Blur of City Traffic wallpaper – Conservatism Has No Remedies, Thus We Have Concern Trolling and Tax Myths

city lights, city at night, urban cityscape

Blur of City Traffic wallpaper

 

While I have seen Democratic bloggers do it, no one has taken to concern trolling like conservatives. For those who may have missed out on this phenomenon on the internet and in newspapers. Concern trolling has taken on several methods of fake concern. One type of trolling is to pretend to be a reasonable moderate or conservative who would just love find some common ground with Democrats if they would just…..basically just adopt every far Right position. Another type of concern trolling is the personal conflated with the political. This is where the troll states that the Democrat is question could be a better person if only they would give up some political point of view or adopt radical conservative positions. I might be giving some of the trolls too much credit in thinking that they are like friends who pull a prank and try to keep a straight face. The concern troll knows they are being pranksters and seem  barely able to hide their snickering. In that regard Karl Rove’s concern trolling for the Wall Street Journal are excellent. I can see a little snide smile creep into his writing, but he generally stays in character – if Democrats would only become proto-fascist like us everything would work out great. Over at one of the Big Conservatives With Keyboards sites Jeffrey Scott Shapiro combines some of the worse trolling with such thinly veiled unhinged hatred that it sets a new low. Or a new high is self delusion, since Jeff seems do proud of himself,  Why Barack Obama Must Overcome His ‘Oppositional Identity’

It’s hard for people to pinpoint exactly what it is they don’t like about President Barack Obama, but I think I can easily sum it up: his thinly veiled contempt for America, and his transparent resentment for the country he was elected to lead.

You’ll often hear people say, “He just hates America.”

But try this on for size: Barack Obama may just be our first “oppositional identity” president. What’s that mean?

I’d never heard the phrase oppositional identity before, because I don’t subscribe to collectivist identity theories. I believe–much like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.–that people should be recognized by their own individual actions, not those of their ancestors.

If finding concern trolling is like finding roadkill, Jeff’s addition of some twisted version of a sociological theory and quasi-intellectualism is like finding two road kills just a few feet apart. They both combine to create the kind of stench, moral emptiness and absence of logic that defines modern conservatism. jeff is hoping you’ll give him a pass on the unproven, unfounded and illogical premise that Obama hates America – he states it in the typical why does Sam beat his dog school of discussion. If you have to start off proving that Sam does indeed beat his dog hat could take up a lot of valuable time he could be using to send off some chain mail to the local paper. Jeffery is continuing the not very original Dinesh D’Souza/Gingrich attacks and the now frayed Kenyan anti-colonialism accusations. I would hope that all our president would be anti-colonialists – you know because of all the near genocide, misery and oppression caused by colonialism. When Democratic bloggers discuss the D’Souza-Gingrich remark we’re kind of assuming they know what colonialism is. Especially since it is closely related to how conservatives see American exceptionalism – the right to invade and impose their will on the native population.  Not the kind of exceptionalism most Americans are prone to, as is every native of every country. You’re born and raised some place and tend to think, even with its faults, that it is a pretty great place. Conservatives, as they tend to do with just about everything, take that native pride to extreme levels. They remind me of a lot of ultra nationalist authoritarian movements of the last hundred years. If the conservative movement decides to show the least interest in honesty and sincerity it should stop saying it is patriotic and use the term nationalist instead. The distinction is important because nationalist do not love democratic republics they love some perverse immoral ideas of what the country would be like if they could burn the Bill of Rights.

Barry Ritholtz on Causes of the Financial Crisis. This is a long read so I’ll just highlight my biggest take away,

Are you saying that just as Ben Bernanke admitted the Federal Reserve had caused the first Great Depression, this crisis can also be blamed on our central bank?

The world isn’t black and white. We can’t just say, “The butler did it.” There were many causes, lots of poor judgements. If you look in the centrefold of my book, Bailout Nation, we try to depict everything in a visual form. It’s a great infographic by Jess Bachman that shows all the different factors that came together to cause a big collapse. The Federal Reserve was a significant element. But if you want to do it chronologically, you may want to go back further into the history. The bailout of Chrysler in 1980 set the stage. The rescue of Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) in 1998 encouraged a lot of moral hazard. Then there was all the radical deregulation, the undoing of some of the post-Depression rules that had operated so successfully for 75 years to prevent a major meltdown. The undoing of Glass-Steagall didn’t cause the crisis, but it made it much worse. Then there was the Commodity Futures Monetization Act (CFMA) of 2000, which completely exempted derivatives from any oversight or regulation and removed all reserve requirements. These all built to set up a situation that was extremely dangerous. So maybe the fumes were already in the warehouse and Greenspan taking rates down to 1% was the spark that ignited the conflagration.

