Politics postsTuesday September 18, 2018
A Housley Divided Against Herself
I spent last weekend in Minneapolis visiting my mother, who suffered a stroke two years ago and a bad bowel obstruction last year. This year she's in pretty good spirits. She's also well cared for at Jones Harrison nursing home near Cedar Lake, for which me, my sister and my brother are forever grateful.
Yesterday morning, just before heading to the airport, I read a few pieces on the front page of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune—where my father once worked and where my sister now works. The first piece, by Chrisopher Snowbeck, might hit home:
Anxiety, frustration and hints of exasperation are all in the mix as more than a quarter-million Minnesota seniors face the prospect of selecting new Medicare health plans in the coming months. An estimated 320,000 Minnesotans with Medicare Cost health plans must switch to a new policy because a federal law is eliminating the coverage next year across much of the state.
I asked my sister what coverage our mother had but she wasn't sure. We‘ll have to wait and see if she’s one of the 320k forced to do this because of a 2003 law stating that Medicare Cost can't be offered “in areas with significant competition from Medicare Advantage plans.” Why this was so, why it wasn't implemented until 2019, I'm not sure, and few of the news stories are telling. Anyway, it's worrisome.
More worrisome is what Congress might do to Medicare if the GOP maintains control of both houses in the mid-terms. They‘re already talking “reform.”
The other Strib story, featured more prominently, was the horse race for both U.S. Senate seats: Amy Klobuchar’s (good luck: she's got a 60-30 lead), and the seat formerly known as Al Franken‘s. After the #MeToo non-scandal last year, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith became the appointee, and now she’s running to fill out Franken's term, which ends in 2020. Her opponent is state rep Karin Housley. Smith has a much smaller lead—something like 44-36. According to the Strib poll, Housley does poorly with younger voters, but the highlighted is what really caught my eye:
Just 16 percent of those [younger] voters backed Housley, who did best among voters ages 50-64 and older. Housley has made senior citizen issues a focal point of her campaign. Smith could be the beneficiary of a national Democratic effort to mobilize young voters.
I would really like to know how Housley has made senior citizen issues a focal point of her campaign. Has she stated she won't go along with her party, the GOP, which wants to cut Social Security and Medicare? Which views them as “entitlements”? Which cuts taxes for the superrich and makes up the literal deficit by calling Medicare an “entitlement” and trying to slash it to the bone? There's a real disconnect in our news coverage in all of this.
Anyway, I hope the DFL and Smith make senior citizen issues a focal point of their campaign, too. I hope they hammer Housley on it.
Putin's Leaky Krysha
Joshua Yaffe's piece about Bill Browder, “Russia's Most Wanted: How a hedge-fund manager became Putin's greatest obsession,” from the August 20th New Yorker, is much recommended. It also gives us a lot of dots to connect.
In Dec. 2012, Pres. Obama signed into law The Magnitsky Act, named after Browder's former attorney, who was arrested in Moscow, transferred from one shitty prison to the next, and died/was murdered in prison in Nov. 2009. Not a pretty story. The Act authorizes the U.S. government to sanction human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban violators from entering the country. Why does it bother Putin so? Yaffe writes:
The Magnitsky Act threatened the unspoken pact that governs Putin's relations with those who enforce his power, whether they are interior-ministry officials or bureaucrats in the tax agency. “It means his krysha doesn't work,” Celeste Wallander explained. Krysha is Russian for “roof,” and in criminal jargon means the protection that a powerful figure can offer others. “It screws up his social contract with those inside the system,” she said.
Indeed, in September 2013, the U.S. Attorney's office in New York brought a case against a Russian company called Prevezon and its sole shareholder, Denis Katsyv, under the Act. How did Prevezon come to the fed's attention? Browder brought them the intel.
Anyway, here's a dot. See if you can connect it:
The Prevezon case provided the platform for an ever-expanding Russian campaign against the Magnitsky Act, largely overseen by Natalia Veselnitskaya, who had been the lawyer for the Katsyv family for a decade.
If Veselnitskaya sounds familiar, it's because she's the Russian attorney who was at the infamous June 9th Trump Tower meeting with Donald, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.
Read the piece.
