Stupidity, thy name is Tea Party: the reality of ObamaCare and the Shutdown

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The GOP/TB realized they could never really expect their base voters to sympathize with the health insurance industry and its historical profiteering—an industry that would like nothing more than to continue pocketing billions of dollars with ever-increasing rate hikes and other greedy practices that have been accepted for decades. This industry donates heavily to federal campaigns, with 55% of their donations going to the Republican Party.  

So, with money in hand and a bunch of uninsured, low-information, red state voters—who would personally benefit from the ACA’s regulations on the worst practices of the insurance industry—GOP/TB politicians and their spokespeople decided that even if facts weren’t on their side, they could still keep the base loyal and distracted with a favorite strategy: “If you can’t beat ‘em, SCARE ‘EM!”

And here we are today.

Michele Bachmann: “When the federal government controls your health care, they literally control life and death. This egregious system, that will ultimately be known as ‘Deathcare’ must be defeated.”

Michele Bachmann: “… let’s repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens. Let’s not do that! Let’s love people, let’s care about people. Let’s repeal it now while we can.”

Ben Carson: “Obamacare is the worst thing that’s happened in this nation since slavery.”

Ted Cruz “…Do you think that is going to expand our health care if we do not see bright young students going to medical school? That is what ObamaCare is doing. Because you do not want an IRS agent deciding if your mom lives or dies. “

Ted Cruz: “Americans all over this country are suffering because of Obamacare. It is the single biggest job killer in America.”

Sarah Palin: “Of course there are death panels in there. But the important thing to remember is that’s just one aspect of this atrocious, unaffordable, cumbersome, burdensome evil policy of Obama’s and that is Obamacare.”

Steve Doocy: “…We see from your tax records that you support the Tea Party or conservative groups. You want a doctor’s visit? Three weeks. You want hip replacement? Four years.”

Now, imagine that noise when a needle scratches a record:

John McCain to a Fox anchor (on Friday): “On the debt limit, now there are things that we could negotiate with the president about, some entitlement reforms, some tax reforms, things that are achievable. Defunding Obamacare is not one of them.”

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ABC’s “Nightline” touted a PolitiFact story… that rated the number one lie in 2010 politics: Republicans calling the health care bill a “government takeover of health care.”

When asked why the claim received the status of biggest lie of the year, PolitiFact.com editor Bill Adair answered: “It was so pervasive. It was said by the Republican leadership, by Republicans running for Congress, said by Republicans running for governor. And it’s just not true. This is a plan that uses the private health insurance system to expand health care coverage.” 

Clips played of notable GOP congressmen Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) calling the bill a “government takeover,” as well as party chairman Michael Steele and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) saying the same. “Congratulations to the lie of the year for its speed and effectiveness,” concluded Jake Tapper. “Way to deceive the public.”

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BECAUSE THIS NEEDS TO BE SAID:

via

Obamacare (i.e. the Affordable Care Act (ACA)) facts:

• ObamaCare’s goal is give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance and to reduce the growth in health care spending in the U.S.

• The fact is ObamaCare does not replace private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. If you have health coverage you like, you can keep it.

• ObamaCare regulates some of the worst practices of the for-profit health care industry.

• ObamaCare offers a number of new benefits, rights and protections including provisions that let young adults stay on their plan until 26, stop insurance companies from dropping you when you are sick or if you make an honest mistake on your application, prevent against gender discrimination, stop insurance companies from making unjustified rate hikes, do away with life-time and annual limits, give you the right to a rapid appeal of insurance company decisions, expand coverage to tens of millions, subsidize health insurance costs, and require all insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

• Over 100 million Americans have already benefited from the new health care law.

• Read more

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Eugene Robinson: The reality of the Affordable Care Act

Someday, if the GOP captures the presidency and both houses of Congress, President Barack Obama’s health care law could be altered or even repealed. But it would be replaced by some new program that does the same thing, because there is no politically viable way to snatch away the medical insurance that customers are buying through the exchanges.

Quite the opposite: As soon as the glitches are cleared up and everyone becomes a bit less hysterical, the question will be how to obtain coverage for as many as 30 million people who will still be uninsured — including about 8 million ineligible for the ACA because of a sabotage campaign by Republican governors.

Look at Texas, which the state medical association calls “the uninsured capital of the United States.” An estimated 22.5 percent of the population lacks health insurance, a higher percentage than in any other state. Many will remain uninsured because Gov. Rick Perry — a once and perhaps future GOP candidate for president — refused to set up a state insurance exchange and turned down billions in federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage.

