Advice to Democrats: Just get out of the way

This is what happens when you send someone to Washington who has no idea how Washington works. And, yes, I understand  most conservative voters think the best way to fix Washington is to act as if all the rules that typically apply should be ignored. They would be wrong.

This, from The Hill:

White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon told a group of House conservatives they had no choice but to back the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill days before the bill was pulled, according to a new report.

In a confrontation with members of the House Freedom Caucus as part of White House efforts to push the American Health Care Act, Bannon is reported to have said this: “Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.”

Perfect. Talk to adults as if they are children and wait for the predictable results.

Also of interest is the fact that in meetings with members of his own party at the White House on Thursday, President Trump did not want to  discuss “policy specifics of the healthcare legislation.” No, he and his designated administration goon expected member of the GOP caucus to do as told. Didn’t quite work that way.

In fairness, a skilled president who understands how things do work and how to apply both carrots and sticks can often effectively make demands.

The emphasis here is on skill. Trump appears to have none, which is a good reasons for Democrats to give him plenty of room to make a bloody mess of things with members of his own party.

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Morning Headlines

Someone get the champaign we stored last November

New York TimesTrump becomes ensnared in fiery G.O.P. civil war

NBC NewsHow Trump the dealmaker failed on health care

Washington Post: Trump’s path forward only gets tougher after health-care fiasco

CNN PoliticsIvanka Trump’s growing West Wing role raises questions

CBS NewsLondon attacker Khalid Masood taught English in Saudi Arabia

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“Catch the Wind” – Donovan (1965)

“Catch the Wind” was written, recorded and released as a single by British singer-songwriter Donovan in 1965. The B-side was “Why Do You Treat Me Like You Do?” The single reached No.4 in the United Kingdom singles chart and No.23 in the United States Billboard Hot 100.

It was then re-recorded for Donovan’s first album What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid also in 1965, without the vocal echo and strings and with a harmonica solo added that appeared on the original.

A personal favourite of the era.

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Goring the oxen (yours, not mine)

Not that budget decisions are entirely motivated by day-to-day polling, but it can’t be ignored completely.

According to a recent Quinnipac University poll, “American voters oppose the spending cuts listed in President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget, including 70 – 25 percent against eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

Perhaps no great surprise is that voters support by a “margin of 85 – 13 percent increasing funding for health services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and say 58 – 39 percent that increased military spending is a ‘good idea’.”

But they say that a range of cuts are a “bad idea.”

  • 87 – 9 percent against cutting funding for medical research;
  • 84 – 13 percent against cutting funding for new road and transit projects;
  • 67 – 31 percent against cuts to scientific research on the environment and climate change;
  • 83 – 14 percent against cutting funding for after school and summer school programs;
  • 66 – 27 percent against eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities;
  • 79 – 17 percent against eliminating the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Budgets are not made by public polling, but this may suggest a fair warning of potential political consequences.

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Will they vote today on healthcare? Bet not

With word that Speaker Paul Ryan is heading up to the White House to brief President Trump ahead of the scheduled afternoon vote on healthcare, I’m willing to bet he’s not making the trip to say he has the votes in hand and everything will be fine.

My guess is he’s going to be asking for more time before Trump starts mouthing off about how Ryan failed to deliver because Ryan is, you know, a failing failure.

Apparently, someone is telling Politico that the GOP leadership may pull the bill: “They’re getting farther from, not closer to, 215,” according to said unnamed source.

Here’s a little quirk from Axios about how things work in the House when a bill looks destined to fail:

What leadership keenly understands is that the bottom falls out on a vote like this. It’s not like Trump will get a clear read on who is with him and who’s against. Members that are currently in the “yes” column will not vote for a bill that is going down and will have the negative implications hung around their neck in the fall of 2018. If GOP leaders put the bill on the floor without the votes to win, it won’t lose by a handful, it will lose badly.

