Saturday, April 18, 2015

Is Rethug War on "Obamacare" Lost?

Could the Republican attempt to destroy the Affordable Care Act be over with?  That's the gist of this article in the Los Angeles Times, which notes that Rethug politicians are nervous about eliminating affordable health insurance under the Act from some 20 million Americans.  After leveling the most outrageous and false charges against "Obamacare" over the past five years, the Rethugs are actually adopting some of the Act's provisions in their own half-hearted, transparently insincere "plans."  Moveover, with the Supreme Court considering a lawsuit that would deny tax benefits to people in states with ACA-sponsored State Exchanges, some Rethugs are actually considering supporting legislation to clarify the statutory language in question.  A number of red states are implementing expanded Medicaid under the ACA's provisions, and a number of Rethug politicians have been hearing from constituents who are happy with their new health coverage.

After a botched roll-out of the Federal ACA website, the subsequent implementation has been successful beyond expectations, with health insurance costs leveling off and fewer uninsured Americans.  Try as they might to convince their low-information, angry base that they'll uproot "Obamacare" at the first opportunity, the evidence is that they are increasingly resigned to letting health insurance reform alone for now.

Scary Tweet of the Day

From the master of horror:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Weekend Change Song

We're going back 20 years for your weekend musical interlude today.  It's a song from British alt rock group Pulp, which enjoyed its greatest success during the mid-90's Britpop revival, along with such bands as Oasis and Blur.  Here's 1995's "Something Changed." (h/t San Francisco Bureau Chief Shauna)

This Cracker's Toast

A New Jersey businessman is learning that adopting the themes of the Klan and neo-Nazis might be bad for business.  In March, deli owner Jim "Jimbo" Boggess put a sign in his window saying "Celebrate your white heritage in March, White History Month."  That celebration must have left out a lot of his customers, who ceased to patronize the deli, and now Boggess has to close his business. In an attempt to get some sweet welfare charity from like-minded bigots real 'Mericans, he opened a GoFundMe account, but it hasn't kept the pastrami from going bad.

Moral of the story:  if your business caters to a diverse clientele, it's not smart "bidness" to flaunt your white supremacy attitude.  Oh, and "white history month" is 11 months of the year, Jimbo, no need to single out March.

"A Man Rotten To His Very Core"

For the past 6 plus years, former (Vice) President and unwavering liar Dick "The Dick" Cheney has been playing the role of the gutter snipe in trashing everything about President Obama, who spent years trying to clean up the mess that The Dick and his band of neocons left behind.  Jon Stewart, for one, is having none of the sniping, and he took apart the malevolent and sinister former Vice President last night over the mess he created in Iraq and Iran, not to mention his Halliburton dealings.  Watch:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

It's Still Not Over In Indiana

Hoosier bigot!?
Republicans in the Indiana House have turned aside an attempt to extend protections for gays and lesbians under the state's nondiscrimination laws in response to the uproar over the new religious objections law.
The proposal called for adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Indiana civil rights law covering education, employment and housing.
Republican leaders say there isn't enough time left in the legislative session to tackle such a policy change, and GOP members backed a ruling Tuesday that the proposal didn't meet House rules for consideration.
Of course, it's never really over for the Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party;  for God's sake, they're still fighting the Civil War (nullification!), the New Deal and Great Society ("reform" Social Security and Medicare!).  They'll fight LGBT nondiscrimination laws as long as they have breath.

Tweet Of The Week

Rubio: The "Fresh Young Face" On The Republican Voodoo Economics Zombie

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle)

Matt O'Brien provides a perspective on Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio's simple-minded, reactionary "voodoo economics" agenda at Wonkblog (worth an extended quote):
Marco Rubio's toughest political opponent may be math.
That's because his economic agenda has a simple arithmetic problem. He wants to balance the budget—in fact, he wants to amend the Constitution to make that mandatory—but at the same time he wants to cut taxes by $4 trillion or so, increase defense spending, and keep antipoverty spending where it is. That doesn't leave a lot of places to find savings. There probably aren't any in non-defense discretionary spending—things like roads and research—when it's already at a 40-year low. So you'd have to get them all by cutting Social Security and Medicare, and cutting them now. Rubio, though, only wants to "reform" entitlements for future seniors, not current ones. And that leaves you with big, fat deficits for a good, long while.

