Showdown Vote in Senate on Friday With Government Shutdown at Stake – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The Senate is heading toward a showdown vote on Friday on legislation to keep the government open past midnight, and Democrats appear ready to block it, gambling that a weakened President Trump will have to offer concessions in the face of a looming government crisis.

After the House cleared stopgap spending legislation on Thursday that would keep the government funded through Feb. 16, Senate Republicans are set to test whether Democrats will make good on their promise to move the government toward a shutdown. But Democrats appear intent on securing concessions that would, among other things, protect from deportation young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, increase domestic spending, aid Puerto Rico and bolster the government’s response to the opioid epidemic.

And they hope that Mr. Trump, scorched by the firestorm prompted by his vulgar, racially tinged comments on Africa last week, will be forced back to the negotiating table.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
Democrats should not participate in shutting down the govenment. The GOP will never let the public forget about it. Shutting down the govetnment over DACA, which is playing a major identity politics card, is political madness, even if it is morally and economically correct. Democrats, don’t pander to your base, when you want to own the center. In that sin, you mimic the Republicans, who have dishonored themselves and the country, by ignoring or obfuscating the meddling by Russia in our elections, and by turning the EPA against its own mission of protecting the environment, and of protecting Americans and all people and species from life-threatening pollution.
David Lindsay Jr. blogs at The and


The Health Care Cul-de-Sac – by Ross Douthat – NYT

“This goes for both parties: not only the stepping-on-rakes Republicans, but the suddenly single-payer-dreaming Democrats. If Obamacare repeal is really dead for the year 2017, both left and right have a chance to shake their minds free of the health care debate and ask themselves: What are the biggest threats to the American Dream right now, to our unity and prosperity, our happiness and civic health?

I would suggest that there are two big answers, both of which played crucial roles in getting a carnival showman who promised to Make America Great Again elected president. First, an economic stagnation that we are only just now, eight years into an economic recovery, beginning to escape — a stagnation that has left median incomes roughly flat for almost a generation, encouraged populism on the left and right, and made every kind of polarization that much worse.

Second, a social crisis that the opioid epidemic has thrown into horrifying relief, but that was apparent in other indicators for a while — in the decline of marriage, rising suicide rates, an upward lurch in mortality for poorer whites, a historically low birthrate, a large-scale male abandonment of the work force, a dissolving trend in religious and civic life, a crisis of patriotism, belonging, trust.”

Ross is mostly right. There are bigger issues to address. It is time to

Republicans Can’t Pass Bills – by David Brooks – NYT

“Over the past few decades Republicans cast off the freedom-as-capacity tendency. They became, exclusively, the party of freedom as detachment. They became the Get Government Off My Back Party, the Leave Us Alone Coalition, the Drain the Swamp Party, the Don’t Tread on Me Party.

Philosophically you can embrace or detest this shift, but one thing is indisputable: It has been a legislative disaster. The Republican Party has not been able to pass a single important piece of domestic legislation under this philosophic rubric. Despite all the screaming and campaigns, all the government shutdown fiascos, the G.O.P. hasn’t been able to eliminate a single important program or reform a single important entitlement or agency.”

Great column David Brooks, thank you.

Here is a comment I fully endorse.


New England 3 hours ago

I often disagree with Brooks, but this … this is a great column.

There is nothing “freeing” about living in terror that you will lose your house, savings and everything else if you get sick and/or that you will lose access to healthcare if you are unemployed. Brooks gets that, while the Ryans and McConnells of the Congress do not (or don’t care).

The GOP’s frantic efforts to pass a health care bill that alarms most Americans (and a CBO currently run by a Republican appointee) and that they are not even willing to debate in an honest and organized manner exposes the immorality at the heart of today’s GOP leadership. At this point, McConnell seems to be trying to confuse his caucus into voting for something that will be terrible for Americans, and he refuses to work with nearly half the Senate simply because they are not in his party. It is always politics with him, never actually governing in the interest of the people – history will not judge this man kindly.”

