I ain’t gonna work for Trump’s farm no more

I want some music or some list or some fucking squirrel-ghost to land on my shoulder and to tell me that everything is going to be all right. I want Jack Black to appear on my side and yell in my ear that LOOK WE ALL DID THE RIGHT THING AND VOTED BIDEN just like we did in our Rocky Horror homage. I know my Dad voted Biden. I know my Mom voted Biden. I know I voted Biden. I know if you’re reading this you may have voted Biden too.

But I’m still listening to Starcrawler at the top of Arrow de Wilde’s lungs. And I still keep burying my forehead into my palms.

Why does the future seem so bleak? Why as I type this do I feel like I’m tossing pizza crust? Why is it so difficult to feel okay about this vote? It not only feels defeating despite all the numbers indicating that Biden and Harris are kicking this idiot’s ass.

They have worked so hard to make good policy seem awful.

They have demonized Obamacare. They have put false fangs on Social Security and Medicare. They call them “entitlements” even though you have already bought them with your money.

I see this meme sometimes that says something about “two wings of the same bird.” Before you post this meme you might google it. This is a specific reference to Cuba and Puerto Rico and does not from its origin refer to our politics on the mainland. But it’s stupid regardless. As Steve Benen documents in his fine book The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics America is made up of one party who still cares about public policy and one who does not.

Guess which is which.

They are not the same. There is one party in the United States that stands for decency and good things, and wholesome American values. That party is the Democratic party, and it is now led by the presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris.

I so adore her. I mean, I like Joe, but I crush on Kamala so hard. Right?

The other party is the Republicans. And they subvert democracy. They withhold U.S. Justice appointments for ten months and then act like it’s normal. They tear nursing babies from their mamas tits and expect you to think it’s okay. They support a preznit who actively spreads COVID wherever he goes and doesn’t care.

I could write so much more but I’m getting tired.

But let me offer some perspective as a man who has lived so far to be 52 years old, which means that Richard Nixon was made preznit just four years after I was born. In my early years Nixon was the most corrupt preznit we’ve ever seen, then came Reagan, then came GHW Bush, then came his son.

Why do Republicans keep presenting us with more and more trash? And why does it get worse and worse and more horrifying? Until now they just said HERE’S THE WORST PERSON IN AMERICA. LET’S MAKE HIM THE PREZNIT OF THE UNTIED STATES.

Both parties are not the same. And if you vote for Howie Hawkins or Daffy Duck or some shit, you are voting for Donald Trump.

Thank you for bearing with my nonsense but please please vote Biden/Harris.

That’s The Trouble With Never

Like them big trucks trying to run the Biden bus off the road, California V. Texas is roaring down on us. Oral arguments start Nov. 10 in the Supreme Court’s hearing of whether or not the Affordable Care Act should be annihilated. From where I sit, the Republicans’ (read: federal government’s) support for this is pretty short-sighted.

Republicans have already painted themselves into a corner. They decided long ago (as documented in Robert Draper’s fine book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives) that they could not afford to allow any legislative nor legacy success for President Obama, on the grounds that it would cost the Republican Party politically on a leviathan scale. The covert strategy on the Affordable Care Act, of course, was to throw glass shards into the thing when they could, so states would drag their feet on expanding Medicare, nnd Marco Rubio would nix high-risk corridor payments, and the federal government would cut back on reminding folks about open enrollment periods. Overtly, the mantra became “repeal and replace.”

The problem being that there are things Obamacare does that people like, one of the most striking of these being the provision that prevents insurance companies from screwing people with “pre-existing conditions” with their pants on. And so you have an impeached preznit who insists that they have already done away with Obamacare, but that, somehow, this protection would remain sacrosanct.

As observed previously by this wonk and others (a fellow Smirking Chimp contributor Miles Mogulescu does an A+ job of laying this out, here), there is quite literally no other way to maintain this promise (besides completely socializing medicine in the United States). The promise to repeal Obamacare but to continue protecting people with “pre-existing conditions” is the elbow-in-your-ear of public policy. It just can’t be done.

However, I do see a possible legislative way forward. It’s stupid. But hear me out.

So what if Congress went ahead and repealed the Affordable Care Act, then introduced a new bill called the “Schmaffordable Shmare Mact.” And instead of exchanges, this thing would have markets. And instead of subsidies, it would have oh, I dunno, call it “assistance for care.” Instead of a mandate, there would be a requirement. And so on. They could say, oh, no, this isn’t Obamacare. This is the Republican plan. It’s much, much better. They could keep their promise. They could save face. And Americans could keep their current coverages. Even Democrats could go for it because the results would be laudable.

