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It’s Monday, March 27th, 2017…but before we begin, a few, brief Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene.  Random Thought #1: as misleading a headline as we’ve ever read, courtesy of the cover of the WSJ:

White House Opens Door to Democrats After Bill Failure

Move signals Trump administration is fed up with many factions in House Republican conference

 

The White House warned congressional Republicans it may increase its outreach to Democrats if it can’t get the support of hard-line conservatives, a potential legislative shift that could affect drug prices, the future of a tax overhaul and budgetary priorities.”

Wow; sounds ominous!  Turns out the truth is far less threatening, as what Reince-and-Repeat actually said was:

I think it’s time for our folks to come together, I also think it’s time to potentially get a few moderate Democrats on board as well.”

Which is why one should view anything which appears on the front page of the Journal with the same skepticism accorded anything from the other Dimocratic mouthpieces in the MSM. 

Random Thought #2: Following up on Deroy Murdock’s account of Paul Ryan’s timorous surrender on meaningful healthcare reform in the face of the Senate’s obscure parliamentary procedures (procedures which are neither codified in the Constitution or the law, and can be abrogated by a simple majority vote), as Mark Tapscott informs us, not only can any ruling by the Senate parliamentarian be reversed by the Vice President, but

The parliamentarian is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Senate Majority Leader.

Thus can Mitch McConnell hire and fire said individual at will.  Assuming the perpetual post turtle

has the will…not to mention the testicles.

Random Thought #3: courtesy of Breitbart via Jeff Foutch, another act of senseless, completely-avoidable violence you can chalk up to Progressives’ love of self-importance over security:

Four-Time Deported MS-13 Gang Member Charged in Child Rape, Stabbing 2 Women

 

Viva El Salvador; viva MS-13; viva La Raza!  And viva los Liberales, por lo que nos permite fácilmente ampliar nuestra base de operaciones.  And to Hell with the insurance of domestic Tranquility, provision for the common defence, promotion of the general Welfare, and securing the Blessings of Liberty to yourselves and your Posterity guaranteed by the Founding Fathers in your Constitution!

And lest we forget Liberalism’s other pet project of premeditated mayhem, here’s the latest from the Religion of Peace:

Yeah…the peace of a tomb.

Random Thought #4 (a number which matches, we believe, the subject’s IQ):

Biden says he could have won the presidency if he ran

 

“Former Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday that if he had run for president in 2016 he could have won. Biden told students at Colgate University in New York that the Democratic primary would have been “very difficult.” Biden said his son Beau’s battle with brain cancer kept him out of the race…”

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: were his brains dynamite, Joe Biden couldn’t blow his nose.

Now, here’s The Gouge!

As regards Friday’s fiasco, writing at NRO immediately prior to Paul Ryan pulling the plug on Obamacare Lite, Ian Tuttle accurately identified what was going down…besides the bill:

Obamacare’s Mistakes: GOP Sets Dial to Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Republicans should slow down, write a better bill, and build the political support they need.

 

“It feels like 2009 all over again.

Eight years ago, a new president was in the White House, flanked by friendly congressional majorities and eyeing an overhaul of the American health-care system. That president and Congress intended to provide universal health-insurance coverage, by hook or by crook. Closed-door negotiations, procedural machinations, and veritable bribes (such as the infamous “Cornhusker Kickback,” “the Louisiana Purchase,” and the “Omaha Stakes”) ultimately put the Affordable Care Act on Barack Obama’s desk. He signed it on March 23, 2010, and ushered in seven years of mayhem: soaring premiums, the withdrawal of major insurers, the de facto collapse of the individual insurance market, and more.

Now, Republicans are rushing to repeat Democrats’ mistakes.

The Freaky Friday remake that Washington, D.C., is currently performing is not difficult to spot. Start with the sudden declarations of urgency. Speaker Paul Ryan insists that Republicans have no choice but to embrace the House GOP’s Obamacare-reform bill, the American Health Care Act. “This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare,” Ryan said earlier this month. “The time is here. The time is now. This is the moment.”

In his 2009 address to a joint session of Congress, a newly inaugurated President Obama was similarly definitive: “Let there be no doubt: Health-care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.”

