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Lemonade: The Visuals

[ 8 ] May 6, 2016 |

First, I’d like to expound on my review of Beyonce’s visual album, “Lemonade.” I like some of the music, and I think one song–“All Night”–is superb. I think it’s all worth a look and listen. I’m keeping “Formation,” in my library. It’s a song I want to describe, but can’t. (Can anyone help me out here?) I think it’s the second-strongest single from the album. I also think “Freedom,” which sounds like it could have come from a Woodstock/Wattstax mashup concert is worth a listen. As is the Jack White collaboration, “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” Outside of that, I mostly just think the music was a nice atmospheric accompaniment to the album’s gorgeous visuals.

My co-blogger requested I talk more about those, so here goes…

“Lemonade” was filmed in New Orleans. New Orleans has never looked more beautiful. And ugly. And beautiful and ugly. And sad. And creepy. And stunning. And gritty. And haunted. I’m a big fan of the aesthetic taking ugly things and making them beautiful (even as they remain ugly, really). I loved the visuals in “Let the Right One In,” largely because I thought it was so spare and ugly and beautiful all at the same time. Now, obviously, New Orleans is a gorgeous town, but “Lemonade” wasn’t afraid to take you into a grim, abandoned parking lot, car garage, or humble residential area and overlay such potent imagery it was transformed. Suddenly it wasn’t a parking lot, it was a haunted parking lot–haunted with anger and perseverance and hope.

And, of course, there’s the stuff that’s not not ugly-beautiful, but beautiful-beautiful. The Louisiana coastline, the plantation, the abandoned stone wall overgrown with the greenest green you can imagine… A standout scene comes early in the film: there’s a large, elegant room (in the plantation?) that’s filled with water. An entire room, sitting silently in water. And Beyonce’s there, her hair floating around her in slow motion. And she looks like the world’s saddest mermaid. The imagery is nothing less than stunning. It will stay with you.

Finally, I want to talk about the people who populate this gorgeous, haunted world. They’re mostly women, black women. And they are often still, which I found fascinating. In scene after scene the camera would pan to women, mostly sitting or standing completely still, and it was so powerful. I felt like there was a defiance in the stillness; there was so much menace in that stillness.

One woman who didn’t stand still was Serena Williams, who made a cameo appearance in the film. I wanted to high five the screen when I saw she and Beyonce had effectively traded places in this segment. Beyonce had taken her place on Serena’s now-famous throne while Serena danced provocatively to the music. And in so doing, both women had been empowered. Amazing.


Donald Trump is a Terrible Presidential Candidate

[ 252 ] May 6, 2016 |


I am generally not inclined to be an optimist. But I think the 2016 presidential election is, in fact, a case where optimism is entirely justified:

The fundamental problem for the Republicans is that they’re already at a structural disadvantage in the Electoral College. The last six presidential elections have resulted in four very comfortable Democratic victories, a virtual tie resolved by the Supreme Court, and a narrow win by a wartime Republican incumbent in a decent economy—and George W. Bush was still less than 200,000 votes in Ohio away from a loss. The higher turnouts of presidential elections work against the GOP, and changing demographics are only making the problem worse. Barring economic catastrophe, a poor candidate for the Republicans is like handing an anvil to a mountain climber; they can’t really afford even a modest negative impact.


Let’s start with one state: Florida. It is enormously difficult to see any path for Republican victory that doesn’t include the Sunshine State. But it is very difficult to see Trump, who is likely to both mobilize a higher-than-usual minority turnout and fare even worse among such voters than Mitt Romney, winning a state that was roughly 40 percent African-American and Hispanic as of the 2010 Census—a percentage that is almost certainly higher in 2016. For what it’s worth, the early polling shows Clinton clobbering Trump in Florida.

Trump’s weakness with minority voters and educated professionals will also mean that he’s nearly drawing dead in increasingly blue Virginia, and he may well be an underdog in North Carolina as well. Losing all three states would essentially foreclose a Republican win.

Even assuming that Clinton merely holds Florida and Virginia, it’s not clear how Trump can win. He would have to have unusual success in the upper Midwest, but this is probably Republican wishful thinking.