Now, as I often remind people, I am not a lawyer. But as I understand it, California v. Texas entertains two clear paths whereby the Supreme Court could completely overturn the Affordable Care Act. That would render anything resembling it as completely vulnerable to constitutional challenge. Therefore, any future legislative efforts toward health care reform could be nothing resembling a mandate, a penalty, establishing state-wide exchanges, regulating shit insurance plans, etcetera.

That leaves only one reform option on the table, Action Jackson. And it rhymes with “Medicare For All.”

You know, Republicans, if you paint yourself far enough into that corner, there’s a little stool and a dunce cap waiting for you. Sit down and wear the hat. You’ve earned it.

Why Are You Confident About Biden 2020?

I remember the conversation I had with Eric just before I left work in 2016. He was sure Trump would win. I was sure Hillary would win. We both said so.

Eric and I both shared the same birthday.

Ane he was right. And then he died.

Rest in peace, brother.

***

This is not 2016.

I keep saying that a ya’ll keep nervously scratching your arms and you’re all like ARE YOU SURE?

Yes.

I’m sure.

2016 was weird. Let’s start with the fact that it was the first election in eight years not to have an incumbent. Or that it was an attempt by political party to garner a third term as preznit. Nobody ever seems to factor those impossibilities in. Instead they be all like “Hillary was a horrible candidate and never went to Wisconsin and said that thing about coal that once.”

2016 was weird.

There was Comey. There was Russia. There was, sorry if you don’t like to talk about it, but there was Bernie. There was the Green Party. And, yes, there was Hillary.

This is not 2016.

This is 2020. And there is an incumbent. And his record is the worst in American history. He has torn breastfeeding children from their mamas’ tits. He has looked the other way amidst reports that an ally put bounties on our soldiers’ heads. He has been impeached for leaning on a foreign entity for garbage on a political opponent. He has inarguably bungled a response to the most vital health crisis this country has ever experienced. Just yesterday, he left his own supporters out in the middle of nowhere to freeze to death.

I still think we’re going to be okay. I’m not saying I think it’s going to be easy.

But have you seen those lines?

Paul Weyrich is shitting his pants in his grave.

It’s going to be okay.

Really.

So Many Stupid Things Today

The confirmation process has made ever clearer to me one of the fundamental differences between the federal judiciary and the United States Senate. And perhaps the most acute is the role of policy preferences. It is the job of a Senator to pursue her policy preferences. In fact, it would be a dereliction of duty for her to put policy goals aside. By contrast, it is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences. It would be a dereliction of duty for her to give into them. Federal judges don’t stand for election, thus they have no basis for claiming that their preferences reflect those of the people.

This separation of duty from political preference is what makes the judiciary distinct among the three branches of government. A judge declares independence, not only from Congress and the President, but also from the private beliefs that might otherwise move her. The Judicial Oath captures the essence of the judicial duty. The rule of law must always control.

This is from the speech given today by Amy Coney Barrett from the White House after being fake sworn-in by Justice Clarence Thomas as Impeached Preznit Carnage Pornstarfucker looked on.

Read that again. The new United States justice. Declared her independence as a justice from Congress, her own biases, and THE PRESIDENT. FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.

***

Impeached Preznit’s Chief of Staff Mark “We Are Not Going To Control The Pandemic” Meadows and CNN’s Jake Tapper chat about masks:

JT: So the American people should abide by CDC guidelines, but you are not even asking your supporters to wear masks, even though–

MM: We have. We pass them out Jake. I mean, have you been to a… have you… have have… have…

JT: Do you know how many people in Minnesota have gotten the virus because of Trump rallies?

MM: Have you been to a rally? You come on with us to a rally, and we’ll show you, we give out masks. We have a number of people–

JT: They don’t wear them.

MM: Well, it’s a free society. You’re not wearing one right now, Jake.

JT: There is literally nobody in this room. There is literally not one person in this studio.

MM: So you’re saying that you always wear a mask wherever you go. Come on, Jake. The American people know that’s not true. I know it’s not true.

JT: I wear a mask except when I am here, in my office, and home. That is true. 100 percent. I wear a mask when I walk in the hallway at CNN.

Note to preznits: Please don’t stick yer chiefs-of-staff in front of a camera. They don’t belong there.

