The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

The GOP health-care plan

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.

Did the President actually ask Congress to investigate him?

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.

Maybe the problem is too many guns, huh?

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.

He can read from a teleprompter

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...

Open tabs at lunchtime

Sigh:

I hope to read these articles sometime this year.

 

A few things have happened

Not exactly a slow news day:

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.

Unpresidented opposition

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.1 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.

Lunchtime links

Stuff I'll read before rehearsal today:

Back to the mines...

Wormtongue in the Oval

By now, everyone in the world has heard about President Trump's patently unconstitutional order to ban refugees from some majority-Muslim nations (except, coincidentally, not from those with which he has business dealings). But after his first Take Out the Trash Day, he did something a lot more far-reaching and dangerous yesterday:

President Donald Trump is reshuffling the US National Security Council (NSC), downgrading the military chiefs of staff and giving a regular seat to his chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Mr Bannon, formerly the head of the populist right-wing, Breitbart News website, will join high-level discussions about national security.

The order was signed on Saturday.

The director of national intelligence and the joint chiefs will attend when discussions pertain to their areas.

Under previous administrations, the director and joint chiefs attended all meetings of the NSC's inner circle, the principals' committee.

On the point of the anti-Muslim ban, Lyft this morning announced a $1m donation to the ACLU to protest it. Good for them. (Uber only turned off surge pricing at JFK and offered to compensate their drivers who were detained, which at the moment could be as few as zero.)

Meanwhile, Republicans who slammed trump just 13 months ago after he said that he was going to do this were remarkably conciliatory when it actually happened. It's almost as if they're opportunistic toadies, who are morally complicit in Trump's attacks on American institutions.

So, anti-Semite and power-drunk Steve Bannon scores a twofer, nicely capping the president's first horrific week in office.

And for those who want a reminder of the reference: