Under Donald Trump We Are Seeing the End of Protections Against Corruption

George S LedyardConsidered by many to be the most corrupt administration in US history. the Grant administration shocked the public for its level of venality. The immediate post civil war period was really the first real major growth of the Federal Government and it’s management of the economy and public lands etc.

The opportunities to manipulate financial markets, skirt what few regulations existed because regulatory systems were not yet in place, the occupation of the South which was under military rule, all of this combined to allow a money grab on a scale we had never seen before in our history. (If you watched the TV series Hell on Wheels, you’d have a good idea just what a money grab took place).

Grant Administration CorruptionUlysses S. Grant

Grant himself was known for his honesty, but his administration was likely the most corrupt in the 19th century.

A near-ceaseless flow of money from speculation and western expansion led to an epidemic of corruption, and Grant responded by stubbornly protecting those accused of graft.

A massive conspiracy to pilfer tax revenue from whiskey sales, called the Whiskey Ring, snared more than 100 federal, state, and local officials.

The secretaries of the Navy, of war and of the treasury all faced allegations of bribery and taking kickbacks.

The Salary Grab Act was passed by Congress at the end of Grant’s first term to enact gigantic retroactive pay raises for itself and to increase the salary of the president.

Grant’s administration was gutted by the Credit Mobilier scandal, in which a construction company massively overcharged the Union Pacific Railroad. The company pulled off the scam thanks to millions in bribes paid to the vice president, the secretary of the treasury, four senators, and the speaker of the House.
Most Corrupt Administrations in US History

Anyway, that’s your history lesson for the day. What is happening today is potentially on the same scale. The Trump administration is engaged in an all out, no holds barred effort to do two things. One approach is to remove as many of the rules and regulations that govern business, banking and finance as possible giving virtual free rein to act in any way they wish with no oversight or consequences.

Corruption in DCBut rolling back regulation is not enough. Trump is striving for a much more long lasting destruction of the Federal Government’s ability to regulate by dismantling the regulatory agencies themselves. He is purposely underfunding and understaffing these agencies. He is placing people formerly opposed to the missions of these agencies in charge of them. The result is an exodus of Federal employees who have the career expertise on regulating various industries.
Additionally, we see the various offices of governmental ethics being virtually crippled by administration and GOP Congressional refusal to support these offices. We have seen the Head of the Office of Governmental Ethics resign over the fact that he was simply not being allowed to do his job.

IDonald Trump Mobster Godfathern short, what we are seeing is the result that we elected a mobster to the Presidency.  He has the support of the corporate billionaire investor class that wishes to operate with no restraint in their search for greater profit. If there are no regulations, than everything is legal. If there are no regulatory agencies, no one will know when the few regulations left are contravened.
Article:
The Trump presidency: On track to becoming the most corrupt in U.S. history?

How Do We Handle Sexual Harassment?

George S LedyardLet’s talk about the on-going discussion we are having about sexual harassment and how we wish to treat it in our society. The central theme at the moment seems to be trying to understand the continuum of severity involved. Few actually believe that grabbing a woman’s butt or using sexist language in the work place is exactly the same as rape.

The real discussion revolves around whether all these offenses get treated the same, the so-called “zero tolerance” model, or is there some range of consequences that would fit the range of offenses.

Minnie Driver recently made a passionate case for the zero tolerance model while Matt Damon made a reasoned appeal asking us to be more nuanced in our approach to this. The Guardian Article

I have listened to the various discussions and found that neither side has really defined the problem properly. There are, in fact, two continua that we need to consider in order to better understand this problem.

The one we have been publicly debating is the “severity continuum”. It ranges from merely suggestive or objectionable sexist language, to unwanted touching, to outright groping, unwanted kissing and embraces, aggressive physical sexual advances, using positions of power to coerce sex, and out right rape.

Where our discussions have fallen short is in our failure to look at the effect of “frequency” when judging the severity of our problem and the effect of harassment on both individual women and the women in the society as a whole.

Let’s use the example afforded by the historical suppression of our Black community before the civil rights movement as an example of how “frequency” can be equally as powerful in maintaining second class status as “severity”.

While lynching was the ultimate weapon used against any Black folk even perceived to be getting “uppity” or “not knowing their place”, they did not happen on a daily basis. And no one would equate calling someone a “nigger” with lynching him. Yet the issue here is much the same as with the women and harassment issue.

What kept the Black community in a position of subjugation, even in places in which they had the majority population, was a constant, 24/7 environment with myriad reminders of second class status. Not being allowed to make eye contact, whites always using your first name, never your last, or using Mr. respectfully. Calling grown men “boy”, sitting in the back of the bus, or in the hot balcony of the movie theater, not using the same drinking fountain. It went on and on.

When your entire environment is structured to provide constant little reminders of your second-class status, it disempowers you, it saps your self-esteem. It removes your sense of possibility that things could be better. Well, that is what women have been living with.

Despite endemic sexual assault rates, most women are not rape survivors. But just about EVERY woman in our society has been subjected to the myriad little, what are now being called “micro-aggressions”, women referred to as girls, sexual discriminations, innuendo, minimizing humor, and so on. Very few women have not had to fend off an overly aggressive man, or to dodge the wandering hands of a boss or co-worker. And, as we are now seeing, thousands of women are coming forward with their stories of coerced sex and rape. Their horrific stories aren’t even unique. They are ubiquitous and thereby risk losing their power to appall.

But when women come forward and say they want the guy who groped, the guy who pulled up porn on his computer, the guy who suggested that a career could be advanced if a women were “nice”, when they say that they want these guys expunged, that there should be “zero tolerance” for these behaviors, they are acknowledging that the daily onslaught of seemingly small harassments being considered “normal” or the myriad minor sexual harassments being “minimized” or “tolerated” is in many ways just as serious as the damage done by those assaults that even men would consider serious.

What we are seeing right now is the rising up of over half of our society who are saying that they will not accept second class status any more. They are pointing out that living in a society in which women’s daily experience contains actions which demean, that disempower, that insult is how women have been led to tolerate and accept second class status since the beginning. Generations of women were taught to quietly accept this treatment because if they complained, at best, they were minimized, were treated as hysterical, were made to feel stupid and at worst they were pilloried and lost their jobs or were shunned by their neighbors for speaking out.
So, while I am in agreement that we have to figure out what kind of consequences there are for men who commit these ranges of misbehaviors and we definitely need to decide whether there is a “road back” to acceptance in polite society for the minor offenders who seem to be truly remorseful and are willing to be part of the solution, not the problem, I am also sympathetic to the “zero tolerance” argument.

We are trying to undo many hundreds of years of injustice just within our own society here in the US. That cannot be done by only dealing with the major assaults like rape and coerced sex while allowing minor infractions get a slap on the wrist or a mere reprimand. We have to commit to turning around the entire professional environment for women of all walks of life. Not just the movie stars or corporate executives but the hotel workers the waitresses and domestics.

It may be that we need to go through a period in which we do have zero tolerance so that we raise a generation of women that hasn’t had to “survive” any type of harassment or assault. What kind of young ladies will we raise when the mothers of a whole generation have never had to treat harassment or assault as normal? I think we need to make it a priority to find out.

Russia, Putin, and the American Right

George S LedyardHow did a party, that still pays lip service to Ronald Reagan is the father of modern conservatism end up as the tool of Vladimir Putin’s Russia? Reagan spent his entire career fighting against Russian influence globally. In just a few years, his beloved party is now an apologist for Russian efforts in their own country domestically and around the world globally.

To understand all of this, one needs to see just how brilliant Vladimir Putin and his intelligence service have been. Historically, the old Soviet Union would launch covert ops designed to co-opt the left. Socialist groups, anti-Vietnam War groups, progressive journalists, pretty much anyone on the left that was anti-establishment could be targeted. They looked for sympathetic political allies.

In those days it was simply assumed that guys like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, who had gotten a start in their political careers crafting their foreign polices with countering Russian influence around the globe as the central goal, were not easily influenced. So it was the lefties that got targeted for manipulation by Russian intelligence.

This was true all the way back to the very beginning of the Soviet state when the Comintern infiltrated every Russian emigre group, used lefty socialist student groups at universities to recruit spies, and so on.

The brilliance of Putin’s intelligence effort to influence US policy towards Russia is that he made the decision to target American Conservatives. Russians have a very sophisticated understanding of individual and political psychology. During their entire history since the Revolution, the field of psychology has been treated as a tool for maintaining state control.

Russian intelligence has realized that the main objection to Russia as a nation on the part of the US was it’s adherence to Godless Communism. Now, that any pretense of being a Communist country has been dropped, they have realized that as an autocratic, totalitarian state, there are many areas on confluence with the American right. Now that Putin’s Russia has embraced its Orthodox heritage and dropped notions of socialism and communism in favor of oligarchy in which a small group of fabulously wealthy individuals run the country, the American right has realized just how much they have in common with their former enemies.
 

Russian intelligence understands this. They know their history. Back in the 1930’s, it was the American right that toyed with Fascism as a perceived defense against the popular revolt of the unemployed working class. The American oligarchs, the Bushes, the Morgans, Duponts, Fords etc actually initiated a coup to overthrow President Roosevelt which never coalesced. Up until Pearl Harbor these people openly admired the Fascist leaders like Hitler in Europe in just the same way we see Donald Trump openly expressing admiration for Vladimir Putin.

Putin’s intelligence service recognized that Putin’s narrative of Russia as the Christian bulwark against the Asiatic menace of the Islamic hordes, their draconian anti-LGBT policies, even Putin’s strong man ability to crush media opposition all appeal to the American right and represented points of entry for targeting Russian influence efforts.

Really, what it comes down to is that the American right has a built in bias towards authoritarianism. Donald Trump is openly admiring of various strong men around the world. The GOP has been praising Vladimir Putin’s leadership.  All of this is the result of a twenty year campaign on the part of Russian intelligence to influence the American right.

They still do work the left. It’s fairly clear that the Russians used Jill Stein as a tool to split voters off of the Democratic Party and prevent at least a portion of progressive voters from unifying with the Clinton campaign after Bernie Sanders lost the nomination. This continues… `It is quite revealing to see that the pro-Russia narrative being pushed by many members of the far right is virtually identical to that of the far left radical progressives. But the Russians understand that the far left in the US is politically marginalized and has no actual political power.


As voters, we need to look at administration and Republican policy from the stand point of how it serves Russian policy objectives. Despite Putin’s courting of Donald Trump and other right wing figures, he is not a “friend” of America but a savvy adversary whose real interest in in creating division between the US and its European allies, damaging political unity on the US, and even damaging our essential confidence in our democratic institutions. We need to be very careful to see what is happening through this filter or we risk being manipulated into policies that damage the country in the long run.

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“Clean Repeal” / “Repeal & Replace” Proof the GOP Can’t Govern

George S LedyardOK, everyone. Here is the bottom line. We really don’t need any more information than this.
The ACA never managed to cover everyone. The uninsured number of citizens peaked in 2010 at 18.2%. Today, due to the ACA, it is at 10.3%, the lowest rate ever since tracking began 45 years ago. But that is still 28 million uninsured.
The GOP is now considering two options:
1) The clean repeal – according to the CBO, this option would throw an additional 32 million out of coverage. Essentially this option would take us back to a worse situation than our worst rate back in 2010. That’s on top of our existing uninsured. So, we’d go to 60 million uninsured with the “clean repeal”. Who thinks that ‘s an acceptable option, besides Donald Trump?
2) Replace the ACA with the GOP plan – this plan, again according to the CBO, would throw 22 million out of coverage over ten years. That takes us to 50 million uninsured. That’s a couple of million worse than the record in 2010. The reason that the GOP hasn’t been able to pass this option so far, is that a significant segment of the GOP Senate believes that the bill does not go far enough in repealing the ACA. That’s just insane.
The GOP is proving itself to be wedded to ideology rather than reality. Their 7 year propaganda and outright disinformation campaign against the ACA, convinced their base that the ACA is a horrible disaster. Now that they actually have to create a program that works, they find that most of the ACA is working and it’s most important provisions are elements that the voters do not wish to do without.
The tiny group of GOP moderates in the Senate that are also refusing to support their party’s bill, may end up being willing to work with the Democrats to fix the elements of the ACA that are not working. But the rest of the party is facing the harsh reality of either damaging the interests of their own constituents by following through on their promise to repeal the ACA or admitting that their claims about the ACA were pretty much anti-Obama propaganda and retain and repair it.
The GOP is now reaping their harvest of lying to their followers for years. Now that they are responsible for creating a real plan that is sustainable, they can’t and still live up to their promises. So, congratulations to the GOP. They have figured out how to use
propaganda to get elected and have made themselves incapable of actually governing.

