Ah…the Sun. Where would we be without it?
The more immediate question may be, however, where are we going to be…with it?
Hot seems to be the most immediate, and pressing, question. The answer???
Tuesday in Phoenix
The southwestern United States is in the grips of a severe heat-wave. Climate change denialists have (rightly or not) claimed that such heat waves are nothing new, but statistics paint a different picture. Anyway, certain types of regional jets, notably CRJs, aren’t able to operate in temps above 118ºF so airports in Arizona and Nevada have been keeping a close eye on recent forecasts, with Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport closing down a couple of times this week as temperatures soared into the 120s. Palm Springs hit 127ºF for just the fourth time on record, and Death Valley, CA flirted with 134ºF, the highest ever recorded temperature – on the planet.
Not to worry, however, as the Republican dominated Environmental Protection Agency just completed dismissing all scientists from their Scientific Advisory Panel.
We all know what comes out of the bottom of a thunderstorm: lightning. But do you know what comes out of the top? On June 20th, an amateur astronomer photographed incredible jellyfish-shaped ‘sprites’ flickering above a storm system in Austria. Such upper atmospheric lightning is a form of space weather that is being seen and photographed by increasing numbers of sky watchers. Visit Thursday’s edition of Spaceweather.com for observing tips and more information about this phenomenon.
The big gnews this week? Well, the Republicans have finally pulled the wraps (of secrecy) off their healthcare overhaul, and initial reports are that it’s much worse than anticipated. Still, without a CBO report to back up these claims, all the early noise may be overblown hysteria generated by pundits on the left, yet first descriptives claim it’s a 400 billion dollar giveaway to the wealthiest families in the country, while the bill will devastate upwards of 20-plus million low-income families.
Really…did you expect anything other than this from Mitch McConnell & Co? One odd story making the rounds this week: while 87 senators were excluded from deliberations, lobbyists from the insurance industry weren’t. Yet certain medical lobbyists were excluded, notably folks from the American Medical Association and other well-established physicians groups, and here’s the rub: physicians and hospitals geared up to meet an anticipated increase in demand after the ACA (aka: ObamaCare) went into effect, so they went on a building spree. Practices began booming and hospitals took on a lot of debt to build expanded facilities to meet this new demand.
Well, guess what? That demand is going to evaporate, and as many new patients managing chronic conditions won’t be able to afford treatment any longer, two things are going to happen. Sick people will show up at Emergency Rooms again, where once they were managing their illnesses, and doctors are going to start declaring bankruptcy as they spend more time consulting debt collection agencies than with their (former) patients. And there’s nothing new about this. It happened in the 80s and again in the 2000s, coinciding with the Reagan/Bush years, then the Bush II reign. It seems the big winners during Republican years, other than billionaires, are payday check cashing services and debt collectors – but again – that’s nothing new.
Any doubts that the Republican Party is the champion of the working class should be dispelled by now, but that’s not the way things work in this country. With increasing illiteracy brought about by, among other things, declining funding for the Department of Education, it’s easier for propaganda organs to peddle misinformation to a gullible public. Now with funding set to increase to so-called Charter Schools, and with these schools frequently tied to evangelical organizations, it’s not hard to see a future full of dim-witted religious zealots marching off to the polls to vote on another round of climate change roll backs.
But things could get worse. And maybe they already are.
Because the opposition Democratic Party may be worse than the Republicans. This clueless group of latte sipping troglodytes has absolutely no idea how to address the needs of working families, and that fact dominated our Wednesday Night Margarita Bash this week. Old timers characterized the current iteration of the Demopub Party as the Gay Immigrant Party, a group dominated by bi-coastal limousine liberals who have no idea what problems face working whites in this country, let alone how to tackle the problems.
One theme that emerged, however, is that white people in this country look at the current face of the Democratic Party, people like Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters, and they see politicians who are so out of touch with the reality of their day to day lives they’ve simply turned away. Union organizers no longer see the Democratic Party as representing their interests, either, and this marks a profound shift in this country.
In point of fact, while Republicans have made a great show about representing the average American worker, that’s an easily debunked sham – YET – the Democrats aren’t carrying the weight any more, either. So, the biggest bloc of voters in this country isn’t really being represented, and how do you suppose that makes these folks feel?
