Archive for April, 2014

The nerve of these people, I tell ya. I mean, can you imagine the audacity of millions of previously uninsured Americans now become eligible for health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act — and actually following through?! Don’t they have any consideration for how their actions might affect the rest of us who already had health care? Sheesh.

In the latest example of their outrage, courtesy Hot Air, conservatives are citing a USA Today article about how doctors are having a hard time balancing profits and patients. To conservatives, this is just another negative consequence of ObamaCare. Our dear conservative friend Cluster called it just another example of the “unintended consequences of big government.”

What’s the problem again? Oh yeah, millions of Americans are getting access to health care that didn’t have it before. You might ask, this is really a problem? Well, apparently it is if you’re a conservative who already had health care, and therefore couldn’t care less whether other people have it.

Yes, this is really the issue with these people. Conservatives are afraid that their own doctors will spend less time with them because they will have to spend time with those undeserving ObamaCare patients. An outrage, indeed.

But let’s cut the sarcasm for a moment. Honestly, what kind of morality sees your friends, relatives and neighbors gaining access to health care as an inherently bad thing? These are Americans who were previously shut out of the health care system because they are sick (and therefore unprofitable), were once sick (and therefore potentially unprofitable), or simply don’t have the money to afford health care (and therefore obviously unprofitable).

There’s a telling paragraph in that USA Today article:

Physicians don’t like to be rushed either, but for primary care physicians, time is, quite literally, money. Unlike specialists, they don’t do procedures like biopsies or colonoscopies, which generate revenue. Instead, most are still paid per visit, with only minor adjustments for those that go longer.

Ah, there’s the real issue. The more patients these doctors see, the more money they make. And we’re surprised that medical offices are telling their doctors to shorten up the visits so that can see more patients and make more money? It’s just capitalism at work. Conservatives should rejoice.

And speaking of capitalism, it has always been true, and is still true, that the more money you have, the better health care you can get. I mean, if you have enough money, you can hire your own personal physician. So what’s the problem, conservatives? If you don’t like sharing your doctors, the way to fix that is to spend more of your money. Everyone wins. The doctor wins, you win, and the economy wins. Pretty simple, really.

Of course, the converse to having lots of money is being poor. And incredibly, the poorest 40% of American women — almost half of all American women — are seeing their life expectancies actually decline compared to the generation before them. What a country — the one with the greatest health care system in the world. Right? Right?!

Sometimes you have to feel a little bit of sympathy for Rand Paul. It must be really hard to go out every day and make statements designed to win votes in the 2016 primary without any regard for honesty. That is a dangerous minefield to navigate when you have no beliefs of your own and every position is politically calculated.

That, and being named Rand. At least his father didn’t name him Ayn.

Rand’s latest fail is deciding to jump into the debate over Cliven Bundy after Harry Reid called the armed protesters who set up sniper position and planned to use women as human shields domestic terrorists. Paul decided there were more Republican primary votes if he opposed Reid.

“I think there’s an opposite thing to what Harry Reid said, and that’s that the federal government shouldn’t violate the law. Nor should we have 48 federal agencies carrying weapons and having SWAT teams,” Paul asserted.”

Okay, now that’s appropriately wingnutty and right up Rand’s alley of taking all sides on any issue. Gun rights shouldn’t be restricted, but BLM employees shouldn’t be allowed to carry guns. After all, federal employees who work in the wilderness never face situations where they may need to protect themselves, right?

Anyway, Rand can’t stop there.

“Apparently, this is what I’m hearing,” he continued, “The family had a lease with Clark county for over 130 years, arbitrarily in recent years the federal government thought that they were going to override the county lease and they were going to assume control of it but they never asked for permission from the rancher.”

Where the hell did he hear that line of bullshit? I don’t think anyone is trying to make that entirely fact-free argument and Rand just pulled it out of his nether region. After all, what gets the wingnuts more riled up than the evil Obama coming to take their personal property at gunpoint? But that’s not Rand’s only recent statement that smells like it came out of a 1 year old’s diaper.

“When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan … Did he say, “oh let’s just cut taxes for low-income people?” No, he said forthrightly, “let’s cut everyone’s taxes” … The top rate was 70% … he lowered it … to 28% … and 20 million jobs were created.”

