Ever since Battlin’ Jan Brewer refused to sign any more legislation until Arizona passed the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion, Arizona Teapublicans feel like they’ve been punched in the gut! More like jabbed in the ribs by a governor who knows how to read financial reports, which, like reality, tend to have an anti-Tea bias. Welcome to the RINOdome, Governor! It’s beginning to look like at at least some Red State executive branches aren’t entirely drowning in tea.
Two meaningful things happened this week in the US House—I know. Meaningful things don’t happen there all that often these days, except for the occasional attempt at Obamacare repeal. But bear with me, because these are two things that really let you know where the GOP Congresscritters are coming from, these days:
Item the First:
A couple of bills were put up to defund ACORN. Now, you might be thinking that there isn’t any ACORN, and you’d be right, or you might be thinking that ACORN was kind of destroyed based on a hoax, and you’d be right about that, too.
I don’t know why you’d be so tasteless as to associate facts with things Republican congressfolks do, though.
So, a couple of years back Oregon had money to provide Medicaid to 10,000 people but unfortunately there were many more who needed it. So they held a lottery and then had the idea of studying the random people who got picked for Medicaid coverage against a control group of people who didn’t get picked. Some preliminary results were published several months back and now they have the rest of the results. Led by the shrieking of the CATO Institute, righties are now declaring Obamacare to be a useless failure. Mostly because blood pressure readings and cholesterol levels were not measurably different between the two groups.
McArgleBlargle takes to her keyboard to proclaim that giving people government health insurance does not make them healthier and in fact maybe health insurance (for the poors) itself is a waste of money!
And it’s actually bigger, and more important than Obamacare. We should all be revising our priors about how much health insurance—or at least Medicaid—really promotes health. What this really tells us is how little we know about health care, and making people healthy—and how often data can confound even our most powerful intuitions.
“Or at least Medicaid” she says. Which is, you know, what poor people, many of them with brown skins, use.
Well, a whole new crop of Republican freshman are throwing mind-numbing, tax-dollar-gobbling tantrums in the House already this year. Seems the new kids on the block are feeling robbed of their chance to sign on to irrelevant, symbolic legislation, that hasn’t passed 36 times now, all because the grown-ups have decided it’s a waste of time and makes the party look even sillier than losing did.
You guessed it—we’re talking Obamacare Repeal and these kids want in. After all, think about what a firm position on repealing Obamacare did for these high-profile politicos:
The crazy was on at CPAC today. Some of the more bizarre doings for your reading, ah, pleasure, I guess:
Because the Tea Party is so totally not racist, the Tea Party Patriots group put on a session called “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” Well, after all, who wouldn’t be? The session was led by a black conservative named Carl Smith who urged attendees accused of racism to refer to themselves as “Frederick Douglass Republicans”. Unfortunately things went downhill when the audience started shouting back with accusations of “white disenfranchisement” (because nobody is discriminalized against as much as white males!) and support for slavery because, hey, free food & shelter and stuff. So we know for sure now that Tea Partiers are totally NOT racist.
Even a little crazier was a speech given by none other than The Donald. Apparently the crazed ramblings were so epic even his audience left scratching their heads. I, for one, am certainly looking forward to seeing that great ballroom addition to the White House that Trump’s completely gonna build!
Last, but not least, Rick Santorum (and to paraphrase Charlie Pierce, have we mentioned recently what a colossal dick the guy is?) chose to politicize the tragic death of his nephew the day before from an unnamed disease.
“Yesterday he was not the one in pain,” Santorum said, describing the “surreal” scene at the hospital. “Medicines were effectively blocking all his physical pain — we were the ones in pain.”
And he considers this an effective segue into a condemnation of gummint for wanting to block the pain of ordinary citizens who are just trying to get by in this world. In fact big gummint has robbed us of so much suffering and pain that we are in greater suffering and pain because of it! Because we have been robbed of the “why” of America. And so in conclusion government must . . . give us more pain?
I sympathize fully with his family. I too lost a family member to a disease that caused him a lot of pain and I was also grateful that, thanks to Medicare, he had the pain medications that kept him from suffering. I simply can’t conceive of using this as a platform to say other people should suffer pain. And that Medicare and Medicaid should not be there for them, that they should not have the safety net that keeps people from sleeping in the gutters and begging for a living. But I guess that’s why Santorum is a colossal dick and I am not.
Stay tooned folks. The crazy can only accelerate from here. Klondike Barbie is coming up!
