Looks like John McCain just killed Obamacare repeal, again – CNN

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Trump, Kim insults are the latest in a long — often more cutting — line of political put-downs – Washington Post

North Korea’s florid insults and President Trump’s schoolyard ripostes are but the latest in a long tradition of political and diplomatic put-downs. And they are far from the most cutting.

Pyongyang has arguably done better (or worse, depending on point of view). Among U.S. presidents, it has called Lyndon B. Johnson a “living corpse,” George W. Bush a “tyrannical imbecile” and Barack Obama a “clown” and a “monkey.”

In 2009, North Korea’s foreign ministry described then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a “funny lady” who sometimes “looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping.”

Trump, however, is the first U.S. president who has answered in kind, reaching into late-20th-century pop to deride North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man on a suicide mission.” Kim, or at least his translator, sent many Americans scurrying to their dictionaries by dredging up the 14th-century word “dotard” to describe the U.S. president as old and senile.

[A short history of ‘dotard,’ the arcane insult used by Kim Jong Un ]

But even leaving aside the buzz-killing possibility of nuclear war, none of the current jousting reaches the level of historically clever ridicule. For that, top marks are usually given to the British.

Of the long-necked, sour-faced French leader Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill once said, “He looks like a female llama who has been surprised in the bath.”

Told by Lady Astor that if she were his wife she would poison his tea, Churchill responded that, if he were her husband, he would drink it.

More recently, the Labour Party politician Denis Healey famously said that debating his mumbling, Conservative counterpart Geoffrey Howe was “like being savaged by a dead sheep.” (Healey and Howe both died in 2015.) Of John Prescott, a member of his own party, Healy said, “He has the face of a man who clubs baby seals.”

The United States’ Founding Fathers were no slouches in the threatening-insult department. Thomas Jefferson is often credited with calling John Adams a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman,” although many historians attribute the line to a pro-Jefferson political pamphleteer during one of their campaigns against each other.

Adams’s partisans, on his behalf, called Jefferson “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”

During a pre-Civil War secession crisis, Trump’s favorite former president, Andrew Jackson, told his vice president, John Calhoun of South Carolina, that “if you secede from my nation, I will secede your head from your body.”

Issues of slavery and secession also led to one of the most famous incidents in Congress, when Massachusetts Republican Charles Sumner, in the spring of 1856, called Illinois Democrat Stephen Douglas a “noisesome, squat, and nameless animal.” The verbal attack resulted in Sumner being seriously beaten with a cane on the Senate floor.

Trump is sometimes compared in terms of language to Alabama governor and four-time presidential candidate George Wallace, who issued similarly blunt attacks against “pointy-headed” bureaucrats and intellectuals, “liberals” and “pinkos.”

Among the most memorable political put-downs in modern U.S. history was Sen. Lloyd Bentsen’s response to Sen. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.) in the 1988 vice-presidential debate, after Quayle defended his lack of experience by noting that he had spent as much time in Congress as John F. Kennedy had when Kennedy ran for Congress.

“I knew Jack Kennedy,” the silver-haired Texas Democrat responded. “Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

On the presidential side of the same race, Vice President George H.W. Bush called his Democratic opponents Bill Clinton and Al Gore “bozos.”

Hillary Clinton has endured her share of ridicule, much of it indirect or gender-related. When she first campaigned for president, long before the North Koreans or Trump took aim at her, Clinton acknowledged in a 2008 debate with Obama that she perhaps had a personality deficit compared with the charismatic young senator from Illinois, whom she conceded was “very likable.”

Obama interjected with a patronizing smile, “You’re likable enough, Hillary,” words that many women considered sexist reminders of painful efforts to get ahead.

Among the most prolific domestic insulters of recent years has been New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who during his time in office has called an openly gay lawmaker “numb-nuts,” a Navy SEAL an “idiot,” and the state Senate budget committee chairman an “arrogant SOB.” During a news conference, he once told reporters they should “take a bat” to state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D), a grandmother in her 70s.

On the diplomatic stage, North Korea has had stiff competition from Venezuela, whose President Hugo Chávez called George W. Bush a “monkey” and, in a 2006 U.N. speech, a “devil” who trailed the stench of sulfur in his wake.

After Trump slapped sanctions this year on the repressive Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro, the late Chavez’s successor, Maduro warned Trump to “get your pig hands out of here.”

But Maduro, and perhaps not even Kim, can compare with Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, who separately called both Obama and Pope Francis a “son of a whore” and the U.S. ambassador a gay “son of a bitch.”

Asked during last year’s U.S. presidential campaign to compare himself to Trump, Duterte replied: “Donald Trump is a bigot, and I am not.”

