Saturday, April 5, 2014

President Obama is a failure as a Socialist

Right-wingers never tire of calling President Obama a socialist, when it doesn't suit their purpose better to call him a fascist, or a Muslim, and a Kenyan . . . or a monkey.

Well, the numbers are in, and the president flunks Socialism 101.

In March, 192,000 jobs were added to the economy.    But every bit of that growth was in the private sector.   In fact employment in private businesses  -- yes, the marketplace, so beloved by the right -- has returned to pre-recession levels of 2008.

At the same time, employment in the public sector of federal, state, and local governments continues to decline well below pre-2008 levels.   There was no job gain at all in the public sector in March.

In socialism, it would be the other way around.   But because of austerity cuts in government budgets, the elimination of public sector jobs has been the main drag on economic recovery.

That's right.   Private business can feel good about how well it's doing.   But we'd all be doing so much better, and the recovery would have been so much faster, if the economy had been stimulated even more by creating, not cutting, public sector jobs.    Public sector jobs doesn't mean bloated bureaucracies of redundant administrators;  we're talking about school teachers, first responders, child welfare workers, infrastructure construction workers.

Not only would more people be employed but their spending would even further improve the private sector business economy and create even more jobs.

That is the lesson to be learned.   But Republicans will go right on claiming that it is the other way around, in contradistinction to the facts.  


Friday, April 4, 2014

Chief Justice Roberts and quid pro quo corruption

A New York Times editorial calls it "insincere naivete," referring to Chief Justice John Roberts' refusal to consider any corrupting influence of unlimited money on our political system short of actual quid quo pro bribery.

This has come up in connection with Thursday's ruling in the McCutcheon case, that further takes limits off political contributions.  You can tell who will likely benefit by who is rejoicing.  RNC chair Reince Priebus is said to be ecstatic.

I hadn't realize there was much room for things to get worse, but apparently this ruling contains loopholes that will allow one person to donate millions that will go to individual candidates through just a little creative channeling through committees.

Personally, I don't think Roberts is naive.   I think he is pro-business and pro-wealthy people.  All this talk about unlimited money being just a form of free speech is shallow rationalization.   The real problem here is that Roberts denies that there are very real consequences that erode our democratic process -- not, as he blithely says, that it is to enhance our democratic process.

The free speech thing is a convenient dodge.  There are precedents everywhere that curtail some rights in order to ensure the honoring of other rights.

In a letter to the New York Times, David Miller wrote with irony:  "The law, in its majestic equality, grants both billionaires and paupers the identical free speech right to influence public policy by spending millions upon millions of dollars."

Another letter from Peter Kugel:  "It seems to me that the Supreme Court's decision is like saying that your freedom of speech allows you to yell as loudly as you wish while I am trying to talk."

This is the direction toward oligarchy;   democracy is losing the battle.    Another legacy of George W. Bush, who solidified the conservative majority of SCOTUS with the Roberts and Alito appointments.


His own Facebook page hilariously backfires on Senator Cruz

This delicious finding is from Cenk Uygur's newscast, "The Young Turks," reporting on the results of a poll that Ted Cruz initiated on his own Facebook page.   Cruz posed the question: 
"Obamacare was signed into law four years ago.
Are you better off now than you were then?"

The results:    Yes 75.9%          No 24.0%
Now, first, this is Facebook, so there's nothing scientific or representative about it.   Presumably it's an open page and anyone can respond.    And it turns out that early responses were more negative, as you'd expect.  Then two liberal blogs posted the link, and presumably liberals flooded the site with their answers.

But still it's Ted Cruz's own page.   Wouldn't you think that conservatives would do something similar and rev up their side's responses?   Maybe even they are not so convinced anymore that it's such a terrible thing. 

To Cruz's credit, he left it up, and the page has turned into a mini-debate on the question of Obamacare.   So maybe some of his supporters are, for the first time, hearing the other side of the story.   Many of the comments, while undoubtedly true, sound like they were written by an Affordable Care Act p.r. person.  But there are also these:
"I am a staunch Republican, a self-proclaimed Fox News addict, and I didn't vote for the President.   And I'm here to tell you that Obamacare worksI'm living proof. . . .  I'm a chemotherapy patient . . . [not only am I now saving $350 a month but] It's the best health care I have ever had.

