Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for November, 2013

Spineless Chris Christie Flip-Flops On Obamacare Again

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 30, 2013

A little over a year ago, New Jersey Republican governor Chris Christie was really happy to be asking President Obama for Hurricane Sandy aid and posing for pictures shaking hands with him (but not hugging him, oh no no no, no matter what the pictures show).

Barely nine months ago, Christie, bucking the Tea Party wing of the GOP, sensibly decided that while he wouldn’t be allowed by his own party to set up a state ACA health care exchange, he could at least help out the people of New Jersey by expanding Medicaid under Obamacare’s auspices:

“After considerable discussion and research, I have decided to participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. While we already have one of the most expansive and generous Medicaid programs in the nation, including the second highest eligibility rate for children, we have an opportunity to ensure that an even greater number of New Jerseyans who are at or near the poverty line will have access to critical health services beginning in January of 2014,” Christie said.

But of course all that was happening when he was running for re-election as governor and didn’t have any serious, well-funded Teabagger challengers breathing down his neck. He just needed to worry about wooing the majority of New Jersey’s general-election voters.

Now that he’s won re-election, he’s immediately dropped the Sensible Republican mask and is going Full Metal Wingnut in a futile effort to court the Tea Partiers without whose support no Republican can hope to survive a Presidential primary. To that end, he’s trying to put as much distance as he can between himself and the guy who up to now Christie had all but claimed as his running mate:

In an interview with a local radio station Monday night, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called Obamacare a “train wreck.”

“This is just an awful law. It made no sense and that’s why I didn’t get into a state exchange. And no, I have absolutely no regrets. In fact, I’m really glad that the train wreck’s not mine; it’s his,” Christie told listeners on New Jersey 101.5FM, referring to President Barack Obama.

Of course, what Christie’s not telling you is that states that set up exchanges are having a far easier time with Obamacare than those, like Christie’s, that didn’t. But he’s obviously positioning himself to try and have it both ways: Diss Obamacare now when he wants the Tea Partiers to forget about all those not-a-hugs he gave Obama, then pivot and tell a general-election audience how he participated in Obamacare by allowing Medicaid expansion in his state.

Hat tip to Daily Kos’ Jed Lewison.

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Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Spineless Chris Christie Flip-Flops On Obamacare Again

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on November 29, 2013

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 1 Comment »

Senkakooky: US launches itself into island dispute

Posted by Charles II on November 27, 2013

Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian:

US warplanes have directly challenged China’s claims of an expanding territorial air defence zone, flying dramatically and without incident on Monday over a disputed island chain [the Senkakus/Diaoyus].

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Crosson, a defence department spokesman, said the planes were not armed and flew “as part of a long-planned training sortie”. The Chinese did not in any way attempt to challenge the planes’ flight, Crosson said, nor did the pilots announce themselves to any Chinese authorities.

A comparable US military challenge to Chinese power has not happened for nearly two decades

The Chinese are IMO behaving very badly. The Senkaku/Diaoyu islands are not important to the Chinese nor, of course, to the Japanese. None of their citizens live there. They are only useful as chits to win military and economic advantage. That’s a good sign that they should be made independent of all.

Instead, we seem to be drawn inexorably toward war.
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Update: US, Japan, and S. Korea send aircraft through China’s newly-annexed “air defense zone;” China responds by sending an aircraft carrier into the Taiwan Straits.

Update, 11/29:: So of course the Chinese retaliate by sending their own jets into the Senkaku airspace.

Image from BBC (image from here
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Update, 12/8:

And now S. Korea jumps in. Reuters:

South Korea’s Defence Ministry said that in expanding the zone to include two territorial islands to its south and a submerged rock also claimed by Beijing it has fully explained its position to related countries.

Posted in China, Japan, military | 10 Comments »

Vermont Births Single Payer For All

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 27, 2013

One of the lesser-known parts of the Affordable Care Act allows for states to not only set up their own health exchanges, but their own kinds of single payer health care.

Vermont is the first state to forge ahead with single payer:

Vermont—Home of Ben and Jerry’s, Maple Syrup, Bernie Sanders and the first state to pass marriage equality.  Now, Vermont will be known for something that will impact every resident in the state.

The ACA provided states with federal funds to institute a Medicaid expansion.  The states chose to expand the program also were able to set up their own state exchanges, which were relatively free from the problems the federal site had.  Vermont decided to take it a step further by setting up their very own single payer system.

