Archive for July, 2014

These tweets are hysterical.



Weekly B4V Sucks Thread

Posted: July 25, 2014 by Marner in Open Thread

I’m actually on time this week.

This just in: House Republicans are still working on a plan to replace ObamaCare. Just thought you’d want to know.

Four years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans still haven’t come up with their plan to replace it, despite unceasing opposition to the bill. Today, House Speaker John Boehner said, “You know, the discussions about Obamacare and what the replacement bill would look like continue. We’re trying to build consensus around one plan. Not there yet.”

Continue? That’s all they do: Continue to talk. (Actually, I’m pretty sure they’re not even doing that, but just saying so in order to put the best face on a group that doesn’t know what it’s doing.)

Now, I admit that this is not particularly newsworthy because he’s been saying pretty much the same thing since 2010. Are House Republicans the most incompetent lot of Congressmen we’ve ever seen? I mean, they detest ObamaCare with every fiber of their body and yet they can’t figure out what they would do in its place. Of course, two days ago Boehner said the law is “completely unworkable” and “It cannot be fixed.” Meanwhile, millions of American are, you know, using the law to get health care. Republicans just hate that. You’d really think that he’d have a ready answer for this. But he doesn’t. Because House Republicans are incapable of governing. Because the only thing they agree on is that Obama is bad. Oh, and Benghazi.

Earlier today, the wingnuts thought they had scored a victory in their battle to deny poor Americans affordable health insurance with a ruling from the DC Appeals Court. Even the mainstream news and liberal websites were using apocalyptic language to describe the ruling, but it turns out to mean just a little less than jack shit. Two Republican judges on a three-judge panel ruled that the federal government can’t provide subsidies to people who sign up for health insurance on the federal exchange. Their ruling is based on ignoring the precedent that an ambiguous law must be interpreted by looking at the legislative intent and that deference is given to the manner in which the regulatory agency interprets the law. The ruling isn’t surprising, since one of the Republican judges previously said the ACA was an “unmitigated disaster” and that premium cost have sky-rocketed. Both of these claims fly directly in the face of the facts, so we shouldn’t be shocked when this judge proves to not be an impartial trier of facts. The dissenting judge, however, plainly states what this case is all about, a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut” the ACA.

So when the story broke, the wingnuts began their celebration, going so far as to call it a “deathknell” for the ACA. Reports of the ACA’s demise have been greatly exaggerated for several reasons.

First, this ruling is by a three-judge panel of the DC Appeals Court. The government will file for a hearing before the full court, which will rule in the government’s favor since it isn’t dominated by conservative ideologues wanting to take away people’s health insurance. Second, another court, the 4th Circuit Court, also ruled today on ACA subsidies and found them to be legal. Third, there is a good chance the Supreme Court will not even hear an appeal. When the full DC Circuit Court rules in the government’s favor, the score will be 2-0 against the wingnuts. The Supreme Court will not have conflicting lower court opinions to resolve and could easily choose not to hear any appeals and let the lower courts’ rulings stand. At that point it is game over for those who want to force poor people out of their health insurance.

So, as is usually the case, don’t take the headlines and initial reports at face value. They generally turn out to be wrong, and in this case, much ado about nothing.

P.S. In other news that will depress the wingnuts, an estimated 20 million people have received health insurance through the ACA.

UPDATE: In the extreme unlikelihood that this purely partisan opinion is validated by the Supreme Court in the future, there is a rather simple way to negate it. A state only has to pass a one-line bill saying that for all purposes the federal exchange is the state’s exchange.

A Tale Of Two States

Posted: July 21, 2014 by watsonthethird in Current Events, Economics
Tags: , , , ,

An interesting juxtaposition in recent articles describing the circumstances of red state Kansas and blue state California.

The article about Kansas is titled “Sam Brownback’s Kansas Catastrophe.” Yeah, it’s not good. A former supporter complains that Governor Brownback is using the state as “crash test dummies for his own fiscal experiments.”

The experiment that Winter referred to is a sweeping income tax cut plan that Brownback enacted in 2011, which eliminated income taxes for small businesses, cut the highest income tax rates by 25 percent, and made smaller cuts for people with lower rates. Brownback has also signed bills cutting state budgets, declared that life begins “at fertilization,” and created an “Office of the Repealer” to eliminate state laws, regulations and agencies. He’s also ended guaranteed teacher tenure, and narrowed eligibility for welfare and Medicaid.