Why Republicans Cannot Replace the ACA, Or Accomplish Anything Else

The Truth about the Uninsured Rate in America

 

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Election Cyber Security Going Forward

George S LedyardSheila Kennedy has blogged about our election security situation in her article Smoke and Fire and Vote Suppression
As usual she is thoughtful and articulate and brings up some points that we really need to be considering and under the Trump administration, for reason that are really not justifiable, we are not.
Donald Trump’s obsession with trying to prove that he really didn’t lose the popular vote, that the three million more votes for Hillary Clinton were fraudulent, has caused him to set up a Federal probe to investigate this so-called “fraud” for which there is ZERO evidence.
At the same time, Trump is adamant in his attempts to minimize the Russian interference in the 2016 election, for which there is massive evidence. Furthermore, given what we know of the Russian penetration of state voting systems, it would seem to be crucial that we take a look at the electronic voting machines, the security of the voter data bases, and so on because that’s where the really significant vulnerabilities lie.
But Trump’s Dept of Homeland Security has nixed that effort. So, the bottom line here is that the Trump administration wishes to spend many millions of dollars investigating a problem that doesn’t exist but will not do anything about a problem that is potentially REALLY serious. Many see this as a stealth effort to set up Federal level voter suppression measures and 40 states so far have refused to cooperate wit the probe’s request for records.
Putin - Russian hacking- 2016 electionThe Russians have managed to interfere with our 2016 election. We know that much. The extent to which their cyber penetration, their vast social media propaganda effort and other tactics, tipped the scales in 2016 has not been quantified and may not ever be. Their intelligence operation against Hilary Clinton and for Donald Trump was so complex that we may find it impossible to separate out what effect the Russian interference and from other elements that would have happened anyway.
But one thing is certain. The Russians have incurred almost no negative consequences for their cyber attack on our system. I suspect that the 2016 election interference op will go down in history as one of the most successful covert ops in intelligence history. Espionage professionals will be studying this operation in spook school for many years.
election security, cvyber attacks, election hackingGiven its success and the negligible price that Russia has paid, it’s virtually certain that they will continue this effort going forward. The Russians look at our democratic system as our big vulnerability. With a public that is polarized to the point at which elections at the national level are won by a mere percentage point or two we are uniquely vulnerable to fake news, disinformation campaigns designed to sway just enough votes to change the outcome. Tipping the scales is quite possible when elections are this close.
We desperately need to address the security of this process at the state level and this will require Federal coordination and financial support. Because it isn’t just he Russians we have to worry about. Other nations have cyber units that regularly hack our business and government systems. And now that they’ve seen how successful the Russian covert op was, we can expect other players to try the same thing.

The Russian Scandal Is Not Just a Distraction

George S LedyardCatherine Rampell in the Washington Post (link below) writes that the Russian Scandal distract us from the REALLY important issues with Donald Trump’s Presidency.
 
