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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Saturday Soother – December 16, 2017

The Daily Escape:

Central Park NYC, December 12th – 2017 photo by Rommel Tan

Long-time readers know that Wrongo has a very low opinion of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), who he considers an intellectual joker. He is often given a pass by the main stream media, who suggest that he is a thoughtful and principled Republican. But once again, he looked like a partially-informed hack on Thursday when he said that Americans need to have more babies or risk a collapse of Medicare and Social Security.

His concern is about the declining US birth rate. The Boston Globe reports that:

Ten years ago, the typical American woman had about 2.1 children. Today, it is about 1.77, representing a collapse in fertility on par with the declines in other countries that yielded Japan’s rapidly graying population in the 1990s, or Canada’s massive present-day demand for immigrants.

From Ryan’s news conference: (parenthesis by Wrongo)

People — this is going to be the new economic challenge for America. People…I did my part, (Ryan has three kids) but we need to have higher birth rates in this country. Meaning, baby boomers are retiring, and we have fewer people following them in the work force…We have something like a 90% increase in the retirement population in America, but only a 19% increase in the working population in America…

It is true that birth rates in the US have declined, but that’s not necessarily bad news. For example, birth rates for teenagers hit a record low last year. Also, Wrongo recently described McKinsey’s report on jobs lost to automation that showed 75 million jobs are at risk in the US by 2030.

Perhaps we already have too many workers for the jobs revolution that is occurring all around us.

And there’s an obvious solution to the problem that Ryan ignores: Allowing more immigrants into the country, either to fill the jobs being vacated by retiring baby boomers, or as necessary to meet tomorrow’s job requirements. But Ryan shows that he’s all in with Trump’s hard line anti-immigration positions.

Should American women become brood mares? This isn’t a new concept. The fear of being outnumbered by racial and ethnic minorities is the driving force behind today’s alt-right, and the view was around in earlier white nationalist movements. HuffPo interviewed Kelly J. Baker, author of “Gospel According to the Klan”. Baker says that the need to ensure that white women were having more white babies was a key part of the Ku Klux Klan’s platform during its resurgence in the 1920s: (emphasis by Wrongo)

Baker said that the 1920s Klan was “nervous” about the possibility of widespread birth control for white women…To push back against the rising availability of effective birth control, the Klan told white women that having as many white children as possible is your job and it matters for your family and your race and for America.

And now, Ryan makes this a mainstream GOP idea. For all of the political empowerment of women in today’s headlines, the Ryan argument lands in the same place as today’s alt-right, and yesterday’s KKK.

Ryan and the GOP want to see more babies, but they won’t support young kids with health insurance through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Quartz reports that next month, 600,000 American children will lose their CHIP coverage. CHIP has been instrumental in ensuring health care coverage of children in US families that aren’t poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, but cannot afford any other form of insurance.

Republicans talk a lot about the cost of healthcare. The cost of not providing healthcare to children in an America with failing schools is impossible to calculate. It is very high, it lasts lifetimes and possibly, generations.

Yet, Ryan is saying that American women need to have more babies to Make America Great Again.

And we know that he’s asking for more white babies.

OK, it’s Saturday, and we need a break from toxic politics, and maybe from obsessing about shopping for gifts. Hanukkah began this week, so Wrongo looked for a soothing piece of music that was inspired by the celebration of the Festival of Lights. Here is “Hanukkah Overture for String Orchestra and Clarinet” by Adam Shugar.

If you look at the YouTube video, you will see that it has just 5,000 views. It should have many more. You should watch it because the music is good, and unlike most orchestral pieces, this string orchestra performs while standing. The video is shot from a high angle, and looking down allows you to see them all as they play together, almost like a choreographed dance. Here is “Hanukkah Overture for String Orchestra and Clarinet” played by the Orchestre Nouvelle Génération under the direction of Airat Ichmouratov, with Mark Simons on clarinet:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Paul Ryan: You Must Be Free to Get Sick With No Insurance

The Daily Escape:

(Stranded bull shark found after flooding from Cyclone Debbie in Australia – photo from Reuters)

In an interview with “CBS This Morning” House Speaker Paul Ryan says he doesn’t want to negotiate with Democrats on health care. Ryan, speaking to co-host Norah O’Donnell:

I don’t want that to happen. You know why? I want a patient-centered system, I don’t want government running health care…The government shouldn’t tell you what you must do with your life, with your health care. We should give people choices.

