Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dear Supreme Court: Please Do Not Screw This Up

The Supreme Court will hear the case pitting Holly Hobby against the Affordable Care Act.  The conservative Christian owners of Holly Hobby are fighting the ACA's requirement that all health care plans include contraception coverage.   

what eye thynk:  Basically, Holly Hobby is arguing that Mitt Romney was right in 2012 when he said "corporations are people too, my friend".  HH wants the Court to grant it corporate "personhood" and with it all the rights guaranteed under the Constitution, including free speech. 

It is not clear what happens to my right of free speech if this happens.  Will my personhood be able to sue my employer's personhood in an attempt to force my beliefs on him?  Or if my employer belongs to a sect that believes in prayer over medical care, can he deny my right to see a doctor at all?  It's a silly argument, I know; but the thought that the Supreme Court might grant my employer the right to dictate what goes on in a space as personal as my doctor's office or as private as my bedroom would have been thought more than silly a short time ago. 

And HH is not only arguing that corporations can have religious beliefs.  They are asking the Supreme Court to allow them to dictate their own minutiae of religious sanctions.

HH wants to decide what types of birth control earn the "Holly Hobby Bible Seal of Approval" and what types are put on a forbidden list.  HH says they are willing to offer coverage for condoms, diaphragms, sponges, some pills and sterilization surgery. They would not pay for IUDs or morning after type pills.  Can HH show me where in the Bible it says diaphragms = good,  IUDs = bad?  

After the mess the Supreme Court made of political campaign funding with their Citizens United ruling, I can only hope they think long and hard about the ramifications of granting personhood status on any business--a status that would introduce a corporate voice into employees' family planning.   Dear Supreme Court: Please, do not screw this up.

Friday, November 29, 2013

John Boehner's Sous Chef Failure

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took another shot at President Obama and the Affordable Care Act this week after hearing that small business' access to the federal ACA website will be delayed for a year. Small business owners were told that they should use insurance brokers to purchase health insurance for their employees instead.  "The President bit off more than he can chew with this new health care law, and small businesses are now forced to bear the consequences."

what eye thynk:   I have just one question for Mr. Boehner:  What did you expect to happen?  

You and your Republican buddies have spent two years trying to repeal the law. You have done everything in your power to stand in the way of its implementation, including refusing to budget money for ACA administration costs and website design.  Nobody really believes your stance of indignation and disappointment with the law's current problems.  In light of your failure to overturn the law completely, the current bugs are everything you could have hoped for.

Did I want the ACA to be ready for prime time last month?  Of course.  But this is not the first big government program to face bumps in its roll out road--remember W's Medicare Plan D problems at the beginning of 2006?  And that program did not have to contend with opposite party sabotage before its debut.

It's not so much that the President bit off more than he can chew.  It's more like he created a menu and for two years Republicans have refused to turn on the oven. Dinner will be ready eventually.  Until then, do us all a favor and stay out of the kitchen.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mitch McConnell's Early Senate Campaign Looking a Little Rough Around the Edges

Mitch McConnell is facing a tough fight to keep his Senate seat. In an attempt to look more conservative, he hired Jesse Benton, who was Rand Paul's campaign chairman, to run his campaign.  Mr. Benton was then caught on tape saying he was "holding his nose" to work for Mitch McConnell until he could begin working on Mr. Paul's presidential bid.  Not a good start.

Mitch's early campaign strategy seems to be two part:  1. to keep the Tea Party vote by continuing to call for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and 2. to secure the woman's vote by campaigning on his stellar record on women's rights.

what eye thynk:   Neither issue is going very well.

The ACA, or as health care detractors like to call it, "Obamacare", has had a troubled roll out in states where Republican governors chose not to set up their own exchanges.  This is a fact. Unfortunately for Mr. McConnell, Kentucky is not one of those states.  

Kentucky's Democratic Governor Steve Beshear made sure the residents of his state had all the support they would need when it came time to sign up for health care.  Kentucky's state run ACA exchange, named Kynect, is functioning well.  There is enough on the ground support to assist people who may be confused by the process, health care navigators are encouraged to help people in any way they can and Kentucky citizens are signing up at a rate that Kynect says indicates they will meet their sign-up goal by the 2014 deadline.

Even more important, people who have signed up are voicing positive opinions about the process and the rates, which makes Mr. McConnell's recent boast at a Kentucky Fancy Farm event that "Just as I predicted, Obamacare is a disaster for America" an indicator of just how tone deaf he is.

When it comes to Mitch's claim that Kentucky needs jobs not more government spending, state researchers responded with a report that indicates the state's Medicaid expansion will add 17,000 new jobs and $15.6 billion to state coffers over the next ten years.

Women's issues have become another big subject in Mr. McConnell's early strategy.  Having no real basis to appeal to Kentucky women, Mr. McConnell has decided to just lie about his record in the hope that no one will remember the facts.

A few months ago, his campaign was talking about Mr. McConnell's long-time support for the Violence Against Women Act.  The truth is that he co-sponsored a version of the bill back in 1991 that never came up for a vote in the Senate.  When the bill was re-written and presented to the Senate in 1994, he was one of 38 Republicans voting against its passage.  And he voted against it's renewal in 2012, (when it failed), and again in 2013, (when it passed). That's three "no" votes on an issue he wants Kentucky women to believe he supports.

Once that lie was exposed, his campaign had to look for other women's issues to exploit.  Allison Moore, a campaign spokesman, recently brought up fair pay for women with this statement:  "As the father of three daughters, fair pay for women is more than a talking point for Senator McConnell.  It's something he's worked to achieve his entire career by setting an example for others and promoting thoughtful policies to ensure talent overcomes bias."

Sounds good, until you look at his voting record again.  The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?  Mr. McConnell voted against it--twice.  The Paycheck Fairness Act?  Mitch recorded two negative votes on that bill as well.

I know it's early to say Mitch McConnell's campaign is in trouble; but neither of the two issues he is currently throwing around look like game changers to me.

1.  He can continue to fly the Republican Obamacare-Has-Got-to-Go Flag and keep the conservative vote; but then how will the average Kentuckian respond to a message that basically becomes "Please vote for me so I can take away your new health care?"   2.  He knows he needs the women's vote; but outright lying is probably not going to be a big selling point with the female voter.  By campaigning as though Kentucky women are either too stupid to be aware of or incapable of checking his true record on women's issues is simply insulting.  And women don't take well to insults.