Democrats Seethe After Georgia Loss: ‘Our Brand Is Worse Than Trump’ – The New York Times

“Democrats scrambled to regroup on Wednesday after a disappointing special election defeat in Georgia, with lawmakers, activists and labor leaders speaking out in public and private to demand a more forceful economic message heading into the 2018 elections.

Among Democrats in Washington, the setback in Georgia revived or deepened a host of existing grievances about the party, accentuating tensions between moderate lawmakers and liberal activists and prompting some Democrats to question the leadership and political strategy of Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader.

A small group of Democrats who have been critical of Ms. Pelosi in the past again pressed her to step down on Wednesday. And in a private meeting of Democratic lawmakers, Representative Tony Cárdenas of California, Ms. Pelosi’s home state, suggested the party should have a more open conversation about her effect on its political fortunes.”

Mark Louis

Boulder 16 hours ago

Enough of the hand wringing, Democrats! You ran an untried 30-year-old against a veteran politician in a traditionally red district and thought that you might pull off an upset because liberals were upset about Trump! This was the same mistake that Hillary made — Democratic leadership needs to learn how to run candidates who actually can speak to the needs of the working class — and who can walk the walk. You don’t need to be an Ivy Leaguer to figure this one out.

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval
I second this, and my partner and I, in Lindsay and Schomaker, feel that since the Republicans did choose to run agains Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats should test in focus groups of swing voters to figure out if Nancy Pelosi, despite her talents, is too toxic to swing voters to be an asset as the face of the party.

How to Stand Up to Trump and Win – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“The main message Sharp and Raqib offered is that effectiveness does not come from pouring out into the street in symbolic protests. It requires meticulous research, networking and preparation.

“Think!” Sharp said. “Think before you do anything. You need a lot of knowledge first.” His work emphasizes grass-roots organizing, searching out weak spots in an administration — and patience before turning to 198 nonviolent methods he has put into a list, from strikes to consumer boycotts to mock awards.

Raqib recommended pragmatic efforts seeking a particular outcome, not just a vague yearning for the end of Trump. When pushed, she said that calls for a general strike in February were insufficiently organized, and that the Women’s March on Washington, which had its first protest the day after Inauguration Day, will ideally become anchored in a larger strategy for change. But she thinks the “Day Without Immigrants” protest was well crafted, and the same for the bodega strike by Yemeni immigrants.”

As Georgia Vote Nears G.O.P. Asks if Ideological Purity Matters Anymore – The New York Times

“Nowhere has the newly muddled nature of the party been more evident than in the fallout from the Republican failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Activists are angry over the display of dysfunction, but they are uncertain whom to turn their guns on. They will not blame Mr. Trump, because to fault him is to link arms with the left and an adversarial news media, a nonstarter in an era of tribal politics.”

The paragraph above suggests that the left should stop hammering Trump all day, everyday. It makes him invulnerable. If the passage above is correct, we should play nice. Let the right feel that is has to do its own critique, rather than just circle the wagons defense.

Gorsuch- Abortion and the Concept of Personhood – The New York Times

“Judge Neil M. Gorsuch has written little about abortion, and we do not know whether he would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established abortion as a fundamental right. But he has expressed a position on two related subjects, assisted suicide and euthanasia. In his Oxford dissertation and a later book, he defended the inviolability of human life. He rejected the role of states in granting the terminally ill a right to die and offered a legal framework that could be applied to abortion.

Judge Gorsuch, who is President Trump’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last year, argued in both his dissertation and his book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” that the Constitution requires banning doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia nationwide, with a few possible exceptions. He asserted that allowing these practices in any state would violate the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. Such a law would treat “the lives of different persons quite differently” by prohibiting the murder of the healthy while allowing the killing of the sick, he wrote.”

The right to assisted suicide is important for many reasons. This op-ed suggests explanations for why the far Christian right is spending at least $17 Million in dark money to support Gorsuch’s nomination. He is such a fine candidate otherwise, that I am saddened by this information. Putting fetus rights equal to women’s rights is not wise, if one accepts that the world is over populated. I feel it is a Christian duty to protect non-human life forms.