Ryan centers his defense of the failed Trumpcare bill on the notion of individual freedom. He said he fears that Trump might move to work with Democrats so that he can make good on campaign promises to redo Obamacare, and “that’s not, that’s hardly a conservative thing.”

Ryan’s idea of freedom for the American people is the right to choose whether to have health insurance or not, and if they choose health insurance, to be free to choose expensive or cheap insurance.

But he sees life as a monetary transaction. In this appearance on Face The Nation March 12, 2017: (hat tip Ed Walker)

DICKERSON: How many people are going to lose coverage under this new —

RYAN: I can’t answer that question. It’s up to people. Here — here’s the premise of your question. Are you going to stop mandating people buy health insurance? People are going to do what they want to do with their lives because we believe in individual freedom in this country. So the question is, are we providing a system where people have access to health insurance if they choose to do so…We’re not going to make an American do what they don’t want to do. You get it if you want it. That’s freedom.

Ryan’s freedom will get rid of the Essential Health Benefits that are mandated under the ACA in his Trumpcare bill. The Essentials set the minimum coverage for any policy offered on the exchanges. They include lab tests, drugs, maternity care, treatment for substance abuse and mental illness, and others.

If insurance companies can issue policies that don’t cover these mandated benefits, policies will be cheaper. That will increase the number of people with policies that won’t cover treatment they suddenly need.

So when Ryan says “freedom” he means: You have the freedom to give money to an insurance company to buy any policy you can afford; you can shop around for a policy that may or may not provide the coverage you eventually need; or you can take the risk of bankruptcy and/or denial of health care when you get sick.

But, in Ryanworld, individual freedom to choose doesn’t extend to abortion, despite it being the law of the land.

Ryan assumes that if the government were involved, it couldn’t negotiate better drug prices. He assumes government wouldn’t regulate against the predatory excesses of health insurers, health care providers, and drug companies. Government involvement does violence to his Randian wish for a perfect and omniscient free market. He assumes that people with limited resources would choose to forego rent, food, or education to buy inadequate health insurance.

Let’s give Paul Ryan the benefit of the doubt: Say he knows that this is horseshit, but he needs to legislate. The alternative is that he is the worst kind of ideologue.

Conservatives spill the word “socialism” like beer at a frat party. They think it coats everything and makes everything smell, at least politically.

It’s hard to believe that the GOP has a true notion of what socialism is, or how it works.

It’s all around us, and Republicans are expert practitioners. Their negative talk about socialism is another example of their constant projection onto Democrats and progressives. Is it socialism when Ivy League admissions favor the rich? Or when the rich help other rich people get into the country club? Or when they all appoint the same people to corporate boards?

They despise it when the rest of us use collective action; when voters get their government to combat anti-labor and anti-monopoly practices, when voters work together for better schools, safer foods, clean water and safe working conditions.

That’s bad socialism, not the good socialism practiced in Boston’s Back Bay or on NYC’s Upper East Side.

It’s good socialism when companies work together in the US Chamber of Commerce, share information, and spend millions influencing government to increase their bottom lines.

Its bad socialism when people fight for practical affordable access to health insurance.

Paul Ryan’s vision of freedom has a lot in common with Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee“:

Take away lyric:

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose,

Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – March 26, 2017

From the NYT: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

33 Republicans stopped the [Trumpcare] bill. 15 were from the “Freedom Caucus,” 10 were “moderates” mostly from the Northeast (the “Tuesday Group”), some of whose districts went for Clinton, and 8 were miscellaneous (“One said he was concerned about its changes to Medicaid expansion, another preferred a full repeal and a third said he was worried about the bill’s impact on treatment for opioid abuse”).

