Tag Archives: ACA

Kentucky Governor To Mitch McConnell: Get Your Facts Straight On Obamacare

Kentucky Governor To Mitch McConnell: Get Your Facts Straight On Obamacare

Wait just a cotton pickin minute!!  You mean to tell me that Mitch by god McConnell might be … a lyin sack o’ shit?!  No!  Say it isn’t so!!


More Failed Political Theatre

July 24, 2013 – The “Amash Amendment” was voted down.  What was this amendment, you might wonder?  It got very little coverage really, so you wouldn’t be so out of line to ask.  The Amash amendment, surprisingly, was offered by a Republican representative despite the opposition of the Speaker of the House, Boehner.  It would have limited the NSA’s ability to collect the so-called meta data on phone and internet data usage, and otherwise reduced the funding and scope of the NSA.  It drew, as politics sometimes is wont to do, a strange series of bedfellows.  Right wing “libertarians” and “left wing liberals” joined together to support this bill and still it failed by a vote of 205 to 217.   Here is the roll call so you can see how your own representatives voted.

On the one hand, it really didn’t matter how this vote turned out.  We should all understand that.  Should this have passed, and then succeeded in the Senate, which was far from likely to begin with, the POTUS had promised to veto it.  Of course, he has promised to veto numerous things in the past and then signed them any way.  However, this one, I find his threat much more credible as it is more in line with his right wing totalitarian regime approach to things.  “Trust me.  We’ve got your best interest at heart.  We’ll give you some pretense of good faith, such as lip service about believing in same-sex marriage, but in reality, we’re going to call out the militarized police to control you and beat you into submission, while half way around the world, we kill children in your name.”  {Some Afghan kids aren’t bystanders, indeed!!  You right wing, murderous bastard!}

–  Deep breaths  –  Deep breaths  –  Deep breaths  –

It is also very likely that he would not have vetoed it because he has come out so strongly in support of the program.  For example, on June 18, 2013:

Charlie Rose: So I hear you saying, I have no problem with what NSA has been doing.

Barack Obama: Well, let me — let me finish, because I don’t.

Or, on June 7, 2013:
“In the abstract, you can complain about ‘Big Brother’ and how this is a potential program run amok. But when you actually look at the details, then I think we’ve struck the right balance,” he said.

Except, we are not allowed to look at the details, so you are asking us to take your word, and since you have shown yourself to be a liar, we can’t trust that, Mr. President.

So, if you think that there was really any chance that this amendment would have succeeded, then I would like to discuss a lake I have for sale.  You might be interested.  It has a beautiful view, and several ships are included.  Details here.

Okay, so it didn’t really matter because president Napoleon the Pig, er, I mean Obama would have vetoed it.  However, it also didn’t matter, because if the POTUS is to be believed, and he has been backed on this by many in the congress, then:

“The programs are secret in the sense that they are classified. They are not secret, in that every member of Congress has been briefed,” he said during a speech in San Jose, Calif. “These are programs that have been authored by large bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006.”

Understand what that means is that each of those 205 members of congress that voted for the Amash amendment is one of two things.  Either they are so spineless that they couldn’t act without sufficient support around them.  They couldn’t stand on their own two feet to say, “This is wrong, and I must stand against it.”  Or, they are still conducting political theatre.  They saw that there were enough people in their constituencies that were at least a little upset that they would benefit from making it appear that they were trying to do something to end these programs, without actually trying to do something.  Then, they can return to what is much more important to the Republicans in the House of Representatives – a 40th attempt to repeal the ACA, other wise known as Obamacare.


The Boys Who Cried Wolf

Does anyone else remember fairy tales?  As I recall, they used to serve a very different purpose many, many moons ago.  You see, fairy tales used to be used to scare children into behaving.  The stories as originally preserved by the Grimm Brothers, for example, were “capricious and often cruel”.  National Geographic says it well, except they leave out a crucial detail, which I’ll come back to in a moment.

Once they saw how the tales bewitched young readers, the Grimms, and editors aplenty after them, started “fixing” things. Tales gradually got softer, sweeter, and primly moral. Yet all the polishing never rubbed away the solid heart of the stories, now read and loved in more than 160 languages.

So, what was left out?  The modern, as in the last 30 years or so, impact on the fairy tale.  What I will call, “the Disney effect”, when fairy tales became even more sanitized and Pollyanna-ish1.  When fairy tales lost their truly moral lessons, and simply became entertainment.

They’re baaaacck!!  At least one of them.  The boy who cried wolf.  Remember that one?  In a nutshell, a shepherd boy who didn’t want to be alone in the fields watching the sheep cries out, “Wolf!” and the town’s men come running to protect him, even though there is no wolf.  Eventually, though, he does this so many times, that they stop.  Then, when there really is a wolf, he cries and cries, and no one comes to his aid.  I am sure in the older version, the wolf not only drives off many of the town’s flock, but also kills him and many of the sheep.  In the modern version, the wolf just scares the little miscreant and scatters the flock, because everyone knows that wolves don’t actually kill sheep, right? uh huh.