Obama’s urgency was misplaced, and Ryan’s is, too. (Perhaps because Big Insurance wanted it so?) There was time for the GOP to craft a strong alternative, to roll it out methodically, and to build support. (As our pastor noted this morning in his sermon, the GOP’s only had SEVEN YEARS to do it!)  But a mad rush is now on to push the American Health Care Act through Congress. Republicans unveiled the bill just over two weeks ago, and aim to vote it out of the House on Thursday. Senate leadership, despite firm opposition from several Republican senators, aims to force the legislation through its chamber next week, according to a recent report from Politico. The GOP hopes that the whole process will be wrapped up by Easter.

Democrats famously pushed Obamacare legislation to the president’s desk, thanks to maneuvering by then-Senate majority leader Harry Reid and to the budget-reconciliation process. Reid gave his chamber six days to debate the final version of the Senate bill, and most senators admitted that they didn’t even attempt to read all 2,700 pages. (Max Baucus suggested that doing so would be a “waste of time,” because the details were too complex for anyone but experts.)

But, as the Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein quipped on Twitter: “Obamacare was passed at the pace of Zootopia DMV sloths compared to this AHCA attempt.”

…Memories are short, especially in politics. For seven years, Republicans have been railing — rightly — against Democrats’ health-care boondoggle. But now, finally in a position to clean up some of that mess, they are repeating many of Democrats’ mistakes.

When the means are so dispiriting, can the ends be much better?

In a related item detailing why Trump’s second foray into the ways of Washington (the first being the failure of his lawful travel/immigration ban.), also via NROJim Geraghty relates how…

Trump Learns the Hard Way That Policy Details Matter

The president would have had an easier time getting GOP congressmen to yes on the AHCA if he’d understood what was keeping them at no.

 

“The good news is no one can say President Trump didn’t try to persuade House Republicans that they should pass the American Health Care Act.

He invited lawmakers to the White House, dispatched his key aides to Capitol Hill, worked the phones, cajoled, charmed, arm-twisted, threatened…He did everything short of actually attempting to understand why House Republicans didn’t want to vote for it.

President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan chose to cancel the vote on the AHCA late Friday afternoon. Earlier this week, the loudest argument from Trump was that if House Republicans didn’t pass the bill, it could cost the GOP their majority in 2018. This may or may not be true; it’s also possible that passing a disappointing replacement could cost the GOP their majority. Either way, Trump went so far as to threaten primary challenges to those who didn’t sign on.

It’s not that the House Republicans who refused to vote for the bill didn’t fear such a threat, or that they were nonchalant about keeping their majority. They held out not because they lacked motivation to replace Obamacare.

No, in the end, they simply didn’t like what was in the bill and didn’t have faith that the Senate would improve it, or that it would get better in conference committee. (With McConnell running the Senate, who can blame them?!?) At least for now, a significant number of House Republicans fear the consequences of passing an insufficient bill more than the consequences of failing to pass a bill.

…A strong leader can help sort out conflicting priorities, but there’s little sign that President Trump had any interest in that role. Throughout the last days of arm-twisting, there were ominous reports that he was quite passionately attempting to persuade House Republicans to pass the bill, without really understanding what was in the legislation that made them so reluctant to vote for it. An unnamed House GOP aide told CNN that when it came to the details of the legislation, Trump “either doesn’t know, doesn’t care or both.”

In the Los Angeles Times, Michael Steel, a former GOP leadership aide, offered a bizarre portrait of a president who’s somehow simultaneously eager and clueless:

Ryan has learned that his wonky style of communication is wasted on Trump ​given the president’s lack of interest in policy details, Steel said. But he has come to value Trump’s eagerness to exert pressure on wavering Republicans.

It appears President Trump cared a lot more about getting a win than about what, exactly, he would be winning. And that lack of focus on the details helped deny him the victory he wanted so badly.

Also writing at NRO, in a commentary which deserves to be included in full, David French reveals a dirty little health-related secret no wants to talk about:

Health-Care Reform Won’t Fix What Really Hurts American Health

The public-health crisis we’re facing won’t be solved by access to health insurance.

 

“In 2016, two truths were revealed at once. First, the percentage of uninsured Americans hit a record low — a mere 8.6 percent. In 2010, almost 50 million Americans lacked health insurance. By the beginning of 2016 that number had plunged to 27.3 million. This is, truth be told, the fruit of Obamacare and indeed is the very reason why the GOP is having so much difficulty in its struggle to repeal and replace it. People like having health insurance, and health insurance makes us healthier, right?

But that brings us to the second truth that was revealed in 2016. Even though Americans allegedly enjoyed unprecedented access to insured health care, the nation’s death rate in 2015 actually increased. More Americans were insured, but more Americans died. Why?