Republicans control 237 seats of the 435 seats in the House. It requires 218 votes to pass a bill. When Paul Ryan and Donald Trump lost 33 Republican votes, the bill couldn’t pass, and had to be withdrawn. That means the GOP really doesn’t control the House, and that’s unchanged since John Boehner was Speaker.

The Republicans have majority control of the House and the Senate. They also have the self-proclaimed greatest deal-maker sitting in the Oval Office.  They have been talking about repealing Obamacare for seven years since it was signed into law, and they couldn’t get their own party to fall in line.

But Trump isn’t a deal maker, he’s a salesman.

And that’s a huge difference. Savvy business people seem willing to buy whatever he is selling. He seems to have the charisma and persuasiveness that in his prior life, made him a top earner as a real estate mogul.

But there’s a difference between making a sale and making a deal. Deal making is hard; you have to build trust, you have to establish real relationships, you need a mastery of your deal points and those of the person on the other side. It can be slow, grinding work.

Trump doesn’t do that, he’s never done that. His entire career is a lurch from one deal to the next, and his Presidency is no different. Trump closed the sale with the American people, but once elected, his job is to make deals.

On to cartoons.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Obamacare execution:

GOP’s Health Care March Madness bracket is now busted:

Boehner shows Ryan how to cope with Freedom Caucus:

Expect the GOP to keep trying to replace Obamacare until we all do this:

Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) burns the GOP:

Sadly, Menendez is also a joke of a Senator. He is about to go on trial for public corruption. Still, the tweet is funny.

Gorsuch epic head-fakes are now a required course in sports:

Trump’s Poodle, Devin Nunes can’t be counted on to keep secrets well, secret:

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Saturday Soother – March 18, 2017

The Daily Escape:

(Ancient Pagoda in Myanmar – photo by Steve McCurry. McCurry is best known for his iconic 1984 National Geographic magazine photograph “Afghan Girl”.)

This isn’t the millennium we thought we’d have. The 21st century was supposed to be a time of enhanced social justice, and a push toward further global integration. We thought that the arc of history bent unmistakably toward a bright Information Age.

Instead, where are we? Lurching forward towards the second decade of the century with the reins of government in the hands of an ultra-nationalist, someone who wouldn’t shake hands with Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany at the close of their meeting. We also learned more about the tin ear that Republicans have when it comes to enacting a health insurance program. Here is the topper: In a conversation with the National Review’s Rich Lowry, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) bragged about how conservatives now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take health coverage away from the most vulnerable Americans:

So Medicaid…sending it back to the states, capping its growth rate. We’ve been dreaming of this since I’ve been around — since you and I were drinking at a kegger…I’ve been thinking about this stuff for a long time. We’re on the cusp of doing something we’ve long believed in.

Not the college experience that most of us had, but for Ryan, it was a time to dream about how, someday, he would take health care away from millions of poor people. The media thinks that this guy is the best and brightest that the Republicans have, and cover him like a serious, sober policy wonk focused on reducing deficits and poverty in market-oriented ways. They refuse to believe that a major elected official would devote his life to the Randian belief that the poor deserve what’s coming to them because they lack the brilliance of a John Galt. It’s one thing to have these thoughts at 20, and an entirely different thing to still have them at 47 years old.

To reiterate what we talked about earlier this week, Speaker Ryan’s health bill, if enacted, would lead to 24 million fewer people having health insurance by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Of those 24 million, 14 million would lose health coverage because of the changes Ryan wants to make to the Medicaid program.

No wonder Charlie Pierce calls Ryan the “zombie-eyed granny starver”. Many Americans voted for this. Perhaps they now understand buyer’s remorse.

Time to get soothed, if it is possible this week. Grab a cup of Hula Daddy Kona Coffee (just $100/Lb. via the web), sit in the sun room with Wrongo, and watch the 20” of snow melt on the fields of Wrong.