This presidency has been one never ending stream of accusations and trumped up scandals.  It has been a series of boys crying wolf, and now that there might, actually be one that is legitimate, most of us who are not so easily worked up and manipulated by the right-wing press are so worn out from it, that we are having a hard time caring.  How sad is that?  You have managed to wear us out with your constant stream of made up malarkey that now that there is a hint of possible real scandal in the air, guess what?  Most of us that you need in order to actually pursue it, don’t care.  Way to go.  Guess it’s time for the wolf to dine.

Before we get to that, let’s recap a little, shall we?  (Not even a complete list.  Just a survey.)

We have had, and still have, questions regarding the POTUS’ place of birth.  This despite it having been established and verified and certified and re-certified.

We have seen attempts to tie him to terrorist organizations, domestic and foreign, from the time he began campaigning and still going today.

We heard about his “Apology Tour”, which when fact checked by more reliable sources, is shown to be either completely fallacious, misunderstood, or overly hyped, depending on which aspect of the “tour” to which you are referring.

For the last 8 months, we have been subjected to the far right-wing, led primarily by Fox news, of course, pushing an investigation into a supposed Benghazi cover-up and scandal.  The Republican party and conservative public has dutifully followed along, wasting much time and money on a non-story.  The rest of the main stream media has had almost no choice but to cover it as well, since this is what all the players are playing.  If they didn’t, it would be like a reporter sent to cover a concert and ignoring the entire first set.  With the latest disclosure being that someone, somewhere, very likely in a Republican congressional office actually changed the e-mails released by the White House in order to make them look more damning than they actually are.  Could it be any more obvious how desperate they are to focus on anything other than real issues?


Put Away Childish Things

Recently I have been having an ongoing discussion wherein I have maintained that one of the most significant differences between liberals and conservatives is that liberals are concerned with protecting the rights of everyone, whereas conservatives are primarily concerned only with protecting their own rights.

Let me be very clear about that, by rephrasing it, since we are talking about a spectrum.  In general, as one moves further along the spectrum from conservative to liberal then one can be expected to become less and less selfish and more concerned with the larger community, as well.  In other words, one grows up, and becomes mature enough to think beyond one’s own bedroom and toys, and capable of being responsible for the larger household and belongings of the family.

Yes, I did, in fact, just compare conservatives to children, because over the years that is precisely what they have shown themselves to be.  There may have been a time when that wasn’t the case.  I am trying to be generous by saying that, but it is not, as a general rule, true any more.

So, let’s look at some examples, shall we?  One of the “most-well known liberal” groups in America is the American Civil Liberties Organization.  What is it that makes this group liberal?  Well, primarily it is that they have consistently fought for the rights of everyone in America.  They have done so without regard to ideology, so long as those rights are within the bounds of the Constitution.  This does mean that they have not always stood as staunch supporters of the status quo.

The ACLU has provided legal counsel in support of students’ rights, minority rights, and marriage rights.  The ACLU has supported the bulwark between church and state.  The ACLU has represented the Ku Klux Klan, the Westboro Baptist Church, National Man Boy Love Association, as well as students and other private individuals.  The thing about the ACLU is that as an organization they consistently stand by their principles and will defend the rights of even those individuals and groups that are most repugnant to the members, if those rights are being violated by representatives of the state.  I personally find all of those groups offensive, and yet, I would also personally stand up for their right to speak.  Of course, I would also counter them, and speak back, because that is what free speech is.

Compare that standard to the American Civil Rights Union.  A group that most of us have probably never heard of.  It was founded in 1998 by a former Reagan lackey official, in response to the ACLU being too liberal.  Its board is stocked with former Reagan officials, and will be until they start to die off.  The ACRU is a conservative activist group that masquerades as a civil rights legal foundation.  A screenshot of their home page taken on 4/14/2013 shows that they are not discussing the court cases which they are working on.  They are not talking about the key civil rights issues that they are fighting for.  No.  They are instead hyping their political activism.  They are entitled to do so, of course.  However, in doing so, they make it clear that they are not a civil rights organization, and further illustrate my point.

What cases have they worked on?  It doesn’t appear they have actually done anything.  They have filed many briefs though.  They’ve filed briefs against the ACA, against marriage equality, and in support of the 2nd amendment in various cases.  They defended the Boy Scouts of America’s right to discriminate against gay troop leaders.  And, so on.

Occupy Every Day

Every once in a while it is important to revisit older topics, that we’ve discussed before.  Today, I would like to come back to a couple of those, because they remain important and relevant.

