Monday, October 28, 2013
Revenge of the Kludgeocrats
So. It’s been awhile, about 3 years now, so it’s understandable that some of us may have already forgotten our bitter disappointment when the Affordable Care Act morphed, before our eyes, from a brave new universal healthcare plan, that would finally bring the US in line with the rest of the industrialized world, to a neoliberal Frankenstein’s monster designed to lead New Deal liberals and Reagan conservatives to a great post-partisan Kumbaya moment.
As we know, ACA barely made it, thanks only to a Democratic super-majority, without a single Republican vote. And the result is a healthcare law that left liberals and conservatives both holding their noses over a law that hardly anyone approves of in its current form.
By the time, conservative-bait and liberal dreams were all present and accounted for, ACA had turned into a Rube Goldberg model of healthcare policy.
One of the interesting bits of ACA history is that it is based, in large part, on a 1989 Heritage Foundation blueprint of the conservative alternative to single-payer healthcare along the lines of Medicare.
At that time, Republicans were not fond, at all, of the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act which requires any hospital participating in Medicare (i.e., most, if not all) to provide emergency care to anyone who needs it, underwritten in large part, by the federal government. Republicans hailed the Heritage Foundation plan, a market-based approach dependent on individual responsibility, much more to their liking.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/28/13 at 10:44 AM
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Let’s all not listen to Dick Cheney, m’kay?
The Prince of Darkness, Dick Cheney, has been throwing shade again, and I was kind of going to go into why what he’s saying doesn’t even make sense or go into how getting bin Laden probably couldn’t even be kept a secret and any intelligence gathered would have an expiration date and he’s just jealous anyway, but look. Let’s just get this out of the way—his relevance is as a historical figure, a member of the administration that blew off the intelligence that bin Laden was poised to strike on American soil and embraced bad intelligence about WMD’s in Iraq. He is respected by connoisseurs of a very particular art in politics because of how good he used to be. But let’s look at how he plies his particular forte these days:
He lies about whether he has fished with Senator Mike Enzi, because his darling little girl and fifth deferment wants the man’s job. Did the senator think they were any kind of friends? Huh. Well. Henry Whittington was a friend of Dick Cheney’s, too.
Now, maybe the former Vice President simply forgot whether he was part of a fly-fishing tournament with Enzi, because it’s not like angling is such a great passion of his (maybe compared to shooting little birds by the barrelful it isn’t), and besides, the man can forget a thing or two, can’t he? Like how often he might have met former Senator John Edwards when he dissembled about that during the 2004 campaign. No, it’s not quite as bad as the way he had repeated lies about, say, Saddam Hussein and yellowcake uranium, or the non-existent Mohammed Atta-Iraq connection. It’s a sign, however, of how petty he’s willing to be.
To the extent he acts trifling—he is trifling. He has managed to, in his retiring years, become the EF Hutton of bullshit, and I can’t imagine why anyone listens anymore.
(X-posted at Strangely Blogged.)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 10/27/13 at 01:45 PM
Thursday, October 24, 2013
And things were said and tears were shed, People
The above video is of Rep. Pete Sessions of TX, who was supposedly the person who said he could not stand to look at President Obama at some point in a White House meeting. And I don’t even know if it is true. I won’t pretend I know. Let’s just call him the Schroedinger’s Racist, and posit that unless the White House meeting in question was actually recorded, we simply can not infer from the available data whether he actually expressed the opinion that he could not stand the President and will not know until that event can be observed.
Some people might allege that based upon a priori data, we can reasonably speculate that Pete Sessions is in fact just the sort of person who might have made a disrespectful remark regarding the President. Others might state that the authoritative denial of the White House spokespeople negates the likelihood that he said that thing—but reasonable people might also weigh the possibility that the remark exists as an inadmissible anecdote—not on the record, but having been heard by someone, just not in a fashion readily reproducible.
In other words, he may have said it, and have had it been officially unsaid. In fact, it may have been very necessary to do so, because in order for the aforementioned White House meeting to have been in effect, the actual authority of the holder of the office that the White House represents would have to be validated. The failure to recognize that authority would tend to corrupt the resulting exchange of the conversation.
And we have no particular reason to believe that the conversation was corrupted, do we?
I leave that logical exercise for the reader to determine on his/her/their own.
(X-posted at Strangely Blogged.)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 10/24/13 at 10:44 PM
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Inglourious Basterds Hit the Campaign Trail
For a while there, it looked like October might just have to go into the annals of political history as an unmitigated downer what with shutdowns, defaults, Values Voters, healthcare.crash and suchlike. To be honest, I almost expected Hillary to announce “just kidding” and that she wouldn’t run in 2016 just to pay us all back for picking Obama last time around.