“Focusing on the terrible things Team Trump did during the campaign and transition conveniently distracts you from all the terrible things Team Trump is doing during the presidency.”
I happen to think she’s dead wrong. Not because so many of the Trump actions aren’t really important. Not because they, in the long run, won’t effect each of us more than the Russian scandal.
It’s because no matter how disastrous his climate change denial is, the dismantlement of the EPA, the GOP Health Care atrocity, the dismantling of the Federal regulatory capacity, etc, NONE of these things is illegal.
The GOP has the Presidency and both Houses of Congress. If they can agree among themselves, the Democrats are helpless to do anything but watch them destroy everything we’ve built since the New Deal.
Our first chance of even slowing things down, under normal circumstances, would be 2018 and possibly taking back the Senate.
But we have the Russian Hacking and / Election Interference scandal. The sheer scope and scale of this scandal is possibly historic. The great scandals like the Teapot Dome Scandal, Watergate, Iran Contra, all may end up dwarfed by this one.
While yes, we as voters may find that we are being “distracted” by the daily revelations, more importantly it is the President, the administration, and the GOP Congress who are getting distracted to the point of being ineffective. The GOP Congress has passed almost no landmark legislation since the election. Almost all of Trump’s destructive actions have been done via executive order.
Frankly, the more time and attention that the President and the administration officials have to put on legal defense, testifying in the various investigations, defending themselves in the media, simply doing damage control, the less time they have to pushing through their disastrous agenda.
The strength of the GOP position in Congress only makes a difference if they are unified. As the Trump associated scandals deepens, they will lose their central focus, the one who provides a unifying leadership for their efforts. GOP representatives will find themselves needing to distance themselves from the sinking Trump ship and GOP party discipline in Congress will almost assuredly suffer.
Finally, criminal charges against administration officials with the consequent specter of impeachment for President Trump provide our best chance of stopping the Trump agenda even before the mid-terms, and certainly before 2020. Impeachment proceedings would almost certainly bring other Congressional business to a full halt. And, this scandal could well be the motivating factor in producing a record turnout at the mid-terms.
No matter how destructive and disastrous the various Trump initiatives are, none, with the possible exception of the health care issue, are likely to fire the base, get people involved politically, and turn out the vote the way the Russian collusion issue may. The extent to which we can hammer the administration over the scandal and let the GOP Congress know that we hold them responsible for being “enablers” of this dysfunction, is directly related to our ability to slow down or prevent destructive legislative initiatives from being pushed through.

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“Billionaire Class” Controlled Media Functioning as a Propaganda Machine

George S LedyardFOX News has essentially become the Trump administration’s main propaganda outlet with Sean Hannity, practically acting as the administration Minister of Propaganda. The difference is that we all know this to be true now. No one watching FOX thinks it isn’t representing conservative interests, that they aren’t watching a pro-Trump news outlet.

But local news channels are not normally seen that way. Most people do not know who actually owns these channels, which are actually still the main way that most Americans consume news. Local viewers would be completely unsuspecting that their local stations were simultaneously putting out centrally scripted right wing disinformation that was identical all over the country designed to manufacture a point of view. Nor would they suspect that these propaganda stories are what are called “must-runs” which local stations are required to work into their programming.

Much of the Sinclair produced material is actually more of the quality of InfoWars than it is like FOX. It isn’t just conservatively slanted news reporting. It is more in the vein of ultra right fake news conspiracy laden material of the type we saw used as a campaign weapon by bot driven social media fake news purveyors.

While we do not have a state run media outlet as they do in many countries like Russia. What we do have is a developing right wing “billionaire class” controlled media that is functioning as a propaganda machine, not as real news outlets.

This is an attempt to further consolidate the sources of information available to our citizens. There is a specific goal in mind with a specific agenda. It is a blatant expansion of a billionaire, right wing controlled, propaganda network and with Donald Trump as President, it will essentially function with as much integrity as Russian State media does in relation to the Putin regime.

Sinclair Requires TV Stations to Air Segments That Tilt to the Right

 
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“Identity Politics” and the Struggle to Realize the Promise of July 4th

George S Ledyard“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

One of the things for which conservatives have criticized liberals and Democrats is what they call “identity politics”. Some maintain that “identity politics” rather than a focus on the economic realities of the heartland is what cost the Dems the election.

But the fact is,”identity politics” is the on-going struggle for our nation to realize in reality what the Declaration of Independence stated in principles. When the document was written, it didn’t cover women, it didn’t include blacks or native peoples. Over time we have as a society recognized that other groups were not included. LGBT communities weren’t even acknowledged to exist when that document was written. Hispanics didn’t factor in. Large numbers of indentured servants were not equal participants.

