MONTHS OF GNASHING TEETH

 

This is not a column we want to write, but we feel compelled.  We could be wrong – we hope so. But if we’re not, we want people to be prepared in advance.  (N.B., we’re waiting for the new disaster of the day to be sorted out, at least by the press.)

The long and short of it?   The possibility of passing the House AHAC seems unlikely.  But it was kicked upstairs to the Senate by members who just wanted to get it off their desks.   Not because they believed in the bill’s goodness.  They voted against 83 per cent of the nation that loathed its contents (that data reflects people who had no opinion when asked, people who don’t vote, people who refuse any longer to be involved with politics, period.)   They showed us all once again that the word “representative” is now an oxymoron.  The House does not give a damn about what its members’ constituents see as legislation that will help anyone, but the rich.   You knew that.

Even though the House as now constituted is full of bright, fresh faces we’d like to think really care about the health of the country, the facts teach us otherwise.   The old House preferences for big business, big money, campaign contributions, and willful ignorance prevails. This is modern Republicanism, with –as a cherry on the top” – “winning one for the team.”

It doesn’t seem necessary to remind people that the “Team” couldn’t give a damn about anything but appearing victorious.

So now on to the Senate.  Many people in the country feel relieved.  They shouldn’t.

Thirteen Senators have been named by Mr. McConnell to a committee dedicated to writing a new AHAC of its own.   They tell us they may start from scratch, ignoring what the House has presented to them in favor of their own Republican beliefs about healthcare, about women’s healthcare in particular, and the healthcare of the nation’s insurers.

What they, and we in theory, are concerned most about are premiums, pre-existing conditions, “access” to a health care system even our Dear Leader admits (as he did to the Australian Prime Minister) last week is a poor second to what Australia offers its citizens.

Once again, as in the case of abortion rights, decisions will be made entirely by men.   “Input” from women may be allowed but certainly not highlighted.

In all but a very few cases the members of McConnell’s squad is comprised of Republicans who grew up the old-fashioned way.  They early on learned to knuckle down to Uncle Mitch who does, after all, know where the bodies are buried and is not afraid to exhume them.  From McConnell’s p.o.v. he has also built in a scape-goat (and probably a deserved one): Ted Cruz, already well-known for sabotage and meanness.   Ted could, if needed, save Mitch’s ass.  And his job.

The Senators swear they will not neither rush the bill through as did their House counterparts, nor ignore the suggestions of member across the aisle.  We’ll see.   What they haven’t addressed is the huge outpouring of criticism from the public health field, professional organizations and insurers (yes, insurers) alike.

But it seems to us that whether the Senate starts from scratch or uses the House template from which to work, the end result is going to be nearly identical to what already exists as Paul Ryan’s anti-intellectual decision.   Once more the Speaker has forgotten his own biography about relying on the compassion and generosity of the Federal Government to get him into and out of college.

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MIRROR, MIRROR – II

Once one begins to picture Donald Trump imagining himself in front of television and/or other news cameras, practicing his posture, his gestures, his tone of voice, the width of his eyes…you can go a little crazy.

Having worried that our Dear Leader is practicing for hours and hours in his full-length mirrors, one begins to sense the number of other hours he spends leaning into a mirror set at table height, one he can get really close to, and practicing his facial expressions as well.

Just examine any photograph released by the White House showing our Dear Leader looking (a) presidential, (b) concerned, (c) caring, (d) stern, (e) determined, (f) bellicose, (g) sympathetic, and (h) triumphant.  (i) Disapproving.  (j) Bored.  (k) Innocent.

These poses are not inter-changeable.   As he leans forward to speak to a reporter’s microphone, his inner guidelines tell him which face to show.

Most people don’t have this kind of self-control. But then again most people have real feelings that can’t help being displayed in an interview or an outing or at a rally.

We may lack Dear Leader’s self-control, but we have something he doesn’t seem to have.  Bottom lines.  Convictions.   Principles.

It’s not so much that Mr. Trump wants to keep his enemies off-balance or lose the element of surprise at his decisions and pronouncements.   Our Dear Leader himself doesn’t for an instant know what he’s going to say or suggest.   Without this kind of foresight, it’s no wonder that his every utterance nearly causes the world to become unglued.  If he doesn’t know, how can we (they)?  If our Dear Leader had been paying attention, instead of mentally practicing his facial responses in advance of speaking, he might have a better chance at reacting in an adult fashion, one on which we could eventually depend.

This posing, we are told, comes from his numbers of years on NBC.  This idea by itself should cause viewers to immediately underwrite PBS.

Continue reading “MIRROR, MIRROR – II”

BLLANNKS!

 

Ignore the exclamation mark.  Just count the letters.

In Donald Trump’s mind, we are all BLLANNKS.   Even the much touted Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Mnuchin, became an BLLANNK Wednesday for the sake of his president.