If we are going to maintain pressure and relevance, then we have to continue to remember to act, right?  One of the major knocks against the Occupy movement, for example, is that it lost focus.  Certainly the occupation of major parks, and the various actions that were taken beginning in September of 2011 were breathtaking and stoked the imagination.  They fired me up.  They captured the hopes of many who were struggling to find “hope and change” in an America that had yet again been lied to and misled.

And, then, they fell apart.  As with most inclusive movements, it fell prey to its own grand ideals.  Instead of staying focused on the financial purposes that it started with, it wanted to be leaderless and then it became amorphous and had so many tentacles and purposes that it lost its relevance.  Oh, to be sure, it still exists.  The movement that is.  I believe that there are still a few active occupations.  Somewhere… Maybe.  Even I have lost track, and interest.  They lost me when they got off track.  And, yes, I admit that I boisterously proclaimed that it was the last great hope for America.  I even went so far in my fervor at the time as to say that if it failed, then I would start voting for the most evil right wing candidate I could find in order to simply hasten the fall of America.  “Bring on the burning,” I said.

I retract those words, and acknowledge my own foolishness in having said them.  I can only say that I was fired up and hopeful.  I was excited and trying to get others equally fired up and motivated.  I do still believe that it had great potential.  Had there been some strong hands to guide it and maintain focus at the core, then it could have accomplished great things.  I do think that it had impact, in changing the focus of the conversation ever so slightly.  It was not the impact though that it could have had, and the damn Tea Partiers are still holding too much sway.  Largely that is because there was too heavy an influence in the Occupy movement that simply felt that they could somehow change the system without actually being participants in the system.

There are only two ways to change a political system.  One can either participate in and change it from with in, or one can violently overthrow it.  That’s it.  There are no other alternatives to changing it.  If you play a pussy-foot, half-in-half-out game then what happens is that you wind up supporting (whole heartedly) the status quo.  That is what happened with the occupy movement.  Too many wanted to try to maintain the illusion that they were above and beyond the system, while still enjoying the benefits of that system.  They wanted the technological benefits (the iPods, the smart phones, the lap top computers, the internet, the wifi, etc), they wanted the Constitutional protections, the responsiveness of the elected representatives, and all that the system had to offer.  They screamed for and demanded their rights.  “Whose park?  Our Park!” and “This is what Democracy looks like” they screamed.  Hell, I screamed, for I took my boys and went down to the streets, too.  But, for all too many of them, they didn’t then want to exercise their responsibilities.  They didn’t want to vote, or participate in the jury pools.  They didn’t want to pay taxes or support that same government that they railed against.  They didn’t want to participate by electing the candidates that would support the views that they wanted supported.  They were only half-in.

Pro-Health Care Action: Take A Stand!

The power of the boycott remains one of, if not, the most effective tools in the market place.  Particularly when combined with a vocal campaign to let the target know that is what is going on. In fact, it is almost pointless if the target is unaware of the action, as they may get the wrong message, and make the wrong changes.  If one simply avoids shopping somewhere and a store believes that their business is suffering because they’re offering the wrong products rather than because of the policies they have put into place, then they will make the wrong changes.

It is this economic vote which is both the strongest weapon in the consumer’s arsenal and the most difficult to wield.  It requires both perseverance and a willingness to sacrifice.  Perhaps it is only a small sacrifice of a selfish desire, but in this modern world of immediate gratification, that is a difficult thing for many to do.  It is also a group effort which is generally self-enforced.  Who really knows that you haven’t shopped at that store you’re supposed to be boycotting, except for you?  And, yet…

There is a long history of boycotts, and their effectiveness is undeniable.  Business groups hate them, and over the last few years those on the right would have you believe that they are somehow immoral, wrong, or anti-American.  This is really quite ironic.  After all, what at its core is a boycott?  At its core, a boycott is a decision to choose not to shop at a particular business, period. It is a choice made based on ethical reasons, or perhaps on reasons of solidarity.  Regardless of the reason, from the standpoint of the free marketer, is it not precisely what the market is supposed to do?  The consumer is to make a choice based on whatever factors they see fit including price, location, quality, etc and purchase the products they prefer from the supplier that they choose.  Well, that is precisely what the consumer is doing.  They are including in that, what we might call the moral quality of the supplier.  In the case of a company that is being boycotted, the consumer has found that supplier to be wanting in quality.

So, I choose to boycott Chick-fil-A, as I wrote back in April, because they openly discriminate against homosexuals.  When the rest of the world caught wind of this in July, I wrote again about how franchisees benefit from corporate names, and thus have to take the penalties that come with corporate blunders and foul policies.  It was reported that Chick-fil-A had bowed to public pressure and stopped their contributions to anti-gay advocacy groups.  Dan Cathy, the CEO, however announced this was a false report.  Thus, the boycott must continue.