When this document was authored, its provisions largely meant white men of property. In the next almost 250 years we have steadily enlarged our notions of who is included in “all men” to actually mean “all people”. At every step, some portion of the previously “included groups’ resisted the addition of other new groups as belonging to “all men”. The have, at every step, have tried to keep the club small and exclusive.

The fact that we, in 2017 are still grappling with women’s issues, racism on a large scale, an anti-LGBT backlash, anti-immigrant hysteria, and so on simply makes “identity politics” inevitable and essential. It is the on-going battle to realize the promise of that original document.

What does the unalienable right to liberty mean in a society which imprisons a higher percentage of its population than any other nation in the world?

What does the right to the pursuit of happiness mean when economic class division condemns a significant proportion of our society to stultifying poverty with little or no opportunity to move up the economic ladder?

The Declaration of Independence set out the ideals of the nation, however imperfectly realized at the time. Later, the Constitution of the United States delineated the legal framework upon which this dream would be based. The provision for amendments recognized that this was a living document, that the future would require that we update the document to deal with realities not envisioned by the framers.

But the dream remains the same. And it is an unrealized dream. The unalienable rights defined in the Declaration of Independence are unequally available to our citizens. Vast economic inequality simply makes anything like an “even playing field” that affords equal opportunity a bad joke in our society.

So while conservatives try to pretend that we are in a post racist society, that no special protections should be afforded vulnerable groups within the larger society, “identity politics” will continue to be an essential part of the on-going fight to realize the original promise of our formation as a nation.

The conservative point of view:

The Declaration of Independence and the case for a polity based on universal principles

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GOP Control of Congress May Be the Great the Opportunity for the Democrats

