Thursday, November 21, 2013

Last Call For One Track McCarthyism

If you're wondering what House Republicans are planning on doing in 2014, the answer is actually very simple:  attack Obamacare.

The memo distributed to House Republicans this week was concise and blunt, listing talking points and marching orders: “Because of Obamacare, I Lost My Insurance.” “Obamacare Increases Health Care Costs.” “The Exchanges May Not Be Secure, Putting Personal Information at Risk.” “Continue Collecting Constituent Stories.”

The document, the product of a series of closed-door strategy sessions that began in mid-October, is part of an increasingly organized Republican attack on the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature legislative initiative. Republican strategists say that over the next several months, they intend to keep Democrats on their heels through a multilayered, sequenced assault. 

The idea is to gather stories of people affected by the health care law — through social media, letters from constituents, or meetings during visits back home — and use them to open a line of attack, keep it going until it enters the public discourse and forces a response, then quickly pivot to the next topic.

Endless taxpayer-sponsored attacks on the law, endless repeal votes, and endless House investigations:

The effort has its roots in a strategy developed last spring, when House Republican leaders — plagued by party divisions that were thwarting legislative accomplishments — refocused the House’s committees on oversight rather than on the development of new policies. 

Rob Borden, a general counsel to Representative Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, moved to a newly created position that reported jointly to Speaker John A. Boehner and Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader. Mr. Borden’s task was to coordinate and monitor oversight activities across separate committees to make sure they are not overlapping or undercutting one another. 

That aggressive campaign, which produced numerous hearings on the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, as well as on I.R.S. scrutiny of conservative groups, is now increasingly consumed by the health care fight. House Republican leaders empowered four committees — oversight, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and the Workforce — to take the lead, with support from other panels, such as the Science and Homeland Security Committees, which have examined computer security. 

Forever and ever.  Forget the economy, immigration, climate change, job creation, anything.  All that matters now is destroying Obamacare and Obama.  Rooting for the destuction of the President and taking away health insurance from tens of millions.

And they're confident that you'll do nothing to punish them in 2014.

Where The Hate Comes Sweeping Down The Plain

The recent decision by the Pentagon and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to extend military same-sex couple benefits to National Guard personnel has not been received very well by bigoted Republicans in red states.  Mississippi recently told the Pentagon that its state constitution enshrining bigotry into law apparently supersedes any federal measures so neener neener, and now Oklahoma is one-upping the Team Hate Bus by ending all benefit applications for Oklahoma National Guard couples rather than extend benefits to same-sex couples.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) announced earlier this month that state-owned National Guard facilities will no longer allow any married couples to apply for spousal benefits, regardless of whether they are same-sex or opposite-sex. The Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act means that servicemembers with same-sex spouses are now eligible for federal benefits. Fallin’s unusual tactic is designed to avoid having to recognize those couples, which she asserts would violate Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman.

Charming.  Her reasoning:

Oklahoma law is clear. The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people.

Change the words "same-sex" to "negroes" and "marriage" to "voting" or "attending schools" or "owning property" and you have the same arguments made 50, 100, 150, 200 plus years ago as to why people who looked like me had no rights because of "the will of the people".  It's easy to say that when, as Gov. Fallin apparently believes, you're not dealing with "people" to begin with.

Supreme Court kinda made this clear.  Those who were against civil rights then lost.  They will continue to lose.  Human rights are never subject to the will of the people.

Next time an EF5 tornado roars through Oklahoma City, I want Gov. Fallin to personally tell me that it matters if the National Guard members deployed to help Oklahomans are LGBTQ or not, and that the people who serve no longer deserve spousal benefits because of it.

The Big Casino Never Closes

Little hey, little ho, little high, little low, when you know which number's coming up on the wheel ahead of time, you can always beat the house.

Currency dealers in London gave information about client orders to day traders who then made bets on their behalf, sidestepping restrictions on personal trading, three people with knowledge of the practice said.

Bank employees used their mobile phones and instant-messages to transmit details of impending orders to individuals working from rented trading desks in offices on the outskirts of the U.K. capital, according to three traders who said they had witnessed the practice over a period of years. The day traders then made bets on the direction of currencies and any profit was later divvied up in cash, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the agreements are private.

The practice shows the extent to which dealers would go to circumvent rules designed to stop them from profiting at the expense of clients, and how alleged wrongdoing in the foreign-exchange market stretched beyond the trading floors of London’s financial district to unregulated day traders in Essex and Kent.

“It’s almost impossible for banks to have a lid on it –- unless they find a way of controlling all forms of communication out of the trading floor,” said Tom Kirchmaier, a fellow in the financial-markets group at the London School of Economics.

Free money comes out of nowhere because of the magic of unfettered capitalism.  Meanwhile, we'll have to make more austerity cuts because money doesn't come out of nowhere, you know.  I know the currency desk is about to make a big trade, I text you before it happens, you make the buy or sell move to take advantage of the trade, then we split the take.  The Big Casino never closes, folks.  Everyone in there's a winner!

Except all the rest of us on the outside.  We're too busy playing the Hunger Games.


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