Browsing the blog archives for January, 2014.


Stuff to Read

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Obama Administration

Timothy Egan has a profile of Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who gave the English-language official Republican SOTU response. It turns out she represents a very poor district that is way above the national average in poverty and unemployment.

Given that picture, it would seem surprising that McMorris Rodgers voted to drastically cut food aid last year, and joined her party in resisting emergency benefits to the unemployed. She has been a leading strategist in the unrelenting Republican attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act.

And yet, in her district, people are flocking to Obamacare — well beyond the national average. Though she has been screening town hall meetings to highlight only critics of the new law, her constituents are doing something entirely different in making their personal health decisions.

In Spokane County, the most populous in the Fifth Congressional District with nearly half a million people, the rate of participation in the new health care law is even well above the state average. At the end of December, signups were 102 percent of the state target. That’s saying something, because Washington, with a big range of insurance choices and a well-run exchange, has been one of the nation’s success stories for the Affordable Care Act.

Also in the New York Times, David Firestone compares what Republicans say against what Republicans mean.

Joan Walsh looks at this New York Times story about last year’s gubernatorial race in New Jersey. You might remember that the Democratic challenger, Barbara Buono, accused her fellow Dems of making deals with Christie to not support her. The Times is saying that exactly what happened, and that Christie’s team was pulling every trick in the book to run up Christie’s margin of victory to make him the front runner for 2016.

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Everything You Need to Know About the GOP Base

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Republican Party

Poll: Huckabee Is Now The GOP’s Top Choice For 2016 After Libido Remark

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White People Are Neanderthals

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Obama Administration

Apparently this isn’t really news, but I’m just now hearing about it — Neanderthal Man died out about 30,000 years ago, but he left some of his DNA behind, especially in people scientists are delicately calling “non-African.” Neanderthals lived in Europe and Asia, but apparently didn’t get to Africa much. Early humans in Europe and Asia hooked up with the Neanderthals, so to speak, and although these were two different species, they were close enough genetically to have offspring, and some of those offspring (unlike, say, mules) were fertile. So Whites and Asians today have inherited 1 to 3 percent of our genomes from Neanderthals.

According to a news bit at NBC, the Neanderthal DNA is particularly associated with skin and hair — red hair especially.

I am amused.

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The GOP Crazy Arcade

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Obama Administration, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Most of the reviews of the SOTU coming from non-rightie media are describing it with words like “cautious,” “modest” and “conciliatory,” which tells me I didn’t miss anything interesting. According to the wingnuts, of course, the President as “Kommandant-In-Chef” — something like that hot-tempered British fellow who stars in all those cooking shows on cable, perhaps — announced tanks in the street and a new Politburo of Central Planning.

“The world is literally about to blow up,” Lindsey Graham (R-Drama Queen) said.

There were four Republican responses, two official and two not. Sensitive to the fact that women laugh at them but incapable of comprehending why, the Party called on two women representatives — Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Stockholm Syndrome) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (likewise) to give Republican responses in English and Spanish. The womenfolk were assigned the task of sounding sane and reasonable without getting into specifics, and I don’t doubt they carried out their mission. But it seems the guys went their own way.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Bagger), who appointed himself to speak for the Tea Party, has noticed that “income inequality” is the new new buzz phrase, and he spoke of it in spite of not being entirely sure what it is.

“Today, Americans know in their hearts that something is wrong. Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the ‘American Dream’ is falling out of reach for far too many of us,” Lee said. “We are facing an inequality crisis — one to which the President has paid lip-service, but seems uninterested in truly confronting or correcting.”

“But where does this new inequality come from? From government — every time it takes rights and opportunities away from the American people and gives them instead to politicians, bureaucrats and special interests.”

“Special interests,” like, I don’t know, the 1 percent, perhaps? OK, senator, and you keep favoring special interests, because . . .?

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Rand Paul) gave his own response, which I understand was videoed before the White House had even released the text of the SOTU. Paul evoked Ronald Reagan, blamed the 2008 financial meltdown on the Federal Reserve, and promised economic utopia through “economic freedom zones,” a plan that’s been tried already and doesn’t seem to work.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Looney Tunes) had a meltdown on Maddow’s show after he was called out for some Tweets he posted while the President was speaking. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Flunked Anger Management) threatened to break a reporter “in half.”

And Sen.Ted Cruz (R-Pure Unadulterated Bullshit) today is in the Wall Street Journal waxing sad about the “imperial presidency.” Do we want to talk about “obstruction,” and “refusing to govern,” Senator?

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SOTU

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Obama Administration

I guess the State of the Union is tonight, huh? I will be doing something else, but y’all are welcome to comment on it here if you like.

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Pete Seeger, 1919-2014

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American History

A good song reminds us what we’re fighting for.”

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A “New” Republican “Health Care Plan”

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Obama Administration

The usually rightie mouthpieces are all excited by a NEW Republican plan to REPLACE OBAMACARE. What did they come up with that’s NEW?

Um, not much. It’s all tweaks of old plans. But let’s look anyway.

It would allow more age rating of insurance. Under Obamacare insurers cannot charge older and sicker people more than three times what the young folks pay. The NEW plan would allow older folks to be charged five times what the young folks pay.

