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Establishment Excuses

As I wrote last week, Republicans have rolled out their bill to replace Obamacare, which is disappointing, as it pretty much amounts to watered-down Obamacare.  They’re pushing hard to get it rubber-stamped through Congress, trying to cajole, bribe, or bully conservatives to toe the line.

The purported reason they’re leading with Obamacare Lite, rather than truly doing the ‘repeal and replace’ that they’ve been promising for so long is because Republican leadership doesn’t think they could get such a proposal past the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.  But by using the ‘budget reconciliation’ process to modify the existing Obamacare law,

According to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the GOP’s Obamacare Lite is Phase 1 in a 3-phase plan to ‘repeal and replace’ Obamacare…but Republican leadership isn’t disclosing any details about phases 2 and 3, and they have done nothing to indicate that they can be trusted to implement true free-market conservative solutions by the time they reach the 3rd phase.

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For the past 7 years, Republicans have been using ‘Repeal and Replace’ as one of the main cornerstones of their campaign strategy.  It won them control of the House in 2010, and control of the Senate in 2014.  It was a huge contributing factor in Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton last year.

But it seems that Republicans always seem to have some excuse as to why they can’t execute on their promises.  When they controlled the House, they couldn’t do anything because they didn’t also control the Senate.  When they controlled the House and the Senate, they couldn’t do anything because they didn’t also control the White House.  Now that they control the House, and the Senate, and the White House, they can’t do anything because they don’t have a supermajority.

It’s as though Republicans are completely incapable of executing a conservative agenda unless and until they hold a California-esque grip on power in the federal government.

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And so, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy insist that this travesty of a health care bill is absolutely the most conservative Obamacare replacement we could possibly hope to get.  That might be even slightly believable if the GOP bill were even slightly conservative, but in reality, it just represents a tiny shift to the right from what the Democrats put into place eight years ago.

I’m not buying their BS anymore, and neither should you.
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Republicans’ Obamacare Lite

The GOP has finally released its so-called “repeal and replace” healthcare bill, and it’s a doozie.  After promising for 7 years that they would “repeal and replace” Obamacare with a small-government, free-market solution, what they have given us amounts to little more than a slight re-tooling of Obamacare.

What’s wrong with this bill?  Pretty much everything, but let’s break it down.

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IT’S NOT REPEAL & REPLACE

For years after the “Affordable Care Act” was foisted upon us by the Democrats, Republicans pledged that, as soon as they were able, they would repeal Obamacare and replace it with free-market solutions.

This bill does not do that.

They kept the individual mandate.  They kept the subsidies.  They kept the Medicaid expansion.  They changed things just enough, of course, to create a Republican-esque narrative in the spin room.

  • The individual mandate is a penalty paid through higher premiums once uninsured people do sign up for insurance, rather than having the IRS hunt them down.
  • The subsidies are framed as tax credits, but what it really amounts to is welfare-via-tax-credits, the kind of welfare preferred by big-government Republicans.
  • The Medicaid expansion is funded for 3 years…and we’re all supposed to believe that the spineless bastards in Congress are going to let it expire as we’re in the midst of the next presidential election.

No reasonable person would call this bill “repeal and replace.”  For years, we were told that Republicans would do away with Obamacare and replace it with free market solutions.  But their proposed ‘solution’ addresses none of the factors that have been driving insurance costs up.  It does nothing to bring the free market back into American health care.  It dials back a few of the more heinous aspects of Obamacare, but that is the most that can be said for this debacle.

This is not “repeal and replace,” it is just slightly watered-down Obamacare.

Perhaps the worst part is that they’re using all of the same tricks that Democrats used to push Obamacare through in the first place.

  • They wrote the bill in secret; as Rand Paul showed us, they kept the bill in a locked room, complete with armed security.  Perhaps they knew how unpopular it would be…
  • As soon as the bill was made public, they started pushing it through Congress, railroading it through the Ways and Means Committee with an 18-hour marathon session, taking a vote just before 4:30 AM.  They’ve also rammed it through the Energy and Commerce Committee, after 27 hours of debate.

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After Obamacare was passed, Republicans pledged that they would repeal it.  Then, they bought into the Democrats’ talking point that they couldn’t just repeal Obamacare, they had to replace it with something.

