Saturday, April 19, 2014

Weekend Cartoons: Obamacare Derangement Syndrome

(click to enlarge)

As we note in the posting below, Rethugs and their enablers in the media are having to scramble to counter-spin the demonstrable success of the Affordable Care Act in its first year of implementation.  

(cartoons:  top, Stuart Carlson, bottom, Mike Luckovich, via

Pols and Pundits: Betting on Obamacare Failing, And Losing

Pardon our indulging in a little more schadenfreude over the success of Obamacare in its first enrollment cycle.  After years of gibberish about "death panels," tripling insurance premiums, beellions being kicked off of their insurance plans, deficit busting, and the end of Freedom in America (courtesy of right-wing media, the Koch brothers and other lying malefactors), we have millions more Americans being covered by affordable health insurance.  While the dead-ender right isn't finished with Obamacare (and will never give up), they may yet pay a price for going all-in on opposing this humane and decent achievement.  Here are snippets of some worthwhile readings:

Greg Sargent:
The announcement of eight million Obamacare sign-ups may finally be enough to jolt commentators into realizing that maybe, just maybe, the Republican plan to build an entire campaign against the law for the next six months might suffer from a few imperfections. The President, for his part, seized on the moment to urge Democratic candidates to stand proudly by the law’s achievements — and to attack Republicans for wanting to strip them away.

Josh Marshall:
On Obamacare, the Republican party has bet big on failure for four years. Now the results are in. And they lost. Big time. 
Of course, substance policy success and political outcomes aren't the same thing. And just as importantly they do not always run on the same time scale. So it is entirely possible. I would say it is likely that the GOP will still derive benefits this November from the core of voters who are extremely upset about Obamacare, extremely motivated to vote and also happen to be the same people who routinely turn out in disproportionate numbers in mid-term elections. But on the core of the policy, which I think there is good reason to believe will align with political outcomes in the future, the results are in. And they lost. 
And, finally, Lucia Graves at the National Journal calls out specific Republican journalists pundits who, in toeing the hyperbolic party line on Obamacare, are seeing their predictions of doom blow up in their smug faces.  The list of numbnuts is much longer than Graves has space or patience to cover, unfortunately =cough= Fox "News" =cough= Krauthammer =cough= Will =cough=.  Of course, the "mainstream media" is/was often complicit in peddling Republican lies in their typical "he-said, she-said" narratives (because,  as NBC's  Chuck Todd has schooled us, it's not the media's job to sort out the truth!). Nonetheless, history will surely and righteously enroll all of them in its Book of Shame.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Weekend Twofer - Beating Like a Drum

We're still exploring Beck's beautiful "Morning Phase" album, so one of our weekend songs is another rich, transcendent cut from that album, "Heart is a Drum."

Now that we've posited "heart is a drum," check out the propulsive, aerobic heart beat of Max Weinberg's drumming on Bruce Springsteen's "I'm Goin' Down," from 1984's "Born in the U.S.A." It'll get your heart pumping for the weekend (it's ok to turn up the volume).

What Harry Reid Said

“Those people who hold themselves out to be patriots are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists… I repeat: what went on up there was domestic terrorism.”  --  Senate Majority Leader and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid,  referring to the lawless loons that gathered in the past week to confront Federal land management officers over freeloader nut job Cliven Bundy's illegal use of Federal land.  The rise of so-called right-wing "patriot" organizations, "sovereign" citizen groups, and militias that have delusions about violent revolt against the "gummint" -- documented by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI -- should be seen as a threat to our democracy and resisted.  Using these kooks for political theater -- as have right-wing media led by the Fux Channel -- is playing around gasoline with a lit match.  These are Timothy McVeigh wannabes itching for trouble and martyrdom, and that needs to be made clear to everyone as Sen. Reid is doing.

BONUS:  A new study focuses on the right-wing neo-Nazi "Stormfront" internet forum, whose members/ visitors have accounted for nearly100 murders in the past 5 years.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Latest Facts On Obamacare Enrollment

Your number of the day is 8 million.  From the White House (see the complete fact sheet here):

8 million people signed up for private insurance in the Health Insurance Marketplace. For states that have Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces, 35 percent of those who signed up are under 35 years old and 28 percent are between 18 and 34 years old, virtually the same youth percentage that signed up in Massachusetts in their first year of health reform.

3 million young adults gained coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act by being able to stay on their parents plan.

3 million more people were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP as of February, compared to before the Marketplaces opened. Medicaid and CHIP enrollment continues year-round.

5 million people are enrolled in plans that meet ACA standards outside the Marketplace, according to a CBO estimate. When insurers set premiums for next year, they are required to look at everyone who enrolled in plans that meet ACA standards, both on and off the Marketplace.

