Weekly Newsletter

Vol. 37: Pulling the Plug on RepubliCare

July 30, 3017 – Day 263 Post Election

The TrumpShaker Top Four
July 30, 2017 – National Whistle Blower Day – Day 263 P.E (Post Election).
Pulling the Plug on RepubliCare
In June 2009, then Representative (now Senator) Roy Blunt (R-MO) said, “I guarantee you we will provide you with a bill” that is the Republican alternative to Obamacare. Eight years later, the Republicans finally provided that bill.

It was a bill that would be opposed by every major hospital, patient advocacy, medical professional, and insurance group. A bill that the Catholic Sisters in the United States, representing over 7,000 nuns called, the “most harmful legislation for American families in our lifetimes” and “simply immoral.” A bill that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called, “half-assed,” “terrible,” “horrible,” “a fraud,” and “a disaster”. A bill that Republican senators said they would only pass if the House promised not to turn it into law. A bill that would destabilize the insurance market, raise premiums by 20% this upcoming year and leave 16 million without insurance. A bill that Republicans drafted during lunch on Thursday, submitted formally on Thursday at 10pm for a vote, and refused to speak on its merits, instead having Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) read from a book on the floor of the Senate during the GOP’s one hour of allotted time.

It was a bill that failed to pass the Senate by a 49 to 51 vote after midnight on Thursday.

So much happened this week in health care, that I cannot recount it all here. I encourage you to read the recounting of Thursday’s vote by The New York Times as well as a behind the scenes recap by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT).

However, outside of the final outcome, there are some moments that I want to spotlight.

  • Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) faced tremendous pressure and threats from their fellow Republicans to vote for whatever bill Senate leadership put forward. Representative Blake Farenthold (R-TX) threatened to challenge Collins to a duel. When speaking about both Collins and Murkowski, Representative Buddy Collins (R-GA) said that somebody should “snatch a knot in their ass.” Don’t worry, I had no idea what that meant either. Egregiously and perhaps illegally, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke called Murkowski to do his best mobster impression and basically tell her, “Gee, what a nice state you have there, would be a shame if anything happened to it.” Apparently, Zinke didn’t do his homework. Murkowski chairs the committee that oversees the Department of Interior and, following his call, she postponed all hearings on Interior appointments. Millions still have health care because those two senators stayed strong to do what was right for their constituents and the country.
  • Another profile in courage was Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) who is battling stage 4 kidney cancer, but made it to the vote and gave an impassioned speech.
  • On the other end of the courage spectrum was Senator Dean Heller (R-NV). Heller initially joined with his Republican governor to come out strongly against the Republican plans for health care. However, despite no meaningful changes, Heller caved, apparently after strong pressure from casino magnates Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson. His opponent in 2018 is Jacky Rosen in case you want to make a donation.
  • Lastly, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), days from an initial treatment for brain cancer, showed up to the vote. He was summoned back to D.C. to be the 50th vote the Republicans needed to jam this bill through. However, for once, McCain was the maverick he always claimed, but had rarely shown, himself to be. After casting the deciding vote on Tuesday to move forward to consider the bill, McCain gave a speech arguing, “Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order.” At the time, the speech seemed like lip service since his vote in favor of moving forward at that juncture appeared to allow the senate to continue in a direction counter to the regular order. However, late in the hour on Thursday evening, as the vote was in process and still undecided and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) still had a smile on his face, John McCain strode onto the Senate floor, shouted “No” and put his thumb down, joining with Collins and Murkowski and 48 unified Democrats to kill the bill. Far from a fan of Obamacare, perhaps McCain felt that this shell of a bill was not the right way to make policy. Perhaps he really did feel it was time to return to regular order. Or perhaps he really wanted to stick it to the president who had mocked his time in a Vietnamese prison as well as the senator who has been the plaintiff in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, the case against McCain’s signature legislative achievement, the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.

For the moment, the Affordable Care Act lives, millions can rest easier, and the Senate has a chance to begin fixing itself and maybe even show us a way out of this. Trump has other plans though. On Tuesday, insiders expect him to announce that he will stop federally mandated reimbursements to insurance companies, potentially destabilizing the insurance markets.

The Trump Has Spoken
Funny thing happens when you elect a reality show host as president — you get a reality show host as president. The West Wing has turned into a combination of Survivor crossed with the Real World, presided over by Jigsaw from the movie, Saw. Let’s see who outlasted, outwitted, and outplayed this week and who stuck his finger in someone else’s peanut butter?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson didn’t compete this week, instead he is taking “a little time off.” No other information has been provided on where he is or how long he’ll be gone. With North Korea launching ICBMs in the sea and over half of the top positions in the State Department still open, I’m sure everything will be fine.