Rejection of the ACA may be popular in Texas now. But demographic trends are making the Lone Star State’s electorate more diverse, as the Latino population grows, and less reliably Republican. Small businesses that cannot afford to offer health insurance may soon worry about losing employees to states offering better coverage for the working poor through local exchanges and expanded Medicaid. Time is on the side of those who want to expand coverage, not those who want to restrict it.

I trust that conservative leaders will continue riling up the base with the untrue charge that the ACA is “government health care.” It is nothing of the sort. Obama decided at the outset not to push for a government-run health system, such as those in Britain and Canada, or a single-payer system of any kind.

Instead, all of Obamacare’s insurance plans are offered by private firms — the same companies that also provide employer-sponsored insurance. Disappointing his liberal supporters, Obama declined to include even a single public, government-run health plan. All the apocalyptic right-wing rhetoric about socialism and the end of freedom is nothing but hot air. Soon, no one will take it seriously.

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On Thursday, Jon Stewart slammed the 26 states that chose to forgo the federal money that would completely cover the cost of expanding Medicaid over the next three years.

All the 26 states unsurprisingly have either GOP governors or GOP-controlled legislatures, and are guilty of “total dickishness” as Stewart put it. “[These 26 states] must be a pretty eclectic group with many different reasons to explain why they would turn down money to bring healthcare to the working poor.  Or maybe there was just one — spite: the emotion that makes you turn down millions of dollars that would go toward healthcare for the working poor — because you hate the president.”

[Note: if you leave the Hulu player open, the segments automatically load / play from the rest of this episode.]

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Which states turned down federal money to bring healthcare to the poor? The Moocher States:

The Moocher States are most of the red states which already take in more federal money than they pay to the federal government. The residents of these states will be happy to know that uninsured people will continue to utilize the free “dine and dash” system of healthcare that’s endorsed by their party, and they’ll continue to have the opportunity to absorb those costs personally with their insurance rates and their doctor / hospital bills. It’s a win-win for everyone, I guess. Except for the working poor. 


image: view data detail

Your one stop Obamacare shop

In a mere 24 hours, the tea party town-criers have been reduced from dire apocalyptic warnings about the end of liberty and freedom, to whining ACA sites are loading slowly. The horror! That’s an interesting twist into arguably the biggest immediate threat posed by the ACA to the GOP naysayers. It isn’t just that people will come to like the low rates and guaranteed acceptance offered under the ACA over time. A more immediate problem for the usual suspects is millions of people have already found out that the dreaded Obamacare, the socialized government invasion that would bring Lady Liberty down on her knees, is really just a boring website full of insurance policies and coverage info.

    • If you only want to get a handle on what states are where with respect to Medicaid expansion, click the 50 state image above to go to a detailed bitmap showing that data.
    • If you want to actually shop for real rates, you’ll need to click the appropriate state exchange or the Healthcare.gov link, create a screen name and password, and then follow the prompts, where you will fill in lots more information. …Be prepared to verify your identity several times by answering a wide array of questions to help HHS or your state HIX keep your info secure. And in part because of record traffic, and in part because the HIX websites have to interlock with many other sites to help you apply, most sites are going slow and/or will be down intermittently.

Can the Republican Party unf*ck itself?

“[The government shutdown is] a temporary inconvenience for a lot of people. But if Obamacare is ever implemented, we will never recover from that as a nation. We can never be a free people again.” – Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)

  
  
  
  

gifs: sandandglass

What the shutdown is really about - Ezra Klein: This is all about stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people and reduces subsidies to private insurers in Medicare in order to help low-income Americans buy health insurance. That’s it. That’s why the Republican Party …shut down the government and [might] default on the debt.

  

sandandglass: Jon Stewart on The Daily Show commenting on the fact that President Obama is able to negotiate with Iran but not the Republican Party.

Morning coffee: Republican shutdown in effect, but Obamacare begins anyway!

Because it’s a law.

FUN FACT: if you live in one of the voting districts highlighted on THIS MAP, then below are some terrific examples of what you can look forward to, beginning today:
(gifs: ihatepeacocks):










If you imagine all the people above are shouting “Thanks, Obama!” (because that’s what you do in these situations), then you’ll be happy to know that starting today your world remains intact. Same as it ever was!

No matter what you’ve been promised, UN Troops won’t be kicking in your door to confiscate your Bible and firearms before herding you into a FEMA camp to await a Death Panel.

Isn’t that great news? 

But for people without health insurance, or people with pre-existing conditions who are paying way too much, they’ll be able to better afford coverage for themselves and their families.

Starting today, the health insurance marketplace at https://www.healthcare.gov is officially open for business.

Mental illness: more profitable than you might think

Add the mentally ill to illegal immigrants and non-violent drug offenders, and you have the magic profit formula for America’s private prison industry and its shareholders.

