Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Last Call

President Obama spoke at length from the close of this evening's G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico and had quite a bit to say about the plan to tackle Europe's looming financial disaster.

President Obama said tonight that European leaders must quickly fix their ailing economies and banking systems in order to help boost world financial markets -- and create jobs in the United States.
"Slower growth in Europe means slower growth in American jobs," Obama told reporters after the G-20 summit it Los Cabos, Mexico.

He also acknowledged that the festering European problems could cost him the election -- but said that's not his immediate concern.

"If we're taking the right steps, if we're doing the right thing, then the politics will follow," Obama said.

After a two-day summit of the Group of 20 economic powers, Obama expressed confidence that Europe is "determined to move quickly on measures to promote growth and investment," which he said could help "provide confidence and break the fever."

"Our friends in Europe clearly grasp the seriousness of the situation and are moving forward with a heightened sense of urgency," the president said.

I'm glad that the Europeans are aware they are pretty close to the point of no return, but the reality is they've yet to do anything substantive to fix the Greek Fire, and time is now running critically short.  Spain's short-term borrowing costs have jumped to over 5% interest, and their 10-year bonds are at 7%.  They are in the danger zone and will not be able to keep this up for more than a few months at most at these levels, and that time decreases rapidly if rates keep rising.

Germany remains the key to any eurozone plans.  If they don't play ball, the game ends.  We'll see.

It Never Hurts To Be Prepared For The Zombie Apocalypse

Despite the recent bath salts attacks and general nuttery going on out there, I am really not worried that the dead will walk the earth.  Mostly.

What I do worry about is an act of war that takes out communication.  I worry that disease is going to run from coast to coast, as we see more antibiotic resistance.  Zombies aren't scary, but crowds of stupid people are.  For those who live in larger cities, you are just swimming in stupidity.  We have become a generation that seems short on practical, hands-on knowledge.  In other words, we are primed for a StupidiBlast of some sort to teach us a lesson in preparedness.

I'm not stocking a storage room full of toilet paper and bottled water.  I just like the way the aluminum foil hat makes my eyes, pop.  Honest.  But my husband and I have watched many a horror movie and chatted, and I realized last week that George Romero may have helped us define our national emergency plan.  Imagine if you had to be stealthy, clever, and in good enough shape to hike several miles.  Outrun enemies.  Live hand to mouth, minute to minute.  Most of us have never given it a single thought, and would be starting from square one if we were at the base of some catastrophe.

It was the basis of this that led me to write about zombies in the first place.  In my fiction, the zombies are background buzz, the really interesting thing is how people survive.  The miracle is that we actually do, at least in most cases.

Readers: do you do this?  Do you watch a movie or series like Walking Dead and think about what you would do?  If not, maybe I should just keep the foil hat on.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Steve M. is 100% correct about K-Drum and SCOTUS.

If you're Kevin Drum, you can't really believe that powerful people who hold positions of great responsibility act like this. You can't believe, for instance, that they'd saddle their own political primaries with a Sheldon Adelson just because freeing people like him to give unlimited cash pisses us off. Even now, they can't believe the Supreme Court will overturn a law that reduces government spending, and that Republicans in Congress won't replace it with something that addresses the country's real health care problems in some serious way.

But that's not how it goes anymore. Right-wing decision-makers, first and foremost, want to crush liberalism. They are not acting in good faith. And everyone needs to grasp how seriously messed up a political system is when half its actors are out of control in this way. 

Yes.  At least four of the Justices on the Supreme Court will overturn the mandate or the entire ACA just to screw over President Obama, the Democrats, and liberals in general.   Stare decicis and precedent and jurisprudence be damned,  it's time to make the dirty effing hippies pay, and pay we will if we lose the ACA in the next week or two.

It's entirely the hell possible, as BooMan points out, it's very probable at this point.  We need to start considering how to respond.

Speculation is running high that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will soon strike down the individual mandate in the president's Affordable Care Act. If they do, they will leave us no option but to create a Medicate For All plan. And this is true whether they let the rest of the Act stand or they strike the whole thing from the books.

If the SCOTUS rules that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, it will destroy the only private means anyone has come up with to make sure that everyone can has access to medical care. Even if the subsides for the poor remain in place, meaning that no will be denied care because they can't afford it, the insurance companies can't remain profitable if they are required to cover people with pre-existing conditions unless those costs are offset by tens of millions of relatively healthy customers. Ezra Klein provides proof of this here. This isn't a matter of choice on the insurance industries part. It is just the nature of underwriting.

It is not possible to have a private health insurance industry that covers people with pre-existing conditions unless there is also an individual mandate requirement. Under those circumstances, the government would be forced to do away with its insistence that people with pre-existing conditions get coverage. And if the health care reforms don't cover people with pre-existing conditions then not only will people with cancer and diabetes and other chronic diseases go bankrupt or go without treatment, but we won't see any downward trend in the cost of health care. Without the mandate, people will wait until they get sick to seek insurance (which they will be denied) and treatment (which the insured will have to pay for with higher premiums). And we'll go back to a system where getting sick while uninsured lands you in bankruptcy court. 

It's a good plan.  But it's going to require us to vote in unprecedented numbers.  It's going to require work.  It's going to require door knocking to win back the states, to win back redistricting, to win back the House and keep the Senate.  It's going to require a decade of work, easily. The Republicans put 16, now going on 18 years in since 1994.  They all but reversed the Clinton landslide in 2 years.  They got Bush for 8, then reversed a hell of a lot of Obama's win in just 2 years again. Now they stand 3 Senate seats and an Oval Office away from total control of the country for the next generation.  They took state after state out from under us because we let them.

If we don't stand up here, we're done.  And I mean that.

Like A Good Neighbor...

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon woman's neighbors had reason to worry: Virginia Cartier hadn't picked up her Sunday newspaper and her car had not been moved.
When police forced their way into her condo to check on her, they found Cartier, 67, had been pinned beneath a dresser for four days without food or water.
"She is like crazy about her Sunday paper, and she hadn't picked it up," Kyla Sexton told KGW-TV. "And her car hasn't moved. So we were really worried about her."
It's scary to live alone, but especially when older and apparently fiercely independent it does present its challenges.  You hear about neighbors shooting over loud music, aggravating each other and being terrible all the time.  Good neighbors do exist.  As we get more crowded and live longer, we may do well to find some and stay put.

StupdiNews! Celebrity Medical Edition

Jack Osbourne has been diagnosed with MS.  The son of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne just recently got married and has one child, a daughter.  He is surprisingly eloquent in the face of what must be devastating news.  He is in the normal age group to start showing symptoms.  That is sad news, no matter who hears it.

However, there have been advances with some medicines, and as young as he is, perhaps he will be able to stay on top of the effects for a long time.  The disease can go into remission for spells, and can vary widely from one patient to another.

Max Page, the pint-sized Darth Vader, is doing well after his surgery.  According to reports from his mother, he is up walking around a little, and is setting small goals and steps to pass the time.  He's in good spirits, and seems to be out of the immediate danger.  His valve is expected to last up to fifteen years, which will seem like forever to the seven-year-old.

Los Panta-Looneys

Greg Sargent points out at least one GOP strategist is freely admitting that the Republicans got caught sans pants on the President's immigration enforcement directive.

So claims GOP strategist Ed Rollins in an interview with me about Obama’s new policy blocking deportations of DREAM-eligible youth.

“They should not have been caught with their pants down,” Rollins said of Republicans, adding that they were caught “flat-footed” by the announcement. “They needed to be better prepared.”

“The hardest thing [for Republicans] about the immigration debate is that it’s a question of fairness,” continued Rollins, who was chief strategist for Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign and ran Ronald Reagan’s reelection effort in 1984. “A lot of people know a lot of good people who came into this country illegally and are trying to buy into the American Dream.”

“If we ever lose the Hispanic vote the way we’ve lost the African American vote, there’s no way we’ll win in presidential politics,” Rollins concluded.

Amazing.  A Republican strategist who isn't a complete moron.  Granted, Ed Rollins is the Dick Morris of the GOP, but he's at least under no illusions that the GOP can win now and in the future without the African-American and Latino vote.

Not that the Latino vote is monolithic, any more than the African-American vote is.  But let's face it, the GOP has demonized the Latino community so much that even the Latino voters who are apt to agree with Republicans on some issues are going to blow them off.  Even Ed Rollins can figure this out, and he's got the political acumen of a bowl of rancid fish guts (Way to back a winner like Bachmann, Ed.)

Still, it doesn't change the fact that Rollins is correct, and the fact that Republicans as a whole will continue to bleed voters until they get it.  Which is never, because they've decided to go for broke on being the Last Bastion Of White Male Privilege Party and they're pretty much okay with that.

All Hail Our New Austerity Overlords

Niall Ferguson takes to the BBC to lecture the Millenials on the "benefits" of austerity and why they should buy into now.

"Society," says Burke, "is indeed a contract. The state is a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born."

In the enormous inter-generational transfers implied by current fiscal policies we see a shocking and perhaps unparalleled breach of precisely that partnership.

I want to suggest that the biggest challenge facing mature democracies is how to restore the social contract between the generations.

But I recognise that the obstacles to doing so are daunting. Not the least of these is that the young find it quite hard to compute their own long-term economic interests. 

It is surprisingly easy to win the support of young voters for policies that would ultimately make matters even worse for them, like maintaining defined benefit pensions for public employees.

If young Americans knew what was good for them, they would all be in the Tea Party.

To an extent, Ferguson is correct:  Americans under 40 should buy into the notion of Austerity Uber Alles because that's what the Boomers are going to inflict upon them anyway as they approach retirement.  The only way this works is if the Boomers vote for it, and any vote of that nature will of course not change anything for ten years or so, meaning anyone born up to 1955 or earlier will get full benefits.  Anyone after?  Well, hope you enjoy the Tea Party and squabbling over if roads, schools, public safety, and government should even exist.  Boomer voters still hold an outsized chunk of the electorate, so they'll vote themselves the spoils and leave the rest of us the check and a brave new world of "privatized" care at the tender mercies of insurance corporations and their profit margins.  Meanwhile, the savings on this will all go to tax cuts for the "job creators" of course, necessitating further cuts down the road as deficits fail to close...

What Ferguson is advocating is surrender and grim resignation to the fact that it's very likely that my generation and anyone younger than myself is going to get thrown in the incinerator, so we might as well get used to the economic conditions of 2012 and assume they will continue for the next 40 or 50 years or so.

Have a nice day.


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