Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Exchange Of Fire

Today a pair of Republican-appointed judges on a three judge panel have voted to effectively destroy Obamacare by removing subsidies for federally-run exchanges.  Ian Millhiser:

The two Republicans’ decision rests on a glorified typo in the Affordable Care Act itself. Obamacare gives states a choice. They can either run their own health insurance exchange where their residents may buy health insurance, and receive subsidies to help them pay for that insurance if they qualify, or they can allow the federal government to run that exchange for them. Yet the plaintiffs’ in this case uncovered a drafting error in the statute where it appears to limit the subsidies to individuals who obtain insurance through “an Exchange established by the State.” Randolph and Griffith’s opinion concludes that this drafting error is the only thing that matters. In their words, “a federal Exchange is not an ‘Exchange established by the State,’” and that’s it. The upshot of this opinion is that 6.5 million Americans will lose their ability to afford health insurance, according to one estimate.

It's effectively a miswording, and for that, millions of Americans stand to lose affordable health care.   Republicans are of course really happy this, which is all you really need to know.

The unsuccessful legal argument claiming that the individual mandate was unconstitutional was a major prong of the Republican attack on the law as early as 2009. Yet, even after the GOP decided that defeating Obamacare in court was their number one policy priority, after Republican officials in numerous states brought a high-profile lawsuit seeking to kill this law, and after they hired one of the best lawyers in the country to drive this litigation, no one noticed the alleged flaw in the statute that Randolph and Griffith rely upon today. The reason why is obvious. Not even the many Republican officials who filed briefs seeking to kill this law the first time around actually believed that the law was intended to deny subsidies to people who buy insurance in federal exchanges
To get around this fact, Randolph and Griffith spin an alternative history of the Affordable Care Act’s passage. A major prong of this alternative history claims that Congress wanted to deny subsidies to people in states with federally-run exchanges because that that would provide states with an incentive to start their own exchange — in Randolph and Griffith’s words, Congress “us[ed] subsidies as an incentive to gain states’ cooperation.” Thus, in this narrative, Congress viewed getting states to run exchanges as an all-encompassing goal, trumping even the law’s stated goals of providing “Affordable Coverage Choices for All Americans” and achieving “near-universal coverage.” Needless to say, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Congress actually viewed the administrative question of which set of government bureaucrats would run a particular state’s exchange as a question of such superseding importance that they were willing to deny health coverage to millions of people in order to ensure that the right set of bureaucrats run the exchanges in each state.

Selective mindreading, 101.  That's what this ludicrous case boils down to, but for now, Republicans have managed to hurt millions of American families over what's effectively a typo.

But that's what Republicans do, after all.  So please, Republican pundits, go on TV and tell everyone how awesome it is for 6 or 7 million people to lose affordable health insurance because of the Chewbacca Defense.

Let me know how that works out for you in November, with the whole "rooting for America to fail" thing.

Meanwhile, considering the full DC Circuit Court would be 7-4 Democrats, I'm thinking this will get overturned on a full en banc hearing rather quickly.  Oh, and to top it all off, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals also issued its ruling on the law, and it upheld the subsidies.  Stay tuned.

Turnout For What?

If primary voting turnout in 2014 is any indication of election turnout, then Democrats are going to get absolutely stomped because we're going to stay home and pout rather than vote.

A new study shows that Americans are on-track to set a new low for turnout in a midterm election, and a record number of states could set their own new records for lowest percentage of eligible citizens casting ballots. 
The study, from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, shows turnout in the 25 states that have held statewide primaries for both parties is down by nearly one-fifth from the last midterm, in 2010. While 18.3 percent of eligible voters cast ballots back then, it has been just 14.8 percent so far this year. Similarly, 15 of the 25 states that have held statewide primaries so far have recorded record-low turnout. 
Ouch. 
This is all the more depressing when you realize that, less than 50 years ago, primary turnout was twice as high.

And we're going to let the Republicans win, because we don't give enough of a damn to go vote them out.

What's perhaps most notable, though, is the partisan difference. Republican primary turnout overtook Democratic turnout for the first time in 2010, and that difference is even bigger this primary season. 
 

Courtesy: Center for the Study of the American Electorate

In fact, GOP primary turnout has been pretty steady over the past four decades, but Democratic turnout has dropped consistently -- including by about 30 percent this year, from 8.7 percent to 6.1 percent. That's the biggest decline on-record. 
This is hardly the first warning sign when it comes to Democrats' turnout problem (see here, here, here and here). But if it portends anything close to what's coming in the 2014 election, that's really, really troubling for Democrats.