Me thinks more work needs to be done. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Quick Fact: Plastic Guns and the Undetectable Firearms Act

In 1988, Congress passed the Undetectable Firearms Act which banned the manufacture and sale of firearms capable of passing through metal detectors and X-ray machines undetected, (i.e. plastic guns).  The act was renewed in 1998 and again in 2003 despite the fact that the idea of a fully operational gun made entirely from plastic was still largely theoretical.

Today, anyone with $1000 can own a 3D printer; and while there have been several people who have made working military style firearms using a mix of purchased metal parts and plastic parts replicated on a 3D printer, it wasn't until last month that someone succeeded in using a 3D printer to produce a working firearm made entirely from plastic.

Online instructions on how to build guns using a 3D printer have been downloaded more than 100,000 times.

The current iteration of the Undetectable Firearms Act will expire on December 9, 2013.  Representative Steve Israel (D-New York) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York), joined by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) have all been pushing to extend the ban.  No Republicans have joined the effort.  

The NRA, beyond stating that they would "not oppose" the renewal, has remained largely mute on the subject, leaving other rabid gun-rights groups to take the lead--and the heat--in campaigning to end the ban.  Defense Distributed, a group run by Cody Wilson, a University of Texas law student, obtained a license naming his group a gun manufacturer in order to take advantage of a loophole in the law that permits gun manufacturers to test new designs.  Mr. Wilson is one of the leading sources for online plastic gun schematics.  His response to the Democratic led effort to extend the ban was "good f*cking luck" in getting it passed.
I'm not a big fan of crowds, and my aversion grows with each mass casualty news story; but the thought of anyone with $1000 and some free time being able to make his own undetectable and untraceable gun is enough to make me consider the advantages of agoraphobia. 
 The Undetectable Firearms Act expires in exactly 14 days.  How safe do you feel?

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25 - Monday Quote

I had nothing in my quote stash appropriate for Thanksgiving, so I did an internet search and came across this.  It is part of an interview on the  Oprah Winfrey Show in 1997.

monday quote:   I wrote myself a check for ten million dollars for acting services rendered and dated it Thanksgiving 1995.  I put it in my wallet and it deteriorated.  And then, just before Thanksgiving 1995, I found out I was going to make ten million dollars for Dumb & Dumber.  I put that check in the casket with my father because it was our dream together. (Jim Carrey, actor and comedian, 1962 -     )

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Pentagon vs. the National Guard

When the Supreme Court overturned DOMA earlier this year, it meant that same sex military spouses became eligible for the same federal benefits as opposite sex military spouses. 

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's directive to National Guard units to begin extending benefits to same sex couples has run into resistance in nine states: Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, West Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma.  Texas leadership, for example, has directed all National Guard units to refuse to issue IDs to same sex spouses, sending them instead to federal bases that are sometimes hours away from the National Guard facility where the military member may serve.  

But it is Governor Mary Fallin (R) of Oklahoma who has come up with the most original--or diabolical--way to thwart Mr. Hagel's directive.

Faced with the prospect of Oklahoma's National Guard units having to treat same sex couples and opposite sex couples equally, Ms. Fallin announced that National Guard facilities in her state would comply with the equality order by no longer processing spousal benefits for any married couple.  She explained her decision this way:  "Oklahoma law is clear.  The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples.  The decision...allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies.  It protects the integrity of our state constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people."

what eye thynk:   Governor Fallin seems to be confused about a federal law's preeminence over state law. Oklahoma cannot refuse to collect federal income tax, for example, even if they pass an amendment to their state constitution saying they do not recognize Washington's tax laws.  Oklahoma cannot decide to alter their constitution in a way that would run counter to federal civil rights laws.  Federal laws cannot be ignored simply because your state doesn't like them.  We are the United States of America, not the Sort of the Same When We Feel Like It States of America.

When the media reacted to her announcement with incredulity, she responded "To set the record straight--no National Guardsman in Oklahoma is being denied marriage benefits.  Stories that suggest otherwise are false."  She is technically correct, but by forcing married couples--no matter the gender mix-- to travel hours away to a federal military base to sign up for benefits is simply wrong--and petty.

Mr. Hagel answered these nine recalcitrant states this way: "Not only does this violate the states' obligations under federal law, their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain ID cards they're entitled to.  This is wrong.  It causes division among the ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which (the Department of Defense) has fought to extinguish."

It is unclear whether the Pentagon can close National Guard units without the consent of the governor of the state where the unit is located.  But it is clear that the unit's equipment is owned by the Pentagon.   If these nine states don't want to obey an order from the Secretary of Defense, move their equipment--all their equipment--to states that respect the law and military chain of command.  We should not condone anarchy.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

History of Filibusters Tells the Tale

On Tuesday, Senate Democrats voted to change the filibuster rule, disallowing use of the filibuster on votes to confirm executive nominees for positions on federal courts, cabinet posts and for heads of federal agencies.  Senate Republicans are crying "Foul!."

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky):  "You'll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think...This is nothing more than a power grab."
  • Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) called the decision "foolish" and warned that Democrats "will pay a heavy, heavy price."
  • Michael Needham of the conservative Heritage Action: "This is not about a couple of circuit court judges; this is an attempt to remake America to reflect their unworkable and unpopular progressive vision."
  • Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas):  "We have weakened this body permanently...What a tragedy."

what eye thynk:   It's interesting that the filibuster rule Mr. McConnell and his fellow Republicans called "unconstitutional" when Senate Democrats used it against W, now call its demise a "a tragedy."

If you are conflicted over the rule change, this record of past filibusters should help you see why the change was necessary and which Party is really guilty of a "foul."