If Trump loses Florida and Virginia, even winning Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania wouldn’t put him over the top. Adding Michigan would do it, but contrary to some assumptions, Michigan is not a swing state. Obama won it in 2012 by nearly 10 points against a quasi-native son Republican candidate, and that was in much worse economic circumstances and before Governor Rick Snyder drowned his party’s brand in the Flint River. Trump is not going to carry it. You would also have to be an extremely optimistic Republican to think Trump could capture the relatively diverse and urban state of Pennsylvania for the GOP for the first time since a much more moderate Republican carried it by less than two points in a landslide election in 1988.

After 2012, many Republicans were aware that the country’s demographics were tilting against them in presidential elections. Nominating Donald Trump perversely exacerbates these problems rather than alleviating them. This doesn’t guarantee a win for Hillary Clinton, but it does make it overwhelmingly likely.

There’s also the question of money and organization. Trump isn’t going into his own kick to fund a presidential general election campaign, and while I don’t think #NeverTrump is going to be much of a thing and that most Republicans will fall in line, if more GOP money men than usual decide not to give to Trump this matters more than usual.

Never say never again, but Clinton — despite not being a particularly good general election candidate — is a yoooooooge favorite.

Raise the Wage

[ 57 ] May 6, 2016 |


How do you create greater economic justice in Washington, DC? Raise the minimum wage to $15:

Raising the minimum wage in the District from $11.50 to $15 an hour could net 114,000 workers in the region up to $2,900 in additional wages a year, serving as “a powerful and much-needed step to ensure workers in the Washington area can achieve a decent quality of life.”

That’s according to a new analysis from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute on the impacts of incrementally raising the minimum wage in the nation’s capital to $15 by 2020, which is being proposed both in a ballot initiative backed by labor and social justice groups and in legislation introduced by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

The analysis finds that the 114,000 workers — 14 percent of whom live in the District — could stand to make an additional $329 million in wages under a $15 minimum wage. Almost half of those would be African American, and close to 60 percent would come from households where the family income is below $75,000 per year.

“By raising the wages of roughly one-fifth of the District’s private-sector workers, the measure would strengthen many low- and middle-income households’ spending power, improve their living standards, and bolster the region’s economic vitality,” concludes the analysis.

The organization’s assessment buttresses the arguments made by groups and elected officials pushing the $15 minimum wage: In an area that’s growing increasingly expensive and unequal, giving low-wage workers a pay raise is a needed step towards helping them stay afloat.

But it also marks the start of what is likely to be a spirited debate over the merits of raising the minimum wage, with local business groups standing at the ready to unveil their own studies arguing that while a higher wage may help workers get by, it will also mean that employers either create fewer jobs or more to jurisdictions — like Virginia — where the minimum wage remains much lower, at $7.25.

But won’t raising the minimum wage lead to higher unemployment? Well, the evidence suggests that employers have lied about this since the Fair Labor Standards Act created the minimum wage, because an examination of the issue suggests that if anything, a higher minimum wage may create more jobs.

If the claims of minimum-wage opponents are akin to saying “the sky is falling,” this report is an effort to check whether the sky did indeed fall. In this report, we examine the historical data relating to the 22 increases in the federal minimum wage between 1938 and 2009 to determine whether or not these claims—that if you raise wages, you will lose jobs—can be substantiated. We examine employment trends before and after minimum-wage increases, looking both at the overall labor market and at key indicator sectors that are most affected by minimum-wage increases. Rather than an academic study that seeks to measure causal effects using techniques such as regression analysis, this report assesses opponents’ claims about raising the minimum wage on their own terms by examining simple indicators and job trends.

The results were clear: these basic economic indicators show no correlation between federal minimum-wage increases and lower employment levels, even in the industries that are most impacted by higher minimum wages. To the contrary, in the substantial majority of instances (68 percent) overall employment increased after a federal minimum-wage increase. In the most substantially affected industries, the rates were even higher: in the leisure and hospitality sector employment rose 82 percent of the time following a federal wage increase, and in the retail sector it was 73 percent of the time. Moreover, the small minority of instances in which employment—either overall or in the indicator sectors—declined following a federal minimum-wage increase all occurred during periods of recession or near recession. That pattern strongly suggests that the few instances of such declines in employment are better explained by the overall national business cycle than by the minimum wage.