So what are the take-homes? What do we do now?

It’s really simple. Go back through the past 20 years of radical deregulation and overturn all the rules that were changed. You don’t need all this Dodd-Frank legislation. Just reinstate Glass-Steagall, overturn CFMA. Just undo everything that was done in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, remembering that old expression: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

If we were having some great civil and honest debate about political ideologies, who stands for what and who wants what we’d have to get conservatives to take a long hard look in the mirror. They would have to piece together what they actually stand for. Small government is not one of those things. Just let the economy run itself, stand back, keep your foot off the regulation pedal. Everything will sort itself out. The winners will rise to the top based on the merit of what they do and the losers can eat dirt. Well, if you were part of the blue collar working class or the middle-class you did end up eating dirt. Greenspan, the conservative libertarian, was in no way being hands off when he manipulated interest rates and money supply.

The corporate tax ankle bone is connected to the employment rate knee bone. Thus corporate taxes can never be low enough, right? Reality Check: Effective U.S. Corporate Tax Rate Much Lower Than Most Other Developed Nations

This is constant refrain from Republicans, who then blame the supposedly high U.S. corporate tax rate for discouraging job creation. But as we’ve noted time and time again, while the U.S. has a high statutory corporate tax rate (meaning the rate on paper), U.S. corporations actually pay incredibly low taxes due to the ever-proliferating loopholes, credits, and deductions in the tax code and the use of overseas tax havens.

U.S. corporate taxes that were actually paid (the effective rate) fell to a 40 year low of 12.1 percent in fiscal year 2011, despite corporate profits rebounding to their pre-Great Recession heights. The U.S. both taxes its corporations less and raises less in revenue from corporate taxes than its foreign competitors:

Taxes across the board are lower now then when Bush 43 left office. If low taxes, corporate or otherwise created jobs we’d be at 3% unemployment.

Technology advances. What’s that called when a robot makes calls for another robot, Women hater Rick Santorum Records Robocall Supporting Scott Anti-American Workers Walker In Wisconsin Recall.

Perhaps overly optimistic, but still good news – Ignore GDP: This Is the Obscure Stat That Explains the Hot Recovery

Something odd has happened the past few months. The job numbers tell us the recovery is accelerating. The GDP numbers say it’s not. This discrepancy has confounded expectations because there’s usually a fairly stable relationship between the GDP and employment — economists call it Okun’s Law. The growth-and-jobs gap has since launched a thousand blog posts.

But it turns out there might not be a gap, after all. Today we received news that GDI grew at a gangbusters rate in the fourth quarter of 2011. Bye-bye, growth-and-jobs gap.

 

Since WordPress doesn’t give us stats on which video is played or how many times, so it is difficult to tell if anyone likes these. Gardening Tips at the Smithsonian Butterfly Habitat Garden

Gears and Water Ripple wallpaper – A Major Feature of Conservatism is The Lack of Moral Standards

Gears and Water Ripple wallpaper

Scalia Says Court Can’t Be Bothered To Read Obamacare: ‘You Really Want Us To Go Through These 2,700 Pages?’ Scalia did make the point that the justice’s law clerk’s would have read the whole thing. That is generally how the court works. Though in this case one and other cases where the court might be about to set a precedent, Scalia would have made an exceptions and been less smart-ass about not reading it. One of the stables of the blogs of Wingnuttia and conservatives news outlets is the column which bemoans the lack of proper behavior or decorum by some Democrat. These are always substancless pieces of hackery which are ripe for snark, but lacking in any actual facts. Scalia provides an example of how conservatives might want to take a long look at their behavior and respect for decorum before they spew forth another 500 words of bald-faced hypocrisy. Sclaia and the other conservative justices, with the possible exception of Kennedy, should also have felt some legal and moral obligation to do some rudimentary research on the health insurance industry and how it operates ( I somewhat disagree that Obama’s Solicitor General does not understand. He seems to want to make his well rehearsed argument and is thrown off by the court’s questions.) Misunderstanding insurance risk pooling at the oral argument

At this point, Kennedy, the ostensible swing vote, interrupted to ask about the “heavy burden of justification” when “you are changing the relation of the individual to the government.”  Not a good sign.

A bit later, Scalia mistakes economies of scale for insurance pooling in his “car mandate hypo,” but the SG misses it entirely and mistakenly denies the risk pooling argument:

JUSTICE SCALIA: Mr. Verrilli, you could say that about buying a car. If people don’t buy cars, the price that those who do buy cars pay will have to be higher. So, you could say in order to bring the price down, you’re hurting these other people by not buying a car.

