, these components add up to a sweeping proposal sure to upend the American health care system. Because the Senate hasn’t seen an independent analysis yet from the Congressional Budget Office, I can’t even say for sure how sweeping, and neither can any of the Republicans who have come out in support of it.

Of course they can’t say how “sweeping” this bill will be. And they don’t want to know any of the details. The CBO is the last body they want to hear from. Besides that, they have ignored it in the past and there is no reason they will pay any attention to the CBO now. After all, Republicans don’t give a damn what the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Nurses Association, the American Hospital Association, the National Rural Health Association, the Children’s Hospital Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Diabetes Association, the American Public Health Association, and other groups have to say about it (h/t to Rep. Don Beyer).

Nor do they even care what insurance groups have to say. America’s Health Insurance Plans is a political advocacy association representing 1300 health insurance companies. They don’t like this plan, even though I suspect that’s mostly because they fear it will lead to a single payer system. Blue Cross—bleeping Blue Cross, for God’s sake—released a statement full of “significant concerns” about Graham-Cassidy, saying it “would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans.” But more important, Blue Cross said:

The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions.

Planned Parenthood and the AARP and advocates for the disabled and advocates for veterans (“A vote for #GrahamCassidy is a vote to take healthcare from veterans.”) and NARAL (“If #GrahamCassidyBill passes, ~13 mil women will lose access to maternity care. THIRTEEN MILLION.”) are all opposed to the bill. In fact, it is hard to find anyone outside of Republicans in Congress, and Tr-mp’s base of cultists (who will get hurt by this bill), who is in favor of it. But that doesn’t seem to matter.

The Sisters of Mercy, the Catholic group who advocates for the “poor, sick and uneducated,” said, “Time to Oppose Graham-Cassidy Healthcare Bill.” No, it is past time. Way past time. We can’t just blame this on Tr-mp. This is the fault of a GOP that will do anything—do anything to anyone outside its big-donor base—in order to rid the country of any traces of the Scary Negro who once sat in the White’s House. And nothing bothered them more than when he dared to put his uppity black hands on our healthcare system. They promised years and years ago they would lynch Obamacare. They meant it, even if they are having trouble finding the right rope.

Here is the number to the U.S. Capitol Switchboard, which can get you connected to the Senator of your choice:  (202) 224-3121. Besides what I included above from Sarah Kliff, there are other crappy provisions in this bill. Here is a link to a short summary of the biggest outrages and a “Sample Call Script” that you can use to help you talk to anyone who will listen.

Unpresidented, Again

“There’s never really been a time when a generation of people, raised and rooted in the United States, has been stripped of official recognition and pushed back into the precarity of unauthorized-immigrant life.”

—Dara Lind, of Vox

Dara Lind explains stuff for Vox. This morning she wrote of the nasty DACA reversal decision ordered by one racist coward, Tr-mp, and announced by another racist with bigger balls, Sessions. Lind’s article (“Why ending DACA is so unprecedented“) featured this gem:

Undoing DACA would widen the gulf between reality and law. And that gulf is, in some ways, broader than it’s ever been before. What truly makes the end of DACA unprecedented, in the broad sweep of US history, is the size of that gap between the law and the reality.

With DACA hanging in the balance, America has a group of people on the verge of being socially integrated, but legally isolated — socially championed, but legally victimized — in a way we’ve never really seen before.

Well, we’ve seen a lot of things lately we’ve never seen before. And, somehow, one never gets used to it. Every affront still shocks. But Lind pointed out something that I think many of us either didn’t know or forgot about our border history with Mexico:

Historically, it was easy enough to cross the US/Mexico border and work in the US — both because it was simply easier to enter the country by land without being detected than to sail into New York harbor, and because (partly because it was so hard to regulate) the US government didn’t restrict immigration from the Americas the way it did from the Eastern Hemisphere.

It was so easy, in fact, that immigrants were often simply migrating back and forth. “Immigrants preferred to live in Mexico for most of the time,” Stanford historian Ana Minian explains, “and then come for short periods of time, sometimes up to a couple years, and then return to Mexico until they needed to come back again.”

It wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that the US made it harder to legally immigrate from Mexico. After that, it was still possible to come to the US and work — just not legally. So the circular migration continued, but its legal status changed.

She notes that the “circular flow” stopped in the 1990s, when border security was beefed up and the crossings became riskier (thanks to a bipartisan effort in Congress and with Bill Clinton’s signature on a little-known law that, in Lind’s words, “essentially eliminated an existing back door to legal status” and “locked a front door to legal status, too”). Thus, many of the immigrants simply just stayed here rather than take the border-crossing risk. And their kids stayed with them. Today we call those kids DREAMers. And this country is the only home they know.

In June of 2012, President Obama spoke in the Rose Garden about his decision to create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. He talked about the DREAMers:

These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag.  They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one:  on paper.  They were brought to this country by their parents — sometimes even as infants — and often have no idea that they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s license, or a college scholarship.

Put yourself in their shoes.  Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life — studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class — only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak.

Unable to put himself in anyone’s shoes but his own, Tr-mp, with the help of his loathsome and lying Attorney General, just told these DACA beneficiaries that they aren’t welcome here unless a Republican Congress, which isn’t even able to confidently guarantee the nation’s bills will be paid without defaulting, can rescue them within six months. Jesus.

John Kennedy wrote a book in 1958 called A Nation of Immigrants. On the back cover of a posthumous edition published in 1964 are these words:

Throughout his presidency, John F. Kennedy was passionate about the issue of immigration reform. He believed that America is a nation of people who value both tradition and the exploration of new frontiers, people who deserve the freedom to build better lives for themselves in their adopted homeland.