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) - # of filibusters: 0
  • John F. Kennedy (D) - # of filibusters: 0
  • Richard Nixon (R) - # of filibusters: 0
  • Gerald Ford (R) - # of filibusters: 0
  • Jimmy Carter (D) - # of filibusters: 2
  • Ronald Reagan (R) - # of filibusters: 2
  • George H.W. Bush (R) - # of filibusters: 0
  • Bill Clinton (D) - # of filibusters: 9
  • George W. Bush (R) - # of filibusters: 7
  • Barack Obama (D) - # of filibusters: 27 (to date)

President Obama summed it up nicely:  "Today's pattern of obstruction, it just isn't normal.  It's not what our founders envisioned.  A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter the merits, just to re-fight the results of an election is not normal, and for the sake of future generations we can't let it become normal."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Republicans Finally Have a Plan...for Obstructionism

All House Republicans received a memo this week.  In simple and clear language, their leadership presented the talking points they expected them all to follow:
  • "Because of Obamacare, I Lost My Insurance."
  • "Obamacare Increases Health Care Costs."
  • "The Exchanges May Not Be Secure, Putting Personal Information at Risk."
  • "Continue Collecting Constituent Stories."
The memo even includes a sample opinion article that Representatives can offer to their local newspapers.

what eye thynk:     This is the latest "plan" by Republicans to keep Democrats on the defensive.  Republicans call this a sequenced and multi-layered plan of assault.  The idea is to focus on one anti-ACA topic, (the loss of insurance, for example), until public outrage reaches a crescendo, then to quickly move on to the next, keeping the public in a constant state of frenzied negativity.

A special website has been set up for members to share their constituent anecdotes, (no need to vet them first--fact checking isn't as important as getting the story out).  In case anyone thinks to stray from the current Party-speak, another memo will be sent at the beginning of each week reminding members of their "Message of the Week."  Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) explains the plan as a way of using "Republican voices we have in the House, the media markets in all the districts we represent, to take our message all over the country."

Cathy, we've heard your message ad nauseum.  The ACA is the law of the land.  If you want to change it, you have to do that through the legislature, which you've tried 40+ times to no avail.

While I can admire your Party's organization and attention to detail, (to say nothing of your dedication to your one-note message that, in five years, has yet to yield one positive outcome), I can't help but wish that you'd give as much time and effort to thinking about something positive for a change.    Where is the detailed plan for moving forward?  Forward on immigration reform?  on tax reform?  on the Farm Bill?  on education?  on the environment? on infrastructure? on job creation?  Or, here's a thought, how about some positive ideas on how to make the ACA work more efficiently--you know, for the little people back home.

I've said it before:  Governing in reverse will yield no progress and you can't move forward if you keep your face to the past.

What the plan doesn't do is explain what they expect to accomplish.  Repeal the ACA?  They've tried that 40+ times.    

States with their own exchanges report that people are signing up for the ACA at an accelerated rate.  So, once all the people in Republican run states get themselves high on Republican negativity, then what?  Do they look at the people living across the border who are enjoying affordable health insurance for the first time and continue to scream, "Wrong!" at the top of their lungs?  Or do they look at their Republican congressman and realize they've been fooled into denying themselves access to good health care and wonder "Why"?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Quick Fact: They Finally Did It! Senate Democrats Go Nuclear!

Today, Senate Democrats took the necessary step to return the Senate to working order.  Beginning immediately, judicial and executive branch nominees can no longer be held hostage to the Senate filibuster rule.  A simple majority vote will be enough to gain confirmation.

From Steve Benen:  "Senate Democrats have voted to change one of the chamber's most fundamental rules, a move which majority Democrats insisted was vital to cleaning up a logjam of presidential nominees due to Republican obstruction."

Details on today's vote can be found here:
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/dems-execute-nuclear-option

Details on how we got to this point can be read here:
http://whateyethynk-politics.blogspot.com/2013/11/republican-judgeship-denial-is-it.html

and here:
http://whateyethynk-politics.blogspot.com/2013/11/eye-recommend-process-at-breaking-point.html

An ACA UpDate Digest - Sarah Palin's Hypocrisy, State ACA Good News, Michele Bachman: Lying or Stupid?

Some news on the Affordable Care Act caught my eye this past week...

1.  Sarah Palin Joins the Hypocrisy Parade
Sarah Palin visited Canada this week, her first visit since stepping down as Governor of Alaska in 2008, and joked about how, as a child, she and her family would cross into Canada to take advantage of that country's free, government run, single-payer health care system.

"We used to hustle over the border for health care we received in Canada.  And I think now, isn't that ironic?"

From a woman who has spent so much energy decrying the ACA, (beware of those "death panels!"), I have trouble calling her family's questionable use of another country's government program "ironic".  To me, it sounds  not just a little illegal and a lot like more Republican I've-Got-Mine-And-I-Don't-Want-Anyone-Else-To-Get-Any hypocrisy.

2.  Better and On Track
Reports released in recent days from states that have set up their own ACA exchanges contained good news.  Both California and Kentucky reported that the pace of people investigating available plans as well as the number of people signing up for insurance has doubled over the last two weeks and they are well on their way to reaching their goal for the number of people with coverage by the sign-up deadline.  Other state run exchanges also reported that the first two weeks in November showed a definite up-tick in the number of people who have signed up.  

People in states whose Republican governors refused to develop their own exchanges are reporting that the federal exchange is improving, but  is still not "fully functional."

Think how much better this whole mess would be if Republican run states had chosen participation over obstructionism.

3.  Michele Bachmann: Lying or Maybe Just Stupid?
Last Saturday, I wrote about Michele Bachmann's lying to Wolf Blitzer about her "loss" of health insurance because of the ACA.  You can read the details here:  http://whateyethynk-politics.blogspot.com/2013/11/michele-bachmann-stop-lying.html

Turns out, she's even less informed than I originally thought.  

First, let me correct something I've said in the past in several posts.  Members of Congress will not be getting their insurance through their state exchanges--many of those exchanges in home states where Republican governors refused to set up state exchanges and where the resulting federal exchanges have floundered badly. (Though that would not include Ms. Bachmann whose state run exchange is running just fine, thank you.) 

Members of Congress will, instead, be required to sign up for insurance through the local Washington D.C. exchange known as D.C. Health Link.  And, as it turns out, this has been made easier than could ever be imagined by those Republican constituents left hanging back home. According to Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia's non-voting delegate to the House, D.C. Health Link has "set up shop right here in Congress."   

Members of Congress do not have to navigate the D.C. exchange alone either. They have access to "in-person support sessions" which are conducted at the Capitol and in congressional office buildings, they can log onto a special Blue Cross/Blue Shield website just for members of Congress and they can reach Aetna through a special number that company has dedicated to "services for members of Congress and staff."  If that isn't enough, they can call a special toll-free number to access a "dedicated health insurance plan assistance line" for members of Congress only.

