Blog Credo

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis.The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.
- Abraham Lincoln


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Obamacare Is Working

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/04/15/1292135/-Abbreviated-pundit-roundup-More-evidence-that-the-Affordable-Health-Care-Act-is-working

The frustrating thing is that no matter how well it does work and how well it insures people and how well it contains costs, there are going to be people who hate it and refuse to believe the evidence because of ideological or partisan rigidity.

We can be a profoundly stupid country.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Today In Neo-Confedracy

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/wisconsin-republicans-to-vote-on-right-to-secede

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/kkk-leader-jewish-community-center-shooting-suspect

I have little doubt that the Wisconsin GOP will NOT vote to secede.  It's Wisconsin.  But it will get votes.  But the narrative will be: Look!  They DIDN'T vote to secede!  They must be reasonable!

And then we have the specter of an actual Klansmen killing people.  Again, it's not like ALL GOP members are Klansmen.  And even if SOME GOP are Klansmen, it doesn't follow that the GOP is RACIST!

All of this flows into a discussion that Booman was having about a Jon Chait article.

Is the GOP motivated by racism in its opposition to Obama?  Somewhat.  All the references to the birth certificate and his Muslim identity are elements of the racial panic of a "disappearing America".

Yet at the same time would opposition to the President be any different if it was Hillary Clinton?  No.  And then we could (and probably will) focus on sexism within the GOP.  And if the President was Joe Biden?  They'd still oppose every single damned thing he did.

What has been so distressing about the GOP has not been the thinly veiled racism within elements of the party.  When you assimilate the white South, that's just going to happen.

What I find distressing is that the GOP refuses to behave like a principled opposition party, but simply a band of institutional nihilists.

Now with extra racism!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday!

Worked in the yard, was Jesus at the reading of the Passion, worked in the yard, finished some grading, made a test, got ready for the week, now I'm off to watch Game of Thrones.

I'll take it.

(And Game of Thrones did NOT disappoint.)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bundy Ranch? I Thought It Was Bunny Ranch.


This is an interesting story: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/bundy-ranch-cattle-grazing

Basically, some guy decides to violate the law because freedom.  The federal authorities have tried to round up some cattle that are illegally grazing on federal lands.  The idiot freedom loving American whose cattle are grazing there does not dispute that his cattle are grazing illegally.  In his phrase, he "fired the BLM" for making him pay the same fee that everyone else has to pay.

So when the BLM began to round up the cattle, the right wing, black helicopter fearing gun nuts showed up in force to protest, packing heat.  The BLM backed off because they didn't want some idiot to start shooting.

Now, one of the tropes that the NRA throws around is that we have enough gun laws on the books already, dontchaknow, and the Feds don't enforce them because they want to seize all the guns, so they let Sandy Hooks happen to seize the guns.

So, in case you have seen where I'm going, we can't have new laws against guns, because we already have laws against guns.  But then again, as long as we have guns, we can violate existing laws anyway.

Basically: guns.

In my Comp Gov course, we just studied Nigeria and Iran and we discussed the pervasive and corrosive effect of corruption on those countries.  I point out that - despite the presence of odious human beings like John Rowland - corruption is not nearly the issue in the US that it is elsewhere in the world.

But that is all predicated on respect for the rule of law.  Americans mostly obey laws because Americans mostly obey laws.  It's part of what makes America successful and prosperous and, yes, free.

But when some dipshit yahoo who's been out in the desert too long starts nullifying laws on his own, and then when the government attempts to enforce those laws they show up armed and dangerous... well, you can see how that's corrosive towards the respect for the rule of law.

You could compare this to the blatantly ideological and political rulings of the Free Market Five on the Supreme Court, who have stripped the nation of any restrictions on predatory wealth in campaign finance laws and you'd be on the right track.  Or you could talk about how "Stand Your Ground" has basically legalized manslaughter.

But whether it's Cliven Bundy, John Roberts or Rick Scott, it's pretty apparent that there is a faction of right wing America that seems to desire America to be turned into a Banana Republic, where money and firearms determine what is right and what is wrong.

God Bless America, Land of AR-15, Home of the SuperPAC.

Friday, April 11, 2014

You Wanna Know Why Sebellius Retired?

Because I imagine she's had about 150 weeks like the one I'm just ending.

That's why.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Survived

What a #$*@%# day.

Glad that's over with.

Now to survive tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Crimes In Your Name

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eugene-robinson-the-senates-torture-report-merits-an-emotional-response--outrage/2014/04/07/d4413674-be87-11e3-b195-dd0c1174052c_story.html

There used to be a meme: "How has Obama failed you today?" that tweaked the Left and Right's criticism of Obama for not providing the magic ponies they wanted.  But if there is a way Obama failed me, it would be his decision not to prosecute the criminal behavior of the Bush years on Wall Street and in the torture regime.

Obama saw himself as someone who was going to try and rise above the partisan rancor of the Bush years, but as we have seen, that was a pipe dream.  He has recently come to the conclusion that he can no longer attempt negotiations with the legislative nihilists, and good for him.

But the release of Senate Select committee's report on torture is an opportunity.  It's an opportunity to force the GOP to defend what it did in our name, force it to relive the shame of Abu Ghraib and the Black Sites.  And of course, they will defend it.  Undead Thing Dick "Dick" Cheney is already defending torture, prompting mild mannered Mainer Angus King to invite Dick to be waterboarded himself.  Dick has a heart condition, so why don't we waterboard Liz instead, and Dick can watch.
Then let's see if that constitutes torture.