Republicans told us they would do something, if only they had control of Congress.  They gained control of the House, and two years later, control of the Senate.

Then, they told us they that if only they controlled the White House, as well, then they could repeal Obamacare and replace it with free market solutions.

And through that entire time, Democrats insisted that, despite Obamacare’s flaws, it didn’t need to be thrown out – just modified a bit.

And now that the GOP controls the House, the Senate, and the White House, what do we get?  Obamacare, just modified a bit.

Enormous pressure is being brought to bear on Republicans who actually want to do what they promised to do.  For the rest of them – especially the House leaders applying that pressure, they apparently miss minority status so much, they’re ready and willing to screw up any chances they may have at maintaining or growing their majority by screwing their constituents.

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They Will Not Unite Us

President Trump’s speech to both houses of Congress was pleasantly presidential.  While he did not compromise on his policy positions, he did deliver a message of unity.

As much as the speech was billed as *DEFINITELY NOT* a State of the Union speech, it had pretty much everything that modern presidents tend to shoehorn into the annual SOTU…but I guess, since he didn’t include the words “The state of the union is strong,” we can’t really call it a State of the Union speech, can we?  But it had all of the pomp and circumstance of Washington D.C.’s version of a Hollywood awards show (minus the last president’s totally cool PowerPoint slides of his selfie collection).

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Most Democrats (the ones who didn’t skip out on the speech entirely) chose to sit through the entire speech.  As always happens at these speeches, the Ds and the Rs play their annual game of “Who’s Clap Is It Anyway?”  You know the game: depending on the party affiliation of the president delivering the speech, they’re either giving a standing ovation at every other word, or looking around the room with a deepening glare with the same frequency.  The whole event would last all of 20 minutes if not for the clapping.  Maybe we should’ve elected Jeb Bush, after all.

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Many of the Democrat women coordinated their outfits, wearing white to give a stunning visual of their petulance.  Some even hissed at President Trump as he entered the room.  It was rather bizarre behavior for a bunch of snobbish adults who tend to hold themselves over and above the nation’s plebeian masses.

And they sat.

Typically, in a venue like this, at a speech like this, even the opposition party will concede just a little bit when the President throws out ideas that should have bipartisan support…things like stopping bigotry, fighting ISIS, or keeping terrorists out of the United States.  But most of the Democrats went even further than that – they didn’t even applaud for blatantly left-wing ideas like government-mandated paid maternity leave, or blowing billions of dollars on another stimulus bill.  And not only did they not acknowledge that President Trump had put forward a few proposals with which they agreed by applauding during the speech, they even refused to acknowledge them afterward.

They sat through Trump’s call to stop ISIS.

They must really want ISIS to win.

They sat through Trump’s call to stop terrorists from coming here.

They must truly relish the idea of more terrorist attacks within U.S. borders.

They sat through Trump’s call for an end to racism and bigotry.

They must really be fans of racism and bigotry.

They sat through Trump’s call for paid maternity leave.

They must really hate women.

They sat through Trump’s praise for the widow of a Navy SEAL.

They must have no compassion.

They sat when Trump called for an end to the cycle of violence.

They must want more violence in our inner cities.

They sat when Trump called for more support for veterans.

They must really hate veterans.

They sat when he called for national unity.

They must really hate unity.


But not to worry, the Democrat response really cleared things up.

No matter how many times you watch it, it will never really make sense.

This is the thing about the modern Democrat party: for years, they’ve talked about the need for compromise, but only when they aren’t the party in power.  When they’ve got the reins, well, you better stand back, because this train is a-rollin’ all the way to Moscow.  But if they ever lose an election, you’re a hateful, hurtful, evil human being if you refuse to give them everything that they want.

But you know what?  The people are sick of it.  For years, Democrats have worked to divide us.  They divide us by gender.  They divide us by skin color.  They divide us by socioeconomic status.  They divide us by gender preference.  They divide us by religion. They divide us by citizenship status – and to them, American citizens are second-class citizens.  The Democrat Party is the party of division.  While they get in people’s faces and yell “HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US,” they continue to do everything they can to divide us.

