Saturday, August 19, 2017

Let's Discuss Our Feelings

Remember 2010? Before the nightmarish reality we're living in now? In an interview with Matt Lauer, George W Bush said the worst moment of his presidency was when Kanye West said "George W Bush doesn't care about black people."  Let's revisit the whole exchange and remember that while he is certainly better than what we have now, he was still pretty terrible:

(Click to embiggen)

Had New Orleans 9th Ward been filled with white people, the response to Katrina would have been vastly different. 

(I had to do ONE gif!)
But George Bush had no problem claiming that his hurt feelings were more important than a devastating flood that killed almost 2000 people and dispossessed thousands more. Shoot, George Bush thought being called racist by Kanye West was worse than 9 Freaking 11.

We have to stop doing that, my Nillas. We really do.  Being called racist is not worse than racism. In particular:
  • If you're investing energy railing against the casting of Black actors in roles that you thought belonged to white people, you're part of the problem
  • If you're arguing on-line or on barstools that it's not racism keeping Colin Kaepernick out of the NFL, you're part of the problem.
  • If you're putting out dumb tweets talking about how a democratic senator having been in the Klan somehow mitigates Trump's racism, you're part of the problem.
  • If you're talking about how only All Lives Matter isn't racist, you're a particularly dumb part of the problem.
  • And, for the love of God, If you're investing energy about how confederate memorials aren't actually celebrating white supremacy, you're part of the problem.
I follow some Black twitterers who go hard on White women from time to time. And sometimes, I get them bad feelings and want real bad to say "But I don't do that!" But then, I stop myself and go:

(OK, 2 gifs...)
There is no worse response to accusations of racist collusion by White women than going all #NotAllWhiteWomen. Don't go all #NotAllWhiteWomen. Rather than rush to defend ourselves, my fellow Brunchers, we need to rush to defend anti-racism.

White Supremacists are emboldened and loud and have all of the guns and a real powerful ally in the Racist-in-Chief. Our hurt feelings are a pretty minor consideration, all things considered.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lifetime Limits

As you think about what to say to your senators today when you...

CALL YOUR SENATORS


...here's something to think about.  The GOP activists trying to kill the ACA have convinced the 36% of America that lives in anger, resentment and gullibility that anyone who works can have healthcare and that all the ACA does is give healthcare to shiftless, lazy Americans.  Here's a story about an American whose life has been made immeasurably better by the ACA.

Cindy is a teacher. She teaches little kids and she is an awesome teacher. And I think we can agree that anyone who earns their living by shaping the minds of young people is doing good hard work and has earned the salary that is almost certainly insufficient for what she does.  She also has a condition called Fabry. Untreated, someone with Fabry can expect their first stroke by their early 40s. Cindy tells me that prior to treatment she had a chronic kidney infection which was completely reversed by these injections.

Fabry also hurts. A lot.

Fortunately, Fabry is treatable with injections of a drug called Fabrazyme.

Which costs $90,000 a month.

When the ACA was voted into law (after an extensive bipartisan process), it prohibited any health plan from putting dollar or lifetime dollar limits on the benefits you receive. Prior to this, many plans set a lifetime limit.

Did I mention that Fabry was genetic? And that Cindy has a young daughter named Delaney?

Insurance companies would love to reinstate that lifetime limit, meaning if Delaney does have Fabry, she could reach her lifetime limit on healthcare before she reaches adulthood.

It probably goes without saying that Cindy is really scared right now.

These are the real world effects of the ACA. I'm begging you not to sit on your hands. Commit to making at least five calls today (senators and governors!), fire up Twitter (#saveACA) and make noise. If you can make it to a protest, go to one. Get loud.  Do it for Cindy and Delaney.

