The ‘Repeal and Delay’ Scam

ObamacareFor almost seven years, Tea-Publicans engaged in the scam of “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act aka “ObamaCare.” “Almost seven years after Obamacare was enacted, Republicans haven’t offered even the broad outline of a health reform plan.” The Art of the Scam. It was always just an exercise in post-policy nihilism: opposition to ObamaCare solely for the purpose of partisan opposition.

Now that Tea-Publicans are in control of the entire federal government and their right-wing wet dreams can finally be realized, they have a new scam: “repeal and delay.”

[T]he emerging Republican health care strategy, according to news reports, is “repeal and delay” — vote to kill Obamacare, but with the effective date pushed back until after the 2018 midterm elections. By then, G.O.P. leaders promise, they’ll have come up with the replacement they haven’t been able to devise over the past seven years.

There will, of course, be no replacement. And there’s likely to be chaos in health care markets well before Obamacare’s official expiration date, as insurance companies exit markets they know will soon collapse. But the political thinking seems to be that they can find a way to blame Democrats for the debacle.

mitch_mcconnell_frown-cropped-proto-custom_2The Septuagenarian Ninja Turtle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the architect of the “just say no” total partisan obstruction of anything from Democrats and the Obama administration for the past 8 years, now says Repealing Obamacare to Be First on Senate Agenda in 2017:

McConnell did not say when the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, as it is officially known, would go into effect. Senator John Barrasso said it might be effective in two or three years, and that the timeframe was still being debated. [Because it is always about partisan politics, not sound public policy.]

Democrats scoffed at the Republican plans, saying they do not even know what they want to replace Obamacare with.

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Losing faith in democracy

Some deeply disturbing reports in the Washington Post Wonkblog today. First, Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa write, Yes, people really are turning away from democracy:

We have been surprised by the scale and intensity of attention our work has garnered around the world since the New York Times profiled it last week. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been. Our research, after all, helped contextualize the seismic shifts we’ve seen in some of the world’s long-standing democracies over the past year — and comes to some rather startling findings.

Public attitudes toward democracy, we show, have soured over time. Citizens, especially millennials, have less faith in the democratic system. They are more likely to express hostile views of democracy. And they vote for anti-establishment parties and candidates that disregard long-standing democratic norms in ever greater numbers.

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It is to be expected that claims as disconcerting as these would evoke some skepticism. Over the past week, our critics have mooted three main objections: They claim that our findings are highly sensitive to the wording of particular survey questions or the way in which we interpret particular results; they claim that, contrary to what we are saying, millennials are not more critical of democracy than their elders, and they dispute that disenchantment with democracy has markedly increased over time.

We would be very pleased if these criticisms held true. After all, we’d rather be reassured of the stability of our democracies than win an argument. Sadly, though, we remain as alarmed as we have ever been.

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The New Fourth Estate

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

I recently read that today’s youth can’t determine whether or not a story is factual or fictional. Some of this no doubt is because there is just too much information available and there is no consequence of disseminating false information. I had an interesting conversation with a smart, older millennial recently and she didn’t know the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) once required holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance in a manner that was honest, equitable and balanced. The policy was called the Fairness Doctrine and its intent was to ensure viewers were exposed to a diversity of viewpoints. The FCC eliminated the Doctrine in 1987 and some believe its demise played a role in an increased level of party polarization.

Fast forward to 2016. We now have a President-Elect who tells outrageous falsehoods, (on TV no less), and then claims he didn’t say them. We have his surrogates who lied repeatedly during his campaign and continue to do so. We have Scottie Nell Hughes, Trump supporter and CNN commentator, who recently said “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts.” (Evidently, there’s no such thing as proper grammar either.) She followed that outrageous comment with “people believe they have the facts to back that [Trump’s tweets] up.” WHAAAAAAAT? No. Believing you have facts is not the same as well…ACTUALLY HAVING THE FREAKIN’ FACTS!!! Continue reading

The GOP war on women’s reproductive rights under Trump begins

Women’s reproductive rights are now in the cross-hairs of the Forced Birthers, and Roe v. Wade is threatened by the Trump administration. Empowered by Trump, Ohio legislature passes ‘heartbeat’ bill that would ban most abortions:

abortionOhio lawmakers passed a bill late Tuesday that would prohibit abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected — at around six weeks, before many women realize they are pregnant.

If Gov. John Kasich (R) signs the bill, it would pose a direct challenge to Supreme Court decisions that have found that women have a constitutional right to abortion until the point of viability, which is typically pegged around 24 weeks. Similar bills have been blocked by the courts. Because of this, even many antiabortion advocates have opposed such measures.

But some Ohio Republicans said they were empowered to support the bill because of President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion nationally.

There is one vacancy on the Supreme Court, left by Antonin Scalia, a conservative justice who died this year. Another conservative justice in his place would not likely change the dynamics of the court enough to alter the chances for such a bill. But that could change if Trump gets the opportunity during his term to appoint a replacement for one of the more liberal justices.

The vote is the latest sign that Trump’s election has energized conservatives on cultural matters, even as his campaign was built around an economic message. Social conservatives were heartened by his choice for vice president, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), who shepherded some of the nation’s strictest abortion laws in his state. They have watched approvingly as his cabinet picks have almost uniformly been outspoken against abortion rights.

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SCOTUS divided on racial gerrymandering cases

On Monday, cases from North Carolina and Virginia came before the eight justices of the Supreme Court, presenting the challenge of finding the delicate balance in considering race when redistricting political boundaries — and the court’s reluctance to weigh in on partisan politics. Questions Of Race And Redistricting Return To The Supreme Court:

The_Gerry-Mander_EditThe North Carolina case comes from a group of voters who went to court challenging the state’s first and 12th districts. They contend that the Legislature packed more minority voters into these two districts in an effort to dilute their voting strength in neighboring districts.

The state defends the lines drawn for one of the challenged districts by saying it was trying to meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act that minority voters have the chance to elect their chosen representatives. It defends the other as based on the goal of increasing a partisan advantage, not on race.

So far at least, the Supreme Court has ruled consistently that race may not be the predominant factor in redistricting except in narrow circumstances. But the court has refused to get involved in partisan gerrymandering.

“If your claim is ‘we were just exercising naked political power,’ well, the courts are not touching that, at least not yet,” observes Richard Hasen, an election law specialist at the University of California, Irvine. “But if the claim is about race, then the courts are going to get involved.”

The distinction is often “nonsensical,” he says, especially in places in the South, for instance, where the vast majority of African-Americans are Democratic voters, the majority of whites vote Republican, and the overlap between race and party is enormous.

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4th Avenue Winter Street Fair

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Happy holiday shopping on 4th Avenue.

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