Contestant Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III had a tough showing this week. Trump attacked his Attorney General repeatedly on Twitter, calling Sessions “VERY weak” and “beleaguered.” When asked if he was going to fire Sessions, Trump said, “We will see what happens. Time will tell.”

The newest star of the show, Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci, made a big splash in his first week:

  • He threatened to fire the entire White House communications staff.
  • He called then Chief of Staff Reince Priebus a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic”, “Reince Penis”, and “Rancid Penis”.
  • In an on the record interview said, “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock.”
  • Missed the birth of his son, who was put into NICU, but texted his wife, “Congratulations, I’ll pray for our son.”
  • He received divorce papers from his wife.

Longtime GOP campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt put it best, ““Heather Locklear wasn’t in the original cast but what would Melrose Place be without Locklear? And I think we might say the same about The Mooch before it is over. It is an unbelievable spectacle.”

Trump allegedly cheered on The Mooch, while Penis Priebus was left to fret if there’d be something for him at this week’s rose ceremony. On Friday afternoon, Priebus climbed into a Suburban on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force base with White House aides Jason Miller and Dan Scavino. Moments later, Miller and Scavino got out of the Suburban and took the cannoli. Priebus was fired and Trump announced via Twitter that  Secretary of Homeland Security, retired General John Kelly is the new chief of staff. No official comment from General Kelly yet if he would be willing to be summoned into the Oval Office to kill a fly as Trump required Priebus to do.

For those keeping score at home, in the first six months, Trump has now changed his chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, national security adviser, communications director, press secretary, FBI director, and Homeland Security chief.

You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Trump
During the presidential campaign, Trump promised that as president he would fight for the LGBT community and be a better ally than Hillary Clinton. Turns out he may not have been totally honest with us about that.

On the 69th anniversary of President Harry Truman desegregating the military, Trump tweeted, “[Tweet #1] After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow . . . [Tweet #2] Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming . . . [Tweet #3] victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you. ”

According to a Pentagon official, the tweet was the first they heard of this new policy. In fact, based on the first tweet and the nine minute lag before the second tweet, the Pentagon was at first “worried that Trump was going to declare war on North Korea.” Secretary of Defense James Mattis was on vacation and didn’t comment. The Senate Armed Services Committee was not briefed.

Trump’s reasoning for the policy is, of course, ridiculous. The U.S. military has a budget of $600 billion and spends $2.4 to $8.4 million on transgender-related health care. For comparison, the military spends $41.6 million on Viagra each year. Rather a Trump administration official gave the real reason to Axios’s Jonathan Swan, “This forces Democrats in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin to take complete ownership of this issue. How will blue collar voters in these states respond when senators up for reelection in 2018 like Debbie Stabenow are forced to make their opposition to this a key plank of their campaigns?”

Thankfully, there has been strong bipartisan condemnation of Trump’s announcement and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, more or less, “Umm, we’ll wait on this until we get a real policy directive that’s not from a crazy person via Twitter.”

Trump Opened His Mouth and Removed All Doubt That He’s an Awful Person
Trump gave three speeches this week: to the National Boy Scout Jamboree, at a Trump rally in Ohio, and to police officers in Long Island. He managed to get formal rebukes after 2 of the 3 speeches (from thehead of the Boy Scouts of America for the first and from both the International Association of Chiefs of Police as well as the Suffolk County Police Department for the last speech). Some lowlights:

Boy Scout Jamboree

  • Got the Boy Scouts to boo President Obama and Hillary Clinton
  • Alluded to his friend’s orgy-filled life on board a yacht
  • When going through the Boy Scout oath, Trump stopped at loyalty and said, “We could use some more loyalty, I can tell you.”
  • Former Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin said Trump’s speech “had the feel of a third world authoritarian’s youth rally.”
  • And this isn’t from his speech, back in 1989 he took $7 from the Trump Foundation in 1989 to pay for his son’s Boy Scout dues.

Ohio Trump Rally

  • In Youngstown, Trump dusted off some real turn of the 20th century immigrant demagoguery:

The predators and criminal aliens who poison our communities with drugs and prey on innocent young people . . . And you’ve seen the stories about some of these animals. They don’t want to use guns because it’s too fast and it’s not painful enough. So they’ll take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15. And others. And they slice ‘em and dice ‘em with a knife. Because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die. And these are the animals that we’ve been protecting for so long. We’ll, they’re not being protected any longer, folks.

