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Changing Her Mind On Obamacare

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Her name is Spike Dolomite Ward, and she has written an apology to Obama about her previous stance on health care reform:

‘Obamacare To The Rescue

Ward is a 49-year old self-employed mother who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She could not afford health insurance:

Fortunately for me, I’ve been saved by the federal government’s Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, something I had never heard of before needing it. It’s part of President Obama’s healthcare plan, one of the things that has already kicked in, and it guarantees access to insurance for U.S. citizens with preexisting conditions who have been uninsured for at least six months. The application was short, the premiums are affordable, and I have found the people who work in the administration office to be quite compassionate (nothing like the people I have dealt with over the years at other insurance companies.) It’s not perfect, of course, and it still leaves many people in need out in the cold. But it’s a start, and for me it’s been a lifesaver — perhaps literally.

It’s amazing what it takes for people to cut through the nonsense notion that America has the best healthcare system in the world.

There’s much to fault with the existing healthcare reform, but there are also a great many provisions that are essential and help a great many people.

-Chris

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December 7, 2011 Posted by | Health Care, Health Care Reform, Obama, Politics | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Andrew Sullivan on the Defense Authorization Bill

In today’s Dish, Andrew Sullivan discusses the Defense Authorization Bill:

The president has mercifully agreed to veto the bill that would allow the US military to seize and detain without any due process anyone, including American citizens, who are suspected of terrorism, even in the US itself. A future Republican president might throw torture in with this toxic brew.

The veto is a relief. But the US Senate has thrown its weight behind gutting the core, most basic freedom upon which all others follow: habeas corpus. It has endorsed the notion that the government can do whatever it likes to any citizen it merely suspects of being involved of terrorism. It is a hole through which the entire framework of the constitution could disappear. One more terror attack, and we would have authorized soldiers to break into citizens’ homes at will, round up any citizens the government deems suspicious, and deny them any recourse.

Having seen a number of Facebook posts on the subject and the silence from the right on this important issue, I agree with Sullivan on the following sentiment:

A healthcare mandate is an outrage; gutting habeas corpus is just fine. Go figure.

-Chris

December 2, 2011 Posted by | Civil Rights, Democrats, Obama, Politics, Republicans, Terrorism | 1 Comment

Obama’s Silence

UC Davis Pepper Spray

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Obama is getting “mic checked” in protest of his silence over the widespread abuse of protesters that was most recently illustrated at UC Davis.

Obama has a real problem with the progressive base of his party. His centrist stance and coziness with Wall Street are being noticed more and more.

His reluctance to call out and decry things that are obviously wrong and extremely anti-American also reflects poorly on his leadership.

He has repeatedly caved in to Republican demands, and has started negotiations squarely to the right of center — where the only compromise is to move to the far right.

To paraphrase a recent satirical segment on the highly recommended Onion News Network, Obama has reached an agreement with Republicans that will allow them to kick him in the balls whenever they like in exchange for nothing.

Obama is giving us few reasons to support him, and his seeming indifference to headlines like “Pregnant Seattle protester miscarries after being kicked, pepper sprayed” isn’t going to change that dynamic.

-Chris

November 22, 2011 Posted by | Democrats, Obama, Politics | | 1 Comment

Low Expectations for State of the Union

President Obama just about to deliver his Janu...

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I don’t have any great expectations for the State of the Union address tomorrow night.
Paul Krugman has been critical of the signalling coming out of the White House:
The Competition Myth

Robert Reich has a blog summarizing how our country got to it’s current state and what the president should do about it:
The State of the Union: What the Presideny Should Say

There’s much truth in what both of these economists say.

But Obama has spent much of his time trying to appease business interests and surrounding himself with the movers and shakers from the very corporate enclave that helped create our current economy.

It’s not clear exactly what helpful policies will be allowed to see sunlight in a setting in which the president is bending over backwards to satisfy big business.

-Chris

January 24, 2011 Posted by | Deficit, Democrats, Economics, Obama, Politics, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exactly.

November 5, 2010 Posted by | Democrats, Elections, Obama, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elections, Money and Citizens United

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I watched for two years the coming of the slow-motion train wreck that was Tuesday’s mid-term election.

Of course, the right is crowing that this is a repudiation of liberals and liberal ideology, which of course is wrong.

If this were true, the Blue Dogs would have sailed to reelection, and progressives would have all gone down hard. Instead, it seems progressives did better than the conservative/corporate toadies who call themselves Dems:

Progressives Fare Better Than Blue Dogs In Contested Races

Of the 54 seats occupied by members of the Blue Dog coalition, 27 of them were lost to Republicans. (That includes five held by incumbents who either retired or ran for the Senate.) On the other hand, all but three of the much larger group of Progressive Caucus members up for re-election won their seats, including six out of nine caucus members whose races were rated as competitive.