GENERAL VERRILLI: That is not what we’re saying, Justice Scalia.

JUSTICE SCALIA: That’s not — that’s not what you’re saying.

GENERAL VERRILLI: That’s not — not -­

JUSTICE SCALIA: I thought it was. I thought you’re saying other people are going to have to pay more for insurance because you’re not buying it.

GENERAL VERRILLI: No. It’s because you’re going — in the health care market, you’re going into the market without the ability to pay for what you get, getting the health care service anyway as a result of the social norms that allow — that — to which we’ve obligated ourselves so that people get health care.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, don’t obligate yourself to that. Why — you know?

Note the “let them die” defense proposed by Scalia. More importantly, the SG failed to point out the key difference between a car mandate and a health insurance mandate:  car mandates and broccoli mandates lower prices through production scale effects, if at all.  Health insurance mandates are not based on scale, but on risk pooling – having healthy people in the pool lowers the average cost. That’s a clear limiting principle.  (See also Austin’s limiting principle for the broccoli mandate).

Sotomayor was the next Democrat trying to help the government. She clearly outlined the arguments for the SG, but he responded only with adverse selection:

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: General, I see or have seen three strands of arguments in your briefs, and one of them is echoed today. The first strand that I’ve seen is that Congress can pass any necessary laws to effect those powers within its rights, i.e., because it made a decision that to effect — to effect mandatory issuance of insurance, that it could also obligate the mandatory purchase of it. The second strand I see is self-insurance affects the market; and so, the government can regulate those who self-insure. And the third argument — and I see all of them as different — is that what the government is doing — and I think it’s the argument you’re making today — that what the — what the government is saying is if you pay for — if you use health services, you have to pay with insurance, because only insurance will guarantee that whatever need for health care that you have will be covered, because virtually no one, perhaps with the exception of 1 percent of the population, can afford the massive cost if the unexpected happens. This third argument seems to be saying what we’re regulating is health care, and when you go for health services, you have to pay for insurance, and since insurance won’t issue at the moment that you consume the product, we can reasonably, necessarily tell you to buy it ahead of time, because you can’t buy it at the moment that you need it. Is that — which of these three is your argument? Are all of them your argument? I’m just not sure what the -­

Whatever one may think about the intelligence of conservatives in general, lawyers who become judges who become SCOTUS Justices must have some legal skills. So it is bizarre that Scalia either does not know the difference between economies of scale in regards hard goods and health care insurance risk pools. Either he does not know the difference, unforgivable in a Justice, or he is pretending not to know – also unforgivable.

I didn’t want to get too much into the deliberations, I just find the general behavior and shallow knowledge of the conservative Justices jaw dropping. Scalia believes the “Cornhusker” mandate was in the final bill ( That was where Nebraska’s Medicaid would have been prefunded for decades). For those who are really into the wonky aspects of the current Affordable Care debate and the history of judicial conservatism, this is a good read – Conservative Judicial Activists Run Amok

The only thing Rosen truly failed to anticipate in his piece was how quickly Republican judges would pivot from impassioned defenses of judicial restraint to judicial activism when the opportunity arose to deploy it in their party’s behalf.

There is an interview with George Zimmerman’s father here – EXCLUSIVE: Robert Zimmerman interview. I feel very badly for the man. he is retired, he loves his son. Of course he is going to defend him and believe his son’s version of events. How many times have we had high-profile crimes in which parents plead their children’s innocence or if clearly guilty plead extenuating circumstances. Shame on anyone giving the senior Mr. Zimmerman a hard time.

“It’s my understanding that Trayvon Martin got on top of him and just started beating him,” the 64-year-old Robert Zimmerman said.

[   ]…”He went to the next street, realized where he was and was walking to his vehicle. It’s my understanding, at that point, Trayvon Martin walked up to him and asked him, ‘Do you have a [expletive] problem?’ George said, ‘No, I don’t have a problem,’ and started to reach for his cell phone…  at that point, he (Martin) was punching him in the nose, his nose was broken and he was knocked to the concrete.”

Those two statements seem to be a big part of the problem, especially with the release of video with George arriving at the police station. No blood on his face or clothes, no broken nose and he does not look bruised or even disheveled in any way. Top 10 Holes in Zimmerman’s Account

No blood on his shirt from a shooting that allegedly occurred at close range, while Trayvon Martin was on top of him.
No signs of bruising, abrasions or even redness on his face. No signs of cuts on his head. No wounds on his allegedly broken nose.
No emergency room visit for a broken nose or anything else.
No torn clothes. No disheveled appearance. And possibly no dirt on his light grey shirt or red jacket.
No signs of trauma on Trayvon Martin’s hands.
No signs of agitation or stress after just having engaged in a fight for his life.
No explanation for how a scuffle that he says began beside his parked SUV meandered into the alley and ended with Trayvon dead in less than 1 minute.
No reason for Trayvon to attack him if Trayvon were afraid and had escaped him.
No reconciliation between Zimmerman’s account and the account of Trayvon’s girlfriend, who is now being called DeeDee. She was allegedly on the phone with Trayvon when he and Zimmerman first spoke.
No reason to continue following Trayvon after the 911 operator said “We don’t need you to do that.”