The last thing Cindy said to me when I was asking for her permission to write this was:


She's the best.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Time for La Marseillaise

On June 14, 1940, the Nazis marched past the Arc De Triomphe after the surrender of Paris.  If there'd been a Twitter, I wonder if it would have been full of "Well, that's it. We're all gonna die." I don't think so. I think those Fabulous Frogs would have pulled up their sleeves and kept on fighting.

Look, come on, it's bad, but it's not over, not nearly by a long shot. To paraphrase the guy who was president 7 months ago (really! It's only been 7 months): Yes. We. Fucking. Can.

Imagine, the Nazis are singing Horst-Wessel-Lied in the bar. I'm going all Rick:

BTW: this scene ALWAYS makes me cry. You?
Here's what you're gonna do: you're gonna pull up your sleeves and keep fighting. We're going to sing La Marseillaise into the earholes of every DC senate staffer (not literally... you guys get that I'm not being literal, right?) every day, a couple of times a day.

I believe it was Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol who said "Ignorance is a motherfucker!" Wise man.   He's correct. I had a woman on Twitter tell me that Medicaid was only for the disabled and children and that anyone who worked is able to afford healthcare. I asked her if she really thought that Wal-Mart employees would be able to afford dialysis or chemotherapy or blood pressure meds. She told me that Wal-Mart would pay for their coverage.


So, some quick facts:

- They'll first try to pass something that turns the house bill into repeal only. Unlikely to pass.
- They're not gonna get BCRA (the senate bill) through. Even on its own, they don't have the votes, but the Parliamentarian has determined, and they've conceded, that it can't pass through reconciliation, so it needs 60 votes.
- So they're going to try this thing called "Skinny Repeal" which would eliminate the individual mandate and perhaps cut a few taxes.

So Skinny Repeal is what we're fighting against. And, y'all, it's ugly! Here's the thing: insurance doesn't work when only sick people buy it. Without the mandate, healthy young people don't buy it. And then the insurance markets spiral out of control and that, friends, is pretty bad. The CBO predicts 32 million people will lose coverage. And those of us with keen employer-based healthcare? We're not sitting that pretty either as the insurance markets will likely crater.

What can you do? Gosh... dunno... is there anything...

OH MY GOD!!!! CALL YOUR SENATORS

It's especially important to stay on GOP senators. If you're in Alaska or Maine, call up Murkowski or Collins and give them a HUGE thank you! If you live in West Virginia or Ohio or Nevada or Arizona, you should be calling 5 or 6 times a day, tweeting at your senators, commenting on their FB posts! But even if you live in deep red Texas or Tennessee, your calls matter. Corbyn's the Whip and he's Texas. Let him know how mad you are, let him know that there will be a lot fewer GOP votes to whip if they keep this up. If you're in Tennessee, let Bob Corker know that you know this is NOTHING like how O'Care was passed:



And if you have Democrat senators, call them up and say "Thanks and give 'em hell!" They count these calls.  

And, fellow dwellers in Blue States, I know I've been saying that there's 36% that can't be convinced. This is true - but it doesn't mean you can't gently correct them in public places. Just for the rest of this week, try to mitigate the damage done by Fox News and Breitbart. Speak up - everywhere you can. Engage in awkward conversations with family members. Comment, politely (don't yell, don't go all caps, don't call anyone an idiot), on your Uncle's FB rant about ObozoCare. You likely won't convince him - but there may be someone lurking there that you can.  If you have a story, share it. Share it loud and proud and all over the damn place.

It's one week, folks. They are desperate to get this through now because they know they're gonna lose the House in 2018. So STAY LOUD! 

Finally, remember this: America isn't some abstract concept forced on us. It IS us. And that part of America that understands that policy has to mean something beyond politics; that it's not just wins and losses, that pissing off the "other side" doesn't get you anything in the end has to fight that motherfucker Ignorance with everything we've got.

So speak up! We're all in this together.






Friday, July 21, 2017

Healthcare (plus Princess Bride Gifs! That's fun!)

So I've been haranguing and harassing my dearest friends all up and over the social media about calling their senators. And, look, I know I'm being exhausting.  I know you're all:


OK.


