“TrumpCare” Is Dead – But We Should Fear What’s Next

Long ago in the States of America, Congress was a body that actually got some things done. They would battle it out on the floor of the House of Representatives or the Senate and, after discussing an issue thoroughly, would usually find some way to make it work for not only each party to save some face but for the people of the country to benefit from the decision. Unfortunately, with the polarization of the political process since the mid-1990s, that has become almost as unlikely as the sighting of Yeti on the Las Vegas Strip. Thus, the information rolling out of Washington D. C. on Monday night wasn’t surprising in the least.

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Late on Monday night, the Senate, and particularly Yertle the Turtle (AKA Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), finally came to the realization that what they had fought against for almost a decade was all for naught. For all their complaining about the Affordable Care Act (or “ObamaCare” for simpletons), for all their protestations, for all the literal ink and digital bits spilled on the subject, they had nothing to provide – not one iota of an idea – that would solve the issue regarding health insurance in this country. They weren’t the only ones, however.

Earlier this year, the House tackled the issue as one that they could bamboozle the people of the States of America out of benefits while handing a huge chunk of cash to the wealthy in the nation. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in his infinite wisdom and budget-wonkery, came up with a plan that “only” eliminated insurance from nearly 24 million people – the original “TrumpCare” or American Health Care Act (when the best you can come up with is only inserting one letter in the acronym, that probably should tell you that you’re going to have issues). It was only after pulling the bill off the table and rejiggering it (so that it only eliminated insurance for 23 million people) that the Freedom Caucus – those Tea Party bastards who didn’t think that the cuts hurt people enough nor go far enough to eliminate the ACA – came around and barely passed the bill through the House.

But McConnell would have none of that House BS. He decided he wanted to be the one to take responsibility for the AHCA with his own creation, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act. As such, he and a group of men – that’s right, despite health insurance having to cover women, not one woman was asked to be on the panel – wrote up a new bill that even other members of the GOP couldn’t see. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul even went on a hunt through DC attempting to find the group penning the piece of garbage that McConnell wanted to spin off, finally stopping when he couldn’t even find where they were writing it.

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McConnell proved to be about as flaccid on the issue as Ryan had been, unable to even draw in enough of his OWN PARTY to get the bill to the point of discussion on the floor of the Senate. Maine Senator Susan Collins protested over the cuts to Medicaid and the removal of protections for women (especially through Planned Parenthood); Paul stood against it because it was “ObamaCare-lite.” Then came the stunner:  Nevada Senator Dean Heller, facing reelection this fall and an angry electorate, said he wouldn’t vote for the bill due to the Medicaid cuts. After Utah Senator Mike Lee (like Paul, concerned that the new bill didn’t do enough to kill people) and Kansas Senator Jerry Moran (ditto) got on the “no” side – and with Arizona Senator John “Sorry I started this crap with nominating Palin” McCain out of action following a serious blood clot surgery – McConnell’s efforts to eliminate health insurance for millions went out the window.

With the failure of the Senate to even bring something to the table for discussion, we can honestly say that “TrumpCare” is done and that “ObamaCare” is still the law of the land. The Democrats shouldn’t be celebrating, however, as what comes next may be much worse than what they thought a “repeal and replace” would look like.

Orange Foolius himself, who during the Presidential campaign said that “repeal and replace” was a mandatory action to take, is now so desperate for something to hang his sorry excuse for election on that he wants to see the Congress simply repeal the ACA. This is an impossibility. Such a repeal has absolutely no chance in either body of Congress because they have constituents that they somewhat must listen to, and “starting from scratch” will have absolutely no support from the Democrats. The scary part of the possibilities is that the GOP and the conservatives – who claim to be “Christians” even though they go against every tenet that the Bible set out – now will gut the ACA further, leading to more misery for the people.

Believe it or not, conservatives, but the ACA is neither collapsing, imploding, or failing. In April, Gallup found that most of the citizens of this country – 55% – were supportive of the ACA. Since 2014, there had been a slow and steady improvement in the ACA, according to such “pinko” organizations as the Kaiser Family Foundation, Standard & Poor’s and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. So why do there appear to be problems now? Because the conservative SOBs have cut off funding for the ACA.