UPDATE: Jim Newell chronicles the crazy today. Highlights include Sarah Palin’s boobs joke and Breitbart’s panel of the uninvited - those so far out there that even CPAC doesn’t want to be associated with them, famously including Pammy Shrugs.
Meet Kris Crawford, a Republican representative in the South Carolina State House, an emergency room doc, a convicted tax evader and political pragmatist of the confederate persuasion. That’s him in the mugshot which was taken at his graduation from the South Carolina School of Political Hard Knocks [more about that, later].
Rep Kris Crawford (R- Land o’ Cotton) recently covered himself with glory when it came time to consider South Carolina’s decision to expand their Medicaid program, under the Affordable Care Act. Now, Kris Crawford knew a little bit more about the subject than most of his colleagues because he is a practicing physician.
He knows, for example, that, in South Carolina, a child must be living below 200% of the poverty level [$24,650 for a family of three] to qualify for Medicaid coverage. A pregnant woman must be living at 185% below that level and the elderly, blind or disabled below 100% of the limit.
Conversely, under the ACA, states can expand coverage to anyone at or below 138% of the national poverty level. The cost to the state? $0, until 2020, when the states will have to pick up 10% of the program’s cost, while the federal government picks up the other 90%—forever.
So, yes, some kook in Idaho has actually compared insurance companies to victims of the holocaust because Nobama is going to load them all on that train, send them to the concentration camps and “establish a socialistic health care system”. And something, something about how the companies are being forced to dig their own graves because the “private insurers are used by the feds to put the system in place because the federal government has no way to set up the exchange”.
Beyond the fact that I have a hard time actually boo-hooing about health insurance companies who are madly gouging their customers to boost their bottom lines higher every year, the fedz do have a way to establish that sochulistic health care system. It’s called Medicare. If Congress had actually wanted Obamacare to become the “Crown Jewel of Socialism”, in the words of the Girl with the Faraway Eyes (h/t Charlie Pierce), they could have expanded Medicare. It was even in one of the original proposals to allow the 55 to 64 year old crowd to buy into Medicare but even that was too much socialamism for a Congress that was, at the time, controlled in both houses by Dems.
So I’m guessing the insurance companies will not be loaded wholesale onto those trains after all. More’s the pity.
For the confounded ever-loving sake of Jesus, Mary and Joseph! can we now talk about combating this blight that is stealing our children, our heroes, our young men, and our dreams?
And please don’t come at me with the G-D Second Amendment—that antiquated, perennially misunderstood piece of verbiage does not trump ALL of the rights of those young firefighters.
Don’t tell me we need guns to keep ourselves safe—guns are the biggest public health threat to our society, today. They cost us billions of dollars in loss of life, medical expenses, permanent disabilities and fractured families all to protect the right of the manliness-challenged to tap a keg and fill a Nancy Pelosi target full of holes.
Your arguments are the demented fever dreams of arrested development. They are pure bullshit and you know it. Guns are fun, you say? Try sex, you’ll never go back.
And Merry Fking Christmas to you, Wayne LaPierre, you degenerate old goat. Guess these firefighters should have bought the body armor you’re pimping—as if fighting fires isn’t hard enough already. What kind of program are you going to market to every Fire Department in the land, Wayne?
My erstwhile fellow-Roaster, B4, struck a chord with several of us, yesterday when he said:
We ignore the NRA at our peril, we need to ridicule them, and to marginalize them- hopefully to the point of negation.
My New Year’s resolution, this year, is to take B4’s admonition very seriously and to dedicate my time, energy and efforts to doing anything possible to getting guns out of our daily lives for as long as I live. And Wayne LaPierre, be warned, because I plan to outlive you and your money-grubbing constituency. We got tobacco out of our daily lives, now it’s time to get rid of guns.
I would have preferred to be writing something cozy and festive, today, but, as long as these young people will no longer be able to appreciate “peace on Earth, goodwill toward men,” I’m afraid I have to shake my fist and rage, instead.
Since the Kenyan Usurper's re-election, a bunch of wealthy "Jerb Creaters" has decided to "Go Galt" in order to punish the American people for their temerity to buck the wishes of their rightful overlords. In perhaps the silliest of these threatened layoffs is the promise from Applebees' franchise-owner Zane Tankel to freeze hiring at his forty Applebees locations. Mr. Tankel's main beef with Obama is that the Sinister Kenyan would force Mr. Tankel to **GASP** insure his employees. Why should Mr. Tankel be forced to spend money on his food-handling employees to keep them healthy? Chronically diseased food service workers have been part of the American experience for centuries- insisting on a healthy workforce is positively un-American.