And it’s not working in their favor.

Time To Unplug

I’ve been so busy over the past few days, I haven’t had time to pay much attention to politics. Over the course of that time, I haven’t missed anything important, and I almost feel like my sanity level is approaching normal (normal for me, that is).

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I watched the video(s) of Milo Yiannopoulos the other day when that story broke, and I think that, in combination with all of the stuff going on at home and at work, is what did it for me.  I went through the 2016 election constantly finding myself disappointed in people, as they bought a steady string of lies being told to them by the man who is now our president.  Now, while I’m cautiously optimistic that President Trump, despite his many flaws, may actually do some good, the incessant whining from both parties has made politics totally unworthy of the time & attention that it should deserve.  Things were supposed to improve after the insanity of the election, but they’ve only gotten worse.

I will admit that watching the Left become unhinged at Hillary’s loss was amusing, for a little while.  But with the constant nitpicking by the media, and the constant obstruction by members of Congress, and the constant hyperbole by EVERYONE on the Left, it just becomes an endless cacophony of ridiculousness that just isn’t worth paying attention to anymore.  They’ve made it abundantly clear that they won’t learn anything from their loss.  They’re just going to keep on pushing the identity politics, now ramped up to the Nth degree, villainizing everything Trump does and everyone who works with him.  It wasn’t that long ago that these same Congressmen and Senators were calling Republicans “obstructionist” and “the party of NO.”  They’ve come full circle, becoming exactly what they spent so much time whining and complaining about.  It’s infantile and stupid, and not worth the attention paid to it on a daily basis.

And the Right isn’t any better.  President Trump’s fans demanded unwavering loyalty from Republican Party members even before Trump was officially nominated as the GOP’s candidate.  They demanded that Republicans hold party loyalty before political ideology, before basic morality, before good sense.  And while the rhetoric is decidedly less virulent, little else has really changed since the election and inauguration.  President Trump and his team have made numerous missteps along the way, including telling some out-and-out lies (or “alternative facts”), yet any criticism is met with “But Obama…” or “But Hillary…”  No criticism, no matter how valid, is seen as valid; there is always

After spending 8 years criticizing President Obama for constantly blaming George W. Bush for everything that went wrong, Republicans now do the same, becoming what they spent so much time whining and complaining about.  It’s infantile and stupid, and not worth the attention paid to it on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are pledging to cut taxes while working to raise them, and pledging to end Obamacare while working to keep as much of it as they possibly can.

The swamp hasn’t been drained, it’s just under new management.

I’ve been paying a bit of attention to the big stir over Milo Yiannopoulos.  It caught my attention when the story first broke, and I watched the videos that generated the headlines.  I also kept up with his response.  Claiming that a 6-minute video was “deceptively edited” or “taken out of context” struck me as very much on par with the excuses given by Cecile Richards – insincere and untrue.  What he said was disgusting, whether he meant it or not, and I’m glad he stood up & apologized for it. However, I find it rather idiotic that a guy who has made a career out of being an a-hole and saying offensive things takes such umbrage at the fact that something he said could actually have real consequences for him.
 
The First Amendment is meant to protect Americans from retaliation by the government in matters of speech, assembly, the press, and religion. It doesn’t protect you from the real-world consequences of what you say and do. If you want to go around offending people and saying the most outrageous things you can think of, the United States government can’t (legally) stop you…but the rest of the world doesn’t have to sit there and take it.
 
I feel sorry for Milo (though I’m fairly certain he doesn’t want my sympathy), as it’s clear that his behavior is, at least in part, a consequence of the abuse that he experienced as a child. But at the same time, it seemed clear from his press conference that he is thriving on all of the attention he’s getting over this, and is working hard to profit from having the spotlight shining on him. After all, even though the personal and professional consequences seem to have hit him harder than when one of his speeches gets shut down over protests or riots, playing the victim card has long been his modus operandi when he does get shut down.
 
In a lot of ways, Milo’s rise in popularity on the right is just indicative of what I see as the growing cultural rot in the conservative movement.
 
Many Republicans were okay with George W. Bush when he said that we had to abandon the free market in order to save it. Well, we abandoned the free market, and then handed the government over to socialist rule for eight years, only able to stop some of it by taking back control of Congress.
 