It’s one thing for the President to assume the nation as a whole is made of BLLANNKS, it’s something again to persuade your closest advisors and “friends” that they should join that crowd.

What becomes clearer and clearer as the press forces us to concentrate on whether this administration should even have another 100 days is that Trump’s attitude is exactly what it has been for nearly two years.  He’s wonderful, and the rest of us are BLLANNKS.

Presenting a one-page skeleton memo as a “promise kept” is ridiculous.   But in the President’s estimation, it’s probably more than we’re entitled to.  As Mr. Mnuchin weaseled so expertly, the country knows as much about Trump’s finances as it needs.

This is such a bald-faced lie, when we can’t even discuss tax reform without some sort of terrifyingly brutal decision on health care – i.e., how can we calculate what’s good for ANYONE without knowing how many ANYONES we’re dealing with and how? –makes us suspect that Wall Street might very well be happy to admit to contentment that Mnuchin’s gone.  As an BLLANNK, Mnuchin has joined the ranks of the biggest BLLANNKS in governmental history.

Mnuchin’s designation as an BLLANNK occurred just before the entire US Senate allowed itself to be penned into two gigantic busloads of BLLANNKS.  (Here, let us pause for a moment to introduce some of the biggest BLLANNKS in Congress, anyway: Pence, McConnell, McCarthy, Senate investigatory committees of all kinds.   Tom Price.  Paul Ryan.  Jeff Sessions has always been a BLLANNK.)

What are we witnessing? Cravenness.  If such a concept exists.

Now, we ask, why would anyone in the administration allow himself/herself to be lumped into a crowd of BLLANNKS – unless (bless you Maxine Waters) – we are able to follow the money?  In this particular case, follow the promise of money: its smell, taste, and other salient characteristics.

Is this what we get for our votes?  Cowardice, mixed with hungry ambition?

Both Houses of Congress know our very own Dear Leader is a charlatan.   Worse, we now know that his family contains the same reflexive liar’s genes.   The glow is off Ivanka.   And we have yet to hear Jared Kushner utter a word.

There is so much that’s happened in the last one hundred days that is irregular if not simply criminal that to supoena, indict, and prosecute should be elementary and instinctive.

Those most egregiously harmed by the administration, now or in the future, have somehow been converted into more BLLANNKS who no longer are given credit for allowing themselves to gamble and foist this miscreant on the nation.   The Miscreant himself has said he can do without them.

Why do the BLANNKS line up to support their president?

Safety, for one thing.  You may read that as fear if you like.   Better to be part of the BLLANNKS than an individual crusader out to assist his countrymen.  They get shot.

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MIRROR, MIRROR

We’ve been holding back, holding off, holding down our increasing anger and shame at this administration.

First, we have no idea of what its goals are, or its direction.

Second, its personnel selections are so outrageous we haven’t even the breath to shout back.

Third, its actions are so dispiriting we couldn’t think that any words of caution or warning of retribution or shouts of dismay would make any difference.

Four, to make a list of egregious and harmful (to the entire country) decisions, whether executive orders or “guidance” from cabinet members is such an act of masochism that we haven’t the heart for it.

Fifth, our patience with Congress, especially with Republicans who seem in every way to favor their party and its leader over the good of the country, would have been completely exhausted but for the fact that Congress is so busy taking holidays, therefore eluding criticism of its attention to the barbarity of their president.

So we hold our tongue.  One might also say that as long as the President is getting away with murder, why interrupt him?

Then we heard a commentator suggest something that – at first – seemed to be hilariously funny until we realized it wasn’t funny, it was horrifying.

In a panel discussion on cable, the afore-mentioned commentator said, in effect, this:  Suppose Donald Trump is playing to an audience of one: his mirror?

How should a military leader look or carry himself?

How should he greet foreign visitors?

How should his facial expressions alter or form when he’s discussing “topics” about which he seems to know nothing?

We picture him standing before a full-length mirror – except for those “close-ups” for cable – practicing reactions, giving directions, greeting, deplaning from his helicopter, wearing NFL sweatshirts, shaking hands (how he’s practiced that!), handing off fountain pens after “signing” executive orders to his friends and supporters.

In short, Donald Trump is performing.   For Donald Trump.  He’s dressing up like a toddler and learning to emulate his betters.

There is no national or international goal in sight that would benefit either us or our allies.  It’s all make-believe.  Posture.  Grimace.  Tone of voice.  Waving, hands and arms.   Thumbs up, perhaps the least meaningful gesture in all of American politics and the one most misinterpreted.  Also the one he wants people to use as they salute him.   Mike Pence does.   A salute from this president as he gets off a plane in response to the real salutes by military forces and guards is a travesty.

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PLAN B

 

O.K., Plan A didn’t work.

For all we know, Plan A2 may not, either.   Today’s supposedly the day.

Moving on to PLAN B.