If it does fail, one way or the other, it’s hard to know what happens next in light of Trump’s now-or-never warning.

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Morning Headlines

Dallas Morning Star: Health care bill vote postponed to Friday as GOP fails to reach consensus

New York Times: Trump tells G.O.P. It’s now or never, demanding House vote on health bill

Washington Post: Nine health-care bill changes aimed at wooing moderates and the far-right

Denver Post: Democrats threaten delay on Supreme Court

Los Angeles Times: Trump team was swept up in surveillance, House leader says as inquiry into Russian meddling takes dramatic turn

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“The John Birch Society” – The Chad Mitchell Trio (1962)

Although the Chad Mitchell Trio started out singing conventional folk songs in the late 1950s, they had their greatest success with political satire including this song, which was a somewhat dangerous departure considering that McCarthyism was not that far in the past.

Other songs performed by the group were “I Am Not a Nazi Polka,” “Draft Dodger Rag” (written by Phil Ochs), and “Your Friendly Liberal, Neighbourhood Ku-Klux-Clan.”

Tepid now, but not for the time.

The Chad Mitchell Trio went through may personnel changes over the years including bringing in a then-unknown John Denver in 1965. At the time of this recording, The Chad Mitchell Trio at the Bitter End, members beside Mitchell were Joe Frazier and Mike Kobluk.

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This Day in American History: March 23, 1775 – Patrick Henry delivers his speech “Give me liberty, or give me death”

Patrick Henry made the speech during the Second Virginia Convention at St. John’s Church in Richmond. The performance is credited with helping convince fellow delegates to send Virginia troops to assist Continental Army efforts in the Revolutionary War.

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Playing by the same rules

Wanna grab a beer after work?

Yesterday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif) suddenly remembered that it would be dangerous to his political health to continue investigating the Trump campaign’s connections to Russian political espionage in a non-partisan way.

He therefore announced that he was in posession of information showing that the U.S. Government made incidental recordings of Trump transition officials, after the election but before the inauguration, during legal surveillance.

Though this in no way supports Trump’s claim that Obama ordered wiretapping of Trump’s phones, it does provide cover for Trump in a way that might make it appear to some that there is some truth to his ramblings about Obama’s nefarious intentions.

The bottom line is that Nunes is supposed to be chairing the committee responsible for exploring Trump’s connections to Russia, but has instead chosen to make himself a pawn of the Administration. He chose to make the committee a partisan circus.

Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee had not been informed in advance of Nunes’s announcement and was justifiably furious. Schiff, reacting in kind, has now been saying that there is evidence that is “not circumstantial” of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Schiff had previously only pointed to circumstantial evidence.

Certainly neither Nunes nor Schiff should be saying such things while their committee is attempting to do its work, but if Trump and those trying to protect him insist on playing these kinds of games, Democrats have no option but to escalate the rhetoric.

Sadly, when fighting those with no credibility, it is not always best to play according to Hoyle.

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Two comments and a political funeral (maybe)

Can you hear me now?

It’s difficult to know where the Trump/Russia connection will lead, how much of it is circumstantial as opposed to what might be provable in court. It certainly smell bad.

This is the lead of a new CNN report, which is admittedly full of qualifiers, but still suggests a lot of smoke.

The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, US officials told CNN.

This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, according to one source.

And this is a comment from Axios setting up a best-case scenario for those hoping to see Trump in handcuffs.

Watergate was a coverup of a burglary. This could be the coverup of a nuclear-armed U.S. nemesis that infiltrated our politics with the specific aim of disrupting the very foundation of our democracy — a presidential election — and did so, possibly, in a manner that elected its preferred candidate and locked in all party control that could decimate the opposition party for years.

The FBI will take their time, as they understand the implications of coming to any conclusion either exculpatory or damning for Trump.

There is no way to know if they will be able to secure the goods, but whatever the case, Trump and his cronies sure are acting guilty, if only that were enough.

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