 So, it's up to us.   If we stay home, then we're going to get smashed.  Not voting only helps the GOP, folks.  You'd though we'd have learned that by now.

StupidiNews!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Last Call For The Rainbow Kynect-tion

Nowhere is Obamacare working better than here in Kentucky, and it's making news overseas as the BBC reports on Kentucky's healthcare exchange, Kynect.

Liberty Sizemore leans back in her chair and beams. The 26-year-old filling station cashier has just been told her enrolment in Obamacare is complete. 
Now she can have her first routine doctor's appointment for seven years. 
"I am so happy," says Sizemore as she waits at the Grace Community Health Centre in Clay County, Kentucky, "I've not had insurance since I turned 19." 
But Sizemore is also nervous. She is seriously overweight and was warned in her teens that she was likely to develop diabetes. Without health insurance she has not been able to afford tests or check-ups to see if she has indeed got the disease. 
"I'll go to the hospital only in an emergency," says Sizemore, who is still paying off the $10,000 bill for removing her appendix two years ago. 
"That's what's on my credit card right now," she sighs, "hospital bills."

It's helping people who grudgingly take the assistance.

Hairdresser Sadie Smith has enrolled but, she hopes, only as a temporary measure. Her family's insurance disappeared when her husband lost his job. (Most Americans with health insurance get it through their job, with the employer and the worker sharing the cost.)

As she puts the finishing touches to a customer's hair at her small salon in Manchester, Kentucky, Smith says she is grateful for Obamacare. But she is uneasy. "It scares me. The government wants to control everybody - their finances, their insurance, it all comes back to control."

But she'll stay in the program because it's helping her family.  And Obamacare will help people who flat out dislike President Obama, too.

Benita Adams may be one of the people the Governor has in mind. The 62-year-old grandmother lives on the edge of the rolling Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky. She owns her home but works two jobs as a dental assistant to make ends meet. She did not vote for President Obama
Adams has had no health insurance since her divorce 30 years ago. A recent heart operation left her with a $67,000 bill. Although the hospital waived around half of that, she still pays $50 a month to clear the rest. 
"I used to say, if I get hurt just let me be killed because I can't afford to pay any more hospital bills," she says.

But Adams no longer has to worry. Under Obamacare, she qualifies for a private insurance plan with a hefty government subsidy that covers the monthly payments in full. 
"Everyone was mad over Obamacare but it's just wonderful, it's really helping people," Adams says as she lists the medical appointments she has been to since getting insured. 
Of course, Mr Obama cannot run for the presidency again. But if he could, would Adams vote for him? "I'd sure think about it" she says, "It's the best thing he's done."

People here in Kentucky will remember Obama did this.  And they will remember that Mitch McConnell has vowed to take all this away, to repeal Obamacare "root and branch" if Republicans get control of the Senate.

And maybe some of them will vote Democratic.  But no matter who they voted for, Obamacare can help them get affordable health insurance.

And that's a win for everyone in Kentucky.  Heck, it's a win for 20 million Americans nationwide.  It would be even more if Republicans would stop blocking it in red states.

Weak Knights On The Military Channel

The perpetual war party is upset that we haven't bombed us some pro-Russian Ukranian separatists yet, and they are making their displeasure known.  And yes, this includes both Republicans and Democrats, like Tennessee's Bob Corker, and New Jersey's Bob Menendez.

“Clearly President Putin has created the set of circumstances and has supplied the resources … to the rebels so that this tragedy could take place,” said Menendez, the chairman of the panel, said on the "Fox News Sunday" program. 
“For me, I think the West, including the [United States], has to have a far more significant response than we’ve seen to date,” he said. 
Corker, the committee's top Republican, told Fox's Chris Wallace that the United States is only emboldening Putin by not helping Ukraine. 
“This incident is incredibly tragic, to watch what's happening with these bodies,” he said. “What is also tragic is the response that the West has given up until this point. And in many ways, because of that cautious response, Russia has continued to foment all the problems that they've created in Eastern Ukraine.” 
In addition to being disappointed with the U.S. response, he said that he hoped European governments would also be acting more forcefully.

Only one problem, boys:  the American people don't want anything to do with another war.

Amid deepening violence across Eastern Europe and the Middle East, Americans are recoiling from direct engagement overseas and oppose U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine by large margins, according to a POLITICO poll of 2014 battleground voters. 
The survey provides a unique look at the foreign policy attitudes of voters who will decide the most competitive Senate and House races this fall. It shows an intensely skeptical view of American military intervention:

Asked whether the U.S should do more to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine, just 17 percent answered in the affirmative. Thirty-one percent said the current policy is correct and 34 percent said the U.S. should be less involved. The poll was completed before the downing last week of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, the civilian airliner that was apparently attacked over eastern Ukraine.