Mother Jones has a timeline illustrating how deinstitutionalization has moved thousands of mentally ill people out of hospitals—and into jails and prisons.

I’ve taken just the past 35 years of that timeline and pasted it below — notice Saint Raygun’s heartwarming contributions towards mental health services in 1981:

1977 There are 650 community health facilities serving 1.9 million mentally ill patients a year.
1980 President Jimmy Carter signs the Mental Health Systems Act, which aims to restructure the community mental health center program and improve services for people with chronic mental illness.
1981 Under President Ronald Reagan, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act repeals Carter’s community health legislation and establishes block grants for the states, ending the federal government’s role in providing services to the mentally ill.  Federal mental health spending decreases by 30 percent.
1984 An Ohio-based study finds that up to 30 percent of homeless people are thought to suffer from serious mental illness.
1985 Federal funding drops to 11 percent of community mental health agency budgets.
1990 Clozapine, the first “atypical” anti-psychotic drug to be developed, is approved by the FDA as a treatment for schizophrenia.
2004 Studies suggest approximately 16 percent of prison and jail inmates are seriously mentally ill, roughly 320,000 people. This year, there are about 100,000 psychiatric beds in public and private hospitals. That means there are more three times as many seriously mentally ill people in jails and prisons than in hospitals.
2009 In the aftermath of the Great Recession, states are forced to cut $4.35 billion in public mental health spending over the next three years, the largest reduction in funding since deinstitutionalization.
2010 There are 43,000 psychiatric beds in America, or about 14 beds per 100,000 people—the same ratio as in 1850.

Read the whole thing: TIMELINE: Deinstitutionalization And Its Consequences

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From 2009 – 2012, these six states made the deepest cuts to their mental health budgets: South Carolina, Alabama, Alaska, Illinois, Nevada, District of Columbia, and California.

I wonder how many private prisons are in these states?

three pie charts in a row

Image: Mother Jones

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Largest Prison-Owning Corporation Issues Massive Dividend of $675 Million to Shareholders

If you want to make money these days, owning stock in a prison company is the place to do it.  The confinement of human beings, while selling their cheap labor to companies seeking to save on labor costs has become a cash cow.  One company that has benefited handsomely from the profit boom is the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

CCA is the largest owner of private prisons in the nation, behind only the federal government and three states. The company just announced that it’s Board of Directors has declared a special dividend to shareholders of $675 million dollars.

…The CCA operates a total of 67 prison facilities throughout the United States, with a total capacity of 92,500 beds in 20 states and the District of Columbia.  The company was heavily criticized for offering to buy prisons in 48 states, in exchange for a guaranteed occupancy rate of at least 90%.

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It’s not just the private prison industry. Something else to consider:

A jury on Wednesday awarded a total of $240 million to 32 mentally disabled turkey processing plant workers in Iowa for what an expert witness described as years of “virtual enslavement” by [Henry's Turkey Service, of Goldthwaite, Texas] that oversaw their care, work and lodging…

During the weeklong trial that ended Wednesday, officials testified about the squalid conditions they found during a 2009 inspection of the bunkhouse where the men were housed. The building, which was in a rural area several miles from the West Liberty Foods turkey processing plant where they worked, was falling apart, infested with rodents and full of fire hazards.

Social workers spoke of the physical and verbal abuse the men said they had been subjected to by the Henry’s supervisors who oversaw their work and care. They said they had been forced to work through illness and injuries, denied bathroom breaks, locked in their rooms, kicked in the groin and, in one case, handcuffed to a bed…

By 2008, Henry’s was being paid more than $500,000 per year by West Liberty Foods, but it was paying the men the same $65 per month that it always had. The company docked the men’s wages and Social Security disability benefits, telling them it was to pay for the cost of their care and lodging, and it never applied for medical care or other services for the disabled that the men would have qualified for in Iowa.

Henry’s began employing mentally disabled men in the 1960s and 1970s who had been released from Texas mental institutions. Hundreds of them were sent to labor camps in Iowa and elsewhere in the coming decades, where they were supplied on contract as workers to local employers. Company officials argued that the arrangement was a benefit to the men, and that they were once praised for giving them employment opportunities…

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Related: 

Don’t ever say Republicans–with their deregulation and “pay workers less so CEOs can get more” and “corporations  are people” mentality–aren’t job creators. Companies like private prisons and Henry’s Turkey Service are just selective about the wages they want to pay and the type of workforce “willing” to work for those wages. Remember, it was the glassy-eyed Teaparty Queen, Michele Bachmann, who said that the federal minimum wage should be eliminated for the benefit of job growth.

