How Did the Senate Manage to Make the GOP’s Health Care Bill Even More Nightmarish?

By Persephone

Seriously, this is a skill.  For eight years, the Republicans of Congress have bitched and moaned that Obamacare (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act) needs to be repealed and replaced.  They have droned on and on about this topic, listing it as a primary priority.

Well, they’re finally in a position where they can repeal it, with Republican majorities in the Senate, House of Representatives, and the White House.  Repealing is probably all they want to do, in reality.  They just want it to go away.

But they can’t.  And they know that.  The ACA has been around for a number of years now, and it turns out that Americans like having access to affordable health care.  Is it a perfect solution?  Of course not.  What we need to do is bite the bullet and finally take on socialized medicine, like most other industrialized nations have done before us.  However, doing so will really piss off the GOP, so don’t hold your breath that this will occur any time in the near future.

This leaves Congressional Republicans in an uncomfortable position.  They’ve preached so much on the evils of Obamacare that I don’t think it really occurred to them that they’d have to actually find an alternative (and viable) solution if they are to ever truly rid themselves of it.  Hence the mad dash to get a bill up and running.  They didn’t actually have anything ready.

The House passed a shit-bill last month which even they knew was terrible.  Not only would it cut funding for medicaid but it would render health care unaffordable by millions of Americans.

Luckily, the Senate took that crap-sandwich which was the American Health Care Act and created their own version.  They received quite the legitimate criticism for this bill, as they speedtracked the bill and kept it strictly behind closed doors.  Mitch McConnell was the lead driving force behind the AHCA, and its content was finally released last Thursday.

Whew, boy.  We thought the House’s version was cold and heartless.  Not only does this bill cut even more spending on medicaid and not force insurance companies to offer policies to individuals with preexisting conditions, but it defunds Planned Parenthood.  We’ve mentioned several times on this website the success Planned Parenthood has had with basic needs like cancer screenings and birth control for the poor.  It has actually lowered the abortion rate since abortion was legalized in the 1970s.  Millions of people stand to lose coverage if this bill goes through.  Those people left with insurance will face higher premiums for insurance that offers less coverage.  Rates will raise significantly for the poor and the elderly.  So, yeah.  There’s that.

So, who wins in this bill?  It turns out that there are significant tax breaks for the significantly wealthy.  We are trading the lives of millions for the pocket change of a few.

Talk about a step in the right direction.

Why be Such a Dick to Someone Trying to do their Job?

By Persephone

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 20% of the United States workforce is devoted to the retail and wholesale industry.  Two weeks ago, I joined this number when I started a job as a checker at Safeway.

Eh.  It’s a summer job.  It forced me out of my comfort zone, as I’m dealing with a lot of strangers in a row.  Considering my history with social anxiety, this was probably a dumb job to take on, but I’ve never been known for making intelligent life choices.  Oh, well.  The paychecks from this job should sustain me when I conduct my student teaching this fall, and that’s all that matters.

Yesterday, though, I ran into a total asshole.  When I first greet people checking out at a grocery store, I always ask, “How are you doing?”  It’s inane but polite, and around 95% of the strangers I’ve said this to over the last few weeks have responded, “Just fine.  How are you?”  I say I’m doing great, and we move on with their transaction.  Thank goodness, there’s no drama in that.

Now, yesterday, I had a long line, and then I got stuck for a few minutes with one customer with like twenty items from the produce section.  When there’s no stickers on vegetables or fruit, I have to look up each item individually (remember, I’m new, so I don’t know all the codes).  This takes an extra minute or two to get through so much produce.  However, I got through it, and the line moved down.  When one older gentleman got to move his booze on through, I asked him, “How are you?” and he asked how the hell I could maintain a job when I’m so slow.

There was no warning.  He just slammed into me.  I stammered and apologized, and he proceeded to lambaste me as I finished his transaction as quickly as I could.  He even warned the person behind him to avoid this cashier, as I was so inefficient.

