This Is Not Complicated

So today, the Republicans garnered just enough votes to begin killing health care for most Americans.  Untold suffering, and death, will result.  We still need to keep calling, demonstrating, writing, etc.

But we could have avoided all of this if more of us had simply voted in midterm elections.  Those are the elections where we elect many of our members of Congress and Senators.  Those are also the elections where we elect county commissioners, members of our boards of education, secretaries of state (who decide how votes get counted), state legislators, etc.  You know, the people who then go on to run for Congress, Senate, President.  I’ve delivered this rant before, here, at conferences, and in my column at Witches & Pagans .  I believe that most of the people kind enough to follow my blog already grok this.  But many Pagans and many liberals don’t bother to show up and vote in the midterms.

The tragedy of a Trump presidency could have been lessened significantly if more of us had shown up to vote in state elections  just before and after the 2010 census, — the election that determined which party would control redistricting based on the census.  Democrats would certainly control Congress and might even control the Senate if more people had shown up to vote in that election.  Trump would be a wounded and weakened animal, caged in by at least a house majority.  And Republican members of Congress and the Senate would have to worry about angering their more moderate constituents; they couldn’t go along with anything too Trumpian.

So, we are now about 15 months away from the 2018 midterm elections.  And what we need to do is not complicated:  we need to show up and vote for the Democrats in the midterm elections.  You can do whatever you like in the primary, but in the midterm election, you need to show up and vote for the Democrats.

Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats. Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats. Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats. Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats. Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats. Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats. Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats. Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.  Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats. Show up for the midterm elections and vote for the Democrats.

Really.  It’s that simple.  And drag your friends and family members with you.

There’s another census in 2020.  I am just saying.

Image found here.

Monday at the Movies

There are a number of movies that deal with the theme of older women who suddenly find themselves with nothing left to lose.  This one is a bit whimsical, but I do like the liberation aspect.

The Magical Battle for America 7.23.17

Top-Pentacle-Knots-Tattoos-Images

Welcome!  Whether you’re new or have been doing this magical working all along, I’m very grateful to you.  Today, we’re going to address the way that Trump’s administration keeps stepping on what I call democratic norms.  For example, we don’t have a specific federal law that requires the President to release his or her taxes, but it’s become the norm for them to do so.  President’s don’t use the presidency to promote their own businesses.  They don’t let their daughters sit in for them at G20 meetings.  They don’t Tweet insults and outright lies.  And so on, and so on.  Democratic norms are the things that make America, America.  Watching this administration trample all over our democratic norms, people keep saying, “This isn’t normal,” mostly, I think, to remind ourselves not to get used to the madness, not to become complacent.

*****************************

Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.

Breathe.

Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.

Breathe.

As you move astrally to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work.  You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky:  Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty.  Do they seem more defined since we began our work?  Do they have anything special to tell you this week?

For a few moments, just sit on your hillock and allow yourself to become comfortable. This place should be feeling very real to you by now; we’ve been working together to create it for months and months.  On the grassy plain, just beside your hillock, you see a magical tool.  It might be a broomstick, or a wand, an athame, or a sword.  Are you willing to work with this tool?  What does it look like?  How does it feel when you pick it up?  Can you tell what force or presence offers it to you?

Using your tool or simply your own power as a magical worker, fly up into the air and look at the American landbase.  We are going to draw a Pentacle over America to protect its democratic norms.   (I’m a Witch and the tool I found was a broomstick.  I’m riding it to draw the Pentacle in the sky.  The lines come out from my broom a bit like the lines an airplane leaves, only my lines are permanent.)  Move towards the Salmon banner in the Northwest and ground your magical intention there.  Now fly to the Walden Pond banner in the Northeast, laying down behind you the magical first line of the Pentacle in the sky above America.  From there, fly to the Cowboy banner in the Southwest, being careful to draw a solid line of protection.  Now, fly to the Lady Liberty banner in the North.  Look back and see the shining lines of protection you’ve drawn.  Can you see some lines that your fellow magical workers are drawing, as well?  Fly to the Underground Railroad banner in the Southeast.  The line of protection that runs from Lady Liberty to the Underground Railroad is straight and clean.  Finally, fly from the Underground Railroad back to the Salmon banner in the Northwest.  You’ve drawn a Pentacle of protection that incorporates all of the powers of the five banners with which we’ve been working.  Fly up a little bit higher and see the Pentacle casting protection over America, over the unspoken norms that have made our democracy possible.

