41 thoughts on “News/Politics 5-5-17

  1. Debra and AJ, Your man is on a roll. He didn’t help get the healthcare bill passed, but he didn’t do anything to hurt its chances either. Then last night he met with the leader of Australia without fighting.

    Congratulations! You must feel like the parents of a child who was successfully taken out in public without any tantrums.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Chas, Debra and I have very different views about the federal government’s ability to create jobs. I will let Debra express her view as I would not do it justice. I take the Reaganite position that the best thing the federal government can do to create jobs is to get out of the way of private enterprise.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ricky @7:22 I do not advocate digging holes and filling them. But the government should take care of the dam in California that is in dire need of repair/replacement even though it has fallen out of the national news headline. And there are many other repair/ replacement projects that need to be done. Some nuclear plants are aging, and foresight is preferable to clean-up. This is in the public interest.

    Infrastructure should be a high priority, and will have the added benefit of creating some jobs. Unfortunately, for some people the only significant tragedies are the ones close to them. So the Freedom Caucus will probably oppose any and all endeavors unless they are actually all sitting on the next bridge to collapse or downstream of the next failed levee….. which could, on second thought, solve some problems. But that is an extremely uncharitable thought, which I shamefacedly banish, without reservation, never to be thought of again. Never, ever, ever. ;–)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. By the way, I read the Kevin Williamson piece linked at NRO yesterday. It was very good. And the comments that followed were almost as good as the article itself. Williamson engaged several of the commenters. They were very interesting until the very end, when it kind of devolved into a mindless rant (the commenters not Williamson).

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  5. That Williamson piece was sad. I was born in West Texas. When my son was at Tech, he told me how the culture had deteriorated among the young and middle-aged folks. The 90 years olds were just as I remembered them.

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  6. I am in favor of repair and upgrading of infrastructure.. What bugs me is that we have doubled the national debt in eight years had have nothing.
    NOTHING
    to show for it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Lots of healthcare, lots of disability payments, lots of food stamps, lots of bailouts, lots of unemployment insurance.

    Lots of “compassion”.

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  8. Chas, After the stimulus package passed, I saw a few road projects in CT and elsewhere that had signs letting people know that the work was being done with stimulus money. Most of these projects were fairly small.

    There was a much larger public utility project for electricity and high-speed internet undertaken in Chattanooga, which its detractors pegged as a boondoggle and a bad deal for consumers. But that is not my experience here. The electricity here is cheaper than our neighboring county, in which I also lived for several years.

    The high-speed internet is wonderfully reliable. It would be very unsatisfactory to have to go back to Comcast/Charter (which I also had for many years). The service is light years better. We live in a windy area. If the service is taken out in a wind storm, it has usually been restored within an hour, and often in much less than an hour. They are always on top of things. I had a very different experience with Comcast.

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  9. Democrats and their minions in the press continue to push this fake news story, despite no evidence to back it.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2017/05/04/sen-feinstein-no-evidence-trump-campaign-collusion-russia-time/

    “Asked Wednesday whether or not she had seen any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Senator Dianne Feinstein said she hadn’t.

    “I know that you and some of your colleagues from the Senate Intelligence Committee drove over to Langley, Virginia yesterday to CIA headquarters and you were briefed,” CNN host Wolf Blitzer said. He continued, “You don’t have to provide us with any classified information, Senator, but do you believe, do you have evidence that there was in fact collusion between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign?”

    “Not at this time,” Feinstein replied.”
    ———

    “Add Sen. Feinstein’s comments yesterday to that list and you have two months of Democrats hinting but not offering any proof. And that’s just the elected politicians. Progressive media people like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow have been much less restrained. From the Intercept:

    The Intercept conducted a quantitative study of all 28 TRMS episodes in the six-week period between February 20 and March 31. Russia-focused segments accounted for 53 percent of these broadcasts.

    That figure is conservative, excluding segments where Russia was discussed, but was not the overarching topic.”

