Archive for June, 2012

To whom we give thanks.

Jun 29, 2012 in Politics

Via TPM:

“[W]e established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did … encourages ‘free riders’ to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others.”

For George.

Jun 28, 2012 in Politics


ABBA – WATERLOO by hushhush112

Bad news for Democrats.

Jun 28, 2012 in Politics

Upon hearing the news of the Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act:

These are the appropriate reactions. Unless Boehner felt like cheering for affordable health care for all Americans, then he could smile too.

-hw

Watch out, Democrats!

Jun 28, 2012 in Clueless Conservatives, Crazy Tea Party People, Health Care

Republicans are going to run against Obamacare, declaring with fervent religiosity that now that they’ve failed to stop it in Congress, and they’ve failed to stop it in the conservative Supreme Court, they’re…going to take it back to Congress again! Because we can’t have this:

Gosh, that stuff really makes my blood boil.

-hw

UPHELD.

Jun 28, 2012 in Politics

The telly says the ACA upheld, the mandate legal through (as I’ve said a hundred times) the taxing authority of Congress.

Holy smokes. This is the just outcome I had hoped we’d get from a genuinely conservative court.

Another fucking great day in America and for the Obama presidency.

-hw

UPDATE: A bad day for CNN and FOX…

Pre-statement statement.

Jun 28, 2012 in Constitution, Health Care

Our friend AJKamper has pointed out that there are arguably principled positions against the individual mandate that undergirds the provision of the ACA that forbids insurers from declining patients for pre-existing conditions. So be it.

But there are some important facts to note before we treat this as some kind of escape clause for a boob-stacked Supreme Court with one justice, Thomas, who stands to profit from striking down the ACA entirely and another, Scalia, who seems to be auditioning for Limbaugh’s replacement once the Oxycontin explodes his heart.

First, as I have repeatedly noted, the individual mandate was a Republican concept, invented by one of the bulwarks of the rightwing think-tank cottage industry, Heritage. It was proposed as a counter-idea to Bill Clinton’s efforts to reform health care in the 1990s, championed by people like Newt Gingrich only a few years ago, and actually implemented by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney (who’d like you to forget his best accomplishment that he advised Obama to copy because, well, Obama agreed, and Romney’s had his programming rebooted a few times since then).

Secondly, the actual case’s history in the courts has been somewhat split among conservative justices (of course, liberal justices don’t matter…). Republican appointed, conservative judges have noted 75 years of precedent and ruled accordingly that there’s nothing unconstitutional about the mandate. A few scored headlines by going the completely partisan route, but there would seem to be a very palpable divide among conservatives who are doing their jobs and those who are being activist partisans.

Ergo, one would expect a split among the conservative justices in the Supreme Court. Indeed, many predictions have even seen Roberts break off and join Kennedy, although I call that at about 20%. I haven’t seen much from Roberts to believe that, but it’s not difficult to believe he’s less slimy than Alito, Scalia, and Thomas. (Update: Apologies to Roberts, sad disappointment in Kennedy)

So in a few short minutes, we should see a favorable decision for the ACA, and for the millions of people who would be adversely affected by a lockstep partisan 5-4 decision against a plan that had every mark of conservatism imprinted upon it until the moment a Democratic president embraced it.

-hw

Issa admits not a single bit of evidence White House involved with Fast & Furious…

Jun 24, 2012 in Crazy Tea Party People

Here.

But the second Obama invoked executive privilege to keep Issa from demanding yet even more documents after getting everything on the actual operation, the rightwing conspiracy theorists had all they needed.

Which, I imagine, is the intended effect of Issa’s demand. Either he gets full license to pore over every single burp and fart in the WH records to look for a scandal, or he runs into a roadblock and the base goes crazy.

Because you go ahead and advise skepticism to people who still think Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim.

-hw

UPDATE: Now Issa admits he isn’t even suspicious that Holder knew about the operation.

Pro-venereal disease and cancer Republicans.

Jun 20, 2012 in Crazy Tea Party People, Women

Tea Party favorite Governor Nikki Haley mouths some stupid platitudes about the government in order to veto a bill that would implement vaccination of young girls against the Herpes Papilloma Virus, which is spread by sexual transmission and can cause cervical cancer and infertility.

To Republicans, the fact that it spreads by sexual transmission is a feature, not a bug, because they like that it can help scare people away from sex. But do they say that out loud? No, we get, “taxpayer,” “mandate,” blah blah blah.

While one would be hard pressed to imagine blacks passing Jim Crow laws, most Republican women have no qualms about waging the War on Women if it scores them political points with their base. Nikki Haley is happy to play the part of vaccine nut so little slut girls can get cancer in their coochies. Haley says, “Now that I have a 14-year-old daughter, it is something that is very close to my heart in terms of what I’m going to do as a parent and what I want for my child.” She, of course, will make sure her own daughter is vaccinated in preparation for any potential prep school wangs that wander near her way, as harsh lessons are for other people’s (read: poor people’s) children.