We’ll listen to Dvořák’s “Romance for Violin and Orchestra” performed by Tanja Sonc with the Slovenian Philharmonic, conducted by Keri-Lynn Wilson. Dvořák originally composed this in September and October 1873 as the slow movement of a string quartet in F minor. He re-scored it for violin and orchestra sometime before December 1877. Here is Romance of Violin and Orchestra, Opus 11:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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The CBO and the Ides of March

The Daily Escape:

(Provence – Photo by Veronika K. Ko.)

The Ides of March are today. The Netherlands holds its parliamentary election, the US debt ceiling agreement expires, and Trump is gonna get a ton of postcards.

Congressional Budget Office estimates for Trumpcare (AHCA) came out on Monday, and they’re worse than expected.  Sarah Kliff, Vox’s healthcare reporter, has this:

  • CBO estimates 14 million would lose coverage in 2018. The report projects that much of the early coverage loss would stem from repealing Obamacare’s mandate that all Americans purchase coverage or pay a fine.
  • After that, increases in the uninsured would be from Medicaid cuts. After 2018, CBO thinks that most of the increase in the number of uninsured would stem from changes the AHCA would make to Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, an expansion that allowed many more low-income adults to enroll in the program.
  • The bill would “freeze” enrollment in that program on January 1, 2020. Medicaid enrollees would trickle off the rolls as their incomes changed. And this would lead to another big decline in coverage.
  • The number of uninsured, CBO projects, would rise by 21 million in 2020 and hit 24 million in 2026.
  • The CBO projects that as the individual market shrinks, premiums would rise between 10% and 15% as some healthy people flee in 2018. But over the next few years, the agency expects premiums to go down to 10% lower than under Obamacare.
  • CBO thinks more young people will come into the market, as the GOP plan offers incentives to make the market more appealing to younger, (healthier) enrollees.
  • AHCA would be a huge cut to Medicaid. CBO estimates it would reduce spending on the health program for low-income Americans by $880 billion over the next decade. This helps explain why AHCA would reduce the deficit: The bill spends a lot less money on entitlement programs.

When Paul Ryan’s talking points are that their plan will reduce the deficit, and that premiums will go down by 10% OVER THE LONG TERM, you know that he doesn’t care that 24 million people will lose healthcare insurance.

That the GOP is choosing deficit reduction over covering American citizens is what the public will remember. When you kick out the poor and older folks, of course premiums will go down. But premiums will remain high for those in the 50-64 age bracket, and their premiums will be higher than currently.

The CBO report also finds that this legislation will provide massive tax relief, and make the most fundamental entitlement reform in more than a generation, if throwing people off Medicaid truly is “reform”.

Even before the CBO report was released, the Trump administration began laying the groundwork to discredit the agency and their report. White House press secretary Sean Spicer:

If you’re looking at the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place…they were way, way off last time in terms of how they scored and projected Obamacare.

Since this is the Ides of March, you should have expected some stabbing.

Their criticism is centered on the fact that CBO previously overestimated the number of people who would enroll in the marketplaces. That’s true: Earlier CBO reports estimated that the Obamacare marketplaces would have 26 million enrollees this year. Last year, CBO revised that estimate to 15 million.

Critics don’t mention that the CBO also underestimated how many people Medicaid expansion would cover. The overestimate and the underestimate essentially cancel each other out: Obamacare is covering just about as many people as CBO expected back in 2013.

Curiously, Trump said his health care plan would cover EVERYONE, and it would be much cheaper and much better. Except it won’t.

When you think about bad data, remember that Trump said we shouldn’t trust the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers on monthly employment last year, he said they were fake. Now, Trump says the numbers in this month’s data release are real. You be the judge:

Obama in February 2016 — 237,000 new jobs
Trump in February 2017 — 235,000 new jobs

Trump: Making America a Slightly Less Great Again.

Your daily musical interlude appropriately is from the group the Ides of March. Here is “Vehicle”, their only hit, originally published in 1970, and performed live at the Chicago House of Blues in 2014:

That 70 year-old guy can still sing.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

Sample Lyrics:

Well, I’m the friendly stranger in the black sedan

Won’t you hop inside my car?

I got pictures, candy, I’m a lovable man

And I can take you to the nearest star

 

Kinda like the GOP promises on healthcare.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – March 5, 2017

Wrongo and family have moved temporarily to the Southern Mansion of Wrong for a few days to escape the New England winter. We rent the same oceanfront house each year. While it is low rent compared to Mar-a-Lago, here is the Sunday AM view:

Another great week for cartoons! Trump tweets that Obama bugged the phones at Trump Tower, but Obama denies it:

Two things are funny here: that Trump thinks the election process is “sacred”, after all that happened last November, and that he can’t spell “tap”.

GOP loved, loved Trump’s first address to the Congress:

Paul Ryan’s got a secret plan for health care:

 

Ryan’s plan will offer more choices to Americans. Our choices will be open casket, closed casket, and cremation. When Obama pushed the TPP, and Congress people could only see it in a secret room, the GOP howled. Apparently we the peasants should simply shut up, and eat our tiny bowls of gruel.

The Donald’s view of his defense budget in context:

Guns and tanks, tanks and guns, shoot ’em up, let’s have some fun

Jeff Sessions channels Bill Clinton:

How can a leader get away with saying nothing is his fault?

 

 

 

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – November 27, 2016

Are you sick of all the winning yet?

You have probably heard that Fidel Castro died yesterday. Wrongo was in college in October 1962, at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. We were glued to TV waiting for a nuclear attack that never came.

That Castro survived JFK by 53 years is remarkable, particularly since at least two American Presidents tried to kill him. At the time, Kennedy offered two things in exchange for Soviet removal of the Cuban missiles: (1) the US would pledge never to invade Cuba and (2) the US would secretly withdraw missiles from Turkey. The removal of the nukes from Turkey was delayed several months, so that the US would not appear weak in the face of the Cuban missile threat. The Soviet Union accepted this offer the next day.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, their archives of the Missile crisis showed that Castro wanted the USSR to fire the missiles at the US. Khrushchev came to regard Castro as a lunatic, bent on war. We came very close to invading Cuba, and the Soviets never fully trusted Castro again.

In most ways, Castro’s death is anticlimactic. He retired, and appointed his brother Raul to head the government years ago, and recently, the Obama administration has been effective in improving relations with Cuba. Had Fidel died during a period of greater tension, it might have signaled the possibility of a positive change in relations between our two countries. Sadly, it is probable that the next great change in Cuban/American relations will move us backward under a Trump Administration.

Onward to cartoons. Thanksgiving and Trump’s staffing plans dominated the week.

Many avoided politics at the family repast:

cow-i-survived

Democrats weigh their strategy with Trump:

cow-turkey-talk

Trump meets with the New York Times, tells them how to cover the news:

cow-trumpy-times

Our Orange Decider has yet to decide a few things:

cow-the-decider

Paul Ryan is locked and loaded for 2017:

cow-paul-ryans-targets

Many who voted for Trump have little or no retirement savings, or regular savings for that matter. Ironically, a majority of them will be reliant on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in later life. Sadly, they can’t seem to connect the dots between Ryan’s Ayn Randian dreams of privatization, and how it will affect their lives. It may be too late for many of them.

Deficits are part of the Art of the Deal:

cow-white-house-puppy

Those “responsible Republican deficit hawkswanted to restore earmarks the week after the election, but Ryan is making them wait until the new Congress is seated. That way, they won’t destroy the PRETENSE of budget deficits mattering.