I’m glad you asked, Rand. Bill Clinton was President the last time 20 million jobs were created in our economy (22.9 million). Unfortunately, Reagan fell a little bit short of 20 million at 16.1 million.

These are just a couple of examples where Rand makes stupid statements for political reasons. In this he differs from his father. Ron Paul is able to let his freak flag fly proudly because he is in a safe Texas district and will never be voted out of office. Ron also clouds his idiocy in normal sounding rhetoric. I’ve always said that Ron Paul sounds pretty good until you listen to what he’s saying. Then he sounds absolutely batshit crazy. Rand, on the other hand, does not have the conviction that his father has. Rand has a history of palling around with racists, like his father, but I’m not sure it’s because he’s racist; it’s because he’s using his father’s network to get ahead in politics. Rand opposes using drones against suspected terrorists, but he’s just fine with using them against someone who robs a convenience store here in the US. This is just an example of how he operates on every issue.

Now Rand has a big decision to make. The Kentucky Assembly has decided not to take up a bill put forward by Rand’s buddies allowing him to run for reelection as State Senator and run for President at the same time. Rand can no longer count on still receiving his government handout from the Senate when he loses the race for the Presidential nomination. Again, it’s hard to be Rand.

I can’t wait for the 2016 primary season to kick off because Rand’s opponents are going to have a ball kicking him around.

On Friday, Dwight Garner, senior writer and book critic for the New York Times, wrote about the book All God’s Dangers.

Nineteen seventy-four was a good year for nonfiction writing in America. Robert A. Caro’s monumental biography of Robert Moses, “The Power Broker,” came out. So did Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s “All the President’s Men.” So did “Working,” by Studs Terkel, and Robert M. Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”

Each was a finalist for the National Book Award. Yet the winner in general nonfiction — the category was then called contemporary affairs — was “All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw,” an oral history of an illiterate black Alabama sharecropper. Its author, the man who compiled it from extensive interviews, was a writer named Theodore Rosengarten.

Forty years later, we remember “The Power Broker,” “All the President’s Men,” “Working” and “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” But in a troubling quirk of history, “All God’s Dangers” has all but fallen off the map.

Today that book is the top selling book on Amazon, which presumably is an indication of the power of Garner’s New York Times column. You can read the rest of Garner’s column here. I’ve put this book on my reading list.

Domestic terrorists

Posted: April 19, 2014 by mitchethekid in Current Events


As though anyone seriously thought the Republicans would do the right thing.

I posted a bunch of tweets yesterday regarding the White House announcement that eight million Americans have signed up for insurance via the Affordable Care Act exchanges. (Of course, all told, a lot more than eight million Americans have obtained health care via the ACA — this is just the number of obtained private insurance via the exchanges.)

Earlier in the day, President Obama held a half-hour press conference to talk about it. (Once again, conservatives experienced shock as President Obama spoke extemporaneously without a teleprompter, answering unscripted questions.)

One question and answer stood out. Tamara Keith of NPR asked, “Now that, as you say, it’s here to stay, there are so many people that signed up, in this environment, is it possible to do the kind of corrections that — that the business community and many others would like to see, sort of small, technical corrections?”

President Obama:

It is absolutely possible, but it will require a change in attitude on the part of the Republicans. I have always said from the outset that on any large piece of legislation like this, there are going to be things that need to be improved, need to be tweaked. I said that, I think, the day I signed the bill.

And I don’t think there’s been any hesitation on our part to consider ideas that would actually improve the legislation. The challenge we have is, is that if you have certain members in the Republican Party whose view is making it work better is a concession to me, then it’s hard in that environment to actually get it done.

And I recognize that their party is going through, you know, the stages of grief, right? Anger and denial and all that stuff. And we’re not at acceptance yet. But at some point, my assumption is, is that there will be an interest to figure out, how do we make this work in the best way possible?