Well... as literally everyone knows: healthcare is complicated!


Here are the facts:
  • Modern Republican ideology does not believe the government should have any part in healthcare. They believe it should be left to the private markets. 
  • The also know this is an enormously unpopular opinion. People rely on Medicaid. People rely on the ACA, even though they know it falls short.
  • The ACA is the MOST conservative route to making sure healthcare is provided to all Americans. It cannot get any more conservative without people losing coverage and premiums rising. If there were a way to make it more conservative, that plan would have been floated long ago.
  • The flaws with the ACA are easily fixed.  Here's are some internet articles which you can read, or you can take my word for it because I'm right.
  • The president does not understand how health insurance works and is only interested in a win
  • I don't know if Mitch McConnell is so eager to repeal the ACA because of Republican ideology or because he's a political hack who's lost the ability to see government beyond winners and losers. Doesn't really matter. What matters is that his own constituents went from 20.8% uninsured to 7.8% uninsured between 2013-2016 because of Medicaid expansion (called Kynect there) and will be among the 18-22 million people who will lose coverage if the ACA is repealed. Actually, I'm sort of leaning towards partisan hack.
  • He is currently pushing for a vote on Tuesday to repeal the ACA and then ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. 
  • The plan is to pass something without a CBO score, under the cover of darkness, while folks are confused and think it's dead.  It's not dead.
  • There were months and months of public hearings on the ACA. It took over a year to pass and Republicans always had a seat at the table. This current mishegas is entirely covert.
  • This doesn't just affect the poor saps on Medicaid. Insurance markets will collapse under this plan


  • And, no, you shouldn't hope that they repeal it, everything goes tits up and then the Republicans lose. Because people will die. Because right now there's some guy with cancer in Kentucky who voted for Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump and we are not monsters who hope he'll die for those sins. Because right now there's a woman in Chicago (which is in Illinois, where our Republican governor has had NOTHING to say about this because he is a huge coward) who relies on Medicaid to keep her blood pressure meds. We're goddamn motherfucking better than the political hacks who play with people's lives for petty politics.  

Here's the last thing that matters and I'm gonna go ALL CAPS AND BOLD when I say this:

YOUR CALLS MATTER

If you have a Republican senator, they need to know that this is a career-defining vote (to quote my boyz at Crooked Media).  Pick up your phone and give 'em a big old:


Don't go all:


Because you're just talking to some poor staffer. But if you happen to run into a Republican senator and he tells you that no one will lose coverage, I  highly encourage you to go all:


But no matter what, come Monday, pick up your phones, hit up ResistBot, send a fax, do something. 


(Although, if I'm channeling Robin Wright, I'd really rather we were all:

)
So, let's do it, my #HappyWarriors! Don't let those bastards grind us down. It's only a phone call so just do it! And once we finally kill this thing dead, we can get cracking on Single Payer!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pink Hair, Don't Care

I don't know about you, but I've been depressed since November. I've been bummed out, freaked out, sad and scared for over seven months. And it's been constant. No matter what I've been doing, there's been a low-key hum behind it all of real peril and despair. Conservatives may mock, but it's for real scary. The bigots and bullies are on the rise, operating in the open, taking over our government. The travel bans and voter suppression. The passionate drive to funnel taxpayer money away from the poor and needy to the wealthy. And the police keep on killing people.

I'm fortunate in that I don't suffer from  clinical depression. I've just been living with the same malaise and angst as the rest of my fellow country-people (*sidenote: it's bullshit that "countrymen" is a word and "countrypeople" isn't) who are watching the worst instincts of our fellow citizens rise up, codified and celebrated. Like a lot of white people I recognized too late the hold that white supremacy and white racial resentment has on this country (Black people have been telling us for years!  There's no one more deaf than the ones who will not hear, right?).

It's just been a generally sucky seven months, right?