The GOP really can’t wait to take off the debt girdle:

cow-deficit-girdle

 

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – October 16, 2016

(this is a re-post of Sunday’s column after the site’s database crashed)

“Important issues in the presidential campaign are like the Oakland A’s. You aren’t going to see much of them in October” Rocky Mountain Mike

The best things that happened last week were the Nobel Prize for Bob Dylan and Michelle Obama’s speech. Perhaps the worst thing last week was the US’s deeper involvement in Yemen: The Saudis bombed a funeral. An American naval vessel was attacked at sea by the Houthis. We launched cruise missiles at Yemen. The Iranian navy started patrolling off of Yemen in the same space as the US navy. Escalation, and what does the US get out of this? The Obama administration must be held to account for this.

Dylan wins the Nobel:

cow-get-stoned

Trump’s decline in the polls means his call “Hillary for jail” has a new meaning:

cow-hillary-for-jail

The GOP establishment walks away from Trump just a little:

cow-hedge-your-bets

Trump admitting sexual assault has given some Christian supporters a moral dilemma:

cow-christian-values

 

Trump gets a new campaign logo:

cow-grope

 

 

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Congress Returns to Do (Not) Much

From Roll Call:

After the longest summer break in modern times, lawmakers are required to accomplish a single legislative task before leaving again. But it’s a job far more politically fraught than it is procedurally simple: Assuring normal government operations continue through the end of this budgetary year and into the new one.

That’s right, once again, it’s time to fight about funding the government. And as Booman says,

This ridiculous election season would not be complete without the threat of another government shutdown, and how much money would you be willing to risk betting on Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan to find a way to pass a continuing resolution that either the majority of their own caucus would support or that relies (again) on mostly Democratic votes?

The potential stalemate over spending is a headache for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) who would like to avoid a shutdown threat just weeks before the election.

The Tea Party and GOP conservatives want to kick the can ahead for six months with a temporary resolution. But Democrats and some Republicans want to finish the annual budget work in the lame duck session after the election.

Both sides are digging in for a fight.

This could become an object lesson on why Republicans shouldn’t be in the majority. The party with the majority in the House is supposed to produce the bills and along with the Senate, supply the votes to pass appropriations. But, John Boehner couldn’t do it, because the Freedom Caucus and the other conservative R’s wouldn’t work as a coalition with other Republicans and/or Democrats to actually pass spending bills.

Ryan was able to do it last time, but it isn’t looking like those Republican factions will roll over again.

If Ryan and McConnell want to buck their own members on the length of the continuing resolution, the Dems are free to refuse to provide any votes. And the Democrats do not have to protect the sitting president, so they can watch as the GOP twists in the wind.

Fun times on Capitol Hill!

Here are a few links to news you may have missed over the holiday:

Experimental new opioid blocks pain without being addictive or deadly in primates. In monkeys, the drug is a highly effective pain reliever without downsides. It needs more trials, including in humans. Meanwhile, the DEA is attempting to ban a natural, safe herb which has been used for thousands of years to do the same thing.

Holy Labor Day: On Friday, an estimated 150 million workers refused to show up for work in India and instead took to the streets to demonstrate against labor conditions. The unions involved issued 12 demands to Prime Minister Modi, including raising the minimum wage, introduction of universal social security, and a minimum pension.

Is an end to the Asian sweatshop in sight? A recent report from the International Labor Organization found that more than two-thirds of Southeast Asia’s 9.2 million textile and footwear jobs are threatened by automation. Here are the numbers: 88% of those jobs in Cambodia, 86% in Vietnam, and 64% in Indonesia. Will this be good for the workers? Doubtful.

13 Tips for reading election polls like a pro. After Labor Day, the polling deluge will begin. A guide to making sense of it all.

Boeing gets $2B in bonuses for flawed missile-defense system. From 2002 through early last year, the Pentagon conducted 11 flight tests of the nation’s homeland missile-defense system. The interceptors failed to destroy their targets in six of the 11 tests — a record that has prompted independent experts to conclude the system can’t be relied on to foil a nuclear strike by North Korea or Iran. Yet the Pentagon paid Boeing, the prime contractor, $1,959,072,946 in performance bonuses for a Job? Well? Done?

