Weekly Newsletter

Vol. 42: RepubliCare III – The Season of the Mitch

Day 312 P.E. – September 17, 2017

The TrumpShaker Top Three
September 17, 2017 – National Monte Cristo Day – Day 312 P.E
RepubliCare III: The Season of the Mitch
I can’t believe I’m writing this again: RepubliCare is back from the dead. Republicans are making one last run at repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with promises to find someone to kiss your boo boos. While the Democrats were celebrating their proposed bill “Medicare for All” this week, Republicans put forth the Graham-Cassidy bill, which is almost “Medicare for No One.” Initially dismissed as having a very long shot of passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has cleared the legislative deck for Graham-Cassidy and now it’s got a fighting chance. It’s time to rally the troops; we might have to go through this thing after all.

Details are still coming out on the bill’s contents, because, and let me know if you’ve heard this before, Republicans are pushing this complete overhaul of 1/6 of our economy without holding hearings, knowing what is in the bill, or understanding what it will do. Here are a few lowlights:

  • Eliminates subsidies for private insurance and ends Medicaid expansion, replacing some of these funds with block grants to states.
  • Shifts a massive amount of federal health care dollars from blue states to red states. Big losers: California, New York, and Massachusetts. Big winners: Texas, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Expect Republicans to continue to play with these numbers to buy votes from reluctant GOP senators.
  • Eliminates all ACA funding in 2027.
  • Allows insurers to charge seniors up to 5x what they charge younger customers (under ACA it’s 3x).
  • Puts a one-year freeze on Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood.
  • Ends federal protection for pre-existing conditions, lifetime caps, and essential benefits.

In one sentence, it guts Medicare, destabilizes the individual market, eliminates protections for the most vulnerable, and likely causes tens of millions to lose meaningful health coverage.

There are four things working against Graham-Cassidy at the moment: the clock and three senators. The Senate has only until September 30 to pass the bill utilizing reconciliation, which allows for just 50 senators plus VP Mike Pence to pass it. That means Republicans can lose two of their fellow GOP senators and still get this terrible bill through. Currently, it is likely at least three Republicans oppose it: Senator Collins (ME) and Senator Murkowski (AK) – who both voted against the prior, slightly less terrible, GOP plan – and Senator Paul (KY) who thinks Graham-Cassidy is too generous. You’ll notice John McCain (AZ) is missing from that list. McCain cast the deciding vote against the last repeal effort. However, it seems that the newly crowned “Lion of the Senate” who believes in the “normal order” of business has decided to throw that all away because the sponsor of the bill, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is an old buddy who makes him chuckle.

If Graham-Cassidy passes the Senate, the House will get a “take it or leave it” vote during the final week of September. A yes vote will require Republicans in blue states to vote to take money away from their constituents, so there’s a chance they would vote against it. However, since a promise of a Bud Light party in the Rose Garden was enough to win their votes last time, I’m not holding my breath.  It’s red alert time — call your Senators!

Block the Vote
It was a tough week for the right to vote; you know that little thing upon which our entire democracy is based.

Kansas Secretary of State and vice chair of Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity Kris Kobach penned a column in Breitbart (for which he was paid) declaring he had proof of voter fraud in New Hampshire.  His big a-ha turned out to be Geraldo in Capone’s vault-esque. Kobach found that people who live in college towns, i.e., college students, voted with out of state driver’s licenses. This practice turns out to be . . . wait for it . . . completely legal. All beings that don’t live Kobach’s crazy imaginary world, including The Washington Post editorial board and Maine’s Secretary of State, called out Kobach’s fraudulent fraud claim for what it was.

If having Kobach leading the Commission wasn’t a clear enough signal of the Commission’s intent to suppress the vote, a Freedom of Information Act request from the Campaign Legal Center turned up an email from a Heritage Foundation employee imploring Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to not appoint Democrats or mainstream Republicans to the Commission. After this email was found, ProPublica reporter Jessica Huseman asked Commission member, Heritage Foundation employee, andterrible person Hans von Spakovsky if he wrote the email. Von Spakovsky “flatly denied” it. Two hours later, his employer revealed that von Spakovsky wrote it.

While the Commission is working diligently to find non-existent voter fraud, the U.S. Supreme Court, with the aid of Justice Gorsuch’s stolen seat, is helping Republicans steal the next election in Texas. After nine straight court decisions against Texas’s racist gerrymandering of districts, the Supreme Court intervened, on a 5-4 vote, to hold district court rulings that would have required Texas to redraw its districts.

As The Tяump Turns
In this week’s episode of As The Tяump Turns, the chess pieces are in motion. We’ve got a lot of new plot lines from around the globe to follow in the coming weeks!

In Russian, Duma member (Russia’s lower house of parliament) Vyacheslav Nikonov said U.S. “intelligence missed it when Russian intelligence stole the president of the United States.”

In Washington, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee felt that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s decision to unmask Americans (who turned out to be Trump team members) in an intelligence report was justified. Rice had done so to figure out why the crown prince of the UAE took an unannounced trip to New York to meet with Americans. Trump and Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) had previously suggested Rice’s actions were illegal.