Now, return to your hillock.  Do you want to store your magical tool here or release it?  Is there a song or chant that you want to leave in return?  As you sit and rest, know that you are not working alone.  The Resistance — both magical and in all of its mundane (phone banking, check writing, representative calling, letter writing, canvassing, voting, volunteering, tutoring, restoring wetlands, growing plants for bees) manifestations — is huge.  Know that you are a powerful worker of magic, rooted in your very own landbase, working with the strong archetypes of this land, assisted by countless unseen others who labor in league with you.  You are brave and growing braver.  Your magic and your practical workings can make the difference.

Breathe.

Return to your own body, your own landbase.  Open your eyes.  Rub your face, move your arms and legs.  Notice the detail you selected to call you back from the astral.  Open your circle.  Drink something, maybe peppermint iced tea or water with a slice of cucumber.  If you like, have something to eat, maybe a peach or a handful of granola.

During the course of this week, you may want to visit the bannered prairie several times in order to strengthen its presence on the astral.  You may want to repeat this working several times.  You may want to draw a pentacle on a map of America and place it on your altar.  You may want to journal about it.  Are you inspired to make any art?  Can you sit beside a warm fire, or light incense, or stare into a candle?   What actions are you inspired to take for the Resistance?  If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.

Picture found here.

 

Shame on Those Poor People

poor7

The nadir of lazy journalism these days is the by-now-well-traveled-all-expenses-paid trip from the offices of the New York Times or the Washington Post to interview “Trump voters,” somewhere in the midwest or the Appalachian foothills, and discover that, low and behold, people who voted to see the world burn are still amused to see the world burning.  It’s funny how no reporter ever seems interview, say, African American women living and working in a large city.  There are actually quite a few of them, you know,  They voted for Hillary Clinton.  But their views certainly matter far less than white men living in the Rust Belt.  We can measure how much less in column inches.

Another variation on the Trump-voters-still-like-Trump story is a visit to poor white people so destitute that they don’t seem to have even voted.  This week, the Washington Post treated us to its (at least) second story in several months about poor white people living on disability payments and how their white, rural neighbors look down on them.  Since this trope is becoming so familiar, I want to make several points about it.

First, yes, this article is written to shame the people on disability.  Here’s a little taste:

GRUNDY, Va. — Five days earlier, his mother had spent the last of her disability check on bologna, cheese, bread and Pepsi. Two days earlier, he had gone outside and looked at the train tracks that wind between the coal mines and said, “I don’t know how I’m going to get out of this.” One day earlier, the family dog had collapsed from an unnamed illness, and, without money for a veterinarian, he had watched her die on the porch. And now it was Monday morning, and Tyler McGlothlin, 19, had a plan.

“About time to go,” said his mother, Sheila McGlothlin, 57, stamping out a cigarette.

“I’m ready,” Tyler said, walking across a small, decaying house wedged against a mountain and strewn with dirty dishes, soda cans and ashtrays. They went outside, stepping past bottles of vodka his father had discarded before disappearing into another jail cell, and climbed a dirt path toward a housemate’s car.

Those dirty, lazy slobs.  (And, I get it.  I am the queen of “at least clean up the mess,” because a messy house will literally (and I am a woman who understands the literal meaning of literally) make me break out in hives, and, if you’re depressed and upset, cleaning up will (my grandma guaranteed) make you feel better, but that doesn’t change the way the author picks certain details to shame.  We never get such details about the sanctimonious neighbors.  Pray tell:  are their houses tidy and clean?  How do their gardens grow?)