This is the same problem Republicans have had for 35 years now. That's how long they've been running on deficit-financed tax cuts and fiscal responsibility. So Rubio, who's trying to portray himself as a new kind of Republican, is seizing on the only thing that makes that combination work: saying tax cuts will pay for themselves. Specifically, he's said that the way to balance the budget is with "dynamic economic growth," which, of course, his tax cuts are supposed to provide. That's saying you can eat your cake and have it too, because eating it will make more of it appear. But anyone who remembers the big deficits that came after Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush's big tax cuts knows that's not the case. Indeed, former Bush adviser Greg Mankiw knew this himself, calling people who said otherwise little more than "charlatans and cranks."

But that hasn't stopped the usual supply-side suspects, like the right-leaning Tax Foundation, from claiming that Rubio's trillions of dollars of tax cuts would, after nine years of bigger deficits, actually make tax revenues go up after that by supercharging growth so much. If this sounds like wishful thinking masquerading as actual analysis, well, you're in touch with empirical reality. "This would not pass muster," economist Laurence Kotlikoff told the New York Times's Josh Barro, "as an undergraduate model at a top university."  (our emphasis)
Of course, Glug Glug isn't alone;  every one of his Republican presidential rivals (and the party in general) subscribes to this "wishful thinking masquerading as actual analysis."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Blind Squirrel Quote of the Day

Because even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while:
"The people who are not going to vote on Hillary Clinton based on e-mails are already not going to vote for her based on her email, which is about three people." (emphasis added) -- Master purveyor of Beltway Village conventional wisdom Cokie "Okey Dokie" Roberts on MSNBC's "Morning Joke."
This pseudo-scandal -- along with Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI!! -- only plays to those voters who won't vote for Clinton in any lifetime.  The majority of Americans?  They'll shrug and ask what it has to do with them.

Buyer's Remorse, Teabagger Style

Right wing blogger and man with his own gravitational field James "Super Size Me" Webb is having buyer's remorse after voting Republican for the last 32 years.  A Tea Party "patriot," Webb was one of those Americans who couldn't afford health insurance, especially as someone with a pre-existing condition of morbid obesity.  With the Affordable Care Act, Webb (who was going to wait for Medicare some 15 years down the road) is now covered, but is scared that if the Rethugs win in 2016, the "Obamacare" that he depends on now will be taken away.  A classic conservative low-information voter, Webb realizes that his party has been playing fast and loose with the lives of people like him, and is mulling over voting (as he puts it) with the "Democrat Party" in 2016.  Better late than never,  but why does it take a personal crisis for some of these wingers to wake up to reality and learn something?

A Burrito And The Real Candidate Of Yesterday

Jon Stewart on the continuing media obsession with the trivial as the 2016 campaign begins:

This is going to be an awful year and a half for politics, judging by the insipid media coverage so far. Of course, there was this brief, substantive focus on Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio (Weak Tea-FL) from CNN's Jake "Tippy" Tapper:
“You are casting yourself as a candidate of a new generation, but there is an issue where you are very out of step with younger voters — even younger Republican voters,” Tapper told Rubio. “According to a Pew poll, 61 percent of Republican voters under the age of 30, I believe, support same-sex marriage. On that issue, same-sex marriage, senator, you’re the candidate of yesterday.”  (our emphasis)
That's exactly the kind of "yesterday" position Glug Glug and his fellow reactionary clowns Republican candidates espouse, along with (to pick a few) climate change denial and "trickle down" economics.  Wouldn't want to share that knowledge on a regular basis though, would we "mainstream media," not when we can hear about burritos!