The slogan of the program: Everybody in, nobody out.

The program will be fully operational by 2017, and will be funded through Medicare, Medicaid, federal money for the ACA given to Vermont, and a slight increase in taxes.  In exchange, there will be no more premiums, deductibles, copay’s, hospital bills or anything else aimed at making insurance companies a profit.  Further, all hospitals and healthcare providers will now be nonprofit.

This system will provide an instant boost the state economy.  On the one side, you have workers that no longer have to worry about paying medical costs or a monthly premium and are able to use that money for other things.  On the other side, you have the burden of paying insurance taken off of the employers side, who will be able to use the saved money to provide a better wage and/or reinvest in their company through updated infrastructure and added jobs.  It is a win-win solution.

To make sure that it is done right the first time, Vermont brought in a specialist who knows a thing or two about setting up a single-payer system.

Dr. William Hsaio, the Harvard health care economist who helped craft health systems in seven countries, was Vermont’s adviser. He estimates that Vermont will save 25 percent per capita over the current system in administrative costs and other savings.

Don’t be surprised to see other states follow suit, and sooner than you think.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Honduras election, day 3

Posted by Charles II on November 26, 2013

In a discussion with RAJ at Honduras Culture and Politics, I think we have agreed that the results out of Cortes may not be anomalous. Nasralla reportedly did very well there, capturing 6/20 delegates according to La Prensa. The incomplete vote totals, while I haven’t verified them in detail, look at a glance to be consistent. His slate was doing very well, and the count was much more complete than the presidential. RAJ based her statement that the results were odd based on historical data and knowledge of the reason. But of course one can’t be omniscient, and the electorate was volatile, since the two-party monopoly has been broken.

Adrienne has given an interview in which she talks about the alleged vote discrepancies:

BP: So the results we got in were that there are two candidates who are claiming victory. We have Juan Orlando Hernandez who is the more conservative candidate, and leftist Xiomara Castro (wife of former President Manuel Zelaya ousted in 2009), who is also claiming victory. What is going on?

Adrienne: Well, obviously there’s a strong difference of interpretation of the votes, and it has to do with the difference in how those votes are being counted. There’s a transparency requirement of Honduran voting that at the polling places themselves, the public is allowed to be present, and therefore ensure that the counting is done in a fair and free manner by the polling workers at the tables. And those poll numbers are reported publically. And those poll numbers have been coming out right after the election closed last night, for several hours, just being read off one after the other on a couple radio stations and television stations. And almost all of them were overwhelmingly, not just a little bit, but overwhelmingly in favor of the candidate Xiomara Castro of the Libre Party. However, after that vote count gets done, then the new system in Honduras for these elections is that the results get entered into a scanner and get sent to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (SET). And then the SET compiles those results, and those are the statistics that it gives. The SET’s numbers are the numbers that the candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez of the National Party is basing his claim for victory upon.

Those numbers tell a very different story from the numbers coming out from what they call the “boca de urna,” which is like the “mouth of the ballot box.” They say, in fact, that Juan Orlando Hernandez is winning by several points. And when the first numbers came out with about 20 percent of the vote reported claiming that Juan Orlando Hernandez was in the lead, people who supported Libre claimed that what they were doing was cherry picking, and picking only the areas that really supported the National Party. But when they have now, I think over 50% of the vote counted and he still has a significant lead. That contrasts completely with the numbers coming from the polls, as well as the exit polls, which give a broader idea of what the accurate numbers should look like. That’s the basis for the two different interpretations of the results. And then of course there’s also what we saw on the ground ….

We have yet to hear from the election observers, which is troubling. Their reports should settle whether there was monkey business at the polls. The TSE, i.e., the Electoral Court, hasn’t reported more votes in a long time. That is adding to suspicions.

Tracy Wilkinson of the LAT has the following cynical comment:

Several international election-monitoring organizations thought the vote count giving victory to Hernandez’s National Party was probably accurate. That’s in part because any fraud probably took place months ago, when Hernandez supporters could use the state machinery to offer jobs and discount cards in exchange for votes. Meanwhile, numerous irregularities and complaints of intimidation were reported on election day, Sunday.