The article goes on to recount how Mr. McGlothin’s father once worked in a local coal mine but, after being injured on the job, begged for handouts at the side of the road.  (Now, Mr. McGlothin is planning to do the same.)  A local small businessman saw the father standing by the road, offered him a job, and, when the father declined, the businessman made himself a sign and stood next to the father alongside the road, letting everyone know that he’d offered the man a job and that the man had declined.  The shaming was painful, but not as painful as not eating, so the family has continued the practice.

Second, I can’t be the only person to understand that, as the reporter fails to explain, for many people on disability, a meager job is worse than no job at all.  Making a small amount of money can disqualify them from all of their benefits, including medical benefits, and can often put them deeper into the hole than they already are.  And if they lose the job, it can be months before their disability benefits are re-instated.  (We could fix that, but it might mean a few people earning money and getting medical benefits and that’s apparently too horrible to contemplate.  Better to force people to stay on disability.  And then shame them.)  There’s no discussion of what kind of job the local businessman offered — what it paid, if it had benefits, whether it was the kind of job a man with a disabled arm could do.  Those would be good things to know before we start getting angry about people who “just don’t want to work.”

Third, if we’re going to pass out blame, let’s talk about who isn’t mentioned here.  Mining is dangerous work, but it’s made some hefty profits for mining companies over the years.  Just as we now mostly all understand that the WalMart heirs got rich by paying their workers so little that the rest of us have to  step up and make up the difference, we should understand that the mining companies got rich by externalizing onto the rest of us the inherent dangers of mining.  In a truly rational market, the mining companies should have been required to pay into a government fund the actual amount of money required to fully support miners who were, quite predictably, injured in the course of their dangerous jobs.  That would give the companies a motivation to do everything they could to make the job safer and it would mean that people’s neighbors wouldn’t have to grouse about how their tax dollars were going to support a disabled miner.  The mining companies could pay into the fund by charging more for their coal, or they could make a smaller profit, or they could engage in some combination of those two strategies.  If, even with those strategies, they couldn’t make enough money to earn a profit without externalizing the cost of their business onto the rest of us, then they should shut down.  If it turned out, for instance, that workers maintaining wind turbines were less likely to be injured, then wind power would be cheaper and coal mines would shut down.  That’s the rational, market response.

So, sure, it’s easy to blame these people for their situation and there’s no denying that they have made a number of poor decisions, but blaming them exclusively, because they’re visible, standing there by the side of the road, and ignoring the role of the mining companies, because their externalization of their costs onto the rest of us is invisible, is a great way to fail to solve the problem.

Fourth, to focus on the family for a moment — and this is going to make people mad at me — when you are struggling on the edge of survival, as these people are, you should not have pets.  (As a woman on the cusp of retirement who just got two kittens, I’ve given this matter some thought.)  First, as the article makes clear, you can’t afford to care for them and, second, as the article fails to make clear, you can’t afford to care for them.  By that I mean that, first, you can’t afford a vet to even put the animal down when it’s sick.  You watch, as the young man in this article does, the animal die in pain on your porch.  (Who knows how much that dog suffered from fleas, heart worm, etc.?  It costs money to address those issues, even if they aren’t life threatening.)  And, second, you can’t really afford the pet food, etc.  What this family spends on dog food should be going to buy staples such as rice, dried beans, powdered milk, peanut butter, toilet paper, etc.  It should be going for job training and medical care for the depression that they are obviously suffering.  It should be going to build up a six-month savings fund.  I understand. People love their pets and pets can provide a lot of companionship, comfort, joy.  But if you can’t afford to feed yourself, you can’t afford a pet.  (I also understand that it’s one thing to go out and get a pet when you’re already struggling and it’s quite another to figure out what to do if you have a pet and then, for example, become disabled and unable to afford to care for the pet.  The second instance is, obviously, much more difficult emotionally.)  Love animals?  Find the local pet shelter and volunteer.  Go offer to walk a neighbor’s dog.  Enjoy watching the local birds.   I’m sorry to sound heartless, but it’s as unfair to the animals as it is to the people.  Flame away.