I’ll admit…this altercation shook me.  For about two hours afterwards, it drove down my confidence to zero, and I made several easily avoidable mistakes.

So, I’ve been thinking about this.  I’m 31 years old.  I’m currently working towards two Master’s degrees.  I’m only going to have to suffer through this job for about another two months, then I go back to working in education.  I’ve dealt with much worse freakouts than this one–hell, I’ve been a substitute teacher for three years, a bus driver, and an in-home caregiver for six years.  I’m used to grumpy old clients as a caregiver and dramatic teenagers as a teacher.  This guy couldn’t throw out any insults that I hadn’t already heard a thousand times over.

Yet, he still got to me.  He made me doubt myself.

What really bothers me about this is, he couldn’t have known that my life is more than Safeway.  I look young.  I could easily have been 19 or 20 years old.  I could be looking at years of being a cashier.  I could have no other future than Safeway.  If I’d been that young and inexperienced…if this was the only job I could get, how much would this have affected me? Ten years ago, this would have devastated me.  Just look how much it affected me yesterday.

I’ll admit it–I’m new to the job, and I’m not as fast as the more experienced checkers.  However, even if I’m slow as molasses, it is not okay for someone to jump down a cashier’s throat like that.  I wasn’t rude, and I was clearly trying my best.  When you see a cashier making little more than minimum wage under such conditions, and your first response is to take out all your frustrations on her, it doesn’t make you the bigger man.

It just makes you an asshole.

What is WRONG With These Guys?

static.politico.com

By Persephone

Seriously–what the hell?  Mitch McConnell’s been telling reporters how proud he is that the GOP majority had put the kibosh on Obama’s appointments in the federal court system.  Republicans have had a majority in the Senate since 2015, and since then McConnell and his ilk have ignored most of Obama’s appointments to the federal courts.  This includes the infamous move by the Republicans to refuse holding a hearing for Merrick Garland onto the Supreme Court for nearly a year.  It was a total dick move, especially considering that they’ve even praised Garland in the past for his moderate and fair tendencies.

You just can’t please these people.  All they cared about was a Democrat nominated these judges, and they weren’t going to approve any of these candidates.

So…yeah.  Now, McConnell’s totally patting himself on the back (or shell, if you will), since now Trump will be able to fill those positions with lifetime appointees.  God dammit.

This attitude is already following up a rather weird year.  The House Republicans voted for the stupid new Health Care Bill to get through, despite how most of them hadn’t read it.  Republicans have been falling over themselves defending Trump at every turn.  This week, Paul Ryan totally claimed that it was only inexperience that caused Trump to clear the room so that he could speak to James Comey alone.  You know, to commit obstruction of justice by asking him to drop an active investigation.  Because only an newbie president with no knowledge of the consequences would clear the room first before saying anything incriminating.

Seriously, Paul Ryan?  How much of a stretch is that?

This isn’t even adding in John McCain‘s weird questions at Comey’s testimony or the election of a House Representative from Montana after he committed actual physical assault on a reporter.  “Everyone makes mistakes,” as Republicans claimed after Greg Gianforte of Montana literally beat up a reporter.  It’s a general attitude that Republicans can do no wrong, even when it’s obvious that they are very much doing wrong.

I’m not saying that the Democrats are all saints here.  I’m really not.  They have a tendency to be smug and ignore people in rural communities.  However, they don’t defend their own when they severely screw up.  When Anthony Weiner lied to the press and claimed his phone had been hacked after he’d sent a dick pick, the Democrats dropped him like a hot potato.  When Jon Edwards used campaign funds to hide an affair, the other Democrats distanced themselves really quickly.  They might defend smaller transgressions, particularly those of a personal nature as we really don’t give a shit as long as everyone involved were consenting adults, but Democrats will not tolerate abuse of political power.  I rather like that.

Photo from politico.com

The Douche-bag’s Guide to Justifying the Murder of Us All

climate-2_1024

By Persephone

So….we have a president who pushed, shoved, and blundered his way through meeting with countless world leaders on his international tour.  When he came home, he promptly decided to remove this country from a non-legally binding agreement whose sole purpose was to ensure the health and safety of future generations.