Then, we were supposed to be okay with abandoning conservative ideals in order to win an election. The election was won, but now all of those Republicans who just needed the presidency in order to lower taxes and end Obamacare are plotting to raise taxes while calling it a tax cut, and ‘end’ Obamacare while preserving as much of it as they can…all while the victor goes on late night rants on Twitter about how ‘unfairly’ he is treated.
 
And now, it seems that we are supposed to defend anything and everything that comes from “our side,” because “our side” can never do anything as bad as what the other side does or has done. It doesn’t matter whether it’s lies from the White House, backstabbing from Congress, or the offensive ramblings of a professional a-hole, we have to be okay with it, because in this tribalistic battle that is modern American politics, we can’t afford to give an inch.
 
Frankly, I’m glad Milo won’t be speaking at CPAC. I’ve long wanted to attend, and when I heard he would be giving the keynote, this was the first year since I’ve know about CPAC that I really didn’t want to. The conservative movement has plenty of problems as it is. We don’t need to become a bunch of offense peddlers and professional victims.

 

Fake News vs Alternate Facts

The Associated Press is claiming that the Trump Administration is considering mobilizing the National Guard to round up what they call “unauthorized immigrants” (because, as we all know, using the term ‘illegal’ to describe lawbreaking is totally racist).

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Future headline from the AP.

The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.

Four states that border on Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

This was the response by Press Secretary Sean Spicer:

Now, as with most things, I would imagine that the truth lies somewhere in between.  After all, it’s perfectly plausible to think that someone somewhere within the Trump administration put something together for consideration that involved using the National Guard to augment DHS when it comes to deporting illegal aliens.  But at the same time, just because someone put a proposal together, that doesn’t mean that it’s being seriously considered by the Administration.

Many ideas are considered.  Few actually become policy.

And, at the same time, it’s rather obvious that the AP is playing this up as part of the anti-Trump fear-mongering that the media has been engaged in since Donald Trump became the Republican nominee.  The day before this ‘news’ was published was the so-called ‘Day Without An Immgrant,’ a protest that had no effect whatsoever on the lives of most Americans, just as it didn’t the last time it was tried.

But the Left and their media allies have ramped up the fear-mongering on immigration for weeks.  The media ran story after story, headlining ICE raids last week to get people worked up, but when you look at what actually happened, it was nothing out of the ordinary, it was just ICE doing its job to deport illegal aliens, most of whom had committed other crimes.

It’s also clear that there are plenty of people who stayed in the bureaucracy after President Obama’s departure, with the goal of subverting and sabotaging the Trump Administration at every turn.  It’s very likely that this ‘draft memo’ was leaked to the Associated Press precisely for this purpose: to get people worked up and to continue the smear campaign against Donald Trump.

There’s plenty out there to criticize Donald Trump about, but this is getting absolutely ridiculous.

Alternative Facts

My latest column is up at AND Magazine!

Here is an excerpt:

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In 2006, Neil Gorsuch was nominated to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals by President George W. Bush. His nomination was confirmed with overwhelming bipartisan support. In fact, Democrat Senators still active on the political scene – Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chuck Schumer, Diane Feinstein, and Patrick Leahy all voted for him. Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Tenth Circuit just over 10 years ago was so non-controversial that it was done by voice vote, because there really wasn’t any opposition to the appointment.

And now that he has been nominated to the Supreme Court, we’re about to find out that he is THE WORST PERSON IN ALL OF EXISTENCE!
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) voted in favor of Gorsuch’s nomination back in 2006. Today, he’s changed his tune:

 
At a CNN townhall, Nancy Pelosi called it “a very hostile appointment,” basically saying that, while she’s sure he’s a great guy, he wants to see you choke on pollution as you mourn the death of your children, who died from poisoned food…and he might just kick your corpse as he walks by, laughing maniacally all the while.

OK, I might embellish just a bit, but that is the overall impression Pelosi was trying to create.

Continue reading here.

Super Bowl Freakfest

It seems that very little can transpire in our society these days without politics being injected into the mix.  That includes sports, which seem to become more and more politicized every year, and that especially includes the Super Bowl.

