VICTORY!!

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pulling the plug on a Republican bill to repeal and replace large portions of the 2010 health care law in one fell swoop.

“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” the Kentucky Republican said.

McConnell announced that he would seek to call up the House-passed health care reconciliation bill as a way of setting up a vote on a “repeal and delay” of the 2010 health care law.

“So, in the coming days, the Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Obama: a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care,” McConnell said.

In order for that to happen, however, at least 50 Republican senators would still need to vote to proceed to the House measure.

That will not happen.  The numbers are not there.

The ‘F” Word In Our News Publications

When it comes to high standards for grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary there are three publications that stand out.  The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Economist.   I am a stickler for having reading material that treats the person holding the publication as an adult.    An adult with some taste, and common sense.

So I was truly upset when The Economist–in their July 1st, 2017 edition–used the “F” word once in a lead paragraph to a story, and referenced that word in a separate column.   One does not need to be a prude or conservative to get uppity about this.  Good taste is not something that can be replaced once the standards are removed.

One page 23 of the United States edition a story about the murderous streets of Baltimore started out with a quote from a former gang member about the process of killing people.  “I am going to kill who-ever’s got a ******* problem with it.”

There is no news worthy quality or purpose for having that word in print.  The line could have been worked for the thuggish quality it was meant to underscore without using a word that is simply low class–even though too many regularly have it in their repertoire.

Then on page 60 in the Schumpeter column this line appears.

“I like to use the acronym “WTF”.

I get it that this nation has slipped somewhere about par with the curb of the average street.  I understand the average bar in America is not filled with folks thinking about self respect when they talk.  I get it that too many stand-up comics think they are only funny when cussing.  I get it that in any mall in the country one can find a ten-year-old talking trash out loud with friends in ways that did not happen 45 years ago.

But I have long thought there was at least a place of refuge in the printed words of my favorite publications.  A place where journalists of note conveyed the bigger truths about the world and did so with ideas and words that resonated for the ones who subscribed.  

So I feel let down by The Economist.    I feel that once again the lowest common denominator has taken yet one more place where thinking people use to inhabit.  

I still hold to standards.  The Manual Of Style and Usage from The New York Times remains on my desk in the shelved section.  And I use it for this blog. They permit, with editors oversight, adding (expletive) in place of a word if it is material to the story and its meaning.  But that is a very rare thing to be used.

In 1896, Adolph Ochs proclaimed that The New York Times would present the news “in language that is parliamentary in good society.’   In other words, keep it clean,

And so it goes.

Abraham Lincoln, Christianity, And Donald Trump

I recently had a very long conversation with a current pastor about the issues of the day which included politics.  From education to youth crime to the death penalty; the topics ranged from A to Z. Though he was clearly a conservative it was not until his admitting to having cast a vote for Donald Trump that my face must have shown for the first time in that long discussion true befuddlement. Though I differed on his point of view about education, taxes, and even how reporters should be viewed as a profession it was not until he noted how he cast his ballot for president did I wince.

I live in a very liberal and blue city–in fact my ward on the Madison ithmus is noted for being one of the bluest in the entire state of Wisconsin.  So it is not natural to hear someone admit they voted for Trump. While some friends have stated such a vote on Facebook, or I have inferred that a vote was cast for Trump from those I know based on past history, the pastor admitting it was the first time anyone has said it to my face.  As I said red type voters are not a part of my neighborhood.

But it was not that he voted Republican that surely made me very quickly blink twice.  After all, I could see many reasons to support the likes of Jeb Bush, John Kasich, or Lindsay Graham or a host of others.  But for a current pastor to tell me that Trump was the proper person to support in 2016 was hard to hear, even though I am very aware of the voting statistics of evangelicals in 2016.  I just had never heard one tell it to me directly.

After all Donald Trump’s name adorned the first casino in America to have an in-house strip club. He is the first American president to have made a cameo  appearance in a soft-core pornography film, and he has called his struggle to avoid sexually transmitted diseases while sleeping around his “personal Vietnam.” When Trump the candidate was asked last year whether any of his paramours had had an abortion, he refused to answer.

So one has to ask what one, such as myself, who follows this political climate, should make of any person of the cloth making an admission of voting for Trump?

As noted on this blog many times over the past year I find it necessary to separate myself for a chunk of the day from the never-ending crazy antics and words from Donald Trump.  Reading history books provide the perfect antidote to Trump.  As such I came upon the perfect response to this question raised above from the life of Abraham Lincoln.

In 1860, according to Lincoln’s law partner in Springfield, William Herndon, upon hearing that most of the clergy in the city opposed him for president, “He commented bitterly on the attitude of the preachers and many of their followers, who, pretending to be believers in the Bible and God-fearing Christians, yet by their votes demonstrated that they cared not whether slavery was voted up or down.”

