Thursday, September 22, 2011

Last Call

Sarah Palin fans will have to fork over the cash to convince the Griftzilla From Wasilla to run.

Sarah Palin has a message for her fans and supporters who want her to make a late entry into the race for president: Please send money.

The Des Moines Register reports that Palin’s SarahPAC has sent a fundraising letter to its supporters, telling them that Palin is “on the verge of making her decision of whether or not to run for office” — and asking recipients to send a donation in order to show their support.

Put your money where your moose is, suckers.  America's Soccer Mom needs money badly to maintain her middle class lifestyle, and she's gotta get that money somehow.  The best part is she won't run...this time.  But she'll keep fleecing the rubes who think she will.

They deserve each other.

Acting On Affordable Care

House Republicans are unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act, so now they are trying to block the Department of Health and Human Services from implementing any further health care reforms.

A bill drafted by House Republicans would exempt more health insurance plans from regulations under the health system reform law.

GOP lawmakers discussed legislation to block the Dept. of Health and Human Services from enforcing reform law provisions during a Sept. 15 Energy and Commerce health subcommittee hearing. A draft version of the bill circulated during the hearing would grant grandfathered status to all health plans operating before the reform law was enacted on March 23, 2010.

Such legislation would prevent HHS from implementing new mandates regarding coverage and health plan administration, said Rep. Joseph Pitts (R, Pa.), the subcommittee's chair. "That way, consumers who really do like the coverage they have really get to keep it."

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D, N.J.) disputed the notion that Americans have lost insurance coverage they enjoyed before the enactment of the reform law. The Republican proposal is just a ploy to repeal the statute, he said.

"The regulations on insurance companies that are consumer protections are all working," Pallone said. "They are all having a positive impact. There is no reason not to let the insurance companies continue down this path."

We're seeing this because Republican staffers in DC are seeing news stories like this becoming a lot more common:

Almost 1 million young adults have signed on to new health insurance policies, government statistics released Wednesday show. Government officials credit the new federal health care law for making that possible.

The rise in young adults 19 to 25 with insurance comes as older Americans are losing their health insurance as the economic crisis continues.

"We feel quite confident in attributing virtually all of the change to the provisions in the Affordable Care Act," said Rick Kronick, deputy secretary for health policy for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

A million more young adults in this economy have health insurance now thanks to the Affordable Care Act.  It's working, and Republicans can never allow their base to find out.  The law has to die before provisions can fully take effect or the GOP is broken...and they know it.

A Troubled Bridge Over Water, Part 2

President Obama hit one out of the park today here in Cincy as he challenged Republicans to get serious about jobs and pass the American Jobs Act.

With the aging Brent Spence Bridge as a backdrop, President Barack Obama issued a challenge Thursday to his top Republican opponents in Congress to pass a bill he says will create jobs by funding projects like the bridge’s $2.4 billion replacement.

On the banks of the Ohio River, in the backyards of House Speaker John Boehner of West Chester and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Louisville, Obama – standing on a platform underneath the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge, just to the east of the Brent Spence – had tough words for both men.

“There’s no reason for Republicans in Congress to stand in the way of more construction projects,” the president said. “There’s no reason to stand in the way of more jobs. Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. Help us rebuild America. Help us put this country back to work. Pass this jobs bill right away.”

The 20-minute speech came just a few minutes after the president’s motorcade passed over the aging, over-used Brent Spence Bridge. It loomed in the background as the president delivered a speech filled with aggressive rhetoric as a crowd of hundreds frequently cheered and chanted “Pass the bill!”

And for the Enquirer's story here, this is about as polite as they've ever been to the President.  Even the "aggressive rhetoric" part is downright nice for them, they despise the President and always have (as evidenced by this morning's giant eff you Obama headline and complaints about his visit causing traffic problems, then the paper's mash note to Republicans.)

Granted, even this story goes on to attack the President for playing politics, but at least the fact-checking story after was grudgingly approving.

Still, the crowd was clearly on the President's side here, even if only for a moment here in the blood-red tri-state.

Roast Overdone?

CNN Entertainment had a debate about whether Charlie Sheen's roast went too far.  I don't know how many of our readers are old enough to remember the "classic" roasts, where comedians came and took their finest turns.  It felt different then, it was more... honorable.  That's not to say they didn't get in their digs, but it was more about the humor and less about how far they could push the limits.  It wasn't enough to dive into their personal lives, there had to be a point (a funny one, even!) and it had to be funny enough to be worth the insult.  That was not the case Monday night.

I don't think it was too much to air.  I think most of it was in poor taste, and I actually felt sorry for Sheen.  The man has had a hard year, and it's like the producers took advantage of him at a bad time.  I know he's a big guy, but when you have that much drama it's surely hard to step outside of yourself and know when to say when.  In Charlie's case... when, already.

Here is a link to the meanest jokes.  Did I object?  No.  That's what roasts have become.  But I was also not amused, nor was I at all entertained.  Sheen was a hell of a sport, because his kids were brought in, as were some other folks.  I am pretty thick-skinned, and I would have thrown a punch or two after some of those jokes. I guess I'm trying to say it was a roast, and apparently taste and standards have been replaced by shock value.  I felt no wit, no creativity or hilarity whatsoever.  At best, I just don't get it.  At worst, a tradition has been lost, and we'll never see good old Dean Martin throw a bazinga again.

Those were the days.

Bachmann Has A StupidiLeak

WATERLOO, Iowa - Back in her hometown Monday, Republican presidential contender Michele Bachmann waxed nostalgic for an era when people were responsible for purchasing their own insurance, rather than being tethered to an employer for coverage.

"When I grew up here in Iowa, we owned our own health insurance. We didn't necessarily have it from our employer," she said.

Uh, Michele? People still have that choice. The reason they go for employer coverage is because that way they can actually afford the coverage. Companies get breaks and enhance competition among insurance providers, letting them provide them at he lowest possible price to employees who choose to utilize those benefits. One would think Bachmann doesn't realize private health insurance is an option we already have. She likes to pretend she is adding a choice when in fact she wants to take one away. Not the first time she's tried this approach.

"I think you should be able to own your plan, so your employer doesn't own it - you get to own it, and you buy it with your own tax-free money," Bachmann responded. She added, "You should be able to set aside whatever amount of your income you need to purchase the kind of health care you need for yourself, for your family."

Hey, if my employer owning my insurance policy means I pay a lot less for it and have better access, I'm all for that. People should be able to set aside whatever amount of income they want.  And we should also be able to afford housing and food, but real world economics don't always allow that.  It would put health care into the same category as other services the middle and lower class cannot afford.

Not that she cares about them.

[Zandar here.  Speaking of Michele Bachmann...]

[These are Republicans, folks. All science is fiction to them.]

A Desperately Needed Awww

Today many of us are sad and feeling more frustrated than usual. Please allow this to give us some much needed distraction.

A bald baby penguin who was abandoned at birth has been accepted back into his family thanks to the nurturing intervention of staff at an aquarium in China.

The baby bird is completely featherless and was rejected by its family following its birth in Liaoning Province of China last month.

"Its parents kicked it out from time to time, or even left it on the icy ground to let it die," a keeper at the aquarium said.

Once properly diagnosed, the penguin put on weight and developed feathers.  He's as cute without them as he was afterwards, at least in my book.

Americans Are OK With Class Warfare

Some two-thirds of Americans want to see the wealthiest among us pay more taxes, including the "job creating" corporations.

For those labeling President Barack Obama's recent comments about taxes "class warfare," a majority of Americans may think differently.

At least two-thirds of Americans believe that high income earners should be taxed at a larger rate, according to a recent poll from Gallup about Obama's jobs plan proposals.

Sixty-six percent of Americans told the polling firm that individuals making at least $200,000, or families bring home $250,000, should see an increase in taxes. There's an even larger majority in favoring an elimination of tax deductions for corporations, with 70 percent of the public agreeing that wealthy corporations should pay higher taxes.