And I can't imagine the downing of MH17 to move the needle more than a few points.  Our last adventure cost us thousands of troops and trillions of dollars and helped to ruin our economy.  Getting tougher with Putin is not our problem.  Hell, we've got enough of our own to worry about.


A Glass Of California Dry

Meanwhile, the nation's largest state continues to suffer from crippling drought, and there's no relief in sight, meaning that things will get far worse before they get better.

If they get better.

California is probably headed into a deeper drought this summer, making it harder to escape in the future, an expert says.

With more than 80% of the state in an extreme drought, dry conditions will probably continue and won't improve much in the next few months, said climatologist Brian Fuchs of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska.

The prolonged statewide drought means it will be “harder to break the cycle,” much like some thirsty regions in Oklahoma and the entire state of Texas, which have been struggling with drought since 2010, he said.

A U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday showed 81% of California in the category of extreme drought or worse, up from 78%. Three months ago, it was 68%.

Drought conditions in parts of Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties also have worsened.

The maps created by Fuchs and 10 other climatologists are based on 50 indicators, including weather patterns, soil conditions and water activity.

“The impacts really tell the story,” he said.

 How bad could things get?

With a great portion of California already in extreme drought, Fuchs said some have asked if it is possible to break through the highest level, an event that occurs once in 50 years.

A drought beyond that would have to be an event that happens once every 200 to 300 years, he said.

“It would be a significant event,” Fuchs said.

The worst California drought in the history of the US?  Not out of the question.   But climate change is a vicious myth perpetrated by evil egghead scientists and environmental freaks, right?

I know, let's shelve this and revisit it in 200 to 300 years and see if things improve.  Works for Alabama, after all.

StupidiNews!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Last Call For Obama Derangement District

Wisconsin's 6th congressional district is home to Republican Tom Petri, who has served for 25 years.  He's retiring, and the Republicans who are vying to replace him all have one thing in common:  the impeachment of Barack Obama for the crime of being a Democrat.

Each of four Republican candidates for the 6th Congressional District told residents Thursday that if elected in November, he would be inclined to vote to impeach President Barack Obama for any number of transgressions.

At a GOP candidates forum Thursday in Ozaukee County, each candidate said he would approve naming a special prosecutor to investigate specific scandals as a first step toward impeachment.

They held up both the IRS targeting of tea party-connected groupsseeking nonprofit status and the NSA collecting of bulk telephone data and the magnitude of its everyday surveillance routine as examples of government overreach in the Obama administration.

"He should be impeached for so many things," state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-Campbellsport) told an audience of more than 100 residents at the forum inside the Hub at Cedar Creek in the Town of Cedarburg.

His specific list of impeachment-worthy scandals would include those involving the IRS and NSA, as well as the ATF, he said. Numerous problems within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives include the mistake-ridden sting in Milwaukee and the Fast and Furious episode in Arizona where agents lost a few thousand firearms to gun traffickers.

A proposed bill by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) would dissolve the ATF due to its operational failures.

Scandals tied to all three federal agencies are "things the average citizen can understand," Grothman said.

State Rep. Duey Stroebel (R-Town of Cedarburg) said the September 2012 deaths of four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was at the top of his list.

Funny, I don't remember any Republicans wanting to impeach Bush over the Iraq War, the failures of intelligence over 9/11, or the number of embassy personnal killed overseas when he was President.

But Barack Obama is a black Democrat, so he has to be impeached.  And the Republican party is so morally and intellectually bankrupt that impeachment is now the default position for party candidates.  It's all they have.  "Vote for me, I'll get rid of the ni CLANG."

Somehow, it's the Democrats dividing the country, right?

Chump Change To The Man

GOP casino multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson wants to buy the Senate for the Republican Party, and he has enough money to do it by himself.

If you had a big, high-stakes project, think an extra $1 million a day might help?

Well, leading GOP sources focused on 2014 Senate races say such a boost is being contemplated by GOP megadonor Sheledon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino mogul.

Adelson has spent some time of late studying the map, and receiving briefings on state-by-state strategy and candidates. And he is promising to help Republicans target a dozen seats now held by Democrats, with the ultimate goal of picking up at least six - and the Senate majority. The GOP also is defending seats in Georgia and Kentucky.

So watch in the days and weeks ahead to see how much of a Senate play Adelson is prepared to make. One of the sources involved said it could be as much as $100 million. With 107 days to the election from Sunday, that would be an eye-popping bet.

Adelson is worth $35.9 billion.  Him giving $100 million to the GOP to win the Senate is equivalent of you having $3,590 in your bank account and you giving $10 to your favorite candidate.  And thanks to the Supreme Court, both are considered to be equal expressions of freedom of political speech.

Only in America is $100 million considered to be equivalent to ten bucks as far as impact on our political system.

Common sense would dictate a person spending $100 million to buy Senate races would expect that much in return in political favors, if not more.  But that's not corruption or bribery, it's "free speech".

This is our new political reality.

Keeping That Oath

Can we finally stop pretending that Team Dudebro Defector are somehow "liberals" and not right-wing, anti-Obama, anti-government cranks?
Activist Glenn Greenwald posted this today on Twitter, hyping a pro-Edward Snowden advertisement featured at reason.com:




Who is this “coalition of current and former military, police, and other public officials” Greenwald is promoting?


Why, that group of "former police and military" folks is non other than Oath Keepers, one of the nastiest right-wing militia groups in the country.

Launched in March [2009] by Las Vegan Stewart Rhodes, Oath Keepers bills itself as a nonpartisan group of current and retired law enforcement and military personnel who vow to fulfill their oaths to the Constitution.

More specifically, the group's members, which number in the thousands, pledge to disobey orders they deem unlawful, including directives to disarm the American people and to blockade American cities. By refusing the latter order, the Oath Keepers hope to prevent cities from becoming "giant concentration camps," a scenario the 44-year-old Rhodes says he can envision happening in the coming years.

It's a Cold War-era nightmare vision with a major twist: The occupying forces in this imagined future are American, not Soviet.

"The whole point of Oath Keepers is to stop a dictatorship from ever happening here," Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper and Yale-trained lawyer, said in an interview with the Review-Journal. "My focus is on the guys with the guns, because they can't do it without them.

Hey, Las Vegas?  Militia?  Sprung into existence 3 months after Obama took office?  You don't suppose...

An official with New York’s Oath Keepers organization denied the group held “far-right, anti-government views,” and then called on law enforcement officers to disobey orders and join them in their fight against socialist tyranny.  
John Wallace, vice president of the state’s Oath Keepers group, cited an alleged New York State Intelligence Center counterterrorism bulletin reportedly leaked to InfoWars that linked the organization and similar groups to the recent shootings of law 
enforcement officers by extremists. Wallace complains that the document, which has not been confirmed as legitimate, based its conclusions on news reports by “left-wing” and “communist” organizations such as the New York Times, Huffington Post, and CNN.

Oh, these guys backed awesome racist Cliven Bundy and his Ranch of Revolution.

And these are the guys Glenn Greenwald is promoting.

Now matter how much you think that Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald were right. you immediately lose all validity concerning your argument when you decide to make common cause with a dangerous right-wing militia group like Oath Keepers.   Don't ever expect me to take him seriously if he's welcoming the support of these assholes and going after actual liberals.

He just showed his true colors.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Vlad The Self-Impaler


Europe and even America never cared that much about Crimea. It is difficult to dislodge an annexation when a majority of the population likely really did support it. And the Europeans, as long as the big red lines weren't being crossed, are too tied to Russian fuels and their myriad other concerns to care that much about mischief on Ukraine's eastern border. But having a passenger plane, filled with EU citizens, shot out of the sky above what is presumed to be the bubble of first world safety that is "Europe" is a game changing event not only in the Ukraine crisis but much more broadly about Putin's role in Europe generally.

In a paradoxical way, I think the future ramifications of this are almost greater because it is about Russia's recklessness and bumbling than it would be if it were more clearly a matter of intent. This is a f'-up on Putin's part of almost mind-boggling proportions. Yes, a tragedy. Yes, perhaps an atrocity. But almost more threatening, a screw up. Malign intent is one thing. So is aggression. But goofs of this magnitude by someone who controls a massive military arsenal and nuclear weapons are in a way more threatening.

Which of course was the argument later made about Bush and 9/11.   Like Bush in 2001, Putin assumed this wasn't going to happen and it did, spectacularly and tragically, despite the numerous warnings to the contrary.  "Well, Putin doesn't have any control over all of the pro-Russian separatists" isn't an excuse that absolves Putin in the least, in fact it should frighten the hell out of basically everyone.

The Ukrainian situation is no longer an exercise in "what if".  We now know what the consequences are, and they are bloody and dire.  And the hand behind all of this controls Russia's military and nuclear arsenal pretty much exclusively.

This is not a good situation to be in.  Putin is a real problem and will now have to be dealt with.


I Can't Imagine How The Guy Got Voted Out Of Office

Former Republican Congressman Allen West apparently doesn't know much about anything, but he knows everything is Obama's fault, including downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine.

