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Archive of Articles in the "American Society" Category

GOP's Sisyphean Efforts

[ Posted Thursday, September 21st, 2017 – 17:24 PDT ]

Sisyphus, according to Wikipedia, was "punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness" by Zeus. Sisyphus was subjected to the eternal torture of pushing a heavy bolder up a steep hill, only to watch it roll back down again -- "an eternity of useless efforts and unending frustration." Sounds pretty familiar to anyone who has paid attention to the Republican "repeal and replace Obamacare" efforts all year long, doesn't it?

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Rocket Man?

[ Posted Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 – 17:18 PDT ]

The problem with Trump's use of Rocket Man is that it isn't particularly insulting. It actually sounds pretty cool, in a retro 1950s-sci-fi kind of way. Elton John and Bernie Taupin didn't write the song until 1972, and Taupin admitted being influenced by a 1970 song of the same name by the band Pearls Before Swine. But both songs were inspired by a short story by Ray Bradbury ("The Rocket Man," from the book The Illustrated Man), which is about as retro 1950s-sci-fi as you can get.

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Focus On One Particular Loophole In GOP's New Tax-Cut Plan

[ Posted Monday, September 18th, 2017 – 17:26 PDT ]

The Republicans are getting ready to unveil their tax-cutting plan. Reportedly, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has been meeting with congressional GOP leaders to come up with a plan both the White House and congressional Republicans can get behind. So far, they've been fairly secretive about this effort, because no matter what they decide they're bound to annoy at least one faction of their own party. To say nothing of Democrats, or the public at large.

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Friday Talking Points [453] -- Deal? Or No Deal?

[ Posted Friday, September 15th, 2017 – 17:27 PDT ]

As is true during most weeks of the Trump administration, a whole lot happened in the political world last week. But most of it was completely overshadowed by the game of "Deal, or no deal?" that Trump was playing. For the second week in a row, President Donald Trump shocked the leadership of his own party by sitting down and (quite literally) breaking bread with Democrats. Yes, Donnie had Chuck and Nancy over for dinner, and Washington hasn't been quite the same since.

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Bernie Moves The Overton Window On Single-Payer

[ Posted Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 – 17:50 PDT ]

Senator Bernie Sanders unveiled his single-payer "Medicare For All" plan today, and so far he's already got 15 Democratic co-sponsors. More may soon add their names to this list. The plan is -- as any such plan has to be, right now -- merely aspirational, since there is no way it will ever even get a Senate floor vote with Republicans controlling the chamber. Bernie's bill also punted completely on the crucial questions: "How much will it cost, and how will we pay for it?" -- something many will take him to task for (as indeed I already pre-emptively did). But even having said all of that, Bernie's Medicare For All bill sets a very important marker for the debate to come, whether that debate takes a few years or longer. Because Bernie has -- with his bill and also with his relentless championing of the issue both during the 2016 campaign and since -- successfully moved the "Overton window" on single-payer healthcare in the United States.

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Single-Payer Sea Change

[ Posted Monday, September 11th, 2017 – 16:47 PDT ]

In two days, Senator Bernie Sanders is going to introduce a single-payer healthcare bill in the Senate. This bill already has the support of some major Democratic senators, and it will move the single-payer debate further forward than any other legislative effort to date. But it will also move the debate from the abstract to the concrete, if Bernie's bill provides the proper level of detail. Because average Americans are going to be considering the concept through the filter of: "How is this going to affect my pocketbook?" Democratic supporters need to be ready with solid, easy-to-understand answers to this basic question. Hopefully, Sanders will provide these answers on Wednesday, so the public can truly begin to make an informed choice on the matter.

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Friday Talking Points [452] -- The Art Of The Steal

[ Posted Friday, September 8th, 2017 – 17:20 PDT ]

We cannot claim originality for that subtitle. It's taken from Republican Senator Ben Sasse, from when he was speaking out against the deal President Donald Trump cut this week with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi: "Yesterday we saw Washington's swamp continue to rise: Chuck Schumer wrote The Art Of The Steal by taking hurricane relief hostage to guarantee a December showdown that favors Democratic spending priorities." We thought it was the best description of the stunning events of this week in Washington, so we decided to use it (with attribution, of course). "The art of the steal" pretty much sums up how Trump and "Chuck and Nancy" brutally cut the legs out from under the entire Republican Party in Congress.

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A Big To-Do List For Congress

[ Posted Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 – 16:57 PDT ]

Congress has returned to Washington after a monthlong vacation, and they've got their work cut out for them in September. Deadlines at the end of the month loom, and the consequences of inaction are very real, from a default on the United States' debt to a government shutdown. Which means Congress is going to have one of those rare months where they have to actually get some stuff done. But the best guess of how it will all play out is that Congress will engage in a whole lot of kicking the cans down the road rather than fundamentally solving any big problems.

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Trump On DACA: Blame Congress, Not Me!

[ Posted Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 – 17:47 PDT ]

President Donald Trump certainly annoyed many today with the announcement that he'll be ending the DACA (or "dreamer") program. The dreamers themselves are outraged, their parents and relatives are suffering massive disappointment, and their supporters have yet another reason to disapprove of Trump. But what I found striking about today's announcement is that it is the first one I can recall from Trump which even attempts to show any sort of nuance or political shrewdness. Perhaps this is a result of the rising influence of his new chief of staff, or perhaps he really doesn't want to be seen as completely heartless towards the most sympathetic group of undocumented immigrants around. Either way, though, when compared to (for instance) his first attempt at a "Muslim ban," how Trump is ending DACA shows a wee bit more of what might be called political savvy.

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Labor's Agenda Should Become Democrats' Top Priorities

[ Posted Monday, September 4th, 2017 – 16:29 PDT ]

Since today is Labor Day, I thought it was time to point out something that seems incredibly obvious to me. If you listen to the inside-the-Beltway chatter, Democrats are currently seen as floundering around, searching for an agenda. This is less true than the cocktail-party-circuit crowd believes, but whatever. Simultaneously, Democrats are urged to try to win back the working-class vote, because Donald Trump supposedly seduced them all away with his empty promises. Again, the answer to this perceived problem is pretty obvious. The Democratic Party needs to rededicate itself to the Labor agenda -- thus giving it a solid agenda to fight for, and also a perfect way to woo back white working-class voters.

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