I wonder how Republican members of Congress who hail from states where Republican governors have systematically denied their constituents access to information or assistance of any kind can justify this inequality?

Jacqueline A. Thomas, aide to U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) used the available Congress-only perks to assist her in choosing a $60/month Kaiser plan over a $120/month Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan--plans that, according to Ms. Thomas offered "comparable coverage."

Given these facts, you can look at Ms. Bachmann's interview with Mr. Blitzer as Bogus with a capital B or you can wonder how a woman who is too stupid to be aware of all the help available to members of Congress is capable of tying her own shoes in the morning.  It has to be one or the other.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Eye Recommend --- A Process at the Breaking Point

A PROCESS AT THE BREAKING POINT, by Steve Benen -- 
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/process-the-breaking-point
Last week I wrote about Senate Republicans using the filibuster rule to prohibit President Obama from filling three empty seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit:  http://whateyethynk-politics.blogspot.com/2013/11/republican-judgeship-denial-is-it.html 
I pointed out that there was no question of his nominees' worthiness, even among Republican Senators.  All the President's nominees easily made it out of the Judiciary Committee with bi-partisan support before being stopped by Republicans insisting  on 60 votes instead of a simple majority. (All three nominees would have won their seats with a simple majority.) 
Presidents appoint judges.  It's part of their job.   H.W. Bush did it.  Clinton did it.  And W did it.  But Senate Republicans do not want Obama doing it. 
At the time I wrote that post, President Obama's third nominee was waiting for his Senate vote. That happened on Monday of this week, when Robert Wilkins was also defeated using the filibuster rule.  Now Senate Democrats are once again looking at changing Senate rules to prohibit the use of the filibuster when voting on nominees for judgeships or cabinet posts.    
As Steve Benen wrote yesterday: 

"Last week, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), the Senate Pro Tem and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said, 'I think we're at a point where there will have to be a rules change.'  Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) added soon after, "...There comes a tipping point, and I'm afraid we've reached that tipping point.'

If they were waiting to see what happened with Wilkins, now they know.  Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), a leading proponent of Senate reforms, asked 'When will we say enough is enough?'

In the short term, it's up to Democrats themselves to answer this question.  Republicans, whose support is not needed for the nuclear option, have effectively dared the majority party to end the blockade...In fact, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)...dared Democrats just a week ago (to eliminate the filibuster for judgeship votes).

Senate Republicans, for all intents and purposes, have broken the judicial confirmation process. They know they're engaged in tactics with no precedent; ...they know it's obstructionism on an unsustainable scale...and they just don't give a darn."
It's now up to Senate Democrats to decide.  Do they continue to allow the minority party to run the Senate or do they act like the majority party they are and stop nearly six years of obstructionism by returning our courts to full power and putting our judicial system back to work?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Eye Recommend --- A Russia GPS Using U.S. Soil Stirs Spy Fears

A RUSSIA GPS USING U.S. SOIL STIRS SPY FEARS, by Michael S. Schmidt and Eric Schmitt -
There has been much in the news lately about our spying on friend and foe alike.  I thought the reactions from other countries and the media were a bit disingenuous. What did they think our spy agencies were doing if not spying?  
So, while everyone was crying foul over our being caught spying, it seems that our State Department is actually considering a move that could assist Russia to spy on us by giving them access to U.S. soil. 
After reading this article on Sunday, I found myself wondering whether our State Department had lost its collective mind.  What do you think?
"In the view of America's spy services, the next potential threat from Russia...may come in the form of a seemingly innocuous dome-topped antenna perched atop an electronics-packed building surrounded by a security fence somewhere in the United States.

In recent months, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon have been quietly waging a campaign to stop the State Department from allowing Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, to build about half a dozen of these structures...on United States soil...

...They fear that these structures could help Russia spy on the United States and improve the precision of Russian weaponry...These monitor stations, the Russians contend, would significantly improve the accuracy and reliability of Moscow's version of the Global Positioning System...

...'They don't want to be reliant on the American system.'...said a former senior official in the State Department's Office of Space and Advanced Technology.  'They feel as though they are losing a technological edge to us in an important market.'"
How did their feeling that they're losing a technological edge become our problem to solve?  We developed the technology that makes GPS possible and we have given them and the rest of the world, free access to the system that resulted. What is the point in going further?  Can you imagine if private industry worked this way?  "Hello, Competing Company.  We just spent millions of dollars developing this Widget; but we don't want you to feel disadvantaged, so here are the complete blueprints and instructions for using them.  Oh, and please feel free to come to our manufacturing facility and use our machinery to make your own.  Enjoy!"  
"The Russian effort is part of a larger global race by several countries--including China and European Union nations--to perfect their own global positioning systems and challenge the dominance of the American GPS."
Perfect all you want.  Challenge the U.S. all you want...but do it with your own sweat equity.  Why are we even considering giving away our dominance on this issue? It makes no sense.
"The C.I.A. and other American spy agencies, as well as the Pentagon, suspect that the monitor stations would give the Russians a foothold on American territory that would sharpen the accuracy of Moscow's satellite-steered weapons.  The stations, they believe, could also give the Russians an opening to snoop on the United States within its borders."
Well, DUH! (Of course, then we could all go ballistic to find out that Russia's spy agency is--gasp!--spying!)
"'I would like to understand why the United States would be interested in enabling a GPS competitor, like (Russia), when the world's reliance on GPS is a clear advantage to the United States on multiple levels,' said Representative Mike D. Rogers, Republican of Alabama, the chairman of a House Armed Services subcommittee."
Me too!  
"The monitor stations have been a high priority of Mr. Putin for several years as a means to improve (Russia's GPS system), not only to benefit the Russian military and civilian sectors but also to compete globally with GPS...

...The United States has stations around the world, but none in Russia."
Nobody is stopping Mr. Putin from competing; but competition doesn't mean giving away your advantage.  There's fair and then there's stupid and allowing them access to U.S. soil while we have none on Russian soil is stupid.
"Although the Cold War is long over, the Russians do not want to rely on the American GPS infrastructure because they remain suspicious of the United States' military capabilities...