I didn’t watch the game this year.  I really have no interest in either the Patriots or the Falcons.  I used to like Tom Brady, but the whole “Deflategate” thing last year changed my opinion of him.  And when I heard that Lady Gaga’s halftime show would include some social justice warrior message, I decided that there are better ways for me to spend my time.  Last year’s show, which included Beyonce’s salute to BLM and the Black Panthers, was bad enough for me.

I heard later that the whole Lady Gaga/social justice thing was inaccurate (good for her), but I still don’t feel that I missed anything – I can catch the halftime show on YouTube if I so desire.

But if the politicization of football wasn’t aggravating enough, the amount of butthurt flying around social media is vomit-inducing.

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Let’s start with The Left.

Initial reports indicated that Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show would include a message of “equality” and “inclusion.”  Everyone, it seems, took this to mean “preachy SJW message.”

But it seems that, rather than giving a preachy SJW message, Lady Gaga chose to give a real message about equality and inclusion.  She sang her song “Born This Way.”  She stood before an American flag made of light-up drones.  She recited the Pledge of Allegiance.  Her performance was very well received, and decidedly un-controversial…and now, the lack of controversy is itself a controversy.

A variety of left-leaning news outlets, along with various hashtag-warriors, chose to criticize Lady Gaga for not taking the opportunity to turn the Super Bowl halftime show into a platform to bash Donald Trump…because, as all left-wing social justice warriors know, the path to unity lies in Trump-bashing.

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But let’s not leave out The Right.

About all the Left has to complain about today is that the Super Bowl wasn’t anti-Trump enough for them.  But the SJWs on the Right seem to have plenty of material.

It was pretty well established over the course of the last year that, as much as the Right enjoys making fun of liberal snowflakes, with their speech codes, safe spaces, and fear of micro-aggressions, the Right has a safe space of their own: football.

Black Lives Matter was constantly (and rightly) criticized for its for its penchant for violent protests and blocking freeways…and encouraging cop killing.  But when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kapernick chose a peaceful way to protest, by sitting or kneeling through the National Anthem, he was instantly lit up by the right wing.

While there was plenty to criticize about Kapernick’s message, the brunt of the criticism ended up being about his method.  Here was a young black man protesting peacefully (albeit misguidedly), which conservatives had been calling for from the black community for some time, yet his method of protest was deemed politically incorrect, and denounced by the Right.  Trevor Noah made a great point when he asked Tomi Lahren “What is the right way for a black person to get attention in America?”  The Right seems to want to have it both ways.  First, make sure your protests are non-violent.  Second, make sure your non-violent protests don’t offend any of my social or cultural sensibilities.

The message was clear: you’re only allowed to protest in a way that I can easily ignore.  Don’t do it during my NFL, and don’t do it during my anthem.

And then, on Super Bowl Sunday, there was this:

 

Apparently, the spot that aired during the Super Bowl was just the first 30-ish seconds, with a “see the full story at our website” lead-out.  After all, a 30-second spot is expensive enough, and this “journey” is nearly 6 minutes long.

Right-wing media went ballistic, accusing 84 Lumber of endorsing illegal immigration, of purposefully using this manufactured tale of a woman and her daughter to get people emotionally on-board with the Left and their opposition to Trump’s wall, and continued permissiveness toward illegal immigration.

There’s just one problem…the head of 84 Lumber is a big-time Trump supporter, and modeled the wall in his company’s video after Trump’s own campaign statements: he wants a “big, beautiful door in that wall.”

And let’s face it: we need a wall to keep our nation secure, but we also need a guest worker program to keep things like our agriculture industry viable.  A lot of people (on both sides) who talk about immigration don’t realize just how difficult it is to come to America.  And while it shouldn’t be easy, we should have mechanisms in place for cheap labor, where cheap labor is needed in our economy.

But the bottom line is, when the Right freaked out over the 84 Lumber ad, they freaked out over nothing.  The pro-illegal-immigration narrative that fed the criticism of the ad wasn’t based in logic or reality, it was just a knee-jerk reaction based on an incorrect assumption.

This is what happens when politics intrudes into the safe space…just one more reason to keep politics out of football, I guess.