These employment trends after federal minimum-wage increases are not surprising, as they are in line with the findings of the substantial majority of modern minimum-wage research. As Goldman Sachs analysts recently noted, citing a state-of-the-art 2010 study by University of California economists that examined job-growth patterns across every border in the U.S. where one county had a higher wage than a neighboring county, “the economic literature has typically found no effect on employment” from recent U.S. minimum-wage increases.[1] This report’s findings mirror decades of more sophisticated academic research, providing simple confirmation that opponents’ perennial predictions of job losses when minimum-wage increases are proposed are rooted in ideology, not evidence.

Raise that wage!

Paulitics as usual

[ 76 ] May 6, 2016 |

Paul Ryan may or may not be sincere in his reticence about Trump (it’s hard to believe he’s sincere about anything that isn’t Paul Ryan). But he’s using it to pretend he is a Reasonable Statesman.

I’m not sure if he’ll have to hand in his teahaddi decoder ring, but he’s sure to find favor among people who like to pretend Republicans aren’t a pack of bigots.

“The bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee,” Ryan said. “I don’t want to underplay what he accomplished. … But he also inherits something very special, that’s very special to a lot of us. This is the party of Lincoln and Reagan and Jack Kemp.

You know, dead people.

And we don’t always nominate a Lincoln or a Reagan every four years, but we hope that our nominee aspires to be Lincoln- or Reagan-esque — that that person advances the principles of our party and appeals to a wide, vast majority of Americans.”

“And so, I think what is necessary to make this work, for this to unify, is to actually take our principles and advance them. And that’s what we want to see. Saying we’re unified doesn’t in and of itself unify us, but actually taking the principles that we all believe in, showing that there’s a dedication to those, and running a principled campaign that Republicans can be proud about and that can actually appeal to a majority of Americans — that, to me, is what it takes to unify this party.”

As always, a majority of Americans excludes the people who typically avoid the GOP like it was a dose of the clap.

“But I also appreciate that we can make our own history”

[ 21 ] May 6, 2016 |


The title is a quote from Louisville mayor Greg Fischer, justifying the dismantling of a large monument in his city honoring treason in defense of slavery.

A number of cities across the country have or are currently engaged in debates about the place of Confederate monuments on public ground. New Orleans recently voted to remove four monuments, but has yet to follow through. Only the University of Texas at Austin has removed Civil War related monuments from campus. Today, the city of Louisville and the University of Louisville announced that a major Confederate monument will be removed immediately from public land adjacent to the campus.

The fourteen minute presentation is worth watching. You can even see that the equipment behind the monument is ready to go. What I find interesting is that not even the development of the nearby “Freedom Park” was sufficient to quell concerns about the presence of a Confederate monument. We often hear that additions to the commemorative landscape allow for monuments to be placed in conversation with one another, but that apparently was not considered as an alternative to removal.

Take ’em down.

Rising Suicide Rates

[ 87 ] May 5, 2016 |

Not only is the United States’s suicide rate rising, but other wealthy nations as well.

From 1999 to 2014, the suicide rate rose by 24%. The numbers are adjusted to take account of ageing. Men shoot themselves; women take poison. There has been a rise in suffocation and strangulation.

The finding fits with other melancholy ones from economists, including Anne Case and Angus Deaton, who have pointed to declining life-expectancy for poor whites, and Raj Chetty of Stanford and his colleagues at Harvard and elsewhere, who show how inequality correlates with illness. Everything seems to point in the same direction, to a national malaise, challenging the idea that America’s story is one of inexorable progress. Yet some caution is order. The suicide rate declined steadily from 1986 until 2000, the date the CDC paper takes as its starting point. What is happening in America is a return to the mid-1980s rather than a leap into some lethal, dystopian future.

It is also worth noting that a similar pattern can be seen some other countries. Using a database from the OECD, and filling in a few gaps from other sources, we have compared America’s suicide rates with those elsewhere. The OECD data do not correspond exactly with those produced by the CDC because of the different ways their respective statisticians adjust the raw numbers for ageing. But they show that America’s suicide rate comes out considerably lower than those of France or Belgium. And the recent uptick is mirrored in Britain and the Netherlands, among other countries.

Maybe the question is why it fell in the late 20th century?