Thanks to the ever-lovin’ New York Times, we know how much each cabinet member and “special assistant” to our new President is reputedly worth.

We ALSO know, thanks to the same source, the names and positions of those in the “Chain of Command,” i.e., if something “bad” were to happen, who’s next?   Pence is no improvement, and if we run down the list of statutory presidents-to-be (also available in your handy copy of the US Constitution), there’s not one whom we could enthusiastically endorse.

The rate at which Mr. Trump is firing off executive orders (some, we think, entirely unknown to himself) at the direction of his “Team” – Stephen Bannon et al – is altering life in America even as we try to ignore them.   While we are cautioned by pundits short and small, or tall and loud, to keep our eyes on the real problem – whether or not collusion took place between the Russians and Mr. Trump’s team last year – if we don’t also keep eagle eyes on the lower case pronouncements from the Oval Office we wouldn’t otherwise know what real damage is being done to our Republic.

We ourselves, our friends, families, fellow citizens are being worked over relentlessly in terms of the air we breathe, the food we eat, our own health and that of millions of others, our PBS, our educational systems, our investments, consumer “rights” (“Hah!” we hear from the Team), our modes of transportation, the privacy of our communications.

For a political party that pretends to favor smaller government, the Team is now involved daily in altering the rules by which we all play in any town in any state.  That takes a lot of people.

And the Team’s speed has brought matters into very clear focus.  Which is why we need to begin planning for PLAN B no later than yesterday.

Trump may well get through the first few months (years) of his first term.   O.K., we can be a LITTLE patient as long as our own PLAN B is gearing up AND AS LONG AS THE DEMOCRATS and the few moderate Republicans left in Congress coalesce to try to beat back the lower case damage being done to the nation and its way of life, its standard of living.  This, from a moderate Republican.

But keeping our eyes on the prize, we have to inspire our troops to begin working out, carrying backpacks, hiking, doing rehab, getting medical check-ups in preparation for 2018.  And we have to be realistic.  Keeping in mind the damage to the fabric of our lives that is now daily being carried out, we have to remember that it’s going to take what will probably be an equal amount of time just to UNDO what the Team is promulgating today, what it will have done in the next two years.  We can’t expect miracles.

The likelihood of persuading Trump voters that they may have made a tragic mistake is pretty slim.  Elizabeth Warren (of whom we are in awe) nonetheless sets off fire alarms.   Bernie will be too old.   And Hillary should be in happy grandmotherly retirement (making the occasional big-buck speech.)

That means that PLAN B rests on several important factors.  (a)  On not attacking Trumpism or criticizing his followers for their decisions.  (b)  Maintaining the sense of urgent activism we saw in January, 2017.  (c) Organizing across the nation to campaign for everything from schoolboards to mayor’s offices, to special elections for Congress as they arise.  (d)  It also means that we must erase from our own minds any possibility of supporting ANY Republican for ANYTHING, no matter how jovial, sensible, and popular he/she may be in our own districts.  (We are not the Party of NO.  We just need to hunker down in fighting positions until an equality is restored in state houses, Congress, town halls.)  (e) Identifying men and women of good will, experience, and purpose to become candidates.

If we begin now, or yesterday, there’s a good chance we can begin to reconstruct the Republic by 2018, even if Trump still sits atop his throne.

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SHOCK & AWE

 

Bluntly, we are shocked (stunned) at the amount and kinds of corruption that exist today in our nation.

And we stand in silent awe at the amounts of money and influence being brought to bear on matters   that have never been discussed, proffered, campaigned for in our electoral system.

Which is to say, the world is not going to hell in a handbasket: it’s already there.

And with the Russian imbroglio taking so much air time, we are forgetting to look beneath that blanket of news/fake news to see what really is being passed by our legislatures and proposed by the President’s executive orders.

Clearly this is not the time to stand in silent awe, watching, looking on, shaking our heads.  In our own defense, our citizens until now may have been too trusting of our system – the surety that checks and balances can align the stars.   That our representatives really and truly do have our interests in their hearts.

The most egregious example of being had by our own teams in Washington is the recent defeat of the American Healthcare Bill.  Despite a nation screaming – at town halls, on the streets, in focus groups and in op-ed screeds – that the proposed legislation would make life unlivable for the poor, as well as a good portion of the middle class; for single-mothers; for the elderly – the House of Representatives, at the direction of Paul Ryan, shoves need, poverty, medical ignorance at us all.    America stood up and shouted the bill down.

Without that kind of activism, the House would have blithely passed a measure taxing the poor in favor of the rich, and decimating a new (if flawed) system of health care insurance that has already proven workable, needed, and approved.

House members ignored every sign, slogan, warning. They didn’t care about their constituents.  They wanted a tax break for the one percent and the devil take the hind most.   The fact that eventually the bill was thrown on the trash heap probably saved the Republicans from a massive defeat in 2018.   That defeat may still occur.

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