Friday, March 24, 2017

On the Eve of Trumpcare Trumpocalypse, Some Assessments of and Comments on this GOP Evil Act of U.S. Social and Humanitarian Catastrophe

Updated 11:45PM 3/24/2017: See bottom of entry.


I started writing this damn entry several days ago but due to a variety of issues including technical issues a few days ago, lack of time and sufficient images, and above all else, the topic, I've not been able to finish it. 


On the latter point, the trouble is that the topic -- the GOP's bloody abortion of a health care bill that would be nothing less than a social and humanitarian catastrophe in the United States while giving millionaires and billionaires giant tax giveaways -- is moving so quickly that it's hard to keep up.

As with all Trump-centered catastrophes, there are so many moving parts and evil and/or amoral players that it's impossible to keep track.


That being the case, this entry contains a series of excerpts of articles and some comments from online posters that I read and liked over the past several days. Some of the images are, obviously, topically unrelated but, I think, pretty, namely, the awesomely giant sequoias of both Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park, Calif.

First up, an excerpt of Jonathan Chait's piece on the Trump/GOP strategy for its abortion of a bill known as the ACHA:

The AHCA is the fruit of a failed strategy. The law's design was dictated by a legislative schedule that initially assumed Republicans would simply defund Obamacare, move on to tax cuts, and return to health care at their leisure later on. They have instead been forced to craft an actual health-care bill on a manic time frame, using a legislative mechanism that is not designed for major social legislation.

Like people leading a country into a losing war, they demand to push on and invent new reasons to justify the cost, because they can imagine nothing worse than admitting they failed.


Even this projection (see directly above) is a bit dated since the "revised" House version of the ACHA is even worse (again, Jonathan Chait's take on the matter). Why this revision was necessary is because the worst of the worst in the Teabagger caucus want to get rid of the ten health care requirements under the Affordable Care Act (see image below). The GOP leadership had been unwilling to do so -- why that was the case is explained by Jim Newell here, although those changes now seem to be on the table.



Excerpt:

Through the years, healthcare experts on the right have allowed themselves to be used as window dressing for a party that was never actually interested in taking their policy advice.

The experts would write white papers about conservative approaches to healthcare. Republican politicians would indignantly wave the white papers around and insist that they had not only one plan for healthcare but many plans, and they involved high-risk pools and selling insurance across state lines and something something patient-centered mumble mumble mumble and whatever was in the paper was going to be way better than Obamacare.


Ryan even developed an undeserved reputation as a healthcare "wonk."

But those white papers were always just paper. The plans described in them were never going to be implemented by an actual Republican government, which would not be interested in paying for the plans the papers described. The only thing Republicans ever intended to use them for was indignant waving.

It was all a lie. And the lie is finally about to be punished.

As I said, I'm less sanguine about that. It seems to be that evil triumphs relentlessly.


Assuming this historically criminal piece of legislation passes the House later today, its prospect in the Senate prospect is, thankfully, at least at this moment, rather unlikely. Jonathan Chait had this piece the other day (link embedded): Mitch McConnell's Trumpcare Plan Is to Lose Fast.


Excerpt:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has laid out a wildly aggressive time frame, under which his chamber would essentially xerox the House bill and pass it into law within a few days -- no hearings, no negotiations.

If this plan were being pursued by a John Boehner or a Paul Ryan, one might chalk it up to terrible vote-counting or wild optimism. But McConnell isn't a hopeless optimist. He's the smartest political tactician of the modern era. The default assumption on any McConnell plan should be that it rationally pursues a coherent goal. In this case, McConnell has almost certainly sized up his caucus and grasped that Trumpcare stands no chance of resusci- tation. A long bleed-out on health care will make Trump and his party even less popular, and chew up precious months during which the Republicans could instead be making use of their full control of government. The plan being pursued by McConnell is that of a man who wants to cut his losses fast.

As for the social calamity of a bill, here is a good Chait summation of it: Trumpcare Is a Historic Social Calamity That Would Deprive 24 Million of Insurance.

To be clear, this is the original version. As I noted above, the new version also eliminates the Affordable Care Act's ten essential health benefit requirements, but it also increases available tax credits for those in the 50 - 64 age bracket -- thus dramatically reducing the bill's supposed (but bullshit) deficit reduction over 10 years but not changing the fact that 24 million people would lose health insurance as a result of this barbaric piece of legislation.


So if this abomination in fact passes, the white working class will have been completely being betrayed by its Trumpolini Agent Orange savior and a cabal of genuinely evil monsters -- and their health care obliterated in the process. Of course, not to worry they're all hopped up inside the Fox News / talk radio bubble and there can never be enough hysteria about BENGHAZI and EMAILS.


These people are -- in the unintentionally apt words of a disabled Georgia woman named Linda Preast who voted for Trump and who discovered last week that her Meals on Wheels lifeline is in jeopardy -- "under the influence" of the rightwing media/entertainment complex that Trump gives a shit about them and is going to "help us."


Yet somehow it's still incumbent on urban liberal elites to move to places such as Port Charles, Cape Girardeau, and Luckenbach (Texas) in order to "understand" white working class sensibilities. Frank Rich had a good piece on that (link embedded): No Sympathy for the Hillbilly.

This piece is far too long to excerpt in a meaningful way but it is an important read. 