The tax cuts have come at a particularly steep price. The Wall Street Journal reported that tax collections fell by $685 million in the first 11 months of the fiscal year, putting Kansas on track to blow through its $700 million reserve fund by the middle of next year.

Brownback has insisted that he’ll make up future shortfalls with economic growth, but with 40 percent of state revenue traditionally coming from those taxes and no specific plan to make up the shortfall, Moody’s Investor Service recently downgraded the state’s debt rating. In their decision, Moody’s cited both the tax cuts and a state Supreme Court decision that found that Brownback and the legislature had cut funding for schools unfairly and too deeply in 2011, and would have to find budget savings elsewhere.

Now Brownback faces a tight re-election race, whereas he should have been a shoe-in in conservative Kansas–until he wrecked the state’s economy. Meanwhile, one of conservatives’ favorite punching bags is California Governor Jerry Brown. In 2012, he backed voter proposals to raise various taxes in order to cope with California’s deficit. How are things going in California?

Dire predictions about jobs being destroyed spread across California in 2012 as voters debated whether to enact the sales and, for those near the top of the income ladder, stiff income tax increases in Proposition 30. Million-dollar-plus earners face a 3 percentage-point increase on each additional dollar.

“It hurts small business and kills jobs,” warned the Sacramento Taxpayers Association, the National Federation of Independent Business/California, and Joel Fox, president of the Small Business Action Committee.

So what happened after voters approved the tax increases, which took effect at the start of 2013?

Last year California added 410,418 jobs, an increase of 2.8 percent over 2012, significantly better than the 1.8 percent national increase in jobs.

California is home to 12 percent of Americans, but last year it accounted for 17.5 percent of new jobs, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows.

Can we finally–FINALLY–put an end to the myth that reducing taxes magically puts the economy into overdrive and as a consequence, actually increases tax revenues? It’s just not true. The only reason conservatives cling to this theory, despite the complete lack of evidence that it works, is simply because they don’t want to pay taxes.

President Obama is going to sign an Executive Order (Imperial President!) on Monday preventing federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. The order will prevent the non-hiring or firing of people based solely on sexual orientation and only applies to organizations, for-profit or non-profit, that contract with the federal government. This is a good policy, since there is no federal law and few state laws protecting LGBT people from religious bigots in their jobs. As expected, the religious bigots are in an uproar, having sent a letter to Obama demanding they be given special rights to be exempted from the order. Obama refused to grant any exemption, so these groups will most likely sue for the right to practice their bigotry against employees.

Of course, the bigots have turned to the right-wing noise machine to press their case that they should be allowed to discriminate. One of the people they turned to was Neil Munro at the Daily Caller, Tucker Carlson’s alternative conservative digital rag. Mr. Munro pulls out all the stops in writing his story, checking his journalistic integrity at the door.

He’s expected to sign a regulation on July 21 that would force religious groups that get federal contracts to give up federal funding if they don’t submit to progressives’ claim that homosexuality and heterosexuality are morally equivalent.

The Executive Order does not say anything about moral equivalency. It merely says that if you want do business as a federal contractor, you cannot make hiring and firing decisions based solely on sexual orientation. Company or non-profit owners are still free to believe whatever they want.

Gay and lesbian groups cheered the decision, but many religious groups will contest the regulation as a violation of the constitution’s “wall of separation” that protects religious groups from government dictates.

The government is not “dictating” anything that violates any “wall of separation.” The separation between church and state, which conservatives usually despise because it interferes with their desire to have a Christian government, prevents the government from endorsing a state religion or preventing the free exercise of a religion. This order does neither. The order prevents endorsement by not allowing one particular religious view to be a criteria for employment in support of the US government and business owners are still free to preach bigotry against gays to their hearts’ content.

Many religious groups, such as Catholic Charities, seek and accept federal funding because it helps them carry out charitable missions that exemplify their religion and are also sought by government.

Unless they abandon their religious beliefs relating to men and women, the family and sex, they be forced to give up federal funding.

Again, Munro is lying about the order. No one is being forced to “abandon their religious beliefs.” If they believe it is righteous to discriminate, they can choose not ask the government for a federal contract. No one is being forced to compete for federal contracts.

Once Obama signs the regulation July 21, the religious groups likely will sue in courts for a reversal.

They’ll sue because an existing law — the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act — bars regulators from imposing unnecessary burdens on religious groups.