We have 8 million people signed up through the exchanges. That doesn’t include the 3 million young people who are able to stay on their parent’s plan. It doesn’t include the 3 million people who benefited from expansions in Medicaid. So if my math is correct, that’s 14 million right there. You’ve got another 5 million people who signed up outside of the marketplaces, but are part of the same insurance pool. So we’ve got a sizable part of the U.S. population now that are in the first — for the first time, in many cases, in a position to enjoy the financial security of health insurance.

And I’m meeting them as I’m on the road. Met with — saw a woman yesterday, a young woman, maybe 34, with her mom and her dad, she’s got two small kids, and a self-employed husband, and was — was diagnosed with breast cancer. And this isn’t an abstraction to her. She is saving her home. She is saving her business. She is saving her parents’ home, potentially, because she’s got health insurance, which she just could not afford.

And the question now becomes, if, in fact, this is working for a lot of people, but there are still improvements to make, why are we still having a conversation about repealing the whole thing? And why are we having folks say that any efforts to improve it are somehow handing Obama a victory? This isn’t about me.

And my hope is, is that we start moving beyond that. My suspicion is that probably will not happen until after November, because it seems as if this is the primary agenda item in the Republican political platform.

But here’s what I know: The American people would much rather see us talk about jobs, would much rather see us talk about high college costs, would much rather see us discussing how we can rebuild our roads and our bridges and our infrastructure and put people back to work. They’d much rather see us talk about how we boost wages and boost incomes and, you know, improve their individual family bottom lines.

And if the Republicans want to spend the entire next six months or a year talking about repealing a bill that provides millions of people health insurance without providing any meaningful alternative, instead of wanting to talk about jobs and the economic situation of families all across the country, that’s their prerogative. At some point, I think they’ll make the transition. That’s my hope, anyway. If not, we’re just going to keep on doing what we’re doing, which is making — making it work for people all across the country.

I’m sorry. I’m going to say one last thing about this… (LAUGHTER) … just because this — this does frustrate me, states that have chosen not to expand Medicaid for no other reason than political spite. You got 5 million people who could be having health insurance right now, at no cost to these states — zero cost to these states — other than ideological reasons, they have chosen not to provide health insurance for their citizens. That’s wrong. It should stop. Those folks should be able to get health insurance like everybody else.

Obama asked (rhetorically because, you know, Republicans), Why are we still having a conversation about repealing the whole thing? He answered his own question, of course: “Certain members of Congress” worry that “making it work better is a concession to me.”

For Republicans, that’s what this has always been about, and that’s what it’s still about.

Rumors have been floating around lately that Rep. Eric Cantor is looking to oust John Boehner as Speaker after the next election. Cantor put the truth to those rumors yesterday.

President Obama called Cantor to wish him a happy Passover and the topic of immigration reform came up. Here is Cantor’s take on the conversation:

“Today, President Obama called me to discuss his desire for comprehensive immigration reform. The President called me hours after he issued a partisan statement which attacked me and my fellow House Republicans and which indicated no sincere desire to work together. After five years, President Obama still has not learned how to effectively work with Congress to get things done. You do not attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue. I told the President the same thing I told him the last time we spoke. House Republicans do not support Senate Democrat’s immigration bill and amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered in the House. I also reiterated to the President there are other issues where we can find common ground, build trust and get America working again. I hope the President can stop his partisan messaging, and begin to seriously work with Congress to address the issues facing working middle class Americans that are struggling to make ends meet in this economy.”

This is what Cantor considers an “attack” by the President:

“Unfortunately, Republicans in the House of Representatives have repeatedly failed to take action, seemingly preferring the status quo of a broken immigration system over meaningful reform,” Obama said. “Instead of advancing commonsense reform and working to fix our immigration system, House Republicans have voted in favor of extreme measures like a punitive amendment to strip protections from ‘Dreamers.’ “

The White House was a bit taken aback by Cantor’s diatribe, saying the call was not contentious. Maybe Cantor just has a delicate constitution.

What Cantor is doing is positioning himself to win the support of the far-right extremists in a battle for the Speaker’s chair. The extremists believe that Boehner does not have the backbone to stand up for conservative principles (Translation: Boehner won’t go on fool’s errands in order to win votes from the Teabaggers. He’ll only look like he is.). Not only did Cantor make himself look like a big man for standing up to the big meany, President Obama, but also directly contradicted Boehner. Boehner said that he agreed with the President on the need for immigration reform. Cantor said the House will not consider it. Let’s see if Boehner can regain control when he returns from his overseas junket.

