Soundtracking the Resistance - Refusing to Let it Go

Healthcare and Taxes (Plus Charles Bradley and The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die)

Sep 29, 2017 Web Exclusive By Stephen Mayne Bookmark and Share


Debating healthcare is back, because efforts to destroy it won't seem to go away. On top of the latest attempts to replace Obamacare, we have updates on tax, German elections, unity concerts, Stevie Wonder on one knee, and the passing of Charles Bradley. 

The Big Event

It feels like we've been here before, and it looks like we'll do it all again. The never-ending saga that is the Republican Party's efforts to remove the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with something not as good took what has become a dully predictable route this week.

The Groundhog Day pattern that seems to have developed first involves virulent and often incoherent railing against the ACA. Next comes a period of confusion when it dawns on the attackers that they might have to come up with something to replace it. Then half-baked plans arrive that either tack too far right or left, drawing the ire of moderates and crackpots. Finally, a miserable compromise is scraped together that doesn't quite do enough to satisfy anyone, before a couple of rebels refuse to support it. Then the whole thing collapses and we start again. Oh, we've walked this route before.

What we can also add into the mix is a volatile president who hurls abuse at his own side via Twitter, while occasionally suggesting he might settle for something less than he promised. In a way though, Trump is just a sideshow. He's used the anger some on the right feel towards the act dubbed Obamacare to further his own ends, but he doesn't always seem to care. It's more likely he wants a legislative win to wave around like Neville Chamberlain returning from Munich with that cast-iron guarantee from his pal Adolf claiming the Germans will play nice. That it might hurt millions who only want to be healthy is of less importance than the immediate victory.

Enough of Trump, because quite frankly a lot of us have had enough. Although before we bid him farewell, it's worth noting he took to the air on his official administration show Fox and Friends to make his usual bag of misleading and incorrect claims that included bizarrely stating they had the votes to pass the Graham-Cassidy Bill if only one of their number wasn't in poor health.

But let's move onto that bill put forward by Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy. When it first appeared, Democrats were caught flat-footed and momentum quickly began to build. As before, it quickly unbuilt when some of the regular suspects like John McCain and Susan Collins backed away, unhappy at the cost it would impose on a large number of Americans finally in receipt of some kind of health coverage. Thus, on Tuesday the latest effort to fulfill a pledge stretching back years collapsed when Senate Leader Mitch McConnell refused to take it to a vote.

Celebrating these victories seems foolish for two reasons. First, we've been here before, and every time it looks like the GOP has been dealt a fatal blow, they come back with something else. They just can't shake Obamacare from their thoughts. Sure, all the something else's have failed, but one day they might not and then tens of millions could end up without access to healthcare. What a thing to have on your mind.

Second, it might not matter if they don't come up with anything. The White House and Republican controlled congress can do plenty to scupper Obamacare, both through the courts and by altering measures and restricting funding required to make the ACA work. Then everything could fall apart through neglect, dealing damage by default.

It's impossible to tell what the Republicans will do because Trump is as erratic a person as anyone has seen, and many elected representatives are stuck between an animated base determined to tear down Obama's legacy, and a fair percentage of supporters who benefit from the measures and will turn against them should they lose coverage.

It all combines to demonstrate a battle won does not mean the war is over. Complacency is a real risk. To break the cycle in Groundhog Day Bill Murray has to change. Here's hoping the Republicans manage the same journey.

What's Going On 

It's all about taxes again. Whenever something falls apart (and it's usually healthcare as outlined above), back to taxes the Republicans go. They want to slash them, because that's the way to boost the economy, and conveniently help the kind of people who tend to donate to the GOP. Not that the American tax code couldn't do with a little attention, bloated and riddled with loopholes as it currently is. But just what Trump wants to do about it is anyone's guess. We might go on a guessing a while yet as his speech on Wednesday hardly filled in the details.

The country at the heart of Europe, both economically and politically these days, went to polls with both predictable and unexpected results. Angela Merkel will start a fourth term as Chancellor of Germany, but she does so after receiving a vote share far lower than expected, the worst in 70 years for her bloc in fact. On top of that, the nationalist and frequently unpleasant right-wing AfD enters Parliament for the first time after gaining 13% of the vote. Even a country generally governed efficiently and effectively is not immune to the pressures bubbling up everywhere else.

Do we finally have movement when it comes to North Korea? It looks like China might be stepping up the implementation of U.N. sanctions against the rogue state by banning North Korean companies from operating in its territory. The closures will take place sometime in January. Hopefully this can be the start of something because the escalating war of words and missiles between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un keeps getting more terrifying.

Speak Up!

Late blooming modern soul legend Charles Bradley sadly passed away this week aged 68. A life that saw him living homeless as a teenager before hitchhiking across the country eventually took him to musical acclaim when he put out his debut album aged 62. Fellow artists have been quick to react to his passing:

Respect to Brother Charles. So Much Soul.

A post shared by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on Sep 23, 2017 at 10:55am PDT

 

We've mentioned "A Concert for Charlottesville: An Evening of Musical Unity" hosted by Dave Matthews Band before. Now that time has come around, the show taking place last Sunday. The free event that included performances from Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, and Ariana Grande has encouraged donations to benefit the "victims of the events of August 11 and 12 and their families, first responders, and organizations devoted to the promotion of healing, unity and justice in the Charlottesville community and nationally."

Last year former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick sparked something when he began taking a knee during the national anthem before NFL games to protest racial inequality in the country. The protest spread, recently drawing the ire of President Trump. While some are outraged, others have joined in. The latest is Stevie Wonder who took a knee with Kaepernick before performing at the Global Citizen Festival last Saturday. 

Song of the Week: The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die - "Gram"

Given we've been talking healthcare, the new single from Connecticut indie band The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die seems a fitting way to close. "Gram" targets the American healthcare system and the lack of accessible government-funded support for people often left in extremely difficult situations.

It's also a direct attack on pharmaceutical companies churning out the very opiates that have been destroying lives across the country. Enjoy seems the wrong word given the content.

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