It would not require insurance companies to insure people with pre-existing conditions. They would be required to offer a plan to someone who has had continuo8us coverage — in other words, if they currently have or just lost insurance — but we’re not told what “must offer” might mean. It could be a plan nobody could afford, for all we know.

Everyone the private insurance companies won’t touch would auto-enrolled in high-risk pools, which have been tried before but turned out to be hideously expensive to the point of being unworkable. The GOP plan appears to be a bit fuzzy about how that will be paid for without bankrupting the participants. But, hey, it sounds like a plan.

They’re especially proud of a plan to cap tax exclusion for employee benefit plans and use the difference in revenue to provide subsidies for the very poor. Medicaid would be changed to something like a block grant to states plan, although not exactly.

Basically, it’s a milder form of the same old screw job they’ve been proposing for years. It’s basically a scheme to dig more money out of everyone’s pocket for the benefit of the insurance industry. See Joan McCarter for more.

Update: See GOP offers Obamacare replacement — and it’s a mess

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Are They Really This Clueless?

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Obama Administration

Regarding Mike Huckabee’s recent “libido” remarks, I’m with BooMan — what Huckabee is saying makes no discernible sense. Whether you agree with him or not.

I think it’s time Republicans no longer accept listening to the Democrats talk about a ‘war on women,’” Huckabee said. “Because the fact is, the Republicans don’t have a war on women. They have a war for women.”

He said Democrats convinced women they were victims, but Republicans wanted to empower them.

“Women I know are outraged that Democrats think that women are nothing more than helpless or hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have a government provide for them birth control medication,” Huckabee said. “Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything anyone else can do.” …

…“If Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government, then so be it,” Huckabee said.

Is he saying that smart, educated, and intelligent women can control their reproductive system without birth control? And what does controlling libido have to do with anything? Does he think that only nymphomaniacs need birth control? And, of course, “government” isn’t supplying birth control except to Medicaid patients. The real issue has to do with mandating that private insurance companies cover birth control, which can be expensive if you have to pay the whole cost yourself.

Considering that about 99 percent of American women use birth control at some point in their lives, I’m not sure which women he thinks he is not insulting.

As with Rush Limbaugh’s infamous Sandra Fluke rampage, Huckabee doesn’t seem to understand how birth control works. Are they really that clueless? Paul Waldman writes,

These kinds of statements tend to come from older conservative men who have no idea how ladyparts work, and really don’t want to know. That extends to contraception, which as far as they’re concerned is something that is women’s responsibility and therefore there’s no need to understand it. That accounts for the bizarrely widespread belief that all forms of contraception work like condoms: a one-use kind of thing that is employed whenever sex is desired. Which is why Rush Limbaugh said that Sandra Fluke was obviously a “slut” if she wanted contraception to be covered by the insurance she was paying for, because “She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception.” And Huckabee believes that you only need birth control every month if you have a rampaging libido, while if you were more chaste, it would be something that would sit at the back of the cabinet, seldom brought out but there if necessary, like that little container of tumeric you once bought for a particularly exotic recipe and might some day use again.

Since Mike Huckabee doesn’t have 18 kids, I’m guessing his wife has used contraception throughout their marriage. But a Baptist minister and his wife have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement when it comes to that sort of thing, just like millions of other couples, which enables him to continue believing that only a fallen woman would need to take a contraceptive pill every doggone day like she was some kind of insatiable sex machine who barely had time to cook his food and do his laundry in between all that rutting.

Seriously, can they really be that clueless? Do they actually not know how birth control pills work? They certainly sound as if they don’t understand it, but it’s mind boggling. Even after all these years of watching wingnuts’ wacky ways, this is out there.

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Criminal Justice Updates

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Obama Administration

Dinesh D’Souza Indicted for Campaign Finance Fraud

Also,

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey have issued grand jury subpoenas to Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election campaign and to the state Republican Party as part of a preliminary inquiry into accusations that aides to Mr. Christie shut down access lanes to the George Washington Bridge as political retribution, the lawyer for the campaign and the party said Thursday.

Pass the popcorn

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When Anti-Choicers Choose

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abortion

It appears today is the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Here’s an eye-opening page of accounts of what happens when an abortion clinic picketer encounters an unwanted pregnancy. They want an abortion, of course, but they think their case is “different.”

Many anti-choice women are convinced that their need for abortion is unique — not like those “other” women — even though they have abortions for the same sorts of reasons. Anti-choice women often expect special treatment from clinic staff. Some demand an abortion immediately, wanting to skip important preliminaries such as taking a history or waiting for blood test results. Frequently, anti-abortion women will refuse counseling (such women are generally turned away or referred to an outside counselor because counseling at clinics is mandatory). Some women insist on sneaking in the back door and hiding in a room away from other patients. Others refuse to sit in the waiting room with women they call “sluts” and “trash.” Or if they do, they get angry when other patients in the waiting room talk or laugh, because it proves to them that women get abortions casually, for “convenience”.

I remember reading about an abortion provider who said that whenever a woman came to her for abortion and said, “I’m not one of those women who gets abortions,” the doctor said “Oh, OK, I don’t guess you need me then.” And the woman would be refused treatment. That sounds harsh, but on the page linked it says that anti-choice women who get abortions will sometimes turn around and sue the clinic for some trumped up reason.

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