"My husband lost his job a year ago, my family has been without healthcare since then because of pre-existing conditions and the overwhelming cost.   Thank God for ACA. . . we now have insurance!   All you [Sen. Cruz] want to do is take it away again." 

"I don't have Obamacare, but someone I know who had bad mouthed if for the past four years, recently had to get coverage after her husband recently passed away.  The first words out of her mouth, 'Thank God for Obamacare.'  She is a staunch Republican and believes everything she hears on Fox News.  And those who are saying they won't comply are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.   Wake up !!"
Having Ted Cruz supporters read and debate such positive answers can only be good.  And if this can happen on such a right wing partisan site, isn't this a harbinger of good news to come as we move toward the November election? 


Thursday, April 3, 2014

A new idea: Republicans "killed Obamacare"

Following up on yesterday's post, "It's all in the name:   "The ACA."

I almost pity all those conservative pundits who have been predicting the disastrous failure of Obamacare.    After miscalculating so badly on the Romney election, now they've been just so spectacularly wrong once again, and so soon.    

So let's be generous in victory.   Let's give them this.   Let's say:   "OK, guys, you won.   You have killed Obamacare.   We will never talk about Obamacare again.   You don't have to try for the 51st time to repeal it.  Obamacare is dead, buried."

Now, to make up for it is this great new plan that the people have just signed up for by the millions.   It's called "The ACA" and you're gonna love it.


SCOTUS determined to let rich people buy our government

As bad as the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United was, SCOTUS just made it even worse yesterday with its decision to gut another limit on political contributions.   Here's how Huffington Post's Paul Blumenthal and Ryan Grim put it: 
After Wednesday's Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission striking down aggregate limits on campaign contributions, the rules governing campaign money are crumbling around us.

What's left is an incoherent system in which donors can make unlimited contributions anonymously to certain entities engaging in politics, but must attach their name to unlimited giving to other groups, and are blocked from making unlimited contributions directly to candidates. Clearly, such a bundle of contradictions can't last. Chief Justice John Roberts, who said in pre-confirmation that he would be guided by precedent, is just as clearly determined to see the remaining restrictions fall, as are the other four Republican appointees on the Supreme Court. It's no longer a matter of if, but when.
That's about the size of it.   And there may not be a lot that Congress can do that would stand up to constitutional challenge now that the Roberts Court has declared corporations as having the rights of people.    The only way may be to keep electing Democratic presidents and congresses until one of the five conservatives on the court leaves room for another liberal justice.   Then they can overturn these decisions.

Until then, it's a big uphill battle against SCOTUS giving the green light to all that money to conservative causes, plus the Republicans' control of state houses that redraw district lines to keep a Republican House and restrict voting rights.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

It's all in the name: "The ACA"

Republicans first started calling the Affordable Care Act "Obamacare" as a term of derision.   Then the president said he kinda liked it, so it began to be used by Democrats as a shorthand -- and maybe as an attempt to neutralize it, take away the derision.

It didn't exactly work that way.    Lots of us began to say "Obamacare," without the derision.  But those who wanted to sneer when they said it and make it sound dirty still communicated hatred and derision.

Now comedian Jimmy Kimmel has taken a street poll, stopping people and asking them on camera which plan they support, the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

They all said they preferred the ACAthey don't like "Obamacare."  They hate everything about it:  the policy, the high cost, it's being forced on them.   One man even agreed that Obamacare is socialism, while the ACA is not.   None of them seemed to realize that the ACA and Obamacare are exactly the same thing.

Here's the link to the video:

So maybe there's opportunity here.    Let's stop using "Obamacare" and go back to "Affordable Care Act" -- or shorten it to "the ACA."    Let "Obamacare" be associated with -- and die with -- that terrible thing the Republicans told you was a disaster.

Chances are Republicans will stop talking about it -- because it will just remind people that they were so dead wrong about it.    So let's re-christen it "The ACA," which 7.1 million people have just signed up for -- and might just like.