I was listening to a "Lovett or Leave It" this morning when Jon Lovett (whom I love) said that when they founded Crooked Media one of the things they thought about was how they needed "happy warriors."  Cynicism and defeatism don't make for change. They're great tools for self-protection. But self-protection is isolating and not terribly productive.

So, tonight I dyed my hair. I am 48 years old and I dyed my hair "rose gold" and I look at myself in the mirror and I just fucking love it.  This is what people are talking about when they talk about self care. Do that thing that makes you feel better. Dye your hair, take a walk, engage in some friendly chit chat with someone in line at the grocery. Eat chocolate. Watch Game of Thrones or endless repeats of Parks and Rec. Argue with someone over who the best Chris is (it's Pine. Chris Pine is the best Chris). Don't deny yourself the joy in life just because we're in dark times. Indulge more. Refuse to be scared. Deny terror its power. Laugh at the ridiculous. Hug the folks you love. Look the way you want to look. Happy Warriors make for change. Weirdos and misfits will lead the resistance.

A few years ago, I'd have told you I was too old to have pink hair. But, fuck that noise. It makes me happy. It puts a smile on my face and some energy in my step. And so I am a pink-haired, middle-aged happy warrior.

And I just love it.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Quick Lunchtime Bloggity

Just called my senators over my lunch of two-week-old pretzels eaten directly from the bag (someone is going to have to get to the store real soon).  The good news is that it took me a few calls to get through because they are experiencing heavy call volume about the AHCA.  So, to those of you who are calling:


And if you're not calling, here are some quick bullet points:

  • There are 13 male GOP senators locked away in a room drafting this bill in total secrecy. No one has any idea what's in it
  • Mitch McConnell wants to pass this thing before the July 4th recess when he knows that senators are going to be beat up during town halls, etc
  • There is not a Democrat in the House or the Senate who would disagree that the ACA needs some work and not one who wouldn't work willingly across the aisle to fix it. The GOP Congress Critters pointing at the Democrats and the ACA all know this, don't care, and will happily dissemble away in pursuit of passing this terrible bill.
The question that remains, of course, is WHY does Mitch McConnell want to pass this terrible bill that people are going to hate.  If they pass it, the terrible bill becomes a terrible law.  It's bad politics and bad policy. So, WTF?


And then it occurred to me that the GOP will do what they always do and blame Democrats for the crap-pile they built.  They'll get buy-in on this wholesale lie from Fox News and a chunk of America will believe it despite how obviously untrue it is:


So we gotta stop this bill in its tracks and the best way to do that is by calling your damn senators. These calls matter.  They are how we stopped it in the House the first time and why, when we stopped calling, they got it through the second time.

I'm going to make it super easy and tell you exactly what to say:

Democratic Senator
Democrats have a couple of ways to stop this thing.  Indivisible has a pretty good run down on what these methods are, but I like my script more.  So here's what you say:

You: Hello, could I leave a quick message for the senator?
Them: Of course
You: I'd like to encourage the senator to do whatever s/he can to stop the AHCA bill from coming to a vote before July 4th. I'd support filibuster-by-amendment for a reconciliation vote or withholding consent.  This is a very serious, very scary bill and we need to stop it by whatever means we have. Thank you.
Them: Thank you. What is your zip code
You: [I don't know what your damn zip code is.  Just tell them whatever it is]

Republican Senator
This Indivisible script I like a little more. But if you want to keep it short and sweet, like I do, then try this:

You: Hello, could I leave a quick message for the senator?
Them: Of course
You: I would like to express my anger at the secrecy under which the AHCA bill is being drafted and demand that the senator not vote for any bill until it's had a full public hearing, a CBO score and is confident that no American will lose healthcare through its implementation. Thank you.
Them: Thank you. What is your zip code
You: [I don't know what your damn zip code is.  Just tell them whatever it is]

Remember, be nice and polite to these staffers. No swearing, no yelling, no sneering. Be friendly, polite and calm.