***

I Voted

I have just returned to my headquarters from my first attempt to vote. Where I live, where I have lived for nearly ten years now, I have never waited long in line to vote. I figured I’d just take my ballot in and drop it off real quick just to make sure Louie DeJoy didn’t mess with my vote.

They were lined up around the block.

Suddenly, my faith in the United States Postal Service has been restored.

Regardless of how it was done, it is done: I have voted. Make sure yinz do, too.

***

I often wonder why some “conservative” friends are sometimes weird about attribution. One today in my facedbook feed began a post by claiming they’d found it “in the comments section of an on-line article.” This struck me as weird, so I did some painstaking legwork: I copied the first sentence of what they had posted, and I pasted it into a Googly search bar.

Wouldn’t you know that the piece was published on the Fox Business site and was authored by Andy Puzder. Who’s Andy Puzder? Why, he was nominated in December 2016 to be Impeached Preznit Carnage Dear Leader’s Secretary of Labor.

Here’s the lede in this little op-ed: “Released two weeks ago, the Census Bureau’s report on “Income and Poverty in the United States” for 2019 clearly shows that, pre-pandemic, President Trump’s economic success blew past that of any other presidency. First, the Census Bureau reported that real median household income grew to $68,703 in 2019, an impressive 6.8% increase over 2018. It was the largest one-year increase in median income on record going back to 1967.”

So. I googlied that, too. And I discovered a darned interesting article by Jonathan Rothbaum, chief of the Income Statistics Branch in the Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division at the US Census Bureau. Rothbaum wrote that there might be a wee bit of a problem with making comparisons to years prior to 2017, “…since recent estimates reflect changes implemented to the survey,” and also, ya know: Pandemic.

The article is called “Was Household Income the Highest Ever in 2019?” It wanders pretty far into the weeds, so your mileage may vary. As noted, however, the kernel of Rothbaum’s analysis is that Andy Puzder’s scratched-the-surface comparison and its slimy adulation of the Superspreader-in-Chief might leave us a bit short on truth.

Besides, there’s that trickly little qualifier in there, “pre-pandemic.” As in yeah, I was in terrific health before all the tumors. I don’t care if the fucker put a literal chicken in every literal pot before the pandemic. In fact, that’s a polling area I’ve never been able to understand, oh, Trump has been horrible on the COVID, but he’s our man when it comes to the economy! There is no economy with COVID. There’s only more and more people skewered via intubation in ICU beds.

I remember when it was explained to me what had to happen in order to conquer this pandemic. First, we have to stay home so as not to overwhelm the medical infrastructure. Next, we have to test people, test a lots of people. After that, we ask anyone who tests positive where they’ve been and who they’ve seen in the last two weeks or so, and we go to those places, and we find those people, and we test THEM. And so on, and so on, and scooby doobie doo.

Do you notice a part of that we’ve not done? The contact tracing? Like, not at all? We are EIGHT MONTHS into this pandemic now. There has been no federal push to do the most vital, the most aggressive thing that can be done to whack this virus down. And this Andy Puzder offers up an analysis that is no better, no more useful than the nostalgia one feels flipping through one’s high school yearbook. Remember before the pandemic? Wasn’t that neat?

Impeached Preznit Carnage Poopypants is still making fun of reporters for wearing masks; he just did this yesterday. He has not learned a single solitary thing not even after having experienced this illness himself. Another term will not cause him to improve. He is a worthless, shitty, no-good chief executive of this country, and he’s got to be voted out (since the Senate abdicated its responsibility earlier this year).

Joe Biden will encourage masks and will in fact mandate them where he can. He will mount a national effort toward testing and create an infrastructure for contact tracing. And, while mounting a response to the current crisis, he’ll proactively work to be prepared for future strikes. And I can bullet-point all of the other initiatives Biden has posted on his campaign literature, but there is one thing he has done and will do that really creates the fault between these two candidates regarding this plague:

Joe Biden wears a mask.

So, from this perspective, for me, this was a good day. I voted. I saw formidable lines for voting. And I have just watched Biden speak in Luzerne County, Pa., and it was a strong speech. I am feeling mighty good about this.

14 Days

Toby Ziegler believed in magic.

White House Communications Director for fictional President Josiah Bartlet, Ziegler says he has written two speeches on election night. “I’ve got a speech if he wins. I’ve got a speech if he doesn’t,” he says. Despite apparently legendary poll numbers for Bartlet, Ziegler obsessively insists he won’t “tempt the wrath of whatever from high atop the thing.” Josh Lyman joins the meeting and, upon learning that Deputy White House Communications Director Sam Seaborn has somewhat mocked this, Lyman agrees with Ziegler’s prescription: Seaborn must go outside, turn around three times, and spit. Or curse. We’re not sure which.