Republicans weakened the market because they repealed provisions that were supposed to aid in supporting the market, such as the fine for those who didn’t have coverage or the taxes on medical devices and “Cadillac” insurance programs that would have kept them stable (not very good ideas, but we’ll get to that in a minute). In not fully funding the program, the GOP has tried to guarantee that the ACA will fail.

Now what do we look forward to?

The good side would be the realization by everyone in the GOP – from the dogcatcher in Podunk, AK to the cretin who sits in the most powerful seat in the world using his dinky digits to plunk out missives to a mass of followers that cannot comprehend anything beyond 140 characters – that it is time to work with their loyal opposition on a deal that BOTH can live with. The ACA was entirely based on the plan that former Massachusetts Governor and Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney used (well) in that state. It was only after Barack Obama latched onto the idea that many in the GOP went against something they had been working on since the Nixon administration, something that was a theme throughout the eight years Obama was President.

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The Dems got to give up some of the taxation on the “Cadillac” plans, for example. These plans, which in some cases give the wealthy the opportunity to have a doctor on call 24/7, were hard earned through their labors and shouldn’t be punished in the slightest. The GOP would have to give up the notion that health insurance is a business that the “free market” should determine all aspects of medical issues; in this case, it should be determined by the government so that it is fair for all. There are many other areas, but the essential point in this scenario is that the buffoons who occupy the halls of power in this country should work together instead of continually damaging the country with their polarization.

The bad side? Orange Foolius gets his entire repeal (which isn’t going to happen due to the fact that 1) it would take 60 votes to push any legislation through the Senate, and 2) that the GOP doesn’t want to be responsible for killing Granny) and everything goes to Hell. The repeal of the ACA would cast the entirety of the health insurance system into chaos, send shockwaves through Wall Street and send medical costs skyrocketing. Most importantly, however, it would devastate families who would have coverage ripped away, families that for the first time were able to visit a doctor for care rather than the Emergency Room.

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The people of this country must get used to the idea that they look after their fellow man also. For those who grouse about the “increase in taxes” for the ACA, well…there’s always the increase in your own insurance costs for paying for those Emergency Room visits for a cold. Then there’s the factor that it is inherent in the human condition to help those less fortunate than you, not “I got mine…screw you.”

There’s plenty of growing up that needs to be done across the board. The two ruling parties need to fix something rather than destroy it. The people of the States of America better back up their talk about being a “Christian” nation, otherwise the hypocrisy is ripe. But the problem that we face is, now that “TrumpCare” is dead and the ACA is not being funded by the GOP, what is going to happen in the future, working together or trashing the country?

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Why Recount a Foregone Conclusion?

Florida Approves Voting Reform Bill

As if the 2016 General Election couldn’t get any more bizarre, the past couple of weeks have provided more fodder. We are truly beginning to reach the point that, if someone were to write a movie with the plotline of what we’ve seen over the past 18 months, the producers and executives in Hollywood would dismiss the screenplay because it was so implausible. Yet it seems that the cast of characters in this Marx Brothers farce can’t seem to step away from the stage.

Speaking of the stage, that is where the never-ending story of the 2016 Election keeps itself alive. Apparently the GOP nominee for Vice President, when he isn’t advocating for the conversion of gays or forcing women to have funerals for their fetuses following an abortion, is a huge fan of Broadway musicals. In stepping out one night to see the Tony Award-winning  Hamilton:  An American Musical, the GOP VP nominee might have thought he was just enjoying some “theater of the elite.” Instead, the man received a message from the cast of the Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize winning play.

After the evening’s performance was complete and during the curtain call, Hamilton lead actor Brandon Dixon stepped to the fore of the cast and spoke directly with the GOP VP nominee. “We, sir, we are the diverse America, who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir,” Dixon stated. “But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.

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In a normal world, this would have not even drawn a flutter on the Twitterverse, but we do not live in normal times. Within hours, the thin-skinned GOP Presidential nominee was demanding a cast retraction of the statement and an apology for the booing from the audience in attendance that evening. First off, it was particularly ironic that the little snowflake of a GOP nominee was demanding a “safe space” free of criticism, it was secondly idiotic due to the very nature of the First Amendment rights of people to speak openly in condemnation (and the Hamilton statement was FAR from condemnation) of the government. After suffering the ridicule of pretty much the entire human race, the GOP nominee shut the hell up…but it wouldn’t be for long. (Amid cries for a boycott of Hamilton from the Ignorati, you know what happened? They broke records…)

Last week, the candidate for President from the Green Party, Dr. Jill Stein, decided that she had been ignored long enough (you get barely one million votes when over 130 million are cast…you’re being ignored). Looking at the results in the state of Wisconsin, Stein announced a bid to challenge the results and call for a recount, provided she could get the crowdfunding necessary to pay for the challenge. In what was a more rapid pace than it should have been, Stein had upwards of $5 million in her coffers and filed for that recount, which prior to the recount the GOP nominee won by approximately 22,000 votes. After Stein brought up the issue, the sycophants that surrounded the Democratic nominee for President, Hillary Clinton, “reluctantly” decided to support Stein’s efforts in the recount.

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Now, at this point the GOP nominee could have just sat back, shut his mouth, and continued with the work of transitioning into government (or, in his case, actually learning about what the President actually fucking does). But no…that would have been…presidential of him. Instead, the thin-skinned GOP nominee chose to launch on Twitter a barrage of statements crowned by the lunacy that “he would have won the popular vote if illegals hadn’t been allowed to vote.”

The utter stupidity of that last sentence shouldn’t have been the focus (and it has been the subject of several factchecking sites which have utterly debunked it), however. What should have been the focus was the utter stupidity in even having a recount of the votes in the 2016 General Election.

The numbers are quite clear, even without the state of Michigan coming across on Monday with their results for the GOP nominee. In the Electoral College, he won the vote, 306-232 (not the landslide that his personal Ann Coulter, Kellyanne Conway, and other troglodytes on social media has promoted, but still a victory). He LOST the popular vote by at least 1.5 million votes, meaning that he has absolutely NO MANDATE for pushing his agenda (other than, you know, both houses of the U. S. Congress…this is why the GOP is shitting themselves because they know it is ALL ON THEM now).

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To continue to pick the scab from the 2016 General Election – which the move for the recount by Stein and supported by the Clinton campaign is continuing to do – does nothing to move things forward in the States of America. If the Electoral College were closer – say Wisconsin would change the result of the Presidential race – then the purpose of a recount might be a viable idea. Even with that thought, it would have to be much closer than 22,000 votes to make a recount meaningful. There has never been a recount that suddenly found a bloc of votes that should have been accepted, especially one as large as what would be necessary in this case, without some sort of fraudulent activity taking place on one side or the other.

As it is, the recount is a circle jerk of governmental proportions, one that shouldn’t have been mounted with just numerical reasoning and “computer calculations of voting trends.” Clinton said she would not question the election results (unlike her opponent) and she should have stuck to that mantra. What calling for a recount does is tarnish (if it were possible) the process that has had little to no issues for 240 years. And even if it does change the result, it isn’t enough to change the overall course – unless you want to start looking at other close states and further disembowel our democracy. Besides, even if Clinton could change the result, just how much would she get done with questions of the legitimacy of her election?

Therefore, those that believe the Electoral College riding in like Roy Rogers to save our system come December 19 is a fallacy. Although individual members of the Electoral College will gripe and moan about having to go through with putting their vote in for the GOP nominee (and even resign their positions), the people’s will have been declared. While they can completely break away from those results, in the entire HISTORY of our country, no Electoral College has reversed the results of a general election.

It is up to Congress – yes, that body whose party leader will be sitting in the White House come January 20 – to enforce the rules and the protocols that ALL OTHER PRESIDENTS have been held to. It is up to Congress to make sure the GOP nominee has divested any interests he has in his businesses, no matter how large or small. If his children take them over, then those children don’t get to sit in on meetings with world leaders (or even take those meetings themselves) on a governmental level (they don’t get to do that anyway, you moron). It is up to Congress to make sure that the GOP nominee conducts himself in a PRESIDENTIAL MANNER. And it is up to Congress that, if this prick thinks he’s going to do whatever he wants to do, then he should be investigated and, if necessary, removed from office. The Presidency is not bigger than one man and the reverse is true – one man is not bigger than the Presidency.

One thing that doesn’t need to be done, however, is continuing the Chinese Water Torture that the 2016 General Election has been. If the results are a foregone conclusion, then there is no purpose in recounting one particular state because it happened to be close (and despite what computer scientists are saying, changing over 22K votes is close to impossible). It’s time to move on, but never relent in opposition to the GOP nominee (and his continued ignorance, which he seems to revel in) nor surrender to the face of fascism that will be in the White House come January 20.

“Routine” Tragedies Will Continue Until the Chain is Broken

We didn’t even wait until later into October to get our “mass shooting of the month” out of the way for the next 30 days or so. In Oregon this afternoon, a man walked onto the grounds of Umpqua Community College, entered the classrooms and, reportedly after querying his potential victims on their religious backgrounds, appears to have executed 10 people. The shooter would injure another seven people before police arrived on the scene and gunned him down.

We’ve become numb to it in the United States, these mass shootings where someone – whether for religious or racial reasons, whether they are mentally ill or completely sane – snuffs out the existences of those who are either at the beginning of what should be great lives (the Sandy Hook shootings), defending our nation (Chattanooga), joyously praising their God in a house of worship (Charleston), meeting with their Congressional district’s residents (Tucson) or just simply going to school, trying to learn something to advance themselves (Columbine).

First off, let’s define a “mass shooting.” The definition has come to be determined that which A) four or more people are victims, and B) don’t include gang killings or the death of multiple members of the same family. This criteria makes sense in that emotion (such as a familial situation) or an involuntary occurrence (killing two people at the same time by accident) wouldn’t fall into the equation. Using the criteria, this would include every one of the situations noted a couple of paragraphs previous and would also include the Aurora, CO, theater massacre, among several others. What wouldn’t make the “grade”? The recent point-blank execution of the journalists in Virginia, unless you want to count the shooter as Victim #4.

As to be expected, the respective representatives came out on both sides and began to toss their rhetoric. President Barack Obama summed up one end perhaps most concisely in saying, “Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this. Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel, and it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple months from now.” Of course, after Obama made this statement, gun advocates screamed that he was “politicizing” the situation when it “wasn’t appropriate.”

The National Rifle Association, which is about as oriented to the safe usage of weapons as Volkswagen was in creating environmentally safe vehicles, will continue to wail about how it isn’t about the guns. “It’s about the people,” they’ll sniffle as they hug their little weapon close to their chest, petting it gently. “If they weren’t bad people/high on drugs/mentally ill (choose your excuse du jour), then they wouldn’t have done something like this…It wasn’t the gun’s fault, though (Pat…Pat).” And when their paid henchmen in Congress get up and repeat this line of bullshit, they should be forced to go look at the bodies of the dead as they lie on the grounds of a college or a school playground and then try to repeat their idiocy.

Strangely enough, the rest of the world doesn’t have this problem. Using the criteria set above regarding what constitutes a mass shooting, between 1966 and 2012 (this isn’t even counting the last couple of years of this fucked-up situation) there were 292 such incidences around the world. While they weren’t all in the United States, a sizeable chunk of them were. There were 90 such mass shootings in the U. S., meaning that although the U. S. makes up 5% of the world, we have 31% of the mass shootings. Finally, in the U. S. shootings, more than half of the cases involved a shooter with more than one gun; in the foreign cases, the gunman usually had one weapon. For the gun nuts in the crowd, here’s something to hang your hat on:  the average number of victims in U. S. shootings is 6.87 per incident; internationally, it is 8.8 victims.

In another study from the Harvard School of Public Health looking at mass shooting incidences between 2011 and 2014, mental illness is examined as the cause for the attacks. While the rates of mental illness remain level for the time period, the research shows that mass shootings tripled in frequency. The study also showed that, in the previous 30 years, mass shootings occurred about every 200 days; in the three years examined closely, that rate had dropped to 64 days.

So what can we learn from this data? The problem with mass shootings isn’t about who is committing the atrocities, it IS in the choice of what they are using to complete their twisted fantasies. Weapons – handguns, rifles, shotguns, etc. – are the reason that so many people are being killed when someone decides to commit these acts. We often hear from the gun lobby, “Well, if he had a knife and did the same thing, would you ban the knife?” The answer is probably not because, with only one knife, there’s the chance that the situation could be averted and/or not as extreme in its deaths. When someone has a rack of weapons and enough ammunition to fight their way out of a Syrian village, many people are going to die or be permanently scarred from the wounds they receive.

It’s time we actually did something about this situation. The fuckheads on the opposite side of the aisle – those that suck at the teat of the National Rifle Association and spout off about how their “Second Amendment rights” are under siege when there hasn’t been a federal gun law enacted in the United States since the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban that expired under President George Bush (Bush II, as I like to say) – will spout off about how “this isn’t the time” to talk about the plague of mass shootings in the United States. If this isn’t the time – and if it wasn’t appropriate the first 100 times this occurred in this country – then what the fuck time is a good one?

The NRA needs to get the hell out of the discussion or quit being obstructionist and admit that it is time that there are strong regulations put in place on all weapons in the United States. I consistently hear that the NRA grassroots isn’t represented by the hateful, rhetoric spewing Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the organization, and that those “sensible gun owners” actually wouldn’t mind having some regulatory laws regarding guns on the books. It is time that this segment of the NRA shows up and forces their elected leadership to listen to them instead of allowing for a radical minority (if it is so) of the NRA to dictate the course of action.

They should acquiesce to federal licensing of weapons to individuals (we have stronger licensing principals in place for driving a fucking car, mind you, than owning a piece of military hardware created to end lives) and for all gun owners to have liability insurance on their weapon if it is used in a criminal act (that way there is some compensation outlet for the victims, at the minimum). Finally, gun show sales should be halted and a 10-day “waiting period” should be instituted for ANY gun purchase, be it a semi-automatic pistol, a pump shotgun or a pellet gun.

It’s tough to give any anger to those who are the victims of such acts, but there are some things that can be done. First off, sometimes things will happen in the course of life (easy for me to wax philosophically over) that we cannot prevent. We can never understand why certain things, especially some of the vilest crimes committed by mankind, happen in our existence. All that can be done in some cases is investigate it thoroughly and use the information to try to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Furthermore, even if the above laws were ALL put into place, there would still be mass shootings – they probably just wouldn’t be as prevalent as they are today. Normally sane people would still be able to stockpile weapons, even those that have no application in hunting and are created especially for the act of warfare and killing other humans, and ammunition will still be plentiful. As such, someone might be able to talk a buddy into giving, selling and/or stealing from enough guns to inflict such pain.

Finally, mental illness is a viable reason for mass shootings so, when it comes to those challenges, the U. S. should revamp the system and adequately fund and support the system. As it is now, the U. S. as a whole does NOT put enough money into education on the subject, treatment of those afflicted with the differing mental illnesses nor provide enough to adequately assist these people upon their return to public life. Without attention being paid to this area, then all the laws instituted won’t have any effect.

If six-year old children, pregnant women, members of the Armed Forces, churchgoing people, high school and college students and, yes, even the everyday Average Joe being executed by the business end of a firearm through no fault of their own doesn’t spur you to action, then you cannot be a member of the human race. It is time we end this scourge of mass shootings in the United States or, at the minimum, rein them in tremendously and reduce the number of times that the nation sheds tears for those murdered viciously.

Let’s just hope that we’re not talking about this again in a couple of weeks…