It didn’t matter that the U.S. was instrumental in the writing of the Paris Climate Agreement.  It didn’t matter that our involvement would increase the involvement of other countries.  It doesn’t matter that climate change is accelerating, and action was needed yesterday.

Nope.  None of this mattered.  President Cheeto instead yanked us out of the agreement despite much criticism from Democrats, including Federal, State, and local political representatives.  Even a few Republicans have offered misgivings.  And now the rest of the world looks at us like we’re total trash.  Since we voted for this asshole, we really are total trash.

I’m just so angry over this.  I’ve been processing this latest news for several days, and I just cannot relinquish this anger.  There was just no reason for any of this.  Trump could have easily remained in the agreement as a show, then simply not contributed.  There were no legal obligations, nor were there financial penalties for not participating.  His pulling out of the agreement the way he did…it was just a giant fuck you to the rest of the world.  This “America First” attitude is going to screw us more than we realize.

President Cheeto cited several reasons for his actions, each reason less reasoned than the last.  He claimed it was economically a bad deal without backing it up with any facts (such a rare strategy of his).  It doesn’t matter that the country’s leading economists disagree, as only a moron would see sticking with old fuels like coal as economically sound.  Renewable clean energy is the way of the future, and the world’s economies are starting to reflect that.  It’s only the people leading these industries who are going to succeed financially.  Just saying.

President Cheeto also mentioned that the other countries must be laughing at us.  Well, thank goodness we dodged that bullet.

He also claimed that the agreement wouldn’t actually help much towards halting the effects on climate change.  True, it doesn’t cover anywhere near enough to halt the acceleration in global warming.  However, it would slow it down considerably.  I’d like to point out, though, that our commander-in-chief hasn’t actually told us what would do more to halt warming temperatures.  His administration even stated that President Trump is more environmentally considerate than any other president.

Sigh.  Whatever.  We’re listening, Mr. President, but we’re not exactly expecting miracles here.

So, we’ve dropped out of an agreement that benefited everyone involved.  By dropping out, we’ve severely reduced our credibility with the rest of the world, and other foreign nationals are looking at us like we’re crazier than a bag of cats.  Our businesses, global influence, and environment suffer greatly as a result.

There are no winners here.  When Trump’s involved, are there ever any winners?  He’s the only negotiator I’ve ever witnessed that would actually trade in a reasonable, mutually beneficial agreement for universal ill-will.

And I’m thinking the tropics are a good place to hang out while waiting for the world to end.  Who’s with me?

Picture from sciencealert.com

The AHCA Passed in the House

By Persephone

Today, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, to replace Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.  The AHCA is a rushed bill that no longer requires insurance companies to sell coverage to patients with preexisting conditions.  Preexisting conditions would now include being a rape victim or being born with a heart defect.  Planned Parenthood would be defunded by this bill.  Millions of people would lose their health insurance under the AHCA, and many of them could potentially die as a result.  The only people who benefit are the extreme wealthy.  If you are old, sick, female, or poor, you are screwed.  It’s now up to the Senate to figure out if they have a conscience or not, because apparently the House of Representatives have misplaced theirs indefinitely.

This is normally where I’d say something snarky, but I’m just not in the mood.  I’d hoped so much that this bill wouldn’t pass.  I even called my representative this morning, as did my sister.  I’m so tired of hoping that Republicans will prove us wrong.  I just want some moderates to crop up and rule in the favor in the people, you know?  Well, not this time.  Probably not for a very long time.

As some of you know, I’m currently on health insurance through the ACA.  It’s what allows me to substitute teach while attending graduate school.  While I’ve gone without health insurance for long periods (years) before, I’m relieved that this is no longer necessary.  I’m very fortunate.  I’m 31 years old and childless.  I also tend to be disgustingly healthy.  It’s been my privilege to take part in the ACA, drawing down the costs of those not so fortunate.  Because people like me have Obamacare, the truly sick can afford their premiums.  I made their health insurance possible.  It’s heady stuff.