Now a whole other band of greedy big business-men and women have forced those of us with consciences into action.  Again, we have to expand our list of restaurants to avoid.  Honestly, many of these places for me are not too difficult.  However, a small handful,…. well, I’ll almost miss them.

“Naturally, the Left is outraged. How dare a company try to stay profitable!”

No, Twitchy.  What we are outraged by is that this is unnecessary for the company to stay profitable.  The amount that prices would have to be raised is ridiculously small, and most of us would be willing to pay it.  Most of us are not the greedy, self-centered, selfish persons that the right wants us to be.

Papa John’s Pizza founder and CEO, John Schnatter, has announced that he would begin reducing employees’ hours in order to avoid having to either provide health care benefits or pay the penalty associated with the Affordable Care Act becoming the law of the land.  The additional cost, which he would pass on to customers, amounts to approximately $0.15 to $0.20 per order.  In other words, for less than a quarter per order, the third largest pizza delivery and take out chain in America could provide health insurance to its employees.  However, rather than do so, the CEO would rather make an example of his employees, and punish them in order to make his political point.  I cannot imagine that there are very many people who would be ordering from Papa John’s restaurants who would even notice a $0.25 increase on their order, much less actually care about that increase.

As a result, Papa John’s can be sure that I will no longer be ordering from them.  This is only slightly a shame.  Their pizza isn’t that good, but it was a convenience every once in a while.

You know the beautiful irony of this?  Even Schnatter himself has already admitted that this is just greed on his part.

In loco vennum

Was it a critical decision?  I’m not really certain about that in the big picture.  And, by big picture, I mean long term.  Why?  Because in the long term, everything can change.  The Citizens United v Federal Election Commission decision issued on January 21, 2010 which undid nearly a century of settled law, the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868 which overturned the Dred Scott v Sanford decision of 1857 (probably the worst SCOTUS decision of ALL TIME), and Brown v Board of Education in 1954 had to overturn the precedent of Plessy v Ferguson from 1896, amongst others.  The doctrine of stare decisis is less and less meaningful as we become more and more politicized at every branch and level of society, and as we become less and less educated.  So, yes, though I promised to pick up on last week’s column, the SCOTUS decision on the Affordable Care Act and the ensuing madness has prompted me to deviate from that.  Next week, will see the promised second part of the education column.  However, I do see a very strong connection.  Many of the arguments that are being thrown around are being put out by people who simply have no education about the facts.  They do not have a clue what they are talking about.  They are also over-reacting.

First, let us clear up a few things.

One, I am not a big fan of the ACA.  It is better than nothing, but it barely qualifies as progress.  The first thing that must always be said about it is that every single piece of it originated from the right.  This is not in the same sense that I have been trying to drive home for a few years now and, that others have started to echo, that there is no visible left in America.  This is, if you accept what Faux News and the rest of the mainstream media defines as the left and right in American politics, every piece of the ACA originated from the right and then was adopted by the “left”.  After it was adopted by the “left”, and thus should have had “bi-partisan” support, then it was attacked by the “right”.  This is the ridiculousness of the game being played by the far right wing in this country.  This is why there are those, even on the far right, who are finally starting to admit that in the media’s attempt to be fair, they are being dishonest.  In the attempt to give each “side” equal recognition, they are committing a lie that each side is equally valid.  The individual mandate, for example, which was the focus of so much right wing ire, was the brain child of the Heritage Foundation, as so clearly explained here by Peter Ferrara who at the time was the “John M. Olin Distinguished Fellow in Political Economy” at said Foundation.  It was an answer to Clinton’s attempts to move the health care system forward, but to do it on the worker’s backs instead of at the expense of the employer.

The point is that it is not an over-reach by the left.  Not even if we let “the left” be defined by the mainstream media.  It was passed through by the Democrats, yes.  But, it is a Republican bill through and through.

Second, the damn thing is really complicated and there are some good parts in it that will benefit many Americans – allowing younger Americans to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, preventing insurance companies from refusing to insure due to pre-existing conditions, and removal of lifetime benefit caps, for example.  Being such a complicated law, it affects pretty much everyone top to bottom, and one source of reasonably accurate information is here.  Most of the law does not, however, go into effect until 2014.  By then, the infighting of the Republicans and the Democrats may have killed off parts of it, to the point where it may be pointless.  In fact, that was likely the very reason it was pushed out to 2014 in the first place.  (Much like the United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and its recommendations were set far enough out so that the the sequestering would never actually take place.  The congress would have time to act and make sure of that.  It is all a dog and pony show.  Neither the ruling members of Democrats nor the Republicans are serious about keeping their promises to actually accomplish anything positive for the country.  They are both in favor of serving their highest paying contributors and staying in power.  Any appearance of serving the rest of us is only an illusion created in the interest of staying in power.)

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