A clue comes from Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, the same people who shocked America two years ago with research showing the remarkable rise of the death rate among middle-aged white Americans. This week, they released new research showing that the trend continues. “Deaths of despair” are “surging” in the United States. The chart below is nothing short of stunning:

Even worse, other data show younger-age cohorts are at significantly greater risk of death by drugs, alcohol, or suicide than their elders were: Men and women in early middle life began exhibiting by their twenties the same kinds of death rates from drug, alcohol, and suicide as were formerly reserved for much older men enduring the stereotypical “mid-life crisis.”

Indeed, these charts may actually understate the extent of “deaths by despair.” The obesity epidemic is carrying with it increases in chronic health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease, and make no mistake — obesity is exploding in the United States. The YouTube video below silently and ominously charts a stunning, national increase:

FYI: there’s no soundtrack.

As Congress debated Obamacare repeal, I had lunch with a local critical-care doctor who seemed oddly indifferent to the outcome. His is a world dominated by addiction. “If it weren’t for addicts,” he says, “I wouldn’t have a job.” The intensive-care unit is overrun with people addicted to drugs, to alcohol, to food, and to tobacco. Insurance matters to the economics of the hospital, but it doesn’t matter so much to the quality of its patients’ immediate care or to their ultimate health outcome. They’re killing themselves, and the best health care and the most luxurious “Cadillac” health plans won’t stop their slide into oblivion.

It’s too simple to say that health insurance and the current debate in Washington doesn’t matter to public health. It obviously does. But it’s fair to say that it may well matter less than healthy marriages, strong families, decent jobs, and a vibrant faith. Deaton described the plight of the white working class well: “Your family life has fallen apart, you don’t know your kids anymore, [and] all the things you expected when you started out your life just haven’t happened at all.” And so, to “soothe the beast,” you turn to substances, to food, and — sometimes — ultimately to death itself.

Just as there is no simple solution to this crisis, there is no simple explanation. For every attempt at a short summary — it’s about jobs; it’s about marriage; it’s about welfare and dependency — there’s an answer that complicates the picture. For example, black families have had more economic struggles (and have had more out-of-wedlock births) than white families, yet for years their death rate fell while the white rate rose. Could the vibrancy of the black church and the apparently (substantially) greater religiosity of black Americans help explain a degree of healthy resilience in the face of economic, familial, and racial adversity? As the Pew Research Center notes, “African-Americans are markedly more religious on a variety of measures than the U.S. population as a whole, including level of affiliation with a religion, attendance at religious services, frequency of prayer and religion’s importance in life.”

Unless our citizens can find a way to soothe the despair, the great health-insurance debate from 2009 to 2016 may end up a mere footnote in public-health history. At the end of the day, neither the best nor the worst insurance can cause a man to put down his pills, throw out his whiskey bottles, or walk more and eat less. When the human heart aches, an insurance card won’t ease the pain.

Holy…

…Batman!

Though French doesn’t come out and say it, we know he believes, as we do, the only answer lies in Matthew 11:28-29, where Jesus Christ offers the solution to all mankind’s ills: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take me yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Sorta the opposite of those…

…Americans have become accustomed to following.

And as regards our burgeoning health crisis, meet a significant part of the problem: to wit, those who knowingly and willfully engage in actions and practices harmful to their health…

…and expect YOU to cover their asses when the inevitable finally happens…and who politicians are only too happy to subsidize.

Which brings us to another kernel of truth courtesy of NRO: the brilliance of Kevin Williamson, who makes…

The Case for Petty Partisanship

Is the GOP ready to finally ‘defund the Left’?

 

“There is a case for bipartisanship, but it is not the one you usually hear. Bipartisanship is desirable not because the best course is likely to be found at the midpoint between two extremes: The man who drinks to excess every day is a drunk, and so is the man who does so every other day. There is no compromise between fidelity and infidelity. When presented with a good idea and a bad one, there is no point in being a little bit stupid for the sake of compromise.

Compromise is good because broad political buy-in is necessary to predictable government. But that has its limit, and Senator Chuck Schumer has reached it.

Senator Schumer has announced that he intends to filibuster the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. There is no substantive case against Gorsuch, who is well qualified for the position and held in generally high regard — including by Democrats. In 2006 he was confirmed unanimously to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. His most controversial position is that judges should stick to the law.