And this is where we get to the crux of the argument. Since the Supreme Court bastardized the definition of a person in the RFRA in the Hobby Lobby decision, the bigots believe they can use it to gain special privileges. This will fail, though, because the government is not regulating anything in this instance. Everyone has the right to compete for a federal contract if they meet the standards imposed by the awarding agency and the agency has the authority to dictate the standards. The government can and does impose requirements in every single contract. They require that employees be paid the prevailing wage for the location the work will be performed in. They say a company must be no larger than a certain size in order to compete. They insist that a minimum standard of benefits be provided to employees. If a business does not like the restrictions imposed on the competition, they have every right to not ask the government for a contract award.

The religious bigots will continue to use the Hobby Lobby decision to try and gain the right to openly discriminate against whomever they don’t like. If you accept that a company or group cannot hire or fire an employee for the sole reason of their sexual orientation, then you have to accept that they can discriminate for any reason whatsoever. You have to support the contention that a company is allowed to only hire whites, or Hispanics, or Asians, etc. You have to believe that a woman who gets pregnant without being married can be fired on the spot. You also have to accept that a company can dismiss an employee because he had a beer and a cigarette after work. If you believe bigotry is okay in one instance, you have to believe it is okay in all instances.

Weekly B4V Sucks Thread

Posted: July 19, 2014 by Marner in Open Thread

Sorry that I’ve been dropping the ball here lately. Still in the contracting silly season. We’ve won one, but we still have two more to go.

View image on Twitter

And about using BUK by “rebels”. Here’s a control panel. Go on, sort it out. @lennutrajektoor


The hate from the fanatical right has permanently destroyed any rational, objective point of view about anything our President does. They are so blindly biased that even when reality is screaming in their collective faces, they still refuse to accept it.  At the expense of broken ear drums. So here all you Teabagging B4ver’s. If it were up to you would kill the world to prove an easily  falsifiable point. Courtesy of Andrew Sullivan. My conservative hero.

It’s been a study in contrasts for quite some time. One global leader whips up nationalist sentiment to get sky-high ratings at home; the other glides through another summer of Tea Party dyspepsia with imperturbable equanimity. One leader acts on the world stage by annexing a neighboring country and then threatening it some more; the other slowly and painstakingly ratchets up sanctions, whether it be on Iran or Russia, and keeps his options open. And it all came to a fitting climax yesterday. In the morning, no-drama Obama announces new, tougher sanctions because of intelligence showing deeper Russian assistance for the slowly fading separatists in east Ukraine; and only hours later, Putin’s hot-headed goons, using weapons they clearly are not fully in control of, shoot down a civilian airliner. So who, Mr Krauthammer, looks weak now?

Putin has lost Ukraine, its trade pact with the EU is now signed, and its Russophile separatists exposed as fanatical, fantasizing idiots, while Ukraine elected a new president to chart its future. The Russian economy, already hobbled, could face increasingly strong headwinds, if Merkel decides to press the West’s advantage or finally leverages a real climb-down from Moscow over Ukraine. Obama, on the other hand, has a wide noose around the Russian economy and just increased the odds of deeper EU tightening.

And if the missile that shot down the plane can be traced to Russia itself, then the consequences dramatically widen. And that seems possible this morning. Austin Longpoints out that a Buk missile launcher would not have been easy for Ukrainian rebels to capture from the Ukrainian government and that the operation of such weaponry is complicated. This leads him to suspect that “the Buk was provided by Russia along with any necessary training”:

This is supported by U.S. and Ukrainian reports last month that Russia had provided tanks and other heavy equipment to the separatists. Notably both the tanks alleged to have been provided (T-64s) and the Buk are older Soviet-era equipment that Russia would not miss but would also be plausibly present in Ukrainian arsenals. This allows the Russians to retain a figleaf of plausible deniability about the equipment.

If Russia is directly involved in this way, it seems to me that Putin has now over-reached in such a way that all but destroys what’s left of his foreign policy.”


From Slate:

The Japan Meteorological Agency said June 2014 was the warmest June globally since at least 1891, when its dataset begins. This follows May 2014, which was the warmest May globally on record, which follows April 2014, which was the warmest April globally on record.

Also on Monday, NASA released its monthly global temperature numbers for June, with nearly identical results that were reached by a different method. According to NASA, June was the all-time third warmest, May was the warmest, and April was tied for second, with 2010 nudging out 2014 by an imperceptible 0.003 degrees Celsius in the three-month average. The two datasets are among the gold standards for keeping track of Earth’s escalating fever.

Meanwhile, Wingnut Pond in Indiana gets left in the cold and still isn’t warm enough to swim in. The obvious conclusion of the local citizenry is that directly observable data (with their own eyes, no less!) trumps globally collected data every time. Nothing to see here. Move along.