Nel's New Day

November 7, 2018

Midterms Lead to New U.S.

Midterms 2018 ended last night after the most vicious campaigning that I can remember. In a bittersweet victory, elections brought at least 27 additional Democrats to the House, giving them a majority in the 435-seat chamber and splitting the Congress as the Senate keeps a GOP majority. Three Democratic incumbent senators in Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota lost their re-election bid, and the GOP incumbent in Nevada has been replaced by a Democrat. Two other races in Arizona and Florida are still undecided, and a third in Mississippi heads to a recount because no candidate got over 50 percent of the votes.

In seven states, GOP gubernatorial positions lost to Democrats in Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wisconsin. The new number of Democratic governors gave the party trifectas in 14 states—those with the same party in both legislative chambers and the governor. The number of GOP trifectas shrank from 34 to 22, leaving 14 states split between the two parties. Going into redistricting for state and federal legislative representation in 2020, Democrats have “regained majorities in seven [state] chambers and flipped 350 seats from red to blue nationwide,” according to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

The flips leave 23 Democrats and 26 Republicans in charge of the 50 states. Stacey Abrams has not conceded to Brian Kemp in Georgia; she is waiting until provisional and absentee ballots are counted, ballots mandated by a court ruling after Kemp, also Secretary of State, had purged or thrown away. Since 2010, Kemp has purged over 1.4 million voters from registration, including 660,000 last year and almost 90,000 this year. Another 53,000 couldn’t vote until the court ruling because of typos; almost 80 percent of these registrations were from black voters. If Kemp drops below 50 percent of the vote, he will be forced into a runoff election with Abrams. Kemp prepared to fight a loss by claiming that Democrats had hacked the voting system, but he has a long record of carelessness and lack of investigation as P.R. Lockhart describes.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker may have the highest profile of the Democratic flips. Almost eight years ago, at the beginning of his first term, he declared war against unions, teachers, voters, etc., but his decision to provide over $4.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies, the biggest in U.S. history for a foreign corporation, to bring tech plant  and key Apple supplier Foxconn to his state may have helped his downfall. With a cost of up to $1 million per job, averaging $230,000 per job, Foxconn is “trying to tap Chinese engineers through internal transfers to supplement staffing” because “it’s very difficult to find skilled labor in our market.” University of Wisconsin-Madison students worry about intellectual property and academic freedom in a Foxconn takeover, and residents of Wisconsin and neighboring states are concerned about the loss of Lake Michigan’s water when the company uses as much as 7 million gallons per day from the lake, 39 percent of it lost through evaporation. Foxconn, the single largest employer in mainland China with 1.3 million employees, became known for the large number of employee suicides at its enormous Longhua plant in Shenzhen. Life at “iPhone City.”

Yesterday’s election brought several “firsts”:

  • Governor-elect Jared Polis (D-CO): First gay man to be elected governor.
  • Governor Kate Brown (D-OR): First bisexual to be re-elected for a second time—or even a first time!
  • Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY):  At the age of 29, youngest woman elected to Congress.
  • Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley (D-MA): First black representative from Massachusetts.
  • Reps.-elect Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-): First Muslim representatives; Tlaib the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress and Omar, an immigrant, the first Somali-American in Congress.
  • Reps.-elect Sharice Davids (D-KS) and Deb Haaland (D-NM): First Native American representatives; Davids also first lesbian representative from Kansas.
  • Rep.-elect Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL): Immigrant from Ecuador flipped a GOP seat.
  • Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): First female senator from Tennessee.
  • Gov.-elect Janet Mills: First female governor of Maine.
  • Rep.-elect Abby Finkenauer (D-IA): First woman representative from Iowa.
  • Rep.-elect Johana Hayes: First black woman representative as well as one of the youngest, matching Ocasio-Cortez at 29 years old.
  • Reps.-elect Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): First Latina representatives from Texas, a state that is over one-third Latinx.
  • Gov.-elect: Lou Leon Guerrero (D): First woman governor of Guam.
  • Iowa State Sen.-elect Zach Wahls (D-IA): 27-year-old winner of 78 percent of the vote, seven years after he stood before the state House of Representatives to defend marriage for his two lesbian mothers.

The oddest win came when pimp Dennis Hof won a seat in the 36th Nevada State Assembly. The Republican died three weeks before the election, but voters wanted a Republican. Iowa voted for bigotry by re-electing Steve King to the House, and California and New York supported indicted representatives with Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter. (Remember when the GOP ran as the “party of law and order”?) Racism was also victorious in Florida and perhaps Georgia in the governor’s races. Florida also voted to inundate cities with the sea rise with narrow wins for the GOP governor over Andrew Gillum and perhaps a GOP senator over the Dem incumbent.