India’s Nuclear Decision

[ 4 ] May 5, 2016 |
Agni-II missile (Republic Day Parade 2004).jpeg

“Agni-II missile (Republic Day Parade 2004)” by Antônio Milena. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 br via Commons.


My latest at the Diplomat took a look at the most recent research on why India developed nuclear weapons:

The question of weapons and prestige has bedeviled political scientists and the answer seems to be: “Both, but more of one or the other under particular circumstances.” Recent work by Jayita Sarkar (reviewed by Sumit Ganguly) helps contribute to this question, at least in the context of India’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Sarkar argues that recent documentary evidence supports a security-oriented explanation for the Indian nuclear weapons program. Indian nuclear insecurity, and in particular, the detonation of a Chinese hydrogen device in 1967, convinced India that it could not defend against the PLA without the assistance of nuclear weapons. India’s commitment to non-alignment made the country particularly vulnerable, as it could not depend on either a Soviet or a U.S. nuclear guarantee.

Cuba and Puerto Rico

[ 132 ] May 5, 2016 |


Quite the irony in the Caribbean:

Two Caribbean islands are at a crossroads in their relationship with the US. One is plagued by corruption and debt, and dotted with crumbling homes, abandoned by families for the imperial power nearby. The other is Cuba.

Who won the cold war again?

Within 24 hours on Sunday, Puerto Rico’s governor, Alejandro García Padilla, announced that the American territory would default on nearly $370m of debt, after years of failure to put the island’s finances – or its relationship with the US – in order. The next morning a cruise ship full of tourists set sail for Havana, bringing American dreams, dollars and capitalist sense into Cuba’s future. Once seen as parallel case studies in cold war politics, the islands have seemingly switched roles.

For half a century, the US dominated Puerto Rico and Cuba after wrenching them away from Spain, but by the 1950s the islands parted ways. Cubans threw off a US-backed dictator, found new patrons in the Soviet Union and embraced communism. What nationalist fervor Puerto Rico had was quashed, and the colony stayed bound to US-controlled capitalism as a “free associated state”.

“When the cold war was going on they were like showcases for the world to see which system actually works,” said Harry Franqui-Rivera, a researcher at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. “A successful Cuba made the United States look bad and if Puerto Rico failed it would make the United States look worse.”

While Cuba-U.S. relations are finally thawing, Puerto Rico finds itself under the control of Wall Street capitalists holding debt. Those debt holders are trying to Shock Doctrine the island.

Then Congress let corporate tax breaks expire, and Puerto Rico’s economy ground to a halt, dependent on aid, restricted in trade, and increasingly unable to enforce its own laws. Last year its governor called the island’s $70bn debt “unpayable”, and the supreme court and Congress will consider whether to give San Juan bankruptcy powers it lacks. The island also faces crises in education and healthcare, and suffered the first US death linked to the Zika virus last week.

But the clamor on the mainland is against emergency aid, and only a few voices for it. Pulitzer-winning playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda has called for help, while a group calling itself the Center for Individual Freedom has aligned itself with Wall Street firms holding the island’s debt, and spent about $200,000 on ads urging Congress not to give the island bankruptcy powers.

“Their economy is so much under the gun of history and US and foreign investor control,” said Lillian Guerra, a historian at the University of Florida, “that there’s no solution there on the island alone.

“The US government, to the degree it has any interest in Puerto Rico, is interested in keeping it as stable as possible because 10% of the landmass is military bases.”

The last sentence gets to the fundamental problem. The U.S. government must have an interest in Puerto Rico because the island is part of the United States. But policymakers pay almost no attention to it and it languishes as a colony without the rights of a state or of an independent nation. Already struggling with poverty, taxes on the poor have been raised in order to try and pay off these debts. Meanwhile, with Puerto Ricans having U.S. citizenship, they are fleeing to the mainland as fast as they can.

I know that in Puerto Rico, opinion differs as to what should happen to the island in the long-term, but it certainly seems to me that statehood is the just position to take. I certainly understand why independence would be appealing, but the economic conditions post-independence would probably be even worse than they are now. And the current situation seems increasingly untenable.

Wilmore, Obama, and Blackness

[ 216 ] May 5, 2016 |


Interesting essay about Larry Wilmore’s “controversial” White House Correspondents Dinner bit.

