Thursday, April 27, 2017

Last Call For Democratic Hardball

Dems are pretty confident that the House GOP's plan to sneak through Trumpcare on a Saturday vote is a dead bill walking, so they are upping the ante in a dramatic way.

House Democrats will oppose a short-term spending bill if Republican leaders attempt to expedite an ObamaCare repeal bill this week, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) warned Thursday.

Hoyer, the Democratic whip, spoke with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) Thursday morning to warn him of the Democrats' position.

The threat is significant because GOP leaders will likely need Democratic votes to pass a short-term spending bill in the face of opposition from conservatives historically opposed to government funding bills.

"If Republicans announce their intention to bring their harmful TrumpCare bill to the House Floor tomorrow or Saturday, I will oppose a one-week Continuing Resolution and will advise House Democrats to oppose it as well,” Hoyer said in an email.

“Republicans continue to struggle to find the votes to pass a bill that will kick 24 million Americans off their health coverage, allow discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, and impose an age tax on older Americans. That's why they are trying to jam it through the House before their Members can hear from the American people this weekend about their opposition to this horrible legislation.”

The Democrats’ move comes as bipartisan negotiators in both chambers are getting closer to an agreement on an omnibus spending bill to prevent a government shutdown. If Congress doesn’t act before midnight Friday night, much of the federal government would shut down.

The reality is that Trumpcare 3.0 is going down in flames just as before, and Dems now have the leverage.  Paul Ryan doesn't have the votes.

An amendment released Tuesday night, authored by moderate Rep. Tom MacArthur, appeared to placate conservatives who did not think the original AHCA went far enough in its repeal of Obamacare.

The amendment would allow states to apply for a waiver that would exempt their insurance markets from certain regulations created by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, if they can prove it would bring down costs.

The waiver, health policy experts argue, could have negative consequences for people with preexisting conditions and allow insurers to offer plans that cover fewer health needs.

The tweak was enough to get the conservative House Freedom Caucus officially on board with the bill, which could mean support from roughly 20 members who were against the original AHCA.

But the amendment may have alienated more moderate members of the Republican caucus and could leave the AHCA short of the votes it needs to pass. Only 22 GOP members can vote against the bill for it pass through the Republican-controlled chamber.

And guess what?  That number's already been exceeded.

Time to watch the fireworks.

Out Like Flynn, Con't

Looks like Mike Flynn may need that pardon sooner rather than later, as now the Defense Intelligence Agency would like to have a few words about the whole "being a retired 3-star General and taking foreign payments" thing.

The Pentagon’s inspector general is now investigating Michael Flynn over payments he received from foreign governments after retiring from the Army, according to documents released Thursday by the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. 
The documents also show the Defense Intelligence Agency warned Flynn after his 2014 retirement as the agency’s director that he was barred from accepting payments from foreign governments.

The intelligence agency informed President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser in a letter that, as a retired military officer, he was still subject to the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars government officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments. 
Flynn was notified in the letter that he was prohibited from the "receipt of consulting fees, gifts, travel expenses, honoraria, or salary ... from a foreign government unless congressional consent is first obtained." 
In a letter dated earlier this month, the Pentagon's IG informed the House Oversight Committee it was investigating the matter. 
“These documents raise grave questions about why General Flynn concealed the payments he received from foreign sources after he was warned explicitly by the Pentagon,” Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the oversight committee’s top Democrat, said in a statement.

Flynn apparently ignored that warning and took money from Turkey.  Oh, and Russia too.  Trump may be able to get away with it, but Flynn?  Yeah, he's gonna need that pardon card.

And yes, it's very possible Sessions won't prosecute and the House Oversight Committee will conclude along party lines that there's nothing to pin on Flynn, and he'll get away clean.  He'll land on his feet and get a job somewhere in the right-wing noise machine, I mean hell at this point the Trump White House is hiring literally card-carrying Hungarian Nazis like Seb Gorka so Flynn ending up on FOX is fine.

Whether we choose to hold Trump and Sessions responsible for failure to prosecute and/or a presidential pardon is up to us, not them.

Just Another Trick In The Wall

Steve M. on The Wall:

I've started to believe that a lot of Trump voters didn't care about building the wall as much as they cared about being given permission to hate the people the wall would supposedly exclude. That's why they felt so much joy chanting about the wall and doing "Who's going to pay?" "Mexico!" call-and-response. They'd love to have it, but they were delighted just to be able to say out loud that they wanted it. They were in a safe space where saying that was not permitted, but encouraged. Even if Trump never gets the wall built, they'll always be grateful to him for that.

As a couple of Steve's commenters pointed out, for WWE Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee Trump, that's the definition of "political kayfabe" according to sociologist Nick Rogers writing in the NY Times.

Although the etymology of the word is a matter of debate, for at least 50 years “kayfabe” has referred to the unspoken contract between wrestlers and spectators: We’ll present you something clearly fake under the insistence that it’s real, and you will experience genuine emotion. Neither party acknowledges the bargain, or else the magic is ruined. 
To a wrestling audience, the fake and the real coexist peacefully. If you ask a fan whether a match or backstage brawl was scripted, the question will seem irrelevant. You may as well ask a roller-coaster enthusiast whether he knows he’s not really on a runaway mine car. The artifice is not only understood but appreciated: The performer cares enough about the viewer’s emotions to want to influence them. Kayfabe isn’t about factual verifiability; it’s about emotional fidelity.

Although their athleticism is impressive, skilled wrestlers captivate because they do what sociologists call “emotional labor” — the professional management of other people’s feelings. Diners expect emotional labor from their servers, Hulkamaniacs demand it from their favorite performer, and a whole lot of voters desire it from their leaders. 
The aesthetic of World Wrestling Entertainment seems to be spreading from the ring to the world stage. Ask an average Trump supporter whether he or she thinks the president actually plans to build a giant wall and have Mexico pay for it, and you might get an answer that boils down to, “I don’t think so, but I believe so.” That’s kayfabe. Chants of “Build the Wall” aren’t about erecting a structure; they’re about how cathartic it feels, in the moment, to yell with venom against a common enemy. 
Voting to repeal Obamacare again and again only to face President Obama’s veto was kayfabe. So is shouting “You lie!” during a health care speech. It is President Bush in a flight suit, it is Vladimir Putin shirtless on a horse, it is virtually everything Kim Jong-un does. Does the intended audience know that what they’re watching is literally made for TV? Sure, in the same way they know that the wrestler Kane isn’t literally a demon. The factual fabrication is necessary to elicit an emotional clarity.

If that isn't the best definition of the Trump era, I don't know what is.  Facts no longer matter because they're not supposed to, emotions do.  It's politics as showmanship, and there's no better showman around than pretend billionaire Trump.  It's politics as two-minute hate, and no emotion is easier to elicit than hatred of the Other.  Trump and the GOP base were made for each other.  We're not being governed, we're being played.

And the people love it.


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