...Accepting the dominance of GPS, Russians fear, would give the United States some serious strategic advantages militarily.  In Russians' worst fears, analysts said, Americans could potentially manipulate signals and send erroneous information to Russian armed forces."
So they are suspicious of our military capabilities and they fear we have strategic advantages. Isn't that kind of the point?  What military genius would say "Oh, my, we have an advantage.  Better let them know what it is so they can catch up."
"C.I.A analysts reviewed (Russia's) proposal and concluded in a classified report this fall that allowing the Russian monitor stations here would raise counterintelligence and other security issues.

The State Department does not think that is a strong argument, said an administration official.  'It doesn't see them as a threat.'"
Good grief!

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18 - Monday Quote

From Texas, where apparently science is not a required subject...

monday quote:  Wind is a finite resource and harnessing it would slow the winds down which would cause the temperature to go up. (U.S. Representative Joe Barton, Republican from Texas and a member of Congress' Energy Conference Committee, 1949-      )

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Republican War on Women - State Battle Updates

This is the sixteenth in a series of articles on the subject of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party. 

Republicans continue to say they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “war on women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  •  RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”
The Texas Front
the facts and commentary:    A federal judge has struck down part of Texas' new abortion restrictions.  Doctors will no longer be required to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.  The judge stated that there was no medical reason for this requirement since hospitals would care for emergency patients no matter who the admitting doctor was. The court also pointed out that admitting privileges are granted only to doctors who admit a certain number of patients each year.  Since most Texas abortion doctors come from out of state, are only in Texas for a few days a month and records show that the number of emergency admissions over the past ten years has been very small, this is a threshold abortion doctors could not meet.  (And, the low number of emergency admissions would seem to fly in the face of Texas legislator's stand that women must be stopped from having abortions because they are so unsafe.)

The court left in place the state-mandated drug protocol requirement--a protocol that doctors say is outdated and not as safe as newer protocols.  It should be noted that newer protocols call for a lower amount of drugs to be used and have been proven to be as effective as the high dose protocol these non-M.D. legislators are forcing on women. (One has to wonder if these legislators were so worried about women's health why they would mandate a protocol that M.Ds. call "unsafe".  Maybe to justify their hospital admissions requirement?)  

Governor Rick Perry (R) said said his office will file an appeal. 

The Alabama, Mississippi and Wisconsin Fronts
the facts and commentary:    Federal judges in these three states have also struck down the admitting requirement section of their new abortion laws.  In each state, the judge has called this regulation unnecessary since hospitals care for any emergency patient that arrives at their door.  (Really, if you're an out-of-state visitor and you arrive at a Mississippi emergency room following an automobile accident, are they going to send you back home to wherever because they don't know your home state doctor?)

The North Dakota Front
the facts:    Both the admitting requirement and the state mandated drug protocol have been struck down by federal judges in this state.  

The Oklahoma Front
the facts:    Oklahoma is another state to have their drug protocol requirement struck down by a federal judge.  In this case, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the law would not only put limits on medical abortions, but would effectively ban them altogether.  The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the state's appeal to have the restriction re-instated.

The Michigan Front
the facts and commentary:    Michigan abortion opponents have gathered enough signatures to require the Republican heavy legislature to consider a law that would ban health care policies issued in that state from including coverage for abortions. Abortion coverage would still be available, but a woman would be required to purchase a separate rider at her own expense if she wanted the coverage.  A majority of both the House and Senate have indicated they would vote in favor of a ban. A similar bill was passed by the Michigan legislature in 2012 but was vetoed by Governor Rick Snyder (R) who questioned the government's right to require riders in private insurance plans. 

If the legislature fails to pass this requirement into law, the signatures gathered guarantee that it will be put on the state ballot in 2014. (I wonder if there will be a similar call for men to purchase an additional rider to provide coverage for vasectomies or prescriptions for Viagra.  I'm just thinking of men's health, of course.)


The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?

WHAT YOU DO SPEAKS SO LOUDLY
THAT I CANNOT HEAR WHAT YOU SAY. 


Read more here: http://midwestdemocracy.com/articles/kansas-house-advances-anti-abortion-measure/#storylink=cpy

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Michele Bachmann-- STOP LYING!

Michele Bachmann talked with Wolf Blitzer on CNN this past week and claimed that she was one of those Americans who lost their health insurance under Obamacare.  

what eye thynk:    Let's make this real clear.  Ms. Bachmann is lying...again.  

She is not losing her health insurance because of the ACA.  As a member of Congress, she will be buying her insurance through her state's insurance exchange and the federal government will pay for her portion of the cost, at least until she leaves Congress next year.  Language mandating that members of Congress and their staffs purchase their health insurance through state exchanges was added to the health care law at the request of Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).  

I have not been able to find any information on whether the federal government will continue to pay for her coverage after she retires; but the "old" congressional benefit package continued to provide excellent coverage at little or no cost to the retiree, so I have to assume that this has not changed. 

As for her claim that she isn't going to "sit there and frustrate myself for hours and hours" by going online to sign up: she is again demonstrating her penchant for fact-adverse rhetoric.  Her home state of Minnesota has set up its own exchange and the reports coming from there are good.  Robin Skrebes, a Minneapolis citizen, had this to say:  "I am thrilled. It's affordable, good coverage.  And the Website of the Minnesota exchange was pretty simple to use, pretty straight forward.  The language was really clear." 

Ms. Bachmann went on to complain that she needs continuing health insurance because "I have a husband with very significant health issues."  How lucky for her then that the ACA was passed, since her policy cannot be canceled because of her husband's bad health, nor can he be denied insurance from any provider because of a pre-existing condition if she ever decides to change policies.

When Paul Begala, Democratic strategist pointed out to her that the ACA includes those two rules to safeguard her husband's coverage, she replied, "Actually, we were just fine before."

Yes, YOU were just fine, Michele, but what about the 45 million uninsured Americans who were not?  Look beyond your own rosey situation for once, Ms. Bachmann; and please, STOP LYING!  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Eye Recommend --- Why Boehner Sees ENDA As Unnecessary

WHY BOEHNER SEES ENDA AS UNNECESSARY, by Steve Benen --
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-boehner-sees-enda-unnecessary
Last week, the U.S. Senate passed the Employment Non-discrimination Act, aimed at protecting members of the LGBT community at their place of employment or while seeking employment, by a bi-partisan vote of 64-32.  This week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that he would not put it up to a House vote because it is "unnecessary."  The man is an idiot and once again makes me wish he were from any other state except my own.
"House Speaker John Boehner's...opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) isn't nearly as surprising as his explanation for his position.