And now many of these people, many of whom just experienced life with adequate medical insurance for the first time in their lives, are about to be stripped of that?
Are the Republicans TRYING to create conditions for a new civil war, or are they simply the meanest people on earth? Well, there’s Ted Cruz, and his take on why the deliberations were kept secret. Don’t read this one. Really. You’ll get sick.
One other thing to consider: Bernie Sanders. He ain’t done yet, folks.
Speaking of civil wars? Try this article, from The Guardian…
Lately on the right, a sense has been developing that the American project is heading for a profound, perhaps bloody crisis. More and more, we hear talk of “civil war” – some say we have already embarked on a “cold” one.
The shooting of representative Steve Scalise pulled these ideas into sharper focus, but “civil war” talk had already been subsisting on fears of violence from anti-fascist (“antifa”) groups. Several violent confrontations have occurred throughout the country this year as right wing activists, claiming to speak for “free speech”, have gathered to square off with their masked enemies.
This is worrisome for a number of reasons. First, the idea of a second civil war has an analogue in the fantasies of outright fascists like William P Peirce, whose fantasies of race war inspired Tim McVeigh to detonate a federal building in Oklahoma City (journalist Alexander Reid Ross has recently offered a good discussion of the long history of civil war talk).
The people who wrote the pieces below are not fascists, but some of their articles depict political adversaries as deadly enemies with whom there can be no rational accommodation. If we really decide that we can’t occupy the same country as our adversaries, the stage is set for a turn much darker than anything we have so far experienced.
Publication: National Review
Author: Dennis Prager is a conservative talk show host, a columnist at National Review and elsewhere, and in recent years he has launched his own online agitprop outfit that goes by the education-flavored title of “Prager U”.
Why you should read it: Dennis Prager might be the guy who got the most recent iteration of the “second civil war” meme circulating. This week he’s upset about politicians breast-feeding, but over recent months he has been arguing that the contemporary left is so fundamentally opposed to basic American values that “there will be unity only when the Left vanquishes the Right or the Right vanquishes the Left”. He has spent a lot of time, including in this most recent instalment in the argument, trying to persuade his fellow conservatives that the left represents a real, existential threat.
Extract: “I have concluded that there are a few reasons that explain conservatives who were Never-Trumpers during the election, and who remain anti-Trump today.
“The first and, by far, the greatest reason is this: They do not believe that America is engaged in a civil war, with the survival of America as we know it at stake.
“While they strongly differ with the Left, they do not regard the left–right battle as an existential battle for preserving our nation. On the other hand, I, and other conservative Trump supporters, do.”
Publication: The American Conservative
Author: Pat Buchanan is a former presidential candidate, ardent “paleoconservative” nationalist and publisher of The American Conservative. He has been disappointed by Trump’s abandonment of his isolationist campaign rhetoric, but he has been unwavering in his loyalty.
Why you should read it: Buchanan’s “civil war” is a limited one, and mostly to be understood metaphorically. Nevertheless, he urges Trump to understand the media, the federal bureaucracy and the intelligence apparatus as enemies to be purged and defeated. It’s hard to imagine that Trump’s relations with the press corps becoming worse than they are, or for his administration to be more dysfunctional. But Buchanan urges him down this road, depicting it as the path of righteousness.
Extract: “Trump has had many accomplishments since his election. Yet his enemies in the media and their deep state allies have often made a purgatory of his presidency.
“What he and his White House need to understand is that this is not going to end, that this is a fight to the finish, that his enemies will not relent until they see him impeached or resigning in disgrace.
“To prevail, Trump will have to campaign across this country and wage guerrilla war in this capital, using the legal and political weapons at his disposal to ferret out the enemies within his own government.”
Publication: Claremont Review of Books
Author: Angelo M Codevilla is a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University.
Why you should read it: This long essay, in a journal that presents itself as the intellectual powerhouse of conservatism, affects a tone more of sadness than anger. Americans, Codevilla thinks, have diverged too far in their values to live together under the same law. Overreach from federal governments and the judiciary has permanently alienated large segments of the country from one another. We may not have to break up, but we may need to loosen things up, so that different parts of the country can run things in accordance with their own mores.
