Saturday, November 9, 2013

Add Hawaii to the marriage equality states

Hawaii's House of Representative passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage by a vote of 30-19.    The Senate already passed it by 20-4, and it only has to go back to them for final approval of some amendments made in the House. 

The governor has said he will sign it, and it is scheduled to take effect on December 2nd.  Hawaii will become the 16th state, plus the District of Columbia, to uphold marriage equality.   New Mexico is in the court on appeal.

Things are changing fast.   One year ago, there were 8 plus DC.   Now there are 16 plus DC, with New Jersey, Illinois, and Hawaii all happening in the last week.


Political writers create a great new word

Double Down is the new behind-the-scenes book about the 2012 election by political writers Mark Halperin and John Heilleman.

In the latest Time magazine, they use material from the book in an article about vetting the possible VP running mates for Mitt Romney.   This article was prompted by the big re-election win that one of those possibilities had this week:   Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Christie was at one point the probable front runner for VP -- until they started looking beneath the surface and into his background, all fodder for Christie's opponents in 2016 to use against him, although at this point he seems to be the golden boy. 

The point of this post, however, is not Christie but a new word coined by Halperin and Heilleman in describing what the VP vetting team was looking for to balance Mitt Romney's weak spots.
"Their research showed that Tim Pawlenty's 'pro-beer, pro-hockey" persona might have helped ameliorate [Romney's] case of affluenza."
Affluenza.   That is a simply delicious, wonderful word.   It calls up everything we didn't like about Mitt:   his hedge fund manager job, his outrageously low taxes, his multiple houses, his car elevator, his stiffness, his clueless attempt at small talk with ordinary people -- and, of course, his 47% gaffe that put the cherry on top of all the other things that lost the election for him.

Affluenza . . . .  Indeed !!!


Friday, November 8, 2013

Go figure . . .

Ken Cuccinelli declared the governor's race in Virginia to be "a referendum on Obamacare."  Even after he lost the race, he was still claiming that it proved peole don't like Obamacare. 

He tried to explain that by saying he was way outspent in the campaign -- and still came close to winning.   Somehow that means that people were voting against Obamacare to send a message.  Fox News picked up the rant and blathered on all the next day that the Virginia race proved people don't want Obamacare.

Fact:   Despite the rollout problems, national polls shows an increase in support for the ACA of about 4% from September to October 2013, which includes the first weeks of the frustrating rollout.

Such is the bubble that this crowd lives in -- the conservatives and their megaphone and echo chamber of FoxNews and talk radio.   It is not the reality-based world of fact and reason as we know it.   

So what are they getting out of this self-deception?    Go figure.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Senate passes ENDA; Boehner says no.

Today, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which outlaws discrimination in the work place on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  First introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1993, it has been a long time coming.

Ten Republicans joined all Democrats in voting for it.

But House Speaker John Boehner says he will not bring it to a floor vote in the House.  This in spite of the fact that a majority of Americans -- even a majority of Republicans -- favor it.

That's not enough for Boehner, however.   Because he is bending to the will of the conservative fringe and the big money guys who dictate what they support.

Boehner and his ilk deserve to be voted out of office next November.


Short takes . . . mostly happy

1.  If Texas did secede from the U.S., as some of their arrogant wing-nuts want, we would be rid of both Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Louie Gohmert in the U.S. Congress, and the noise level would decrease a lot.

2.  Illinois is now the 15th state to legalize marriage equality for same-sex couples.  If we add in D. C. as a state, and if New Mexico's joining in gets upheld in appeals court, then we'd have 17 of 51 -- exactly one-third.   Plus, they're working on it in Hawaii's legislature now.

3.  Jon Stewart's pithy comment on the Republicans' hissy fit about the failure of Obamacare:   "So, yes, the president was somewhat dishonest about the promise of his healthcare program, but here's the weird part, his opponents have been lying like motherf*ckers about its effects." 

4.  For all the whoopla about Christie's big re-election win in NJ (60.4% - 38.1%) and the assumption that he is now the front runner for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, get this:  Exit polls show Hillary Clinton beating Christie in a match-up by 48% to 44% -- in his home state of New Jersey.

In our world today, a little good news goes a long way.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A good electoral indicator

Of the politically significant races being watched yesterday, the more moderate candidates came out ahead in every race -- a good predictor of where we are headed in the coming 2014 big races to take back the House and hold on to the Senate.

Perhaps the most moderate Republican on the national scene, Chris Christie, won big in his re-election as governor of New Jersey.    Now that's putting him in the moderate-win column despite his defeat of the democratic challenger, so this one doesn't quite fit.   But in fact Christie got a good bit of support, both in donations and in votes, from Democrats.   He's seen as a strong moderate, capable of bipartisan cooperation to get things done.   His opponent just didn't have the stature or the drawing appeal.   So I think this vote was for a strong moderate over a weak liberal.   Probably no New Jersey Democrat could have defeated Christie in this race.

The big change-over win was in Virginia.   The Democrat Terry McAuliffe edged out a close race 48% to 45.5% over firebrand conservative Ken Cuccinelli for the governorship.   But the Democrats also won the Lt. Governor's race by an even larger margin and are in a virtual tie and headed for a recount in the race for Attorney General, the one the Republicans thought would be an easy win for them.   So despite still controlling both legislative bodies, Virginia now has Democrats in charge of the executive branch, instead of total control of government by Republicans.

