The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

‘Send a Fighter to Congress!’ Wait, Wait, We Didn’t Mean Like That!

‘Send a Fighter to Congress!’ Wait, Wait, We Didn’t Mean Like That!

If today’s special House election in Montana goes badly for the Republicans, the party has a ready excuse.

“You should see how well we would have done if our candidate hadn’t suddenly been possessed by the spirit of Rowdy Roddy Piper!”

Yes, reporters can be annoying. No, you can’t physically assault them because you don’t like their questions. Most people pick this lesson up by kindergarten.

Of course, 238,320 Montanans have already voted by mail, which will probably be about two-thirds of the total vote. Anybody want to rethink their views on early voting? This time it was that the guy you voted already voted for is charged with misdemeanor assault; next time it could be that the guy’s charged with being an axe murderer.

The Billings Gazette editorial board rescinded their endorsement.

If what was heard on tape and described by eye-witnesses is accurate, the incident in Bozeman is nothing short of assault. We wouldn’t condone it if it happened on the street. We wouldn’t condone it if it happened in a home or even a late-night bar fight. And we couldn’t accept it from a man who is running to become Montana’s lone Congressional representative.

And the editorial board of the Missoulan: “There is no doubt that Gianforte committed an act of terrible judgment that, if it doesn’t land him in jail, also shouldn’t land him in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

And the editorial board of the Helena Independent Record: “We take our endorsements seriously and retracting an endorsement even more seriously, but we cannot in good faith continue to support this candidate.”

Some will inevitably shrug, “Well, what do you expect from the liberal media?!” Of course, that argument ignores that all of these newspapers endorsed Gianforte in the first place.

The CBO, Always the Skunk at the Garden Party

House Speaker Paul Ryan issued the following statement in response to the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the American Health Care Act:

Under Obamacare, premiums have more than doubled, and choices have dwindled to the point that many families have no options at all. We are on a rescue mission to bring down the cost of coverage and make sure families have access to affordable care. This CBO report again confirms that the American Health Care Act achieves our mission: lowering premiums and lowering the deficit. It is another positive step toward keeping our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that premiums for single policyholders would increase before 2020, a projected 20 percent in 2018 (!) and 5 percent in 2019. After that, the premiums would go down. For about half the population, it would be about 4 percent lower than under current law; for about a third of the country, 20 percent. The CBO concluded that for the final sixth, there were simply too many variables to make a good projection. Once again, the cost savings for consumers are down the road and in many cases, not an overwhelming level of cash back in patients’ pockets. And this is with significantly more Americans choosing to not purchase insurance.

Why is the Republican Party in its current predicament in health-care policy? A lot of reasons, but a big one is that they now have to explain the tradeoffs of a specific plan when their standard-bearer refused to do so in 2016. On the trail, Donald Trump made sweeping promises about how much better health care would be, with no specifics or ideas about how he was going to get there:

“I am going to take care of everybody,” he told 60 Minutes.I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now…The government’s gonna pay for it. But we’re going to save so much money on the other side. But for the most it’s going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors with great companies and they can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything.”

“We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.” People covered under the law “can expect to have great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.”

“Obamacare is going to be repealed and replaced.You’re going to end up with great health care for a fraction of the price and that’s gonna take place immediately after we go in. Okay? Immediately. Fast. Quick.”

“I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.”

You can’t keep all of those promises. Some of them are more or less contradictory. You can’t keep Medicaid intact AND repeal Obamacare, because Obamacare expanded Medicaid. If insurance companies cannot charge more for those who have preexisting conditions, it is very difficult to reduce premiums.

Jim’s Best Guess of What’s Happening in Twin Peaks, Part One

A lot of NRO readers wrote in, saying they expected some sort of giant confrontation in the Corner after David French wrote that the University of Missouri football team’s offense “was the single most painful sight on television until the absurd Twin Peaks reboot.”

Eh, if David or you tried the new season of Twin Peaks and didn’t like it, I can’t begrudge either of you that reaction at all. Diehard fans are deeply divided. I’m walking away from the early episodes intrigued but only intermittently enjoying it. It’s different from the previous seasons, for good and for ill — a much broader scope, embracing the unlimited palette and no commercial breaks that come from premium cable, but missing the warmth and inviting quirkiness that made the first season so appealing. They have to write around the absence of major characters from the original series because of actor deaths and retirements in the intervening years. A lot of the fun is missing.

But for those of you who watched the first two hours and are asking, “Just what the heck is going on?”…

During seasons one and two, we learned the FBI and U.S. Air Force knew about the existence of the Black and White Lodges — two other dimensions or realms that are roughly akin to hell and heaven, populated by spirits that seek to harm and help humanity, respectively.

The opening scene is in black and white (shades of The Wizard of Oz) and the noble spirit Giant — or at least the same actor who played the Giant — warns the soul of Agent Cooper, “It is in our house now.” This may very well be the White Lodge — the realm of the helpful spirits, and some sort of unspeakable threat has passed a key threshold.

Back in our earthly realm, we shouldn’t be surprised that other groups or entities are studying the lodges as well. Somewhere in New York City, on the side of a skyscraper, there’s something of a gutter drainpipe for the Black Lodge. Once in a great while, something is ejected from the Black Lodge and it is briefly visible at this location. Some “mysterious billionaire” has determined this and set up an elaborate and secret monitoring station in the building.

Unfortunately, the Black Lodge also periodically sends out a demon so no one “goes through their trash,” so to speak. The hapless college student employee David and the hot latte-fetching Tracy are in the wrong place at the wrong time — and for the first time, we see what one of the Lodge spirits can do when not possessing a human being — acts of vicious murder too horrifyingly bloody for network television.

When we last saw Dale Cooper, either his soul was trapped in the Black Lodge and he was either possessed by the demon BOB, or his body was released back into the real world with only his darker side and impulses in control, depending upon your interpretation. Early on, we learn that Bad Cooper has been every bit as malevolent as we feared over the past 25 years, as he’s now the biggest, baddest, most ruthless thug in some unspecified Pacific Northwest backwoods, with various lowlifes and trollops scurrying for his favor.

Finally, back in Twin Peaks, the lovable Sheriff’s Department receptionist/secretary Lucy Brennan tries to explain to a thoroughly confused insurance salesman that there are two Sheriff Trumans: “One is fishing, and one is sick.” This is their way of dealing with the fact that actor Michael Ontkean didn’t want to come out of retirement, and retcons the revelation from The Secret History of Twin Peaks that the original series’ Sheriff Harry Truman had a brother and father who had served as town sheriff as well. Robert Forrester is believed to be playing Frank Truman.

Margaret Lanterman — a.k.a., the Log Lady — calls Deputy Chief Hawk and tells him her log has a message: Something is missing, only Hawk can find it, and something in his heritage will help him. (This is a particularly heartbreaking scene, as actress Catherine Coulson passed away from cancer in September, and… well, it shows.)

Coming tomorrow: the significance of the murder in Buckhorn, South Dakota, the “evolution of the Arm” and the threat of “nonexistence.”

ADDENDA: Over on NRO’s homepage, an essay on loving our country, warts and all.