In the Middle East, people are all abuzz about the secret trip that the three amigos, Mike Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Jared Kushner, took two weeks before the inauguration to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah II to allegedly discuss building nuclear reactors in Jordan. The $200 billion project would have involved U.S. companies building reactors and a Russian firm providing security. I mean, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times, what we need in the Middle East is more nuclear energy. Oh, and I hope you’re sitting down — Ned Nederlander Kushner did not include this meeting on his security clearance forms.

Lastly, we have two dispatches from the twilight zone. First, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders continues to suggest the Department of Justice should investigate former FBI Director James Comey. She continues to accuse him of breaking laws, such as the Privacy Act, that have basically nothing to do with anything Comey has done. Second, Representative Dana “Don’t call me Orville” Rohrabacher (R-CA) is popping up with all sorts of crazy ideas. In just this past week, Rohrabacher tried to facilitate a pardon for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and said that the white supremacist march in Charlottesville was actually the brainchild of “left-wingers who were manipulating [Civil War re-enactors].” Rohrabacher’s name may sound familiar. Last year, a secret recording captured House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) saying, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”

And Now a Word from Our Sponsor . . . 
This is what Trump’s Miami resort tweeted following Hurricane Irma.
Quick TrumpShakes
You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave  – Two Motel 6 locations in Phoenixhave been sharing guest information every day with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A front desk clerk told Think Progress, “Every morning at about 5 o’clock, we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE.” It’s just part of the morning routine, like rearranging the Svenhard’s danishes. Motel 6 has since said they have discontinued the practice. If you’re itching to start boycotting Motel 6, but are realizing that you’ve been boycotting Motel 6 since you were in your twenties, they are owned by the same group as La Quinta and Hilton hotels.

You’re So Vain, You Probably Think 9/11 Is About You – This past week, as we reflected on the events of 9/11, the White House thought the best way to honor those who died and salute those who ran to the aid of their fellow Americans would be with a video staring only Trump.

What Percent of the Population Could Women Be, Anyways? 5%? 7%? – Trump has nominated 42 U.S. attorneys so far. Care to guess how many are women? I’ll give you some hints. It’s less than then number of women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment (13). It’s less than the number of women who have agreed to marry Trump (3). It’s less than the number of women in the Hall of Justice on the Super Friends (2). Yep, it’s 1. Just 1 woman. The first name of the woman nominated is Jessie, so I’m assuming Trump thought she was a man too.

Did They Do Background Checks at the Manger? – Recognizing that there’s high demand for constitution-violating sheriffs like Joe Arpaio and David Clark in Trump’s America, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd decided to find his own silver lining in Florida’s storm clouds. He performed background checks on those seeking shelter from Hurricane Irma to see if they had outstanding warrants.

Two Tablets of Tylenol Instead, Please – In case you were hoping that the GOP’s fever was breaking and that a return to normalcy was around the corner, let me introduce you to the leader of the Alabama Republican primary for Senate, Roy Moore. Moore is a former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. By former, I mean really former. He was removed and suspended from his position on the court multiple times. He was removed in Alabama for being too extreme. His transgressions included defying a federal court order to remove two 5,280-pound granite tablets of the Ten Commandments that he had installed in the Alabama Supreme Court building and directing state probate judges to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of same sex marriage. When not disobeying court orders, he’s been busy calling Islam a “false religion” and writing legal opinions calling homosexuality “a crime against nature and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” Yep, Alabama will likely elect a person even worse than Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to the Senate.

Silence of the Blams – The Republicans are finally rallying around a solution to stop the tragic sounds of gunshots from ringing through our cities. They are pushing through legislation to roll back a law from 1934 in order to make it easier to buy silencers.

Cruz Has Problems with His Staff – I try to avoid playing blue here on The TrumpShaker, but if that’s where the news leads me, I shall follow. Anything for you, dear reader. This week, Son of JFK assassin/Zodiac Killer/Dildo ban defender Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) “liked” a porn video on Twitter. Cruz blamed a staffer for the boner. The only winner in this, besides the now famous porn star, is Cruz’s freshman college roommate Craig Mazin. Mazin, a screenwriter and producer, tweeted, “Now imagine Ted Cruz is doing this four feet below you in the bottom bunk bed. Yes, my misery very much appreciates your company.”

The (There is No Evidence That You Could Possibly) Show Me State – Protests are underway in St. Louis after the acquittal in a bench trial of former police officer Jason Stockley for the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith. The case against Stockley was first, that while in pursuit of Smith, Stockley fired from his car at Smith’s (against protocol). Second, Stockley was recorded on his car dash camera telling his partner, while in pursuit, that “I’m going to kill this motherfucker, don’t you know it.” Third, after ramming Smith’s car to get him to stop, Stockley walked up to Smith’s car and shot him five times, including once from six inches away. Stockley claimed that Smith had a gun, so he was acting in self-defense. However, prosecutors alleged that Stockley planted it since only Stockley’s DNA was found on the gun. The board of directors of the Ethical Society of Police, a union that represents police officers of color in St. Louis,made a statement that Stockley was guilty of murder. So, how did the judge find him not guilty? Well, he was kind enough to explain his evidence-based decision thusly, “Finally, the Court observes, based on its nearly thirty years on the bench, that an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly.” At least the judge had the self-control to not end his statement with “Amirite?”

Nuevo Teléfono, Que Este? – Following Hurricane Harvey, our neighbors to the South took the very high road over Trump’s wall and offered to provide assistance to the United States. Mexico later rescinded the offer after Trump never responded and after he failed to offer any condolences or support to Mexico after its 8.2 earthquake. Trump later explained his delay in offering condolences in a tweet: “Spoke to President of Mexico to give condolences on terrible earthquake. Unable to reach for 3 days b/c of his cell phone reception at site.” Trump has said a lot of unbelievable things, but that the head of the United States government cannot reach the head of the Mexican government for days because of bad cell coverage may be the hardest to believe. I don’t think my daughter’s kindergarten teacher would accept that excuse for turning in her homework late.

Maimonides’ Third Level of Bribery – Yep, I’m trying to make my 80’s references feel more current by making a 900-year-old one.  You may recall that the director of the Office of Government Ethics resigned in July, exhausted from fighting against Trump’s “departure from existing ethical norms.”  The new director seems to a bit more inclined to acquiesce to Trump’s request. The Office of Government Ethics now says that White House staffers can accept donations directly from lobbyists to pay for their legal fees for the Russia investigation . . . as long as the donations are anonymous. The twisted logic is that the bribe can’t really be a bribe if the recipients don’t know where the money came from. You might be thinking, “Hey, couldn’t a Putin-affiliated lobbyist now pay all the legal fees for Trump’s people and the public wouldn’t know?” Hmm, I suggest you stop thinking about that. You won’t like the answer.

Abomination Junction, What’s Your Function? – As we continue to sift through the ashes of the 2016 election to find out how we ended up in the Upside Down, Facebook’s ability to allow anyone to target specific groups with specific messages have emerged as a prime suspect. ProPublica decided to investigate how this works and found out something really disturbing. Facebook will allow anyone to send targeted ads to people based on their hatred. For example, for just $30 you can make a pitch to people who list their field of study as “Jew hater” or “History of why Jews ruin the world.” Sounds like a fun group to invite to a Bar Mitzvah.

You Said You Wanted Government Run Like a Business – We’re finally getting America to be run like a business – senior executives are living luxuriously on the shareholders’ dimes. Multi-millionaire Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin requested a government jet, which costs taxpayers’ $25,000/hr, for his European honeymoon. Even though he did not end up using the jet, he still felt entitled to do so. This news comes on the heels of a report that he and his wife took a government plane to Fort Knox to watch the solar eclipse. He has since explained that trip away as just a coincidence, because “being a New Yorker, I don’t have any interest in watching the eclipse.” I have absolutely no idea what that means.

In case you’re wondering where Mnuchin got the idea that it may be okay to rip off Americans, The Washington Post reported that an unnamed federal official paid $546/night to stay at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago hotel. In case you were wondering, the federal employee limit for a hotel in Palm Beach is $182/night. If a government official cannot find a hotel at that rate, in very rare circumstances (of which this was certainly not one), an approval can be made for up to 300% of the limit. Anyone want to guess what 300% of $182 is? Hold on to your calculators (and your ethics), it’s . . . $546. Trump is taking every last penny from us.

A Hill to Die On – ESPN host, Jemele Hill, tweeted this week that Trump was “a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.” A statement that has been made by countless people and one that a preponderance of the evidence would support. Normally, her comments would have passed without notice, but the right-wing media echo chamber grabbed hold and we have our latest manufactured controversy. There are a lot of angles to this story. We could look at why, say, a host of a network show could say much worse, patently false statements about President Obama and then be elected president a few years later. Also, we could explore why Hill is getting the Kaepernick treatment, while this past week Miss Texas became America’s sweetheart by criticizing Trump’s handling of Charlottesvile. However, the most troubling and dangerous issue is that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said from her podium that Hill’s statement was a “fireable offense by ESPN.” The President’s spokesperson called for retaliation against a private citizen for criticizing the President. Besides a chilling reminder of what we’ve become used to, Sanders’s action is also illegal and she’s been hit with an ethics complaint. For much better and deeper thoughts on this, read Charles Pierce’s article “White House’s Call for Jemele Hill’s Firing Is Trip to Edges of Crazytown”.

And Now a Public Service Announcement . . . 
Featured Articles of the Week

If this week was the first time you’ve heard of Jemele Hill, read this excellent piece by Bryan Curtis on “Jemele Hill and the Fight for the Future of ESPN”.

Olivia Nuzzi wrote an amazing piece of investigative journalism –  “Here’s Why Steve Bannon Wears So Many Shirts”.

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It’s time to fight RepubliCare/TrumpCare/NoCare once again! Learn how with this guide from Indivisible.
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