Tag Archive: Republicans

The sad, selfish argument against healthcare

Senate GOP Healthcare bill

In the current debate over Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, one of the saddest arguments to be heard is the one that goes, “why should I pay for someone else’s healthcare?” Such an argument gets many things wrong at once, both intellectually and morally.

First, the entire concept of insurance is a pooling of funds and risk, so that everyone is literally paying for someone else, and vice versa. For example, in South Florida, one is told that car insurance rates are high for all residents because there are many claims due to the large number of tourists getting into trouble with rental cars on unfamiliar roads. Many local residents would rightfully object to paying higher rates for others’ accidents, but that is how insurance works. The idea, however, is that costs are kept down by pooling the risk, for example, such that drivers in certain age groups (roughly middle age) might be paying more than they get back in claims, but when they are both very young and very old, they are much more likely to have more claims, so the system balances out. Similarly, the Affordable Care Act (based on a conservative idea from the Heritage Foundation and first implemented by Republican Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts) incorporates premiums paid by younger people, who generally have less claims, going more to older and sicker people, but such young people of course could get into a serious accident or become sick themselves any time, plus they are likely to have more claims as they age. Thus, the idea of “why am I paying for someone else?” may only be true for a brief moment.

The Democrats and the power of Why

Democratic Scrabble

Much has been written about the Democratic Party’s new economic theme which it unveiled in July. This new theme is called “A Better Deal.” Unfortunately, a lot of the feedback for the Democrats over their new messaging has been negative. Much of the criticism centers around the fact that “A Better Deal” is not an organic, positive slogan or underlying message, but rather a comparison to Donald Trump and the Republicans. Indeed, the terminology plays off of Trump’s first and most famous book, “The Art of the Deal,” as well as Trump’s frequent use of the word “deal” in both business and political situations. There is a reason why we came up with Messaging Maxim #8: Don’t use the other side’s labels. Doing so is like playing on the other team’s field, with the other team’s rules. It gives your opponents an advantage and has an air of “me too” desperation. Why couldn’t the Democrats come up with their own, more original and inspiring theme?

The solution may lie in what’s called “the Power of Why.”

Republicans find out they have nowhere to hide

GOP Health Plan

On Monday night and Tuesday, the latest Republican Senate scheme to repeal the Affordable Care Act but not replace it for two years, went down in flames. Republican Senators including Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Shelley Moore Capito came out against moving the plan forward in the Senate, effectively killing this version for now.

Republicans are learning a powerful lesson: the obstructionism that worked for them when they did not control all three branches of government does not work when they do.

Republicans’ empty statements of concern towards Trump

Trump/Putin relationship, subject of Republican criticism

The last six months or more have been marked by a procession of statements of concern and criticism from many leading Republicans towards Donald Trump. For example, U.S. Senator John McCain has said that scandals within the Trump White House are reaching “Watergate size and scale.” Likewise, McCain’s cohort U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said of Trump this past weekend:

When it comes to Russia, he’s got a blind spot, and to forgive and forget when it comes to Putin regarding cyber attacks is to empower Putin, and that’s exactly what he’s doing.

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a rising Republican Party star, also trashed Trump’s idea of forming “an impenetrable Cyber Security unit” with Vladimir Putin:

Republicans shockingly partisan at Sally Yates Russia hearing

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Republicans in Congress perhaps exceeded even their own partisan reputation at yesterday’s hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism entitled “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election.” The hearing featured Sally Yates, who was Acting Attorney General in the Trump administration until she was fired on January 30 of this year. Also appearing at the hearing was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Each of these witnesses has decades of experience serving in the government under presidents of both parties, and both have knowledge about Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections. For example, both witnesses know about Michael Flynn, a campaign advisor and then National Security Advisor under Donald Trump for just a few weeks, until February 13. Flynn, a principal subject of the hearing, was fired after the Washington Post reported that he lied about his telephone calls with Russian officials, including Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, where the two discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia for interfering in the U.S. election that had just taken place. Yates testified at yesterday’s hearing that, in January of this year, she had urgent meetings and calls with Trump White House attorneys about Flynn, and that she recommended that action be taken regarding Flynn, because he was causing Vice President Mike Pence to lie to the American people about Flynn’s discussions with the Russians, and because Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail from Russia over his lies.