But then, like a tonic for my soul, the morning news brought the first bona fide political belly laugh of October, 2013 and it’s all good again, thank you very much. So what was the breath of fresh air that blew away the cobwebs down in my dumps? It was the news that my fellow-Pennsylvanian, Rick Santorum has put out an S.O.S. to rally his dozens of loyal supporters to create a “strike force” of teabaggers to carry Ken Cuccinelli to victory in the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial race. What could go wrong . . . ?
Santorum’s PAC, Patriot Voices, is recruiting supporters to go door to door Nov. 1-3 in Virginia to plug the Republican candidate for governor on its website.
In a plea from the PAC sent to supporters, Santorum, who endorsed Cuccinelli last year, also asks for those who can’t volunteer their time to donate money to pay for travel, meals, signs and literature for the strikeforce
I suppose that Santorum decided to pull out the big guns when he heard that those godless Clintons and the gun-grabbing, New York elite, Mayor Michael Bloomberg were endorsing Ken Cuccinelli’s opponent, Clintonite carpetbagger, Terry McAuliffe.
Santorum, who knows quite a lot about ideological nuances that crater elections will, no doubt, be quite a comfort to the Cooch after his inevitable loss.
And, then, perhaps Cooch can return the favor when Santorum runs again in 2016 for Moralizer-in-Chief.
Uh-oh. Looks like Santorum is already having quite an effect on the Virginia race, Rasmussen just came out with a poll showing McAuliffe doubled his lead overnight.
Posted by Bette Noir on 10/22/13 at 01:19 PM
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Not With a Bang, But a Whimper
Since November 7, 2012, literally millions of words have been dedicated to analyzing and describing the decline and fall of the Republican Party. I’ve contributed my share.
Some point fingers, some lash out, some ridicule, some despair. Others prescribe, coach, and recommend reform to little avail because many of the new hands are unqualified, irrational zealots and many of the old hands are frightened, tired and not up to the job of rehabilitating demagogues.
But now we’ve arrived at a tipping point in which the age old battle between those who would preserve what we have built vs those who would destroy everything and start over is about to be waged. We have to decide whether to “stay calm and carry on” or go crazy and break things.
Historically, similar battles have been waged with variable results so it is understandable that no one is quite sure how the current Rand-ian Self-Interest Crusade will change the face of American politics, if at all.
Personally, I tend toward the “if at all” side of the equation for a number of fairly prosaic reasons.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/20/13 at 09:22 AM
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Postphoning the Goperdammurung?
It seems that whenever there is a Republican setback lately, whether electoral or politically in general, there are a spate of thinky pieces about what’s going wrong in the Republican Party and how they might fix it. I don’t despise the impulse, even while I find it overly optimistic and paradoxical. Many of the premature postmortem-writers aren’t ostensibly fans of the Republican party, to begin with. And rather than consider how whatever rupture between the party and the mainstream can be repaired, I know my gut instinct is to reach for a lever and pull like a mad mother. Political writers are, for the most part, I think, bright people and problem-solvers at heart. We are generally not rooting for armageddon. There is a code of honoring bar tabs and not kicking even bastards in the slats when they are down.
And I am a political writer and not immune to the zeitgeist, so why don’t I carve into this still-wriggling corpus and see what political wisdom may be extracted? (Let’s get it down first. And maybe a kick to the slats? And while we are here, a shiv and that lever. Thank you.)
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Posted by Vixen Strangely on 10/19/13 at 04:30 PM
Friday, October 18, 2013
New Southern Strategery: Let the Poor get Poorer While the Rich get Richer
Discouraging piece in the Washington Post today about the increase in poverty in southern and western states as measured by the percentage of school kids qualifying for free or reduced price lunches. This graphic compares 2000 to 2011:
In 2000 only four states reported that a majority of their public school kids were on free or reduced lunch. In 2011 seventeen states did. All in southern or western states. The author of the article quotes Michael Rebell, executive director of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Columbia University as attributing this increase in poverty to statistics showing that the U.S. lags behind other countries in educational testing. He points out that kids from high income areas are holding their own but when you look at scores from schools with a lot of low income kids the bottom drops out. The rise in poverty can certainly be at least partially explained by the recession. The Southern Education Association spokespeep also throws in “immigration and a high birthrate among low-income families”. (Translation: “If only those poors would stay where they belong and not breed so much here!”) Hank Bounds, Mississippi commissioner of higher education has a couple of cents worth too:
Hank Bounds, the Mississippi commissioner of higher education, said the country needs to figure out how to educate the growing classes of poor students and reverse the trend.
