Scalia’s death puts the GOP in a real bind

Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia

Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia had no business being a judge in any level of court, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go speaking ill of someone who just passed away. I believe that all life is precious (Scalia did not) so I’m sad that he’s dead.

With that out of the way, this really puts Republicans in a tough spot. You can safely ignore whatever the GOP Presidential candidates say about whether or not he he should be replaced after the 2016 election — they have no say in the matter. Only Rand Paul gets to vote on the next nominee and he has no more power over the process than that. Read More →

Keeping your mouth shut as a virtue

I haven’t written about politics for a few years now but I remember how viciously stupid it all was, and so I shouldn’t be surprised that little has changed since then. I suppose when I left that scene and dedicated a seriously large (too large) chunk of my life just trying to have fun with good people that I forgot how rude and dumb a lot of people are, especially online. And this particular example hit me in a sensitive spot: judging others.

There’s a link in my Fecesbook timeline this afternoon to this piece, which defends super delegates as a firewall against outside extremists taking control of a political party. What they really are, are a firewall against political candidates that are popular with voters from gaining control of political parties run by people that voters dislike, and often despise, for ignoring what voters want in favor of what the ruling political and corporate class want. Read More →

This Minnesota Republican thinks AIDS in men is caused by sperm itself

Meet Bob Frey, a Republican candidate for the Minnesota House has some thoughts he’d like to share with you about the origin of AIDS:

When you have egg and sperm that meet in conception, there’s an enzyme in the front that burns through the egg. The enzyme burns through so the DNA can enter the egg. If the sperm is deposited anally, it’s the enzyme that causes the immune system to fail. That’s why the term is AIDS – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

I don’t care if people instinctually believe the worst about people in the opposition party, and knock Democratic policies that you oppose with all you want, but you just don’t find this level of ignorance stupidity on the left in viable candidates and elected politicians. Whether it be denying climate science or evolution (both of which are denying science itself), or insane crap like this, this isn’t a bipartisan problem where “both parties have their idiots”. They do, but this isn’t about being an idiot. It’s about being only a few steps about the dreaded R-word.

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On Israel being typically awful, Boehner being an imbecile

I can’t recall explaining my views on Israel because I honestly doubt that anyone cares. But given recent events and my criticism on Twitter, I’ll very briefly set the record straight. I don’t see Israel differently than any other country. It has a national government that rarely represents the will of its citizens, about par for the course on this planet.

My precise problem is the overreaction the Israeli government and military display with these horrific temper tantrums that accomplish little more than slaughtering more innocent civilians than are killed or even wounded by Hamas.

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This is why the GOP has no friends

I don’t think anybody is really happy with President Obama these days, but there’s a reason that he’s far more popular with the public than Republicans are:

The South Dakota Republican Party state convention passed a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Barack Obama Saturday.

The resolution says Obama has “violated his oath of office in numerous ways.” It specifically cites the release of five Taliban combatants in a trade for captive U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, Obama’s statement that people could keep insurance companies, and recent EPA regulations on power plants.

In other words they want Obama impeached because he’s a Democrat and he’s President. Not for the legitimate NSA domestic spying scandal, or for killing American citizens overseas with due process-free drone strikes, or for ignoring federal laws. They want him impeached because he’s pushing the EPA (with his constitutional authority) to do their job keeping the environment clean.

This, folks, is why Obama’s job approval rating is 30 points higher than the Congressional GOP despite the actual rating being in the 40s. It’s why Republicans would have lost their majority in the House of Representatives in 2012, if not for gerrymandering, why Hillary Clinton — who will be about as popular as Obama by election day — will probably walk away with the contest two years from now, why Republicans Governors are set to be massacred this fall, and one of the reasons why Republicans will lose seats in the Senate in 2016 and 2018.

A party that behaves like this is not a legitimate entity. It’s just not.

The modern American conservative is completely full of shit

It’s a meme today to look through the Twitter history of conservatives to expose their behavior that just screams my entire life revolves around hating Barack Obama so much that I can’t think or act for myself, and all my political and world views are now defined by wanting the completely opposite of what Barack Obama wants today. Behold the intellectual four-year-olds of the world:

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Oops, turns out Donald Sterling is a Republican.

Note: I landed a screenwriting gig for a short film earlier this month and have been busy with that for the past three weeks. I’m on scheduled downtime right now and will vanish again in a few days until that’s done.

Poking my head up for a moment to note the inevitable threw-the-pin-not-the-grenade stage of right-wing political masturbation. I’m not talking about Cliven Bundy, but rather the right’s rush to inform the entire galaxy that LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling appears to maybe possibly kind of be a Democrat based on a couple of political donations he made in the past.

If your goal here is to smear Democrats with guilt-by-association tactics, there’s little point in trying to find out if the man is actually a Democrat or not. All you need to sling mud is mud, and the right found some. Unfortunately for them — and it really is unfortunate after they got in bed with Bundy — another racist hand grenade blew up in their face. Turns out Donald Sterling is a registered Republican.

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A path to better government and a lasting Democratic Senate Majority

It wouldn’t always be the worst thing in the world if Democrats in the Senate acted like Republicans in the House of Representatives. Republicans know their attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act won’t succeed, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some benefit to trying. It keeps their issues in the news and lets them campaign on trying to do something that their constituents want (even though polls routinely show that most Americans, including even some Republicans, don’t want the ACA repealed.)