Over 100 women will be seated in the House of Representatives for the 116th Congress, far more than the record of 85 of the 435 House seats. Thus far women of color will comprise at least 38 of these seats, and 18 of the 27 flipped seats from GOP to Dem were earned by women, all except two against male opponents.  Projections of 98 women in the house include 84 Democrats and 14 Republicans; the Senate has 12 women, ten Dems and two Republicans. Veterans Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) both won; Amy McGrath, former Marine fighter pilot, narrowly lost a House race in Kentucky. Despite false smears from Tea Party incumbent opponent, Dave Brat, Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) had a big win, especially as the first Democrat in this district in a half century.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Department of (In)Justice (DOJ) AG Jeff Sessions set the scene for the loss of the House by claiming voter fraud before the election, using the same tactic DDT did in 2016 until he took the Electoral College. DDT lied at a recent campaign rally in Cleveland with the false claim that voter fraud is commonplace. The United States has almost zero voter fraud while the GOP perpetuates voter suppression, intimidation, and a massive number of lies about their policy positions. The greatest GOP claims of voter fraud came in races where GOP positions are most at risk, including at least six governors, some senators—including Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas—and many representatives.

Session left his job hours after the election when DDT asked for Sessions’ resignation and appointed his bootlicker Matthew Whitaker as the acting AG. Whitaker, good friends of possible Russian colluder Sam Clovis, has constantly lambasted the Robert Mueller investigation, calling it a witch hunt—just like DDT—and limiting “the scope” of the investigation. In his new position, Whitaker will be in charge of Mueller and his investigation, giving a direct pipeline to DDT about any discoveries and curtailing Mueller’s activities. In a segment on Whitaker, Rachel Maddow discussed Whitaker’s strategies for doing away with the investigation such as not funding it and telling lawyers not to cooperate. Much more about Whitaker. Whitaker has defended Donald Trump Jr. for his Trump Tower meeting when DDT’s son looked for dirt on Clinton from the Russians, part of Mueller’s investigation. Whitaker also believes that “[Hillary] Clinton clearly intended to send and store top secret, classified information on an unsecured, personal server, which I believe is a case that any reasonable prosecutor would bring against her or anyone else who committed such reckless acts.” As for corruption, Whitaker was part of World Patent Marketing, fined $26 million by the federal company of running a multimillion-dollar scam. Democratic legislators are protesting Whitaker and stopping the investigation, and protests are organized across the nation for 5:00 pm tomorrow.

After delivering fire and brimstone at his campaign rallies during the last two months, DDT said the day before the election that he “would like to have a much softer tone” but that he had “no choice” in his rhetoric.  He wished for more harmony between Republicans and Democrats after the election but added, “If you’re criticized you have to hit back.” Hours after his interview with a conservative Sinclair station, he delivered his usual racism and hatred in a campaign rally and tweeted threats to Democrats after he got the election results. If Democrats dare investigate him, he claimed, he will institute investigations “of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else” by the Senate and refuse to work with them on substantive issues. [News, DDT: the Senate doesn’t investigate the House, and no one thinks that you can work with anyone.]

In today’s press conference, DDT had a meltdown after CNN reporter Jim Acosta questioned him about the Russian investigation and the term “invasion” for the immigrant caravan in Mexico. Hours later DDT made the unprecedented move of suspending Acosta’s press credentials for the White House. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders falsely accused Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman” on an intern when he calmly raised his arm to keep her from taking his microphone. Acosta held on to his microphone and said, “Pardon me, ma’am.” The exchange is shown here; you can decide the truth for yourself.

DDT continued his attacks at the unhinged press conference by snapping at journalist April Ryan to “sit down,” abusing GOP lawmakers who lost elections, accusing PBS Yamiche Alcindor of asking a “racist” question about DDT’s “nationalism,” babbling an answer about uniting the country, and shouting down questions about women’s defeating GOP House candidates. In a weird somber tone, he called out the names of GOP representatives, almost joyously blaming their losses for not wanting his “embrace.”  DDT also claimed that he has a “solution” to abortion but won’t tell anyone what it is. (Maybe the one to the left?)  Jake Tapper’s response to DDT’s behavior at the press conference: “That’s how gangsters act.”

The stock markets like the split Congress, a sign of government inactivity; the Dow Jones shot up over 500 points today. Watch for DDT to take credit for economic success because of the GOP loss.

July 1, 2012

Conservatives React Strongly to SCOTUS Health Care Ruling

As the dust settles over the health care decision, the fallout continues. From 10:09 am last Thursday morning when both CNN and Fox erroneously announced that the health care act had been struck down to the great wailing and gnashing of teeth since then when regressives get TV time, the reaction has been extreme. Rush Limbaugh screamed on the Glenn Beck show, “Why can’t we appoint out own judges.” Oddly enough, Mr. Limbaugh, after Citizens United  I thought that was exactly what you had done.

From the wingnuts’ bitterness at what they perceive as the loss of freedom and liberty came the appalling statement from Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) equating the ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act to the September 11 terrorist attacks. This man is running for governor of Indiana. When criticized for this statement, he gave the usual half-baked apology: “I certainly did not intend to minimize any tragedy our nation has faced, and I apologize.” Nothing about how he was wrong in the extreme.

Tea Party members have called for violent revolution. Mississippi Tea Party Chairman Roy Nicholson wrote, “To resist by all means that are right in the eyes of God is not rebellion or insurrection, it is patriotic resistance to invasion.” Matthew Davis, an attorney and former Michigan Republican Party spokesman, wants armed insurrection.