It was a rich day in Twitter-land, and I couldn’t restrict myself to just one. Enjoy!

By now we’re all aware of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who “defied” the “tyrannical” federal government this past weekend. He’s become a cause celeb of the extreme right, because… because… because he’s not complying with unconstitutional laws that nobody seems able to identify.

See, for over a hundred years the Bundy clan has been grazing their personal cattle on public land near their ranch. For the longest time, nobody said much about it, and each generation of Bundys grew more and more to view the public land as their own, to do with as they wished. They even concocted novel theories to justify that belief, such as claiming they were there first and therefore had dibs to the land in perpetuity. Never mind that just three decades before the first Bundy arrived and homesteaded, the area was part of a different country. And before that, there were these other people we call Indians living there, but they don’t count in Bundy world.

Then along came the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. This probably really pissed off Cliven’s grandpa. According to today’s conservatives, this was just another example of federal overreach that would escalate over the twentieth century. What they fail to acknowledge is that by the time Congress passed the act, it had become painfully clear that management of public lands was necessary.

This became apparent even to politicians in Washington, D.C. when a Dust Bowl storm from the Great Plains reached the East Coast for the first time in May 1934. The Dust Bowl is considered the worst man-made ecological and agriculture disaster in U.S. history, brought about in part by poor farming practices. Once its effects reached the nation’s capital, Congress moved to regulate the use of public land in order to stop the kind of behavior that laid waste to once farmable land.

The Taylor Grazing Act was one result, passed just two months after Washington experienced the Dust Bowl firsthand. Its purpose was to “stop injury to the public grazing lands [excluding Alaska] by preventing overgrazing and soil deterioration; to provide for their orderly use, improvement, and development; [and] to stabilize the livestock industry dependent upon the public range.” It wasn’t a matter of federal overreach; it was a matter of taking proper care of a valuable national resources on behalf of the people of the United States. It was obvious that the farmers and ranchers wouldn’t do it themselves.

People like Bundy hate the Bureau of Land Management. Where did the BLM come from? Again, Congress recognized that management of public land was necessary, even as far back as the nineteenth century, when timber was a valuable fuel source and construction material, and there were worries about its depletion. Congress authorized the executive branch to administer public land, and one of the eventual results was the creation of the BLM in 1946, which now handles things like grazing permits.

Meanwhile, the Bundys kept right on using public land like they always did; that is, until 1993. That’s when the BLM issued new regulations pertaining to the public land Bundy was using, in part to protect the desert tortoise, which by then was threatened with extinction. The BLM reduced the amount of grazing allowed on the public land Bundy was using, and required him to pay a fee to continue using it.

Well, Bundy doesn’t even recognize the existence of the federal government, so he surely wasn’t going to pay them anything or adhere to their regulations. He nobly tried paying the county, but they refused because it’s not their land and not their money to collect. So he just went on using the public resources as he wished and ignored the fees altogether. Not only that, he started grazing cattle on additional public land because, well, he’s a Bundy and they’ve been there for a long time, so they deserve to help themselves to whatever they want. Some people might consider that to be stealing from the American people, but to Bundy’s defenders, those people are clearly lacking in morals and don’t understand the constitution.

To no one’s surprise, Bundy’s actions caused the BLM to revoke his permit in 1994. A court judgement in 1998 ordered Bundy to remove his livestock and to pay the federal government trespass damages for any livestock he left behind. This didn’t phase Bundy because, after all, he does’t believe the federal government exists. Finally, last year federal judge Lloyd D. George — a Nevada native and Ronald Reagan appointee, not some East Coast elite liberal — issued yet another ruling against Bundy.

In court, Bundy actually argued — again — that the United States doesn’t own the land in question. Unfortunately for Cliven, the judge actually does understand things like laws and the Constitution. Explaining the obvious in his judgment against Bundy, George wrote, “[T]he public lands in Nevada are the property of the United States because the United States has held title to those public lands since 1848, when Mexico ceded the land to the United States.”