-hw

Once again: The Republicans never meant a word they said in objecting to the individual mandate.

Jun 18, 2012 in Politics

Ezra Klein with the historical breakdown on the genesis of the individual mandate in the Republican Heritage think-tank, its championing by Republicans as a free-market alternative to single-payer, and its immediate disavowal upon being embraced by President Obama.

On March 23, 2010, the day that President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, fourteen state attorneys general filed suit against the law’s requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance, on the ground that it was unconstitutional. It was hard to find a law professor in the country who took them seriously. “The argument about constitutionality is, if not frivolous, close to it,” Sanford Levinson, a University of Texas law-school professor, told the McClatchy newspapers. Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the law school at the University of California at Irvine, told the Times, “There is no case law, post 1937, that would support an individual’s right not to buy health care if the government wants to mandate it.” Orin Kerr, a George Washington University professor who had clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, said, “There is a less than one-per-cent chance that the courts will invalidate the individual mandate.” Today, as the Supreme Court prepares to hand down its decision on the law, Kerr puts the chance that it will overturn the mandate—almost certainly on a party-line vote—at closer to “fifty-fifty.” The Republicans have made the individual mandate the element most likely to undo the President’s health-care law. The irony is that the Democrats adopted it in the first place because they thought that it would help them secure conservative support. It had, after all, been at the heart of Republican health-care reforms for two decades.

The scumbaggery is jaw-dropping just for the sheer political reversal founded on nothing other than fear of a successful Obama presidency, but Republicans may pay the price if their stacked Supreme Court acts like a bunch of hacks and tosses out the bill, leaving millions of Americans still needing health insurance with no obvious way to compel healthy people to join until they get sick.

But man, the scumbaggery of it all is enough to invalidate the Republicans as a responsible governing party. Nothing means anything to them, other than a big shiny R on the winning team.

-hw

Mitt Romney said something and it almost made sense…

Jun 14, 2012 in Clueless Conservatives, Election crap

…and then you thought about it for a few seconds and, oh, crap.

Or maybe not. Mitt Romney is a skilled liar, something which seems to be the primary byproduct, besides his $200+ million fortune, of his years at Bain Capital. He doesn’t walk in the room and sour the deal with inconvenient truths. He sees what the script for the deal is, walks in the room, and says it. When people ask questions, his goal isn’t to educate them. It’s to get the deal done. Period. It’s more complicated than selling Sham-Wow or unnecessary home remodeling, but it’s essentially the same task. I’ve had sales experience and felt forever dirtied by it, because of what I was told, over and over again: If they ask a question, the answer is yes, we can do it. We’ll figure it out later.

And so Mitt Romney will figure out how to be president later. That’s not on his radar yet. His job is to close that deal. The American people are just customers. He doesn’t care if they walk away from one of his speeches more or less informed, enlightened, or edified. He needs them to a) believe a gigantic pile of horseshit about President Obama and b) believe a gigantic pile of horseshit about himself. He piles it on higher and higher, thinking that even if many people distrust him, if they only believe half of what he says it’ll amount to so much horseshit that it’ll tip the scales to the desired 50.1% that he strives for.

And so it’s extremely useful to see this breakdown that makes it a little clearer that believing anything Mitt Romney says is foolish.

I’d cut and paste but each point on the list is accompanied by links, so please click through and soak it up yourself.

-hw

Just in case you ever believed a word Republicans said about Obama’s health care reform law.

Jun 14, 2012 in Clueless Conservatives, Health Care

It was always about team sports, about fearing Obama riding in on a wave of popular support for health care reform and then actually getting it done and getting applauded for it. It amazingly got passed, but the Republicans merely kept running against it, deliberately focusing on the one aspect of it that wasn’t very popular, the individual mandate, and turning it into The End Of Liberty.

And now that we’re days away from the Supreme Court, stacked with Republican hacks, potentially fulfilling that blatantly partisan quest, it’s starting to sink in for Republicans that they’ll, um, probably have to do something about health care reform, especially since it’s finally starting to sink in with voters that losing the mandate means that discriminating against people for pre-existing conditions will remain.

The Republicans’ solution?

The individual mandate.

How can anyone reward Republicans in the voting booth after the way they’ve carried on the past three and a half years? At every juncture, it’s been about nothing but sabotage, sabotage, sabotage. Anything that would help America, they were against if it meant President Obama would get credit for it.

That’s the genial version of what I have to say on this, as I’ve deleted about three different conglomerations of profanity and rage.

-hw

The few Republicans who aren’t RAGE-virus-infected zombies are starting to get surly.