Clearly if you deinstitutionalize the mentally ill / disabled, you’ll be able to make a handsome profit on their confinement in labor camps or prisons — with the added bonus that you won’t “waste” money on having to care for them. If the Republican Party had its way, we’d all be working for $65 a month in company housing that was falling apart.

American fundamentalist Christianity combined with deregulated Capitalism in 2013 – same as it ever was:

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” – Ezekiel 16:49

Paul Ryan and the GOP have some good news and some bad news


image recall-all-republicans

House GOP Approves Budget That Cuts Taxes For Millionaires, Slashes The Social Safety Net | Travis Waldron on Mar 21, 2013

The House of Representatives this afternoon approved the Republican budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) by a vote of 221-207, with 197 Democrats and 10 Republicans voting against it. Three Democrats and one Republican did not vote.

For the third consecutive year, the House GOP has approved a budget that ends the traditional guaranteed Medicare coverage for senior citizens, makes substantial cuts to poverty programs and the social safety net, and grants massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Recent analyses have shown that the budget plan’s tax reforms, which lower top tax rates to 25 percent, would give millionaires at least $200,000 in tax cuts. At the same time, it would slash the social safety net, targeting poverty programs for two-thirds of its cuts.

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House approves far-right Ryan budget plan | Steve Benen on March 21, 2013 

Though there were whispers that GOP leaders had to worry about significant defections, only 10 House Republicans broke ranks and opposed Ryan’s budget — the exact same number of Republicans who voted against their party’s budget blueprint last year.

And what a plan it is. We’re talking about an ambitious plan to redistribute wealth — from the bottom up — with a healthy dose of “almost frighteningly ambitious” social engineering. Ryan’s budget would end Medicare, cut taxes by over $5 trillion, take health care benefits away from millions of Americans, make “massive” cuts to in programs for low-income and vulnerable Americans, and relies on smoke and mirrors to balance the budget within a decade.

It is, in other words, the exact opposite of what the American mainstream wants, and bears no resemblance to the platform the American electorate endorsed in national elections four months ago. It’s designed to satisfy folks who believe the wealthy are over-burdened by taxes and struggling families have too much access to affordable health care.

Despite all of this, 95% of House GOP lawmakers voted for the plan anyway.

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CHART: Paul Ryan’s Massive Tax Cut For Millionaires | Sahil Kapur March 15, 2013

Ryan’s plan also cuts spending by some $4.6 trillion over the next decade, targeting programs like Medicaid and the portion of the budget that includes Pell Grants and food stamps. He insists his tax cuts will spur significant economic growth, and he promises to pay for them by closing unspecified tax loopholes, deductions and credits — ideally on high incomes.

“You can actually plug loopholes and subject more of higher earners’ income to taxation through a lower tax rate,” Ryan said. “We think that’s smarter.” His promise mirrors that of Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election. The problem, as numerous independent experts concluded, is that finding that much revenue in tax expenditures would require raising effective taxes on the middle class.

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Renewed hostage-taking | Pema Levy on March 21, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Thursday that Republicans will require a dollar in spending cuts for every dollar that they agree to raise the debt ceiling, which the United States is expected to hit in August. “Dollar for dollar is the plan,” Boehner said at a press conference. As TPM reported Thursday, conservative House Republicans are pushing their leadership to use the debt ceiling as leverage to demand major reforms or cuts, including dollar for dollar cuts.

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Remember when John Boehner and other distinguished Republicans had great fun on Twitter using the hashtag #Obamaquester when discussing sequestration cuts? This week, Boehner admitted with his own damn mouth that President Obama “didn’t want the cuts.” Watch:

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More Republican good news / bad news: 

  • Bad: Mitt Romney / Paul Ryan didn’t win the election, and Republicans lost seats in Congress.
  • Good: So? Doesn’t matter, the GOP will continue ‘patriotically’ ignoring what the majority of Americans voted for.

Remember: either they’ve decided they know what’s best for all of us — or they’re going to try to get away with as much as they can until we stop them. 


image: odinsblog

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s “Final Solution”

I hope people actually pay attention to what Lindsey Graham is proposing here, especially with all the effort that’s been going into the rebranding and remarketing of the Republican Party and their “message.”  Graham is saying that because of the sequester’s automatic cuts to the military (about 7.5% out of an astronomically huge defense budget), he thinks we should cut the health coverage of about 30 million people to pay for that shortfall and protect the DoD’s budget.