Fifth, simply because I hate the idea of people going hungry, I’m going to talk a little bit about feeding yourself on a very tight budget.  The matriarch in this family is obviously trying, spending her disability payment to feed herself, her son, and some housemates.  The article says that she spent the last of her money on bologna, cheese, bread, and Pepsi.  The cost of living here in DC is likely a bit higher than it is in Grundy, and Peapod delivery is likely pricer than going to the local grocery store, but let’s assume that Mrs. McGlothin used Peapod and bought a pound of bologna, a pound of American cheese, a loaf of white bread, and a 12-pack of Pepsi.  Besides the soda, that’s approximately 15 servings of food.  Peapod shows that a pound of bologna is $3.19; a pound of American cheese is $3.99; a loaf of white bread is .99; and a 12-pack of Pepsi is $5.99.  So let’s say that, with taxes, she spent her last $15 for Pepsi and 15 servings of food.  What else could she have done?

A pound of dried navy beans costs $1.50 and will yield 10 servings of cooked beans.  A pound of rice costs $1.69 and will yield 20 servings of cooked rice.  Mix the rice and beans together and you have 30 servings (two times as many as the 15 servings she got with bologna, cheese, and bread) that will be far more filling (and nutritious) than a bologna and cheese sandwich.  There’s more than enough money left over to buy a big can of stewed tomatoes ($1.19 for 7 servings) and an onion ($.99 for 2 servings) to cook with the beans and give them some extra flavor.  (Now, we’re up to almost 40 servings, but let’s be conservative and say we’re at 35 servings, as the rice absorbed some of the tomatoes.)  We’ve also prepared meals that are familiar to people in Appalachia, almost comfort food.  If you can go outside and pick some dandelion leaves, some wild garlic, and/or some nettles, you can add that to the beans for extra flavor, nutrition, and fiber.  Because this family isn’t working long hours at a job, simmering some rice and beans over the stove is doable.  Processed sandwich meats (yes, I know they’re bad for you) may make some sense if you’re working all day and then packing lunches, but they don’t make sense for people who have time to cook.  A jar of peanut butter ($4.59 for 13 servings) and a bag of apples ($5.19 for 9 servings) will add $9.78, for a grand total of $13.65, and there will still be just enough money left over to address what we’ll call The Pepsi Question.

Having spent decades drinking several Diet Cokes every day (it basically got me through law school), I understand something we’re not particularly willing to admit in this society:  soda is addictive.  Pepsi gives you a hit of both sugar and caffeine and is, as a result, doubly addictive.  We all understand how bad soda is — it can rot teeth, lead to diabetes, and, in this case, because it has no nutritional value, is causing the family to spend their limited money on empty calories.  (Please imagine that I just delivered another rant about Pepsi and Coke externalizing costs and internalizing profits.)  But people, especially people under stress, are unlikely to just give up their sugar and caffeine, cold turkey.  (Indeed, it took me a little over year, once I had started my legal job and gotten my sea-legs, to wean myself from Diet Coke, to green tea, to water.  And I still do three or four Diet Cokes a year, usually on days that are more stressful than others.)  But if this family were to switch from Pepsi to another regional favorite, sweet tea, they could buy a box of tea bags ($2.69 for 96 servings) and a pound of sugar (multiple servings for $1.35).  They could drink a LOT of sweet tea for less than the cost of 12 cans of Pepsi.  They’d still get caffeine and sugar, but they’d be spending less of their money on that drug (esp.  as tea and sugar aren’t taxed).  Our matriarch would have gotten at least 35 servings of food, instead of 15, and many more beverage servings for $17.69.

I don’t think the answer is to tell poor people that they can’t use their disability payments or food stamps to ever buy a Pepsi.  I do think education, offered in the grocery stores, especially, could help.  Here’s a helpful, free cookbook if you’re interested in this subject.