5.7 million people will be uninsured in 2016 because 24 States have not expanded Medicaid.
Meanwhile, Republican sufferers of Obamacare Derangement Syndrome (ODS) (not covered by Obamacare!) continue to do their pathetic best to "debunk" the enrollment numbers.  Here's Steve Benen:
It’s against this backdrop that House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) issued a brief report this morning, as part of the “House Obamacare Accountability Project.” (House Republicans have actually created a formal project with its own name for their initiative to root for ACA failure.) The 1,100-word piece intends to “debunk” the encouraging news of late, but McCarthy’s indictment doesn’t actually disprove anything. It asks some questions and repeats some old, bogus talking points, but for those who’ve followed the debate closely, it’s surprisingly pretty easy to debunk the House GOP’s attempted debunking.
As President Obama noted of Republicans in his press conference today, "Their party is going through the stages of grief ... anger, denial ... we haven't reached acceptance yet."

Nor will we ever, Mr. President, as long as there's a dead-end right-winger's heart beating.  Most have never accepted the idea of Social Security or Medicaid/Medicare, with the notable exception of their own benefits, because they (as opposed to the "moochers") earned them!  As we've said before, no battle with these crackpots is ever fully won, no victory ever sealed (see:  Voting Rights Act, Citizens United, McCutcheon, etc.).  Still, when a moment like this occurs, let's enjoy a little happiness for our fellow, newly-insured Americans  (and a lot of schadenfreude for those ODS sufferers!).

Paul Shy About Defending McConnell

We know that turtle-human hybrid and silent video star Sen. Mitch "Missy" McConnell is in a tough primary with his tea bagger challenger, Matt Bevins.  If he makes it past Bevins, he faces a harder than normal race against Dem Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is neck-and-neck with Missy (when he sticks his head out of the shell).

It's with that background that we had to laugh when we saw a report that fellow Kentucky winger and Ayn Rand namesake Sen. Rand Paul ducked a request by a constituent at a community forum to explain why he supported Missy's reelection.  He told the constituent that he'd answer that question in private after the public session.  Bwahahaha!  Maybe that conversation went like this:
 "Senator Paul, why are you wearing the paper bag over your head?"  
"You asked me to explain my endorsement of McConnell, but you didn't ask me not to disguise myself!"
(photo:  Click to enlarge.  Another enthusiastic supporter for Missy McConnell!)

Whiz Kid

A Portland, OR teenager has been charged with urinating in the Mt. Tabor Reservoir, which supplies some of Portland's drinking water.  The bladder-challenged teen was also charged with trespassing, along with two other teens who were also caught yellow handed.  Urine trouble now, kids.  (Sorry).

As a result of the incident, water officials have decided to flush the reservoir's 38 million gallons due to the contamination.  That's not so funny, despite the fact that the Northwest has been getting plentiful rainfall and is not in a drought status.  Still, what a waste.

Putin's Revealing Choice of Words

Once a year, Russian autocrat-with-the-Napoleon-complex Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin participates in a call-in program where Russians can ask questions (although it's obvious that the questions are pre-approved).  In response to canned questions about Crimea and Ukraine, Putin admitted for the first time that Russian troops were now in occupied Crimea assisting local militia, asserting that Russia had the right to use force in eastern Ukraine, and that the eastern region of Ukraine had traditionally been part of Russia, referring to it as "New Russia."   Tens of thousands of Russian forces are positioned near the border with Ukraine, as pro-Russian agitators and Russian operatives continue to seize buildings, attack police stations, etc.

In a thinly-veiled jab at the U.S., Vlad the Invader took a call-in from Putin's honored guest and Ron Paul enthusiast Edward "Shoot My Balls" Snowden, who tossed a softball to his host, asking him if Russia -- wink wink -- used mass surveillance of the kind the NSA uses.  Of course not, Vlad replied presumably with a straight face, adding that Russia didn't have the capability (if only they did, Vlad might be wishing).  We're thinking after that performance, Snowden might be expecting to stay in his adopted country a while longer -- willingly or not.

UPDATE:  Putin's thugs in eastern Ukraine have a Passover message for Jewish citizens.  This "New Russia" is starting to resemble "Old Germany."

(Image:  They have Czar outfits in the boy's wear department?)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Let's Play Two!"