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  10. Women are more likely than men to want to stifle free speech on college campuses. Especially Democrat women.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2017/05/04/poll-plurality-democrats-say-campuses-not-allow-speakers-whose-words-thought-hateful-offensive/

    “Via WaPo, it’s worth noting that the question asked by Morning Consult here mentioned “universities,” not public universities specifically. The latter implicates the First Amendment, the former doesn’t (or rather, doesn’t always). But there’s value to the broader wording: What they’re testing is people’s moral commitment to tolerating “hate speech,” stripped of any legal niceties that might influence their opinion. Forget what the Constitution says for a minute. Should higher education let people speak on campus if what they say is regarded as hateful or offensive by some? Emphasis: Some.

    Sure, says a narrow plurality of Democrats. And they’re one of the few demographics who do.”
    ——–

    “Among the dozens and dozens of subgroups for which Morning Consult has numbers, only four crack 40 percent support for barring speakers based. One is Democrats generally at 41/39 and two others are parts of the Democratic base — African-Americans, who split 42/31, and Democratic women, the single most supportive subgroup of hate-speech bans in this poll at 47/33. (The fourth group is homemakers, who split evenly at 40/40.) Women, in fact, are significantly more willing to ban speakers from campus than men are regardless of their political affiliation. Both among Democrats and Republicans and across the wider population, the gap between females and males is double digits.”

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  11. Anyway, the money that was spent on infrastructure continues to be productive–attracting businesses and providing residents and tourists with the amenities of modern civilization. The money spent on food stamps and unemployment benefits, helped to tide over many suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed people who otherwise would have been wandering our streets.

    My Dad is 91. He grew up in a coal mining camp in VA during the Depression. He tells me that feeding the poor (or in his case, the poorer) was just a way of life—it’s something that happened every single day. This mother made gravy and biscuits for their family of 13, and each meal she made a little extra so that the people who knocked on the door could have some too. It wasn’t much, but they always had something to give. And people knocked–sometimes several times a day. Our family was blessed to have employment when so many others didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I received a letter from my congress critter yesterday

    Thank you for contacting me regarding the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

    Obamacare is failing the American people, and we cannot sit back and allow the law to implode. Premiums for individuals in Obamacare exchange plans have increased by an average of 25% in 2017. Right here in Alabama, rates have gone up by a whopping average of 58% in the benchmark silver plan. Just as bad, I continue to hear from people who have had their health insurance plans canceled altogether or who can no longer afford their premiums. Others have a health insurance card, but with multi-thousand dollar Obamacare deductibles, they are unable to even see their doctor. This is unacceptable.

    More fundamentally, Obamacare is unsustainable and collapsing. Insurance companies are not required to offer coverage in the Obamacare exchange and more continue to pull out. The entire state of Alabama is down to just a single option on the Obamacare exchange. Next year, millions of Americans will not have a single insurer to choose from on the exchange, making them unable to receive any federal assistance under the law. As Aetna CEO Mark Betrolini recently said, Obamacare is in a “death spiral,” and it is the American people who are going to be hurt. Doing nothing is not an option.

    Americans deserve an accessible and affordable health care system that promotes quality care and peace of mind. Our nation’s health care system should empower patients and support innovation. Rather than top down, one-size-fits-all insurance plans provided by the government mandates, we need innovation and competition in our health insurance market to drive down costs and make health insurance affordable.

    That is where the American Health Care Act comes in. The AHCA repeals the individual and employer mandate penalties to allow workers, families, and employers greater flexibility to find health care plans that are more affordable and work for them. For low and middle income families who do not receive insurance through a government program or their employer, the bill offers monthly tax credits to help them purchase affordable coverage.

    The core focus of the bill is to repair damage to insurance markets caused by Obamacare. Beginning in 2018, the bill provides immediate funding to help calm the individual market and lower premiums. Specifically, the bill contains a premium stability program modeled after the successful program enacted in Maine. In Maine, individuals in their 20s saw premium savings of nearly $5,000 per year and individuals in their 60s saw savings of more than $7,000 a year. As premiums dropped, younger and healthier individuals entered the market. This increased total enrollment in Maine and saved their citizens thousands of dollars a year on their health insurance. Such savings are in stark contrast to what we have seen under Obamacare.

    Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation being spread about the AHCA. Let me be clear: the bill specifically prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to anyone with pre-existing conditions. The bill continues to require insurance companies to allow young adults up to the age of 26 to stay on their parent’s insurance, maintains the ban on lifetime or annual limits, and prevents insurance companies from charging women more than men. As the Maine example demonstrates, the bill should decrease costs for seniors. Additionally, the House passed legislation ensuring that every provision in the AHCA will apply to Members of Congress and their staffs. The bill does allow states to apply for waivers of certain provisions of Obamacare to lower costs for its citizens or increase access to care. However, the bill provides important safeguards for individuals with pre-existing conditions if a state does receive such a waiver.

    After thoroughly reading and analyzing the bill, I voted in favor of the American Health Care Act when it passed the House on May 4th, 2017. I am confident the AHCA is an important step in the process of fixing our health insurance markets. The legislation now moves to the Senate, where I expect additional changes will occur. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to improve the bill as the legislative process continues. Please be assured I will keep your thoughts in mind.

    Again, thank you for reaching out to my office. I am honored to serve as your voice in Congress, and I hope you will stay in touch. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can ever be of assistance to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A couple days ago, I wrote, in reply to a comment from Roscuro. . .

    “What I have observed from my libertarian friends online is that there are those who hold to a pure libertarian doctrine (somewhat naively, I believe), & a whole bunch of others who have more realistic ideals.”

    I forgot to finish what I actually was trying to say. 🙂

    What I meant to add is that there is quite a spectrum of what various libertarians believe. Most of them know that some government is indeed a good thing, but strive to keep it as small as possible. They have a lot in common with the Tea Party people in that regard.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. So, does this mean that the people who are insured under the expanded Medicaid program are going to be dumped off without insurance? I’m still not sure what to make of the new proposal, but I’m pretty sure it needs to be changed unless some Democrats are supporting it also. Healthcare affects all citizens and residents and it should be bi-partisan. That was one of the big problems with Obamacare. Well, one of many…

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  15. A lot of my wealthy friends turned in clunkers and now their kids drive what we’re once brand new cars– which must be six or so years old now. 😦

    Oh, and to help with that boondoggle out here in CA we have to get our cars smogged every year, now. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  16. At $40 each, there should be quite a nice sum in that account at year’s end. But, then our cars are 13 and 11 years old.

    (Note, the Saturn will be driven until collapse. It’s such a great car, General Motors refused to keep it in production. Our son’s is 20 years old.)

    Liked by 2 people

  17. The total debt run up by the Obama admin, and how it was spent has no simple answer. Some of the things Ricky mentioned, UC, SS. and many others.

    But Obama stimulus bill on the other hand has an easier answer. And most of it didn’t go for infrastructure improvement, that was just used to sell it. I fear much the same would happen again. Plenty of political payback, this time for the Republican side, but very little infrastructure improvement for us commoners.

    http://www.ocregister.com/2013/03/26/ron-hart-where-did-the-stimulus-money-go/

    “So where did all that sweet stimulus money go? Of the money spent in swing state Wisconsin, 80 percent went to public sector unions – those with already locked-in jobs. In fact, right-to-work states got $266 less per person in stimulus money than heavily unionized states. Where Democrats had a vast majority of representatives, their states got $460 per person more.

    When Obama signed the stimulus bill in 2009, he promised it would provide “help for those hardest hit by our economic crisis.” Clearly, it did not. The states hurt the most, the ones with more foreclosures, unemployment and bankruptcy, got less money than richer states closer to power. Washington, D.C. got the most stimulus money: $7,602 per capita.