Facebook: We Own Who You Are
I'd recommend everyone watch “Last Week Tonight,” a comedy/informative joy that isn't on nearly enough. I remember in the past when bad shit happened, and I'd think, “Can't wait to hear what Jon Stewart has to say about this.” Now it's Oliver. Except he's not on nearly enough. The week Trump showed up in Europe and dissed NATO, and made kissy faces with Putin, and acted the ass in Britain with the Queen? Oliver was off that month. The fuck? Last week when Manafort was found guilty and Cohen declared himself (and Trump) guilty? Ditto. Dude! But he's worth it when he's on.
More tech woes: We‘ve had trouble streaming HBO lately, via the HBO Now app. When I kind of solved that problem—a different method of entering HBO Now via the Amazon Firestick menu—for some reason it wanted to charge me $1.99 an episode for Oliver. Everything else on HBO was still part of the package but there was some glitch that asked payment for Oliver. As if it knew that’s what I most wanted to watch. Creepy.
I'm still on Facebook. For now.
“'Trump is nuts,' said one former West Wing official. ‘This time really feels different.’ Deputy Chief of Staff Bill Shine has privately expressed concern, a source said, telling a friend that Trump's emotional state is ‘very tender.’ Even Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are unsettled that Trump is so gleefully acting on his most self-destructive impulses as his legal peril grows. According to a source, Jared and Ivanka told Trump that stripping security clearances from former intelligence officials would backfire, but Trump ignored them. Kushner later told a friend Trump ‘got joy’ out of taking away John Brennan's clearance. His reaction to the death of John McCain—quashing a White House statement in praise of the senator, and restoring White House flags to full staff—falls into the same self-indulgent category.
”The news of Cohen's plea and Paul Manafort's conviction, which were followed by revelations that Trump Organization C.F.O. Allen Weisselberg and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker are cooperating with federal prosecutors, have rattled Trump like few other turns in the investigation have, sources said. ... 'He spent the weekend calling people and screaming,' one former White House official said.“
from Gabriel Sherman's Vanity Fair piece, ”Trump Goes It Alone." Read the whole thing.
John McCain (1936-2018)
I began this blog in February 2008 so a lot of my posts about John McCain were partisan backbiting during the 2008 election. Some of the backbiting he deserved. Not just in choosing Sarah Palin but in the way he attempted to use civil rights legend John Lewis in the final debate. A lot of it the press deserved, too. My complaints then are my complaints now. If they’d been taken seriously, we wouldn’t have Trump.
But John McCain also did this.
That scene showed up in the 2012 HBO film about the 2008 election, “Game Change,” which I rewatched in January 2016. Ed Harris, as McCain, refuses to go low in the way the GOP does, and says this to a campaign adviser:
There's a dark side to the American populace. Some people win elections by tapping into it. I'm not one of those people.
I doubt John McCain actually said that but he often acted as if he thought it. He had honor. Many of the encomia I’m seeing today, the day after he died of brain cancer at the age of 81, are coming from Democrats and liberals. We already miss him, an honorable Republican, who tried to remove dark money from politics. Sadly, he ran into Mitch McConnell and the modern GOP, who need dark money, and who need to tap into the dark side of the American populace. They want dark side and dark money to prevent dark people from voting. That’s who they are. McCain was much, much better.
In 2010, Patricia I went to Hanoi, Vietnam, and on one of our first days we visited Hoa Lo Prison, or the “Hanoi Hilton,” where McCain was imprisoned for five years.
McCain, a Navy pilot, was shot down in Oct. 1967, parachuted into Truc Bach Lake in Hanoi, was pulled to shore and beaten by a crowd and then taken to a hospital, or “hospital,” for six weeks, before beginning two years of solitary confinement. Patricia and I took a taxi. The place cost John McCain five years of his life. It cost us 10,000 dong—or about 50 cents each. One feels guilty before even entering. One feels how time reveals the absurdity of the borders we construct.
I look back on the GOP presidential nominees of my lifetime and think: Who would’ve made a better president than McCain? Goldwater and his anti-civil rights stances? Nah. Nixon? Please. Reagan? Idiot. Bush I or II? Dole or Romney? None of them. It’s a shame McCain got the nomination when he did. It’s a shame Karl Rove and George W. push-polled him out of the 2000 race. Imagine McCain in charge during 9/11 rather than W. What we wouldn’t have wasted our time on.
Godspeed. God bless. If there’s anything to know, now he knows.