JOSH ISRAEL | THINK PROGRESS: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Sunday the government should protect the Defense Department from automatic spending cuts by slashing $1.2 trillion from the Affordable Care Act. During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Graham suggested that the sequester’s across-the-board cuts to federal spending, including about a roughly 7.5 percent reduction in military spending, would be “destroying the military.” But rather than agree to President Obama’s proposed alternatives to the sequester, the South Carolina Republican said we should save money by eliminating health care for the 30 million people covered by the Affordable Care Act:

GRAHAM: Well, all I can say is the commander-in-chief thought — came up with the idea of sequestration, destroying the military and putting a lot of good programs at risk. It is my belief — take Obamacare and put it on the table. You can make $86,000 a year in income and still get a government subsidy under Obamacare. Obamacare is destroying health care in this country and people are leaving the private sector, because their companies cannot afford to offer Obamacare and if you want to look at ways to find $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade, look at Obamacare, don’t destroy the military and cut blindly across the board…

JOSH ISRAEL: But Graham’s “solution” also misses a key reality: Obamacare actually reduced the deficit. His proposal to put its elimination on the table would mean increasing the budget deficit by an estimated $109 billion over the same 10-year period, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

JOHN COLE: The notion that miniscule cuts to the most bloated military in the world [will destroy it] is, in and of itself, offensive to common sense. That this douchebag wants millions of Americans to die without health coverage to keep shuffling three quarters of a trillion to said military really says it all.

CHARLES JOHNSON: And if you’re tempted to believe Lindsey Graham’s risible statement that a 7.5% cut would “destroy the military,” just take a quick look at this simple chart showing the world’s top 5 military spenders in 2012.

Another thing, they can all freely blame Obama for the sequester on Fox ‘news,’ naturally, but they don’t get away with it so easily on other networks:

IGOR VOLSKY reports that “ABC News’ Jonathan Karl confronted Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) over his past support for the sequester, just as the one-time GOP vice presidential candidate sought to blame President Obama for the automatic across-the-board cuts scheduled to go into effect on March 1.”

“Ryan’s argument is fundamentally dishonest, as he is one of the Republicans responsible for creating the sequester in the first place. In the summer of 2011, Republicans demanded spending cuts to offset a debt ceiling increase and refused to consider new revenues in those negotiations. That standoff produced the Budget Control Act, which Ryan voted for and promoted. The law included spending caps and a devastating sequester as a way to motivate a bipartisan Super Committee to find $1.2 trillion in spending cuts.

After the Super Committee failed to agree on a spending reduction package, Ryan — then the GOP’s vice presidential candidate — consistently railed against the sequester mechanism he previously supported, calling it “reckless” and “devastating.” Two months later, he wants the sequester to go into effect and may incorporate its savings in his upcoming budget.”

It’s as if Graham and Ryan would have us believe the sequester was never voted on and passed as law through Congress by Republicans.

Not only is Ryan’s argument “fundamentally dishonest,” but Paul Ryan, the man, is fundamentally dishonest. And I think most of us can agree that’s a standardized requirement for the chosen ‘rock stars‘ of the GOP.

Fox’s Chris Wallace to NRA’s Wayne LaPierre: “That’s ridiculous and you know it, Sir!”

“The most basic right is to protect yourself. If you limit the American public’s access to [assault weapons] semi-automatic technology, you limit their ability to survive.”Wayne LaPierre, on Fox News Sunday, arguing that banning assault weapons limited the ‘ability to survive’ and that high-capacity magazines should not be outlawed because women need more bullets.

Paul Krugman on ABC’s This Week“The NRA is now revealed as an insane organization, What strikes me is we’ve actually gotten a glimpse into the mindset, though, of the pro-gun people and we’ve seen certainly Wayne LaPierre and some of these others… It’s bizarre. They have this vision that we’re living in a ‘Mad Max’ movie and that nothing can be done about it, that America cannot manage unless everybody’s prepared to shoot intruders, that — the idea that we have a police forces that provides public safety is somehow totally impractical, despite the fact that, you know, that is, in fact, the way we live.”

Think Progress: During a heated exchange with NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre on Sunday, [Fox host Chris Wallace] played a clip of a now infamous NRA ad criticizing Obama for relying on Secret Service to guard his children and asked if the organization believed that every child in America faces a threat similar to that of the Obama kids. LaPierre said that they do, leading Wallace to forcefully push back against the gun chief, saying, “that’s ridiculous and you know it, Sir!

Daily Intelligencer: Wallace then asked LaPierre, who showed up to the Fox News studio with armed guards, whether he counted as “an out-of-touch elite, because you have security.” LaPierre skirted the issue, explaining that, “We’ve had all kinds of threats coming to us. I don’t deny anybody the right to security when they need it. What I am saying is, it’s ridiculous, Chris, for all the elites and all the powerful and privileged, the titans of industry to send their kids to schools where there is armed security, to have access to semi-automatic technology.”