Senator Schumer is doing the Republicans a favor without intending to: He is giving them a perfectly legitimate reason to suspend the filibuster. Republicans should do soand not only for the purpose of moving forward the Gorsuch nomination.

Undivided government is not going to last forever. It never does, and, with a mercurial president and a Republican caucus caught between needful but unpopular conservative reforms and the realities of electoral politics, it may not last very long at all. Best to make the most of it, and take the opportunity to hit Schumer et al. where it hurts: In the bank account.

Among the many criticisms of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is that they are basically full-employment programs for Democratic hacks and activists. They should be eliminated entirelycutting their funding is not enough, because funding can be restored in the future. Also on the chopping block: AmeriCorps, the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, the Legal Services Corporation, and the Title X Family Planning Program, which is essentially a federal allowance for Planned Parenthood.

Congress should also target grants and other federal funding directed to political organizations. For example: La Raza, through its banking operations (of course it has banking operations!) has received millions of dollars in federal subsidies. While the federal government probably cannot adopt a general prohibition on nonprofit organizations that receive federal funding from lobbying and electioneering with their own money (this would violate the First Amendment), the comptroller general has found routine violations of existing laws against using federal funds for political advocacy and lobbying activities. There is in fact a federal criminal law against using federal appropriations to underwrite lobbying. You will not be surprised to learn that this law — which has been on the books for nearly a century — apparently never has been enforced. “The exact parameters of this law, adopted in 1919, are not precisely known,” writes the Congressional Research Service, “as there appears never to have been an enforcement action or indictment returned based on the provision.” Time to tighten that up.

Congress should also adopt a general prohibition on distributing federal settlement funds to nonprofit organizations. Billions of dollars in federal settlements have been directed to “non-victim entities” such as the Urban League and La Raza, which are fundamentally political organizations. If Republicans cannot bring themselves to act out of prudence and principle, then they at least ought to have a sense of self-preservation sufficient to stop funding campaigns against themselves.

The Left has a weakness: It is dependent upon government money. It has long accepted that arrangement complacently, on the theory that its friends will generally control the government, if not always at the elected level then at the administrative and bureaucratic level. (The Left has not been wrong about that.) According to the Congressional Budget Office, about 17 percent of all federal outlays take the form of assistance to state and local governments — funds that in turn account for about a quarter of all state and local government spending. A fair portion of that money ends up simply passing through to nonprofits and politically connected contractors who provide dubious “outreach” and “development” services. If Republicans are looking for a little leverage over New York, there it is.

And when they get around to tax reform, Republicans also should eliminate the deductibility of state and local taxes against federal taxes. The GOP can finally say it is for a tax increase on the rich — so what if it’s mainly rich Democrats in Connecticut and New York?

Defund the Left!” has been a conservative battle cry for some time, but one that has produced relatively little in the way of results. But Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have made it abundantly clear that the Democrats simply do not intend to act as partners in government. It may be that this is the Republicans’ best opportunity to leave them with a permanently diminished base — financially and, hence, politically.

Now is the time for a little petty partisanship in the public interest.

To which we can only add a hale and hearty “AMEN“!!!

Moving on, writing at his personal blog, the great Victor Davis Hanson examines contemporary Progressivism’s…

Monasteries of the Mind

When everything is politicized, people retreat into mental mountaintops — dreams of the past and fantasies of the future.

 

“…In reaction to the growing globalization of the Roman Empire, elite corruption, the banality of bread-and-circuses, and the end of the agrarian Italian Republic, the Stoics opted out, choosing instead a reasoned detachment from contemporary life. Some, like the worldly court philosopher Seneca, seemed hypocritical; others, such as the later emperor Marcus Aurelius, lived a double life of imperial engagement and mental detachment.

Classical impassiveness established the foundations for the later monastic Christians, who in more dangerous times increasingly saw the world around them as incompatible with the world to come — and therefore they saw engagement as an impediment to their own Christian belief.

More and more Americans today are becoming Stoic dropouts. They are not illiberal, and certainly not reactionaries, racists, xenophobes, or homophobes. They’re simply exhausted by our frenzied culture.

They don’t like lectures from the privileged and the wealthy on the pitfalls of privilege and wealth. In response, they don’t hike out to monasteries, fall into fetal positions, or write Meditations. Instead, they have checked out mentally from American popular entertainment, sports, and the progressive cultural project in general.

But aren’t sports at least still sacrosanct?

