Observations from a Congressional staffer on phone calls

At least somebody is paying attention:

It’s not even noon, and I’ve already answered dozens of phone calls from angry constituents. A single mother demanded answers as to where her family could turn for health-care services if Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act. An older gentleman had to take a breath as he used some choice words to describe House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s proposals to cut Medicare benefits. The resentment and anger are palpable. Seconds after I hang up, the phone rings again. And again. And again.

Democratic and Republican congressional offices have been inundated with calls, letters, tweets, posts and visits from impassioned people upset and outraged by the president’s actions, Cabinet nominations and executive orders. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s office reported an average of 1.5 million daily calls to the Senate in the first week of February alone. Phone lines are so gridlocked that lawmakers are nervously taking to social media to apologize that constituents can’t get through and reassure them that we hear them on Capitol Hill.

Before you start punching in numbers to say your piece, keep in mind the author works for a House Democrat. It's a good bet many Republicans have been seriously filtering their incoming correspondence, and then just making shit up to show evidence of support. But here are some examples of the effectiveness of issue-based advocacy:

Monday News: Counting the costs of HB2

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AP ESTIMATES 3.76 BILLION IN LOST BUSINESS OVER CONTROVERSIAL LAW: Despite Republican assurances that North Carolina's "bathroom bill" isn't hurting the economy, the law limiting LGBT protections will cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years, according to an Associated Press analysis. The AP analysis — compiled through interviews and public records requests — represents the largest reckoning yet of how much the law, passed one year ago, could cost the state. The law excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from statewide antidiscrimination protections, and requires transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates in many public buildings. Still, AP's tally is likely an underestimation of the law's true costs. The count includes only data obtained from businesses and state or local officials regarding projects that canceled or relocated because of HB2. A business project was counted only if AP determined through public records or interviews that HB2 was why it pulled out. Some projects that left, such as a Lionsgate television production that backed out of plans in Charlotte, weren't included because of a lack of data on their economic impact.
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fa4528580f3e4a01bb68bcb272f1f0f8/ap-exclusive-bathroom-bill-cost-nort...

Nunes cancels Monday open hearing on Trump/Russia

The cover-up is not going very well:

Nunes explained that the hearing would be postponed, so as to allow FBI director James Comey and NSA director Mike Rogers to address the committee in closed session. Schiff believes Nunes’s true motive is to spare the president a bad news cycle. And he isn’t afraid to say so.

“I think that there must have been a very strong pushback from the White House about the nature of Monday’s hearing,” Schiff said. “It’s hard for me to come to any other conclusion about why an agreed-upon hearing would be suddenly canceled.”

This is turning into a big, hot mess for the Trump administration. I've seen a few reports from dubious news sites that Nunes has a great deal (if not all) of his personal finances tied up in Russian ventures, but I'll wait for that to pan out in the mainstream news media before linking. There are also rumors that Michael Flynn has decided to snitch in order to save his skin, but Congressional interest in his previous behavior is not a rumor:

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

HEALTHCARE LOSS MORE FODDER FOR TRUMP LEMONADE-MAKING: Trump’s not going to like the attention he’ll get for the next few days, as the commentators he says he doesn’t watch (but he does watch) talk about his “defeat” and how he was repudiated by some in his own party and how he’s shown ignorance of how to make deals in Washington. First up, no doubt, will be another “victory tour,” where Trump will go to rallies to hear the cheers of the crowd as he attacks Democrats for not taking his side. Once he’s gotten his fill of that (though he probably never will) he can huddle with his advisers and set his next priorities. For now, the health care debate is where he wants it — behind him.
http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article140814803.html

Saturday News: Don Quixote rides again

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REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS WANT 3 YEAR MORATORIUM ON WIND FARMS IN NC: North Carolina Republican lawmakers whose districts include U.S. military bases are again seeking to slow down wind energy development in the state. In their most recent effort, the state Senate Majority Leader and two other state senators are proposing a 3-year moratorium to study the safety risks that wind farms pose to military installations. If it became law, the Military Operations Protection Act of 2017 would stall, and potentially derail, the proposed Timbermill Wind farm in Chowan and Perquimans counties, a project totaling 105 turbines that would extend 600 feet into the sky. The senators could not be reached for comment Friday, but said in a statement that “it’s unfortunate that taxpayer-subsidized incentives to the renewable energy industry are resulting in higher energy costs to N.C. consumers.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article140667403.html

Tillis stages a love-in for Goldman Sachs

Yeah, sure, just a bunch of little guys helping out:

"I feel like sometimes I'm living a reality TV version of Atlas Shrugged," Tillis quipped during the confirmation hearing for Jay Clayton, Trump’s nominee for chairing the Securities and Exchange Commission. "There are a lot of people in this Congress that want to beat down job creators and employers. People want to demonize Goldman Sachs. That’s an easy thing to do, right? Just beat up on a financial services institution. An institution that’s committed to, let me look at the general numbers here ― they have 36,500 employees. There’s probably a lot of little guys in there. They’ve contributed billions of dollars to nonprofits.”

In order to understand why Tillis would put on such a show, you need to understand the man himself. He didn't dream of becoming a powerful elected official, that's just one of the steps in his Plan B. He really wanted (and still wants) to become a high-roller in the investment, banking, and finance realm. When he tried it before he realized he just didn't have the money or fame to pull it off. You need one or the other to sucker people into giving you their accumulated wealth to play with, and Tillis is almost there right now. And I doubt he has the patience to wait another six years to cash in, so 2020 is the launch date. Take a look at the dude he's cheering on for SEC Chairman:

Friday News: Dictator dictates

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TRUMP GIVES ULTIMATUM TO CONGRESS ON HEALTHCARE BILL: Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus and Mick Mulvaney were dispatched from the White House to tell House Republicans that if the bill passes, it will move on to the Senate. If it fails, the White House is prepared to move on from one of its biggest campaign promises and keep Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation. “Tomorrow, tomorrow, we will have a vote tomorrow,” Bannon said. The gambit is a high-stakes political scare tactic. White House leaders are warning rank-and-file members of Congress that if they vote against the bill on political principle, they will be responsible for keeping Obamacare on the books, not President Trump.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article140365083.html

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