I’m not even going to address the cigarettes.  Please imagine that I have delivered yet another rant about externalized costs and internalized profits.

Finally, I’ll simply note that a guaranteed annual income for everyone is really the answer to these issues.  But that’s a discussion for another day.

Picture found here.

Goddamn It, Will This Fucking Zombie Bill Just DIE, Already?

NOTLD

Previously on “Please, Republicans, Don’t Kill Millions of Americans By Taking Away Their Access to Health Care”:

The House of Republicans, after seven years of “repeal Obamacare” show votes, finally had to actually, you know, COME UP WITH A DAMN ALTERNATIVE BILL. Way to procrastinate, guys. It was the AHCA and it was, according to so-called President Trump “mean” (and may I never quote him again), kicking 24 million people off their health insurance.

So #TheResistance rallied. We marched. We called. We emailed. We protested..

And we thought we killed the AHCA. We patted each other on the back for our hard work and moved on to the next Trumpocalypse. Betsy DeVos. Deporting DREAMers – no, wait, they can stay, but their parents are screwed. Russiagate. The travel ban. Trump’s disastrous international trips. Comey. Pick your poison.

But wait! Paul Ryan managed to shove through his deeply unpopular bill with a disingenuous “the Senate will fix it” promise.

Then Mitch McConnell came up with the, “you think YOUR bill is bad? hold my beer!” BCRA in closed door meetings with 12 other old white guys. Not only were no public hearings held and no Democrats consulted, he even excluded most of his own damn caucus.

McConnell then tried to shove BCRA through the Senate before the July 4th recess – before anyone really had a chance to read it or the CBO had a chance to tell us exactly how many millions of our fellow citizens would lose their insurance coverage as a result. Thankfully, he failed, and constituents around the country stalked their cowardly, no-town-hall-meeting-for-you Senators to their local Independence Day parades while disability rights activists got arrested by the dozens staging sit-ins at local Congressional offices.

The CBO score came out: 22 million citizens would lose their health insurance. McConnell tried again to schedule a vote and threatened to take away everyone’s birthdays (aka, the annual August Senate recess)  if the Senate didn’t pass it – remember, as a budget reconciliation (hence the name), which only requires 51 votes. In other words, two Republican Senators could defect and Mitch could still win, by getting so-called Vice President Pence to cast the tie-breaker.

#TheResistance stepped up the calls, the rallies, the visits, the sit-ins, the die-ins, the protests, the marches, the emails…

Then! A ray of light!

Senators Lee (R-UT) and Moran (R-KS) unexpectedly joined Senators Collins (R-ME) and Paul (R-KY) and said they wouldn’t even vote to allow the Senate bill onto the floor for debate.

For good measure, Senators Collins, Murkowski (R-AK), and Capito (R-WV) basically said, “Mitch, don’t even THINK about repeal only” (CBO score: 32 million citizens would lose their insurance) and tanked what we all thought was the last of last ditches attempt: repeal only, something something something later on, IOU: One Health Care Bill.

And we all figured it was really and truly dead this time. And there was much rejoicing.  Hecate even congratulated all of us on our good work stopping the slow-motion disaster that is Trumpcare.

But every time we think we’ve killed off the bastard, it comes back from the grave, like Jason in Friday the 13th: Oh My God, Will This Franchise Ever End?

Now Mitch McConnell has scheduled a health care vote – nobody seems to know on what, exactly – for next Tuesday, July 25.

Why?

Near as I can tell, because lil’ Donny Temper Tantrum took a minute out of playing with his GREAT BIG RED firetruck and firing Sean Spicer to pitch a fit about health care. Not that he knows thing one about either of the bills – or, let’s be serious, the Affordable Care Act, either – but when he says “vote!” he expects McConnell to jump to it. Even though no one knows what they’re voting on. Even though it seems wildly improbable that Mitch will be able to marshal 51 votes, particularly with Senator McCain still recovering from his surgery and absorbing his cancer diagnosis at home in Arizona. Even though the whole thing is a dumpster fire on top of a clusterfuck crossed with an own goal times infinity.

HOWEVER.

That means that AHCA/BCRA/This Space For Rent/Shitburger Bill To Be Determined At A Later Date is not dead, just like Jason is NEVER EVER REALLY DEAD.

You know what to do. Call. Email. Sit-in. Die-in. March. Rally. Protest.

LOTS of cities are holding rallies and other events on Saturday, July 29. Find out more and register for something in your area – or sign up to host an event! – at ourlivesontheline.org.

Edited to add: Andy Slavitt, ACA and health policy expert, just posted a tweet storm on this topic. You need to check out the whole thing, but here’s the related tweet he pinned:

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 5.07.14 PM

Image from zombie film classic Night of the Living Dead found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1

This Is Post About Health Care; This Is a Post for the Resistance.

hygeia_rubens_1617 NEW

First, congratulations!  Seriously.  If you were one of the thousands who did magical work, wrote letters and emails, called, showed up at town halls, demonstrated, blogged, tweeted, and/or talked to your family and friends, this nation owes you a debt of thanks.  As a breast cancer survivor who spent many an anxious night worried about the return of the dreaded “pre-existing condition” exclusion that condemned women like me (for whom a re-occurrence is always just one little lump, felt in the shower, away)  to bankruptcy and death, I owe you a debt of thanks.  Unbelievably, and against all odds, we did it.  On election night, when I saw that the Republicans, who have spent almost a decade focused on repealing the Affordable Care Act, had captured the White House, the Senate, and the Congress, I firmly believed that we’d soon see the end of affordable health care for the vast majority of  Americans.  The fact that, even though they were in complete control, the Republicans weren’t able to strip health care from most of us is simply — honestly — amazing.  You did that.  Democracy did that.  Never doubt what a powerful magic worker you are, what a committed citizen you are, what, as Margaret Meade said, a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can do to change the world.

Second, zombies.  You know how zombies are.  You think that you’ve finally dispatched them, and then, bam, there there are again, still staggering towards you and still chanting, “Braaaains!”  Here’s one of the big differences between the Democrats and the Republicans:  When we Democrats win something — school desegregation, the right to use birth control, public education, labor laws, civil rights for African Americans, same-sex marriage, environmental protections, etc. — we tend to dust off our hands, think we’re good to go, and look to the next campaign.

But Republicans never think like that.  They are always staggering towards us, chasing “Braaaaaains!”  Social security may have been around for 80+ years, but they’re still trying to undo it, although they use words such as “privatize,” or “save,” or “modernize.”  Thomas Jefferson himself may have advocated for public education and millions of our immigrant grandparents may have seen their descendants live better lives because of it,  but, at this very minute, millionaire Betsy DeVos is scheming to destroy it, utterly.  Women may have won the right to abortions in doctors’ offices, instead of back alleys, almost half a century ago, but Republicans have been trying for just as long not only to outlaw safe abortions, outright, but also to chip away at that safety through vaginal ultrasounds, partner consent laws, personhood laws, waiting periods, etc.  And we’re now seeing the same, largely successful, tactics applied to same-sex marriage.  OK, you may have a constitutional right to marry, but not to have it performed by a government official in your county, but not to rent a hall for your wedding, but not to have a wedding cake, but not . . . .

All of which is relevant to the current health care battle because, although we may have won this round, that doesn’t mean that we’ve really killed the zombies.  They’ll be back, arms extended, chanting “Braaaains,” and trying to chip away at health care even if they haven’t yet been successful at sending old women like me off on ice floes (besides, global climate change threw a wrench in those plans).

So do not become complacent.  Don’t stop calling your Senators.  Be vigilant for their next attempt to, likely buried in some boring appropriations bill, take away our health care.

Third, why ARE Republicans so determined to take away affordable health care from all but the most wealthy?  Right now, there are two main reasons.

First, as Bill Kristol explained, when urging Republicans to defeat then-first-lady Hillary Clinton’s health care plan, “The long-term political effects of a successful… health care bill will be even worse—much worse…. It will revive the reputation of… Democrats as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government.”  Mr. Kristol also understood that, like Social Security (TVA electricity, Medicare, interstate highways, AMTRAK, reliable weather reports, protections against adulterated food and medicine, clean water), once middle class Americans obtained a government benefit, they would be reluctant to lose it.  We ARE Americans.  We work for our benefits.  Why SHOULD we not get them????

Second, Republicans are determined to repeal the Affordable Care Act (which Republicans, in what may turn out to be their one most egregious branding mistake, labeled “Obamacare”) because it was proposed by a black man.  It’s been clear for decades that America, like most of the developed world, needed to figure out some way to provide health care to its citizens.  In 1974, Republican Richard Nixon proposed a comprehensive health insurance care plan — called CHIP — to Congress.  The individual mandate, the basis of the plan that President Obama proposed, was originally a conservative idea.  “It was first proposed by the Heritage Foundation in 1989.   And scores of Republicans—not just Mitt Romney—backed the idea in the past couple of decades.”  President Obama, bless his heart, assumed that if he proposed the Republican plan, Republicans would accept it.

He didn’t understand just how much Republicans hated black people.  He may have proposed their own plan to them, but Republicans were busy meeting the VERY NIGHT of his Inauguration and planning to take him down.  And calling his health care plan “Obamacare,” (aka The Ni***r’s Heath Care Plan) was never anything more than a way for Republicans to get a lot of poor white people to vote Republican.  As President Johnson said, “”If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket.  Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

So, for almost a decade, the Republicans ran on repealing “Obamacare.”  They didn’t really have an alternative proposal because President Obama had given them their own proposal.  But for a long, long time Republicans ran on getting rid of that black man’s plan just to spite the black man.  But then, with Trump’s electoral college win, they were forced to put up or shut up and, in the end, they mostly had to shut up.

And, as Jonathan Chait explains, Trumpcare failed mostly because the Republican Party cannot govern.

One might dismiss this kind of rhetoric as a typical Trumpian boast. But the candidate was merely translating into the vernacular the somewhat more carefully hedged promises his party had made for years into terms in which they were meant to be understood. Paul Ryan’s “A Better Way” road map offered what it called “a step-by-step plan to give every American access to quality, affordable health care. … more choices and lower costs.” And why wouldn’t Republicans believe this? After all, Obamacare was, supposedly, a train wreck, a complete failure of design. It therefore followed that they could easily replace it without significant harm to anybody.

In truth, it was never possible to reconcile public standards for a humane health-care system with conservative ideology. In a pure market system, access to medical care will be unaffordable for a huge share of the public. Giving them access to quality care means mobilizing government power to redistribute resources, either through direct tax and transfers or through regulations that raise costs for the healthy and lower them for the sick. Obamacare uses both methods, and both are utterly repugnant and unacceptable to movement conservatives. That commitment to abstract anti-government dogma, without any concern for the practical impact, is the quality that makes the Republican Party unlike right-of-center governing parties in any other democracy. In no other country would a conservative party develop a plan for health care that every major industry stakeholder calls completely unworkable.

Health care.  We all need it.

Words for Wednesday

Forty Years

~ Mary Oliver

for forty years
the sheets of white paper have
passed under my hands and I have tried
to improve their peaceful

emptiness putting down
little curls little shafts
of letters words
little flames leaping

not one page
was less to me than fascinating
discursive full of cadence
its pale nerves hiding

in the curves of the Qs
behind the soldierly Hs
in the webbed feet of the Ws
forty years

and again this morning as always
I am stopped as the world comes back
wet and beautiful I am thinking
that language

is not even a river
is not a tree is not a green field
is not even a black ant traveling
briskly modestly

from day to day from one
golden page to another.