“Lots of folks say we need to change this paradigm, but as a country, we’re not focusing on the issue,” said Bounds, who was previously Mississippi’s state school superintendent. “What we’re doing is not working. We need to get philanthropies, the feds, business leaders, everybody, together and figure this out. We need another Sputnik moment.”
Sputnik moment? Seriously? OK, here’s what that 2011 map called to mind for me.
read the whole post »
Posted by marindenver on 10/18/13 at 02:15 PM
Nullification Doctrine 2.0
Jim DeMint, who fittingly occupied John C. Calhoun’s old Senate seat before he decamped for a wingnut welfare gig at Heritage, published a screed in the WSJ today that was two parts “la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you” and one part argument for a modern twist on nullification.
The editorial, entitled “We Won’t Back Down on ObamaCare,” serves notice that the teaturd lemmings in Congress will continue to try to overthrow a law that was duly debated, legislated and upheld by the highest court in the land plus a national election. DeMint gives three reasons why the gallant cause to combat
Northern aggression ObamaCare must continue:
The first is that ObamaCare was not the central fight in 2012, much to the disappointment of conservatives. Republicans hoped that negative economic news would sweep them to victory, and exit polls confirmed that the economy, not health care, was the top issue. The best thing is to declare last year’s election a mistrial on ObamaCare.
A “mistrial”—are you fucking kidding me? We don’t need to consult a “word cloud” of Republican talking points for the 2012 election to know “ObamaCare” would show up in a big fat font. It was a major issue by any rational measure, and even if it weren’t, exit polls aren’t a sane basis to nullify laws. There was an election. The GOP lost.
Second, the lives of most Americans are not dominated by the electoral cycle. They shouldn’t have to wait three more years for Congress to give them relief from this law, especially when the president has so frequently given waivers to his friends. Full legislative repeal may not be possible while President Obama remains in office, but delaying implementation by withholding funds from a law that is proven to be unfair, unworkable and unaffordable is a reasonable and necessary fight.
Take it up with the Founders, Jimbo. And you had your shot in the last election cycle. You lost.
There’s a third reason not to stop fighting. Forget the consultants, the pundits and the pollsters; good policy is good politics. If the Republicans had not fought on ObamaCare, the compromise would have been over the budget sequester. Instead, they have retained the sequester and for the past three months ObamaCare and its failings have been front and center in the national debate. Its disastrous launch was spotlighted by our defund struggle, not overshadowed, as some contend. With a revived and engaged electorate, ObamaCare will now be the issue for the next few years.
No, what’s been front and center is the irresponsible and reckless behavior of the GOP—so much so that it’s overshadowed the glitchy healthcare exchange rollout. Only someone who is irrevocably divorced from reality could claim that Cruz & Co.’s disastrous nullification attempt was a win for the GOP. And make no mistake, fellow citizens, that’s what we’re dealing with here: people who are completely unmoored from facts. The kicker:
These are the reasons we fought so hard to get Washington to listen to the American people and take action to stop ObamaCare, and it is why so many are thankful for the courageous leadership of people like Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and conservatives in the House of Representatives. The law is economically unstable, financially irresponsible and harmful to hardworking Americans.
No, the Republicans are fomenting economic instability, behaving in a financially irresponsible manner and doing measurable harm to hardworking Americans. It’s been laid bare for all to see, and the American people reject DeMint’s Calhoun Doctrine 2.0 by huge margins.
When he was still a senator instead of a wingnut welfare queen, DeMint famously predicted that healthcare reform would be Obama’s Waterloo. But it’s looking more like the GOP’s Appomattox.
[X-posted at Balloon Juice]
Posted by Betty Cracker on 10/18/13 at 10:47 AM
Thursday, October 17, 2013
It’s His Party: He Can Cry if He Wants To
The final (for now) congressional vote on ending the government shutdown and raising the debt limit finally happened, and here are our totals:
The Senate voted 81 to 18 Wednesday night to reopen the federal government and raise the nation’s borrowing limit, hours before the Treasury Department faced the possibility of being unable to pay all of America’s bills for the first time in modern history.
The House followed suit, voting 285-144, to end the latest damaging battle of divided government in a polarized Congress.
I wil probably have a lot more to say about this later, but for now, keep in mind that there were 18 GOP Senators and 144 GOP House members (oh, yes, they were all GOP members), who for some reason thought not raising the debt ceiling would be fine with them. Among the “Nays” were usual suspects for the 2016 GOP presidential primaries—Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul—even Paul Ryan.