'I am opposed to discrimination of any kind in the workplace or anyplace else, but I think this legislation...is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits.  People are already protected in the workplace.'

No, actually they're not...

...Boehner is opposed to 'any kind' of discrimination?  That's certainly a nice sentiment, but in most states, it's legal to discriminate against LGBT Americans in the workplace.  In these states, an employer can hang a sign in the window saying, 'Help Wanted: No Gays Need Apply,' and that's legal.  A boss can learn that an employee is gay and then fire that worker on the spot--for no other reason--and the employee would have no legal recourse.

That's not a matter of opinion, it's just current law.  Boehner can look it up if he's not sure. There are currently federal protections in place to prevent workplace discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, religion, national origin, disability, or genetic information, but ENDA intends to extend protections to include sexual orientation and sexual identity.

Boehner can argue for or against those protections, but when the Speaker says 'people are already protected in the workplace,' he either formed an opinion on ENDA without understanding the basics (of the bill) or he doesn't consider LGBT Americans 'people.'...

...If the speaker opposes gay rights, he can make his case.  If he doesn't want to expand civil rights protections in the (work) place, it's up to him to explain why.  If he believes it's more important to prevent the possibility of 'frivolous lawsuits' than to prevent discrimination, I'd welcome his substantive arguments.

But pretending the law isn't the law is simply ridiculous, and raises questions anew about the Speaker's baseline competence."
Boehner makes me embarrassed to live in Ohio.  The only state I can think of that would be worse to call home is Texas.  Or maybe Minnesota--though that state will improve after Ms. Bachmann leaves the House next year.  Which makes it better than Alaska, the state that gave us Sarah Palin.  Really, that Palin woman is like malaria--just when you think you've got her licked...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Republican Judgeship Denial -- Is It the Nominees or the Nominator?

Senate Republicans continue to use the filibuster rule to deny President Obama's nominees a place on the bench of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Of Columbia Circuit.  

what eye thynk:  This pattern of denying the President his right to fill empty federal judgeships has become a habit, if not a Republican crusade.  In an article in Reuters near the end of 2012, Joan Biskupic wrote:  
"Obama's 30 appointees have generally been moderates who mainly served on lower courts and were selected in consultation with Republican senators.  The pattern contrasts with Obama's Republican predecessors, dating back to Ronald Reagan, who quickly put forth prominent young conservatives, many of whom came from academia and had past political experience.
Notably, President Obama has not added a single judge to the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit...He is about to become the first president in at least half a century to finish a full term without an appointment to the bench known as the nation's second highest."
When President Obama took office, there were two vacant seats on the 11 member D.C. Circuit. During the President's first term of office, two more judges retired, leaving the court four members short, but votes on presidential nominees continued to be either delayed or denied.  Finally, in the Spring of 2013, one of those vacant seats was filled.  Sri Srinivasan's confirmation still left this, the second most important federal court in the country, short three members.

In June of this year, the President named three nominees to fill those vacant seats.  On November 1, Senate Republicans used the filibuster rule to deny confirmation to nominee Patricia Ann Millett and again on November 12 to deny Nina Pillard.  Nominee Robert Wilkins is still waiting for his vote; but it is expected to end the same way.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is leading a faction that wants to reduce the number of seats on the court. He contends that there are not enough cases to justify an eleven member circuit.  He doesn't seem to be able to explain how the court needed eleven members under W, but eight is plenty under Obama, since the number of cases presented each year has remained steady and especially since six D.C. Circuit judges who are officially retired continue to work in rotation in order to keep the court's caseload from being overloaded.  Five of those six retired-but-still-on-the-payroll judges just happen to be Republican appointees.   

Perhaps a more honest explanation for this continued Republican obstructionism can be found in the words of Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) who recently accused President Obama of "trying to pack the court" and of "tilt(ing) the court ideologically in a way that favors the...agenda of the Obama administration".  

Mr. Cornyn and his fellow Republicans seem to be having trouble understanding (or accepting?) that part of the President's job is to nominate judges to sit on federal courts; and, by winning the presidential election, the President has the right to nominate those who reflect his and his party's beliefs--as W did during his eight years in the top seat when he nominated three conservative-minded judges to the same circuit, all three of whom were confirmed with a simple majority vote and all three of whom are still sitting judges.  Apparently Mr. Cornyn believes that "pack(ing) the court" with ideologically conservative judges is fine--it's only liberal ideology that must be reined in.

Senate Democrats are once again talking about changing their filibuster rule to make the votes on judgeship nominees a straight up and down majority vote.  One Republican Senator said they should go ahead and try it, but warned that when Republicans regain the majority they will appoint conservative judges.  (As will be their right! The same right they are currently determined to deny President Obama.)

President Obama has not tried to "pack the court" with far left liberals.  He has, as Reuters pointed out, chosen moderate minded nominees.  Several of the rejected nominees were part of Republican White Houses--Patricia Ann Millett in particular served in the U.S. Justice Department under H.W. Bush and as Assistant to the Solicitor General under W. Bush--so I have to think that it is not the nominees that appalls Republicans, but the man who nominated them.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Quick Fact: And Hawaii Makes 16

Hawaii's Senate voted to approve same sex marriage on Tuesday by a vote of 19-4.  The bill is on its way to Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) who has said he will sign the bill.


     >>>>>>>>>>     Thirty-four more to go.     <<<<<<<<<<

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Republican Lost Cause Blockade Crusade Continues

Last Sunday, I wrote about Senator Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) plan to block all of the President's nominees while he continues to chew on the meatless bone called Benghazi. http://whateyethynk-politics.blogspot.com/2013/11/not-so-quick-fact-its-benghazi.html

Today, I'd like to point out how another Republican Senator is planning his own personal nomination blockade.  This one involves Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Janet Yellen, the President's choice to succeed Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Earlier this year, Republican opposition to U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers caused Mr. Summers to remove himself from contention for the head Fed job.  Soon after, the President nominated Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors Janet Yellen.

what eye thynk:   Ms. Yellen brings more Fed experience than previous chairs.  She first worked for the Fed in 1977 as a staff economist.  She left to teach economics at the London School of Economics and at Berkeley and then rejoined the Fed as a governor in 1994 staying on through the Clinton years.  In 2004, following another stint at Berkeley, she became president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco where she remained until 2010 when she moved to Washington to serve as Bernanke's second in command. 