In honor of the 25th anniversary of the first "Seinfeld" show, the New York Mets' Class A affiliate in Brooklyn will host "Seinfeld Night" in July. 
The first 2,500 fans in attendance at MCU Park on July 5 will receive a Keith Hernandez "Magic Loogie" bobblehead, commemorating the episode in which Kramer and Newman accused the former Mets first baseman of spitting at them after a game. 
Seinfeld famously defended Hernandez by introducing the "Magic Loogie Theory." The episode was in 1992, but the original pilot, called "Seinfeld Chronicles," aired on July 5, 1989. 
For the game, the team will rename its stadium Vandelay Industries Park, after the latex company George tells the unemployment office he might work for. The Cyclones say people who present legitimate business cards showing they are latex salesmen will get in for free. 
Thanks to Newman, mailmen in uniform will throw out the first pitch. Fans will have a chance to take part in an eating contest featuring cereal, Jerry's favorite food, and there will be a dancing contest where fans will try to "dance" just like Elaine. To commemorate one of Jerry's most awkward moments, the Cyclones will wear puffy shirts during batting practice.
 If you're going to the game, stay away from the pretzels - they'll make you thirsty.

Free Lunch Patriot Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

One of the great delusions on the right is that you can get something for nothing when it comes to wanting a powerful military without paying taxes to support it (and to support the wounded warriors that return home). It's also why wingnuts think it's OK for freeloading private rancher Cliven Bundy to graze his cattle on public land for 20 years and not pay grazing fees like other ranchers do.

(cartoon:  Jim Morin, Miami Herald, via

Mirror Mirror Quote of the Day

"When President Vladimir Putin of Russia talks about what is happening in Ukraine these days, it is as if he’s looking into a mirror. He says fascists and nationalists are running amok in Kiev, even as Crimea is annexed in the name of Great Russia; he says Russians are threatened in eastern Ukraine, even as Russia directs secessionists there to seize administrative buildings and arms; he calls on President Obama to use his influence to prevent the use of force in Ukraine, even as he puts a major military force on the Ukrainian border." -- editorial in today's New York Times.

With Ukrainian military forces on the move in the eastern part of the country, serious clashes with pro-Russian separatists and covert Russian special forces already in Ukraine are inevitable, creating a pretext for Putin to send troops into Ukraine.  NATO is responding by positioning defensive forces in the Baltic and elsewhere in Eastern Europe as a signal to Russia.  Tense times.

Reassessing Violent Groups on the Right

In the past few days, the tense armed standoff in Nevada between Federal law enforcement officers and armed self-styled "patriot" militia, and the murder of three people outside Jewish facilities in Overland, Kansas by a white supremacist have put the spotlight on the extremist right wing in this country.  As Rachel Maddow pointed out in last night's broadcast, monitoring and combatting homegrown terrorism on the far right receives scant resources and attention compared with international terrorism.

Back in 2009, a report by the Department of Homeland Security that had been commissioned by the Bush Administration noted the rise of self-styled "patriot" groups, armed militias, neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations.  The right wing establishment was quick to denounce the report, despite its origins in the Bush Administration, as a sign of hostility of the 3-month old Obama Administration to "conservatives."  As Esquire's Charles P. Pierce notes, the events of the past week should caution us not to dismiss the warning signs that were raised five years ago.

Mid-Week Pop Song

Scottish synth-pop trio Chvrches (pronounced Churches) is well known in the UK, and is getting more notice here, especially after their 2013 top ten recording, "The Mother We Share."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sagebrush Moochers, Cont. - A Thug Is A Thug Is A Thug

Read this sentence from today's once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle on the situation in Ukraine, where we've bracketed several words we've added for effect:
In a nation of 44 [315] million, it became clear that a few hundred men, operating on the eastern [western] fringes of the country with guns and unmarked uniforms, have brought the Ukraine [United States] to a deeply dangerous juncture.
The words in brackets refer to the U.S. population, the western (Nevada) region, respectively.

Whether you're operating in the Ukraine or on Cliven Bundy's ranch, a thug is a thug is a thug.

UPDATE:  Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) had this to say about the Sagebrush Moochers in his State:
“Well, it’s not over,” Reid told KRNV-TV on Monday.  “We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over.”

Our Broken Media, Cillizza Edition

The formerly great Washington Post Bezos Bugle's political pundit and member in good standing of the Beltway Village Chris "Cillizard" Cillizza is rightfully being taken to task by Salon's Simon Maloy and, by extension Esquire's Charles P. Pierce, for his ridiculous notion that his job as a "journalist" is not to correct an erroneous perception when it trumps reality, but to simply to report on the erroneous perception.   Case in point:  the perception from months ago that the Affordable Care Act is bound to fail, due to the botched "Obamacare" roll-out,  must trump all subsequent news to the contrary (e.g., the latest Congressional Budget Office report shows the ACA is succeeding).  Cillizard is one of the Beltway Village's most reliable "both sides are to blame" ink wasters (along with the stenographers at Politico), and represents a broken media that is supposed to fact check, tell the truth, and keep the record straight, but which instead concerns itself with perception, who won the media cycle, and political spin.

(Image: "Missed it by that much!")