That’s kind of a disgrace, isn’t it? In a few years, will they be able to defend that? Will they maintain that this was a symbolic vote since they didn’t doubt in the least that the votes to pass were there? I guess we will see how that flies.
But speaking of whether or not the votes were there, I guess Boehner was not accurate when he previously said that the votes to pass a clean CR weren’t there. It’s possible he only thought he could get them if his members were under the debt limit gun, so to speak. But when you consider the last 16 days, and $24 billion lost in the economy, it just doesn’t seem like this was all that productive. does it?
This also takes us back to the dilemma from the beginning of the year—Boehner might really have only 80-odd reliable votes in his caucus, and Nancy Pelosi has pretty much the Democratic side. He’s a pretty weak speaker to begin with, and with yet another violation of the Hastert rule, once again, his Speakership may be in peril. But once again—who wants it? If Speaker Boehner looks like a man who drinks, he also looks to me like a man with reasons.
With an update since I posted at Strangely Blogged:
Which, when I composed all this last night, was a bit contigent upon more GOP members actually minding, but as of today, his Facebook page blowing up with dolchstoss imagery notwithstanding, it looks like the teafolk have electedto be cool. I deeply wonder if this is because Drunk Uncle John promises them Christmas, lets them stay up past their bedtimes, and will allow them to do this thing all over again. Unlike the GOP Senators, who are poopyheads.
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 10/17/13 at 07:55 PM
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Pandering For Dummies
Anyone who thinks that the recent implosion of the Republican party signals a new day of maturity, logic and rationality in matters governmental probably also believed that the results of the 2012 presidential election would finally “break the fever” of hyper-partisanship in Congress.
From where I stand, Shutdown 2013 is looking like a warm-up act for what promises to be a fully-pyrotechnic, Apocalypse Now midterm campaign year with freak flags flying from “sea to shining sea.” I expect that Heritage Action and the Senate Conservative Fund, and their proud sponsor Koch Industries, will be out for blood and handing out torches and pitchforks to every True Patriot.
Now that President Obama has committed the ultimate crime of executive uppityness—standing up to House Republicans and laying bare their utter incompetence and impotence—he must be removed.
At the Philadelphia Convention, Benjamin Franklin noted that, historically, the removal of “obnoxious” chief executives had been accomplished by assassination. Franklin suggested that a proceduralized mechanism for removal — impeachment — would be preferable.
As a result we have Article II, Section 4 of the US Constitution which states:
The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
That’s pretty straightforward. “High Crimes,” though a little dated and vague, sounds like pretty serious stuff. Nothing there about being apologetic, sex acts [I’m looking at you, Bill] socialism or playing too much golf. Nevertheless, impeachment has become a standard feature of the Republican playbook when a Democrat is in office. But, if it helps them blow off steam in an institutionally acceptable and relatively harmless way, why not.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/16/13 at 09:07 AM
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Waiting for Gouda
Blog needs more dog. Here are a pair of boxers. Their serious expressions have nothing to do with the possibility that the US Congress now has a greater concentration of stupid than at any time since just prior to the Civil War. The thing that makes these zaftig doggies so solemn is CHEESE.
Speaking of stupid, I destroyed yet another broomstick this morning. I didn’t crash into a light pole on the way to the Leaky Cauldron; I was attempting to slay what I thought was a giant flying cockroach that I thought had alighted on the floor, in just about the same spot where the dogs would patiently await cheese in the above photo, which was taken later.
I launched into giant cockroach battle mode, which consists of grabbing a broom and swinging it at a lumbering insect in vicious, high-speed arcs, while screaming DIE! DIE! DIE!, then using the broom to sweep the carcass of the annihilated foe out onto the porch and then off into the yard.
But it turns out the thing I thought was a giant cockroach was just a giant cockroach-shaped piece of mulch that one of the dogs must have carried in on her feet or jowls. And I broke a broom over it. Damn. It’s possible I should update the prescription on my glasses.
Please feel free to discuss pets, pest control techniques, eyewear, the fact that a gunnysack of meth-snorting ferrets is more intelligent and rational than the neo-confederates in the US Congress or whatever.
[X-posted at Balloon Juice]
Posted by Betty Cracker on 10/15/13 at 11:07 AM
Monday, October 14, 2013
Values Voters Nadir
The GOP’s Little Engine That Could, hurtling toward inevitable wreckage, pulled into its final stop yesterday to pick up a few last passengers bound for glory. Turns out there was a sort of Harmonic Convergence of ultra-conservatism shaping up this weekend that brought together the illuminati of the far right. There were truckers and Sarah and veterans—oh my!