As Vice Chair, she has proven to be remarkably prescient. In 2007, when the Fed was predicting that we would avoid a recession, Ms. Yellen was a dissenting voice.  During the same period, she pushed for more focus on employment--another subject the Fed thought unimportant at the time.  She is seen as the driving force behind the Fed's increasing transparency, encouraging clearer communication with the public in general.

So what are Mr. Paul's objections?  None, really. Mr. Paul acknowledges that she has the experience to qualify for the job.  His sole purpose in holding up her nomination is to force a vote on the Federal Transparency Act, a bill originally championed by his father, then U.S. Representative from Texas Ron Paul, in 2009 and revived by Rand Paul in 2011.  (Rand's version passed the House in July 2012 with a vote of 327-98.) 

Mr. Paul's bill would eliminate current audit restrictions and name a specific deadline for the Government Accountability Office to complete an audit on the Fed, an audit that would include scrutinizing how the central bank carries out monetary policy. Opponents of the bill argue that it threatens the Fed's independence and would impose political pressure on its monetary policy decisions.

In a recent letter to fellow Senators, Mr. Rand wrote:  "There's no time to waste.  Right now, the U.S. Senate is preparing to debate and confirm the new Obama nominee to chair the Federal Reserve.  I say not so fast.  I say vote no on a new Fed chairman without a vote on my Audit the Fed bill."

Bloomberg TV asked Mr. Paul if he thought Ms. Yellen would be confirmed, despite his delaying tactic.  He responded: "In all likelihood, yes...In the old days, you could place a hold on and keep it forever.  Even if I stand on the floor and filibuster in a personal fashion, I can only hold it there for two days."

So Mr. Paul admits he can only waste two days of the Senate's time on his lost cause.  That makes me feel a lot better. After all, Lindsey Graham's Benghazi Conspiracy Biscuit is waiting for its place on the Senate's menu.

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11 - Monday Quote

I love this...

monday quote:  Immorality: the morality of those who are having a better time. (H.L. Mencken, writer, 1880-1956) 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

(Not So) Quick Fact - It's Benghazi Conspiracy Time Again!

Republicans never seem to know when to give up.  Immediately after the Benghazi tragedy:

  • They demanded security briefings...which they got, but they did nothing to substantiate Republican conspiracy theories.
  • Then they demanded testimony from David Petraeus...which they got, but it did nothing to substantiate Republican conspiracy theories.
  • Then they demanded testimony from Leon Panetta...which they got, but it did nothing to substantiate Republican conspiracy theories.
  • Then they demanded testimony from Hillary Clinton...which they got, but it did nothing to substantiate Republican conspiracy theories.
  • Then they demanded to speak directly to Benghazi survivors, and when the survivors said "no", they insisted that the White House was keeping them quiet in order to hide a conspiracy.
Some months ago, calmer political heads began to agree that there did not appear to be any conspiracy; but still the Senate committee continued to operate.

Last month, committee member Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced that he would block every administration appointee put forward by the President unless the Benghazi survivors agreed to testify.  Communicating through their lawyers, three Benghazi survivors have now agreed to testify.  They have made it clear that their original reticence was personal and that the White House had not tried to stop them from testifying and is, in fact, now encouraging their cooperation.

This week, Mr. Graham's dedication to proving the existence of a Benghazi conspiracy reached new heights thanks to a story run by CBS--a story so badly debunked that CBS has apologized publicly for ever running it and will apologize again on their 60 Minutes program later today:  "We will apologize to our viewers and we will correct the record on our broadcast on Sunday night.. The truth is that we made a mistake" (Lara Logan, of 60 Minutes).

So has Mr. Graham backed off his Presidential appointment blockade threat?  When asked that question, Kevin Bishop, spokesman for Mr. Graham, had this to say:  "Still have holds in place."
I can see Mr. Graham's point.  After all, why give up a good conspiracy theory when it is such a useful excuse to continue thwarting the President's plan for forward movement in government?  And, if the Benghazi survivors' testimony doesn't yield any new information, there is always Dylan Davies, (the man who lied to CBS), to call. And then, maybe Ms. Logan, and then the CEO of CBS, and then...
Maybe Republicans lie so much that they can't believe anyone else would ever speak the truth. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"Our" White House and the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity

On Tuesday, Michelle Obama hosted an event in honor of Diwali, the Hindu "festival of lights." 

Diwali honors Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. During the five day festival, Hindu families will leave the windows and doors of their homes open and light small earthenware oil lamps called diyas to help the goddess find her way inside.

Bryan Fischer, Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the ultra-conservative organization American Family Association, was appalled that the White House would host such an event saying that "a doctrine of demons" is being celebrated there. 



what eye thynk:  Apparently Mr. Fischer doesn't believe that cultural diversity is something to be celebrated or that the 2.29 million Hindus living in this country should be recognized by our first family.  It is Christians like Mr. Fischer who give Christianity a bad name.

On a message board discussing this issue, I found this comment:  "That's our Whitehouse (sic) not theirs and we should have a say about this abomination."  This poster seem to believe that Christians hold exclusive title to the home of our President. 

Yes, it is "our" White House, but by "our" I mean it is a symbol of America belonging to all Americans...and, yes, that includes American Hindus.  

Thankfully, mainstream Christians are aware that the Crusades are over and that the Inquisition was not a proud moment in their history.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Conservative Definition of Pro-Life?

Let's see, conservative pro-life Christian Republicans don't want the ACA to pay for contraception, which would mean more unwanted pregnancies.  They want to ban all abortion, which would mean more unwanted babies. And they don't want to fund any social programs that might help pay to raise these unwanted babies when they are born into situations where they are unwanted and where there is not enough money to feed them--two situations that would be remedied with the availability of contraception and abortion, which conservative Christian Republicans want to ban.  Following that makes me dizzy.
---> RANDOM THOUGHT: So, in Republican-land you would have to be rich or over 60 to have sex?  They aren't so much "pro-life" as they are "pro-rich-Christian-only-life." (And it wouldn't hurt if you were white either.)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

As We Wait for Hawaii...



what eye thynk:   This dog makes more sense than Tenari Maafala, active police officer and president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers who told Hawaii legislators he would never enforce a same sex marriage law:  "You would have to kill me."