Jun 13, 2012 in Courageous Conservatives, Crazy Tea Party People

Winner of Sullivan’s latest Yglesias award:

“As a local GOP official after President Obama’s election, I had a front-row seat as it became infected by a dangerous and virulent form of political rabies. In the grip of this contagion, the Republican Party has come unhinged. Its fevered hallucinations involve threats from imaginary communists and socialists who, seemingly, lurk around every corner. Climate change – a reality recognized by every single significant scientific body and academy in the world- is a liberal conspiracy conjured up by Al Gore and other leftists who want to destroy America. Large numbers of Republicans – the notorious birthers- believe that the President was not born in the United States. Even worse, few figures in the GOP have the courage to confront them.

Republican economic policies are also indefensible.

The GOP constantly claims that its opponents are engaged in “class warfare,” but this is an exercise in projection. In Republican proposals, the wealthy win, and the rest of us lose- one only has to look at Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget to see that.

As Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein have written, “the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier—ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.” Its reckless behavior helps drive the political dysfunction crippling our nation.

In the end, it offers a dystopian vision of our future- a harsher, crueler and more merciless America starkly divided between the riders, and the ridden,” – Michael Stafford, taking a stand.

I dunno, are guys like Stafford, Jeb Bush and Joe Scarborough launching a rebellion too late?

Are they trying to yank centrism back into the GOP before November, anticipating Romney bouncing back and forth continuously trying to placate both the Republican base and sane people? If they can establish some wiggle room, Romney can pander more to the center full-time and say aw shucks about the Ryan budget and other disastrous measures he has planned for us currently. He was just testing ideas, folks! They don’t necessarily care what Romney really thinks, but don’t want him in the Oval Office with primarily the Tea Party to thank (and cower before if he wants re-election).

Or is the fate of the country finally becoming too important for partisanship to keep these people quiet, current elections be damned? Attacking Grover Norquist is good for the US in the long run, but for any Republican running for office right now it’s extremely dangerous. Yes, Norquist is an ass-clown who makes Reagan look like a communist, but that’s exactly why he’s such a formidable representative of the Republican base.

-hw

I can’t get enough of this.

Jun 09, 2012 in Politics

Liberal media update.

Jun 05, 2012 in Journamalism

Everybody knows Republican obstructionism and economic sabotage is the problem, but the media won’t go near it with a ten foot pole. Of course, because ombudsmen like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, etc. will declare it biased, and Beltway hacks are scared to death of them. Authors Mann and Ornstein were respected DC insiders before, but were immediately locked out of the kool kidz klub upon violating standards of rudeness by displeasing those titans of polite discourse.

I don’t know what holds back MSNBC here, as only Chris Hayes has had Mann and Ornstein on, but seriously.

That discussion should be happening over and over again.

Republicans have been punching Democrats by punching the country and pinning the blame on Democrats. Why? Because everybody knows those wonderful swing voters, even if they know Republicans are obstructing everything Obama tries, are likely to go along with it and blame Obama for not doing enough. Why are any Democrats holding back?

There’s an argument for weakness there, but weakness sucks. You punch back when you get punched, and harder, and more often. Democrats are too busy trying to play fisticuffs when the Republicans are going full unregulated MMA on them, groin shots and all. And guess what? The referee is happy to hold each to their own standards. There is no fair play here. Why? Because the press isn’t afraid of fisticuffs either. Democrats still scatter for the hills when the Beltway tsk tsks them, and the Beltway scatters for the hills when the bloodthirsty Republican mob comes after them.

Republicans define liberal bias as the willingness of any news outlet to report news that is not purposefully meant to flatter Republicans. As we well know, only FOX succeeds at meeting their standard of fairness, whereas FOX is a Republican-funded video outlet of the RNC. Only that standard will escape criticism. Democrats need only ask for journalism to be done to prosper.

-hw

Why Mitt Romney must constantly point you away from the real Mitt Romney.

Jun 04, 2012 in Politics

Mitt Romney sure has fun pointing fingers at President Obama for having trouble putting out a Republican fire while Republicans continue to splash gasoline like happy toddlers, knowing the fire only brings down Obama’s approval ratings. However, he has some problems.

First of all, he cannot put his policies directly up against Obama’s. And the primary reason for that is that they are Bush policies, updated to be even worse. More defense spending, more tax cuts for the wealthy, and everybody else gets to go borrow money from their parents to keep paying for their parents’ Medicare. So it’s a complete wash.

Secondly, he cannot use his own career. Bain was just a profit seeking venture that gamed the rules to produce millions for Mitt and his pals, but the benefits to the economy were negligible and entirely secondary. And then the truth of Romney’s term as governor is coming out: That he took that same Bain record in and used it to get all the way to 47th out of 50 states in job creation.