However, many of the Republican Senators on the panel did not seem to want to know about Russian involvement in our election. Instead, they criticized the “leaks” that led to the disclosure of Flynn’s activities, as well as the “unmasking” of Flynn. Part of what is shocking about the Republicans’ behavior at the hearing is that, had Flynn not been identified, he might still be National Security Advisor and would still be, as Yates explained, compromised by Russia.

Guns versus terror

Statue of Liberty with gun

Statue of Liberty with gun

In the ongoing war between the political right and left to control the national dialogue, the latest battle involves conservatives talking about terror and liberals talking about guns. We saw this on display during last Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate, as the news headlines reported that “Terror takes center stage during Republican debate.” Likewise, terrorism but also gun safety law solutions took center stage at last Saturday night’s Democratic presidential debate, as the ABC News moderators asked questions seemingly ripped from the Republican book of talking points.

The real American terrorists

Anti-NRA protest

Anti-NRA protest

We have a terrorism problem in America, and it isn’t Syrian refugees. The FBI defines “domestic terrorism” as actions that:

  • Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
  • Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping; and
  • Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

Right wing domestic terrorist acts, such as the recent shootings at the Colorado Springs, Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, as well as four arsons in 74 days at other Planned Parenthood clinics, meet the definition. The same can be said about previous politically-motivated killings and attacks, such as the shooting of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, bombings, arson and attacks on abortion clinics, the attacks on black churches and their members, the shootings at the Sikkh temple in Wisconsin, attacks on mosques and Islamic centers, and attacks on LBGT Americans.

Terrorist terminology: what to call our enemies

Syrian refugee family arriving in Greece -- not our enemy

Syrian refugee family arriving in Greece — not our enemy

In the wake of the recent Paris attacks, the long-running debate about what to call our terrorist enemies has been renewed. This language battle also has strong political overtones.

Those on the right seem to have no problem using broad terms, which can discredit the entire religion of Islam. Their current preferred terminology is “radical Islam.” For example, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio says “we are at war with radical Islam.” Likewise, fellow candidate Lindsey Graham says that “the whole world is a battlefield and radical Islam is everywhere.” Graham even said, after last January’s Charlie Hebdo attack in France, that “we’re in a religious war.”

In Paris attack, Republicans draw first blood

Second Life commemorates the Paris attacks the next day

Second Life commemorates the Paris attacks the next day

The terrorist attack perpetrated in Paris on Friday night was shocking. Also shocking, however, was the speed in which Republicans and conservatives made ugly public statements to score political points. For example, a number of the Republican presidential candidates, not surprisingly, blamed President Obama. Donald Trump, doubling down on a statement he made last January after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, said the problem was too many gun laws in France. Ann Coulter tweeted that “Donald Trump was elected tonight.” Coulter explained in other tweets that Trump’s anti-immigration policies for America somehow would prevent the type of terrorist attack that occurred in Paris. Newt Gingrich, like Trump, suggested that the Paris attacks could have been thwarted by “10 to 15 citizens with concealed carry permits.” And conservative writer Judith Miller (who is infamous for cheerleading George W. Bush‘s Iraq War in the New York Times) almost incoherently tried to use the Paris attack to argue why black American college students should have no problem with racial discrimination against them.

Bypass the corporate mainstream media

Dick Cheney, CNN's go-to right wing apologist

Dick Cheney, CNN’s go-to right wing apologist

In 2015, the traditional news media — what we call the Corporate Mainstream Media — have continued to move to the right, in some cases sharply so. These television and newspaper media outlets are no longer reliable conveyors of facts that Americans need to make decisions at the voting booth and elsewhere. We should ditch these corporate mainstream media. Instead, we need to become our own news aggregators.

Here are some of the many examples of the mainstream news media’s rightward drift: