Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tale of 2 hoaxes: The Seth Rich conspiracy theory and “Conceptual Penis” prank both expose a fear of women’s power

Last week the portion of the internet dedicated to a bipartisan male freakout over women’s gains in the professional sphere became caught up in not just one but two obnoxious hoaxes: a conspiracy theory accusing Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee of having a young staffer named Seth Rich murdered, and the false claim that the entire field of gender studies had been exposed as a fraud by two male scholars.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Roger Ailes Was One of the Worst Americans Ever

On the Internet today you will find thousands, perhaps even millions, of people gloating about the death of elephantine Fox News founder Roger Ailes. The happy face emojis are getting a workout on Twitter, which is also bursting with biting one-liners.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

From Fox News to ‘Breitbart’: Liars, Harassers, and Far-Right Bottom-Feeders

Back when most people, myself included, thought a Trump victory impossible, I used to worry that under a Hillary Clinton presidency, her former antagonist and debate-stage stalker would found a new far-right television network that would immediately shift the center of political gravity to the point where CNN would try even harder to mimic Fox News, even as Fox sought to position itself as the “responsible” center.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Turkey’s Vote Makes Erdoğan Effectively a Dictator

Fifteen years ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the hope of the Islamic world. He was an Islamist, of course, but that was part of his appeal. As the mayor of Istanbul, one of the world’s great cities, Erdoğan had governed as a charismatic and smart technocrat. He’d served time in prison, in 1999—for reading a poem that seemed to celebrate militant Islam—but his jailers had been the country’s rigid, military-backed secular leaders wh
o, by then, seemed as suited to the present day as dinosaurs. When Erdoğan became Prime Minister, in 2003, every leader in the West wanted him to succeed. In a world still trying to make sense of the 9/11 attacks, he seemed like a bridge between cultures.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

US Attorney fired by Trump was banned from entering Russia by Vladimir Putin

Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired by President Donald Trump over the weekend, was so despised by Vladimir Putin’s Russia that he was banned from entering the country in 2013.

According to The New York Times, Russia banned Bharara and 17 other Americans in retaliation for U.S. sanctions over human rights violations.

These For-Profit Schools Are ‘Like a Prison’

Teenagers at Paramount Academy sometimes came home with mysterious injuries.

An alternative school for sixth- through 12th-graders with behavioral or academic problems, Paramount occupied a low-slung, brick and concrete building on a dead-end road in hard-luck Reading, Pennsylvania, a city whose streets are littered with signs advertising bail bondsmen, pay-day lenders, and pawn shops. Camelot Education, the for-profit company that ran Paramount under a contract with the Reading school district, maintained a set of strict protocols: No jewelry, book bags, or using the water fountain or bathroom without permission. Just as it still does at dozens of schools, the company deployed a small platoon of "behavioral specialists" and "team leaders": typically large men whose job was partly to enforce the rules.

One of the Worst Trends in Red-State Politics Is Coming to a Blue State Near You

So-called right-to-work laws—which are more accurately described as right-to-work-for-less laws, anti-union laws or poverty-producing laws—used to be a largely southern phenomenon in the United States. In the 20th century, cities in the northern U.S., from Philadelphia, Boston, New York City and Baltimore to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee, were considered union towns, while many of the southern states were infamous for their hostility to organized labor. But in the 2010s, "right-to-work” laws have been making considerable progress in northern states. And far-right Republicans like Joe Wilson and Steve King in the House of Representatives have been calling for a right-to-work law to be enacted nationwide.

How America's Right-Wing Fell in Love with Putin and Moscow

Following the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, two American contingents appeared to stand ascendant in the U.S.: white nationalists and the Religious Right. The former, ideological descendants of the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow-era legislators, would like to return white supremacy to both state and federal law—or, barring that, break off part of the U.S. to form a white ethno-state wholesale. The latter, meanwhile, would allow Christian fundamentalism to become the U.S.’s de jure national religion, with attendant legislation targeting LGBT and minority religious communities alike. Both white nationalists and the Religious Right tossed vociferous support behind Trump’s candidacy during the recent presidential election, and both contingents thrilled at Trump’s unexpected victory, as well as the authoritarian bent he’s quickly brought to the executive branch.

FBI Director James Comey's 'October Surprise' Doomed Hillary Clinton's Candidacy: Analysis

Do you remember how you felt last October after you heard that FBI Director James Comey was reopening the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s possible illegal handling of classified communiqués while Secretary of State—just 11 days before the presidential election?

That news, which left me with a sinking feeling that all but erased the confidence I had in Clinton’s prospects after the three presidential debates, was the moment that Donald Trump won the election, according to an analysis released this week by a data firm that tracks the psychological elements below patterns of consumer behavior, moods and sentiment.

Harsh Sentence for Racist Georgia Couple Has White Supremacists Across the Country Freaking Out: Report

White supremacists are outraged after a couple was sentenced to 20 years in prison for displaying a Confederate flag and making “terroristic threats” to black people who were attending a child’s birthday party in Georgia in 2015.

The defendants, Jose Torres and Kayla Norton, who were convicted last month, also “pulled out a shotgun and threatened to kill people at [the] party, including children,” according to Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner.

Death of truth: when propaganda and 'alternative facts' first gripped the world

Truth was the first casualty of the Great Depression. Reflecting the anguish of the time, propaganda was manufactured on an unprecedented scale. As economic disaster threatened to trigger shooting wars so, as George Orwell said, useful lies were preferred to harmful truths. He went further, declaring that history stopped in 1936; after that there was only propaganda.

This was a characteristic exaggeration but it points to the universality of state deception. The very term Depression aimed to mislead: President Hoover employed it as a euphemism for the standard American word for financial crisis, “Panic”. Hence the poet WH Auden’s verdict that this was a “low dishonest decade”, a conclusion he reached in a New York dive on 1 September 1939 while attempting to “undo the folded lie … the lie of Authority.” It was the end of a decade in which, as Auden wrote elsewhere: “We have seen a myriad faces / ecstatic from one lie.”

Paul Ryan’s Wonk Shtick Is Getting Old

I have a very strong aversion to self-plagiarism, but House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is at it again, and so, my hand has been forced and I must remind everybody all over again that Ryan is mostly a bundle of shtick, wrapped in a suit, and topped by what must be said is a comparatively decent haircut, when you consider it alongside the combover farm from which most of the rest of Congress seems to have sprung.

If You Think Trump’s at War With the Deep State, Take Another Look at His Policies

The prospect of four years of Donald J. Trump’s nonstop rants about imaginary conspiracies against his daughter, wholesale slander against the judicial branch and attacks on the press as enemies of the people has caused some Americans to slip into a comforting form of denial. He will be a blip in our history, they say, because our formal institutions, and the American people, will ultimately prevail against a rogue disruptor.

Others, more hard-boiled, appeal to the powers-that-be that they believe actually run the country regardless of electoral results: the Wise Men, the Power Elite or what I have called the Deep State. These informal power groupings, according to speculation, will attempt to gently but firmly pry Trump’s tiny fingers from the wheel before he sails the ship of state into an iceberg.

Forget Building Our Own Tea Party. The Left Can Win So Much More.

On February 19, 2009, just 30 days after President Obama was sworn in, Rick Santelli’s rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange launched the Tea Party. The conservative establishment worked together with the grassroots to fan the flames of opposition. The resulting tidal wave swept Republicans to power at the national and state level in 2010—and set the stage for Trump’s victory in 2016.

Since at least 2012, I’ve worked in and with organizations that saw the Tea Party as a model for the Left. While we abhorred their politics, we admired their tactics and coveted their success. The Tea Party pioneered a strategy that enabled grassroots activists and candidates to work inside and outside of the Republican Party to advance a “principled” conservative agenda. And they won—big time.

Want to Elect Socialists? Run Them in Democratic Primaries

There are currently 7,383 state legislators in the United States. Nine of them are affiliated with the Vermont Progressive Party. One of them is an independent from Alaska who caucuses with the Democrats.

This is the grand sum of the left presence in American state legislatures outside the Democratic Party. There has been a single instance of federal-level victory in my lifetime—Bernie Sanders’s election as an independent to the U.S. House, then Senate, in Vermont. No one else has even come close. And Sanders, after thirty years as an Independent, elected to seek the presidency through the Democratic primary.

Why Doesn’t the United Nations Pay Its Interns?

The United Nations is in many ways a benchmark progressive institution. Its numerous declarations set the international standard for human rights, and the frequent collaboration among its 193 member states ensures a large measure of peace and stability around the world.

Yet on February 20 hundreds of UN interns in cities ranging from New York to Geneva participated in the first-ever grassroots action to address a decidedly anti-progressive policy: unpaid internships.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Bernie Sanders’s Misguided Attacks on the “Liberal Elite”

“We need a Democratic Party that is not a party of the liberal elite but of the working class of this country,” Senator Bernie Sanders declared at a rally in Boston last week. This has become a very common refrain for Sanders specifically and the progressive left generally. After the election, Nation editor at large D.D. Guttenplan declared that liberal elites who spurned populism are responsible for President Donald Trump, while Chris Hedges argued last month that Trump’s greatest allies are, unwittingly, liberal elites.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Does this study show why Hillary Clinton lost?

Could an overemphasis on personality and style over substance be what cost Hillary Clinton the presidency? That’s one likely conclusion from a batch of new research by the Wesleyan Media Project, unveiled this week.

Their new study of the presidential race, focusing on the advertising campaigns of Clinton and Donald Trump, reveals that despite outspending the Republican nominee by a 2-to-1 margin, the campaign ads rolled out by the Clinton camp and the Democratic National Committee were largely devoid of policy points.

What Teddy Roosevelt Could Teach Ryan Zinke

Donald Trump’s new Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, rode a horse to work on his first day on the job, accompanied by a couple of mounted national park policemen. Teddy Roosevelt, too, used to ride horses all around Washington, D.C. when he was President.

Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, outdoorsman, and Republican Congressman from Montana, likes to talk about being a “Teddy Roosevelt conservationist.” He has opposed efforts by fellow Republicans to privatize public lands or turn them over to the states—as recently proposed by Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah. Ronald Reagan’s first Interior Secretary, James Watt, also disappointed Western “Sagebrush rebels” of the 1970s and ‘80s who wanted him to turn federal lands over to the states. Instead, Watt promised to use them to “mine more, drill more, cut more timber.”

Life in Gaza Is Shaped by the Electricity Crisis

During a visit to Gaza late last year, a colleague called me at the last minute to postpone a planned meeting. Apologizing, he told me that he needed to go home for several hours to do laundry. Electricity had come on in his neighborhood and he needed to complete household chores while it was available.

Later, he told me, "Life [in Gaza] is shaped by the electricity crisis. If there is power from 3 pm to 10 pm today, there won't be tomorrow. When there is power in the afternoon, I go home and do work. I do laundry and anything else. When the power is off in the afternoon, I don't go home. I won't go home until it is on, because at home, I will just sit in the dark. I live on the 11th floor of my building and I can't do anything there without electricity."

Can a Feminist Be Pro-Life?

Is there such a thing as pro-life feminism? In January, New Wave Feminists, an anti-choice organization, was briefly listed as a sponsor on the website of the Women’s March on Washington. “Intersectional feminism is the future of feminism and of this movement,” said Bob Bland, one of the event’s co-chairs. “We must not just talk about feminism as one issue, like access to reproductive care.” Leaving aside the question of whether Bland understands what intersectionality means—pro-life is a political stance, not an identity or a social position—can feminism, a social-justice movement for women’s equality and human rights, encompass the belief that women should carry to term every fertilized egg, no matter the consequences?

Leaked emails reveal Trump backer and Brexit leader Nigel Farage’s longstanding ties to Julian Assange

Leaked emails reveal Nigel Farage, who led the push for Brexit and now serves as an “unofficial adviser” to President Donald Trump, has longstanding ties to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Farage visited the Ecuadorian embassy Thursday where Assange has sought asylum since 2012, but the former leader of the UK Independence Party told Buzzfeed he couldn’t remember what he’d been doing in the building just moments earlier.

The Man Who Wants to Unmake the West

It was the day after Britain voted to leave the European Union in June, and the Western world was still absorbing the shock. With no clear plan for what would come next, the globe’s fifth-biggest economy had abruptly announced a divorce from the neighbors it had been trading with for nearly 45 years. Markets plunged. “A calamity,” declared the New York Times. “Global panic,” proclaimed one London headline.

Steve Bannon had a different reaction. He booked the calamity’s chief architect as a guest on his radio show to celebrate.

The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush

It says something about the state of affairs we’re in when George W. Bush emerges from the dung heap of history ostensibly smelling like roses. Were Bush from a less powerful country—one that has to follow rules it had no part in making, rather than one that sets rules it has no problem violating—he would be at The Hague before a war-crimes tribunal.

Instead, he is promoting his artwork—paintings of US veterans wounded in the line of duty—in a new book called Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors. Given that the illegal war he launched left so many dead or gravely injured, it might more properly be titled Victims of Hubris.

Paul Ryan Fundraised With Health Insurance Lobbying Firm Just Before His PowerPoint

Just hours before House Speaker Paul Ryan held a press conference to sell his health care overhaul legislation — using a PowerPoint presentation mocked for misrepresenting basic facts  — he was doing something he’s much better at: fundraising.

The two things were related. The Thursday morning breakfast fundraiser he attended was hosted by a lobbying firm working to unwind the Affordable Care Act on behalf of health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of the big winners of Ryan’s proposed legislation.

GOP Rushes Forward With Its Health Care Bill

House Republicans plowed ahead with their effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, brushing aside new criticism of what their proposed legislation would do ― and ignoring protests over the hurried process they are using to enact it.

Two House committees ― Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means ― spent dozens of hours Wednesday and Thursday to advance complementary portions of the American Health Care Act, the long-awaited bill to repeal and “replace” the 2010 health care law. The Ways and Means Committee completed its work around 4:30 a.m. Thursday, and the Energy and Committee followed early Thursday afternoon.

A GOP Congressman Just Spent 6 Minutes Defending Vladimir Putin

Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the president of Estonia from 2006 to 2016, had a crisis on his hands in September 2014. Russian security service agents crossed the border and kidnapped and detained Eston Kohver, an agent with Estonia's equivalent of the FBI. The Russian government accused Kohver of being a spy and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

Ilves referred to the episode Thursday during his testimony at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Russian disinformation and "weaponization of information." Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a staunch defender of President Donald Trump, opened his statement by diminishing the importance of connections between the Trump campaign and Russian officials and said that controversy over the matter "has reached the absurd level of attacks."

This Is the Resistance: More Than 5,000 Grassroots Groups Have Sprung Up Since Trump Was Elected

Joshua Holland surveys the new grassroots resistance groups that have sprung up since the election—he found more than 75, and that number is likely growing.

Indivisible is the biggest of these groups, with more than 5,000 local groups, at least two in every Congressional district. Jeremy Haile explains—he’s one of the authors of the Indivisible Guide.

March 8 was International Women’s Day, and Rebecca Solnit was on strike during it. She talks about about the exciting shape feminist activism has taken over the last few year—she calls it “fearless,” “unapologetic” and “gorgeously transformative.” Rebecca’s new book is The Mother of All Questions.

Original Article
Author:  Start Making Sense and Jon Wiener

The Fight to Save the Affordable Care Act Is Really a Class Battle

The escalating battle over the future of the Affordable Care Act—heightened now that House Republicans have released their Obamacare-repeal legislation—is revealing a fundamental fault line in American society. Even the most vociferous opponents of the ACA defend some features of the law, like parents’ ability to keep children under the age of 26 on their insurance and the ban on insurance companies’ refusing coverage for people with preexisting condition. Those defenders include Republican lawmakers, who incorporated both of those features in their repeal bill. What we rarely hear defended is the ACA’s role as an instrument of social justice. Yet, at its most basic, starting to mitigate America’s yawning class divide is exactly what the ACA did. With this proposed legislation, that is exactly what the Republicans are trying to undo.

Britain’s crime and punishment

The disclosure Wednesday that the European Union’s anti-fraud office has a multi-billion euro complaint against the British government for not cracking down on customs fraud is a serious embarrassment for London.

What in happier times might have been a minor irritant in intra-EU relations could, in the context of the negotiations over Brexit, develop into a poisonous wound.

Russia’s RT Network: Is It More BBC or K.G.B.?

LONDON — The London newsroom and studios of RT, the television channel and website formerly known as Russia Today, are ultramodern and spacious, with spectacular views from the 16th floor overlooking the Thames and the London Eye. And, its London bureau chief, Nikolay A. Bogachikhin, jokes, “We overlook MI5 and we’re near MI6,” Britain’s domestic and foreign intelligence agencies.

Mr. Bogachikhin was poking fun at the charge from Western governments, American and European, that RT is an agent of Kremlin policy and a tool directly used by President Vladimir V. Putin to undermine Western democracies — meddling in the recent American presidential election and, European security officials say, trying to do the same in the Netherlands, France and Germany, all of which vote later this year.

BLUEXIT - A Modest Proposal For Separating Blue States From Red

Dear Red-State Trump Voter,

Let’s face it, guys: We’re done.

For more than 80 years now, we—the residents of what some people like to call Blue America, but which I prefer to think of as the United States of We Pay Our Own Damn Way—have shelled out far more in federal tax monies than we took in. We have funded massive infrastructure projects in your rural counties, subsidized your schools and your power plants and your nursing homes, sent you entire industries, and simultaneously absorbed the most destitute, unskilled, and oppressed portions of your populations, white and black alike.

All of which, it turns out, only left you more bitter, white, and alt-right than ever.

In Kansas City, A Mother Fears Her Children Could Be Next

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Mahnaz Shabbir was 12 when a teacher walked into her sixth-grade classroom and asked her to come to the front of the room and explain why her cousin wasn’t eating. Mortified, Shabbir told the class that her cousin, who had recently moved to the U.S. from India, was observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which requires fasting.

When her friends played “cowboys and Indians,” Shabbir, whose parents came from Hyderabad, India, was always made to play an Indian. This felt different: Her teacher had singled her out in front of her overwhelmingly white, Christian classmates.

Uber stops using Greyball 'secret program' to dodge regulators

Uber says it will ban a secret software tool from being used to evade undercover regulators.

The software, called Greyball, seeks to identify officials around the world trying to catch Uber drivers operating illegally. It then denies them service.

The ride-hailing firm has been using the tool to secure early access to cities where its operations had not yet been authorized.

The “Dutch Trump” Is Even More Toxic Than the Real Thing

PITY THE DUTCH, if you can. The party led by a far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-Islam populist named Geert Wilders is on course to gain the most votes in next week’s parliamentary elections in the Netherlands. But the journalists who have dubbed Wilders “Holland’s Trump” and “the Donald Trump of the Netherlands” may owe the U.S. president an apology.

The House GOP’s not-so-sneaky plan to destroy Medicaid

About 74 million Americans from the most vulnerable pockets of the country would see their access to doctors and medicines rapidly curtailed under the House GOP’s proposed health insurance overhaul.

Peel back the wonky jargon at the core of the bill’s Medicaid provisions, and you’ll find a straightforward idea: America should spend far, far less than it does to get health insurance coverage for poor people.

Trudeau following Harper's lead in denying justice to illegally imprisoned Muslim men

If the Liberal government is serious about combating Islamophobia, they should award long-denied justice to those in Canada's Muslim and Middle Eastern communities whose fundamental freedoms were so callously swept away by Canada's eagerness to support the U.S. "War on Terror."

Canadians are likely familiar with the case of Maher Arar, a Syrian-Canadian who in 2008, after a formal inquiry, received compensation and a formal government apology for the role of Canadian officials in his 2002 rendition and year of captivity and torture in Syria. While the pain and suffering caused to Arar and his family can never be fully remedied, at least Canada took responsibility to fulfill our legal obligation to award redress.

Man behind BRICs on future for Brits

LONDON — It’s been five months since Jim O’Neill quit his job at the Treasury, becoming the first and for now only minister to walk out of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government.

Feeling let down and aghast by the government’s lack of coherence on Brexit, the former Goldman Sachs chief economist — best known for coining the acronym “BRICs” to describe the fast-growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China — opted instead for some down time and went traveling with his family.

The Republicans Did This to Themselves

Republicans spent more than seven years seeking unified control of government based on a promise to swing the pendulum of the American health care system in a more conservative direction. How they intended to accomplish this was never clear. When asked during that period of time to assess their progress, Republican leaders would insist an Affordable Care Act alternative was nearly complete, in the final stages of negotiations, and then they’d let the issue drop until another inquisitor broached the subject again.

Jewish Centres In Ontario Targeted With Bomb Threats

TORONTO — Jewish community centres in Toronto and London, Ont., were among several across North America that received bomb threats on Tuesday.

Police say the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre in Toronto was evacuated out of "an abundance of caution" in light of threats made in New York, Oregon, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, Maryland.

France's rightwing scandals leave Socialists struggling to be heard

In recent weeks, Benoît Hamon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon have been ploughing their political furrows, criss-crossing France, addressing meetings and outlining their programmes for the presidency.

But for the candidates of the Socialist party (PS) and hard-left movement La France insoumise (Unsubmissive France), the results have been distinctly underwhelming.