I sure am glad I ain’t Toby Ziegler.

I’ve been saying “landslide” for a while now. When I say it out loud to other human beings, sometimes they make that same Toby Ziegler superstitious face, and I prepare for them to insist that I get myself outside to do some sort of skyclad ritual in order to please the whatever from high atop the thing. Don’t get complacent, says they. We can’t be complacent. Complacency. That stuff’s a killer.

And they’re not wrong. Whatever label you stick on your forehead, be it “liberal,” “progressive,” “Democrat,” “socialist,” “radical,” or “Abbie Hoffman,” no, we can’t be complacent. We can never be complacent. But I’m not being complacent. I’m being confident.

My voting plan is to awake early(ish) Saturday morning, the first day for early in-person voting in New York, and to traverse to the local mall that is .25 miles from my home, and to vote. From the looks of the reporting, many other Americans have made and stuck to voting plans around the nation. Look, NPR said so.

There are many reasons I think it’s wise for Democratic voters to shake off the putrid shade of PTSD that afflicts from 2016. This is a different year. It is a different election. Our nominee is running a great campaign. He chose a rock star running mate. Even the polling averages are looking good for Democrats. And the opposition, Impeached Preznit Carnage G. Fuckhead Not A Real Billionaire, keeps finding and triggering all the shit-packed frog-mines in his path. (I have many other reasons but am trying to write succinctly.)

Of course don’t be complacent. But please, find some confidence to wear in your hat. Stow at least some of that dread and loathing under your seat. Like my man James Carville used to say, we’re right. They’re wrong. And if Impeached Dear Leader Dances Like Elaine Benes has been good for something, he’s been good at demonstrating just how right we are. People are aware. And they are showing up.

::whispers:: landslide!

Now. Go vote. And let your little light shine.

A Brief Observation Regarding ‘Trumpcare’

This has been buzzing around in my head all day long, like the time my brain made a mashup of “Where Did You Go?” by Mighty Mighty Bosstones and “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan and kept playing it in a constant loop, or when it did the same thing with “All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor and Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy, except this is an observation about Impeached Preznit Carnage Superspreader Not Really A Billionaire’s weird pronouncements that he’s going to announce a new healthcare plan someday, and why, in fact, Republicans generally have been all about the repeal but have not actually been able to do much replacing. It is simply because the Affordable Care Act did everything that can possibly be done to reform healthcare just short of an actual government takeover.

Think about it. What else are you going to do beyond Obamacare unless it’s just back to the draconian old days or moving forward with Medicare For All (which this particular amateur wonk doesn’t think is plausible). Look at everything Obamacare does, which I don’t think our Impeached Dear Leader could explain.

So each state creates an exchange. This creates a reasonable marketplace and a larger participants’ pool. The law mandates health care coverage, which will drive younger, healthier customers into the pool. In return, the law prohibits the exclusion of care based on pre-existing conditions, and there are funds available, called high-risk corridor payments, to keep insurance companies from going under while they have to cover more older sicker people while the younger healthier people are bulldozed into the pool.

Insurance plans were improved as well. This led to an unfortunate oversight by Preznit “Si Se Puede” Barack Obama, who mistakenly shouted to reporters once that everyone would get to keep their current doctors. I think he iterated this without factoring in that Obamacare threw shit insurance plans out of the airlock. Under Obamacare, coverage would mean coverage, not holy shit I’ve been paying into this for years and now it won’t cover X? Also, let’s let parents keep the kids on their policy until they’re oh, what, 26?

And it provided help to pay into the pool, in the form of expanded Medicare and subsidies for those who qualified. And it worked. It still works. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that ACA/Obamacare was responsible for 22 million persons covered via exchanges and Medicaid expansion in 2019.

The reason the Republicans can’t provide an alternative to Obamacare is that there is no alternative. Their dire looking choices are to beg the Supremes to do what Congress failed to do 70 times with no alternative available; to allow the ACA to stand and to thrive; or to jump to the end of all of this and do Medicare For All. If you are a Republican and you hate the Affordable Care Act just because of the fella whose signature is on it (which, let’s face it, is what this is really all about), you’re fucked.

The Affordable Care Act is irreplaceable. The reason the Republicans can’t present an alternative is that there are no alternatives. I think that, like so many other fiascos Trump gets his party into, the Supreme Court effort is going to backfire. It’s gonna be splendid. Difficult, but splendid.

