Posted by MEC on November 22, 2013
Posted by Charles II on November 21, 2013
Posted by Charles II on November 21, 2013
Ed Pilkington, The Guardian:
Barack Obama is facing a fresh offensive against his troubled healthcare reforms as Republican legislators backed by corporate sponsors prepare an attempt to effectively destroy the Affordable Care Act at state level.
With Obamacare still in crisis from its botched technical rollout, the signature reform of the Obama presidency faces threats from state-based politicians who have devised a strategy to scupper the federal health insurance exchanges.
The move is the latest in a sustained effort by conservative states, mainly in the south and midwest, to resist key elements of the changes that are designed to extend healthcare to millions of uninsured Americans.
The idea for the new attack is the brainchild of the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), a group that acts as a dating agency for Republican state legislators and big corporations, bringing them together to frame rightwing legislative agendas in the form of “model bills”.
A new Alec proposal, approved by its annual meeting in Chicago in August and published as a model bill for adoption by state assemblies across the nation, would scupper the federal health insurance exchanges set up under Obamacare. The Health Care Freedom Act, as Alec calls its model bill, threatens to strip health insurers of their licenses to do new business on the federal exchanges should they accept any subsidies under the system.
Alec justifies the measure as a way to protect local employers from the “employer mandate” – the provision in Obama’s act that penalises employers with more than 50 workers who do not offer any or sufficient healthcare cover for their employees. However, health insurance experts say that were the model bill to be taken up widely by Republican-held states, it would seriously disrupt the federal exchanges, and in turn put the whole health reforms in peril.
Legislation with almost identical language is already being debated in the state assemblies of Missouri and Ohio.
“You cannot build the healthcare system based on the free market unless you have subsidies. If they are taken away the whole thing collapses,” said Wendell Potter, a former health insurance executive and critic of the health industry.
These people are evil. There is no other word to describe the attempt to deny health care to people who are uninsurable because they are sick or poor. 40,000 American die every year because of their past efforts. To continue to cause people to die needlessly in the face of having lost the argument and two national elections is, very simply, murder.
Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 20, 2013
I am laying down a marker, here and now.
At this time next year, a number of allegedly-doomed Democrats will find themselves on Capitol Hill. The Senate will stay in Democratic hands. We probably won’t get the House — probably — but we will make inroads.
Why? Two things: The relative withdrawal of traditional GOP money from the 2014 races (and the corresponding amping-up of Koch Tea Party money), and Shutdown 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Let’s deal with the first thing first. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 19, 2013
Even as the Republicans and their media allies are trying to make pitiful hay on the healthcare.gov website (whose ease of usage has already vastly improved since it opened at the start of the Republican shutdown last month), their biggest institutional backers are still sitting on their wallets for 2014:
The biggest Republican-leaning money machines are spending dramatically less this year to help the party ahead of the 2014 Senate elections, two years after millions of dollars in early advertising by outside groups against Democrats backfired in embarrassing losses in otherwise winnable races.
Groups such as American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce no longer are willing to risk major investments on hard-line conservatives who embarrassed GOP leaders last fall and rattled the confidence of party donors. Many remain concerned after last month’s government shutdown highlighted Republican divisions.
“Is the malaise still there? Yes,” said Lisa Wagner, a Republican fundraiser in the Chicago area. “But they are nervous about giving in light of the shutdown.”
Outside spending on television ads designed to benefit Republican Senate candidates is down almost 60 percent compared with two years ago, according to spending reports provided to The Associated Press. There are signs that the shift is shaping the national fight for the Senate majority.
The elections are a year away, but the slow start on the Republican side means that vulnerable Democrats haven’t had to devote substantial time or resources defending themselves from criticism. Instead, Democrats have been able to stockpile cash ahead of what probably will be nasty and expensive general elections.
What’s interesting is that even as the usual Republican donors are sitting on the sidelines, the Tea Party types — including the Kochs — are rushing in to dump money on unelectable candidates, setting up a replay of 2012 where the Republicans lost their shot at the Senate because of the Teabaggers that won their primaries and then got slaughtered in the general election:
But for now, establishment-minded groups such as Crossroads have been slow to act, and their absence has caught the tea party’s attention. It’s using the vacuum to strengthen its influence while recruiting like-minded candidates.
“Establishment donors are unhappy. They spent a lot of money and didn’t do well,” said Sal Russo, the Tea Party Express political director.
