never take a vote for granted

this is why I think we’ll wake up tomorrow morning to find the TrumpCare bill will have passed the House vote.

Sherrod Brown of Ohio wrote this editorial fourteen years ago…and if anything, things have only gotten worse.

Never before has the House of Representatives operated in such secrecy:

At 2:54 a.m. on a Friday in March, the House cut veterans’ benefits by three votes.

At 2:39 a.m. on a Friday in April, the House slashed education and health care

by five votes.

At 1:56 a.m. on a Friday in May, the House passed the Leave No Millionaire Behind tax-cut bill by a handful of votes.

At 2:33 a.m. on a Friday in June, the House passed the Medicare privatization and prescription drug bill by one vote.

At 12:57 a.m. on a Friday in July, the House eviscerated Head Start by one vote.

And then, after returning from summer recess, at 12:12 a.m. on a Friday in October, the House voted $87 billion for Iraq.

Always in the middle of the night. Always after the press had passed their deadlines. Always after the American people had turned off the news and gone to bed.

What did the public see? At best, Americans read a small story with a brief explanation of the bill and the vote count in Saturday’s papers.

But what did the public miss? They didn’t see the House votes, which normally take no more than 20 minutes, dragging on for as long as an hour as members of the Republican leadership trolled for enough votes to cobble together a majority.

They didn’t see GOP leaders stalking the floor for whoever was not in line. They didn’t see Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay coerce enough Republican members into switching their votes to produce the desired result.

In other words, they didn’t see the subversion of democracy.

And late last month, they did it again. The most sweeping changes to Medicare in its 38-year history were forced through the House at 5:55 on a Saturday morning.

The debate started at midnight. The roll call began at 3 a.m. Most of us voted within the typical 20 minutes. Normally, the speaker would have gaveled the vote closed. But not this time; the Republican-driven bill was losing.

By 4 a.m., the bill had been defeated 216-218, with only one member, Democrat David Wu, not voting. Still, the speaker refused to gavel the vote closed.

Then the assault began.

Hastert, DeLay, Republican Whip Roy Blount, Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, Energy and Commerce Chairman Billy Tauzin – all searched the floor for stray Republicans to bully.

I watched them surround Cincinnati’s Steve Chabot, trying first a carrot, then a stick; but he remained defiant. Next, they aimed at retiring Michigan Congressman Nick Smith, whose son is running to succeed him. They promised support if he changed his vote to yes and threatened his son’s future if he refused. He stood his ground.

Many of the two dozen Republicans who voted against the bill had fled the floor. One Republican hid in the Democratic cloakroom.

By 4:30, the browbeating had moved into the Republican cloakroom, out of sight of C-SPAN cameras and the insomniac public. Republican leaders woke President George W. Bush, and a White House aide passed a cell phone from one recalcitrant member to another in the cloakroom.

At 5:55, two hours and 55 minutes after the roll call had begun – twice as long as any previous vote in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives – two obscure western Republicans emerged from the cloakroom. They walked, ashen and cowed, down the aisle to the front of the chamber, scrawled their names and district numbers on green cards to change their votes and surrendered the cards to the clerk.

The speaker gaveled the vote closed; Medicare privatization had passed.

You can do a lot in the middle of the night, under the cover of darkness.

I’m willing to concede that there’s every chance I could be wrong about this, but I’ve got a hunch I might not be.

 

Advertisements

the past as prologue

Hello Blogness, my old friend…I’ve come to rant with you again…

It’s been a minute, ain’t it?

This thing is long in the tooth, to be certain.  It was here before social media, it’s been quietly preserving the posts left here during the reign of social media, and – at this point, I think it may be time to revert back to leaving certain things here, just because…well, just because.

Mainly because there’s just too much shit to keep up with these days…and this seems like a good place to start cataloging the insanity.

Grab something sturdy…

 

timelines are important

(Caroline – @rvawonk on Twitter – did the LexisNexis research that led to this rant, and gets full credit for it…this is the abridged version.)

Because talking points and soundbites seldom paint much of a picture, let’s put this whole Jeff Sessions thing into the context of what was happening around it at the time. Pay specific attention to the dates – they tell the lions’ share of the story, here.

Sessions’ second meeting with Russian Ambassador Kislyak was on September 8th.

Three days prior to that meeting, Obama and Putin were meeting in China at the G20 summit, discussing the sanctions that had been imposed on Russia on September 1st as a result of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine – where Putin was quoted as saying that they “did not discuss it in detail because I see no sense in discussing matters of this sort” – and clearly wasn’t pleased with the outcome.

On September 7th, DNI James Clapper publicly suggested for the first time that Russia was likely behind the DNC hack.

The following day – September 8th – the same day that Sessions met with the Ambassador – Trump told Larry King on RT (Russia Today) that he didn’t think that the Russians were behind the hack, and that it was Democratic propoganda. Later, both Trump and Pence were quoted in separate venues (interview with Matt Lauer on Today and in the NYT) praising Putin’s leadership style in contrast with President Obama.

And…as if by magic…after the Sessions/Kislyak meeting, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov releases a statement saying that “Moscow expects Washington to display political will on building good relations with Russia after the Presidential elections.”

So to recap – roughly a week earlier, in the aftermath of the G20 summit, Putin won’t even comment about the sanctions discussion and is notably agitated, and miraculously – a week later – his spokesman thinks everything’ll be coming up roses after the election.

THEN – five days later – on the 14th – the DNC emails were released to WikiLeaks.

If you want to read the supporting research on this timeline, pop over to Twitter and take a peek.  She’s on top of this.