Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Last Call To Follow The Money

Our corporate masters are weighing in on who they believe should win the Senate.  Guess which party they're backing?

"In a significant shift, business groups gave more money to Republican candidates than to Democrats in seven of the most competitive Senate races in recent months, in some cases taking the unusual step of betting against sitting senators," the Wall Street Journal reports. 
"Shifts in business donations have foreshadowed the outcome of several recent elections. Business PACs began shifting toward Democrats late in the 2006 midterm cycle, ahead of a political wave in which Democrats regained control of both the House and Senate. Business contributions swung again early in 2010, ahead of a wave that year that gave Republicans a House majority and gains in the Senate."

So yes, big business backed the Dems when it looked like unpopular Bush was going to cost the GOP in 2006 (and did).  They figure the same will happen for Obama costing the Democrats now.  But what if they're wrong and the Dems hold on?

Well, they always have more money to give, right?  Even here in Kentucky, one powerful  Karl Rove crony is trying to buy the Senate election for the GOP.  The shadowy "Kentucky Opportunity Coalition" has bought 12,000 ads for Mitch McConnell, and it's the biggest PAC player in the state.

No other group has had a larger footprint in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race. In fact, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition has aired about twice as many TV ads than the next most prolific player in the contest, a pro-Grimes super PAC called Senate Majority PAC, run by allies of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). And the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition has aired more spots than all other pro-McConnell groups combined
Despite having effectively no physical presence, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition now ranks among the largest social-welfare nonprofits in Kentucky—bringing in more money, according to Internal Revenue Service records, than some of Kentucky’s more high-profile nonprofits, such as the Kentucky School Boards Association and the Kentucky Derby Festival, the group behind two weeks’ worth of events surrounding the Kentucky Derby. 
Thank, in part, the loosened rules on corporate electioneering following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision for Kentucky Opportunity Coalition’s unexpected rise. Certain types of donor-shielding nonprofit corporations may now raise unlimited funds to advocate for and against federal political candidates, not only in Kentucky, but in any race. 
More acutely, though, thank a development akin to a corporate takeover for the group’s sudden prominence—the addition, last year, of a former top McConnell aide who previously worked in the White House with Republican strategist Karl Rove. Until then, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition didn’t do much of anything. 
That man: Scott Jennings.

And Jennings is a piece of work, a former Dubya staffer and McConnell reelection consultant, and a guy who has greased the skids to allow millions in dark money from anonymous donors to buy thousands of ads here in the state.

And we know nothing about who's buying those ads.  Or who's buying my senator.

Bibi's Epic Tantrum

Apparently Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has had enough with President Obama and is picking up his ball and going home until America can elect a President that remembers Israel runs the relationship with the US and not the other way around.  Jeffrey Goldberg:

The fault for this breakdown in relations can be assigned in good part to the junior partner in the relationship, Netanyahu, and in particular, to the behavior of his cabinet. Netanyahu has told several people I’ve spoken to in recent days that he has “written off” the Obama administration, and plans to speak directly to Congress and to the American people should an Iran nuclear deal be reached. For their part, Obama administration officials express, in the words of one official, a “red-hot anger” at Netanyahu for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process. 

What, he's really going to go around the President and go straight for the AIPAC lobby, like he runs this country and not Israel?  OK Bibi, you do that.

Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.) But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a “chickenshit.” I thought I appreciated the implication of this description, but it turns out I didn’t have a full understanding. From time to time, current and former administration officials have described Netanyahu as a national leader who acts as though he is mayor of Jerusalem, which is to say, a no-vision small-timer who worries mainly about pleasing the hardest core of his political constituency. (President Obama, in interviews with me, has alluded to Netanyahu’s lack of political courage.) 
“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”


Look folks, it's not like Israel has done us too many favors in the last six years here.  The response from Tel Aviv has always been "OK, seriously, we know you elected the black guy, but when do we speak to the people actually running America?"

Frankly, Bibi's been a pain in the ass the whole time, and if the US finally allows the UN to do something about the massive criminal acts being perpetrated against the Palestinians, well maybe some tough love is going to be necessary for both Abbas and Netanyahu.

But of course that's too much for our conservative betters to stomach. Our old friend Colonel Mustard is miffed to say the least.

Obama and John Kerry have a vision that makes the Palestinians the center of the Middle East universe even though everything on the ground from North Africa to Yemen to Syria to Iraq says otherwise.

Because of the view, Obama on down in the administration desire peace at any cost, even if it is at best a temporary peace that redivides Jerusalem and puts Hamas within mortar range of the Tel Aviv suburbs, and turns the West Bank into an Iranian base of operations.

