Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Last Call For Bloody Bill's Next War

Conservatives have now seized upon Obamacare's success and have declared that they will destroy it or die trying, with Bill Kristol carrying the flag into battle waving the flag from a good distance away while directing others to fight for him.

No, Mr. President. No way, Mr. President. We do not accept, we do not acquiesce in, this deplorable piece of legislation. The debate is not over. The debate will continue. It must continue. What is at stake is sound health care policy for America. But what is also at stake is reversing your attempt, Mr. President, to transform a free country committed to limited government into merely another nation burdened with the worst aspects of big-government nanny-statism.

Mr. President, you have been elected our 44th president. We of course accept that, and we understand that you will continue to fight for your legislation and threaten to veto attempts to repeal and replace it. But we do not accept that you get to decide that the debate is over. We do not accept that you acquire any moral authority by claiming to enlist "history" on your side. We do not accept that your attempt to expand welfare state at the expense of individual liberty and the rule of law is true "progress."

President Obama, you might wish the debate were over. You might think you can intimidate us into conceding the debate is over. But you are wrong. The Republican party stands committed, acting through democratic means and as the agent of a self-governing people, to repealing and replacing Obamacare.

And so the next glorious, fever-bright war has been ordained and as Steve M. pointed out yesterday, will be the latest red meat rallying cry for the right as long as the law exists.  Meanwhile, here in Kentucky...

Propelled by a flurry of last-minute sign-ups, more than 370,000 Kentuckians are now enrolled in Obamacare, pleasing state officials who had pushed hard to get Kentuckians covered by private insurance or Medicaid before Tuesday's midnight enrollment deadline.

More than 1 out of every 12 Kentuckians — or 8.6 percent of the state's population — now has health insurance through kynect, the state's health-exchange set up to offer Obamacare coverage.

"We are thrilled with the level of interest and enrollment that we've seen," kynect's executive director, Carrie Banahan, said in a statement.

And so these 1 in 12 Kentuckians will just have to be casualties in Kristol's war.  Some 75% of those who signed up for KyNect here were previously uninsured, meaning that Kentucky cut the number of uninsured people in the state by almost half.

Too bad under a GOP Senate and President they;ll have to be uninsured again, but there are those who have to sacrifice in order to win Bloody Bill''s wars.

They just won't be made by Bill Kristol.

You Can't Buy Happiness, But You Can Rent Congress

Good news, everyone!  The Supreme Court has struck another blow for the rights of our most precious resource, Ridiculously Wealthy People in America to practice free speech by direct contributions to candidates and parties.  Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSBlog:

The Supreme Court pressed ahead on Wednesday with the majority’s constitutional view that more money flowing into politics is a good thing — even if much of it comes from rich donors. By a five-to-four vote, the Court struck down the two-year ceilings that Congress has imposed on donations to presidential and congressional candidates, parties and some — but not all — political action groups.
The main opinion delivered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., said confidently that corruption in politics will be kept in check by caps — left intact — on how much each single donation can be. Removing the ceilings on the total amounts that may given in each election cycle will not undermine those limits, Roberts predicted.

Boy, nobody's going to bother giving a bunch of checks for $2,600.  That would mean writing.  RIch people hate writing!

The decision was not as sweeping as the Court’s ruling four years ago, removing all restrictions on what corporations and labor unions can spend of their own money in federal campaigns (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission), which has led to billions of dollars spent on politics. Even so, the practical result of the new ruling is almost sure to be that wealthy individuals will be able to spread their money around among more candidates and political groups.

Donors will get into legal trouble, the ruling emphasized, only if they demand a specific favor in policy or legislation in a direct exchange for the money they give. That is the only kind of corruption that the First Amendment will allow the government to attack, the decision stressed.

The Chief Justice’s opinion said that other recent changes in campaign finance law will work to reduce the risks of abuse, and it offered several other ideas for new limits that it implied might be constitutional. Whether the votes are there in Congress to pass any of those suggestions is problematic.

So, outright bribery is illegal.  Anything up to that point impinges on the free speech rights of rich people.

By the way, Justice Thomas made a point of writing a separate opinion that all campaign limits should be eliminated, and our elites should simply be able to purchase politicians outright as our forefathers intended, or something.  Don't like it?  The Chief Justice's opinion states that unlimited money in politics is basically vile speech, but must be protected anyway.

Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” Roberts wrote. “If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests and Nazi parades — despite the profound offense such spectacles cause — it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.