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‘Regular order’ may have just killed GOP’s Obamacare repeal. So what is it? – Washington Post


(iStock)

Republicans’ last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare is thisclose to being doomed, thanks to two rather vague words: regular order.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced Friday morning that he cannot “in good conscience” vote for a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that the Senate was planning to vote on next week with only nominal hearings. It’s a position that puts the bill’s chances in grave danger, and McCain’s opposition isn’t rooted in policy, it’s rooted in process.

“I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment,” McCain said in a statement. “But that has not been the case. … As I have repeatedly stressed, health care reform legislation ought to be the product of regular order in the Senate.”

The other ‘no’ vote is Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

Senate Republicans are trying to revive the momentum to overhaul the Affordable Care Act with the Cassidy-Graham proposal. Here are five things to know about the plan and the rush to pass it. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Two other senators on the fence, Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), have also criticized their party for rushing through a repeal bill before a Sept. 30 budget deadline. Three no votes means that Republicans’ attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, fails again.


(See where Senate Republicans stand on the health care bill)

So if regular order may have killed Republicans’ last, best chance for Obamacare repeal, what is it?

A good question, to which we have an unsatisfactory answer. There is no agreed-upon definition of regular order. And it’s open to a much wider interpretation these days, because, well, everything in politics is open to interpretation right now.

“In my view, there’s no such thing as ‘regular order,’ ” Sarah Binder, a procedural expert at George Washington University and the Brookings Institution, said in an email Thursday to the Fix. It can mean whatever senators want it to mean.

Binder said that for some senators, “regular order” is a callback to the past, a time when they perceived governing was smoother and less partisan. For some, it’s a direct reference to allowing committees to craft policy rather than leadership. For others, it means they can offer amendments to a bill. For still others, “regular order” is a call on their colleagues to stop filibustering every vote. And on and on.

Lots of lawmakers on both sides complain about regular order. But McCain has made it a Big Deal after he was diagnosed with a deadly form of brain cancer in the summer.

He voted against his party’s repeal efforts in July, a surprise vote that helped kill the legislation, because, he said, it wasn’t done under regular order. (Senate leaders had crafted a version of an Obamacare repeal bill in secret.)

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on July 28 voted against the Republican “skinny repeal” health-care bill. (U.S. Senate)

McCain’s version of regular order seems to be an amalgamation of a lot of stuff that irks senators about their chamber: He wants leaders to let bills rise up from committee rather than the other way around, he wants senators to stop using parliamentary tricks to stop or pass bills, and he wants senators to make a good-faith effort to compromise.

“We seem convinced that majorities exist to impose their will with few concessions and that minorities exist to prevent the party in power from doing anything important. That’s not how we were meant to govern,” he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in August, headlined “It’s time Congress returns to regular order.”

A couple of days before his surprise vote helped sink the Obamacare repeal bill, he said this in a Senate floor speech with all 99 other senators and the vice president at his attention:

“Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires.”

” … The most revered members of this institution accepted the necessity of compromise to make incremental progress on solving America’s problems and to defend her from her adversaries.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on July 25 addressed senators days after being diagnosed with brain cancer. He said the Senate has become too partisan. (U.S. Senate)

That all sounds lovely in theory. But it’s not very realistic, Binder said: “Those notions of a more fluid, collegial Senate don’t fit the contemporary Senate very well.”

Congress is a sharp-elbowed place these days, and there’s no one magic button that lawmakers can push to calm everyone’s nerves. There are a lot of reasons, including:

— The Republican Party is so ideologically spread out that many analysts think it’s more accurate to think of it as two parties rather than one.

— The digital era has elevated and exacerbated outside groups’ (and regular people’s) interest and influence on politics.

— Because of who votes in elections, and how House electoral districts are drawn, many lawmakers have an incentive not to compromise.

— Over the past couple of years, senators have become so frustrated with the other side that they’ve done away with centuries-old protections for the minority party.

— The president of the United States is egging them on to jettison more rules.

There’s not much “regular” about this moment in time in politics.

(Actually, was there ever a “regular” moment? In the 1850s, a congressman nearly killed a senator by beating him with his cane on the Senate floor. A couple of years after that, Southerners resigned their seats as the country literally went to war with itself.)

This health-care bill will have two preliminary hearings early next week, but it will be just days before lawmakers will have to vote on it. On Thursday, we asked if that was enough “regular order” for McCain. On Friday, we got our answer: A hard no.

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Trump touts ‘Big Luther’s’ loyalty, electability at Alabama rally – CNN

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Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico reels, Turks and Caicos hit – CNN

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