Maybe Mr. Maafala should begin looking for a new line of work.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Republican Hypocrisy at It's Finest


what eye thynk:  The above statements were made in 2006 amid problems with the rollout of the Medicare Plan D program--a program that did not have to contend with Democrats' sabotage efforts.  Democrats were not happy with the program, but once it passed into law, they accepted their defeat.  There were no calls to defund it, no efforts to stop people from signing up for the program.

What a difference seven years can make.

Mr. Boehner (R-Ohio), Mr. Murphy (R-Pennsylvania) and Mr. Barton (R-Texas) are all still serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Mr. Deal (R) has been Governor of the State of Georgia--one of the states that refused to set up its own insurance marketplace--since January 2011.

I would especially like these four men to re-read Representative Joe Barton's words and think about applying them to 2013 and the ACA.  

A little common sense would seem to be in order here.  (I can dream.)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Welcome, Illinois!

Today, Tuesday November 5, the State of Illinois became the 15th state to legalize same sex marriage. The bill passed the House with a vote of 61-54.  It now goes back to the Senate for some minor tinkering.  Governor Pat Quinn (D) has said he will sign the bill when it reaches his desk.
 

what eye thynk:  Welcome to the family!

Eye Recommend -- Like Trying to 'Build a Complicated Building in a War Zone'

LIKE TRYING TO 'BUILD A COMPLICATED BUILDING IN A WAR ZONE', by Steve Benen --  http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-health-care-sabotage-matters

"It's not exactly a secret that the first month of the Affordable Care Act's open-enrollment period has been marred by dramatic difficulties.  And whether one loves or hates 'Obamacare,' the administration deserves much of the criticism it's received...

...But when it comes to assigning blame and responsibility, President Obama and his team aren't the only ones on the hot seat.

Late last week, Todd Purdum had a surprisingly hard-hitting piece in Politico, making the case that 'calculated sabotage by Republicans at every step' is a 'less acknowledged cause' of the rollout's troubles...there is strong factual basis for such a charge."
I have written several blog posts on the way Republicans have done everything possible to thwart the ACA--from continued votes to repeal, to holding up funding, to refusing to set up insurance exchanges in Republican dominated states.
"(On Sunday, the) Washington Post (published a piece) on what went wrong with the system rollout...It noted a detail that's been largely overlooked: control over the online marketplaces had to be moved under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services."
The article explained how the White House had expected most states to set up their own exchanges and provided plenty of money for that purpose.  When so many Republican led states refused, there was not enough money to develop a federal exchange as extensive as was needed to deal with all the recalcitrant states and Republicans blocked any additional funding. 
From the Washington Post Article:
"(Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen) Sebelius simply could not scrounge together enough money to keep a group of people developing the exchanges working directly under her. 
Bureaucratic as this move may sound, it was fateful, according to current and former administration officials.  It meant that the work of designing the federal health exchange...became fragmented.  Technical staff, for instance, were separated from those assigned to write...policies and regulations."
How exactly was this supposed to work in any efficient manner?
"A White House official added, 'You're basically trying to build a complicated building in a war zone, because the Republicans are lobbing bombs at us.'...

...The scope of the GOP's sabotage campaign is hard to overstate.  It includes everything from lawmakers ignoring constituent questions to public misinformation campaigns, discouraging public-private partnerships to denying implementation funds, blocking Medicaid expansion to blocking (Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services) nominees in the Senate, refusing to create marketplaces to prohibiting 'Navigators' from doing their jobs.

Does a dysfunctional website matter?  Of course it does, but so does this."
In the end, you have to compare the trouble people are having getting information or signing up for insurance in states that refused to set up their own exchange with the success of the ACA rollout in states like California and Kentucky where state-run exchange success stories are the norm.
This morning's New York Times highlighted the successful results in Kentucky in particular:
"(Kentucky's rollout problems have) been relatively few...Kentucky officials said.  The primary contractor, Deloitte, worked closely with the state agency that runs health programs, ensuring guidance and oversight...Kentucky is spending $11 million in federal money to promote its exchange, and it shows."
If only Republicans had allowed the same co-operative effort to take place in their states. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4 - Monday Quote

Does this remind you of any one in particular...or a particular political party perhaps?

monday quote:  His primary rules were:  never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it. 

(from a profile of Adolf Hitler written by the U.S. Office of Strategic Services shortly after the end of World War II)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

More Jokes from Ted's Dad

An addendum to yesterday's post:

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is now saying that his father, Rafael Cruz, was "joking" when he said we should send President Obama "back to Kenya."  Ann Coulter told Piers Morgan "It was clearly a joke.  I give a lot of speeches, the Kenya references always kill."  (Because racism is so funny to Republicans?)

Interestingly, at first, Ted Cruz denied his father ever made the Kenya remark. Then, when he was shown video proof, the video of that speech was pulled from the internet.  Some news agencies had already copied the video, so Ted's attempt to delete the record was not completely successful.

Here are some other hilarious thoughts from Rafael Cruz, evangelical preacher and frequent Tea Party speaker:

  • As a prelude to the second coming of Christ, there will be an "end-time transfer of wealth".  This time, God will seize the wealth of the wicked and redistribute it to true believers.  Only those who "tithe mightily" will benefit.
  • The U.S. government wants "to take all of your money" and confiscate "our fortunes."
  • President Obama has vowed to "side with the Muslims".
  • The ACA mandates "suicide counseling" for the elderly and that "those death panels are in Obamacare."
  • Gay marriage is a plot to make "government your god." and that the "wicked" are now ruling the United States.
  • "As God commands us men to teach your wife, to teach your children--to be the spiritual leader of your family--you're acting as a priest."
  • The Democratic Party promotes "everything that is contrary to the word of God."
  • Barack Obama never uses the word "Creator" and when he recites the Pledge of Allegiance, he never uses the words "under God."
  • "Social justice is a cancer."
  • Christian "true believers" are "anointed" by God to "take dominion" of the world in "every area: society, education, government and economics."
His belief would have the U.S. become a type of theocracy--and we can see how well theocracies work in the Middle East.  Dominionist pastors held a ceremony in Iowa last July where they blessed and anointed Ted Cruz as their "king" who will help usher in the kingdom of Christ--beginning this year.

That Rafael Cruz--what a funny guy.