Current Events Write-Up: Sessions, Bannon, and Health Care

I am thinking of doing a weekly version of what I did in my Election Day post this year: collecting links to news and opinion pieces and briefly commenting on them.  Whether I have the discipline to do that over the long haul remains to be seen!  I will write such a post today, however.  And I have to warn you: you may not like what I say!

Right now, at least, I am going to follow the format of my Election Day post.  I will have two categories: “pro-Trump” and “anti-Trump”!  If there is an article that I like that does not belong to either category, I will put it in a separate category, entitled “Other.”

To reiterate what I said in my Election Day post, by “pro-Trump” and “anti-Trump,” I do not necessarily mean that the authors of these articles support or oppose the President-elect.  What I mean is that these articles say things that reflect positively or negatively on Trump, in my eyes.  Many “pro-Trump” articles that I post will be by people who support Trump, and many “anti-Trump” articles will be by people who oppose him.  But that will not always be the case.  For example, today, I will put a Breitbart article in the “anti-Trump” section, even though the article is not opposed to Trump.

Here we go!


Weekly Standard: In Alabama Jeff Sessions Desegregated Schools and Got the Death Penalty for KKK Head.

President-elect Trump’s selection for Attorney General is being called a racist.  Is there another side to the story?  Has Jeff Sessions done anything against racism?

Yahoo News: Trump’s Attorney General Could Halt Obama-Era Criminal Justice Reforms.

I happen to support the Obama-era criminal justice reforms, so much of what this article says concerns me.  At the same time, kudos to the article for mentioning the pro-reform aspects of Jeff Sessions’ record.  The article cites Holly Harris, who is executive director of the pro-criminal justice reform group, the U.S. Justice Action Network:  “Harris said that while it’s clear Sessions is not a fan of sentencing reform, the Alabama lawmaker has supported legislation in the past to help people who get out of prison reintegrate into society. Sessions also backed a bill to reduce the vast sentencing disparity between crimes involving crack vs. those involving powder cocaine in 2010. (Crack offenders, most of whom were black, were sentenced 100 times more harshly than people who sold powder cocaine, despite the fact that it’s essentially the same drug.)”

Breitbart: Trump Considering Woman, Openly Gay Man for Leadership Posts.

Okay, confession time.  I subscribed to the Breitbart newsletter last week!  I wanted to see what all the buzz was about.  Don’t worry: I’m not checking my brain at the door.  I still think there is sensationalist stuff on Breitbart, and here I am speaking in terms of what I have seen and read on it, which is far from comprehensive.  But I figured that at least I would get an alternative perspective by reading Breitbart.  With the avalanche of criticisms on Trump’s transition, Cabinet picks, and potential appointees this past week, this article was refreshing, since it highlights at least a few areas in which Trump is moving his cabinet in the direction of diversity.  I should also mention that this article is actually an AP article.

Breitbart: Team Trump Announces Five Year Lobbying Ban for Administration Officials.

We’ve heard that President-elect Trump isn’t really draining the swamp but is hiring lobbyists to be on his transition team.  Okay, those are valid criticisms!  But is there anything positive that Trump is doing, in the area of lobbying reform?  People have criticized the revolving door that exists in Washington, D.C., as people leave government and immediately become lobbyists.  Is Trump doing something to redress this problem, on some level?

Breitbart: Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew

Read the article!  Don’t just rely on what you’ve heard about the article.  Read it!  The mainstream media have been referring to this article to argue that Trump’s appointment for chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is an anti-Semite.  But this article isn’t anti-Semitic.  First of all, it is written by David Horowitz, who himself is Jewish.  Second, its argument is that Bill Kristol, by criticizing Trump, is empowering Israel’s enemies.  Technically, this article does not make me feel that much better about Trump or Bannon: it sounds rather neo-connish to me.  But it does make me wonder how often the mainstream media read past the headlines!


Breitbart: An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right, by Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos

This article is disturbing in its description of the Alt-Right.  What’s more, one of its authors is Milo, who is a prominent voice on Breitbart.  The article is giving a layout of those who are part of the Alt-Right, and one group in it is the “natural conservatives.”  This is the part that disturbs me.

“The conservative instinct, as described by [social psychologist Jonathan] Haidt, includes a preference for homogeneity over diversity, for stability over change, and for hierarchy and order over radical egalitarianism. Their instinctive wariness of the foreign and the unfamiliar is an instinct that we all share – an evolutionary safeguard against excessive, potentially perilous curiosity – but natural conservatives feel it with more intensity. They instinctively prefer familiar societies, familiar norms, and familiar institutions.”

There is legitimate discussion out there about assimilation and what cultural glue should hold this country together, but the above sounds like stigmatizing the “other.”  In my opinion, we should learn to get along and appreciate people who are different from us, rather than trying to exclude them.

I should note that Milo is a homosexual with Jewish background, and the authors of this article note that Breitbart itself has embraced diversity.

LA Times: Selling Health Insurance Across State Lines Is a Favorite GOP ‘Reform.’ Here’s Why It Makes No Sense, by Michael Hiltzik

This article critiques the idea of allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines.  I wonder if there is a way to bypass some of the problems that the article identifies, while still allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines.  Why not have the same standard national regulations for all health insurance companies, rather than letting each state set its regulations?  David Frum and Bill O’Reilly have suggested this.  The other problem the article identifies, that insurance companies negotiate with hospitals that are in their proximity, remains as a challenge to the idea, though.


About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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