GOP Health Care Bill Called "Death Sentence for Millions"
The House passage of the American Health Care Act, the GOP's alternative to Obamacare, was labeled a "death sentence for millions" by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), "people will die."
Warren's view was bolstered by the lamentations of individuals who now fear for their lives if the AHCA becomes law. Mega-celebrity Cher expressed her dismay that the AHCA may not cover her asthma therapy. "How will I get my medicine without Obamacare?" she demanded to know. She dismissed the suggestion that as a millionaire many times over she could easily afford to pay out-of-pocket as "unfair. It is the government's obligation to take care of everyone's health. The notion that I should pay because I can afford it denigrates my value as a human being."
Similarly, model and wife of musician John Legend, Chrissy Teigen blamed Trump "for causing a crippling anxiety that requires me to get botox injections to relax life-threating tensions brought on by this manically insane, incompetent president and this dumpster fire administration."
"The testimony of these esteemed members of society is evidence that the GOP is on the wrong track when it comes to the health of this country," Warren declared. "If the well-being of the best of us is threatened just try to imagine how much worse it will be for ordinary people who depend on the government to care for them."
The Senator was particularly peeved that "the AHCA moves away from vital government mandates that are essential to ensuring that every person gets the health care that experts have determined they need to have. The bill would allow individuals more latitude to decide what coverage they want. It will remove penalties for not purchasing what Obamacare has designated as mandatory services. People could simply decide not to buy insurance without facing a substantial fine. This is the road to anarchy."
With medical treatment the third leading cause of death in America the Senator's premise that having the government coerce people into submitting to an approved list of treatments leads to better outcomes is dubious. While it is true that trauma care in emergency rooms clearly saves the lives of many who would otherwise have died, medical errors, the toxic side effects of prescription drugs, and hospital-incurred infections kill many others.
Pelosi Blames Pro-Lifers for Democrats' Defeat
To the list of culprits allegedly responsible for the 2016 election results—Russians, Wikileaks, Comey, misogyny—House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) added pro-lifers.
"We're kind of between a rock and a hard place on the abortion issue," Pelosi complained. "On the one hand, do we stand by progressive values and support a woman's inalienable right to terminate a pregnancy? Or do we take the politically expedient course of waffling on it? Many Democrats, including me, have successfully straddled the issue by proclaiming our personal opposition to abortion while still supporting it as a matter of public policy. I mean, I've never had an abortion. I think that's a pretty strong position in favor of life. I've also never stopped anyone else from having one. I think that is a strong position for freedom."
While conceding that recent elections have taken a toll on her Party, Pelosi looked forward to "the growth of the LGBTQ movement as the ultimate way out of our dilemma. If more women have sex with women and more men have sex with men the need for abortions should decline. Transgenders basically sterilize themselves and eliminate the risk of an unwanted pregnancy requiring an abortion. So, the more people we can persuade to live out these alternative lifestyles the fewer abortions there will be to help mobilize the pro-lifers to vote against the Democratic Party."
Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) said Pelosi's "waffling strategy is bad for women and the economy. The patriarchy has been forcing women to bear children since the beginning of time. We need for the Democratic Party to make a clean break with the idea that women should be compelled to endure this onerous task. The whole process is humiliating and disgusting. Since we are nearing an era where babies can be produced via technologies that don't require direct sexual reproduction political strategies that involve keeping males around for this purpose are obsolete. A much smaller number of breeder males can generate enough sperm through self-stimulation to impregnate a sufficient number of females to continue the species. A world where females outnumber males by thousands to one will be a more peaceful and prosperous one. Democrats need to be the vanguard of this revolution."
Planned Parenthood's "Champion of the Century" award winner Hillary Clinton offered to be the "founding mother" of this revolution against "the groups of men who conspire to deny women their God-given right to have an abortion. We can't let these bastards grind us down."
In related news, Baby Bee Hummingbirds, an Australian company, advertises that it "can turn unwanted embryos into jewelry keepsakes." This new product joins a line of jewelry made from breast milk, baby hair, baby teeth, umbilical cords, and placentas. "I don't believe there is any other business in the world that creates jewelry from human embryos, and I firmly believe that we are pioneering the way in this sacred art," said company founder Amy McGlade. "What could be a better way to celebrate your most treasured gift, your child, than through jewelry?"