A Twilight Zone Treatment

It started when Melania had commented that he didn’t quite look like himself.

She didn’t often comment on his appearance because she had long ago given up, as had he. She took an odd solace in entertaining that many women end up with their fathers. She certainly had, with this stout, stubborn man who even wore a tie like her Dad did. Well, her Dad could eat crow for all she cared because he did not wake up every morning in the White House.

Donald was feeling fantastic, as he was revealing to his audiences every night. He felt virile, happy, energetic; far from the beat-down man he’d been just weeks ago. He had tried many different ways to play down the Chinavirus to the American people, and he had been roughly criticized for it, but he had just been trying to assuage the nation. I’m a patriot, Donald told himself as he peeped in the mirror, preparing for his hour or so of ablutions that would include the fine mist powder that gave him that healthy glow he enjoyed and the meticulous hair styling.

He swore he saw some bumps there. But he did not have time to worry about a little acne that was probably the result of his treatments.

Marine One had transported a terrified president to the hospital that day; he was feeling every wretched symptom that he’d heard about, the shortness of breath, the fatigue, the congestion, the heart palpitations. There were even weird ones he hadn’t heard about. His fingers tingled. He kept feeling like he had to shit real bad. Not to mention that while on the chopper, he hallucinated a long conversation with former wife Marla. He was in a bad way, real bad, and he thought he was a goner.

Publicly, Donald’s treatments were reported to include an experimental cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies, a treatment that had only faced a single, small clinical trial; remdesivir; and dexamethasone, a corticosteroid that mitigates inflammation in the lungs and tempers the patient’s immune system. What was not publicly reported was that there was an additional treatment that Donald was receiving, even more highly experimental than the antibody treatment, a full infusion given once every three days. This treatment had just been discovered the previous month and so had received no clinical trials whatsoever. But Donald felt fantastic.

Newly energized, this Commander-in-Chief would let noting stand between him and reelection. “I want a rally a night for the next 20 days, folks,” he told his staff. Some expressed worry about this plan, of course, and suggested a safer approach. After all, the suggested quarantine period for a person actually hospitalized with COVID was 20 days.

“Nonsense,” he said. “I feel great. I feel like a billion dollars. I have to go out and see the people.” He would add that he was quite the opposite of contagious. He would insist that he had achieve immunity, a kind of glow. And yet, sometimes if they caught him in the right light, it seemed that his face was changing.

He had brought on a new adviser regarding the pandemic, one he’d seen on the TV, one who espoused a “herd immunity” approach. As more tenured medical professionals got squeezed out into the corners, the herd immunity guy got more of Donald’s ear. He in fact began to reference it in interviews and touted his own fresh vigor to his audience: “I feel so powerful,” he told his supporters at one rally. “I’ll walk into that audience. I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women – everybody.” *

He continued to have rallies, continued to pack Americans closely, as it was discussed in the most secluded of back rooms; if herd immunity is the key to resolving this issue in the United States, then the president can help achieve this for us and reclaim the stage at the same time. It seemed like a boon to his team, who had now been convinced that herd immunity should be the actual policy.

The next day, Donald gathered with his medical staff for his next infusion. He had taken off his jacket, he was preparing to remove his tie, but he noticed that the nurses were not prepping the formula. His doctor took a stool in front of him and said, “Mister President, there’s something we’ve got to tell you about this treatment.”

“As you know, this treatment we’ve been giving you has not even been tested via clinical trial. Now, usually, a clinical trial is done to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the drug. Due to your insistence and your persuasiveness, sir, we administered you the drug.

The thing is, sir, there is a rather clear side effect, one we believe you are suffering. You may have noticed changes to your appearance, sir?”

Donald replied that he had, and that he had written it off as a bit of acne due to the treatments.

“Here’s the thing. We’ve discovered that this treatment can severely alter one’s appearance. You’ll notice some bumps beginning to protrude from above your temples. Your face will elongate, and your nose will become longer. You will begin to resemble, well, sir, let me show you a mirror.”

Donald took the mirror and examined his face. For the first time in a week he really paid attention, and he realized that he was looking back at a goat.

Donald Trump had a face like a goat, one of the most primary herd animals on the planet.

He made a braying noise as if to say NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

But the transmission was complete. Donald’s “herd mentality” mentality would continue to direct his thinking for the rest of his life.

Melania patted his head.

#30#

*An actual quote from Impeached Preznit Carnage Superspreader