The reason that opposition to the ACA has remained high while support for new gun regulations has fallen is because Republicans know how to keep their issues alive, and Democrats don’t.

With the Senate up for grabs, Democrats should dedicate the Senate’s agenda to debating and voting on a minimum wage hike, new gun regulations, a new tax package of cuts for the middle class and increases on the rich,  and new education spending even if it’s not paid for. Every single one of those policies has majority public support and is opposed by the Republican Party.

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The GOP’s March Disaster: Obamacare worked, and people like it

Paul Krugman was wrong about one thing, the media is actually covering the success of the Affordable Care Act. Not on nearly the sale scale they gave attention to the exchange problems, but that’s status quo. Disasters are entertaining which make for ratings, successes are boring.

Today is the final day you can register on a health care exchange and the end of the first enrollment period.** Now is the time we can begin making serious judgments about the success of Democratic health care reform, although final judgement (which Republicans came to before the law even passed) won’t be appropriate for several years.

It took several years for Romneycare to get where it needed to be and Obamacare is very much the same program on a national scale.

That said, the verdict is good news for just about everyone except Republican politicians. Private enrollment will land somewhere near original projections, about 7 million people. That’s about a million more people than the CBO projected after making regular revisions and exactly in line with what they thought would happen back in 2010.

That’s also with almost every insurance exchange website malfunctioning for the first two months of the six month period enrollment period. If not for that, signups would have exceeded original expectations.

The facts are simple. The number of uninsured Americans has dropped from 18% to 15.9% in less than a year. Between 6.9 and 7 million people have signed up just on the public exchanges. 2.5 to 3.1 million young adults were able to join or remain on their parents’ insurance policies. 4.7 million poor and struggling individuals joined the Medicaid rolls only because of reform. (Had states with legislatures controlled by Republicans expanded Medicaid, that number could easily be double or even triple that figure.)

In total, as many as 16.8 million Americans gained insurance under the Affordable Care Act in its first six month period. In some states only 25% of those people were previously uninsured, in others it’s as high as 75%. States that embraced reform have seen significant numbers of people gain insurance they couldn’t previously afford. States that fought reform have seen very little progress and still have a tragic number of people who can’t afford insurance.

Anyone who has followed enrollment data gathered and published by Charles Gaba knew this was coming for some time now. Enrollment was very slow in October and November of last year, but once the exchanges started working, there was a surge in signups in December of 2013 and another surge this month to the point where more than a million people per day were visiting the federal exchange website. HealthCare.gov reported more than 1.2 million visits just today and that was by noon. Nevada’s call center is being flooded with last minute signups.

The big surprise may be a just-out poll from ABC News/The Washington Post showing a plurality of Americans now support Obamacare, 49-48. Alone, it’s an outlier outweighed by other polls and should be judged accordingly. It’s neither absolute proof that the ACA is now popular, nor should it be dismissed as meaningless. It’s value is somewhere in between and is just another point of information to consider along with many others.

The question from ABC/WaPo is different from what you’d expect, instead of asking if the respondent supports or opposes Obamacare, it asks if they support or oppose “the federal law making changes to the health care system”. We’ve seen before that merely asking about the “Affordable Care Act” instead of “Obamacare” can increase support, and this may be one of those bits of noise where what you ask changes the response.

That’s certainly possible. But it’s also possible that with nearly 7 million Americans getting insurance on the exchanges, with many of them seeing lower premiums thanks to subsidies, with nearly 17 million Americans directly benefiting, word is spreading that the ACA is helping a lot of people. Based on overall numbers, about 1-in-18 Americans has benefited from the ACA in some way which is bound to punch through partisan information filters eventually.

What’s sad to see is that politics is dampening the good news. More than just a few Republicans are denying evidence that the ACA worked just like they believed all polls from 2012 were skewed and biased.

I’m sorry to taint this newsy post with such, but I think that’s pathetic. The data is in and the data says that the Affordable Care Act wasn’t a disaster, and that it did exactly what it was supposed to do. If Republicans can’t deal with that reality then they should just get out of politics and find something else to do with their lives. Lying about good news that rubs their ideology the wrong way is unacceptable behavior from elected officials and the American people deserve better treatment than that.

If the GOP is going to be this partisan and this ugly about being wrong, it’s only fair then that Democrats have earned a few bragging rights. The ACA isn’t perfect and a lot more could have been done — should be done still.

But nobody should forget that health care reform was solely a Democratic priority. Republicans did everything they could to stop it from happening and have done everything they can to undermine it. Democrats have won every battle of that war, and the result is nearly 17 million Americans are in a better health care situation today because Democrats said this was important and it was the right thing to do, consequences to their political futures be damned.

Democrats were right, and there should be some small reward for that.

**Some states are extending the first enrollment period beyond March 31st.

Romney-Ryan 2016?

One of the better newsletters out there is from HuffPollster, which isn’t from Huffington Post so much as it is from Pollster, which HP bought a while back. I understand that most people won’t be interested in a polling newsletter but I feel there’s always at least one thing that should grab most people as interesting. I’m going back through some old newsletters (most of March) and here are a few of those things I’ve picked out for you.

Gay marriage opponents don’t know they are a minority
From Wonkbog (Washington Post), 41% of Americans oppose same-sex marriage but nearly two-thirds of them wrongly think they are in a majority. From the newsletter itself, public opinion on same-sex marriage as tracked by the Post has reversed itself from 55-37% opposition in 2003 to 59-34% support this month.

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