SLAMS AND SLAMDUNKS

1. It’s Thursday, May 25, 2017.

2. It’s the 40th anniversary of the release of “Star Wars” and the 70th birthday of Karen Valentine. You have to be around my age to know who Karen Valentine is.

3. If you think the Congressional Budget Office scoring of TrumpRyanCare – it’s not right just to blame this monstrosity on Trump – is meaningless, consider this:

It was the reporter’s question about the analysis that set off the moron in Montana who now faces six months in prison for bodyslamming the reporter.

What you can glean from the CBO report is that nothing about TrumpRyanCare is great for anyone other than the wealthy who would get the tax cuts that are its main goal.

Even the $119 billion in deficit reduction – assuming that deficit reduction when interest rates remain with a percentage point all-time lows is a bad thing – comes at a cost. That reduction reflects the idea that government will be paying less for coverage of the elderly and poor under Medicaid.

That means the cost to society is to make it almost impossible for those who need insurance the most to get it.

Remember those death panels Sarah Palin talked about when the Affordable Care Act was enacted. Well, here they are – seven years and a different piece of legislation later.

Overall, the CBO projects that 23 million people will lose health care coverage by 2026. Baby boomers – my generation – will stagger to the Medicare line at age 65. Assuming these ghouls don’t start tampering with that, too.

4. One would think this is going to be, at best, a hard political sell for the Republicans.

That’s probably why Greg Gianforte, the Trump wannabe running for the open House seat in Montana, didn’t want to answer questions about the CBO report. Especially from a non-Montanan reporter from a publication that leans left.

Between that, the pressure of a surprisingly tight race and who know what else going through the usually empty space between his ears, Gianforte appears to have lost it with Ben Jacobs of The Guardian.

To their credit, the three members of a Fox News reporting crew is rebutting Gianforte’s version of the story – that Jacobs was overly aggressive in questioning the candidate. That’s probably why Gianforte was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault.

But this is where I transition this piece from slam to slamdunk.

In a fair world, Gianforte would lose big time. Not just because he’s on the wrong side of the argument with Democrat Rob Quist, but because he’s clearly not temperamentally fit to serve in Congress.
But this is Montana and this is a big seat. The Republicans have spent a fortune to maintain it.

And many people have voted already – all of the main Montana news sites are reporting people calling their elections board to see if they can change their early votes. Which, of course, they can’t.

So there’s still a better than 50-50 chance that Gianforte wins. And when his mighty leader, Trump, returns from curtsying to the Saudis and shoving NATO leaders in a photo op, he can welcome Gianforte.

For Democrats there might be two consolation prizes: A picture of Trump congratulating Gianforte on his win, and the fact that folks in Georgia might get turned off by that as they prepare to vote on another open seat previously held by a Republican.

5. Sometimes it’s hard to be of good cheer in the America of 2017.

Trump has made us grumpy and sad. We don’t trust each other any more. Hatred and bigotry have been given license. Our place in the world as a moral beacon is being vacated by greed.

If you want to look for hope amid the Trump dystopia, read the speech given last week by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

His city has been taking down monuments, built as the Jim Crow era began, aimed at giving a glowing patina to the Confederacy. There were statues to generals and the former political leader.

The fact they were coming down bothered Confederate apologists. These statues, in their eyes, represented a sacrifice made by those who stood up for their beliefs, and taking them down desecrated that history.

And what Mayor Landrieu did was call out the hypocrisy.

“These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history,” he said. “These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.”

The Confederacy wasn’t some romantic notion of states’ rights. It wasn’t an honest difference of opinion.

It was about preserving the enslavement of black people, often through brutality. And it was about treason, pure and simple.

I’ve always maintained the Confederate flag, which people even here in supposedly enlightened New York blithely stick on their pickup trucks, is the ultimate symbol of treason in this country.

Anyone who heralds it cannot, in any way, be considered a patriot.

I doubt there’s anyplace in this country with a statue honoring Erwin Rommel or Adolf Hitler. We don’t pander to those who trash our values.

That’s the equivalence.

Mayor Landrieu gets it. He runs a city that’s pretty diverse – we New Yorkers tend to think we have a slight edge in that department. And he is determined to make things right for all of them.

“Because we are one nation, not two; indivisible with liberty and justice for all, not some,” he said. “We all are part of one nation, all pledging allegiance to one flag, the flag of the United States of America. And New Orleanians are in, all of the way.”

That is a real slamdunk.

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