Awesome.  Replace "Money in politics" up there with "Racism" or "Misogyny" or "Antisemitism" and you see where this is all going.  And so even cursory limits on buying candidates are now gone, just in time for the 2014 campaign season.  Anything short of outright pay for play is now legal and it's open season for the super rich to finish buying our political system.

"In a series of cases over the past 40 years, we have spelled out how to draw the constitutional line between the permissible goal of avoiding corruption in the political process and the impermissible desire simply to limit political speech. We have said that government regulation may not target the general gratitude a candidate may feel toward those who support him or his allies, or the political access such support may afford. They embody a central feature of democracy—that constituents support candidates who share their beliefs and interests, and candidates who are elected can be expected to be responsive to those concerns."

"You give a politician money to support an issue, they support the issue" is a central feature of democracy, yay!  So that means, what exactly?

Until today, federal laws prevented an individual from directly giving more than $123,200 to political candidates and committees during any two-year election cycle — an amount already so high that only a few hundred donors reached it in the 2012 election.

After today’s ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a single donor will be able to give $3.6 million dollars in one election cycle — money that political parties can funnel into specific campaigns with the full knowledge of who gave it.

May the best money/speech win, gentlemen. Chuck Pierce sums it all up:

The five-vote majority in favor of virtually unlimited corporate and individual spending in our elections is a rock solid one. Four days after almost every Republican candidate danced the hootchie-koo in Vegas to try and gain the support of a single, skeevy casino gazillionnaire, the majority tells us that there is no "appearance of corruption" in this unless somebody gets caught putting a slot machine in the Lincoln Bedroom on behalf of Sheldon Adelson. Money talks. Big money repeats itself, over and over, age after age.

And Republican National Committee chair Reince Preibus thinks the ruling is awesome.

"It's not like people are going to be able to write out million-dollar checks to the Republican Party or to an individual candidate," Priebus said Wednesday, a few hours after the ruling, in an interview with MSNBC. "All we're saying is the idea that you have aggregate limits -- in other words, you can't give the full amount to ten candidates running for office around the country, or you can't give the full amount to the Congressional committee, the Senate committee in the RNC, doesn't make any sense."

No, just checks for $123,300.  Freedom!

Oh and one last thing, this is the same exact Supreme Court that said that the 15th Amendment is antiquated and doesn't really protect the right of minorities to vote, by the way, when it struck down part of the Voting Rights Act.  Money's more important than black people voting, or something.

Just like our forefathers intended, if you recall.  America!

Unskewed All Over Again

Republicans have been driven to frothing hatred by Obamacare surpassing its 7 million signups goal, to the point where they're openly accusing the President of lying and daring him to prove otherwise.

Dean Chambers, notorious unskewer of 2012 presidential election polls, has his critical eye on a new metric: Obamacare enrollment.

"The Obamacare enrollments numbers are bogus. They don't even know how many have really paid for what they supposedly signed up for, and the 'back end' for the billing process of the Obamacare web site is not even functioning yet," he wrote in a Tuesday post on the law's 7 million announced sign-ups.

Sadly, that's about as far as Chambers gets in explaining his rationale. The Obama administration lied about unemployment to win reelection, so of course, they would lie about enrollment for the president's signature health care law, he says. The detailed explanations thattypified his 2012 coverage are nowhere to be found.

It's worth remembering that Chambers has company in high places, including the No. 4 Republican senator who accused the Obama administration of "cooking the books."

As Steve M points out, Republicans will simply add this to their list of perceived grievances that Obama and the Democrats must pay dearly for.

I think they'll find a way to demonize Obamacare forever. Look at what they've done with abortion. Look at how they continue to attack the social safety net as a "hammock." They demonize abortion and public assistance as immoral and destructive to society -- as long as a significant chunk of the white heartland gets health care from either work or Medicare, they can do that forever with Obamacare as well. And Obamacare has enough flaws that the number of people who love it may always be less than the number of people Republicans encourage to loathe it. (And if happy beneficiaries are poorer than the general population, they're less likely to vote than the middle-class haters.)

He has a point.  Obamacare will motivate millions more Republicans -- and Democrats, mind you -- to vote against the D's over the years than it will motivate people to vote for them, because as Democrats, we're not empowered by our problems, we whine and submit to them like cowards.

Republicans on the other hand are fully powered by hatred and will use this for a long long time.


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