But, as I mentioned to Brother John, vote buying doesn’t work unless there’s a way to verify that people have voted as they have agreed to vote. In Mexico, the PRI sent small children into the voting booths to monitor votes, so it was easy to demonstrate a connection between vote buying and results. But I have not heard reports of this in Honduras. According to RAJ, there are separate ballots for presidential candidates and diputados, which adds another layer of complexity. If you buy votes for a presidential candidate, and the presidential results don’t correspond to offices lower on the ballot, there’s a suggestion of some kind of fraud. A detailed analysis is needed and, alas, I am not going to do it. I hope someone will.

Posted in Honduras | Comments Off on Honduras election, day 3

Another sham election in Honduras?

Posted by Charles II on November 25, 2013

Solid news out of the Honduran election is hard to come by. What is clear is that not many people are going to agree on the result. The National Party has claimed victory, based on a count of half the ballots, closed down last night. Although the level of intimidation, bribery, and outright manipulation appeared to be less than in the previous election, independent reports are troubling. For example, from Honduras Culture and Politics:

Looking over those numbers, albeit preliminary, we are struck by the report for Cortés– the Departamento in which is located San Pedro Sula, second-largest city and industrial capital of the country.

These show Salvador Nasralla of the Partido Anti-Corrupción leading with 35.1% of the vote.

LIBRE is in second place, with 23.46% of the votes.

The Partido Nacional is in the third place with 22.15%.

The Liberal Party is down at 18.8%

That strikes us as very, very odd. There was at least one report from an electoral mesa yesterday that said LIBRE votes were being reported as PAC votes. But that would take a lot of votes to be shifted: PAC is said to have 122,362 votes to LIBRE’s 81,796.

From Hermano Juancito:

A US friend of mine who was an international observer in Tegucigalpa maintains that Juan Orlando Hernández [of the Nationalists] was losing in almost every one of the voting places where she and about 180 others were observers. I am especially curious about where his support comes from.

Berta Caceres, a human rights observer, denounces the election.

Radio Globo just reported that the Public Ministry was seized by troops and all personnel were removed. A report that there was a bomb scare has been debunked, and there was belief that they were going to file a judicial action.

DemocracyNow reports.

I am unable to bring up the website of the Tribunal Supremo Electoral. It shows that less than half of the ballots have been counted and only 75,000 ballots separate the first and second place candidates.

Honduras-elections-9-AM-Mon

Links

Honduras Solidarity Network Twitter account
Hermano Juancito
The Supreme Electoral Court
The Americas Blog liveblog

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Update: There are serious irregularities. Tiempo is editorializing, The Darkness is Deep, an excessively vague editorial whose basic point is that Honduras is lost. It does, however, mention that there have been irregularities, which emerged early in the vote count.

AP has a weird news article that says, “the electoral count [is] coming to a halt without final results or explanation.” Election observers, at least the ones the AP is listening to, are making no comment. The candidates are remaining silent (this statement is objectively untrue). Four hundred thousand votes are disputed in a contest that has the Nationalist ahead by 100K. Although the final polls showed the Nationalist even with Libre’s Xiomara Castro, the AP thinks that the Nationalist’s call for an even more oppressive military presence won the day. The problem with that is that the Nationalist was getting his surge from the collapse of ant-corruption candidate Nasralla. But Nasralla greatly outperformed the polls, while Xiomara Castro underperformed. So, a plausible scenario is that votes were switched from Castro to Nasralla. This is, I suspect, what RNS of Honduras Culture and Politics meant in the quote given above. The deputies of his party do seem to have outpolled those of Libre, with the Nationals not far behind. Right wing La Prensa is calling it 6:5:5:3:1 for Nasralla’a PAC, Libre and the Nationals, and the two minor parties. So, it’s not blatantly inconsistent.

Posted in Honduras | 1 Comment »

Lucha Libre: The Nationalists vs. Libre smackdown today (Sunday)

Posted by Charles II on November 24, 2013

Via Quotha, Jesse Freeston of The Real News reports on the Honduran election.

Things do not look good for democracy.

Posted in Honduras | Comments Off on Lucha Libre: The Nationalists vs. Libre smackdown today (Sunday)

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on November 22, 2013

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 3 Comments »

Thank your Democratic Senator

Posted by Charles II on November 21, 2013

They.

Finally.

Did.

It.

Posted in Senate | 3 Comments »

Massive resistance against providing medical care continues

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 in evil, health care | 1 Comment »

 
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