"The blood on Vladimir Putin’s hands was poured by Barack Obama, who is indirectly responsible, accountable and no different than Neville Chamberlain’s weakness in the face of the 20th Century maniacal dictator Adolf Hitler," West, who maintains a relatively large following among conservative activists, wrote in a new post on his blog Friday.

"So much for no drama Obama," West added. "He is purposefully creating drama globally."

To substantiate his claim, West cited Obama's 2012 hot mic moment when he told Russian President Dmitri Medvedev he would have more "flexibility" to negotiate with Russia on missile defense after the U.S. election.


"Sadly, hundreds of Ukrainians and 298 souls on MH17 have paid the price for the weakness and abject cowardice of Obama’s 'flexibility,'" West wrote. "And here in America we quibble over a lawsuit against this charlatan."
.
Yeah Allen, let's talk about charlatans, who con people into believing them when they have materially misrepresented themselves.  Sort of like what you did proclaiming yourself an American military hero when you actually resigned in disgrace from military service when the soldiers under your command beat an Iraqi man senseless because you thought, without any evidence mind you, that the man was involved in an attempt on your life.

That's the definition of charlatan to me.  No wonder Obama was re-elected, and you sir, were not.

Crawl under your rock and trouble this country no more.  You're as unqualified a foreign policy expert as you are a soldier.



StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Another Governor Carter From Georgia Coming?

It looks like Georgia's burgeoning Democratic voters might be ready to put another Carter in the governor's chair, Jimmy's grandson Jason has a significant lead in the latest local polling there.

An exclusive Channel 2 Action News poll indicates if the election were held today, Georgia could have a new governor. 
The poll conducted by Landmark Communications on July 15 found Democratic challenger Jason Carter with a seven-point lead over Republican incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal. 
Carter received 48.7 percent in the poll and Deal received 41.3 percent. Libertarian Andew Hunt received 4 percent of the vote in the poll. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Andrew Hunt is definitely hurting Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, and that could very well mean Carter can pull this off.   And where Carter is winning?  African-American voters, and women.

The poll comes just after new developments in the ethics investigation into Deal, and it could have cost him support according to Channel 2 political analyst Bill Crane. 
“This is definite cause for pause and concern for a governor who probably a year ago didn’t have any serious Democrats who were running and now obviously are in a position to knock him out of his seat,” Crane told Channel 2’s Lori Geary. 
Deal has a nine-point lead in men but women support Carter by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

Oh yes, did I mention yet another corrupt Republican governor is under investigation?

The Georgia governor's race was roiled this week by new revelations in a long-standing ethics investigation of the incumbent, Republican Nathan Deal. 
His opponent, State Sen. Jason Carter, a Democrat, says that a newly-revealed memo, in which the head of the state ethics commission claimed an attorney for Deal threatened her agency while it was investigating complaints against the governor, shows a "pattern of intimidation and interference on the part of the governor's office."

If that's true, and Deal's legal team is threatening investigators, Gov. Deal is a Done Deal.

Stay tuned.  Corrupt Republican governors are going to get tossed like trash in November.

What Domestic Terrorism Problem? Con't

We certainly don't have a right-wing, anti-government domestic terrorism problem with nutjobs who are willing to bomb and kill people or anything, because as we all know, all terrorists are brown dudes with funny religions, and certainly not middle-aged white guys in Utah.

A joint investigation between local police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has led to the arrest of a man they say threatened to bomb several targets, including the Tremonton Police Department in order to instigate an uprising against the government
John Huggins, 47, was under surveillance by the FBI after an anonymous tip came into local police that he was planning to blow up his Bible study group. Police say they learned that he was allegedly planning to blow up the police department along with several bridges and infrastructure points to prevent assistance from showing up, according to court documents.
Huggins had allegedly targeted two police officers to kill before initiating his plan. 
Police say Huggins goal was to get the community to rise up in defiance of the government.

Wait a minute, FBI surveillance?  Bible study group?  Killing cops?  Revolution? Why, that would make this guy a Christian, planning to kill Christians, and an American citizen, planning to kill other American citizens. But that can't be the case because right-wing domestic terrorists are a myth created by the Obama administration's use of flouride and chemtrails.

By the way, this happened last weekend, but you didn't hear about it because John Huggins can't possibly be a newsworthy terrorist because his name isn't Mohammed.  A Muslim plotting to kill two cops and a Bible study group would have made national headlines for the last five days and endless hours of talking head chatter on the cable news shows.

Instead, this guy just doesn't exist unless you happened to read the Ogden Standard-Examiner, because he's a right-wing, white, Christian terrorist, and we can't allow Americans to know those exist.


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