Bundy made other specious claims, such as that the state of Nevada’s right to the land overrides the federal’s, and that the Property Clause of the United States Constitution only applies to federal land outside the borders of states, etc. Judge George must have stifled a chuckle or two at the amateurishness of it all. In any event, the court found that “the public interest is negatively affected by Bundy’s continuing trespass,” that Bundy had to remove his livestock within 45 days, and that the United States was entitled to seize and remove any of his cattle that remain after that date. Needless to say, Bundy didn’t comply. The public interest? That’s just collectivist mumbo jumbo meant to stifle Bundy’s freedom! Marner has the rest of the details of the ensuing standoff in his post Over The Edge.

You can certainly argue that the BLM’s actions were ham-fisted and over-the-top, but Bundy’s legal claims are without merit. Nevertheless, conservatives continue to claim he is a victim of “unconstitutional laws,” although the specifics fail them. These days, conservatives have a habit of rallying around some pretty odd causes. As already noted, Bundy doesn’t recognize the federal government as legitimate. “I believe this is a sovereign state of Nevada,” he recently told a radio reporter. “…I abide by all of Nevada state laws. But, I don’t recognize the United States Government as even existing.” He also told the Los Angeles Times, “I abide by all state laws. But I abide by almost zero federal laws.” Eventually, this won’t end well for Bundy, and it will be nobody’s fault but his own.

The usual suspects are still at it with the supposed IRS “scandal.” Judicial Watch released a Lerner email yesterday and Fox News ran with it. Fox rushed a story to their website with a headline saying Lerner contacted the Department of Justice about IRS targeting. Their story was about how Lerner had talked to DOJ about whether groups could be prosecuted for lying on their applications to the IRS. Fox News even ran at least one segment on TV with the chyron, “Email Shows Lerner Reaching Out to DOJ over Targeting.” Other conservative pundits and bloggers picked up the story and ran with it as even more evidence that Lerner was targeting conservative groups.

But it was all just one big lie.

If any of them had bothered to actually read the email (It’s pretty short, but I do realize that some conservatives have a problem with reading comprehension), they would have seen that the truth was the exact opposite of what they claimed.

The truth is that Sen. Whitehouse asked the DOJ at a hearing if these groups could be prosecuted for lying. In developing their response to Sen. Whitehouse, DOJ asked Lerner who they could talk to because the experts in tax law for these groups worked for her. Fox later changed the headline of their online story twice. The first change was “New Emails Show Lois Lerner Was in Contact with DOJ about Prosecuting Tax Exempt Groups.” That headline is still misleading because it implies Lerner and the DOJ were planning on prosecutions. Their current headline isn’t much better: “Uncovered IRS Emails Show Lerner Talked with DOJ about Pursuing ‘Political’ Groups.” The implication is still there.

Republican congressmen have jumped in with both feet. Rep. Jim Jordan had this to say:

“Now I see why the IRS is scared to give up the rest of Lois Lerner’s emails,” said Oversight Economic Growth subcommittee chairman Rep. Jim Jordan.

Not only do these e-mails further prove the coordination among the IRS, the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Justice Department and committee Democrats to target conservatives, they also show that had our committee not requested the Inspector General’s investigation when we did, Eric Holder’s politicized Justice Department would likely have been leveling trumped up criminal charges against Tea Party groups to intimidate them from exercising their Constitutional rights,” Jordan said.

See what I mean about reading comprehension? Darrell “Gone in Sixty Seconds” Issa would not be left behind, though:

“The release of new documents underscores the political nature of IRS Tea Party targeting and the extent to which supposed apolitical officials took direction from elected Democrats,” Oversight chairman Rep. Darrell Issa said in a statement. “These e-mails are part of an overwhelming body of evidence that political pressure from prominent Democrats led to the targeting of Americans for their political beliefs.”

These people have really just become one big joke in their crusade to create scandals where none exist.

Update: And the shrieking harpy Pam Geller wins for most misleading headline – Documents: IRS Leadership Colluded with Holder Justice Department to JAIL Political Opponents of Obama | Pamela Geller, Atlas Shrugs

I’m not linking to her drivel. If you want it, you can find it.