TPM: LaPierre argued that background checks were ineffective, possibly part of a government plot against gun owners, and not a real legislative option because of a powerful “mental health lobby.” He noted that the NRA used to support universal checks but said special interests surrounding mental health and privacy had derailed the effort and led to NRA leaders throwing in the towel. “The instant check was actually the NRA’s proposal. We offered it as an amendment to the Brady Bill. And I’ve been in this fight for 20 years. We supported it. We put it on the books. But I have finally become convinced after fighting to get the mental records computerized for 20 years and watching the mental health lobby, the HIPAA laws, the AMA oppose it, I don’t think it’s going to happen,” he said.

Bob Cesca: The gun control advocacy group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, paid for a 30 second ad to run during the Super Bowl, using Wayne LaPierre’s unearthed statements on universal background checks:  

“We think it’s reasonable to provide mandatory, instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere, for anyone.” Wayne LaPierre, public testimony from 1999.

Why the change? What does the NRA stand to lose with instant background checks and closing loopholes, like unchecked gunshow sales? As with most things in America, follow the money:

Tim Dickerson | Rolling Stone: “The shift in LaPierre’s rhetoric underscores a radical transformation within the NRA. Billing itself as the nation’s “oldest civil rights organization,” the NRA still claims to represent the interests of marksmen, hunters and responsible gun owners. But over the past decade and a half, the NRA has morphed into a front group for the firearms industry, whose profits are increasingly dependent on the sale of military-bred weapons like the assault rifles used in the massacres at Newtown and Aurora, Colorado. “When I was at the NRA, we said very specifically, ‘We do not represent the fi rearm industry,’” says Richard Feldman, a longtime gun lobbyist who left the NRA in 1991. “We represent gun owners. End of story.” But in the association’s more recent history, he says, “They have really gone after the gun industry.”

“Today’s NRA stands astride some of the ugliest currents of our politics, combining the “astroturf” activism of the Tea Party, the unlimited and undisclosed “dark money” of groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, and the sham legislating conducted on behalf of the industry through groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council. “This is not your father’s NRA,” says Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, a top gun-industry watchdog. Feldman is more succinct, calling his former employer a “cynical, mercenary political cult.”

The NRA’s alignment with an $11.7 billion industry has fed tens of millions of dollars into the association’s coffers, helping it string together victories that would have seemed fantastic just 15 years ago. The NRA has hogtied federal regulators, censored government data about gun crime and blocked renewal of the ban on assault weaponry and high-capacity magazines, which expired in 2004. The NRA secured its “number-one legislative priority” in 2005, a law blocking liability lawsuits that once threatened to bankrupt gunmakers and expose the industry’s darkest business practices. Across the country, the NRA has opened new markets for firearms dealers by pushing for state laws granting citizens the right to carry hidden weapons in public and to allow those who kill in the name of self-defense to get off scot-free.”

NRA’S Newtown ad campaign: BUY MORE GUNS! 

A Nation of Malingerers: from Welfare Queens to Disabled Deadbeats

Paul Krugman remarks on the so far unsuccessful attempts Republicans are making in trying to change their rhetoric:

The growing number of Americans receiving disability payments has, for many on the right, become a symbol of our economic and moral decay; we’re becoming a nation of malingerers. As Jared Bernstein points out, there’s a factual problem here: a large part of the rise in the disability rolls reflects simple demographics, because aging baby boomers are a lot more likely to have real ailments than those same workers did when they were in their 20s and 30s. [...]

And let’s not forget our military veterans — fighting and getting wounded in the Bush Wars. They have also added to the disability rolls. Krugman continues:

What strikes me, however, isn’t just the way the right is trying to turn a reasonable development into some kind of outrage; it’s the political tone-deafness.

I mean, when Reagan ranted about welfare queens driving Cadillacs, he was inventing a fake problem — but his rant resonated with angry white voters, who understood perfectly well who Reagan was targeting. But Americans on disability as moochers? That isn’t, as far as I can tell, an especially nonwhite group — and it’s a group that is surely as likely to elicit sympathy as disdain. There’s just no way it can serve the kind of political purpose the old welfare-kicking rhetoric used to perform.

The same goes, more broadly, for the whole nation of takers thing. First of all, a lot of the “taking” involves Social Security and Medicare. And even the growth in means-tested programs is largely accounted for by the Earned Income Tax Credit — which requires and rewards work — and the expansion of Medicaid/CHIP to cover more children. Again, not the greatest of political targets.

Meanwhile, John Boehner jiggles a shiny thing at the GOP voting-base (which is filled to capacity with “malingerers”), to divert attention away from his party’s budget priorities:

In a special message to the annual anti-abortion protest March for Life, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) vowed that ending abortion would be one of the top priorities of Republicans this year.