Now that might go away.  It’s a heavy price people in this country will have to pay, just so the Republicans can make a point.  Message received: their desires are more important than the health and safety of the people they represent.  Shame on every single one of them.

Tread Carefully, President Cheeto. Your Triggers are Showing.

By Persephone

So, after surviving 100 days and the longest presidential campaign known to the United States, I’d say we’ve learned a few things about Trump.  He’s petty, vindictive, forgetful, and weirdly inarticulate for a dude with a B.A. in economics.  More than anything, though, he’s very easy to set off.  Protestors, celebrities, politicians, and reporters have all stumbled across topics that seriously set him off.  You can tell because he tweets his feelings.  The more he overreacts or harps on about a particular issue, the more you just know he’s pissed.  It’s a beautiful thing.

In honor of our Commander-in-Chief’s overly sensitive nature, I have compiled a list.  Here are all the little or not-so-little subjects that just stick in our orange leader’s stupid craw.  Enjoy.

  1. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.  This pisses him off so much that he still brings it up nearly six months after the election ended.  He even made up a voter fraud scandal to place Hillary Clinton’s votes under scrutiny.  It doesn’t matter that he won the electoral college, which in turn won him the presidency.  Such facts don’t make a difference to him, as winning means so much more than actually running the country.  It’s really all about the win.  In a delicious twist, Hillary Clinton taunted President Cheeto just this week in an interview at the Women for Women International Luncheon.  “Remember,” Clinton said,  I did win by more than 3 million votes than my opponent.”  She’s noticed how much this fact drives him up the wall, too.  I wonder what Trump will be tweeting about at 3 a.m. now.
  2. The size of his inaugural crowd as it compares to Barack Obama’s.  Yes, this is still a thing.  President Cheeto’s inaugural crowd was a perfectly respectable size.  Some people actually wanted to see him take the oath of office.  For some reason.  However, side by side photographs of both crowds easily disprove Trump’s claim that he had the biggest crowd of any presidential inauguration ever.  What a dumb lie.
  3. His small hands.  This is an observation that’s dogged him since the 1980s, and he’s still affected by it.  So, go us.
  4. The fact that Ivanka is his daughter.  On multiple occasions through frequently very public stages, Trump has mentioned how much he would have liked to date Ivanka if she weren’t his daughter.  It’s gross and disturbing, but it’s also clear that Donald Trump finds his daughter very attractive.  His greatest regret seems to stem from those pesky incest laws.  Ew.
  5. How so few celebrities like him.  For his inauguration, Trump reportedly asked big named celebrities who turned him down flat.  Celebrities such as Elton John and Rebecca Ferguson turned him down flat.  The actual inauguration turned out to be, by all accounts, insanely dull.  Actors won’t give him the time of day, either.  As Trump clearly loves the spotlight and nothing ensures that like hanging out with talented celebrities, their obvious disdain bothers him.
  6. How so few world leaders like him.  Since becoming president, Trump has met with leaders from Germany, Canada, Japan, and China.  He’s spoken on the phone with many other leaders.  Other than dictators, these world leaders tend to treat him politely in an effort to avoid any world wars, but you can tell his lack of political knowledge gives them physical pain.  It doesn’t help that Trump can’t measure up to any of these other world leaders in terms of intelligence, presence, dress sense, or civility.  Justin Trudeau of Canada particularly outshined Trump during the state visit–Trudeau really does have some beautiful humanitarian policies as well as blue eyes so flawless you find yourself irretrievably mesmerized by them.
  7. Questioning his troubling love of dictators.  This is a thing.  God help us.  Trump loves complimenting dictators like Vladimir Putin of Russia, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and Kim Jong Un of North Korea.  Absolute power fascinates Trump.  We should question his unneeded praise of authoritarians.
  8. Having to work for anything.  There’s a reason he’s always taking vacations.  And why he kept overextending his businesses in the 90s to the point he had to keep declaring bankruptcy.  Buying businesses is easy; it’s making them profitable that proves tricky.  Becoming a reality TV star saved him, and that’s not really work when all you do is sit there and get praised.
  9. Having to learn or think.  He hates that.  He really does.
  10. Protests.  We snowflakes are constantly hitting the streets, the airports, and our state capital buildings with grammatically correct posters.  He just can’t compete with that with his own followers.  So, Trump does what he always does when someone threatens his thing grasp of reality.  (Remember, in his reality, Trump is loved by all.)  He throws out unsubstantiated claims that we’re all paid protesters and throws little hissies on twitter.
  11. Having his own words quoted back to him.  Fact-checking is the bane of his existence.  This is the real reason he hates reporters.  When doing their jobs, journalists are encouraged–nay, expected–to check the validity of the President’s claims.  When a president spouts dumb, easily disprovable shit like having achieved the biggest electoral win ever or how the travel ban isn’t a ban, it’s up to the journalists to remind him of reality.  Reality and Trump have never been friends.  If Trump ever accepted reality, he’d finally see that he’s an old, senile, racist, sexist, incoherent, stupid failure of a businessman who should have left politics well enough alone.  Because he will be impeached.  Judging by all the lawsuits his conflicts of interest have spawned, Trump’s businesses probably won’t survive the onslaught either.  Pretty hefty price for a guy to get adulation at rallies.
  12. Any criticism at all, really.