He therefore uses the current political situation to relitigate arguments that conservatives have been making since the civil rights movement, or even the civil war.
Extract: “So many on all sides have withdrawn consent from one another, as well as from Republicanism as defined by the Constitution and as it was practiced until the mid-20th century, that it is difficult to imagine how the trust and sympathy necessary for good government might ever return. Instead, we have a cold civil war.
“Statesmanship’s first task is to prevent it from turning hot. In today’s circumstances, fostering mutual forbearance may require loosening the Union in unfamiliar and unwelcome ways to accommodate differences that may otherwise become far worse.”
Publication: The Federalist
Author: Clifford Humphrey writes for the Federalist and is a PhD student at at rightwing Hillsdale College.
Why you should read it: Humphrey translates Codevilla’s arguments for the Federalist’s rightwing millennial set. Mutual hostility is increasing, on his view, because of the left’s “intolerance”, incivility and willingness to use federal institutions to get its way. Only a recommitment to federalism – ie letting socially conservative states pursue socially conservative policies without federal interference – will divert us from the road to bloodshed. The fault lies with “those who have given up on the power of argument to persuade and have resorted to force”. You may have guessed that he’s not referring to the alt-right.
Extract: “In other words, one would rather risk death in mortal combat than exercise patience and argumentation within the strictures of our rulebook, the constitution. Such a stance only makes sense if one believes – like the slaveholders and extreme abolitionists did of the Lincolnian Republicans – that the opposition represents an existential threat that politics cannot resolve.
“Such a stance only makes sense if one has completely lost faith in the constitution. If people no longer believe that ballots are a sufficient substitute for bullets, then violence is the logical consequence.”
Publication: The Resurgent
Author: Erick Erickson used to run RedState. Now he hosts a radio show in Atlanta and blogs at The Resurgent. Like many conservatives, over recent months he has made the transition from #nevertrump to anti-anti-Trump. He remains an influential conservative voice.
Why you should read it: Erickson advocates not a second civil war, but the same actions that precipitated the first one: secession.
Conservative areas are not allowed by the overweening federal government to honour their own values. A loosened federalism would not help, because corporate power is also arrayed against conservatism. The only solution is to carve out another country altogether. Erickson’s article was too much even for some of his fellow conservatives, but he was voicing a widespread sentiment on the right.
Extract: “In our present atmosphere, there is no escape from the American Isis that is the political left. Evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant and then it seeks to silence good. Evil is now dominant – but the partisan line is blurred.”
What happens when cops become spouse abusers? Is Super-predator too harsh a term? Well, read this long article if you’d like an insiders account of what happens when an abusive cop takes over your life.
So, why all the secrecy surrounding the ACA replacement? Well, for one, secrecy works. That’s one of the takeaways from WaterGate. If the Nixon White House had simply obstructed, Nixon would have completed his second term. But that was in an era when duty and honor meant something other than Party Before Country. Anyway, here’s the Senate’s historian, and his take on things.
The level of secrecy in crafting the Senate’s health care bill has not been seen since before World War I, according to esteemed Senate historian emeritus Donald Ritchie.
Ritchie, who worked in the Senate Historical Office for nearly four decades, told the Los Angeles Times that the upper chamber has not drafted such a major piece of legislation behind closed doors since a tariff reform effort during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson.
He added that Senate Democrats tried the move again during the Great Depression, but they were derailed when rank-and-file senators were unwilling to go along with the maneuver.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said there is nothing out of the ordinary about the way Republicans are working on the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “Nobody’s hiding the ball here,” he said recently. “You’re free to ask anybody anything.”
Still, Senate Democrats and even some Republicans have said the current process is not transparent, especially compared with the nearly 15 months of debate that preceded passage of the Affordable Care Act.
Yet, of all the comments about the ACHA, the ObamaCare replacement bill, that seems the most incongruous, Trump called the Republican bill “Mean” – as in, yes, mean-spirited. What more can you say when every picture tells a story.
Have a nice weekend, y’all.