    The stimulus was a huge political slush fund with little accountability. Obama credits the passage of his stimulus bill to people having no idea how Democrats were going to spend the money.”
    ——–

    “Rich Democrat donors also got payback. The farcical “green” energy company Solyndra defaulted on more than half a billion dollars of our money, while Obama mega-donor George Kaiser finagled his interest ahead of ours. Other beneficiaries of Obama’s largesse for dubious deals include Larry Page and Sergey Brin (if you Google them you will find they founded Google) for Tesla Motors, NRG Solar owners Warren Buffet and Steve Cohen, and Siga Tech owner Ronald Pearlman. All told, more than 75 percent of stimulus grants and money for such “businesses” found their way to big Obama supporters.

    Even creepy crony capitalist of the century Al Gore got his snout in the trough. His investment in Fisker Automotive scored a $528 million loan guarantee. Can you imagine the risks you could take if you were given $528 million that you were not personally on the hook for? Of course all these businesses are tanking or have tanked already.

    Al Gore said the stimulus plan worked. He also thinks his Weight Watchers plan is working.”
    ——————————————–

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/03/23/where-did-stimulus-money-really-go.html

    “The stimulus money may have failed to go to the states the president promised, but a clear pattern does emerge. Stimulus dollars were highly correlated to which political party controlled the state: Having an entirely Democrat congressional delegation in 2009, when the bill passed, increases the per capita stimulus dollars that the state receives per person by $460. In addition, the states that Obama won by the largest percentage margin in 2008 got the most money.

    Even within states much of this money went to relatively well-to-do public sector unions and wealthy Democrats worth hundreds of millions of dollars or billions of dollars. Billionaire Democrat donors who received a lot of money from the Obama administration include: Solyndra owner George Kaiser; Tesla Motors owners Leon Musk, Larry Page and Sergey Brin; NRG Energy owners Warren Buffett, Steven Cohen, and Carl Icahn; Abound Solar Manufacturing’s Pat Stryker; and Siga Technologies’ Ronald Perelman. Among other wealthy Democrat winners were former Vice President Al Gore whose investment in Fisker Automotive was rewarded with a $529 million loan guarantee. All together about 75 percent of loans and grants have been given out to companies run by Obama supporters.

    The Stimulus didn’t create new jobs. Whether the government has to borrow or impose new taxes or print up money, the money the government gave away wasn’t free. The money had to come from someplace.

    For all the concern about Democrats helping the poor, they were merely in it to help themselves. The Stimulus was simply a massive partisan wealth transfer — the largest single transfer in American history.”

    Liked by 1 person

  18. A trump infrastructure bill would probably be as wasteful as Obama’s stimulus. Lots of political payoffs. Lots of waste. Lots of talk about “shovel ready jobs”.

    And where would that spending take place? In the Midwest where people are leaving in droves? Or should it be in the South where our roads are actually overcrowded because of our immigrants from cooler regions?

    Who is willing to pay more income taxes to pay for that infrastructure spending? How many of the 47% who pay no income taxes are willing to start paying income taxes to pay for infrastructure? Unless we pay for it, it goes on the tab of our kids and grandkids. That tab is big enough already.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I have not read the actual contents of the healthcare bill, but one thing struck me when reading about the concern, and the dismissal of the concern, about allowing insurance companies to bar those with pre-existing health conditions. Speaking as someone with a pre-existing health condition, asthma, as well as someone with experience in the healthcare field (I’m currently taking a course about Global Health and what contributes to/endangers the health of a population), diminishing health coverage for chronic conditions may appear to be cost saving in the short term, but in the long term, it will cost a lot more. Take, for example, my health condition, asthma. Those without insurance are frequently unable to afford the inhalers to treat the condition. The inhalers are very expensive, especially the inhalers for long term treatment, which can run between 60 to 120 dollars per month. However, without the long term inhalers, the number of visits to the emergency room and hospitalizations will rise, in addition to the lost days of productivity, since asthma exacerbations lead to an inability to perform routine tasks due to breathlessness. In other words, lack of insurance coverage for asthmatics not only raises healthcare costs, but also impacts the economy. From a public health perspective, the entire population benefits from ensuring that those with chronic conditions receive timely treatment.

