Pre-Dawn Open Thread: Oh, Look, the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver Had A Town Hall!

I still haven’t been able to find any info on whether Trump decided to upstage Ryan with his Big Boy Great Game Adventure Speech, but would it be a surprise either way? Per Refinery29:

The Ryan town hall began 30 minutes later than originally planned to accommodate Trump’s nationwide address where he outlined a new strategy for troops in Afghanistan…

CNN extended invitations to people from Ryan’s district and selected the questions that were asked. That has led to criticism from Democrats who say the Republican Ryan has been hiding from Wisconsin voters since he hasn’t held a town hall open to everyone since October 2015.

Ryan’s Democratic challenger, Randy Bryce, said he did not receive a ticket to the event. Instead, he raised money to run a pair of television ads during the broadcast, including one where he poses three questions for Ryan to answer about health insurance, Trump, and equal pay legislation.
Read more



Paul Ryan Has A Challenger: Randy “Ironstache” Bryce

DougJ shared Bryce’s now-famous campaign ad earlier this week, though not in a prime time slot. There’s been a rash of news reports since then, but the best I’ve seen is from Mike Elk’s Payday Report:

RACINE, WISCONSIN – Despite his 6’2 frame, the half-Mexican, half-Polish Army veteran known as the “@IronStache” on Twitter is the epitome of a gentle giant. Holding a beef brisket sandwich in his hand, he hugs, back slaps, and laughs his way through the crowd at the Juneteenth parade on the lakefront of Racine.

“I’m running for Congress against Paul Ryan,” ironworker Randy Bryce struggles to tell an African American woman over the noise of a gospel choir singing on the stage behind them.

Ryan, the Speaker of the House and a former vice presidential candidate, has more than $8 million in the bank for his re-election bid. By contrast, Bryce is a rank and file ironworker activist who has built some of Southeast Wisconsin’s best-known landmarks, including Milwaukee’s Miller Park and the landmark Northwestern Mutual Building.

However, it’s not an entirely uphill battle. Ryan’s district includes the pro-union bastions of Racine and Kenosha, as well as the suburban Milwaukee Republican stronghold of Waukesha. According to the Cook Political Report, the district is only 5 points more Republican than Democratic. If 2018 turns out to be a wave election year, some think Ryan could be defeated by a candidate like Bryce in such a marginal swing district…

“People know that the system is rigged and something has to be done, and Donald Trump took advantage of that,” says SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin’s Bruce Coburn, who serves as the union’s Vice President for Politics and Growth. “Randy, though, is someone who really believes in people and has shown it in all the years he has been in the labor movement.”

I first got to know Randy through the #wiunion hashtag during the Occupation of Wisconsin Capitol in 2011, and since then we have become personal friends. Bryce was part of the tens of thousands who occupied the Capitol in order to stop Scott Walker’s anti-union agenda.

Bryce sips Limeaid in the living room of his small two bedroom apartment outside of Racine as he recalls that battle.

“Walker’s strategy was to divide and conquer,” Bryce says. “His strategy was pointing out people and saying they are being the reason that the others didn’t have it as good as they possibly could. Now that’s being taken to the national level with Donald Trump.”…

If elected to Congress, he sees his role there as being more of a shop steward than a politician, and that he aims to run a campaign that amplifies the voices of others. “For an African American woman, there is no possible way that I can put myself into that woman’s frame of mind, the struggles she faces on a daily basis,” Bryce says. “I could do something to pretend, but I can’t experience it myself, so I need to rely on other people.”…



Open Thread: No Sympathy for the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver

Back before he enfeebled the House speakership so that President Donald Trump could run a historically corrupt administration without facing pesky oversight inquiries from Congress, Paul Ryan pretended to feel so strongly about the integrity of U.S. government secrets that he would intervene in executive branch affairs to protect it.

“Today I am writing to formally request that you refrain from providing any classified information to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the duration of her candidacy for president,” Ryan wrote last July to James Clapper, who was then the director of national intelligence, after then-FBI Director James Comey described Clinton’s handling of classified information as “extremely careless.”…

At the time, intelligence professionals professed far more alarm at the thought of Trump—erratic, impulsive, lacking any government experience—receiving classified briefings than Clinton. But Ryan inveighed against her rather than him…

… Trump’s election was a catastrophically destabilizing event in and of itself, and people like Ryan were complicit in it. But to an under-appreciated extent, the amount of damage Trump would ultimately be capable of inflicting was a question for Congress as much as Trump himself…

Paulie Blue Eyes thought he was thisclose to his kegger-day dreams of crushing all those mooching kids, crips, and oldies. But the imperious narcissist — err, Self-Made Superman — whose political train Ryan jumped aboard turned out to be just another user.

Molly Ball, in the Atlantic“How Trump Is Torturing Capitol Hill”:

The speaker of the House strode to his lectern on a recent Thursday to confront another totally normal day on Capitol Hill: health care, tax reform, a president under investigation, rumblings of impeachment.

“Morning, everybody!” Paul Ryan chirped. “Busy week!”…
 
As Ryan earnestly touted his party’s work on “landmark federal IT reform legislation,” there was a grim, haunted look in his bright-blue eyes, and it wasn’t hard to imagine why. What ought to have been the salad days of Republican-led government had instead become a ceaseless, disorienting swirl of scandal, 120 days of self-inflicted chaos and crisis….

Congress, Ryan insisted, was perfectly capable of doing its job. “I know people can be consumed with the news of the day,” he said, as though a potential impeachment were the latest celebrity scandal, or the time everyone was up in arms for 24 hours about avocado toast. “But we are here working on people’s problems every day. We have all these committees that do different jobs, and our job is to make sure that we still make progress for the American people, and we’re doing that. It’s just not what we’re being asked about.”…

Meanwhile Democrats sit back and watch it burn, with no small amount of schadenfreude, and the Republicans who never liked Trump see their worst predictions fulfilled. “You bought this bad pony. You ride it,” the anti-Trump consultant Rick Wilson tweeted recently. A staffer to a Senate Republican who did not vote for Trump told me, “We didn’t have high expectations, so we’re not disappointed. We tried to warn you.”

But Paul Ryan, with his long-cultivated persona as the party’s resident idealist, has always had high expectations. He watched last year as Trump ate his party; now he must watch as the president consumes his dreams. “Paul wants to govern, he’s trying to get what’s possible to get done, and he’s got a lot of credibility on the line,” Ryan’s friend Jimmy Kemp, the son of the late former Representative Jack Kemp, told me. “He’s been working on these issues for so long.”

Kemp, who wrote in Ryan’s name on his presidential ballot, described the speaker as burdened but steady. “He’s frustrated and it’s wearing on him, but he’s not throwing in the towel,” he said. “He just has to answer questions about so many things he doesn’t want to answer questions about.”

“Resident idealist,” my fish-belly-white arse; good little Objectivist that he is, Ryan just wanted to be the sprucely-groomed funeral director at the death of the American dream. But if only people would just ask him the questions he wants to answer!

Back in April, Bloomberg columnist Francis Wilkinson, “Trump Knocks the Air Out of Republicans”:

The vacuum created by an uninformed president with a policy agenda that maxed out at 140 characters “was supposed to be a feature, not a bug,” said Republican consultant Liam Donovan, via email. Donald Trump would get to tweet, and House Speaker Paul Ryan would get to determine the contours of the American future.

After 11 weeks, vacuums are breeding vacuums. The House of Representatives is riven by factions and paralyzed by Republicans’ inability to deliver on the fantastical promises made by Trump in the presidential campaign, and by Ryan and his colleagues over the course of Barack Obama’s presidency…

It’s vacuums all the way down!

Got another bit of bad news for ya, Paulie: You wouldn’t have liked Ayn Rand any more than you do Donald Trump, not even if she hit on you, as she was prone to do with the more personable young men among her deluded acolytes.



Leopards, faces, etc.

Charlie Pierce has an excellent post up over at Esquire: The Resistance Cannot Wait Until 2018. It addresses a thought that occurred to me while watching (with disgust, and only until I located the remote!) the Republicans high-five and swill Bud Lite to celebrate the House passage of Trumpcare and rip healthcare away from tens of millions.

My thought was: “I know they’re cruel, but are these motherfuckers stupid?” I was seeing the visions of attack ad story boards dancing in Democratic ad makers’ heads, juxtaposing shots of photogenic families facing medical bankruptcy, plutocrats wallowing in piles of cash and those gleeful Republican assholes high-fiving.

But Pierce is right — the GOPers aren’t worried about what normal people think of all this shit. If they were, they wouldn’t have passed a bill that has a 17% approval rate:

And, as much as I hate to doubt the good heartland people who voted for this guy, I think they’d react worse to losing an illusory victory over Them than they will to losing their actual healthcare. For the foreseeable future, Republican politicians, House and Senate, remain more threatened by the wrath of The Base than they are by any unfortunate mother and child who pop up on the local news. Whatever emerges from this process will be a Republican bill, thickly coated in banalities about freedom and marketplace solutions, but with nothing resembling a commitment to the same goals that animated the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Sounds about right. We’ve got to make the bastards fear us, and as Pierce notes, a win for Ossoff in Georgia and Quist in Montana would be a good first step. Swing Left just blew past $1 million in contributions since the GOP healthcare atrocity yesterday:

Pierce is correct: 2018 will be too late. We’ve got to make it sting for these evil shithooks every single day between now and then. I certainly plan to devote myself to that task.



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.



Late Night Open Thread: Trumpcare, Not Dead Yet! (*Thunk*)

The NYTimes:

House Republican leaders and the White House, under extreme pressure from conservative activists, have restarted negotiations on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with House leaders declaring that Democrats were celebrating the law’s survival prematurely.

Just days after President Trump said he was moving on to other issues, senior White House officials are now saying they have hope that they can still score the kind of big legislative victory that has so far eluded Mr. Trump. Vice President Mike Pence was dispatched to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for lunchtime talks.

“We’re not going to retrench into our corners or put up dividing lines,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said after a meeting of House Republicans that was dominated by a discussion of how to restart the health negotiations. “There’s too much at stake to get bogged down in all of that.”…

Mr. Ryan declined to say what might be in the next version of the Republicans’ repeal bill, nor would he sketch any schedule for action. But he said Congress needed to act because insurers were developing the premiums and benefit packages for health plans they would offer in 2018, with review by federal and state officials beginning soon.

The new talks, which have been going on quietly this week, involve Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and members of the two Republican factions that helped sink the bill last week, the hard-right Freedom Caucus and the more centrist Tuesday Group.

Any deal would require overcoming significant differences about how to rework a law that covers about one-fifth of the American economy, differences that were so sharp they led Mr. Trump and Mr. Ryan to pull the bill from consideration just as the House was scheduled to vote on Friday…

Meanwhile, per Politico:

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter to her caucus Tuesday, requesting members send their ideas to strengthen the law as soon as possible. Pelosi and ranking members of the committees with health care jurisdiction will discuss the proposals in a meeting Wednesday morning.

“After the collapse of TrumpCare, we must ensure that the Trump Administration does not sabotage the ACA out of spite,” Pelosi wrote. “Then, we can work to improve and update the Affordable Care Act and the health security it provides tens of millions of Americans.”

Pelosi ended the letter by calling last week’s repeal collapse, which stemmed from dwindling Republican support and unified Democratic opposition, a “thrilling success.” Democrats aren’t planning to introduce a full-scale alternative or even a comprehensive overhaul but are looking at specific areas within the 2010 health care law to target for improvement…

Read more



Late Night Open Thread: Pauli Boy (Weak & Nasty, But So Cleverly Marketed)

What I wanna know — when did “wonk” become a synonym for “soulless ideologue”? Or is that just one of those IOKIYAR exemptions?
.


Read more