The Values Voters were in town to renew their vows to God, Guns and Glory, and to select this year’s homecoming king who turned out to be that paragon of conservative values and Christian soldiery, Ted Cruz. Now it just so happened that “our vets,” as Caribou Barbie calls them, were planning a civil protest to make the point that they should always have access to their memorials.
The veterans laid no blame on political parties involved in the government shutdown, they simply wanted to make the point that they feel that these memorials should never be inaccessible to veterans and the public who wish to honor them.
Unfortunately, the Values Voters, all pumped up on a weekend of conservative purity and American Exceptionalism decided that this was a terrific opportunity to flip Obama the bird and get their pictures in the news being patriots again, just like in the 2009 Glory Days.
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 10/14/13 at 09:45 AM
Saturday, October 12, 2013
No, Wait, Wait—Everyone Actually *LOVES* Ted Cruz!!
It’s true! Because wouldn’t you know it, the straw poll at the 2013 Values Voters’ Summit had him as the big winner, should he be thinking about a White House run in 2016 (and you know he is thinking about it dontcha?). And this was after he said some of the most gee-gosh-darn things, too.
You know what? On second thought, maybe it’s because he has said the most gee-gosh-darn things. You know, like joking that the president was going to disappear him and that hecklers were probably paid OFA shills. Because obviously. Nothing succeeds like flaming paranoia. (Unless you are appealing to the fringe, in which case paranoia is best known as “fitting in”.) And amongst the values voters, that enlightened bastion of Godwinning for Goobers, Homophobia for Herp-Derps, and Bible-Banging for Bigots, he actually has a crowd in which he doesn’t stand out. Good going, Ted.
Now, you might have gotten a different impression from more old-school Republican politicians like NY Rep. Peter King (who is a likely contender against Cruz should there even be a 2016 GOP primary with debates an’ all that). He doesn’t like what Cruz is laying down even a little, because by doom saying against Obamacare he kind of is making it look like a quite a reasonable system by comparison of his fantasy-world (inherited from the Sr. Cruz, because the Rev. does believe in death panels) with the affordable care reality. And for what it’s worth, many Democrats find themselves in the odd position of agreeing with Rep. King, because they, too, think Cruz has done quite a lot for making the ACA popular.
So there you go. Honestly, I think I am beginning to have a kind of hate-love thing for him. He could be my new Santorum. Anything is possible.
(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged.)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 10/12/13 at 11:59 PM
Friday, October 11, 2013
Had Enough Ted Yoho? You BET!
Dr. Ted Yoho (R-FL) is the embodiment of what can go terribly wrong when the nation decides to run with “Washington Outsiders.” Now, I’m the first one to complain about some of the shenanigans that “Washington Insiders” have gotten up to, over the years.
But let me ask you this: if your racehorse pulls up with a limp are you going to call a veterinarian or your congressman? See what I’m getting at?
Ted Yoho has never held public office of any kind. He has been practicing veterinary medicine for 28 years and apparently woke up one morning:
. . . acutely aware that he is not alone in the concern regarding the state of our nation. He understands the challenges we are all being forced to face and as a result has made the decision that it is his time to Stand Up for America in the hopes that like-minded citizens will support him in this call to action.
And that’s just fine. I have nothing against second careers or aspiring to take one’s life experience and skills to elected office, to try and make the world a better place. But, I suspect Rep. Ted knows that, just as the University of Florida doesn’t let their veterinary students carve up someone’s beloved Fluffy unattended, neither should a rookie congressman grab for any available microphone just because it’s there.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/11/13 at 12:57 PM
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Time To Reboot, America
This past week has reminded me, often, of the words of the late, great Adlai Stevenson who said:
I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.
Stevenson was referring to the Republicans of his time: McCarthy, Nixon, Goldwater, etc but I’m sure he’d feel the same about the current crop.
Most of us grasp that the current level of governmental dysfunction is both unacceptable and unsustainable. Some of us appreciate the fact that a manufactured crisis has blossomed into a constitutional crisis in which President Obama has no real choice other than to refuse to negotiate on the debt ceiling. To relent would be to gravely damage the office of the presidency.
The 2012 presidential election seriously depleted the leverage of congressional Republicans despite the fact that they read their continuing House majority as some sort of voter mandate that they have become somewhat maniacal about defending.
Unfortunately, maniacs make mistakes and these particular maniacs seem bent on making every mistake in the book.
Republicans, flying blind without a map or a manual, have launched the country into serious turbulence which, as we are all learning, is much easier to do than to un-do.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/10/13 at 12:36 PM