Hobby Lobby hypocrits

It's not the first time that conservatives have been accused of hypocrisy, but here we go again.   The owners of the craft supply chain, Hobby Lobby, hate the idea of being forced by the Affordable Care Act to include contraceptives in the health insurance for their employees so much that they took their case all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court.

Now the investigative team at Mother Jones magazine have revealed that Hobby Lobby's company retirement plan invests in mutual funds that include makers of the Plan B morning-after pill, as well as an IUD device and drugs that induce abortion.

Where's the consistency in this?

Stop looking for consistency, stupid.  This is politics, not religion.   Dollars to donuts, the owners of Hobby Lobby are less concerned with contraception than they are with trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act -- or, even more basic than that, trying to destroy the presidency of Barack Obama.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Republicans just lost their campaign issue . . . so what will they run on now?

With the growing success of the Affordable Care Act -- and the increasing likelihood that "Repeal Obamacare" won't be a winning strategy come November -- what will the Republicans do . . . ?

1.  Suppress the vote.   Republican-controlled state legislatures are busy with "voter ID" laws and shortening voting days and times, all designed to keep Democratic voters from voting.

2.  Create false "scandals."    Darrell Issa is still trying to find scandal where it doesn't exist -- the IRS and Benghazi.  There's no there, there;  but that won't stop this snake-mean bully and the magaphones that amplify him on FoxNews.

3.  Blame President Obama for everything that's gone wrong in the world.  Scream about his "weakness" and "lack of coherent foreign policy."  They have long since abandoned the agreement that politics stops at the water's edge.  They equate diplomacy with weakness, even when it's successful and saves lives.

4.   Blame the Democrats for the slow economic recovery.   Never mind the fact that their opposition to a stronger stimulus and more help to the unemployed is chiefly responsible for the slow recovery.  

5.  Pour money into advertisements full of lies and distortions and smears.   Offer no plans of their own;  just tear down the Democrats.

What a pathetic position for a national political party.   Nothing to run on and no way to win except by obstructing, lying, and cheating.


Maybe even 7 million ???

Long, long lines stretching around the block . . . sign-up offices planning to stay open until everyone in line can get registered.   Unprecedented numbers of people accessing the online exchanges -- as many as 125,000 simultaneously.

Anonymous sources are now predicting that the original goal of 7 million will be met, after all.  Remember that this is the number signing up for the private health insurance -- in addition to the 4.5 million added to Medicare.

Add Obamacare to the list of things that FoxNews and conservative pundits have been spectacularly wrong about, including the 2012 election outcome.


Monday, March 31, 2014

"At least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained health care coverage" -- LA Times

Midnight tonight is the deadline for this enrollment period in the Affordable Care Act -- except that, if you had already started the process, you have another two weeks to complete it.    So these are not the final statistics.   But they're good enough to bring out the champagne.

Thanks to the Los Angeles Times for the data and backup citations (omitted here):Precise figures on national health coverage will not be available for months. But available data indicate:
At least 6 million people have signed up for health coverage on the new marketplaces, about one-third of whom were previously uninsured. .

-  At least 4.5 million previously uninsured adults have signed up for state Medicaid programs, according to Rand's unpublished survey data, which were shared with The Times. .

An additional 3 million young adults have gained coverage in recent years through a provision of the law that enables dependent children to remain on their parents' health plans until they turn 26 . . . .  

About 9 million people have bought health plans directly from insurers, instead of using the marketplaces. . .  The vast majority of these people were previously insured.

 - Fewer than a million people who had health plans in 2013 are now uninsured because their plans were canceled for not meeting new standards set by the law, the Rand survey indicates.   

Republican critics of the law have suggested that the cancellations last fall have led to a net reduction in coverage.  That is not supported by survey data or insurance companies, many of which report they have retained the vast majority of their 2013 customers by renewing old policies. . .  "We are talking about a very small fraction of the country" who lost coverage, said Katherine Carman, a Rand economist . . .  [Surveys by national researchers agree.]
Can you imagine how successful it might have been -- or will become -- without such all-out Republican opposition?   Besides the majority of states that did not accept the Medicaid expansion offer from the federal government, some states even made it illegal for any state official to assist people in accessing the federal marketplace.

Pure politics.   Wait for it to backfire.