The survey also included some positive Republican feedback for President Obama's plan. Fifty-three percent of GOP voters favoring deductions for corporations to be eliminated

So when GOP House majority leader Eric Cantor said this yesterday:

“Unfortunately what we’ve seen now is the president has made a decision that he’s going to go into full campaign mode now 14 months before the election,” Cantor told reporters after a GOP conference meeting Wednesday. “And that’s fine, that’s his decision. But what he’s going to find when he goes traveling out to Republican districts across the country is he’ll learn that people don’t want their taxes raised.” that he's a liar.  Republicans indeed want to see taxes raised in order to reduce the deficit.  Keep that in mind when President Obama speaks today in Cincy.

Blame Game Remains The Same

For the first time in a CNN poll, a majority of Americans assign at least partial blame of the economic mess we're in to President Obama, but a larger majority still holds Bush responsible.

When asked how much responsibility Obama bears for the economy's conditions, about 53 percent blamed Obama either a great deal or a moderate amount. That number is up from the roughly 32 percent who gave the same answer six months after Obama took office in 2009.

The poll results come two weeks after Obama announced his jobs plan, a $447 billion proposal aimed at jumpstarting job growth.

But in the public's eye, Bush shoulders more of the burden when it comes to the economy, with nearly seven in 10 Americans blaming the former president either a great deal or a moderate amount. That number is down from 80 percent who assigned fault to Bush six months after he finished his second term in 2009.

The stronger blame on Bush mirrors results from a CNN/ORC International Poll in late July. When asked to choose whether Obama and the Democrats or Bush and the Republicans were more responsible for the country's current economic problems, about 57 percent chose Bush, while 29 percent picked Obama. 

It's not great news for President Obama, but it's not fatal, either.  If anything, the person this poll hurts is Rick Perry.  The last thing Americans want is another George W Bush right now.  For the same reason, this poll may help Mitt Romney.

Most of all, it shows that the Republican plan to block all efforts to improve the economy and blame President Obama when nothing gets better continues to pay off for them as a whole.

Shutdown Countdown: Here We Go Again

And the Tea Party hostage situation and government shutdown train rolls on, the clock now set to midnight, September 30th.

House Republican leaders suffered a surprising setback on Wednesday when the House rejected their version of a stopgap spending bill, leaving unclear how Congress will provide money to keep the government open after Sept. 30 and aid victims of a string of costly recent natural disasters.

The 230-to-195 vote came after fiscally conservative Republicans joined an overwhelming majority of Democrats in opposing the legislation. As it became clear that the bill was going down, a number of Republicans changed their votes from yes to no.

The unexpected outcome illustrated how the intense fiscal fights of recent months had transformed the politics of disaster relief, which in the past has typically been rushed out of Congress with strong backing from both parties. Democrats remained nearly united against the measure because they saw the amount of disaster assistance — $3.65 billion — as inadequate, and they objected to the Republicans’ insistence on offsetting some of the cost with cuts elsewhere.

The vote also showed the Republican leadership’s continuing struggle to corral the most conservative members of the caucus, as more than 40 Republicans rejected the measure because they did not believe it cut spending enough.

The setback on a bill that only a week ago seemed headed for easy passage came just hours after Representative Eric Cantor, the Virginia Republican and majority leader, joined other top Republicans in predicting that the House would pass it. 

But here's the thing:  The GOP wanted to pass this bill to jam the Senate.

Now House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and his leadership team must decide whether to acquiesce to the Democrats, or to cut discretionary spending below the level provided for in this bill. Neither option is good from Boehner's perspective. Appeasing Democrats will cost him support in his caucus, further weakening his standing in his party. But bowing to his own members by cutting spending even further would violate an agreement he struck with Democrats during the debt limit fight, and poison an already sour relationship between leaders of both parties.

GOP leadership is now debating whether to seek a new, less controversial offset, to scrap the idea of offsetting altogether, or to disentangle the disaster aid from the government funding bill altogether -- to essentially admit that yoking the two together in the first place was an error. Democrats say it's plausible there's another, hypothetical offset they can live with -- the only bright line they're drawing now is that further cuts to the budget, below the level Republicans agreed to in July, are unacceptable.

And once again it's Orange Julius who has lost control of his caucus.  We'll see where this goes.


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