    As an aside, even conditions that those with poor diet and lack of exercise are at increased risk of developing, such as Type II diabetes and hypertension are not wholly due to lifestyle choices. There is a genetic predisposition to developing both those conditions, so that someone who does everything right may still become disabled by a stroke or need anti-diabetic medication. The idea that those with chronic conditions are primarily unworthy slobs is a lazy and uninformed idea.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. Like this little Jewel of Southern Alabama that has several accidents a day and can delay a commute for hours. I was just ahead of the accident in 1995 that is mentioned. It was clear halfway across and then complete fog and zero visibility. In 2015 Traffic count records I just found between 67,000 and 75,000 vehicles cross it a day. I am positive there are more now than then. (Numbers are skewed somewhat because hazardous cargo has to exit the Bayway and go over the Cochran/Africatown Bridge.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jubilee_Parkway

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Doesn’t the Army Corp of Engineers look at infrastructure and organize some of these major projects? I would be willing to allocate a huge chunk of the defense budget to get some of these repairs and upgrades moving.

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  22. So since I’ve been awakened from my current events slumber (momentarily only, you can understand why) I saw this:

    LA City Council votes to support President Trump impeachment

    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution today stating that President Donald Trump should be investigated for any high crime or misdemeanor sufficient to warrant impeachment proceedings.

    The resolution calls for the city’s 2017-18 federal legislative program to include support for any legislative action to investigate whether Trump has violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution or committed any other high crime or misdemeanor. …

    … The resolution passed on a 10-0 vote. Councilman Mitchell Englander, the City Council’s lone Republican, was not present during the vote, although he was in the chamber immediately before and after.

    Several dozen members from a group called West Valley Resistance were in the audience for the vote and burst out in applause when the resolution passed. Blumenfield credited the group with pushing him to bring the resolution forward. …

    Liked by 2 people

  23. West Valley Resistance? If they were in Montana with a name like that they’d likely be labeled a domestic terrorist group. Keep the state of denial warm and cozy DJ. If things go sideways, some of us may join you there. :–)

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Noooooooooooo! That’s just figure of speech Ricky, like ‘everybody says so’ when of course you don’t mean every single person on the planet says so. Rather that everyone who is in the comparison pool—like Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Canada! And that is true!

    (Muttering to self: It’s still Day 3, it’s still Day 3, it’s still Day 3)

    Liked by 1 person

  25. It’s up to the Senate now. But good luck with the reconciliation process. Hopefully one of their adjustments is to the pre-existing conditions portion. Health insurance is supposed to help treat your illness, not profit extra off the fact that you are ill. Just because someone is forced to change plans doesn’t mean the next insurance company they hire should get to gouge them.

    But any chance of a decent bill that both sides can agree to seems unlikely in today’s environment. This is just going to be another straight party bill that’s bad for Americans. But not Congress, because they’ll be exempt.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/paul-ryans-american-carnage/ar-BBAKw5a?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=U452DHP

    “The American Health Care Act is an absolute moral abomination.

    House Republicans voted Thursday to pass this monstrosity by the narrowest of margins, 217-213. Not a single Democrat voted for it, and 20 Republicans broke with Speaker Paul Ryan and voted against the bill. It now goes to the Senate, which will also have to pass it (no small feat!) before it can be sent to President Trump to be signed into law.

    In the meantime, Republicans are celebrating with a bunch of Bud Light.

    But let’s not get lost in the hypocrisy or the politics. The substance of this bill is awful, and demands examination.

    As Sarah Kliff explains, this bill is quite similar to the previous one that failed to pass the House — only the new version is much, much worse. It would get rid of the individual mandate and replace it with a more punishing rule that wouldn’t work as well, phase out the Medicaid expansion in ObamaCare, and slash the rest of Medicaid by putting it through a welfare-reform style meat grinder (total cuts: $880 billion over 10 years). ObamaCare subsidies would be calculated based on age rather than income, leading some elderly people to have tremendously increased premiums.