Every now and then, however, we’ll see President Obama being black. There was, of course, the famous campaign trail fist bump with Michelle in 2008. Then there were the different handshakes he deployed during a locker room meet and greet—one for a white guy and one for black basketball star Kevin Durant.

Certainly Obama’s singing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” at a fundraiser at Harlem’s Apollo Theater was far more soulful than it would have been in a different setting, with a predominately white audience. And the president’s speech that culminated with a touching performance of “Amazing Grace” could have happened only in a Charleston church touched by racially charged violence.

Wilmore knows what all black men know: There are at least two guys lurking under the surface.

And after more than seven years, Wilmore wanted to be honest about it in a way that, while toeing a line between acceptable and objectionable, was culturally familiar.

Of course, the president had pulled off his own code switch at the end of his standup routine.

“Obama out,” he said, kissing the peace sign and dropping the mic.

In the final year of his administration, he reminded the room that even though eight years in the Oval Office may have aged him, he was still the cool black guy from Chicago.

And with Wilmore’s code switch, he was able to tell a president that has been criticized for being both “too black” and “not black enough” that black men are proud to be his brothers.

Also, Van Jones is a tool.

Does the First Amendment Protect Corruption?

[ 53 ] May 5, 2016 |


Bob McDonnell is a very special man. He’s claiming that his corruption should be protected by the First Amendment.

McDonnell’s bribery charge centered on his receipt of about $175,000 in cash and gifts from businessman Jonnie Williams. Aside from the Rolex, Williams gave McDonnell and his wife several large loans, payments for their daughters’ weddings, and a shopping trip to Bergdorf Goodman. The jury found that in exchange, McDonnell tried to help Williams and his company, Star Scientific, promote a dietary supplement called Anatabloc. Williams had wanted Virginia’s public universities to perform costly studies on Anatabloc that could lead to its approval by the FDA. The governor and his wife directed staff to set up meetings between Williams and state employees, and hosted the launch of Anatabloc at the Governor’s Mansion. At one point, McDonnell had even pulled a bottle of Anatabloc from his pocket and pitched it to the state’s secretary of administration, who controlled the state employee health plans.

At trial, McDonnell claimed that his support for Anatabloc was unrelated to Williams’s gifts. But the jury disagreed. Among other pieces of evidence, jury members learned that six minutes after e-mailing Williams about the status of a $50,000 loan, McDonnell had texted an aide about the proposed Anatabloc studies. The jury heard testimony that Maureen McDonnell told Williams, “The governor says it’s okay for me to help you … but I need you to help me.” The jury convicted McDonnell under several federal laws that punish the exchange of money for official government acts.

McDonnell and his supporters argue that even if he did help with Anatabloc in exchange for Williams’s gifts, the First Amendment protects his conduct—Williams’s gifts were simply buying access to the government, letting him make his case for a project that did not ultimately succeed. McDonnell points to the Supreme Court majority’s holdings in two recent campaign-finance cases—Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC—that narrowed the definition of corruption. In McCutcheon, the Court identified “only one legitimate governmental interest for restricting campaign finances: corruption.” In both McCutcheon and in Citizens United, which invalidated limits on political spending, the Court concluded that “ingratiation and access … are not corruption.”

If Scalia was alive, I would guess the Supreme Court would uphold McDonnell’s absurd claims. As is, they at the very least won’t be roundly rejected.

Global Environmental Roundup

[ 9 ] May 5, 2016 |


For whatever reason, I have a lot of small stories about global environmental issues in my blog list so let’s do them at all at once.

Between poor governance and drought, Zimbabwe’s wildlife refuge are evidently overpopulated with large mammals the nation can’t provide for and so the nation is going to sell off a bunch of elephants to other nations. Given that they sold a bunch to China last year, a nation that routinely violated CITES in order to turn rare animals into consumer products, this probably will not go well.

In Nicaragua, drought and climate change are adding to discomfort over the Chinese building a shipping canal across the nation and have led to large-scale protests against the project. This is one way where we see climate change interact with other social and political problems to create higher tensions. That the center of these protests is in the heavily indigenous Atlantic side of the country is also important here, given the Sandinistas war with the Misquitos in the 1980s and the long-standing tensions between the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the nation.