Look, guys, I'm going to England next week.  I can't make my calls.  Do it for me.  These calls super duper matter. They matter so much I've removed all the f-bombs from this blogpost because I want you to be able to share it with all your friends. These calls matter bigly.  They are urgent.  Call every day.  Tell your friends on your own social media feeds to make the calls.  We need to flood the senate and tell them re: AHCA - 


Did my Obama gifs make you sad?  Make you miss back when we had competent, rational, drama-free leadership and all the POTUS tweets were boring and written by staffers? Good. Liberal complacency is what got us the Incompetent Orange Menace. Pick up your phones and Make Them Calls! 



Saturday, June 10, 2017

On Distractions, Distractibility and Also Some Dumb Gifs

This is me every time I see one of the endless Russia-is-a-distraction hot takes:


Lookit:

1) Donald J. Trump is not some kind of badass brilliant strategist.  He is, to quote the delightful Jon Lovett, a dotty old racist

2) Russia interfered with our election and that is, empirically, a big fucking deal which we should all be watching like:


3) Paying attention to this story means you care about important stuff and does not mean you're all:


4) Finally, calling someone stupid in service of exaggerating your own political acumen is not a particularly persuasive editorial technique.


All that said, I think it's pretty evident that the Congressional GOoPers are taking advantage of this story (which, not to put too fine a point on it, is a BIG FUCKING DEAL) in order to do some real damage in their constant pursuit to fuck over the poor and vulnerable in order to give big tax breaks to really rich people.

To wit:

- Overturn Dodd-Frank - In 2008 our economy crashed and one of the prime movers of this crash was de-regulation. Republicans will tell you that Business People understand how to Business because they are all Business-y and not a bunch of dirty hippies like Elizabeth Warren.  But if you look at this chart:


Let's all remember that the rich boys who crashed our economy stayed rich before, during and after.  Because that's who all their Business brilliance does its Business for: keeping the rich rich and not caring fuck all about those of us who aren't.

We have a problem with gross wealth inequality in America.  Let's look at another chart!  Charts are fun!


The Reagan administration began enacting policies whereby American wealth was shifted more and more to the wealthy and away from the rest of us and this is now pretty much the official religion of the American rightwing political class. This chart BLOWS MY MIND!  It makes me want to TAKE MY COUNTRY BACK.  Only I want to take it back from guys like this:


And not like this:


Because these people are just living their lives and are taking the subway and are not the problem and not in your way and also only have the tiniest sliver or what we got here anyway!

Dodd-Frank won't fix all our (or even most) of our problems with income inequality.  But it will keep the door open for more regulation and may stop those rich bastards from crashing our economy again.

2. ACA Repeal - There is not a democrat in either house of our Congress who wouldn't eagerly work with their Republican colleagues to fix the ACA.  The GOP lies and lies and lies again about this. I wish all of you (both of you) would watch Claire McCaskill take Orrin Hatch to task on this:



ACA repeal is bad. ACA reform is good. But don't ever forget what the GOP is really after is a tax break for the rich.  And this makes me so mad!

(Finally gonna see WW today and I'm PSYCHED!)
You may be reading this and thinking:


Well, human men and woman, I think you should be picking up your phone every day and calling your senators and reps about this.  I don't care if you're in the reddest of the red or the bluest of the blue.  These calls matter.  Josh Marshall explains it all here, but here's a pull quote:
If your Rep is a diehard “yes” in a safe district, you should still call. Why? First, no one is ever that safe. But the more important point is that when people in safe seats hear more than they expected, they will rightly get the sense that other people in their caucus might go down to defeat. So they may no longer be in the majority. Especially today, parties operate as units. No representative is an island.
Every day. Pick up your phone.  It's two minutes out of your day and it matters.  Resistance is one phone call away. Just. Do. It!!!!





(Recommend that you say this in your head rather than out loud)