The conclusion is worth quoting:

But if his administration crashes into an iceberg, leaving his base trapped in America's steerage with no lifeboats, those who survive may at last be ready to burst out of their own bubble and listen to an alternative. Or not: Maybe, like Hochschild's new friends in Louisiana's oil country, they'll keep voting against their own interests until the industrial poisons left unregulated by their favored politicians finish them off altogether. Either way, the best course for Democrats may be to respect their right to choose.

I should note, though, that Trump's job approval rating is shit -- 37% in a poll a few days ago, an unprecedentedly low for a new president just two months into his term. Here are Trump's Gallup job approval and disapproval number from the other day and comparisons with Presidents Carter through Obama at day 60 being in office.


And here is the trend line since January 20th ending March 18th:


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Oh, and I should note this piece from the WaHoPo:


I'm happy to say that I had my own homage to The Man in the High Castle.


Here is a excellent piece by Ezra Klein (link embedded): The health care bill could be Donald Trump's Iraq War.

If it passes, the American Health Care Act will be Donald Trump and Paul Ryan's Iraq War. It's been sold with lies. It's been pushed forward with a shock-and-awe legislative strategy. And its architects are woefully unprepared for the chaos it would unleash upon passage.

[T]oppling a regime without a stable or popular plan for the aftermath rarely goes well. If Republicans upend Obamacare, their replacement plan is unlikely to survive the aftermath -- it's simply too different from what voters want, too vulnerable to future change, too loathed by existing interest groups, and too shoddily constructed to build support on its own merits. Rather, their plan will create chaos in insurance markets, anger among voters, and radicalization among their opponents; the policy that eventually fills the vacuum they create will not be one they like.

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Dana Milbank had an excellent summation of things in this piece (link embedded): So far, Trump has been mercifully incompetent.


Here is a comment from that article by Carl_Allen:

Anyone with a shred of common sense can see, by his every daily action, that Trump is unprepared, emotionally unstable, pig-headed and ignorant. He is an embarrassment to this great nation and the sometimes-flawed but largely capable statesmen who preceded him as president. He spouts off unhinged conspiracy theories at random, and his aides then have to run around with their hair on fire trying to defend the indefensible, only making the administration look more unglued.

And still, his delusional supporters cling to this hot-headed, irresponsible, uninformed fruitcake who is actively disinterested in inconvenient facts, and revels in his own self-confidant narcissism.

These characteristics make him easily manipulated by someone who flatters his ego and provides advice that he is already inclined to accept. His obvious tendencies may also make him easily manipulated by other nations. This country is facing an existential crisis; the current level of danger to America from Trump's incompetence and lack of capable leadership is unprecedented.

Here are some comments from a New York Times article on the chaos that Trump is sowing.

gemli / Boston

What's surprising about this absurd, self-devouring administration is the number of people who are drawing energy from the conflagration. It warms their cockles to kill everything that has made American great in order to remake it in some distorted, bizarre image of a brutal conservative dystopia...


In some dark corner of the Republican brain is a place where killing Meals on Wheels and affordable health care is a positive thing that the American people will respond to. I suppose if you starve old people they won't need medical care, so it's a win-win for Republicans.


The president thinks he's making points when he spews wild conspiracy theories about tapped phones. (There's no need to tap his phones to hear damning statements. He tweets them daily.) It’s supposed to alarm us, and make us flock to him and beg him to use his power to protect us from the bad (sick) government.

This is weird, coming from the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. At least is used to be, until it was revealed that a fair number of the people who live in it don't know when they're voting for an incompetent narcissistic fraud. Now we're a laughing stock, if anyone can laugh at the thought of this president toying with the nuclear button.

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I'll end with this Matthew Yglesias piece: The Republican health care plan is totally nuts.

Specifically, here are his thoughts related to the timetable for passage being dictated by Donald Trump's "ultimatum" to get the bill passed on Friday:

[Trump has] decided to make passing this law a test of personal loyalty to him... There's simply no reason to be doing this [vote]. At best, House members will be taking a politically tough vote for an unpopular bill that doesn't become law. At worst, it will somehow actually become law, and members will find themselves accountable for the catastrophic consequences they haven’t even bothered to try to understand. All out of misguided loyalty to a president who never supported these ideas and doesn’t appear to have any interest in the content of the legislation.

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OK, I think that's enough of that. As a brief update, I made it to the gym tonight and had my multi-part workout including the hour-long jog, weightlifting, and swim.

For tomorrow (or rather, later today), I am taking the MARC train to Odenton to meet my mom. I'm staying at her place for the weekend before returning on Sunday.

"The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage"
by Edgar Degas, 1874.

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As I mentioned, she is moving on Monday, and I'm unsure if she still has internet at her place or not, so there is a chance of no new entries until I return. Furthermore, as I'm probably going to be up late on Sunday trying to finish a work assignment, my next entry in that case would not be until Monday.

However, if I am able to post from there, I'll try to do my usual trio of entries for Friday and Saturday nights.

UPDATED 11:45PM 3/24/2017: So the very good news is that this abortion of a bill failed to pass -- specifically, the Ayn Randian "wonk" Paul Ryan pulled the legislation because he didn't have the votes to pass it.

So for the time being, Obamacare survives and this GOP legislative abomination is on hold.

Here are takes on it by Jonathan Chait and Andrew Sullivan. Oh, and here is David Frum's take on it. I may return to this Frum piece -- it's worth excerpting in some detail.

End of Update and of Entry.

--Regulus

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