George S LedyardFrom the Article:
“In the past year, 7 in 10 low-income families experienced at least one civil legal problem, according to a recent University of Chicago NORC survey done for the Legal Services Corporation. Such problems include foreclosures, domestic violence (getting a restraining order, for example), custody disputes, debt repayment or neglectful landlords. The elderly, rural residents and veterans — all core components of the Republican base — are especially well-represented in this population.”
It’s not only Medicaid that’s in danger from the GOP cuts being proposed. Legal Aid is in danger as well.
What is interesting about these budget cuts is the way they reveal a real fault line that runs through the Republican base. It turns out that while socially the base may be very “Republican” i.e. anti-foreigner & Anti-immigration, anti-LGBT & anti-gay marriage, hard core Christian & anti-Muslim, and bigoted against people of color, those very same people, often without realizing it, are very Democratic in their economic / policy attitudes.
The hard core Red States in the heartland are some of the largest recipients of Federal aid in the form social safety net support (often known as welfare). As was the case with so-called Obamacare, often these people, who are not the most sophisticated folks, don’t even understand the details of the support they get. When the find out what’s involved with cutting these GOP vilified programs they are often horrified.
In the case of Obamacare the GOP seven year propaganda effort had the majority of Americans convinced that program was the cause of all of their health care ills. But now that the GOP repeal and replace effort has people looking at the details, it turns out that almost every single element of what they say should be essential in their health care coverage was a part of he ACA and they simply didn’t understand that fact.
The nation’s poor have been relying on Federal assistance in myriad ways. Legal assistance is just another program that benefits low income people who no other means of navigating the legal environment in which all of us live. When faced with losing this support due to GOP budget cuts, the poor and working class folks who have relied on them are not happy.
In most cases these programs exist because Democrats created them and pushed them through the legislative process, sometimes with moderate GOP support and sometimes with no GOP support at all. Now that the GOP is in control of Congress and the Presidency all of these programs are in danger of being either eliminated or drastically cut. And it is the core voter base that is waking up to the fact that they’ve elected leaders who are ideologically committed to destroying the safety net upon which they depend.
This points out  a glaring reality. The Democrats have been and continue to be the political party that has consistently, since the Great Depression, championed the programs that provide a floor to poverty. Programs designed to keep our poor and working class citizens from sinking below the waves and drowning in poverty. And they have been doing an abysmal job of reminding people of that fact.
Why is it that the GOP has such a strong base of support precisely among the folks that depend on these essentially Democratic programs for their survival? One must arrive at he conclusion that, in its championing of the rights of our vulnerable minorities, women’s rights, workers rights, civil rights for minorities, LGBT rights, and diversity as a positive value, the Democrats have done a very poor job of reminding the American public that the programs upon which our nations poor and working class depend for survival, are Democratic programs.
The GOP has mastered the art of playing upon the social biases of the American heartland to convince them to vote against their own economic interests. As long as power seemed to lie in some part with the Democrats, the GOP could blame all sorts of issues on those terrible Liberals in Washington. But now, the GOP is in the position of having to own the whole thing. They control the whole government. And that is starting to wake people up. Voters in the heartland are starting to look at the proposed cuts in the GOP budget & health care bills on an item by item basis.
GOP legislators trying to create the ACA replacement are finding that, in order to keep the elements of health care coverage that the voters feel are essential, they are ending up with something that looks suspiciously like Obamacare 2.0. This is revealing a major fault line in the GOP between those who hesitate to risk losing the support of their base by seriously damaging their economic survival and the hard core ideologues who put their radical libertarian philosophy ahead of the welfare of their constituents.
It is clear that the Democratic Party must figure out how to craft a message that makes this clear to the poor and working class folks who seem to have not understood or have forgotten just what it is that the party does for them. We need to get back to the old Democratic party alliance with organized labor, develop programs designed to deal with the widening wealth / income divide, think forward by working out programs designed to help the work force transition to the jobs of the future as the robotics revolution  destroys traditional work models.
But more importantly, the Democrats need a better understanding of how to sell their program. They need a “ministry of propaganda” that understands the current  neuroscience of how voters make their decisions, how to craft a message the resonates. We  clearly are the party which has the agenda that benefits the poor and working classes economically coupled with an idealistic civil rights agenda of diversity that appeals to the educated liberal elites.
How we develop a sophisticated messaging program to “sell” that fact will determine the survival of the party in the future. The GOP control of the entire legislative process is going to create the opportunity to create a huge backlash against the GOP programs which are now transparently for the benefit of the richest oligarchs at he expense of the common man. But the Democrats have to craft the message and hammer it home. They also need some candidates that are inspiring and charismatic that can get the voters excited about the Dem agenda.
Article on the Threat to Legal Aid in the GOP Budget

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Will the GOP Be Forced to Work with the Democrats on Health Care?