If anything the elections were the result of these things:

1) The timidity of the Democrats — and their inability to put their message out (and highlight their accomplishments)
2) The shit-ton of money poured into campaigns by secretive, unaccountable front groups in the light of the Citizen’s United Supreme Court ruling. Release the Kraken, indeed.

The New York Times has the critical article on this.
“Outside Groups on the Right Flexed Muscles”

While it is hard to sort out the exact difference they made, their success rate, particularly in races in which Republican challengers would have otherwise been badly outgunned, raises the prospect that a relatively small number of deep-pocketed donors exerted an outsize influence on Tuesday’s results.

Yeah. Classic understatement.

The principle right-wing shadow organ has been the hilariously misnamed US Chamber of Commerce. I’ve written about them before, and they look to be one of the most powerful money-laundering outlets for the Bankster set.

As a side note, I find it hilarious the way right-wing nutbags snarl the name “George Soros” (who funds liberal organizations) but can’t find their voice to say anything about Richard Mellon Scaife, the Koch Brothers, front groups like the US Chamber and media vampire Rupert Murdoch.

Until a way is found to get the oversized influence of huge multinational (and in many cases, foreign) money out of the election process, this country is on the fast march to Fascism.

The unbridled celebration of corporatism is about to begin, and the faith of the true believers is unlikely to be broken by any disaster visited upon us as a result.

If these deluded hordes could be swayed by reality, the BP disaster, Mortgage catastrophe and Enron certainly would have done the trick.

The inestimable Bill Moyers recently gave a speech honoring the late progressive historian Howard Zinn. Entitled “Welcome to the Plutocracy”, it should be read by anyone who gives a shit about this country.

The elder statesman of a dead art (journalism) crafts a lesson filled with all the history needed to highlight the consequences of the regressive direction American voters just chose.

Moyers captures the moment perfectly:

Now let’s connect some dots. While knocking down nearly all limits on corporate spending in campaigns, the Supreme Court did allow for disclosure, which would at least tell us who’s buying off the government. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell even claimed that “sunshine” laws would make everything okay. But after the House of Representatives passed a bill that would require that the names of all such donors be publicly disclosed, McConnell lined up every Republican in the Senate to oppose it. Hardly had the public begun to sing “Let the Sunshine In” than McConnell & Company went tone deaf. And when the chief lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce was asked by an interviewer, “Are you guys eventually going to disclose?” the answer was a brisk: “No.” Why? Because those corporations are afraid of a public backlash. Like bank robbers pulling a heist, they prefer to hide their “personhood” behind sock masks. Surely that tells us something about the nature of what they’re doing. In the words of one of the characters in Tom Stoppard’s play Night and Day: “People do terrible things to each other, but it’s worse in places where everything is kept in the dark.”

In the short term, I am extremely interested in how the alleged principles of the Tea Party zealots breaks against the wall of corporate adulation that is the Republican party.

I’ll be crying into my popcorn as I watch.

-Chris

November 4, 2010 Posted by | Debt, Deficit, Democrats, Economics, Elections, Obama, Politics, Tea Party, Wall Street | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mortgage Foreclosures Explained

Mortgage debt

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Paul Krugman does another bang up job explaining a complicated issue in yesterday’s New York Times.

This time it’s the mortgage foreclosure mess:

The Mortgage Morass

Seems that many on the right think that the lack of documentation for foreclosures (much of which was lost in the relay of mortgages from banker to banker) is no big deal and we should take it on faith that when the banks say someone has defaulted on the provisions of their loan, we should believe them.

We shouldn’t. Krugman explains:

This is very, very bad. For one thing, it’s a near certainty that significant numbers of borrowers are being defrauded — charged fees they don’t actually owe, declared in default when, by the terms of their loan agreements, they aren’t.

Krugman properly nails the Obama Administration for its obeisance to Wall Street:

True to form, the Obama administration’s response has been to oppose any action that might upset the banks, like a temporary moratorium on foreclosures while some of the issues are resolved. Instead, it is asking the banks, very nicely, to behave better and clean up their act. I mean, that’s worked so well in the past, right?

As mentioned in the piece, there are some good ideas on how to deal with this mess:

…the Center for American Progress has proposed giving mortgage counselors and other public entities the power to modify troubled loans directly, with their judgment standing unless appealed by the mortgage servicer. This would do a lot to clarify matters and help extract us from the morass.

Of course, this will happen over the screeching undead bodies of the greedy bankers who caused this mess in the first place.

So it won’t happen.

It may be naive thinking on my part, but wouldn’t it be better to have someone in their home, paying a mortgage than to foreclose and try to get only a fraction of the value back in this terrible market?

Anyway, this is yet another datapoint indicating the claims that Obama is the first American Socialist President — Not so much.

-Chris

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Democrats, Economics, Obama, Politics, Republicans, Wall Street | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Evidence Of Stimulus Effectiveness

Lawn in front of the White House, Washington, DC.

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The White House is releasing a report today that shows that the stimulus package was under budget, had few reported cases of abuse or fraud, and was able to fund more projects than expected.

The Washington Post reports today: “Report gives stimulus package high marks”

In addition to assessing how the stimulus program has been carried out, the study restates the administration’s case that the package has been effective economically, arguing that it staunched the worst bleeding in employment and led the economy to rebound late last year.

Many prominent economists agree with that assessment. The CBO has forecast that the package may be on track to meet the administration’s goal of preserving 3.5 million jobs by the end of the year.

The number of complaints and fraud and abuse investigations were attributed to the oversight the Administration implemented from the outset:

Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, which represents government contractors, said the unprecedented focus on oversight clearly paid off and should be analyzed for lessons that could be applied throughout the government.

Compare and contrast that with the way money was handled in Iraq and Afghanistan ( “Audit: U.S. lost track of $9 billion in Iraq funds” and “Corruption Suspected in Airlift of Billions in Cash From Kabul” ).

It seems clear that there is a difference when people who think government can be an effective tool to reach our collective goals are in charge — and when people who think government is a problem run things.

-Chris

October 1, 2010 Posted by | Democrats, Obama, Politics, Republicans, Stimulus | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Republicans Victorious – Will Send More Jobs Overseas

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From yesterday’s Washington Post:

Anti-outsourcing bill fails in Senate

In a vote of 53 to 45, Republicans and Joe Lieberman (and four Democrats) kept the bill, which punished companies that send jobs overseas, from passing.

…Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed the bill as “a purely political exercise” that never had a chance of becoming law.

This coming from someone whose party just released the “Pledge To America”.

In reality, this is the Republican game to stop the Democrats from accomplishing ANYTHING.

They don’t care who this hurts, as long as they can leverage it to try to get back into power so they can rack up the reforms and changes they achieved during the Bush years. Wait, what?

For those keeping score:

Democrats voting to block the bill were Ben Nelson (Neb.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Max Baucus (Mont.).

-Chris

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Democrats, Obama, Politics, Republicans, Tax Debate, Uncategorized, Unemployment | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Austerity And Stimulus

Anti-austerity protest in Brussels on Septembe...

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One of the debates in the upcoming midterms concerns the stimulus package and whether or not it failed.

Citing no evidence (except that the economy isn’ t booming), Republicans say that the stimulus was a hands down failure.

I have written in this space before linking to articles showing that this simply isn’t true.

Unemployment numbers reported today seem to show a recovery is happening, even before significant amounts of the stimulus money have been spent.

The real debate is between a Keynesian approach to the economy and the right’s insistence on austerity measures.

A number of Paul Krugman’s recent articles have illustrated how sharp turns toward austerity in Europe have been counterproductive to recovery.

Most recently, he writes:

…mainstream macroeconomics – which suggests that we need a lot more stimulus, monetary and fiscal – has actually held up very well in this crisis; it has, above all, made the right predictions about inflation and interest rates, while the doctrines underlying the pain caucus have gotten it all wrong. Yet “serious” policy makers are rejecting the theory that works in favor of theories that don’t.

Republicans and their lapdog Democratic allies continue to push economic balderdash.

The Motley Fool website has a nice piece from August pitting Keynes against Frederich Hayek. Hayek, and his tome The Road To Serfdom have been essential touchstones for the Tea Partiers who take their marching orders from Glenn Beck.

The article, in a roundtable format contains a lot of head scratching from the various analysts, who find polite ways of saying, “are these people crazy? Austerity measures at a time like this are like economic suicide”.

An example:

We need to take all of this debt-reduction excitement and bottle it up — it’ll come in very handy a few years down the line, when the economy can better handle such measures. But for now, release the Kraken! … um, I mean, the stimulus. – Matt Koppenheffer, Fool contributor

I am not an economist, but I can see what has worked and why, and what has not. I read a lot of history.

It would have been illuminating to see what would have happened if the stimulus had been doubled. We would have  a very clear idea if the conventional wisdom holds true (as it has in case after case before).

Perhaps it would have put the final nail in the coffin of this particular bad idea — but that is likely wishful thinking.

The Great Depression sent a generation of conservatives and their failed policies into exile.

Now they’re back with a vengeance.

 Because people forget of the bitter fruits of their ideology.

Maybe someone should remind them.

-Chris

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Deficit, Democrats, Economics, Obama, Republicans, Stimulus, Unemployment | Leave a comment