Dems Oppose Concealed Carry Reciprocity
Legislation backed by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) known as "national concealed carry reciprocity," would require states that issue permits allowing gun owners to carry concealed weapons to recognize such permits from other states. "The intent is to simplify the process for law-abiding gun owners when they travel to other states," Cornyn said. "A gun permit issued by a state would be valid in other states just like a state-issued driver's license."
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va) announced his opposition, saying that "families have been torn apart by gun violence. Enough is enough. This tragic violence has to end. We need to move toward fewer guns, not more guns." Warner was unmoved by arguments that allowing the law-abiding to carry improves their odds against criminals who carry firearms. "Doing what the criminal asks is better than starting a gunfight."
Gunshot victim, former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz) asserted that "stopping gun violence takes courage. If there were no guns I wouldn't have been shot and disabled. The gun lobby is fond of saying that if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. Well, that would make it easier for police—everyone with a gun would be a criminal. Given their superior training I think police would be the heavy favorites in any gunfight. So, by all means, let's move to a simpler system that disarms everyone except the police."
Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn) vowed to "fight this NRA-backed assault on everyone's personal safety. I'm pretty confident that we can filibuster this bill in the Senate. Failing that, Democrats need to take the battle to the states where the Second Amendment doesn't apply and lobby to have state legislatures restrict or even confiscate privately held firearms."
Surveillance State Ballooned Under Obama
The Obama Administration sought and obtained intelligence on thousands of Americans during 2016. Though the NSA is legally forbidden from directly spying on Americans and has temporary authority to conduct warrant-less searches of foreigners, during 2016 government officials conducted 30,355 searches seeking information about Americans and distributed over 3,000 reports with unredacted names of US citizens.
U.S. intelligence officials confirmed the growth in queries about Americans, but declined to offer any justification on the grounds that being pressured to provide justification "would endanger national security. All the public needs to know is that the government has its own very strict rules. They need to trust us and let us do our jobs."
Susan Rice, former National Security Adviser to President Obama, was seemingly deeply enmeshed in the surveillance scheme. As such, her appearance before a congressional committee was requested by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC). Rice declined to appear, saying that the request wasn't bipartisan. "I see no upside for me in being interrogated by Republicans," she said. "Why should I voluntarily testify? And if they try to compel me to, I can invoke my Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination."
An article by Jeff Kisseloff in The Nation pointed out that "abuse of power by presidents is a long standing tradition. FDR did it. JFK did it. LBJ did it. Why should we be surprised that Obama did it? These are all men we trust. They have the proper world view. Any corners they cut in pursuit of progressive values shouldn't be held against them.
In related news, the Democratic National Committee defended rigging the Party's primary in favor of Hillary Clinton. DNC attorney Bruce Spiva argued that "the Democratic Party is a private organization and can make and interpret rules however it wants. Its bylaws mandating impartial and evenhanded treatment of competing candidates is really discretionary. DNC officials can do whatever they want. The fact is, the Party decided early on that Clinton would be the presidential nominee and took the steps that were necessary to make that happen. Sanders was lucky we even let him run as a Democrat. We could have done it like we did in the old days and let Party honchos pick a candidate in some backroom. Instead, we put on a show so voters would feel involved, but we sure as Hell weren't going to let them decide who would represent the Party."
Reform of Presidential Pensions Proposed
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) are planning to introduce legislation that would take a former president's other sources of income into account in determining the size of his or her pension.
"Look, the $207,800 per year currently awarded to the nation's ex-presidents is there to ensure that someone who has served can live comfortably," Chaffetz argued. "However, as things currently stand, ex-presidents are cashing in when they retire. They write books and give speeches and make millions every year. The pension is tiny in comparison. What our bill would do is reduce the pension by the amount earned from these outside sources. There is no call for millionaires to be supported by taxpayers making far less money."
A bipartisan bill to accomplish this objective was passed last year, but was vetoed by President Obama on the grounds that "it would impose onerous and unreasonable burdens on former presidents. I think once a person has served the nation as president the people have an obligation to support him or her for life. The possibility that an ex-president may make millions from other sources shouldn't relieve the people he has served from the obligation of paying him every penny to which he is entitled by law."
The prospect of the bill becoming law seems bright since the man who would have to sign it—President Trump—isn't currently accepting a salary. The $78,333 he earned for the first quarter as president was donated to the National Park Service.