Call the Senate

Call the Senate. Tell them that the AHCA is horrendous policy that actively and aggressively harms people and that you expect them to vote No.

Be polite but be clear and firm as to what you want your Senator to do.

If you live in a state with two good votes on the AHCA, call them as well. They like to hear that they have support back home. It makes it easier.

The Senate was always going to be where the greatest chance of stopping a policy and moral disaster so let’s get to work.



Time to call the Senate

We know the AHCA is horrendous policy.

We know the AHCA is extraordinarily unpopular.  We know that it is unpopular even among Republican voters.  We know that the Senate is far thinner margins than the House and we almost won there.  So the goal this week is to let your Senators know that this is a very bad bill with very real consequences for their constituents.



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Onward Together (But Never in Lockstep)

On Monday, Clinton described that effort as one to “encourage people to get involved, organize, and even run for office,” while tweeting out the names of several groups that have led anti-Trump or grassroots Democratic efforts this year, like: SwingLeft (which identifies potential districts to turn blue for would-be donors or volunteers), Run for Something, and Color of Change, which does a lot of criminal justice work…

Organized over the last few months with former DNC chair and governor Howard Dean, the group is still in the early development stages…

“We’re not looking to duplicate or replace the DNC or the DCCC or all that stuff,” Dean told BuzzFeed News recently. “We’re looking to give these folks the opportunity to do the building they’re already doing on their terms, but in a more organized way, when the one hand knows what the other hand is doing.”

Dave Weigel, in the Washington Post, “Possible 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls gather for progressive ‘ideas’ conference”:

Don’t call it a “cattle call.” Don’t call it the “CPAC of the left.” On Tuesday morning, the Center for American Progress will host a daylong “Ideas Conference” — its third, as CAP President Neera Tanden points out. It’s just different from the last two in that at least 140 reporters have signed up to cover it, and they’re not shy about calling it a 2020 scouting session.

“We’re focused less on the politics of the moment and more on, ‘What’s the alternative?’ ” Tanden said in an interview. “I expect there’ll be some criticism of Trump, but we expect most of our speakers to provide a positive vision.”…

The conference, which as in the past will take over the St. Regis hotel, will kick off with a speech from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and end with a speech from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), both in their 40s and elected to their high-profile jobs in 2013. About half of the rest of Tuesday’s speakers are considered potential 2020 presidential candidates: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Gov. Terry MacAuliffe (D-Va.). Gov. Steve Bullock (D-Mont.), whose 2016 reelection victory gave Democrats one of their few reasons to cheer in a rural state, will also get a set piece speech…

On Wednesday, after most of the media are gone, CAP will host training sessions for “resistance” activists — part of a series that the think tank has organized. One of Tuesday’s panels will bring some of the activists together, as well as Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, whose “Daily Kos” blog has become a major crowdfunding source for Democratic campaigns.

“I LOVE these new resistance groups,” Moulitsas said in an email. “We need to stop chasing after white racists lost to the fake news bubble, and realize that out of the 97 million Americans who didn’t vote last year, the majority is our own liberal-leaning base. We need to get THOSE people registered and active in the franchise.”

Apart from organizing for the future, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Revisiting Cassidy Collins

On Sunday, Politico reported that there are back-channel discussions in the Senate on healthcare between Democrats and Republicans.

Cassidy’s and Collins’ efforts haven’t limited their talks to the handful of red-state Democrats whom the GOP once eyed as possible converts on health care. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), for one, spoke to Cassidy in March about the Republican’s efforts and praised him for the outreach.

“Sooner rather than later, we’ll return to those discussions,” Carper said.

In addition to Kaine and Carper, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) have spoken with Republicans in general terms about health care recently, according to several people familiar with the matter. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a leading figure in the GOP’s effort to repeal Obamacare, has also talked with Democrats including Kaine,

If the skeleton of discussion is Cassidy-Collins, then quiet talks to shape future talks make sense for Democrats in my opinion. As I see it the outcome tree for Democrats to engage on a Cassidy-Collins like discussion look like the chart below:

Not engaging is an all or nothing bet that values politics of playing for a massive wave in 2018 and a trifecta in 2020 to correct the policy damage. If a bill that can get 50 Republican Senators and the Vice President to vote for it gets out of the Senate, it will get out of the House. It will be less bad than the AHCA but it will be very bad from a Democratic policy perspective.

Engagement either leads to burning Senate time if there is no productive grounds for a deal which is a good in and of itself in a normal legislative environment and extremely valuable in today’s climate or a deal that cements the federal role in healthcare where the argument is over which dial to turn and how far to turn it. That returns healthcare to normal politics and cements a massive ideological victory for liberalism bought at the cost of a tactical policy retreat and giving up the ability for Democrats to use healthcare as a board with a nail on it to beat up on Republicans in the 2018 midterms.

Cassidy-Collins is fundamentally a healthcare bill.  I am still scratching my head at how to make auto-enrollment work with deductibles for a single individual under $10,000 but it is a healthcare bill.  The AHCA is a tax cut bill with massive Medicaid cuts attached to it.

A few cups of coffee to see if there is a plausible agreement zone by both conservative Democrats in vulnerable seats and Senators who liberals can trust as policy validaters are worth drinking.



What this is really all about

Here’s a tweet from The Hill a couple of days ago and my response:

Here’s a link to the article. I think it’s spot on regarding Trump’s goal here, and I’m glad the writer used the word “brand,” even though it’s usually annoying to see life-or-death matters discussed in the language of an ad campaign.

It’s appropriate because Trump thinks in those terms. Fellow citizens, our country has empowered a malignant narcissist with a massive inferiority complex. And he is bent on unmaking President Obama’s legacy because it drives him insane(r) that Obama is more loved, accomplished and respected than Trump will ever be.

Does Trump have a fucking clue what’s in the AHCA? Nope. He might actually believe the lies he’s telling about the bill covering more people and costing less. More importantly, that’s not what matters to him. Probably the only thing that confers wood to the flaccid little appendage Trump’s wife dreads is the prospect of undoing something Obama achieved.

What’s worse, the Republicans have figured this out, so they’ll continue to manipulate Velveeta Voldemort to their nefarious ends with “wins,” like ripping away healthcare for millions, unleashing predatory bankers, getting rid of consumer protections, disenfranchising voters and persecuting women, gay people, black and brown people, Muslims, immigrants, etc.

They’ll stop at nothing, the GOP — both in Congress and their hate-filled base — including collusion with a hostile foreign power. So we have to stop them. We simply have no other choice. Suit up, Juicers. We’re in for the fight of our lives, and I don’t know about you, but if I’m going down, I’m going down swinging.



The Maskirovka Slips XIV: Susan Rice is Once Again Public Enemy #1

Bloomberg‘s Eli Lake, who seems to have become the Congressman Nunes whisperer, reports:

White House lawyers last month discovered that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.”

The National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was conducting the review, according to two U.S. officials who spoke with Bloomberg View on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice’s multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. He brought this to the attention of the White House General Counsel’s office, who reviewed more of Rice’s requests and instructed him to end his own research into the unmasking policy.

…The standard for senior officials to learn the names of U.S. persons incidentally collected is that it must have some foreign intelligence value, a standard that can apply to almost anything. This suggests Rice’s unmasking requests were likely within the law.

Here’s an important question: who ordered Cohen-Watnick, a junior DIA analyst promoted to a senior directorship on the National Security Staff by former National Security Advisor LTG Flynn way above his level of expertise and experience, to conduct this review? Was it LTG Flynn before he was fired on 13 February 2017? Was it the now reassigned KT McFarland? Was it someone above Cohen-Watnick in the Administration chain of command? This is an important question that needs to be answered! Unless Cohen-Watnick had a need to know this – as in was ordered to conduct such a review – as part of his duties as the NSC’s Senior Director for Intelligence Policy, his accessing of this material is a violation of classification and compartmentalization protocols. As is his dissemination of such information.

Bradley Moss, an attorney specializing in cases regarding security clearances and national security, has made a most prescient observation and prediction:

Noah Rothman has made an important discovery and is reporting that:

Rothman is referring to this Medium post from yesterday, 2 APR 2017, by Mike Cernovich. It now appears that Cernovich’s claims that he, at least, and other prominent members of the alt-right have ongoing contacts with senior White House/Administration officials. What Rothman is reporting, that, at least, Cernovich’s ties are accurate, this is important news. It shows that the white nationalist/white supremacist/neo-NAZI community that goes by the more respectable name the alt-right actually has a solid connection to the new Administration. This is disturbing on many levels. Not least is where the flow of information went: Cernovich, Zero Hedge, InfoWars, Gateway Pundit.

What is even more interesting is that someone seems to have fed the info to Fox and Friends, which is where the President saw it:

Back to Susan Hennessy a former attorney in the US Intelligence Community and now a Senior Fellow at Brookings:

A lot of unpleasant material is going to be thrown at a lot of walls today in very short order.

Stay frosty!



So now what?

So now what?

That is a hell of a question but I think the right way to start probing towards some of boundaries of the possibility space is to ask what happened.

As I see it, the winning coalition that blocked the bill was a combination of unanimous Democratic opposition plus state level Republicans who actually have to balance a state budget and deal with real issues plus Republicans in districts that make them inherently vulnerable during a mid-term swing against the incumbent party plus the reactionaries of the House Freedom Caucus. We were also aided by the ineptitude of the wank “wonk” Paul Ryan and his coterie of enablers.

We told our stories. We mobilized. We stiffened the spine of Democrats whose spines probably did not need much stiffening. We put the fear of god into vulnerable Republicans. We scared the people who have to balance a state budget. We had on our side almost all of the interest groups that had bought into the ACA — doctors, insurers, hospitals, big drug makers and everyone else that gave a bit to get a bit. The only people who were not aghast at the AHCA were high income tax cut fanatics and policy illiterate decision makers.

We had a huge and unusual coalition pushing back against a bum’s rush. Most of this coalition was assembled in 2009 and 2010 to push the ACA through. And it was re-activated days after the election as everyone recovered from their shock, dismay and hangovers. Any time something changed, wonks were ripping through the documenation and making fast, rough and directionally right analysis with maps, figures, graphs and other hooks to allow advocates to tell personal, powerful stories that landed. And we kept on iterating powerful and emotionally connecting truth on every iteration of the bill.

We won. And our win helps our community:

Does it mean I finally can breathe again? That my health care won’t be pulled in a matter of weeks or months, on the eve of my starting biologic therapy for my Crohn’s?

This is why we fight. We’re not going to win every time. But we have to fight for conceding defeat and defeatism without making an effort means throwing ArchTeryx and others to the dogs. We’re not going to win every time, but we need to fight for both the chance to win as we did this week and to be able to look at our friends, our countrymen and ourselves with honesty as we say that we are doing everything that we can. We will need that for immigration. We will need that for global warming. We need that for our LBG and especially T allies. We might not win every time, but we can mitigate some damage, impose some delay, inflict some cost, and build effective coalitions for future action and progress every time that we hold to our values and our ideals.

So what does this mean for policy? The fear is that the ACA is here, but that the Trump Administration will sabotage it. This is a real fear, and it is one that the coalition that won this week will need to be engaged on to protect the implementation of the ACA.

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