Police Rally on Long Island

  • Trump continued his vivid masochistic description of alleged murders by undocumented immigrants: “Burned to death. Beaten to death. Just the worst kind of death. Stuffed in a barrel.”
  • Trump encouraged police to abuse suspects. After the following statement, Trump paused for applause from the police offers and . . . he got it:

Now, we’re getting them [criminals] out anyway, but we’d like to get them out a lot faster, and when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, I said, please don’t be too nice. Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over, like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody. Don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay?

This Week in the Land of the Great Leader

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders led off a White House press briefing by reading a letter from a 9-year-old boy: “You are my favorit president . . . I dont now why people dont like you. You seme nice can we be friends?”
  • Half of Trump voters believe Trump won the popular vote.
  • Jared Kushner commented to a Turkish newspaper about their own aspirational authoritarian, “Like Trump, Erdogan is working to make his country great again.”
  • The Department of Energy Press Office tweeted out “In the fight between @SecretaryPerry and climate scientists — He’s winning.”
  • The official White House twitter account tweeted, “President Trump: We are forever in your debt. Thank you. God bless you, God bless our truly amazing law enforcement, and God bless America.”
  • Trump tweeted out (emphasis his), “IN AMERICA WE DON’T WORSHIP GOVERNMENT – WE WORSHIP GOD!”
  • Last week, I recanted how The Mooch praised Trump’s ability to swish free throws and throw footballs through tires. Mooch had also said, Trump “sinks 3-foot putts.” Apparently, that wasn’t enough make-believe for the world’s greatest athlete this side of Kim Jong-un. The official White House transcript revised Mooch’s statement to “sinks 30-foot putts.”
Quick TrumpShakes
Sessions Screws Seattle – On Tuesday, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III announced that cities that prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers from entering their jails and/or don’t share information with ICE will lose federal funding. Here’s a complete list of “sanctuary cities.”

(To Be Read in Borat Voice): “Coal is Niiice! High Five!”– Secretary of Energy Rick Perry’s super smart looking glasses didn’t help him avoid falling for a fake interview with the “Jerky Boys of Russia.”

(To Be Read in Gene Rayburn Voice): “Trump is So Crazy That . . .” – The American Psychoanalytic Association rescinded the “Goldwater Rule” which had prevented members from discussing the mental health of politicians.

Putin’ On a Show – Apparently excited by OJ’s upcoming parole, House Republicans are following his example and looking for the real killers. After Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee introduced a resolution to investigate Trump’s firing of James Comey, Republicans flipped that resolution and instead made it into a probe of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email server. In a wonderful tirade, Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) called the GOP’s actions “unbelievable.”

New Head of Government Ethics Not a Fan of Government Ethics – Since Eric Gordon from Billy Madison wasn’t available, Trump appointed David J. Apol as the new head of the Office of Government Ethics. Apol “has repeatedly clashed with colleagues over his career at the agency as he sought to roll back or loosen ethics requirements.”

As The Tяump Turns – In this week’s episode:

  • Congress passed a veto-proof bill increasing sanctions on Russia which now awaits Trump’s signature.
  • Jared Kushner testified to Congress behind closed doors this week regarding his numerous meetings with Russian officials that slipped his mind. He testimony was basically, “I am but a real-life Forrest Gump, who has an IQ of a 10-year-old but has somehow bumbled into international real estate development, marrying a celebrity, becoming a White House adviser, and managing the Middle East peace process. Box of chocolates, amirite?”
  • Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Justice’s criminal division, Brian Benczkowski, previously represented Alfa Bank. Alfa Bank is one of Russia’s largest and has ties to Putin. Also, the FBI investigated a Trump Organization server that had an “odd” direct connection to Alfa Bank. C’mon guys, this is insulting. Please at least try to hide the Russian influence.
Featured Articles of the Week

Since I’ll be away for a week, I’ve linked to a few extra articles to tide you over.

Michael Lewis turns his investigative eye on to the Department of Energy. Read this amazing article, “Why the Scariest Nuclear Threat May Be Coming from Inside the White House” to get a better understanding of the careless destruction that the Trump Administration is raging across our government.

Former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub writes on “How to Restore Government Ethics in the Trump Era”.

Charles Pierce reminds us “The Climate Crisis is Here. Now.”

In The New Yorker, “A Veteran ICE Agent, Disillusioned With The Trump Era, Speaks Out”.

Action Center
On the very front lines of the battle to save health care were thousands of disabled protesters from ADAPT. ADAPT is “a national grass-roots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom.” They are deserving of your donation.
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