Flat Rejection Open Thread: There Are *NOT* Two Sides to This Argument

I know, I know — overkill. But this is 2017, and we’re trying to explain to the guy currently squatting in the Oval Office, in this very timeline, that Nazis are wrong. It feels like we have to make some kind of record…

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Single Payer 2020

Scott Lemieux published an interesting piece in The Week today about Kirsten Gillibrand’s support for a single payer solution as the ultimate goal for healthcare reform: “Kirsten Gillibrand is serious about Medicare for all.” An excerpt:

It would have been easy for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to rest on her laurels at the town hall she held at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York, on Wednesday. In the wake of the narrow defeat of the Republican “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, she received two standing ovations from a packed house before she even began to speak… But she had a more ambitious agenda in mind. Before taking questions, she celebrated the defeat of ACA repeal but quickly observed that it was not enough: Too many people still couldn’t afford insurance. And making a point she would return to repeatedly for the next hour, she identified her preferred solution: Medicare for all…

While the audience was generally supportive of her advocacy for Medicare for all — some scattered booing aside — one audience member asked a practical question: What should Congress do if the votes in Congress for Medicare for all aren’t there yet? Gillibrand had a ready answer: “You get to single-payer by letting people buy in [to Medicare] now…”

[W]hat’s politically possible at a given point is a question that can be answered the next time the Democrats take over the White House and Congress. In the meantime, the Democratic Party needs to establish Medicare for all or a comparable universal program as a goal — and whether it’s Gillibrand, Sanders, or another candidate, this is almost certainly the direction the next Democratic nominee will be pushing in.

I’m grateful to Gillibrand for stating outright that a market-driven system will never achieve affordable, universal coverage, so the public aspects of the ACA will have to be expanded to move in that direction. President Obama and the Democrats who worked on healthcare reform during his first term knew that, which is why they built in Medicaid expansion nationwide, a provision the SCOTUS sabotaged.

Anyhoo, the whole thing is worth a read. Love it or hate it, I think Lemieux is correct when he says single payer is becoming a core part of the Democratic Party platform, at least as an objective. The disagreements will arise around how to get there.

How in the Ever Loving Fuck is this Legal?

These motherfuckers are ruthless and shameless:

State and local Republicans have expanded early voting in GOP-dominated areas and restricted it in Democratic areas, an IndyStar investigation has found, prompting a significant change in Central Indiana voting patterns.

From 2008 to 2016, GOP officials expanded early voting stations in Republican dominated Hamilton County, IndyStar’s analysis found, and decreased them in the state’s biggest Democratic hotbed, Marion County.

That made voting more convenient in GOP areas for people with transportation issues or busy schedules. And the results were immediate.

We need to nationalize voting and spend billions on it.

Monday Morning Open Thread: Sisters Are Doin’ It


Apart from savoring a hard-earned victory, what’s on the agenda as we start the new week?


Jay Willis, GQ, three days ago:

At around 1:30 in the morning, after he was sure that he finally had the attention of the Senate clerk and of his nervous, exhausted colleagues who had been watching his every move, John McCain dramatically plunged his outstretched arm downwards, finally sealing the fate of Mitch McConnell’s “skinny repeal” bill in a gesture that had all the drama of a WWE heel turn. It was a wild, shocking moment that drew gasps from the gallery, and the only reason it mattered at all is because, from the very beginning of this debacle of an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, two women Republican senators—Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—never gave a fucking inch…

The Affordable Care Act is safe because of the courage of two women who were not swayed by threats, bribes, and every brand of public and private pressure. They might not be getting as much shine as John McCain today, but they are far more deserving of it.


Friday Night Open Thread: Eyewitness Account

It’s been a long week, humor me. Much appreciation to Mr. Pierce, and also Sen. Murkowski, and even John McCain:

After a motion to send the bill to committee sponsored by Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington failed, McConnell held the vote open for nearly an hour, giving his people time to work on any fence-sitters. Even Mike Pence came down to join in the lobbying and, if necessary, cast another deciding vote. Pretty soon, it became obvious that McCain was going to be the focal point of all the politicking. That was when Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, did a very smart thing. She walked over to McCain and talked to him for a good 45 minutes, essentially boxing everyone out, even Pence, who tried his best. The drama kept building and Murkowski kept talking to him. She, along with Susan Collins of Maine, were the true stalwarts against the bill, voting against every attempt to demolish the ACA, and even voting against the bill coming to the floor, which is something that McCain couldn’t bring himself to do. Murkowski even stood up against some clumsy—and marginally illegal—threats from Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Interior. She and Collins were implacable. If you told me that some of their courage rubbed off on McCain, I wouldn’t argue with you.

“Those were some of the bravest votes I ever saw in politics,” said Angus King, the Independent from Maine.

After a while, with the entire Senate chamber rapt with attention, McCain walked down the aisle and across in front of the presiding officer’s desk, over to the Democratic side of the chamber, where he joined a group consisting of Dianne Feinstein, Amy Klobuchar and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. The smiles started small, and then spread around the semi-circle of Democrats and McCain, whose love for the dramatic gesture remains undimmed, spread his arms out and lifted his head in mock supplication. Everybody laughed. Not long afterwards, Mike Pence left the chamber entirely, rather than preside over an impending political catastrophe.

The only thing that saved the day was the way it ended. The rest was taken up by a legislative process that had as much to do with orderly democracy as a tornado does with home décor…

You can spend hours trying to determine why McCain voted the way he did. He certainly took some convincing to do so, unless you think his inexplicable vote to proceed on Tuesday was the beginning of some Machiavellian exercise to saw off the limb behind McConnell and the president*. Maybe he truly was revolted by the bizarre process through which this exercise was conducted and perhaps he truly did yearn nostalgically for regular order. Maybe he didn’t want what may be his last major act as a U.S. senator to be the person who jacked their healthcare from 16 million of his fellow citizens. Or maybe it was just pure cussedness. Whatever the case, when McCain walked into the chamber and dropped his thumb down, the whole place turned into a goddamned Frank Capra movie.

“It was a pretty good movie, wasn’t it?” Angus King said. “It’s easy to stand up to your opponents. It’s much harder to stand up to your friends.”…

Friday Morning Open Thread: A REPRIEVE!


(If we can keep it… ) From the Washington Post:

Senate Republicans suffered a dramatic failure early Friday in their bid to advance a scaled-back plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, throwing into question whether they can actually repeal the 2010 health law…

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had hoped to approve the new, narrower rewrite of the health law at some point Friday, after facing dozens amendments from Democrats. But the GOP defections left McConnell without a clear bill to push.

McCain had been seeking an iron-clad guarantee from House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) that, if the Senate approved this latest proposal, the House would not move to quickly approve the bill in its current form and instead engage in a broad House-Senate negotiation for a broader rollback of the law. Ryan issued a statement intended to assuage the concerns of McCain and two others, Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.), but the 2008 presidential nominee deemed the speaker’s statement as insufficient…

McConnell’s draft rattled both moderates – Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) were the other Republican votes in opposition – and Republicans who wanted a more robust uprooting of the existing law…

Media Mancrush McCain will be getting 99.9% of the public applause for this, but let’s — as Abigail Adams might say — Remember the Ladies.

It’s been rumored that Susan Collins is thinking of running for governor back in Maine, and her recent hot mic moment certainly sounds like she’s not happy in DC right now.

As for Senator Murkowski…

In Memoriam: Emmett Till Was Born on 25 July 1941

Had Emmitt Till not been brutally murdered for a crime he didn’t commit he would have been 76 today. I don’t mean to step on AL’s post, but I think it is appropriate to not let the anniversary of his birth, and the memory of a life cut tragically short by racism, hatred, and intolerance.

From the FBI:

In the summer of 1955, 14-year-old African-American Emmett Till had gone on vacation from Chicago to visit family in Money, Mississippi. He was shopping at a store owned by Roy and Carolyn Bryant—and someone said he whistled at Mrs. Bryant, a white woman.

At some point around August 28, he was kidnapped, beaten, shot in the head, had a large metal fan tied to his neck with barbed wire, and was thrown into the Tallahatchie River. His body was soon recovered, and an investigation was opened.

It took fewer than four weeks for the case to go to trial: Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam were accused of the murder, and an all white, all male jury acquitted both of them. No one else was ever indicted or prosecuted for involvement in the kidnapping or murder. Bryant and Milam, though, later confessed and told a magazine journalist all the grisly details of their crime. They are both, now, long deceased.

In May 2004, the FBI reopened the investigation to determine if other individuals were involved, working with the Mississippi District Attorney, U.S. Attorney, federal attorneys, and local law enforcement. Till’s body was exhumed for an autopsy in 2005. In March 2006, the FBI announced that information developed in its exhaustive investigation confirmed the Department of Justice’s earlier conclusion that the five-year statute of limitations on any potential federal criminal civil rights violation had expired, thereby precluding federal prosecution of this case. The FBI reported the results of its investigation to Joyce Chiles, the District Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District of Mississippi.

Although justice has not been served in the case, the tragic murder helped galvanize the growing civil rights movement in this country in the 1950s and beyond.

Here are the links to the FBI’s 2006 investigative report. Part 1. Part 2.

We now know, thanks to a recently published biography of Till/history of the Till case that his accuser lied.

The effect of Tyson’s wide-angled framing is especially pronounced in the bombshell revelation that Carolyn Bryant—the white woman who originally claimed Till grabbed and sexually harassed her in her husband’s store—lied about those claims. Media coverage has focused on that explosive admission and the conversation around redemption that it seems to spark, but Tyson’s book, in the end, is largely unconcerned with that line of inquiry. Bryant’s testimony on the stand and her later admission have little to do, in this narrative, with her own battle with guilt; rather, they serve to advance Tyson’s thesis that culpability for Till’s death rests on millions of shoulders. The unlikely thing, he argues, was not that Emmett Till was lynched, but that his lynching actually stirred a national response.

And goes on to level a searing indictment against America – both at the time of Till’s murder and today.

Perhaps most importantly, Tyson considers all the ways in which an American populace was complicit in its acceptance of violence against black people—and then considers all the ways in which it is still complicit in the deaths of people of color today. For instance, in his examination of the Citizens’ Councils’ literature, which fomented mass fears of black criminality and fantasies of rampant black sexual deviancy, Tyson also shows how poor white “peckerwoods” were loathed by wealthier white people, and manipulated into doing the bloody business of physical violence. In this, he provides a thinly veiled parable for today’s politics in how the rhetoric of white supremacy—even in its subtlest dog-whistle form—is used to radicalize people, and how the uneasy detente between classes of white people is often maintained by propaganda built around the threat of the other, even as the culpability is passed to the lowest rungs. “We blame them,” Tyson writes about those radicalized perpetrators of physical violence, “to avoid seeing that the lynching of Emmett Till was caused by the nature and history of America itself and by a social system that has changed over the decades, but not as much as we pretend.”