What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Senate Bill Is Dead (For Now); Kris Kobach Is a Menace to Democracy

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Senate Bill Is Dead (For Now)

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Tired of winning? –> After at least two more senators bailed on Mitch McConnell’s bill to repeal and replace the ACA, the current iteration is dead. McConnell issued a statement vowing to bring the repeal bill that passed Congress in 2015 to the floor instead. Tierney Sneed has that story at Talking Points Memo.

The important thing to note here is that bill wasn’t a serious piece of legislation; with Obama in office, it was entirely symbolic. Because it had to conform to reconciliation rules to pass with 51 votes, it left the ACA’s market reforms intact but killed all of its funding. This would lead to catastrophe for the insurance industry and tens of millions of Americans if it were actually enacted. The CBO did score it, and Jonathan Cohn has the gruesome details at HuffPost.

It appears that Mitch McConnell is trying to bring an end to the process, for now, by delivering a “dead body” to the GOP base…

Rest assured, @SenateMajLdr isn’t bringing full repeal bill to floor under any illusion that it will garner the GOP votes it needs to pass.

But leaders of the #Resistance are warning that zombie BCRA could rise up again quickly, and are urging their people to keep up the pressure

The next battle –> This morning, House Republicans “unveiled a 10-year budget blueprint that would dramatically increase military spending while putting the GOP on record favoring Medicare cuts opposed by President Donald Trump,” reports Andrew Taylor for the AP. “The GOP plan… would also pave the way for overhauling the US tax code this fall, and would pair that effort with cuts to benefit programs such as food stamps. The plan also lays out a plan to balance the budget inside a decade through deep cuts to a wide swath of domestic programs.” The resolution is nonbinding, and Taylor says that leadership isn’t likely to endorse such draconian cuts, but it nonetheless represents a maximalist opening position for upcoming negotiations.

A menace to democracy –> “An email chain released as part of litigation around Kansas’ proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirement confirmed what many suspected to be Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s long-term goal in partnering with President Trump’s administration,” writes Tierney Sneed at Talking Points Memo. Just a day after the election, Kobach, who now co-chairs the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, sent an email to transition officials saying he was drafting legislative text that would undermine the “motor voter law,” which “has been an obstacle in Kobach’s attempts to implement a proof-of-citizenship requirement in his state and courts have ruled against him multiple times.”

Meanwhile, back in Kansas, “a disciplinary office operated by the Kansas Supreme Court has opened an investigation into Kobach after receiving a complaint” from a citizen, according to Allison Kite at The Topeka Capital-Journal. The report adds that “Kobach also faces a complaint that he violated federal law by using his position as vice chair of President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission to further his campaign for Kansas governor.”

Murder –> That’s the most serious of the charges filed against former Balch Spring, Texas, police officer Roy Oliver, who shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards as he sat in the passenger seat of a car with several other teens as they attempted to drive away from a rowdy party. Police officials originally claimed that the car was maneuvering aggressively toward them, but video later showed that claim to have been false. Jennifer Emily and Tasha Tsiaperas report for The Dallas Morning News that “Oliver was indicted last month on two aggravated assault charges after accusations he pulled a gun on two people in an unrelated road-rage incident weeks before Jordan’s death. The district attorney called Oliver a ‘danger to the community.'”

#MAGA for me, not for thee –> The Trump administration’s assault on both legal and unauthorized immigrants is multifaceted and widespread, but there’s a notable exception: “One of the first orders of business of the White House’s ‘Made in America’ week,” writes Priscilla Alvarez at The Atlantic, “is providing companies the opportunity to hire foreign workers under the H-2B visa program.” Alvarez points to a CNN report from April which revealed that Trump takes advantage of the H-2B program at “Mar-A-Lago, Jupiter Gold Club, Lamington Farm and the Trump National Golf Club for jobs like cooks, waiters and waitresses and housekeepers.”

Speaking of Mar-A-Lago –> As a result of litigation by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and several other watchdog organizations, the Department of Homeland Security is going to release visitor logs for Trump’s “Southern White House,” which CREW says it will make public by Sept. 8. Stay tuned — this should generate some interesting coverage.

So much for Democratic partisans making excuses for Clinton’s loss –> Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Joshua Green’s new book Devil’s Bargain cites an internal Trump campaign memo which said that James Comey’s decision to hold a press conference about Clinton’s email server in late October had “proven to be pivotal in the minds of voters” and “may have a fundamental impact on the results.” Sam Stein and Asawin Suebsaeng have that story at The Daily Beast.

Such behavior is out of character for residents of rural Colorado” –> At The New Yorker, Peter Hessler has a fascinating long-form essay about how Trump’s brash rhetoric and penchant for demonizing his opponents are rubbing off on once-polite Republicans in rural Colorado. Hessler thinks that this might be a microcosm of something happening across America.

A counterpoint, perhaps, is a story at Salon by Teresa Chandler, a lesbian living with her partner on a farm in a rural township in Wisconsin. She writes that “on one street, a couple of weeks ago, a Pride flag was torn down and stolen. In response, several neighbors chose to fly flags in support and solidarity. Then, those flags were torn down and a couple of them were burned on the front lawn. In response to that, one of those neighbors, Rebecca Bonesteel, started a Go Fund Me page to buy more rainbow Pride flags. The flags would be free to anyone wanting to display one. Donations poured in, and that is how we got our flag. I really liked the idea. For every flag that was torn down or burned, two or more would go up — kind of like the dandelions in our yard.”

Bloody war –> Samuel Oakford reports that while Trump promised during the campaign to bomb the [heck] out of ISIS, “civilian casualties from the US-led war against the so-called Islamic State are on pace to double under President Donald Trump, according to an Airwars investigation for The Daily Beast.”

Related, perhaps…

Is neoliberalism merely an epithet? –> Lots of jabber on social media about Jonathan Chait’s New York Magazine piece arguing that “neoliberal” has now become merely an epithet leftists deploy against liberals — “a synecdoche for the American left’s renewed offensive against the center-left and a touchstone in the struggle to define progressivism after Barack Obama.”

At Washington Monthly, Martin Longman expresses some sympathy for Chait’s argument, but adds that “the inverse of Chait’s complaint that neoliberalism is little more than an insult intended to cut off debate is that complaining about the term’s lack of clarity is also a way to cut off debate.” He adds: “If the center left in this country is just a stand-in for defending the 1990s and proposing more of that, then they deserve the criticism they’re getting from the left. I don’t think that’s actually the situation we’re in, but Chait seems to almost accept the battle on those terms.”

Editor in exile” –> That’s the title of a remarkable in-depth report by Lois Parshley at Pacific Standard about the editor of an independent newspaper in the Maldives who barely escaped into exile with her life after exposing corruption in that country’s regime. A blurb can’t do this textured story justice — if you have a moment, read the whole thing.

And today we’ll leave you with a good dog named Storm rescuing a drowning fawn from a river in Port Jefferson, New York. In a follow-up tweet, HuffPost’s Yashar Ali reported that the fawn is OK and recuperating at an area wildlife shelter.

 
Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.


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