Maybe we shouldn’t complain: The US government is spending money. Money = jobs. Of course, money also = corruption. And isn’t it a good deal if Boeing’s shit doesn’t work?

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The Pant Load Party

Happy Friday! You are busy, and don’t need a long-form note from Wrongo. But, here are a few items you may have missed that accurately describe the Republican Party today:

First, The GOP didn’t follow its own rules during a vote on Thursday. The subject was a measure to ensure protections for the LGBT community in federal contracts, and it failed to pass after “initially passing” during the time allotted for members to vote. Then, the Republican leadership urged their members to change their votes. The leadership kept the vote open as they pressured members to change sides, allowing lawmakers switch their votes without following the “Regular Order”  process of walking to the well at the front of the chamber.

By changing their votes, the House GOP inserted a poison pill that overrides Obama’s executive order banning LGBTQ discrimination in federal defense contracts. From The Hill:

Initially, it appeared Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s (D-NY) amendment had passed, as 217 “yes” votes piled up over 206 “no” votes when the clock ran out. The measure needed 213 votes to pass. But it eventually failed, 212-213, after a number of Republican lawmakers changed their votes from “yes” to “no” after the clock had expired.

More from The Hill:

According to the office of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD.), at least seven Republicans changed their votes, including Reps. Jeff Denham (Calif.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Bruce Poliquin (Maine), David Valadao (Calif.), Greg Walden (Ore.), Mimi Walters (Calif.) and David Young (Iowa). Denham, Valadao, Poliquin and Young are among the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection this year. Walden, meanwhile, chairs the House GOP campaign arm.

Twenty-nine Republicans voted for Maloney’s amendment to a spending bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs and military construction projects, along with all Democrats in the final roll call.

But the awesome kicker was House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “see and hear no evil”: When asked about the vote-switching, Ryan denied knowing whether his leadership team pressured Republicans:

I don’t know the answer. I don’t even know…

He then defended the provision in the defense bill: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

This is federalism, the states should do this. The federal government shouldn’t stick its nose in [the states’] its business

Simpler Paul Ryan: The federal government has no business regulating federal defense contracts. That should be left to the states. You know that even Paul Ryan is smarter than that.

Second, The Donald at a Chris Christie funds-raiser in NJ:

Look, a lot of you don’t know the world of economics and you shouldn’t even bother. Just do me a favor, leave it to me.

If you are in the audience, you are insulted, but still cheering. Or this: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

My trade deal is very simple, I am going to make great deals for our country…It [the trade deals?] might be free, it might not be free.

Yes, he said those two things in the same speech. Do either of those statements cause you to trust that you will be better off after a Trump administration?

Finally, this perspective from Matt Taibbi in the Rolling Stone on May 18th after Cruz conceded:

If this isn’t the end for the Republican Party, it’ll be a shame. They dominated American political life for 50 years and were never anything but monsters. They bred in their voters the incredible attitude that Republicans were the only people within our borders who raised children, loved their country, died in battle or paid taxes. They even sullied the word “American” by insisting they were the only real ones…their idea of an intellectual was Newt Gingrich. Their leaders, from Ralph Reed to Bill Frist to Tom DeLay to Rick Santorum to Romney and Ryan, were an interminable assembly line of shrieking, witch-hunting celibates, all with the same haircut – the kind of people who thought Iran-Contra was nothing, but would grind the affairs of state to a halt over a blow job or Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube.

A Cruz supporter lamented: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

People don’t care about civility anymore…Why are we [Republicans] so mean?’

But the real question is, “Why vote for the GOP?”

You know, why vote for a Pant Load Republican who tells you not to worry about economics.

Or a Pant Load Republican who tells you he didn’t know what happened with a House vote that passed after it didn’t pass, a vote, that in effect, vitiated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for federal contracts.

That very same Pant Load who says we should leave regulating federal contractors to the states.

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