Myanmar is banning logging. The military government used the nation’s vast forests to fund itself, mostly selling the wood to China. Deforestation is rapidly becoming a major issue in the nation. The new government banning logging is a real challenge to the military’s still significant power. We’ll see if the government can enforce this.

Today is African World Heritage Day. This is an interesting piece on how climate change could impact Africa’s cultural heritage:

The threat posed to Africa’s world heritage sites by climate change was the subject of a recent story by the Voice of America’s Africa Service. A full audio clip of the story can be found by clicking the link below. In the story, reporter Adam Phillips looked at the threat and what’s being done to address it — including interviews with several US-based professionals who are working with African colleagues to safeguard the continent’s heritage.

Coastal Africa is obviously affected by rising sea levels said WMF’s Ackerman, impacting places like Cape Coast in Ghana, another fortification on the water. Ackerman adds that many of Africa’s cultural and historic sites are threatened by lack of water due to human-caused climate change, not too much water. The result is drought or creeping desertification that threatens sites like Mauritania’s Chinguetto Mosque, where the World Monuments Fund is at work. The site was a great medieval center of Islamic learning that sits on a landscape that has become so dry it can no longer grow food.

US/ICOMOS member Adam Markham, deputy director of the climate and energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists and a co-author of UCS’s Landmarks at Risk report, was also interviewed for the story. According to Markham, rising sea level causes increased flooding for cities on or near the coasts where most people live. And the storm surges that result from increasingly frequent “super-storms” and other extreme weather events make severe floods extremely likely.

Climate change impacts know no national boundaries, with otherwise-unconnected communities facing common climate change risk profiles. Desertification threatens places as divergent as Africa and the United States while coastal communities across the globe face a common threat from sea level rise. This dynamic places an enormous premium on cultural heritage professionals who can share learned experiences internationally.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi is urging India’s prime minister Narendra Modi to crack down on the human trafficking in children, which has increased because of India’s worst drought in decades.

“Owing to this drought and the on-going water crisis, children are becoming increasingly vulnerable. In the coming months, there is an increased risk of lakhs (hundreds of thousands) of children becoming victims of these circumstances.”

The government estimates more than 330 million people – almost a quarter of India’s population – have been hit by the scarcity of water in states such as Maharashtra in the west and Karnataka in the south.

As crops wither and livestock perish, ten of thousands of people are migrating in search of food, water and jobs, leaving behind women, children and older family members who are vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers.

Figures given by Satyarthi’s office showed the number of children dropping out of school in the ten drought-affected states had risen by 22 percent, while child trafficking cases had increased by 24 percent.

The Long, Long, Long Road to Comprehensive Health Care Reform

[ 156 ] May 5, 2016 |


K-Drum’s history of health care reform attempts is essential, and his conclusion is entirely correct:

This is what politics looks like. Every single Democratic president in my lifetime has tried to pass health care reform. Some of them partially succeeded and some failed entirely, but all of them tried. The two main things standing in the way of getting more have been (a) Republicans and (b) liberals who refused to compromise on single-payer.

Contra Cooper, George Bush did not hand Obama a “great big majority.” Democrats in 2009 had a big majority in the House and a zero-vote majority in the Senate. That’s the thinnest possible majority you can have, and this is the reason Obamacare is so limited. To pass, it had to satisfy the 40th most conservative senator, so that’s what it did.

There’s been a long and ultimately sterile argument over whether Obama could have gotten more. I think the evidence suggests he got as much as he could, but the truth is that we’ll never know for sure. And it doesn’t change the bigger picture anyway: thousands of Democrats—politicians, activists, think tankers, and more—have literally spent decades working their fingers to the bone creating plan after plan; selling these plans to the public; and trying dozens of different ways to somehow push health care reform through Congress. For most of that time it’s been a hard, grinding, thankless task, and we still don’t have what we ultimately want. But in the end, all of these hacks and wonks have made a difference and helped tens of millions of people. They deserve our respect, not a bit of casually tossed off disparagement just because they didn’t propose single-payer health care as their #1 priority every single year of their lives.

Evidently, a lot of people wonder about why Obama/Reid/Pelosi weren’t able to get more. I’m increasingly amazed they were able to pass anything.

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