“We’ve been busy,” he added, noting that his organization has interviewed more than 60 candidates this year across 17 states.
The tug of war between such groups isn’t helping Republicans unify around strong candidates.
Iowa’s Senate contest should be a promising pickup opportunity for Republicans. But some candidates in the crowded field have little proven campaign experience.
Outside spending can be helpful but doesn’t always mean success.
Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, saturated Iowa mailboxes and telephone lines recently to support conservative city council candidates. But they all lost.
Proof that the Kochs don’t always win.
And just think how bad it will be when the Suicide Caucusers shut down the government again in February.
Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 17, 2013
Some of you may be wondering why Ayn Rand (real name: Alisa Rosenbaum) didn’t continue her epic story of John Galt and his epic system-smashers as they prepare to be the rulers of a society from which they absented themselves, causing it to fall into a chaos they think they will easily be able to exploit.
A Daily Kos diarist explains:
There’s just one teeny-tiny little problem: Rand never really follows up on the logical consequences of total societal collapse, at least not explicitly. The world Galt plans to return to is one where nothing works any more. Millions have died in starvation, civil strife, disease outbreaks, and worse. Where there isn’t total anarchy, there are pockets of petty tyrants and warlords ruling over neo-serfs; feudalism is perhaps the best possible outcome for many as desperate people trade away everything for a little security and a bare hope of survival – but nothing more.
There’s no power grid, no transport systems, no web of laws to keep order, no education system, no healthcare… It’s the world of Mad Max It’s the embodiment of the conservative’s Hobbesian world view, where life is nasty, brutish and short.
And that’s on a good day.
Rand doesn’t dare look too closely at the objective cost of what it would take for John Galt’s vision to be realized, the tremendous toll of lives, loss of resources, and damage it would take generations to undo. John Galt, with his superior morality backed by his superior intellect (and his magical free energy machine) has coldly calculated this is the price that must be paid – and he’s good with that.
Because, after all, the victims have only themselves to blame for not bowing to the unassailable rightness of his views, backed up by the entire power of the Natural Order of Things (as explained by Galt at length in the book.) Besides – Galt had to destroy the world. It was a simple case of self-defense. It’s kind of hard to turn it into a Happy Ending if you include all the nasty details though.
It’s a fantasy world, and it’s easy to see why it still appeals to certain types. People with power fantasies, egomania, and a certain kind of paranoia about the world not recognizing just how special they are, live and breathe this stuff. The blood, the bodies – not their problem. These guys nearly wrecked the world back in 2008 and yet you can read something like this in 2013, and it’s not snark. (And what kind of a name is Harry Binswanger? I swear you can’t make this stuff up.) The people currently doing their best to destroy government today are all on board with it. They don’t see the inherent contradiction in destroying something to ‘save’ it. They believe!
By the way, Anton Szandor Lavey (real name: Howard Levey), founder of the Church of Satan and a fixture among the Hollywood set, admitted freely that he took his basic schtick from Ayn Rand. From Joe Carter (via Crazy Eddie):
Perhaps most are unaware of the connection, though LaVey wasn’t shy about admitting his debt to his inspiration. “I give people Ayn Rand with trappings,” he once told the Washington Post. On another occasion he acknowledged that his brand of Satanism was “just Ayn Rand’s philosophy with ceremony and ritual added.” Indeed, the influence is so apparent that LaVey has been accused of plagiarizing part of his “Nine Satanic Statements” from the John Galt speech in Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
Devotees of Rand may object to my outlining the association between the two. They will say I am proposing “guilt by association,” a form of the ad hominem fallacy. But I am not attacking Rand for the overlap of her views with LaVey’s; I am saying that, at their core, they are the same philosophy. LaVey was able to recognize what many conservatives fail to see: Rand’s doctrines are satanic.
Res ipsa loquiter.
Posted by MEC on November 15, 2013
Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 14, 2013
Hear that gnashing of teeth?
9:10 AM PT: “Today I’m offering an idea that will help” fix the problem of cancellations. Basically will allow insurance commissioners to allow insurance companies to renew all existing plans for another year.
9:12 AM PT: Important point: Obama reminds people the old individual market was broken. “That’s why I will not accept” proposals that are “just an attempt to drag us back into the broken system.” Encourages people who want to continue their current policies to at least look at exchanges and shop for better plans.
This just popped the Republicans’ biggest talking points balloon, and it ain’t coming back.
