Watching the Senate proceedings and John McCain’s dramatic return yesterday on CSPN, I couldn’t help imagining the scene in that hospital room as then-Attorney General, John Ashcroft, recovering from surgery, was being badgered by then Bush Counsel, Alberto Gonzalez (later Attorney General), and White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card to sign a re-authorization of the secret domestic surveillance portion of the Patriot Act.   Robert Mueller and James Comey had intervened, prevented the forced signing and then convinced President Bush to modify the program. 

While played out on national television rather than out of the public’s eye in a hospital room, the dramatic appearance of Senator John McCain on the Senate floor following brain surgery and a devastating diagnosis of incurable brain cancer in order to salvage the Republicans health care bill, was high order drama.  In both cases, however, much was at stake.  In the Ashcroft case of Stellar Wind, a massive post 9-11 domestic surveillance program that Congress had no notion of and even Bush’s own Justice Department officials had doubts about the legality of the program, the good guys prevailed.  Thank God for the courage of James Comey, then Deputy Attorney General, and Robert Mueller, then head of the FBI.  

With yesterday’s Senate vote to open debate on the House’s version of the healthcare bill, much more is at stake.   Problem is, the applause laden arrival of Senator McCain, wasn’t the arrival of the good guy.  The vote was 50 to 51, with two Republicans – Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski - voting “NO,” all 48 Democrats voting “NO” and Vice President breaking the 50 – 50 tie.  In fact, had McCain not flown back to Washington, the action would have failed.  What he did was to ensure that if this bill in some form eventually passes, his return to Washington will revoke the health insurance from between 20 to 30 million Americans.  You can take some small solace that not a single one of the 48 Democrats voted “YES.” 

It’s not clear how all this ends up.  There is no question that the particular path both the House and now-set-aside Senate bills followed is most unusual.  No hearings.  No input from Democrats.  No public comments.   This is extremely troubling when we – or they - are talking about a national health care insurance program.  This is not some small tweak to an obscure EPA regulation or a bill to strip the CFPB of its power; this is a fundamentally important piece of legislation that will affect millions of Americans. 

And why did Congress have to do this?  Because, we the people of the United States of America voted a Black man into the White House.  Twice.  There is no other reason.  And Barack Obama was able to get the Affordable Care Act (technically the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) passed into law.  Republicans have vowed for seven years to repeal Obamacare and now they have their chance.    The insurance companies will be overjoyed if this kind of killer bill becomes law because they can write worthless health insurance policies that pay only when you are well but not when you are sick just like they used to. 

But we seem to be seeing Republicans just hell bent on harming just as many Americans as they can.  For years, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the Freedom Caucus appear to have no problem cutting off hard working, patriotic Americans at the knees.  Social Security?  Medicare? Medicaid?  Clean Water? Clean Air?  Paul Ryan has often proposed that these programs be “reformed” by which term he means turned into voucher programs, turned over to the states or simply eliminated.  It seems that the entire Republican establishment has slipped into some sort of alternate reality where they cannot recognize positive actions from negative ones, can’t seem to distinguish between good and bad.  Is there some sort of spell that Satan has cast over them that reversed the polarity of their good versus bad genes? 

Attempting to come up with reasons for the way Republicans are acting is like trying to understand string theory.  Maybe both are just too complicated.  I suppose there are folks who “get” why Ryan and the Freedom Caucus gang seem to have forgotten that they are actually living in the United States of America and not Zimbabwe or North Korea.  One expects, unfortunately, these kinds of anti-Democratic, anti-humane from the likes of Robert Mugabe and Kim Jong-Un but from representatives of the American People?  It’s just not right.  Period.  Now that Trump is in charge, we seem to be at a junction in our governance where we have a choice:  we can simply remain passive in the face of the most corrupt, cruel and lawless Administrations in our history or we can resist.  There really isn’t a choice since by remaining passive we lose more of our already diminished rights and freedoms to say nothing of the continuing dimming of the once bright beacon of hope, liberty, justice and democracy America so recently represented to the world.

It’s Up To Us! 


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