George S LedyardFrom the article –
Second, McConnell will press the argument that if this bill does not pass, Republicans will have no choice but to negotiate over the future of the Affordable Care Act with Democrats. Multiple reports have said that McConnell has privately warned Republicans that failure would mean they must enter into talks with Democrats on ways to shore up the individual markets, which would effectively mean that a chance to pass a partisan repeal bill is gone.”
It is abundantly clear that the GOP has not wanted to work with Democrats on health care. They have seen this chance to dismantle big government programs and cut taxes as a unique opportunity. The battle has revealed fault lines in the GOP between the real ultra right libertarian extremists, who fundamentally don’t really believe that government should have any role at all in providing benefits and protections to private citizens and more traditional style Republican moderates who are willing to support some level of Federal involvement in health care.
While in theory, the GOP has total control of both houses of Congress, the ideological divide between the Tea Party, Koch brothers sponsored extremists, whose goal is to roll back government to pre-New Deal levels and the more traditional moderates is wider than that between the moderates and establishment Democrats.
The ACA, better known as Obama Care, was really a Heritage Foundation, conservative plan created in order to head off Liberal efforts to establish a single payer system. It was successfully put into place in Massachusetts under Governor Mitt Romney. In other words, this was a conservative plan, not some Liberal creation.
President Obama went with is plan, as did the Dems at the time, because they felt it was the best they could do. Anything closer to single payer seemed to be a non-starter at the time. So the ACA was passed with its supporters fully knowing that it had issues that they expected to address as they revealed themselves over time.
What they had not anticipated was the unrelenting, concerted, disinformation attack on the ACA by the GOP. Conservatives made opposition to the ACA the single most important element in their opposition to the entire Obama administration. Republicans met and determined that their strategy would be to block any and all efforts by the Obama administration to do anything. They wished to deny Obama anything that could be considered to be a win and to force him out of office after one term.
Of course that backfired completely and Obama successfully completed two terms. But GOP obstructionism made any tinkering with the ACA to fix apparent issues impossible. Instead, the GOP repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to repeal the legislation as a way to play to their base. So they publicly excoriated Obama and the ACA while refusing to do anything that might improve it. Their hope was that it would implode and they could replace it with their own legislation.
But now those same Republicans are faced with putting their money where their mouths have been. It is abundantly clear that while they were great at criticizing the ACA for eight years, they didn’t actually have a plan in place that they could agree on to replace it. Their replacement plan floundered in the House and they finally were forced to kick the can down the line by passing a version they knew wouldn’t fly, hoping that the Senate would be able to fix it.
Mitch McConnell decided to minimize public outrage over their developing plan by appointing thirteen GOP Senators, all white males, to meet in closed session to draft the bill. No public hearings, no input from the opposition party, no input from women, no input from the minority community, and no input from the health care provider community.
Even many GOP Senators have been offended by this process, rightly feeling that they had been left out of the process and were being rushed to approve the plan that emerged without really understanding its implications.
Now that the Congressional Budget Office has released its analysis of the draft legislation, it has become apparent that the extremist libertarians in the Senate, the so-called Freedom Caucus, feel it does not go far enough to dismantle Federally supported health care. And the moderates, looking at benefit cuts, rising deductibles, drastic cuts to Medicaid, etc. which will devastate health care for the poor and raise costs dramatically for everyone else, in order to give a tax break to the top 1% are finding that they just can’t go there.
This is REALLY not about health care at all. It is the result on a 35+ year effort on the part of a group of extreme right wing billionaires, like the Koch brothers, to dismantle the Federal government. It’s not just health care they wish to dismantle. It is the entire Federal regulatory structure and involvement on providing the social safety net. Like the Democrats with the ACA, they see this legislation as just the first round. Their eventual goal isn’t just cutting Medicaid. It is dismantling both Medicaid and Medicare. It is the privatization of almost everything we currently view as public goods.
While these extremists have a serious power base within the GOP and have largely, through excellent organization and vast financial support from the radical point one percenter billionaires, like the Koch brothers and Robert Mercer, been able to drive the GOP agenda, they are not the majority. Most of the GOP are not the extreme ideologues that these people are. They are more opportunists. They’ve gone along with the extremists when it seemed politically expedient but now that they are seeing the public reaction to the health bill for instance, they are wavering in their support. And the true moderates, of whom there are still a few, are not willing to follow the extremists in their desire to dismantle government at the expense of their constituents.
The moderates concede that there is a legitimate role for Government in administering areas deemed public goods as well as providing some sort of regulation to protect clean air, clean water, the environment in general, etc. This places them closer to establishment Democrats than it does to the more right wing members of their party. This is a serious culture war in our country and it is reflected within the GOP itself.  Mitch McConnell was barely able to restrain a pro-Trump super pac from running attack ads on one of their own GOP Senators who was refusing to vote for the health care bill as it stands.
So, given the impasse that may result from this ideological battle which may just result in the inability of Mitch McConnell to enforce party discipline and pass the legislation, he has informed his GOP comrades that their failure will force them to do the unthinkable and reach across the aisle and work with the Democrats to keep the current system functioning. It would mean the defeat of the GOP promised efforts to repeal Obama Care and require them to do what they have refused to do, fix the broken elements of the current system.
And the Democratic Party they will be forced to deal with will be a newly energized group. The resistance effort that has been mobilized within the Dem community has actually reinvigorated talk of single payer, Medicare for all proposals. If the GOP is forced to accept a colossal fail on their repeal and replace effort, the reaction from the public may just push health care reform farther in the other direction than it has been. If the GOP is forced to deal with the Democrats, they will be negotiating with a Democratic party newly energized to go farther in expanding Federal coverage than has been the case to date.

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