Apple to 'rapidly address' any security holes as companies respond to CIA leak

Apple has promised to “rapidly address” any security holes used by the CIA to hack iPhones, following the release of a huge tranche of documents covering the intelligence agency’s stockpile of software vulnerabilities.

The leak, dubbed “Vault 7” by its publisher WikiLeaks, is made up of a collection of around 10,000 individual documents created between 2014 and 2016. A spokesman for the CIA said it would not comment “on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents” and the Trump administration spokesman Sean Spicer also declined comment.

Uber silent on use of secret 'Greyball' tracking tool in Canada

It's called Greyball: a secret method used by Uber to track and evade unfriendly authorities in cities around the world.

The ride-hailing service won't confirm whether it used that clandestine tool to deceive regulatory and law enforcement authorities in Canadian cities.

Still, Uber has publicly acknowledged that it used Greyball in major cities across the world including Paris, Boston, and Las Vegas.

Hungarian law targets Soros, foreign-backed NGOs

BUDAPEST — The Hungarian government is moving to limit the influence of nongovernmental organizations that promote democracy and the rule of law, seemingly buoyed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s election victory and the ascendance of the alt right in Washington.

This week, parliament is expected to introduce legislation on foreign-funded NGOs. The government’s bill, whose official text has yet to be made public, will likely require groups to register how much funding they receive from foreign sources.

Paul Ryan’s Health-Care Vise

If there is a single person who made Paul Ryan the Speaker of the House, it is probably Mark Meadows. Back in 2015, Meadows, a former restaurant owner who, in 2012, was elected to represent the most conservative district in North Carolina, set into motion the events that led to Speaker John Boehner’s resignation. Meadows, who had no legislative experience, filed an obscure parliamentary procedure known as a motion to vacate that would have forced a referendum on Boehner in the House. Boehner resigned rather than face the prospect of losing that vote, and Ryan emerged as the only Speaker candidate acceptable to all the factions of the House G.O.P.

From Russia with loathing: Freeland and the media

Exodus 34:7 — the Sins of the Father. “Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generation.”

The bullshit is getting biblical.

Politics has always been a game of public people aiming poison darts at other public people. But have we really reached the point where what your grandfather did, or didn’t do, overcomes contemporary reality? Judging from the media hullabaloo over Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her grandfather’s Nazi past, the answer appears to be yes.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

The Republican Health-Care Bill is the Worst of So Many Worlds

With the release of the American Health Care Act, House Republicans have pulled off an impressive feat: managing to alienate virtually everybody with a stake in health care. If you liked the Affordable Care Act, you will, unsurprisingly, hate this bill. We’ll get into the details later (the bill is in two parts; the Energy and Commerce Committee text is here, the Ways and Means Committee text here; summaries in plain English here and here), but in short, the subsidies for insurance coverage are stingier, the coverage itself is worse, and the penalty for non-coverage is actually higher.

Oregon Congressman Pushes Bill Exempting Ranchers From Terrorism Law's Reach

As the far right becomes more vocal around the country, the Trump administration is not the only arm of government serving its interests. Some members of Congress are closer to fringe right-wing groups than they might care to admit. In February, Oregon Representative Greg Walden introduced a new, vaguely titled bill, "Resource Management Practices Protection Act of 2017" (H.R.983). This bill might look benign at first glance, but in fact, it is a codification of structural racism, a political gift to right-wing paramilitaries, and a double standard in favor of the radical right.

Kremlin-backed media turns on Trump

Kremlin-controlled news outlets used to root for Donald Trump’s election. Now they’re reveling in the chaos and division of his early presidency.

“Sessions Scandal: ‘U.S Headed to Constitutional Crisis,’” reads a March 3 headline on the website of the Kremlin-funded English-language network RT.

“Immigrants See American Dream Fade in Wake of Surge in Hate Crimes,” Sputnik News, another English language outlet bankrolled by the Kremlin, reported the same day.

The Bumbling Plot to Destroy Obamacare

The effort to convert candidate Barack Obama’s health policy platform into what became Obamacare began just days after the 2008 election, with the release of a detailed white paper written by Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus that bears remarkable resemblance to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which became law nearly a year and a half later.

Everything that happened in between—dozens of public hearings, hundreds of private ones, countless Congressional Budget Office cost estimates, White House negotiations and agreements with industry and consumer stakeholders—had an impact on the final bill, but the process began with a remarkable degree of Democratic consensus, reflected in the similarities between the initial and final products.