And of course, another expected win -- but also a big change -- the most progressive Democrat in the New York mayor's primary won the general election by a landslide, 73.3% to 24.3%.  He will be the first Democratic mayor of NYC in many years.  The Democratic candidate also won the Boston mayor's race -- and the Atlanta mayor won re-election, but that one was not even close and was predictable.

The other bellweather race was in Alabama's first congressional district Republican primaryThe more establishment Republican goes into a runoff with a 5% lead over the Tea Party backed candidate has won the race by 5%.   I was mistaken before.   This was the runoff race for the primary that was held a couple of months ago.

So, both in Virginia and Alabama, the Tea Party candidates have lost out to more moderate Republican opponents.

So -- all of this should be encouraging to those who want less of the ultra-conservative crowd.   And that is good news.  The bad news is that the Democrats might have an easier time winning in the 2012 general election against Tea Party candidates than against the more moderate Republicans.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Another Republican hypocrite

Another Republican hypocrite ? ? ?    Well, that certainly doesn't qualify as news, does it?  But that is what made the headlines, folks.  I'm just "calling 'em as I see 'em."

This one involves Tennessee Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, who infamously shouted at Sec. Kathleen Sebelius in the congressional hearing on the bad outroll of Obamacare.

What had Rep. Blackburn so het up was the news that people were getting letters from their insurance companies cancelling their health insurance;  and it is all the fault of Obamacare.  "They're taking away our choices," she yelled.

Well, it is true that some existing plans fell out of the grandfathering guarantee because the insurance company had made changes in the policy since 2010, as was specified in the ACA.  There was no surprise that was going to happen.  But as to "taking away our choices," what these people are losing is the right to continue to choose what columnist Jason Linkins calls "terrible insurance at cut rate prices that won't help them."

One example of this cited by Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic online:   a woman had an inexpensive policy but it paid a total of $50 for any doctor's visit and she paid the rest, even if it included x-rays, lab work, an MRI, whatever;   plus it did not cover hospitalization at all.  So it's no good if she gets really sick.

Instead, those whose plans are canceled will be able to choose another, better plan with their old company or go on the exchange and choose from any plan that is offered.  Yes, they may have to pay more for it -- or maybe not, because many will get government subsidies as part of Obamacare.  But they will be getting better coverage and helping to make a good program work for everyone.

So the outrage is really misplaced.  That's one point.   But here's what's hypocritical about Rep. Blackburn's outrage:   This same lawmaker wants to take away a woman's choices when it comes to pregnancy.   And probably contraceptives too, which is covered in Obamacare.

Outrage that the government won't let you choose to buy crappy insurance that's not worth even it's cheap price -- but beating the drums for taking away a woman's right to choose what happens to her body.   Now please tell me how that is not the height of hypocrisy.


Monday, November 4, 2013

The deal on Deal #3

Mike Luckovich's Sunday cartoon in the AJC addresses the perception that Gov. Nathan Deal -- or at least his people -- are behind the ludicrous shenanigans of the state's (un)ethics commission.

The images below are a little fuzzy, so let me clarify.   The dog's collar ID says "State Ethics Comm."   The dog sniffs Gov. Deal.   In the next picture the ventriloquist governor speaks through the now-exposed puppet-dog, saying,  "He's clean."

Yes, they found the governor essentially "clean" in the charges of misuse of campaign funds.  And yes there are highly suspicious deals involving forced resignations, replacement with hand-picked people, and now a seeming whitewash of charges stemming from the AJC's investigative journalism.

Sunday's Mike Luckovich cartoon, 11/3: “Lapdog” photo

I am admittedly predisposed to think Deal guilty of, at the least, manipulating the system to his great benefit, which is exactly what Luckovich's cartoon says.   I'm suspicious because of his past shady ways of managing his finances.  It's unlikely that it can be proved he did anything illegal, given that experienced policitians like Deal usually manage to get these shady deals done indirectly so as to maintain plausible deniability.

I will certainly be opposing his re-election in 2014.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Religionist's intolerance

A South Carolina group, Upstate Atheists, which focuses on helping people in need, tried to volunteer to help out at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen, a Christian non-profit organization.

Even though they said they would not wear identifying t-shirts or otherwise promote their organization, their offer was rebuffed by the executive director of the group who told the local newspaper:
"This is a ministry to serve God. . . ,. We stand on the principles of God. Do they [atheists] think that our guests are so ignorant that they don't know what an atheist is? Why are they targeting us? They don't give any money. I wouldn't want their money."
The volunteers instead set up their own site across the street where they distributed care packages to the homeless consisting of socks, gloves, and personal care items.

Unless I'm missing something, it sounds like the Christian director was overly defensive and intolerant.   Why did it feel like an attack?   Why isn't the offer to help people in need taken as a good thing?

I do believe that Jesus of Nazareth and Pope Francis would have accepted their help with open arms.   Rather than rejecting the atheists, they would have exemplified their good deeds as putting their faith into action.

Atheists can be moral, altruistic, and concerned about those in need.    Who gave Christians a monopoly on being/doing good?

Perhaps the difference is that this woman said "This ministry is to serve God."   Others might think of it as serving their fellow human beings.    Perhaps this woman thinks of it as building up credits to get into heaven;   we of no religious faith would do it to make the world a better place, here and now.