Man. What was he thinking?

sessions on dacaAs I write, Senator Lindsey Graham, who applauded Tr-mp’s action today, said this is a “defining moment” for the Republican Party to get this right, to fix our “broken immigration system” by helping the DREAMers. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a lot of “defining moments” for the Republican Party over the last several years. And they have certainly defined themselves, time and again. They are now defined by that Orange Racist Creep who didn’t have the guts to go out himself today and tell the DREAMers they were now at the mercy of the same congressional Republicans who supported him, a man who began and maintains his putrid political career by scapegoating immigrants.

More Hypocrisy The Size Of Texas

We’ve all seen how Republicans in Texas have fallen in love—deeply, madly in love—with socialism. Just this morning, CNN interviewed yet another Texas lawmaker, who was once all concerned about “offsets” for federal spending for Hurricane Sandy relief in the northeast. Needless to say, this lawmaker didn’t want to talk today about offsets for Hurricane Harvey recovery. Nope. The concept of offsets was either blown away by the storm or perhaps drowned in the poison floodwaters of a regulation-hating state.

Even more hypocrisy was evident on CNN this morning during Michael Smerconish’s program. His first guest was Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who bragged about going after price gougers, the ultimate free marketeers. You would think that hard-core Republicans like Paxton (who, as an aside, is leading the fight against DACA) would applaud those who are taking advantage of the situation, who are just using market principles to make a fast buck. After all, since Moses was a toddler conservatives have extolled the virtues of unfettered free markets and the magic they make. Tr-mp boasts constantly about all the deregulation he is doing, supposedly freeing up businesses that are, allegedly, hamstrung by regulations so they can “compete” in a “free” market.

Ken Paxton told us he has his posse out looking for the gougers and will throw the book at them, as if they were the worst kind of criminals. Earlier in the week Paxton made the same argument he made this morning:

There’s nothing wrong with a free market, but this isn’t a free market. This is an unusual market where you have a storm like that that creates such devastation.

Hmm. An “unusual market”? So? So what? Can’t a person profit from unusual markets? If I were smart enough to look ahead and buy hundreds of cases of water at $4 a pop, then could sell them for $99, what’s wrong with that? Here’s what Paxton thinks is wrong with it:

People are in crisis. They’re experiencing great difficulty, so we’re trying to protect people from opportunists who take advantage of people in difficult times.

Opportunists? Difficult times? Some people don’t need hurricanes to make their lives difficult. They live in difficult times with or without massive storms, yet they are priced out of a lot of markets by opportunists, especially opportunists in the pharmaceutical industry. What makes this situation different? Why shouldn’t motels and hotels be allowed to triple their room rates during times like this? Why shouldn’t convenience stores be allowed to charge $20 a gallon for gas? What is the ken paxton price gougingmoral distinction between charging whatever the market will bear for a good or service a week before the hurricane as opposed to a week after? Why does free market-loving, regulation-hating Texas even have laws against price gouging? Why do the other 33 or so other states have such laws?

Well, most of us can see why. It hits us in our guts. We know in our bones that it is morally reprehensible to make quick money off other people’s misery or their dire need. We know it is plain wrong to sell for $100 something that last week cost $4, just because a hurricane made such free market transactions—and make no mistake about it, they are free market transactions—possible. Yes, we can see that. It is obviously morally unjustifiable.

Well, it isn’t obvious to everyone. Some people, other than the gougers, think they can justify it. I used to faithfully read a publication called The Freeman, which up until last year had been published, beginning in 1950, by a group called the Foundation for Economic Education. The FEE, its leaders say, is a libertarian think tank focused on bringing “about a world in which the economic, ethical, and legal principles of a free society are familiar and credible to the rising generation” [their emphasis]. None other than philosopher and economist Friedrich Hayek, a god of economics on the right who won a Nobel prize, said:

The Foundation for Economic Education is committed to nothing more nor less than the defense of our civilization against intellectual error.

That kind of intellectual snootiness is characteristic of most libertarians (and conservataives), who believe they and only they understand how the world works. Trust me, they really believe that. They think most of us out here are just ignorant rubes. In any case, you may have guessed that the libertarians at places like FEE actually think price gougers are good guys. Yep. They really do. Here’s an article published last Monday:

Texas Price Gougers Are Hurricane Heroes

Yes. The guy charging $99 bucks for a $4 case of water is a goddamned hero! I will allow you to personally examine the ridiculous arguments (which I have addressed many times) that support such a stunning claim, but I want to say two things about those arguments.

One, libertarians—and the many Republicans who have bought into their economic philosophy—don’t seem to factor into their tidy intellectual analysis the fact that people are motivated to do good by things other than making an easy dollar. We actually see that profit-less motivation going on in Texas, as folks get in their own little boats, use their own gas, and go about rescuing people.

Two, always beware of someone selling a counter-intuitive laissez-faire idea on the grounds that regulation of markets “hurts the very people who need our help most.” All you have to do to refute that bullshit claim is look at the modern Republican Party—whose leaders push the economic philosophy that in its purest form turns price gougers into heroes—and ask yourself: are these Republicans, and their rich donors seeking tax cuts, trying to help the folks who need our help the most?

The ongoing tragedy in Texas should clearly demonstrate, for all time, at least two things: Price gougers are not heroes, and redistributing wealth in order to help people in need—democratic socialism—is heroic. For now, even most Republicans can see that, even if they won’t put it in those terms. But soon, after the water has receded and the cleanup cash is on its way, I am betting they will go back to their old ways: unfettered free markets are good and socialism is bad!

%d bloggers like this: