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.

#EveryVoiceMatters



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.

Read more



Late Night Open Thread: How You Like Me NOW?….



Friday Evening Open Thread: Repubs Be LOOOOSERRRSSSS!

Yes, it’s only one battle, the GOP will never give up, think of the Media Village Idiots whose cocktail-party weekend has just been ruint, yadayadayada. As a devout Cynic, I’ve always felt that one of our Democrats’ greatest weaknesses is that we can never stop looking for the defeat lurking behind every victory. Tomorrow, we gird for the next fight — tonight, we celebrate!

Apart from cheering our warriors, what’s on the agenda as we start our well-earned weekend?

(And I am “open” to being handed a large bag of money, no strings attached. LOSER!)



The possibility space for all daughters

As I was watching Nominee Presumptive Clinton speak tonight, I thought about my daughter asleep upstairs, and I also thought about a post I wrote last summer on the day that same sex marriage was declared constitutional.  I want to repurpose a chunk of that post tonight:

I don’t know much about how my kids will turn out when they get older.  I know a few things though.

I know my daughter will be a massive dork (as she cried last night that she missed school as she was not learning enough new things at summer camp, and could we buy her some new math workbooks).  I know she will be a goof ball with a massive amount of empathy and a strongly developed sense of fairness.  I know that when she is adult, her possibility space will be massive….

I have no clue…

Their possibility space just widened a little bit this morning.  Being their dad, that makes my day.

She could be president some day.

Now let’s go win so that she’ll have a positive example instead of a wistful what may have been when she starts her campaign in 2046.



Good news everybody: ACA cost edition

So under budget and on projection for the target uninsured rate even with Chief Justice Roberts enabling sociopaths and assholes to stop Medicaid Expansion in 20 states.

Not bad at all….

UPDATE 1: The next time there is a massive social program passing Congress with uncertain costs, we need to put in mechanisms to take advantage of success instead of safeguards against massive cost overruns. The ACA has triggers where if the total federal cost of the advanced premium tax credit and the cost sharing reduction subsidies were more than .504% of GDP, future year individual shares would increase and the thresholds for federal subsidies would decline.
There were no mechanisms in place to say if subsidies were significant below budget that either subsidies for currently qualified individuals would get richer so their out of pocket premium expense would decline OR more people would become eligible for subsidies.

This is just a note to self to find again in 20 years.



I Pity The Fools (GOP ODS edition)

Well, not really.  But over and over again, President Obama does something that rises above — way higher than — ordinary political discourse. Just as Bill Clinton in the 90s was without doubt the best retail politician I’ve seen in my lifetime, Obama does an epic job of being president.

He’s the Ted Williams of the job:  he’s got that quality of gracefulness, a stillness within himself, joined to an analogue to Williams’ sweet swing — the capacity to unwind suddenly, and produce so precisely, so effectively, that the audience doesn’t have time to register how hard it was to do what they just saw.  He’s a virtuoso.

Edgar_Germain_Hilaire_Degas_018

What I’m trying to say is that there are people — easy to identify in sports, I think — whom even opposing fans can simply admire, suspending for a moment their tribal obligation to deride and deny anyone wearing the wrong laundry.  Opposing fans could boo Williams.  But they watched, knowing that they might witness something special.  Nowadays, for a sport closer to Obama’s heart, think Steph Curry; even when he destroys your team, you can’t take your eyes off him.

But pity the poor GOP.  President Obama owns his role by this point.  With increasing confidence and skill over his time in office, he defines objectives and outplays opponents* to get what he wants.   As the occupant of the bully pulpit, he nails the lay-ups** and he blows away the impossible shots.  It’s been really special to watch — someone sustaining a formidably complicated performance with ever increasing elegance.

All of which to say is that were you to find politics and public life fascinating as well as vital, you should be enjoying this presidency as performance even if you deplored its content.  But the GOP, it seems, can’t allow themselves even that pleasure.

All of that is prologue to say that I don’t think Obama’s speech in Cuba yesterday has gotten enough attention — at least part, understandably enough, because of the Brussels attacks.  But it’s still worth a listen, for what it means within the process of US-Cuba reconciliation, certainly, but at least as much for its formal excellence.  The speech is simply a masterpiece, in my view, a remarkable demonstration of saying difficult things to multiple audiences while moving the rock, at least a little, on that long journey up the hill.  Here’s the transcript, and here’s the speech itself:

 

It really is an amazing piece of work.  I love the small touches — he clearly worked on his Spanish accent, to pretty good effect, and it was such a hoot to hear him throw a little shade on Raul Castro and his … let’s say, garrulousness.  But the speech as a whole was much more than the sum of its parts and gestures.  It’s completely worth your time, so I’m only going to quote one passage:

…before I discuss those issues, we also need to recognize how much we share. Because in many ways, the United States and Cuba are like two brothers that have been estranged for many years, even as we share the same blood. We both live in a new world, colonized by Europeans.

Cuba, like the United States, was built in part by slaves brought here from Africa. Like the United States, the Cuban people can trace their heritage to both slaves and slave owners. We’ve welcomed both immigrants who came a great distance to start new lives in the Americas.

Over the years, our cultures have blended together. Dr. Carlos Finlay worked in Cuba, paved the way for generations of doctors, including Walter Reed, who drew on Dr. Finlay’s work to help combat yellow fever. Just as Marti wrote some of his famous words in New York, Earnest Hemingway made a home in Cuba and found inspiration in the waters of these shores.

We share a national past time, la pelotero, and later today our players will compete on the same Havana field that Jackie Robinson played on before he made his major league debut.

And it is said that our greatest boxer, Muhammad Ali, once paid tribute to a Cuban that he could never fight, saying that he would only be able to reach a draw with the great Cuban, Teofilo Stevenson.

As I read that, it’s addressed to the Cuban people of course, just like the title of the speech says.  But it’s impossible not to notice who else Obama engages here: an America whose self-portrait is changing faster than its [dwindling white majority] perception of it has shifted.  As the president noted,

You had two Cuban Americans in the Republican party running against the legacy of a Black man who was president while arguing that they’re the best person to beat the Democratic nominee, who will either be a woman or a democracy socialist.

Again — spoken to Cubans; addressed to those back home.

Relish what you’re seeing in this president.  Perfect he ain’t, of course; that’s no one’s inheritance short of the grave.  But he’s so damn good at this now.  We won’t see his like again soon.

*I’m not saying Garland’s appointment will go through — though the odds are better than I thought they’d be.  My point is that Obama’s handling of this on both its substance and politics has been elegant.

**ETA: And bang! Obama slams another one home. To Ted Cruz’s proposal to “patrol and secure” Muslim neighborhoods in the US, POTUS replied, “I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance…Which, by the way, the father of Sen. Cruz escaped for America.”

That one leaves a mark.

Image:  Edgar Degas, Ballet – l’étoile (Rosita Mauri), c. 1878.