That's not true of course, but because the Obama administration actually admits that Palestinians may be human beings instead of animals to be penned into the post-apocalyptic, bombed-out hell that is the West Bank, this makes them the "center of the Middle East universe" somehow.  If that's the case, it's a pretty horrific place.

Goldberg assesses that “[b]y next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations.” 
That’s something I have been anticipating for years — it’s the hammer Obama has over Israel’s head to abandon Israel to the U.N. wolves. It would be more damaging to Israel than withholding weapons or military aid. 

Funny, I thought conservatives were always going on about how the UN is an outdated, ineffective bureaucratic paper tiger with no real ability to enforce anything whatsoever, a showpiece of talking heads and pointless bluster.  They've been supposedly coming for America's guns for decades now and yet somehow that particular dog not only won't hunt, it won't move off the damn porch.  Such an inept and feeble relic of ancient 20th century realpolitik can't be a threat to mighty Israel.

Unless the narrative calls for the UN to be all-powerful, then the US is the only country brave enough to stop the "wolves" from destroying the Jewish homeland utterly.

If only Obama would actually walk away from shielding Bibi from the consequences of his own actions.

What Happened To Repealing Obamacare?

It's the biggest mystery of the 2014 GOP campaign season: what happened to repealing Obamacare as the top issue for the Republican Party in 2014 as it was in 2010?

Two big things happened, actually.  One, Obamacare is working, as evidenced by a major NY Times study of the Affordable Care Act.  In seven categories, the law is working, but could be doing better with some help instead of constant opposition.  But for the most part, it is doing what it has promised:

  1. Has the percentage of uninsured people been reduced? Yes, the number of uninsured has fallen significantly.
  2. Has insurance under the law been affordable? For many, yes, but not for all.
  3. Did the Affordable Care Act improve health outcomes? Data remains sparse except for one group, the young.
  4. Will the online exchanges work better this year than last? Most experts expect they will, but they will be tested by new challenges.
  5. Has the health care industry been helped or hurt by the law? The law mostly helped, by providing new paying patients and insurance customers.
  6. How has the expansion of Medicaid fared? Twenty-three states have opposed expansion, though several of them are reconsidering.
  7. Has the law contributed to a slowdown in health care spending? Perhaps, but mainly around the edges.

And that brings us to our Republican friends, who are no longer calling for the repeal of the law and are getting away with it.

If 2010 was the year when Democrats backed away from their votes to establish Obamacare, 2014 is the year when Republicans back away from their crusade to repeal President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement.

With the law benefiting many voters in their states, Republican candidates in key Senate races are tacitly supporting core Obamacare provisions, most notably the Medicaid expansion. 
But shhh, don't call it Obamacare. "Obamacare" remains a dirty word in Republican politics, and so these candidates are rhetorically toeing the party line for repeal. Scratch beneath the surface and they're making a logically strained implication that they can eliminate Obamacare without taking away its benefits.

That's impossible, and yet nobody seems to be attacking the GOP on such a ridiculous position.

One revealing example is North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis. During the primary, the state house speaker boasted in a TV ad that he "stopped Obama's Medicaid expansion cold." But last week he flipped his position and argued that North Carolina is "trending in a direction where we should consider potential expansion." He told Time Warner Cable News, "I would encourage the state legislature and the governor to consider it."

This is a massive flip-flop on a key plank of Tillis's position, and yet Tillis is still considered a serious candidate and may very well become NC's next senator.

Iowa's Joni Ernst, who holds a narrow lead in the race, illustrates the dilemma for Republican Senate candidates caught between a conservative base that despises Obamacare and their constituents who are benefiting from the Medicaid expansion — an estimated 100,000 Iowans. Ernst has repeatedly called for repealing Obamacare, but she has also said Congress must "protect those that are on Medicaid now."

Again, you can't do both.  Repealing Obamacare would take Medicaid away from millions, full stop, point blank, do not pass Go.

The dilemma has vexed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, where the state-based Obamacare portal, Kynect, has signed up some 520,000 residents under Medicaid expansion and the subsidized market exchanges. What's the Republican leader to do? Throw them off? That's too risky, especially when he's facing an unexpectedly strong reelection challenge from a Democrat who promises to protect that coverage.

McConnell has sought to distinguish Kynect from Obamacare, arguing that Kentucky should be allowed to keep Kynect if Obamacare is repealed, and saying Kynect is merely a "website" that he's "fine" with continuing. His position on the health care law was pilloried as "bizarre" by theLouisville Courier-Journal and an "outlandish deception" by the Lexington Herald-Leader, the state's two largest papers.

As I said earlier, this idiocy is one of the big reasons both papers endorsed Alison Grimes.

Republicans are absolutely ridiculous, and believe their voters must be stupid to pull this.  They're certainly counting on a compliant media to keep them stupid, it seems.


Related Posts with Thumbnails