Republican Tax Breaks: "So Much For So Few"

As Americans well know, today is the deadline for filing tax returns.  (By the way, anyone reading this who has had delays in getting assistance or having questions answered by the Internal Revenue Service should read this.)  Death and taxes, the Great Levelers -- or not so much if the bill endorsed by media-designated genius wonk Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan (Galt's Gulch-WI) gets enacted (spoiler alert:  it won't).  Here's frequent blind squirrel Dana Milbank:
Give credit to Republicans in Congress.
They’ve discovered, belatedly, that income inequality is a problem, and they’re no longer proposing to give tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Now they are proposing to give tax breaks to the wealthiest two-tenths of 1 percent of Americans.
On Tuesday afternoon, the House Rules Committee took up H.R. 1105, the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015,” with plans to bring it to a vote on the chamber floor Wednesday — Tax Day. It is an extraordinarily candid expression of the majority’s priorities: A tax cut costing the treasury $269 billion over a decade that would exclusively benefit individuals with wealth of more than $5.4 million and couples with wealth of more than $10.9 million.
That’s a tax break for only the 5,500 wealthiest households in the country each year, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Of those, the 318 wealthiest estates each year — those worth $50 million or more — would see an average windfall of $20 million each, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (our emphasis)
As the op/ed goes on to explain, the Republican talking points that the "death tax" (or as normal people call it, "estate tax") represents double taxation and a "devastating" hit on small businesses and family farms are, as one should expect, preposterously bogus. Meanwhile, they would be opening the Treasury for an average windfall of $20 million for each of the 5,500 wealthiest households, the shortfall largely coming from cuts to programs for the middle class and poor (Medicaid, food stamps, etc.).  In other words, your typical discredited trickle-down, makers vs. takers Republican philosophy untethered from, and antagonistic toward, the real world.

(Image:  Buff Bro' Ryan, still pumping out the tax breaks for the ultra-rich.)

Mid-Week Twofer Songs

Pianist Dave Brubeck was one of jazz music's biggest stars from the early 1950s to the 1990s.  His quartet included jazz icons Paul Desmond on sax, Joe Morello on drums and the quartet's only surviving member, Eugene Wright, on bass.  Here's "Three To Get Ready" from his quartet's groundbreaking 1959 album, "Time Out."

Sadly, R & B singer Percy Sledge died yesterday at age 74.  His 1966 number 1 hit, "When A Man Loves A Woman," was covered by many other singers, including Michael Bolton, who won a Grammy for his version.  R.I.P.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Krispykreme Touches Third Rail, Survival Doubtful

Jabba the Hutt doppelgänger Gov. Chris "Krispykreme" Christie (R- Angryville) must be feeling his chances diminishing in the Rethuglican clown car derby, what with imminent Federal indictments stemming from his pay-to-play governance of New Jersey and with other candidates sucking the oxygen (and campaign contributions) from him.  It must also sting that almost 70% of the people of New Jersey (who know him best) don't think he'd make a good President.  So what's Krispykreme do to grab some attention, get that old mojo back?   He's proposing the most severe cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- cuts even more punitive than other Rethuglican proposals for entitlement "reform."  That should go over well with seniors, who vote in higher percentages than other demographic groups.  Also, with Krispykreme's poor record on his state's economy,  beside his useful tools in the press, who's taking his public policy positions seriously these days?

"Next Generation Leader" Marco Rubio's Web Site EPIC FAIL

In his campaign launch yesterday, hip "young" Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio (Error 521-FL) tried to draw a contrast between himself and the "leaders of the past" =cough= future President Hillary Clinton =cough= (whose web site was up and running as she announced her candidacy Sunday).  As for Glug Glug's hip, future- is- now web site?  Since the "mainstream media" will fixate on what  Hillary Clinton had for lunch today, but can't find anything downbeat to report about hip "young" Glug Glug, we turn to Wonkette to take up the sad story (click on image to enlarge):
And then, as any young, super edgy candidate for the next generation does, he encouraged people to go to his website. Which looked like this:

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 3.24.40 PM
You know whose website was fully operational when her creaky old presidential campaign officially launched, even though she is SO YESTERDAY? That’s right, Grandma Clinton. Perhaps Rubio should have asked to borrow her secret basement server.
Is it too soon to suggest a campaign jingle for Glug Glug?