As Robinson notes, torture is illegal.  I hear the immoral argument he makes, and I share that view.  But to me, it is the fact that the CIA and parts of the Executive branch directly and obviously broke the law that is distressing.

When I teach my students about the necessary pre-conditions for democracy to work, we always return to the Rule of Law, which basically states that laws constrain the rich and poor alike, the government as well as its citizens.  What took place in the CIA and the Cheney offices was a direct violation of American law.  The idea that they should escape prosecution is sickening.

Torture was a moral blot on this country's history.  The failure to prosecute those involved is a failure of the very institutions of government that we depend on to maintain a free society.

So the Obama administration needs to prosecute those responsible for torture, but only if they are willing to follow that trail all the way up the ladder to Addington, Yoo and Cheney.

Does anyone see that happening?

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Oppressed Free Marketeers

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/a-must-read-from-the-brittle-grip-series

Josh Marshall has been trying to figure out why - with a bull market boosting stocks to record highs - we've had so much talk about "Kristallnacht" and "Worse than Hitler" from the Wall Street "Masters of the Universe."

The letter above makes so much sense, because it feeds into what I think is increasingly the way to explain all of American politics today, especially but not exclusively on the Right.

It can be summed up as: "If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of."

This is the height of irrationality, but it is a natural human characteristic.  If we believe something deeply, then evidence that our beliefs are wrong actually makes people cling to those beliefs more tightly.

Given the ideological nature of the modern GOP, this is going to bite them more.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

So Much For Jeb! 2016

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/jeb-bush-immigration-felony

James Carville once famously said that "Democrats have to fall in love, Republicans just fall in line."

The idea was that the GOP ultimately accepted the establishment candidate, even if that meant they weren't thrilled with the choice.

And certainly McCain and Romney were not beloved of the "base".

But Jeb Bush is the ultimately establishment candidate.  Socially moderate for the GOP and embracing immigration reform like his brother is fine with Wall Street.

But C+ Augustus couldn't get immigration reform through a Congress he controlled and the 2012 primary was basically a competition as to who could hate on immigrants more.  For Bush to come out now and call immigration an "act of love" will prove the ultimate test of whether the GOP establishment can force their candidate on the Tea Party base.

(The fact that Jeb is right, is of course irrelevant.)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Smell

We tried a compost system last year.  I had to empty it today.  I can't begin to describe the smell.  And what's more that smell has managed to remain on my hands and in the air.  It's amazing that on a windy spring day, it still smells of rot.

I may have to bleach the backyard.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bucket List

I've actually done a ton of these.

I guess I'm about to die.

Between Two Memes

The "Seven Million" number surrounding ACA sign-ups is a red herring, a macguffin.

Jon Chait explains why:

The biggest trouble with seven million is that it’s not the number of people benefiting from Obamacare. Conservatives are picking away at the figure,correctly arguing that it does not show a terribly high reduction in the uninsured. What they haven’t conceded is that, in many ways, seven million wildly understates the number of Obamacare beneficiaries.
It ignores people under 26 enrolling in their parents’ plans, and people enrolling in Medicaid. It likewise ignores the fact that probably millions of people have obtained insurance off the exchanges, and millions more can still obtain insurance through the exchanges after the deadline has passed. The last two points are important enough to merit a bit of explanation.

Go read the explanation.

Betty Cracker Lays The Wood

Modern conservatism in the US is predicated on a bizarre, ongoing inversion of reality. Item: an addled B-movie actorexplodes the national debt and is lionized as a champion of small government. A cowardly, none-too-bright male cheerleader from a patrician clan is packaged and sold as a brush-clearin,’ neo-Churchillian, genius cowpoke.
The party that bankrupted the country through ruinous, pointless warmongering and Wall Street wilding markets itself as the fiscally responsible foreign policy grownups. The party that lets a gun manufacturer flak organization intimidate it into allowing terrorists and the floridly insane to purchase unlimited semiautomatic weapons bills itself as tough on crime. Etc.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that conservatives’ perception of their ongoing defeat in the culture wars is exactly the opposite of reality on every level too. But that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh at the ahistorical ranting. Cue thePowertools, lamenting the resignation of erstwhile Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich:
So the liberals claim another scalp. This is something new in our history, as far as I know. Until now, private citizens could hold whatever political beliefs they wanted, and support political causes as they chose.
Ever heard of the McCarthy hearings? Where a wingnut senator persecuted private citizens and destroyed their livelihoods because of their political beliefs? See, when the party of free markets decides to regulate political beliefs,it does so via the government.
What happened to Eich is a free market phenomenon. You can make the argument that the companies and developers who balked at the prospect of working with a CEO who thinks gays are icky should have given Eich a chance. But the companies and developers are independent agents who are free to vote with their feet because freedom.
I would add that perhaps the best tool progressives and generally sane people have right now is the power of the purse.  Given the evisceration of campaign finance laws by the Free Market Five on the Supreme Court, we can expect to see more hollowing out of reform at the state level.  (I would guess that national elections won't be nearly as influenced by the tide of dark money as local elections.)
So, if you're as disgusted by Florida's "Stand Your Ground and Kill A Colored" laws, the only thing to do is not to go to Florida.