The Original Lie About Obamacare – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“When Barack Obama ran for president, he faced a choice. He could continue moving the party to the center or tack back to the left. The second option would have focused on government programs, like expanding Medicare to start at age 55. But Obama and his team thought a plan that mixed government and markets — farther to the right of Clinton’s — could cover millions of people and had a realistic chance of passing.

They embarked on a bipartisan approach. They borrowed from Mitt Romney’s plan in Massachusetts, gave a big role to a bipartisan Senate working group, incorporated conservative ideas and won initial support from some Republicans. The bill also won over groups that had long blocked reform, like the American Medical Association.

But congressional Republicans ultimately decided that opposing any bill, regardless of its substance, was in their political interest. The consultant Frank Luntz wrote an influential memo in 2009 advising Republicans to talk positively about “reform” while also opposing actual solutions. McConnell, the Senate leader, persuaded his colleagues that they could make Obama look bad by denying him bipartisan cover.”

Trumpcare vs. Obamacare: Apocalypse Foretold – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“The Congressional Budget Office report on Trumpcare is out, and it’s devastating: 14 million people losing insurance in the first year, 24 million over time, with premiums soaring for older, lower-income Americans — in many cases, the very people who went strongly for President Trump. The C.B.O. thinks it would reduce the deficit, but only marginally, around $30 billion a year in a $19 trillion economy.”

Terrific column. Great comments. Here is one I fully endorse, since I’ve been saying the same idea:

Jean Farrell NJ 11 hours ago

I am quite torn. In a way, I want it to pass exactly as is, because it will be a disaster that Republicans will own. That will certainly result in list votes for the Republican Party in the midterm elections, which will hopefully give the Democrats the majority in at least one house of Congress. And then the Democrats can put a brake on the madness happening in our country right now. It may take an apocalypse to wake some voters up. On the other hand, I don’t want the bill to pass for the simple fact that people will suffer. Short term pain may be required for long term gain, but it is hard to wish for that when real people will be hurt.

785ish Recommended

Can the Democrats Resurrect the Middle Class? – by Tom Edsell – The New York Times

“With the likelihood of major gains on Election Day rising, the most important task facing Democrats is the development of a coherent economic agenda that addresses issues that were central in both the Republican and Democratic primaries.There are preliminary signs that Democrats and their allies are willing to put together just such an agenda.

The Brookings Institution, for example, has produced a series of essays, “Election 2016 and America’s Future.” One of the most illuminating was published on Friday, “An Agenda for Reducing Poverty and Improving Opportunity,” by Isabel V. Sawhill and Edward Rodrigue, a senior fellow and senior research assistant at Brookings.The two authors outline numerous proposals, including some that would be risky for Democrats, particularly those that call for the redistribution of resources from the party’s upscale wing to downscale voters.”

Source: Can the Democrats Resurrect the Middle Class? – The New York Times

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Bravo Thomas Edsall! Time to rebuild the middle class.
I support the direction of all these ideas. It breaks my heart to go to the supermarket, and get forced into a self-check lane with a robot scanner. Our town desperately need entry level jobs, especially for minorities.
I worry about the chronically unemployed and underemployed. I keep circling back to a new business tax, a one or two percent tax on business profits. This job creation tax would go down to 0 as the real unemployment rate goes down, and goes up, as the real unemployment rate goes up. The money from this tax would go to jobs programs like during the great depression, Work Projects Administration etc. These jobs could have a sustainability and an energy conservation focus, training components, but in the end, we are better off if we offer jobs to students graduating from high school or college, and incarcerated prisoners who get out of jail after doing their sentence.
Would there be side effects, yes. We might have to close our borders to illegal immigrants, but that is probably overdue anyway.
The supermarket chains of the US could choose to keep eliminating jobs, with robotic, customer operated, scanning equipment, but their Job Creation tax would go up as unemployment rose, and down as the unemployment rate lowered. Businesses would have a new incentive, not to eliminate all the jobs that they can through any technology available.
Even if this idea is flawed, the direction for our economy and the world economy is important.