“Defending life, of course, is about much more than voting the right way or saying the right things,” he said. “It’s about promoting a culture of life. It’s about understanding that abortion is a defining human rights issue of our time. Because human life is not an economic or political commodity, and no government on Earth has the right to treat it as such.”

“With all that’s at stake, it is becoming more and more important for us to share this truth with our young people, to encourage them to lock arms, speak out for life, and help make abortion a relic of the past,” Boehner continued. “Let that be one of our most fundamental goals this year.”

REALLY! Making abortion a relic is a “top priority” for Republicans this year? If that were true, Republicans would be funding Planned Parenthood and be supportive of educating young people on contraception – they’d be providing young people with free contraception, which has proved to be the best and most successful way to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

According to the GOP, life is sacred until it separates from the womb — it then joins the ranks of the makers or the takers.

Here’s something for the tax-paying ‘Mericans to keep in mind when sequestration hits in 32 days:


via seriouslyamerica

You can spot ‘em a mile away


via tehblackbirdishiding

Same goes for when they start talking about their Second Amendment rights:

  • Lou Dobbs is still an ass.
  • Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) is also an ass for threatening to file articles of impeachment against President Obama if he moves to change gun regulations. Incidentally in the 1990s, Stockman ran into a little trouble in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, when his “links to anti-government militia groups” became problematic. (via)
  • Have the “patriots” in Idaho – who are planning a walled, libertarian fortress-commune called “The Citadel” (to protect themselves from jack-booted thugs who’ll be coming for their guns) — ever heard of drones or bombs?
  • Here are the FIVE GUN SAFETY LAWS that most gun owners would like to see.
  • New gun controls are inevitableThe Cloakroom: President Obama has the public overwhelmingly on his side


image christopherstreet

Indifference to Dead Kids Day! January 19, 2013

A coaltion of pro-gun groups is calling for a nationwide “Gun Appreciation Day” for Jan. 19. Details from the Washington Post: The group is emulating the anti-gay marriage activists who made the Christian fast food chain Chick-fil-A into a national conservative cause with “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” The group is asking supporters to turn out in droves at gun stores, gun counters, gun shows, and gun ranges to protest what they see as government overreach in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings. – Pro-Gun Groups Plan ‘Gun Appreciation Day’ For Inauguration Weekend | TPM LiveWire


image livealifethatscompletelyfree

Also, from the bottomless well of dumbfuckery: “Larry Ward, chairman of the national Gun Appreciation Day gun rights advocates have planned for the weekend of President Obama’s second inauguration, told CNN Friday that there never would have been slaves in America if black people had guns. “I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history,” Ward said.”

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Indeed had African Americans been given rights when they were brought to America, they wouldn’t have been slaves. It’s all perfectly logical!

Flu update: death and sick leave

Massive flu outbreak claims lives of 18 children: “The United States was in the grip Thursday of a deadly influenza outbreak that has hit harder and earlier than in previous years, and has claimed the lives of at least 18 children. [...] US states, particularly in the northeast of the country, have seen a sharp spike in emergency room visits from patients reporting flu-like symptoms, according to the federal CDC in Atlanta. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, one hospital had to erect a large outdoor tent to admit and treat the large number of flu sufferers. Health officials said that the flu vaccine is a good match for the strain of influenza circulating around the nation, and confers about 60 percent to 65 percent protection against the illness. “You might get the flu but it will likely be less severe if you are vaccinated,” Fauci said.”

During The Worst Flu Season In A Decade, Workers Across The Country Can’t Stay Home Sick: “The CDC recommends that those who experience flu-like symptoms “should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.” However, for a huge number of American workers, that option doesn’t exist due to a lack of paid sick days. 40 percent of private sector workers and a whopping 80 percent of low-income workers do not have a single paid sick day. One in five workers reports losing their job or being threatened with dismissal for wanting to take time off while sick. This problem is especially acute in the food industry, with its high potential for spreading disease. 79 percent of food workers say they have no paid sick time.”

In other words for the next 3 months or so, beware eating at restaurants and fast food places like Papa John’sWendy’s, and Denny’s!

NRA: Let’s pretend that safeguards on gun ownership is an attack on the 2nd Amendment

The Washington Post reports that “Vice President Biden said Thursday he sees an emerging consensus around “universal background checks” for all gun buyers and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines as he completes the Obama administration’s broad study of ways to curb the nation’s gun violence.”

Sounds reasonable to me.

“But the National Rifle Association, a participant in an afternoon meeting with Biden, strongly rejected what it called “an agenda to attack the Second Amendment” and indicated it would have nothing more to do with the vice president’s task force on gun laws.”