So, what’s the point of this list?  It’s a guideline.  These are all the things that drive our current president crazier than he already is.  It’s what causes him to lash out at reporters, tweet like every insecure troll before him, and not accomplish anything on his presidential agenda.

You get what I’m saying here, don’t you?  The more we piss him off, the less likely he’ll ever build a wall, ban Muslims, deport all our immigrants, or destroy our environment.  We need to make this our priority–go out and protest, tweet about his small hands, and fact check every lying word that flies out of that fish-like hole he calls a mouth.  It’s the only way we’ll get through this travesty of a presidency.

There’s No Point in Asking, “What If?” Well, Maybe Just This Once.

Double-Take-Hillary-Clinton-A-Reading-List-1200

By Persephone

Two nights ago was the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.  President Cheeto decided not to go before the invitations had even been sent out.  Shocking, right?  He figured his time could be better spent talking at yet another rally, seemingly forgetting again that the election’s over, than sit down to dinner with the press and hear some well-deserved criticism.  But this isn’t about that dinner.

On that same night, political satirist Samantha Bee provided her own “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.”  It was pretty entertaining, actually.  Will Ferrell performed a stand-up routine of his iconic George W. Bush impression.  Jake Tapper interrogated Samantha Bee as only he could, and Bee eviscerated several news organizations (specifically, CNN and Fox News) while congratulating others on a job well done.  The purpose of her dinner was to promote good journalism in a world growing crazier by the minute.

One segment stood out to me.  Mostly because it was unexpected but also because I cried.  That’s some pretty powerful stuff.  Samantha Bee performed a monologue as if Hillary Clinton had won.  If we hadn’t elected a walking cheesepuff with golden pubes on his head, we’d have our Madame President.

It’s an intriguing bit of wishful thinking.  I’m not delusional…at least, I’m not about this.  I know that there’s no way we’ll ever have Hillary Clinton as our Commander-in-Chief.  It pains me to say this, but that boat has sailed.  Even if Trump was impeached tomorrow and subsequently removed from office for treason, that wouldn’t change.  Even if Mike Pence was found to be complicit in this investigation and was thrown in jail, that wouldn’t change.  Even if they held a special election because of the contentious results of the election (contentious because of Russian hacking and the FBI’s last-minute reopening of the investigation into Hillary’s emails), that wouldn’t change.  Hillary Clinton will never be our president.  We are stuck with leaders forevermore that are not her.