Finally, Applebee's is America's Neighborhood Grill and Bar. If these American grill-and-bars close, New York's neighborhood bars will be taken over by sinister foreigners with strange, almost unpronounceable names like Declan and Patrick. We can't let that happen, just because another sinister foreigner is trying to force healthcare costs onto a hapless millionaire! Remember, folks, tyranny starts with something small, like a pre-broken healthcare system designed by right-wing think tank staffers. If that is unopposed, then the government will implement even greater affronts... why, they may even insist that minimum wage standards are upheld.
Mitt Romney’s quest to get in touch with his “inner human being” is starting to have comedic results. Take his recent forays back into the dark realm of “wimmins issues” . . . on Tuesday, Romney gobsmacked the realm with his new positions on abortion and contraception. In case you missed it, he’s now for them, or at least not as much against them. Ladies, don’t be distressed if you’re confused—you’re meant to be. At least until after the election . . . when all things will be revealed, issuing forth from quiet rooms filled with leather furniture, Cuban cigars and Napoleon.
For reasons known only entirely to himself, but about which we can endlessly speculate, Rep. Joe Walsh, former deadbeat dad and non-musical person bearing that name, decided to launch into a little rant that accused Sandra Fluke, former law student, feminist activist, and person who spoke at the DNC, of being a jobless person who wanted the whole country to pay for her birth control. A brief transcript goes something like this:
“Don’t get me wrong, but I’m already paying through the nose because of the bitches. If I’m going to pay anything towards some woman’s anti-rugrat defense—I better be getting laid for it. I don’t even give up a Flurry at the DQ without heavy petting being on the menu”(he didn’t exactly say)—or wait! Here’s what he said:
So at the Democratic Convention Wednesday night their first prime time speaker was Sandra Fluke — Fluke, Fluke, whatever her name is.
Think about this: a 31-32 year old law student who’s been a student for life, who gets up there in front of a national audience and tells the American people,* “I want America to pay for my contraceptives.” You’re kidding me. Go get a job. Go get a job Sandra Fluke.
This is what, I was offended. We’ve got Americans who are struggling. We’ve got parents in this country who are struggling to buy sneakers that their kids can wear to school that just started. We’ve got parents up and down my district who are barely keeping their house. And, and, and, we have to be confronted by a woman, the Democratic Party this is what they stand for. Their going to put a woman in front of us who is complaining that the country — you, me and you — won’t pay the 9 dollars per month to pay for her contraceptives.
How crazy is this? In a way it’s not her fault, because we teach people this stuff. You go back to fairness, we teach young people this. Don’t worry, government will take care of you. You’re having trouble with your student loans? Don’t worry, government will be there for you.
Sigh. I don’t know why this irritates me, except that I do. It’s like this dense wall of all the anti-feminist things, and one person is getting hit with them for no particular reason. Except, in Walsh’s case, it might have something to do with him being in an election race against a female disabled veteran who actually is concerned about more than just what outfit she’ll be wearing (thankyewverramuch) and who. in a just world, would certainly kick his sorry ass up one side and down the other and make him walk off into his uncertain future with a hitch in his giddy-up.
So, rather than speculating upon Sandra Fluke’s getting a job, maybe he should be contemplating what exactly he might do when his salary is no longer provided by taxpayer dollars. One thing he might do is go back to hustling bar bets—as you may have surmised by his demeanor, the hustle is his natural element—and a not-surprising amount of money could be garnered with the old billiard-ball scam. Who knows how many people mistakenly believed he was incapable of stuffing a billiard ball into his mouth and then eating a cheese sandwich! (And you can only imagine how much more successful this particular trick was on his part when he remembered to take the billiard ball out of his mouth before eating the sandwich!)
What he might be wise to not do, however, is continuing to be a misogynist peckerhead. It is unseemly in a person who wants to be taken seriously, amirite?
You know, there was a parallel with Clinton’s 1988 DNC speech in that he went over his time, but I will say one thing for tonight’s speech—as far as I could tell, he could have done another twenty minutes, easily. This time, however, he had a pretty rapt crowd and he dropped an awful lot of knowledge out there. At the end, I could’ve lit up a smoke.