That’s also the sound of AHIP realizing that its game plan isn’t going the way they told Liz Fowler and Max Baucus to make it go:
This, of course, has the insurance companies (and Republicans) outraged! He’s making the insurance companies the enemy! (About damned time, I say.) If they don’t take him up on this extension, and go ahead and cancel policies, everyone is going to blame them. They’re also saying that it would be impossible to do (even though they’re not forced to).
Which everyone knows is bullshit. If there’s once thing that insurance companies are really good at, it’s figuring out how to rescind things. If they can scour a customer’s health history to find the acne treatment from 30 years ago that would give them an excuse to cancel a policy, they can figure out how to rescind a policy cancellation. And, of course, this would be voluntary. They don’t have to keep offering shitty policies, but they can. Of course, if they don’t, they’ll have angry customers. Which also isn’t a new thing for health insurance companies.
AHIP’s gone so far as to huff and puff and threaten to start hiking rates in 2015, which is a laughable threat. The ACA is their permanent meal ticket, and no way will they hike rates and risk making the healthy kids that they want in their thrall suddenly decide that risking IRS penalties (which since they’re largely unenforceable isn’t much of a risk anyway) is a much cheaper solution.
Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 13, 2013
Another day, another effort by FOX-on-West-Fifty-Seventh-Street to promote a Darrell Issa bogosity:
On November 11, CBS News reported that the “project manager in charge of building the federal health care website was apparently kept in the dark about serious failures in the website’s security.” CBS investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson’s report was based on an exclusive “first look at a partial transcript” of closed-door testimony by project manager Henry Chao that was likely leaked to the network by Republicans on the House Oversight Committee. Other media outlets picked up CBS’s scoop and ran with it.
According to Attkisson, Chao was presented with “a memo that outlined important security risks discovered in the insurance system,” and said he was unaware of that memo. CBS News reported that this indicated that Chao had been “kept in the dark about serious failures in the website’s security” that “could lead to identity theft among people buying insurance.”
But as Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple demonstrated, Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) questioned Chao at a November 13 Oversight Committee hearing and revealed how misleading CBS News’ report was. The memo shown to Chao dealt with portions of the website that aren’t yet in use — not the website as it currently exists, as the partial transcript and CBS News’ report wrongly suggested. And those portions won’t include personally identifiable information, making it impossible for the security risks to lead to identity theft.
Charles Pierce has more:
Gee, CBS gets scammed by a con-man like Darrell Issa. Hoocoodanode?
Perhaps a CBS reporter who has proven to be a reliable mark in the past.
Sharyl Atkisson? The Sharyl Atkisson? The one who proved so valuable to Issa in his attempt to promote the Fast And Furious fakery? When she does a report, does Issa drink a glass of water, because that would be cool. (She was also a dependable mouthpiece in the early days of Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI!) The one who drank a big glass of Instant Martyr when she got called out? And, to cap it off, the Sharyl Atkisson who did so much to mainstream anti-vaccine propaganda and give Julia Ioffe whooping cough? That Sharyl Atkisson?
So why is CBS suddenly aping FOX News? Perhaps because David Rhodes, the guy who helped run FOX’s news room for over a decade, took over CBS’ news room in February of 2011:
The President of CBS News is David Rhodes, who assumed the post in February of 2011. His bio on the CBS website tells us something of his professional past:
“Rhodes began his career as a Production Assistant at the newly-launched Fox News Channel in 1996, where he later became Vice President of News. At the network he managed coverage of three presidential elections, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, hurricanes including Katrina, and was the channel’s Assignment Manager on the news desk the morning of September 11, 2001.”
What this tells us is that Rhodes was a top executive at Fox News during the hotly contested 2000 presidential election where Fox mistakenly called the state of Florida (and thus the nation) for George W. Bush. He was there when Fox News was cheerleading for the U.S. to invade Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, and did not pose any threat to America. He was there when Fox was defending Bush’s disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina. He was there during the economic meltdown of 2008 to make sure that it was blamed on poor people buying homes and the Democrats in Congress. He was there when Fox was hyping electoral attacks against candidate Obama that included maligning ACORN, advancing associations with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, and of course, the everlasting nonsense of birtherism.
In short, Rhodes was one of the principal architects of the Fox News slant toward far-right extremism and brazen conservative partisanship. CBS News must have known what they were getting when they hired him. Additionally, 60 Minutes correspondent, Lara Logan, has been known to swing rightward, particularly with regard to a militaristic foreign policy.
Res ipsa loquiter.