I’ve accepted this.  At least, I thought I had until I saw Samantha Bee’s depiction of an alternative present.  And it broke my heart.  Since the election, I’ve seen a lot of negativity thrown Hillary Clinton’s way.  Hell, the negativity was aimed at her with expert-like precision during the election, too.  She’s undergone so much bad press and multiple investigations for years. Even now, when people say they still don’t like her, I ask why.  I have to know–what was wrong with her?  How could anyone choose Trump over her?  They very rarely give me a real answer.  It’s usually, “I just didn’t like her.”  Or, “She seemed fake.”  These arguments make not sense to me, since Trump isn’t exactly the posterchild for likability or honesty.

Despite all these trials and tribulations, Clinton developed into a smart, well-reasoned, and compassionate human being.  That’s the part that kills me.  Her every move has been analyzed and reanalyzed for decades, yet she’s never been charged with anything.  If there’d been something to charge her with, believe me, it would have happened.  Other than using a private server as well as a personal phone to send work emails (which both Mike Pence and Colon Powell have done, thank you very much), all of Hillary’s actions have proven to be above-board.  Wild rumors might have abounded, but she’s never been anything but a hard worker who cares about the people under her care.

So, ask yourself, what would life be like right now if she’d won?  Well, I guarantee she wouldn’t be going golfing every weekend.  Bill would be staying in the White House, unlike Melania.  Our secret service wouldn’t be run ragged trying to keep the president safe.  Trump would be making her life hell, but so would all the Republicans in Congress.  She would have renominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.  I argued with a Social Studies teacher (a colleague of mine) about this one, but I believe that she would have done it.  He figured that as a politician it would be more advantageous to choose a more liberal-minded judge.  I, however, looked at the Republican Congress.  She would have done the same and chosen the more moderate Merrick Garland.  The Republicans would have breathed a sigh of relief not to be getting another liberal on the Supreme Court, and the Democrats would have been appeased that the seat wouldn’t have been stolen from them.

More than anything else, though, what would the atmosphere be like?  Would you be terrified that Hillary would bomb North Korea in the morning?  Would you wake up to your twitter account to find out she’d thrown out a dozen or two crazy rants at 3 a.m.?  Would the majority of Americans be looking at the free press like they’re the enemy of the people?  Would we have ever allowed her family to take over key roles in the White House?  Would there be random press releases where the president spent all their time yelling at the press for being fake news?  Would you be worried about losing your health care or access to birth control and cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood?  Would you wake up every morning feeling sick to your stomach because of what is happening to our country?

Hillary Clinton’s presidency would have been so vastly different from today’s.  Sure, we would have been just as divided as we are now, but the democrats wouldn’t be clearing out craft stores of their posterboard every weekend.  Clinton would also be the target for multiple investigations (she always is), but unlike Trump’s, these investigations would turn up nothing.  Clinton would be working towards gaining more jobs in the midwest, not lifting sanctions on coal that will produce no coal jobs anyway.  She’d be working with EPA, not trying to demolish it.  She saw that alternative sources of power were the way of the future, so we’d move the country gradually away from fossil fuels.  Her first 100 days would have been a booger for her considering all the opposition she’d face in Congress, but this is Hillary Rodham Clinton we’re talking about.  This is Hillary.  She’s faced opposition every step of the way, first at home, then school, then Arkansas, the White House, the Senate, and finally as Secretary of State.  She’s a worker, and as all three of the Presidential debates she shared with Trump proved, she’s fucking smart.

But that’s enough indulging.  Hillary Clinton will never be president, and it’s masochistic to contemplate.

I highly doubt she’ll ever read this, but Hillary Clinton, I just have one thing to say to you.  It was my greatest honor to vote for you last fall.  My state has mail-in ballots only, and I voted for you so fast that I practically broke the sound barrier getting my ballot to the post office.  You are a good, kind individual who deserved better than what you got.  I will never regret voting for you.

For those of you who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, I have just one thing to add.  I hope you’re happy.

 

Photo from The New Yorker