Hardly. The new monastics were already watching less and less of the National Football League before the televised tantrums of Colin Kaepernick. After his multimillionaire stunts seemed to catch on with other players, many viewers quit entirely. (Ourselves among them) The appeasement of his crudity by Kaepernick’s multimillionaire bosses and teammates might explain why NFL audiences (and revenues) are down.

In this age of pan-politicization, sports, like everything else, is not exempt from wealthy elites’ guilt-ridden obsessions with race, class, and gender agendas — as a $20-million-per-annum, mediocre, and pampered quarterback refuses to stand for the National Anthem, or as Beyoncé does last year’s Super Bowl half-time show as an amateurish paean to Black Lives Matter and the old Black Panthers.

It’s become more painful to watch TV sports analysts than the gladiatorial hits of the game itself: Aging veterans seek to recapture their cool by passing themselves off as political pundits who contextualize interceptions and fumbles in terms of abstract politics. They’re oblivious that, in the court of identity politics, the NFL is itself found culpable: According to the logic of “disparate impact” and proportional representation, about 12 percent of the population is “overrepresented” through its nearly 70 percent membership on NFL teams.

During the Cold War, Soviet-athlete propagandists who talked of the masses at least had a gun to their heads; today’s ESPN jocks who play-act as NPR talking heads mouth Democratic-party platitudes as a form of career enhancement. Life is short, so when Sundays are no relief from the daily frenzy, an increasing number have pulled the plug on sports…”

Case in point, courtesy of Newsbusters.org:

CBS Sports Writer Smears Tebow as a ‘Divider’; Swooned Over Kaepernick as Humanitarian

 

Need we remind everyone on The Left, Kaepernick’s cause is a complete…

…concoction of fabricated fiction?!?

Bringing us, appropriately enough, to The Lighter Side

Then there’s these gems forwarded by John Berry:

Finally, in our Over-Hyped Tales of Survival segment, a story so utterly inane we had to read it twice to be certain this dame was as dopey as she seemed:

North Texas student survives being stranded near Grand Canyon for 5 days

 

 

“The victim hiking s-e-v-e-n mials in life-threatening heat”: only if one consider daytime temps in the 50’s as “life-threatening”…and a 7-mile hike pushing the envelope of human endurance!

“Her unexpected adventure began after a day at the Grand Canyon. “It started with a dumb decision because gas was $2.70 by the Grand Canyon, I was like that’s really expensive. I’ll just get enough,” VanHecke said. But, she made a wrong turn. “I started driving around saying “God, I need to find the road, Please!””

Before VanHecke could find her way, her car ran out of gas and it was getting dark. The next day, In hopes of getting found she spelled out ‘HELP’ with rocks. “I’d seen enough movies where people built help signs,” VanHecke said, who also started rationing her food. “I was eating dried nuts, fruits, seeds, and ramen when I cooked it on the dashboard.” Van Hecke allowed herself only 2 of her 34 bottles of water each day.

Her phone stayed charged with her car’s battery, but by day five she decided she had to leave the safety of her car and supplies and go in search of cell phone service. “I wrote a note, ‘I’m walking east to try to find a cell phone signal, if you read this please come help me.’”

She says after hiking for about 11 miles she finally got a signal and was able to call 911 — but after 49 seconds the call dropped. “I wasn’t sure I’d given enough information to them to help me,” VanHecke said…”

Our curiosity concerning the corpulent Miss Van Hecke echoes Quint’s questions regarding the conduct of the shark in Jaws:

At the risk of jumping the gun, we’re coming down on the side of very smart…which assumes Amber Van Hecke staged the whole thing with the intention of realizing personal pecuniary profit.  But only because, thus far, the MSM has proved so very dumb; specifically, shame on Martha MacCullum and FOX News for not realizing March temperatures on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon are life-threatening not because of excessive heat, but rather due to excessive cold.  And sorry, TLJ regularly goes on 7-mile hikes without benefit of water, let alone 34 bottles of same…which is an awful lot, even for an afternoon hike around the Havasu Falls Trail.

And if all the ample Amber had to do was hike 7 miles to secure her rescue, what on earth prevented her from attempting the effort immediately after running out of gas

Sorry, but we’re filing this one under the category of “scam“; and when the authorities belatedly reach the same conclusion, we trust they’ll “encourage” Van Hecke to reimburse taxpayers the cost of the helicopter ride…along with a little time in the local hoosegow!

Magoo