Now Mitt Romney being Mitt Romney, blaming Obama for the Bush/Tea Party recession (Obama’s policies almost uniformly added to growth) is absolutely no impediment to Mitt doing an abrupt about face and whining that as governor of Massachusetts, he inherited a bad situation. Aw, you don’t say, Mitt? Were the Bush years tough on the economy? Gee, golly!

And yet, observe a comparison:

Compare the size of the hole each one inherited. And yet Obama is catching up by the end of the chart. Poor, disadvantaged Mitt.

Republicans are slowly warming to Mitt Romney because in an election year where the fundamental task is to lie as egregiously as possible in order to create a case where none exists (and one the Beltway is happily eager to accept as a devastating argument), that Obama is to blame for our problems and Republicans are the answer. Mitt Romney has seized the assignment with gusto, shooting signals every direction he can that whatever needs to be said at any particular moment, he’ll say. Or if it’s something too hot to touch, like birther madness, he’ll happily stand next to those willing to say it.

This is no partisan delusion. The Romney campaign is by every jot and tittle of the dictionary definition, a con job from top to bottom and back to the top again. It depends on people not paying attention. It depends on people forgetting. It depends on liars lying loudly and often. It does not in any sense rest on objective numbers, valid reasons, understandable feelings, or honorable duty. It is relentlessly corrupt, and any who choose to differ from now til November will not succeed in demonstrating otherwise in any comments thread on this blog.

-hw

I’m sorry, I didn’t know Keynesianism had a “whites only” sign on the door.

Jun 03, 2012 in Politics

How do Republican presidents get out of recessions? By growing the government, of course.

“After there was a recession under Ronald Reagan, government employment went way up. It went up after the recessions under the first George Bush and the second George Bush,” Obama said last month on the campaign trail. “So each time there was a recession with a Republican president, compensated — we compensated by making sure that government didn’t see a drastic reduction in employment. The only time government employment has gone down during a recession has been under me.”

More broadly, federal spending growth under Obama has been remarkably low by historical standards. The pressure from the GOP and D.C. political elites, who have been hostile to Keynesian economics in recent years, has put the administration in a tough spot.

The Keynesian theory holds that government spending is necessary help lift the economy when it’s under-performing. Data shows that Republicans tend to accept it when they’re in power and that they benefit from it. But they’ve relentlessly attacked Obama’s efforts to stimulate the economy in the wake of the Great Recession, and have led the charge against financially helping cash-strapped states avert layoffs of public employees like teachers and police.

And Mitt Romney has already danced out of the likelihood that he would have the balls to go full-tilt with the disastrously fraudulent Paul Ryan plan. Of course, when a Republican Congress puts it on his desk, he’ll sign it, and then when things go south it’ll be Obama’s fault via some convoluted horseshit logic. Who knows? By then Republicans will probably be saying the stimulus was too small.

We’ve seen private jobs grow at a pretty good rate since Obama became president. The main drag on employment right now is the Teapublican Austerity Disaster: the absolute refusal to allow Obama any significant action on the economy coupled with the slashing of public jobs. Fewer and fewer people are able to spend (lower demand) and the “job creators” have no incentive to increase supply. Would you build a new factory if you still had inventory?

The more Republicans get to wage war on the middle class in favor of the ultra-wealthy, the weaker our economy will become. The less we notice how far the goalposts have moved since Reagan, the more they get away with.

-hw

Fantastic News For Rich Assholes.

Jun 02, 2012 in Politics

Morgan Stanley put you on the hook to cover a potential $52 trillion in losses:

Then yesterday’s Financial Times brought even worse news. To help save some cash in the event of a downgrade, Morgan Stanley was hoping to park a big portion of its $52 trillion derivatives portfolio inside its bank subsidiary—the portion of the company that functions as an old-fashioned loan-maker, not a hedge fund or investment bank. The reason for doing this is that it would lower borrowing costs that would otherwise shoot up when its credit rating dropped. Why? Because being a bank means you have lots of customer deposits, most of them insured by the federal government, and that you have access to really cheap loans from the Federal Reserve. If, say, you suddenly took a multi-billion-dollar bath on your derivatives bets, Uncle Sam would be there to absorb the losses, or at least help you manage them, and the bondholders who’d loaned you money wouldn’t feel the pinch. And, of course, the bondholders know that in advance, which is why they’re likely to loan you money at reasonable rates in the first place. Hence the low borrowing costs.

Sounds like an ingenious plan—just have the taxpayers subsidize the riskiest part of your operation! And, indeed, it is. As the FT notes, most of Morgan’s Stanley’s American competitors, chief among them Goldman Sachs, already house something like 90 percent of their derivative book in their bank subsidiaries (versus a mere 3 percent for Morgan Stanley today).

Bring back Glass-Steagall already.

-mg