Thursday, June 28, 2012

Last Call

And tonight, I leave you with this.

Speaker Boehner and Rep. Pelosi

And this.

Night, folks.

Poll Arising Positions

Time to go into the weeds on this month's WSJ/NBC News presidential poll (PDF) and take a look at the internal numbers.

First of all, while strong enthusiasm for President Obama isn't great (29% see him as very positive, 48% positive overall) or for the Democratic Party as a whole (14%, 37%) they are both ahead of Mitt Romney (9%, 33%) and the GOP (10%, 31%).  George W. Bush (13% very positive, 36% overall positive) has better personal numbers than Mitt right now.  That should terrify the GOP.

The country's still split on the role of government in helping people, 49% think the government should do more, 47% think government should do less.  Given how bad things are right now for most Americans, that's notable.

People are also split (45% D to 44% R) about which party they want to see in control of Congress.  It makes sense considering it's a split Congress now.

72% of Obama leaners are voting for the President, whereas 58% of Romney voters are voting against POTUS instead.  Literally the GOP could have fielded a child's crayon drawing of a pot-bellied pig with wings and more than half of the party would have backed the piece of paper  against the President in this election.

The numbers on what the President's religion happens to be really hasn't changed in 4 years.  About 8% still think he's a Muslim, and 40% don't know. 43% believe he's Christian.  67% know Mitt Romney's a Mormon though.

Only 1% of respondents think of "outsourcing jobs" when they hear Mitt Romney.   I'm thinking that number will go up.  10%think "Good businessman".  However, 9% of respondents think "Lack of experience" for Barack Obama.  How long does he have to be President, one has to wonder.  19% combined mentioned health care, as a positive, a negative, or as a neutral fact about him.  It's his legacy from this term, certainly...even more than the economy (15%, all negative).

Dems get a major advantage overall on the middle class (+19%), Medicare (+14%), health care (+13%), Social Security (+12%) , but Republicans get big advantages on government spending (+17%), the deficit (+12%) and terrorism (+9%)...and yes, the economy overall too (+6%).  Both parties fail on Wall Street/bank oversight and taxes, and split on upward mobility.

The country is divided into thirds on if President Obama's economic policies have helped, hurt, or made no difference.

More people think our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (63%) have contributed a lot to our deficits, than the recession (56%).  Congratulations, America, you're actually right on this one...but only 26% have tagged the biggest cause of deficits in recent years as a big deficit offender:  the Bush tax cuts.  More people (28%) think the problem is Medicare/Social Security and other government programs.  Boo.  When it comes to naming the biggest single deficit reason, 47% blame the wars, 21% the stimulus (eyeroll) and only 15% the recession.  7% blamed again the correct answer, the Bush tax cuts.  Yikes.

Health care reform numbers basically haven't changed in two years:  35% think it was a good idea, 41% a bad one, 22% no opinion.  55% believe if SCOTUS strikes down the ACA insurance mandate that it will make no difference on their lives.  Oy vey.

Overall it's an interesting picture to say the least.

The Return Of Feeling Randy, Once Again

And just 18 months into his Senate term, I get to say "You'll regret electing this asshole" for the 6234th time concerning Rand Paul being a national embarrassment for the state of Kentucky.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) expressed his frustration on Tuesday at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who offered an anti-abortion amendment to legislation that would renew the flood insurance program.

“I’m told last night that one of our Republican senators wants to offer an amendment — listen to this one — wants to offer an amendment on when life begins,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “I think some of this stuff is just – I have been very patient working with my Republican colleagues in allowing relevant amendments on issues, and sometimes we even do non-relevant amendments. But really, on flood insurance?”

Yes.  That's right.  Rand Paul wants to attach a fetal personhood amendment to a flood insurance bill, knowing full well he can scuttle the legislation with it.   That's the point:  as Florida contends with feet of rain, Rand Paul says the government shouldn't lift a finger and that Florida should notonly have to deal with it alone, but should have budgeted for it ahead of time.

Meanwhile Paul's not only trying to sink federal flood insurance, he's absolutely trying to decimate any legislation having to do with the residents of the District of Columbia getting anything close to self-determination.

One Paul amendment would require the District to allow residents to obtain concealed weapon permits for handguns, and would require the city to honor permits issued to residents of other states. Another amendment would make the District “establish an office for the purpose of facilitating the purchase and registration of firearms by DC residents,” in response to reports that there is only one licensed gun dealer in the city.

Paul has also submitted an amendment to codify the city-funded abortion ban. The prohibition — a continuing source of frustration for local leaders that is strongly supported by anti-abortion groups — has been extended via appropriations bills every year that Republicans have controlled one or both chambers of Congress since the mid-1990s.

Paul proposed another amendment saying “membership in a labor organization may not be applied as a precondition for employment” in the District, and protecting employees “from discrimination on the basis of their membership status” in a union.

“I think it’s a good way to call attention to some issues that have national implications,” Paul said in an interview Tuesday. “We don’t have [control] over the states but we do for D.C.”

Small government my ass.  And yes, Paul's ridiculous amendments have now caused the bill to be pulled completely.   All those black people in DC have to be told what to do by Republicans, with the intent of course of turning the place into a Tea Party hell that will force DC's urban residents out.  Rand Paul has no problem bringing ridiculous government interference to bear when it suits him, folks.  Remember that.

Starry Awesome

A man recently spent ten hours making Vincent Van Goh's Starry Night with dominoes.  It's pretty impressive.  When he knocks them over, the resemblance is even stronger.  I'm not a follower of hot domino action, so this was a surprise to me.  Just seeing it with them standing was cool enough for me.


It It Looks Like A Hate Crime And People Die Like It's A Hate Crime

You probably have a hate crime.