What now? Common sense safeguards on gun ownership is the same thing as attacking the Second Amendment? But wait, it gets worse. From Think Progress:

“The CEO of Tennessee-based Tactical Response, a firearms training company, delivered threats on YouTube that White House action would “spark a civil war.” Here’s what CEO James Yeager said, in part, if gun violence prevention goes any further:

I’m not letting anybody take my guns! If it goes one inch further, I’m going to start killing people.’

Award people like Mr. Yeager all the guns, obviously, because who knows what might piss him off in the future. If he’s going to gun down everyone he doesn’t agree with, shouldn’t he at least be well-armed?

Finally, did you know the NRA has a “special needs” section? Here’s their spokesman:

“There will come a time when the gun owners of America, the law-abiding gun owners of America, will be the Rosa Parks and we will sit down on the front seat of the bus, case closed.” — Ted Nugent

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christopherstreetThere are 311,000,000 people in this country who are not members of the NRA. And, 4,000,000 that are members. I’m pretty sure that the 311 million of us have a little bit more say and power than the 4 million.

311:4 — NRA: Not Relevant Anymore

2012-2013 influenza season has arrived, plans to stay awhile

U.S. flu outbreak: Boston declares health emergency: “With flu cases in Boston up tenfold from last year, the mayor declared a public health emergency on Wednesday as authorities around the United States scrambled to cope with a rising number of patients.

U.S. health authorities say the flu arrived about a month earlier than usual this year, and the flu strain making most people sick – H3N2 – has a reputation for causing fairly severe illness, especially in the elderly.

As a result, hospitals around the country have been forced to find additional space to treat the ill, and some have had to turn people away.

[...] As of last Friday, the proportion of people visiting their doctor with flu symptoms had climbed from to 5.6 percent, up from 2.8 percent a month earlier.

That compared with 2.2 percent at the peak of last year’s mild flu season and 7.7 percent at the peak of the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic.”

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Sequestration and defense spending: the class war continues


via truth-has-a-liberal-bias

“The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.” — George Orwell, from 1984

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“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower


Defense CEOs vs. Workers

The military’s new fighter jet project only costs $1.45 trillion – While [Gov. Rick] Scott famously refused $2 billion in federal funds for high-speed rail in Florida, deriding it as an expensive boondoggle, his team shows no such hesitations about the $1.45 trillion F-35 project. The most expensive weapons system in Pentagon history, it has suffered technical setbacks, nearly a decade of production delays, and substantial cost overruns; the Pentagon currently estimates each plane will cost $135 million to build and maintain. So it’s no surprise that the Simpson-Bowles commission pointed to halving the Navy and Air Forces’ orders and eliminating the Marines’ version as a deficit-reduction step; in 2009, the Congressional Budget Office floated a similar cut. Any such reductions would lower the $1.59 billion in economic impact that, Lockheed boasts, Florida will get from F-35 contracts held by 95 in-state suppliers. […] During the Republican rebuttal to Obama’s 2012 State of the Union, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels ripped the president for trying to “build a middle class out of government jobs paid for with borrowed dollars.” Yet just three months earlier, his deputy, Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, blessed a report highlighting the stimulus brought to her state’s economy by nearly 40,000 deficit-exploding federal defense jobs. – Mother Jones


Where did your 2011 federal income taxes go? Find out more here.


“The U.S. defense budget is about 43 percent of the world’s total military spending — more than the combined defense spending of the next 17 nations, many of which are U.S. allies. Are Republicans really going to warn voters that America will be imperiled if the defense budget is cut 8 percent from projections over the next decade? In 2017, defense spending would still be more than that of the next 10 countries combined.” — George Will, The Washington Post 


CHARTS: U.S. Military Spending Is Totally Out Of Control And Can’t Last: “Between 2009 and 2010 defense spending increased 3 percent even as the economy continued to slow, with the 2012 military budget claiming $1.4 trillion tax dollars. That amount doesn’t even include classified programs and that money is buying expensive equipment that is just as costly to maintain.” — businessinsider.com


wordsagainstchaos: With defense spending soaring, from 2001-2011, and government revenues falling to 24% below 2001 levels (imagine how difficult it would be to pay your bills if you were earning 24% less than you did 10 years ago), the United States finds itself in a security-state deficit crisis. If we can be smarter about how we manage our money, we can ease out of record deficits without crippling the middle class or the states.

The most important progressive victories of 2012

The most important progressive victories of 2012

  1. Historic progress to end the war on drugs.
  2. New fuel efficiency standards.
  3. Young undocumented immigrants received deportation relief.
  4. Anti-LGBT Senate candidates lost, in large numbers.
  5. Voters rejected anti-tax hysteria.
  6. President Obama endorsed marriage equality.
  7. Voters rejected anti-choice candidates.
  8. Voter suppression lost.
  9. The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare.

via think-progress