A really necessary service unfolded during those 40-odd minutes: President Clinton unwrapped a pack of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies put out by the GOP and laid bare what really happened in plain language. The fact-checking just flowed like whiskey at a wake for the corpse formerly known as “What Romney/Ryan Thought They’d Get Away with Indefinitely”. And that was how Clinton broke it down—periodically saying “Let me tell you what happened”, inviting the listener to lean forward as another dense sack of what Team Romney served up last week was set on fire and deposited back at their doorstep. Or something like that. I mix my metaphors when I’ve been lovingly wonked to that long, slow way. I’m still a little tremble-y.
Now, I know it was good for me, but then again, this isn’t new information around here—it just needed to be said out loud where everybody could hear and marvel at how much the record was being distorted—and moreover, how much better Obama’s policies would be than what the other guys are offering, and moreover—still! how that was of a piece with how Democratic Administrations did versus Republican Administrations as a whole. To my ears, that was just sweet reason and (oh how I loved this part) arithmetic. Whether the speech delivered the necessary message generally, I guess time will tell, but I just loved the heck out of it.
And now that it’s done, the talking head dopes can stop pretending there’s some kind of Clinton/Obama beef. So there’s that.
All eyes are on Florida recently as it hosts the quadrennial Republican National Convention. When many of us think of Florida we imagine DisneyWorld, South Beach celebs’ homes and romantic strolls on beautiful beaches with tropical cocktails in hand.
But, away from all of that glitz and glitter, Florida has big problems of the poverty sort. 1 in 6 residents are on food stamps, increasingly children. Florida’s problems are not something new, either, that can be chalked up to effects of a nationwide economic downturn. Poverty in the Sunshine State is long-standing and deep-rooted, with low rankings in nearly every indicator of child well-being, including teen pregnancy, low birth weight, high school dropout and child abuse rates.
Unfortunately, the Florida legislature is not all that interested in addressing any of those problems because . . . OBAMACARE!
Part of the Affordable Care Act is a group of programs called Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Programs which are designed to facilitate collaboration and partnership at the Federal, State and community levels to improve health and development outcomes for at-risk children. Florida with its miserable statistics for child well-being seemed a natural place for an initial start-up of the program. After a year of careful needs assessments, five local “Healthy Start” organizations were awarded funds beginning last September. The full grants were for a five year program.
The most vulnerable families were registered, professional nurses, social workers, and teachers were hired, and by January 1 the programs were up and running: Pinellas County’s Healthy Start set out to help 100 families with children exposed to substance abuse; Putnam, Bradford, and Alachua focused on school readiness and parenting skills; Duval deployed nurses to nurture healthy pregnancies and economic self-sufficiency; and Escambia expanded its Healthy Families program to prevent child abuse and neglect.
To be perfectly clear, MIECHV is an evidence-based, cost-effective program proven to improve the health and development of at-risk children: the federal government was gifting Florida $31.3 million in total grant funding for 5 years of targeted home visitations, no strings attached and no match required. For every dollar invested in a program like this, up to $5.70 is returned to society in the form of reduced government spending like food stamps. Nevertheless, the conservative Florida legislature rejected the following four years of funding, because the grant was provided under the Affordable Care Act.
The only reason legislators applied for and accepted the first year of funding was because they had to apply for it to apply for funding that was more desirable to them—a slice of the Department of Education’s $100 million Race to the Top competition for early childhood education. It’s pretty clear that the Florida Legislature expected that the Supreme Court would rule “ObamaCare” unconstitutional which meant they’d have the first year “gateway grant” and the following four years would be a non-issue.
Since we are not implementing the Affordable Care Act, we opted not to do that. If they bring it forward [again], we will reject it.
Hudson, the chairman of Florida’s Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, previously told the New York Times he supported Florida’s regular rejection of all things Obamacare: “I am not going to start implementing things that I don’t believe in.”
Rep. Denise Grimsley (R-Sebring) told Highlands Today, in September, that such “government intrusion” causes communities and church groups to “lose our compassion.”
However . . . despite all of the bombastic rhetoric regarding “ObamaCare”, the Florida legislature has accepted a federal grant that restores funding for the State Abstinence Program. Appropriations authorized by the Affordable Care Act give the state $2.6 million per year from fiscal year 2010 through 2014.
So. Floridians—your tax dollars at work—no money for at-risk children living in poverty but plenty for crackpot, proven-to-fail contraceptive training guaranteed to balloon Florida’s statistics for at-risk children.