Police in Texas are searching for an assailant who targeted a lesbian couple in a close-range shooting that left one woman dead and the other in the hospital, however authorities said it is not being investigated as a hate crime.
Detectives are constructing a timeline of events, processing bullet casings found at the scene and are interviewing witnesses to understand what led up to the shootings of Mollie Olgin, 19, and Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, in the small town of Portland, Texas, which is located a few miles from Corpus Christi.
Mollie Olgin was dead at the scene.  Chapa is still alive, but in serious condition from a gunshot wound to the head.  Cops admit they don't know much, so I would like to know why it isn't being investigated as a hate crime until they rule it out.  It doesn't change the result, but it changes the reality if it applies.  It may also change how the shooter(s) are found.

Whether someone was shooting two random girls or two lesbians is important, however.  To the girls, the families and the people who want to know how something like this really just happened.

John Roberts' The Bored Supremacy

Jumping in a bit early with the ten spot post given the import of today's expected Supreme Court news as today, the Affordable Care Act decision comes roughly around that time.  Ian Millhiser goes over the worst-case scenario:

It is, of course, mildly interesting to speculate upon how tomorrow’s decision could influence whether a man who currently lives in a luxurious house in Washington will continue to live there for several more years or will instead be forced to move to a different luxurious house in Chicago. But you know what matters a whole lot more? Whether the Supreme Court decides to strip millions of Americans of their future access to health care.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans file bankruptcy because they cannot afford their medical bills. Thousands more are locked into jobs their hate because they cannot risk losing their employer-provided health insurance while they have a preexisting condition. According to one study, about 45,000 people die every year because they do not have health insurance. So, in a very real sense, the Supreme Court is deciding tomorrow whether to allow tens of thousands of people to die every year until Congress is able to pass another health care bill. Something, by the way, which took seventy years to accomplish the first time around.

That’s a bit more important than whether or not Barack Obama is slightly more or slightly less likely to keep his job.

Not to the Villagers, who, by the way, have pretty good health care plans.   And the same conservatives who are today going to more or less lynch Attorney General Eric Holder in the House today, supposedly over the death of a Border Patrol agent, are going to wildly cheer several million Americans losing their health insurance and some dying as a result.

Hell, they see those deaths as inevitable 

A rejection of health care egalitarianism, namely a recognition that the wealthy will purchase more and better health care than the poor. Trying to equalize health care consumption hurts the poor, since most feasible policies to do this take away cash from the poor, either directly or through the operation of tax incidence. We need to accept the principle that sometimes poor people will die just because they are poor. Some of you don’t like the sound of that, but we already let the wealthy enjoy all sorts of other goods — most importantly status — which lengthen their lives and which the poor enjoy to a much lesser degree. We shouldn’t screw up our health care institutions by being determined to fight inegalitarian principles for one very select set of factors which determine health care outcomes.

The rich live, the poor just die, you see.  Most of us are one layoff and one accident or illness away from joining their ranks.  Congress, meanwhile, concentrates on Eric Holder and ignores this, because that is the burden of the unwashed to bear, just as AmEx titanium black Centurion cards are the burden of the rich.  Accept your fate and you'll be happier, citizen.  We strongly suggest you do.

And so it goes.  I'll update this when the decision is out.

[UPDATE]  Called it.  ACA survives, with some narrowing of the law forcing states to expand Medicaid.

[UPDATE 2Chief Justice Roberts saved this law, literally.  Alito, Thomas, Scalia and the dissenting conservatives led by Kennedy flat out said within the first sentence that they believed the entire law was patently and completely unconstitutional on its face.   Roberts was apparently the deciding vote, and as Chief Justice he apparently stepped in as the fifth vote to uphold the law.


Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter, Part 88

The US city hit hardest by the subprime/foreclosuregate crisis, Stockton, California, is now facing the largest civil bankruptcy filing in America's history.

Officials said Tuesday that Stockton would become the nation's largest city to seek protection under the U.S. bankruptcy code.

The city stopped making bond payments, and City Manager Bob Deis said he expected to file bankruptcy papers immediately.

Stockton has been in negotiations with its creditors since late March under AB 506, a new California law requiring mediation before a municipality can file for reorganization of debt. It was the first use of the law, and policy analysts who watched its torturous and tedious progress have titled their report on it "Death by a Thousand Meetings." Mediations ended Monday at midnight.

Recent council meetings have been contentious. Tuesday night's meeting was quieter, with an evident sadness on faces in the packed audience. Many residents said they were there mostly to hear for themselves that the day so long expected had finally come.

"It's a seminal moment in this city's history and I needed to be here," said Dwight Williams, who runs a nonprofit housing organization. "I can't just read about this in tomorrow's paper. I need to hear for myself if there is some inkling as to where we go from here."

People outside the state forget given all of California's big cities that Stockton has 300,000 people, making it a larger city than Lexington, KY, Baton Rouge, LA, and Springfield, MO and roughly the same size as Cincinnati, Toledo, or Buffalo proper.  That makes this bankruptcy a serious deal.  The city deciding to stop bond payments is just staggering, it's basically surrender to the creditors at this point.  So what happens to Stockton now?

The city made $90 million in drastic cuts from the general fund in the last three years, including reducing the Police Department by 25%, the Fire Department by 30%, and cutting pay and benefits to all employees. There is a state investigation into whether Stockton's financial devastation was entirely due to shortsighted optimism or if there was corruption. The state mediation law requires assigning blame.

The blame will go around for years here.  And down the road I foresee a city larger than Stockton going under as well.  Who knows.  The housing market is showing signs of recovery again, but it did that two years ago before falling another 10%, and the backlog of foreclosures is still absolutely massive.  There's no lasting recovery until that backlog goes away folks, and more Stocktons will follow as sure as night follows day.


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