We Never Win in Healthcare

The Republicans in Congress are not sending their best bills. They’re sending the pharmaceutical companies—drug dealers—a chunk, the rich get their check, but ordinary Americans? We get screwed again. So little winning, you’re going to get so sick from not winning. Believe me.

We spend more money, and we get less. That’s not winning. That’s getting played. And it’s got to stop. We have to win again on healthcare. We have to pay less money and everyone has to be covered. From the sick poor kid that wants to grow up to be a baseball player to the old lady that used to do radio jingles—back when people still listened to the radio. They all need healthcare.

And cutting red tape is not going to do it. It will save a bunch of corporations money, which they will pocket. We know this because that’s what they have done, time and time again. They pad their portfolios while the rest of the country breaks its back, and it doesn’t get the back treatment it deserves. They don’t pay for infrastructure. They don’t pay to make sure you can even get to the hospital safely if you have to cross a bridge. Pitiful, folks. This is a mess.

The Republicans want to say this isn’t the role of government, that it’s not in the Constitution, but show me where in there it says that old people should suffer, or that a sick kid that can’t afford treatment should have to go beg for her life on a crowd funding site. Tell me where it says that in the Constitution.

And they say that states need more flexibility in Medicaid. Like these precious snowflakes of state governance can’t operate a simple program that says that poor people get healthcare? Please! If they can’t figure it out, we shouldn’t repeal and replace the program, we should repeal and replace them.

Every other country figured this out. They’re eating our medicine, folks. They pay more in taxes, but less overall because they get higher wages and lower costs. That’s winning. If you ask me, the Republicans have turned taxes into a whip to keep people in line. Some late-night bogeyman story to scare people. But the greatest generation paid higher taxes! And they were so tough, they liked it!

These Republicans have gone soft. Sad! We need to win on healthcare again, and if the Republicans won’t let us win, they should at least have the good God damned sense to get out of our way.

Everybody Together Could Fix This

Republicans are currently facing the possibility they will lose the US House in 2018. They haven’t accomplished anything. They aren’t on a path to do so. But are they setting themselves to work, to enacting policies good for the people? Apparently that would be a bridge too far.

They are like a spouse a week away from anniversary saying, “I haven’t purchased a gift. I’m going to be in the doghouse, for sure.”

Go rewrite the AHCA and make it sane. Work on infrastructure. Work on balanced deregulation. And so on.

It’s not that hard! Yes, you will piss off some lobbyists and campaign coin purses. Yes, some of you will inevitably lose seats. Yes, I’d be glad not to have Ryan as Speaker. But I’d rather have Ryan with a gavel and a Congress that actually attempts to do what’s in the interest of the nation.

Faced with the options of losing a mess of seats or doing the right thing, the choice should make itself. But these people are honestly considering not doing their jobs.

Campaign promises be damned, the number one promise, implicit in standing for election at all, is that you will work for the betterment of the country and your constituents. This is Civics 101. Yet they cannot fathom a change in course.

If they can’t, fine. They have the chance to govern, and they would rather lose their seats than do it well. Great. All we have lost is the opportunity of two more years, which will only cost the nation hundreds of billions of dollars, plus interest. Two more years of political purgatory now means ten more years of climate purgatory for future generations. It means every other problem has eroded that much more.

Come on. Be America, you jackasses.

How to Avoid the President

“I have a recollection of him just kind of looking at me,” Comey replied. “I kind of got—his body language gave me the sense like, ‘What am I going to do?’ … He didn’t say anything.”

That was former FBI Director James Comey’s response to Senator Kamala Harris’ prompt about what Attorney General Jeff Sessions did when Comey told him that he did not want to be left alone with President Trump.

It’s a difficult problem. How do you deal with a maniac (that happens to be president)?

First, try not being in the same room with him. If you are never in the room to begin with, you cannot be left alone with him. There are two basic strategies: be in a tiny place he can’t fit in (say, a phone booth), or be somewhere he can’t tell everybody to leave (outside, for example).

If that fails, and you are already in the same room as the president, you should bringing up topics of conversation that he finds either impossible or boring. Policy is a key defense against this president. Always have a briefing book ready to quote him facts and figures. Insist on quoting the most vapid details.

Still, the fool may persist, either asking others to leave, or sending for you directly. Tell him you are taking part in a step-a-thon to raise money for impoverished billionaires, and you can only meet him on stairs. This will also fail, but it will buy you time.

Your window of opportunity now open: dive out the window and run away.

Other tactics to consider:

  1. Get a service dog. The president apparently doesn’t like dogs.
  2. If the president gets you alone, change your voice and explain that it’s your real voice and you’re glad you don’t have to use the fake one in front of him.
  3. Play the copycat game, just repeating whatever he says.
  4. Laugh at everything he says, like he’s just joking.
  5. Perform a monologue. I recommend that of Christopher Walken’s character in Pulp Fiction.
  6. Pretend to hear a weird noise, and every time the president starts rambling, ask if he hears it. Move around like you’re trying to figure out where it’s coming from.

We’ll Always Have Paris

Err. Guess not.

President Bigly has announced the United States will withdraw from the landmark effort to keep earth habitable. This is a gift to Russia and China. Trump got no concessions. Pulling out is the worst possible deal.

The Paris climate agreement is symbolic from the US point of view. The economy will continue to transition away from carbon pollution, and while it may have done so quicker under Paris, the agreement was mostly about showing our commitment to cooperation on the world stage.

Thus, leaving Paris is all about showing we aren’t on the same page as the rest of the world, that we aren’t a dependable force for international action. And that’s a boon to regional actors that can use it to paint the United States as the decline that Trump himself represents.

At the rate Trump is making a mess, all the Democrats will need in 2020 is the slogan, “Make America as Good as 2016 Again.”

But, worse, as the reality of climate change continues, the Republicans will never divorce themselves from this strategic blunder of denying, stalling, and rescinding. They are cementing their place in history, under the rubric of fools at best and more likely under fiends.

Hedging risk is a natural move for politicians. The Republican Party is not hedging here. They are all-in on anti-earth and they do not seem to mind the future. That may be by design. For a party that yearns so strongly for the past, they may be seeking to become solely a member of it.

Don Bigly and the Budget of Doom

Mathematically incoherent. Cruel and unusual. Just plain dumb. All apt descriptors of the new budget proposal by the Trump Administration.

The budget proposes to cut all sorts of things for no good reason. If this were the product of a federal contractor, they would be ripe for a suit under the False Claims Act for defrauding the government by providing a work that missed the mark so widely it could only be intentional.

Without going into detail (I like to keep this blog to a strictly R rating), this budget may qualify as obscenity. It certainly appeals to the prurient interest of certain partisans, and it does depict an excretory function in a patently offensive way (i.e., through numbers). It is unclear whether it holds any value.

But the Republican legislators largely acknowledge it’s another bad deal by the king of bad deals. Even the White House gave that fact a nod. So why put this forward? Under the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 (31 USC) they have to submit a budget.

This is another pro forma, half-assed attempt by this president. Instead of coming up with something that tries to strike a balance, tries to set the legislature on the path to a real deal, to real progress, he just has his under-equipped staff of loyalists throw together whatever they want, and then he will say it’s the greatest thing ever.

Every presidency has missed opportunities, but for an unlikely presidency such as this, there seem to be no real attempts to hit anything. The budget doesn’t define any real goal. It doesn’t say that some programs are priorities. It says they’re all liabilities and we should just cut everything. Republicans like to talk about tough choices, but in practice that seems to be saying no to everything.

No to weather models and no to cancer research. No to SNAP, but also no to trade assistance. The tough choice this president offers is “no” or “no.”