The do-as-I-say crowd have long had a checkered past, and Lincoln makes the point with his complaint about churches and the morality of ending slavery.

It might be nice for those who cast such a vote for Trump in 2016 to think that trimming, splicing, and dicing this way or that allows some rationale for casting a vote for Trump who admitted to being a sexual predator.  But at the end of the day one votes in totality for a candidate.  Or they reject that candidate.

I simply can not fathom how self-identified Christians could have cast such a vote.  So when it comes to purity from the pulpit among evangelicals it does need to be taken with a very strong dose of cynicism.

Because Facts Matter Regarding Trump’s Budget

What is playing out regarding the Trump Administration’s budget truly needs some light shined upon it.

  • lot lately with its health care bill scoring, but the latest report it released examined President Trump’s budget, which proposes deep cuts to federal spending and boasts yuuuuge economic growth. Oh, and it’s called “MAGAnomics.” [Washington Post / Damian Paletta and Max Ehrenfreund]
  • One of its biggest promises is to balance the federal budget in the next decade, which is a monumental undertaking.
  • The CBO’s assessment? Yes, Trump’s budget will definitely reduce spending over the next decade, to the tune of about $3.3 trillion. No, that does not equal a balanced federal budget. [Congressional Budget Office]
  • Trump would have to cut over $2 billion more to achieve that result, according to the CBO report. [Congressional Budget Office]
  • It’s not unusual for the CBO to score a presidential budget, but there was a pretty big disparity between the White House and CBO numbers, far more than for the budgets released by President Obama. [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
  • That’s because the CBO says Trump’s budget office was relying on economic growth numbers that were way too optimistic. The White House said its budget would spur 3 percent economic growth, while the CBO estimated it would be closer to 1.8 percent. [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
  • The CBO also said Trump’s budget office was using suspect math and didn’t give out enough information about the president’s tax plan, a key component to forecast economic growth. [NYT / Alan Rappeport]

Perhaps not surprisingly, the White House’s reaction after the report was to go after the CBO itself, putting out a video questioning the office’s credibility (which contained a noticeable spelling error of the word “inaccurate.”)

Where We Stand At The Start Of The Week

Batten down the hatches, Bunkie, it is going to be a bumpy ride.

Few want a tweeter-in-chief: The ABC News-Washington Post poll out this morning shows that 67 percent of Americans don’t like President Trump’s use of Twitter and 70 percent say Trump has acted in an “unpresidential” manner since taking office. 2. Summer slide: A new ABC News-Washington Post poll shows Trump’s six-month approval rating at 36 percent, the lowest of any president at this point in 70 years. 3. More to the meeting … At least eight people were in the room for Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer, CNN reports. That’s four more than he originally said were there. And 63 percent of Americans say it was inappropriate.

Liu Xiaobo Remembered For All The Right Reasons

A powerful read from the Boston Globe.

When Liu Xiaobo died in Chinese captivity last week, the world lost one of its moral giants. Liu was a hero, even though his tragic fate — his life cut short by the Communist dictatorship in Beijing — was one he shared with tens of millions of his fellow Chinese.

What made Liu Xiaobo exceptional was this: He had a choice. In 1989, when mammoth pro-democracy demonstrations spread through China’s cities, Liu was living in safety far away. He was a successful scholar who enjoyed the freedom to travel abroad; in the spring of 1989 he was teaching at Columbia University in New York. Instead of remaining in America, however, he returned to China, joining the students in Tiananmen Square and, together with three other prominent intellectuals, staging a hunger strike in a demonstration of solidarity.

Chinese authorities refused every plea to release him; not even the extraordinary honor of the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to Liu in 2010, could induce the dictators in Beijing to relent. The prize “made headlines around the world,” noted the South China Morning Postin the lengthy obituary it published on Friday:

but the Chinese government blocked all news about it because it served as international condemnation of the communist regime’s human rights abuses and its suppression of individual liberty. A survey taken shortly after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded found that 85 percent of China’s university students said they knew nothing about Liu or Charter 08.

For all that, the Chinese government could not erase Liu’s international renown. At the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in December 2010, Liu’s medal and diploma were presented to the empty chair that took his place upon the stage. Hundreds of dignitaries rose in a standing ovation.

In the end Liu died of liver cancer, the diagnosis delayed by his jailers until the disease was too advanced to treat. Right up to his final hour, he was kept under lock and key, cut off from everyone but his wife — and even she was barred from spending time with him alone. When Liu passed away last week, he became the first Nobel peace laureate to die in chains since the German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, a prisoner of the Nazis who died in 1938. And in a final demonstration of the fear Liu’s dissent evoked in his tormentors, his remains were hastily cast into the ocean less than two days after his death.