Unhinged is probably the best description for some right-wing comments. I especially like “I’m moving to Canada” which might have been the progressives’ answer if the ACA had not been upheld because Canada has universal health care. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wrote, “Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so.” Ben Shapiro compared the health care act to slavery. And Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) made this twisted statement: “When you create a right for somebody, you create an obligation for somebody else, and then you’re taking away that person’s right.”

Regressives look for a reason to Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision to align  with the Supreme Court moderates. Right-wing radio host Michael Savage, who called  autism a “phony disease,” explained that Roberts’ epilepsy caused his “cognitive dissociation” in the Obamacare ruling. Savage said, “Neurologists will tell you that medication used for seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, can introduce mental slowing, forgetfulness and other cognitive problems.”

Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA) thinks that Roberts might have been “playing to the editorial pages of the Washington Post and The New York Times. David Berstein suggested Roberts was coerced into ruling for the health care act because President Obama and “unidentified circles” threatened to “delegitimize the Supreme Court.” One desperate person concluded that President Obama and David Axelrod threatened to kill Roberts’ family. After the plot was discovered by a Secret Service agent, according to “Harry” at ToBeRight, Roberts will reverse his ruling when “Obama and Axelrod will be taken away in handcuffs.” That was three days ago; I’m still waiting.

Some complained that the law gave women an advantage. They said that it , complaining that men didn’t received free STI treatment and contraception. ACA doesn’t cover free STI treatment for anyone, and there is no reliable male hormonal contraception. It’s back to confusion about what the law says as well as an ignorance of female and male biology.

Right-wing governors assert that they will refuse to carry out the law. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) said that he would not follow the provisions of the law until his attorney general—a Republican—reminded him that he was required to follow federal law. Govs. Rick Scott (FL), Bobby Jindal (LA), and Bob McDonell (VA) are some who just won’t bother to do anything about it as they work to elect Mitt Romney president in November. They ignore two factors: Romney can’t do anything about the health care act legally, and the federal government will devise the plan for health insurance exchanges if states which don’t have one by January 2013. They also ignore the fact that 80 percent of the people in the country actually want the health insurance exchanges.

Presently Chief Justice John Roberts is heading to Malta, an isolated island nation south of Italy, to teach a class for the next two weeks. He said, “Malta, as you know, is an impregnable island fortress. It seemed like a good idea.” This may not be humor.

One message that keeps coming from small business is that employers won’t hire more than 50 people because above that the company has to provide health care or pay a fine. Fox pointed out the Joe Olivo, CEO of Perfect Printing in Moorestown (NJ), has this concern. NBC also cited John Olivo’s concerns. And MSNBC. And NPR. Olivo also testified in front of House and Senate committees.  As a representative of ALEC and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, Olivo may be the major business owner objecting to the ACA. In Delafield (WI), however, James Stoffer, owner of Wholly Cow Frozen Custard, said he was so happy after the ruling that he acted like a 10-year-old because the law will keep his premiums down. Stoffer evidently doesn’t belong to ALEC or Karl Rove.

The dissent statement reveals that Medicare would probably be gone if Roberts had sided with them. Approximately 100 million Medicare claims are processed each month using a formula that was altered by the Affordable Care Act. If the entire law were tossed, new rates could not be calculated under the old, pre-ACA formula until after a rulemaking process that can take months to complete. Medicare could not pay doctors for what would be many months, and Medicare systems would likely crash because its computers aren’t equipped with this backlog.

There is also a theory that the wording of the dissent indicates that the original decision might have been the opposite. Some experts believe that Roberts might have dissented but changed his mind at the last minute.

Although some people thought Justice Anthony Kennedy would be the swing vote, he was the driving force behind Citizens United; Roberts advocated for a less radical approach. Kennedy is a zealous supporter of forced arbitration decisions enabling corporations to force people into a corporate-run court system. He cast the key vote against Lilly Ledbetter and against equal pay for women in the workplace, and he voted to install George W. Bush as president.

Quotes from the left—or at least moderate world:

“What was and is really striking about the anti-reformers is their cruelty. It would be one thing if, at any point, they had offered any hint of an alternative proposal to help Americans with pre-existing conditions, Americans who simply can’t afford expensive individual insurance, Americans who lose coverage along with their jobs. But it has long been obvious that the opposition’s goal is simply to kill reform, never mind the human consequences. We should all be thankful that, for the moment at least, that effort has failed.” Nobel Prize-winner Paul Krugman 

“The only health care mandate they [conservatives] can embrace are transvaginal probes for women.”—Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley

“By requiring most residents to obtain insurance … the Commonwealth [of Massachusetts] ensured that insurers would not be left with only the sick as customers. As a result, federal lawmakers observed, Massachusetts succeeded where other States had failed….  The Commonwealth’s reforms reduced the number of uninsured residents to less than 2%, the lowest rate in the Nation, and cut the amount of uncompensated care by a third…. In coupling the minimum coverage provision with guaranteed­ issue and community-rating prescriptions, Congress followed Massachusetts’ lead.”—Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her ruling

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