    States would be able to get waivers from regulations that insurance companies cover “essential health benefits” and that they not charge people with pre-existing conditions more. Those waivers would certainly be taken up by conservative states, and would unquestionably cause many bankruptcies and deaths.

    Earlier this year, defections from moderate Republicans helped sink the original American Health Care Act. How did Paul Ryan and Co. bring them around this time? By adding a piddling $8 billion of extra funding for high-risk pools, which is only about $192 billion short of what would be necessary to make them maybe work. Just as I predicted, “moderate” Republicans are actually just slightly more cowardly versions of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus.”

    Liked by 1 person

  26. And on that pre-existing conditions thing…..

    This House Rep. explains her support, but keep in mind, she’s one of the folks who settled for 8 billion more, when 192 is what’s needed.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/my-son-has-a-preexisting-condition-he%E2%80%99s-one-of-the-reasons-i-voted-for-the-ahca/ar-BBAKYgm?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=U452DHP

    “When Obamacare was introduced, Republicans and Democrats knew the status quo wasn’t working. But Republicans rejected the notion that to help 2 million people with preexisting conditions get access to care, we needed a 2,000-page bill that transformed one-sixth of the economy.

    At each point of our process to repeal Obamacare, we have not lost sight of our responsibility to the most vulnerable in our communities. Safety nets and protections are important and must be maintained for those who need them most. Our plan accomplishes this mission in two key ways: by guaranteeing that access to health coverage can’t be denied for people with preexisting conditions, and by empowering states to innovate with new models for better patient outcomes at a lower cost.

    This bill isn’t perfect. It doesn’t include every single component I wanted. But it came down to the AHCA or the continued disaster of Obamacare, which was an easy choice. The AHCA is a major improvement, because a federal one-size-fits-all approach to health care isn’t the answer. A major feature of our plan is returning control to states, through both funding and reducing red tape, which empowers them to innovate and to stabilize costs.

    With Obamacare, our health-insurance system relies on younger, healthier people subsidizing the costs of the older and sicker. As a result, insurance costs consistently increase to cover the costs of people who are considered “high-risk,” namely those who are sick or who have preexisting conditions. High-risk pools and reinsurance programs at the state level address this concern and have been successful in the past. Our plan establishes a program to provide federal resources for states to create high-risk pools, reduce out-of-pocket costs or promote better access to services.

    States know better than the federal government how to allocate and manage resources to address the needs of their people. Our plan allows states to serve and provide financial support directly to vulnerable populations, including people with preexisting conditions. We’ve seen this system work before — just look at Maine. After the state created an “invisible” high-risk pool (“invisible” because it did not cordon off people with preexisting conditions from the traditional market) and relaxed its premium rating rules in 2011, people with preexisting conditions continued to have access to health care and their premiums were cut in half. Young and healthy people could finally afford to enter the market, and prices stabilized even further. This approach was more personal, reasonable and innovative than anything a bureaucrat in D.C. could have imagined.

    To me, protecting people with preexisting conditions isn’t just good policy — it’s a personal mission.”

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  27. So Trump thinks the rest of the civilized world has a better health care system? I would agree — catch up American implement universal health care like the rest of the civilized world, even Trump knows its the way to go. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. For HRW or Bernie Sanders to make Trump’s statement and Tweet, that would reflect a sincere difference in philosophy from the Republicans.

    For Trump to make the statement and Tweet at the exact time he is supposedly backing his party’s effort to make healthcare more market oriented, that is the old Trumpian Idiocy.

    As the Congressmen who have spoken to him have confirmed, Trump has no understanding of Obamacare beyond the fact that it is “bad” and no understanding of the Republican alternative other than it will be “wonderful”. Clearly he also has no understanding of the Australian system, but probably has detailed knowledge of Schartzenegger’s TV ratings.

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  29. George Takei tweet: It should be noted, the GOP voted to give folks with preexisting mental illnesses access to firearms but not insurance.

    Liked by 1 person

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