Despite controlling two of three branches of government and most of the third, the Republican Party suffered a humiliating defeat this week when Paul Ryan couldn't muster enough votes to destroy health care in the U.S. We can all breathe a little easier:
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, facing a revolt among conservative and moderate Republicans, rushed to the White House Friday afternoon to inform President Trump he did not have the votes to pass legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to decide whether to pull the bill from consideration.
The president and the speaker faced the humiliating prospect of a major defeat on legislation promised for seven years, since the landmark health legislation was signed into law. President Trump had demanded a vote regardless, which has been scheduled for Friday afternoon. But House leaders were leaning against such a public loss.
[Ryan] said 30 to 40 Republicans planned to vote “no”; House leaders can afford to lose only 22 votes and still pass the bill.
So 24 million Americans get to keep health insurance, and we can actually move a little closer to parity with the rest of the developed world.
Apparently we're now frightened of everything:
Passengers on foreign airlines headed to the United States from 10 airports in eight majority-Muslim countries have been barred from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone under a new flight restriction enacted on Tuesday by the Trump administration.
Officials called the directive an attempt to address gaps in foreign airport security, and said it was not based on any specific or credible threat of an imminent attack.
The Department of Homeland Security said the restricted items included laptop computers, tablets, cameras, travel printers and games bigger than a phone. The restrictions would not apply to aircraft crews, officials said in a briefing to reporters on Monday night that outlined the terms of the ban.
The new policy took effect at 3 a.m. E.D.T. on Tuesday, and must be followed within 96 hours by airlines flying to the United States from airports in Amman, Jordan; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Because, hey, if it's illegal for the administration to block people coming from those countries, maybe we can simply make them not want to come here? Oh, right. This is only going to stop people who need to work on those long flights; i.e., people we probably want to come here.
Great work, DHS. Nice.
No. Just no.
That's what Irish officials visiting Washington are saying today, after American politicians made a cringe-worthy series of gaffes on St. Patrick's Day:
“Top of the morning,” said Vice President Pence, as he hosted Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at his residence for breakfast Thursday.
Really? The reaction by Irish on social media was palpable.
“Literally just shouted ‘NOBODY SAYS THAT’ at the TV,” a journalist in Ireland tweeted. “I’ve literally only ever heard that said by Americans,” another person said.
At [a] luncheon, Trump shared what he claimed was an “Irish proverb.”
“As we stand together with our Irish friends, I’m reminded of an Irish proverb — and this is a good one, this is one I like, I’ve heard it for many, many years and I love it,” Trump said. “Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue, but never forget to remember those that have stuck by you.”
Irish tweeters immediately displayed skepticism.
These guys have attitudes about fellow Americans that would embarrass Roger Taney, so is anyone really surprised they get it all wrong with everyone else too?
It looks more and more like the Republican Party created a trap for itself in its hysterical opposition to the Affordable Care Act, making the (I am not kidding) "World's Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017" a non-starter for clear majorities in Congress:
If the health care of 20 million or more Americans weren't at stake, I'd say bring the popcorn.
Several reactions to President Trump's bizarre accusation that the Obama administration ordered an illegal wiretap on Trump Tower last year, from left to right:
Meanwhile, Greg Sargent sees this as more evidence that Trump has "total contempt for American democracy." That does seem to be the case.
A 2015 theft of a gun shipment from a railroad yard in Chicago continues to plague the city:
The guns had been en route from New Hampshire weapon maker Sturm, Ruger & Co. to Spokane, Washington. Instead, the .45-caliber Ruger revolvers and other firearms spread quickly into surrounding high-crime neighborhoods. Along with two other major gun thefts within three years, the robbery helped fuel a wave of violence on Chicago's streets.
The 2015 heist of the 111 guns, as well as one in 2014 and another last September from the same 63rd Street Rail Yard highlight a tragic confluence. Chicago's biggest rail yards are on the gang- and homicide-plagued South and West sides where most of the city's 762 killings happened last year.
Chicago's leaders regularly blame lax gun laws in Illinois and nearby states that enable a flow of illegal weapons to the city's gangs and criminals. But community leaders and security experts say no one seems to be taking responsibility for train-yard gun thefts.
But the number of guns produced in this country has nothing at all to do with crime, according to the NRA. Right.
The analyses of the President's speech to Congress last night split down partisan lines, if you divide the world into the alt-right and everyone else:
My take? I haven't heard all of the speech. But I think highlighting people who were victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants was sick.
Only 1,421 days left in this presidential term...
I hope to read these articles sometime this year.
Not exactly a slow news day:
- Former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions won confirmation as Attorney General of the U.S. on a 52-47 party-line vote.
- Meanwhile, the Senate told Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to sit down and shut up, but "she persisted," thus beginning her 2020 presidential campaign.
- And though the event was almost 26 full hours ago, yesterday's appeals court hearing in California resulted in a Trump tweet being rebuked by the President's own nominee for the Supreme Court. (The BBC has a really good primer on the U.S. constitutional system of checks and balances, for those overseas.)
- Speaking of the president, it's becoming clear as day that his motivations are very simple, and amount to a total integration of his businesses with the office. Just like we told you.
- Also, we should expect more crises, real and imagined, to scare people into supporting his consolidation of power.
- Closer to home, the building I work in, Willis Tower, has secured a $1bn refinancing that will free up funds for a $500m upgrade. Too bad the company that built it will be dead within two years, according to the bond markets.
And finally, for those of you living in the new, evidence-free world of today, you'll be happy to know that all of these things may have come about because of the lunar eclipse and comet happening Friday night.
Betsy DeVos was just confirmed as Secretary of Education by one vote: the vice president's tie-breaker. This has never happened before in the history of the United States. So far, all of President Trump's nominees requiring confirmation have had roll-call votes, and the rest are likely to. This also has never happened before:
She is only the latest of Trump’s Cabinet and Cabinet-level nominees to face an unusual amount of opposition in the Senate. Newly elected presidents are typically afforded wide latitude in picking their team — before this year, only one of the last 109 Cabinet-level nominations from new presidents, dating back to Jimmy Carter, has been rejected in a vote (five others withdrew). Many nominees are confirmed simply by unanimous consent or a voice vote, which are generally used when there is no substantial opposition and no desire to record individual votes. But all six of the Trump Cabinet-level nominees confirmed by the Senate so far were voted on via a roll-call vote.
And even with only six Cabinet members and Cabinet-level administrators confirmed so far (not including Mike Pompeo, the CIA director, who received 32 “no” votes but isn’t considered Cabinet-level), the Trump administration is on track to have the highest number of contested confirmation votes since at least the Carter administration. Ronald Reagan currently holds the record, with eight of his nominees receiving at least one “no” vote. Obama had been in second place with six contested votes, but Trump has already tied him. And the political website Decision Desk HQ has identified four other Trump nominees who could face close votes.
Meanwhile, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments about the travel ban imposed January 27th, with an appeal to the Supreme Court a foregone conclusion. And you can bet Trump will continue his assaults on the courts regardless of the outcome, because as Brian Beutler points out, "because judges are the greatest impediments to autocratic rule, Trump has singled them out most insidiously."
At least there are some signs that the national immune system is kicking in. But Trump isn't a bad cold; he's a debilitating illness that will leave the United States weaker no matter how soon we can get him out of office.