The funeral director has said that he found no bruises on Trayvon’s hands. For their own reasons the Right seems to want to make this  whole incident a trail by public opinion, smearing the name of the deceased in the process. Are there some nuts out there engaging in some reprehensible behavior. Absolutely. Conservative Dan Riehl is not exactly the go-to person to police other people’s behavior – Blame Palin? ‘Kill Zimmerman’ Twitter Account Launched

Now the anger has taken a new twist, breaking out on Twitter with an account named “Kill Zimmerman.” It features an image of Zimmerman in crosshairs.

After the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, a political ad associated with Palin and featuring a cross-hairs focused on Gifford’s District, the issue of the ad rose to the level of national debate. See ABC for more on that previous news. Perhaps they’ll blame Palin for this latest use of a cross-hairs, as well.

….

As for the Twitter account, the individual behind the account is denouncing protests as coming from racists.

Extreme content warning for language. It appears as though some have been reporting the account for violation of Twitters Terms of Service. For now, the account remains live.

Gee, who would start such an account. It could not be conservatives trying to double up on the smears because conservatives never engage in sleazy behavior. For those who have never been on Twitter, accounts are very easy to set up. One on going battle is real people versus satire accounts. That is in addition to the spam bots and porn bots that follow people. In Dan’s world if a porn bot follows you on Twitter than you must be a porn addict. Conservatives are always complaining about being called stupid, yet you have conservatives like Riehl posting this ‘breaking’ news on Breitbart and at least six other conservative bloggers approvingly linking to him. Another example of the deep moral crisis of conservatism – The Morally Corrupt GOP

This was good news. It might not seem like something of imminent importance, but the long-term implications might make the difference in tipping the balance away from the head long dive into world plutocracy, A World Bank President Who’s Not a Crony or a War Criminal?

Kim has been lower-profile than Farmer. But there are some good signs that he will bring a very different perspective to the job of World Bank president than his predecessors. One is the fact that Kim is now drawing heat from the right for writing in a 2000 book, Dying for Growth, that “the quest for growth in GDP and corporate profits has in fact worsened the lives of millions of women and men.”

Jim Yong Kim might not be a progressive’s dream, but he is certainly an improvement over Bush appointee Paul Wolfowitz. Wolfowitz, as some may remember, was the Deputy Secretary of Defense under Bush and one of the architects of the Iraq invasion. As was the Bush and general conservative tendency, having totally screwed the country over, Wolfowitz was rewarded with a promotion. Wolfowitz went on to create a nice little series of scandals at the World Bank . After which he was shamed into living in exile, or he went on to being rewarded once again with some nice wing-nut welfare at the American Enterprise Institute. I have to admit that being a conservative has its advantages. You literally cannot screw up badly enough to being forced out of the club. No matter how low your character – you can dodge the draft claiming to have an anal cyst. You can be a drug addict that makes your maid go doctor shopping. You can be as low in character and moral courage as the fungus growing on a rat’s ass and you’ll actually be rewarded – Limbaugh sees heat over comments turn down to a simmer. His advertisers are slowly going back to his show.

If you read a little about the history of American art you find that from early on, American artists tried to establish a uniquely American identity. Not just an extension of European tradition. William Michael Harnett (August 10, 1848 – October 29, 1892) was an Irish-American painter who was among the first wave on truly American artists. He was known for his trompe l’oeil ( nearly photographic realism) still lifes of ordinary objects.

William Michael Harnett & Antonio Vivaldi

There is also a good video here from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. William Michael Harnett’s trompe-l’oeil painting “The Old Violin” 1886

Antique map of Peru, Florida 1584 – Conservatives and the Age of the Nuclear Lie

Map of the Gold-Producing Region of Peru. Florida. The Guastecan Region.1584 CE

This map was designed by Flemish engraver and businessman Abraham Ortelius (1527-98). One can pretty much discount the claim of being ‘gold’ regions. That would have been rumors circulated by the Spanish. Spanish conquistadors did find some gold artifacts among the natives of South America and Mexico, but hardly the great treasures that the New World supposedly had. The map consists of three portions – this would have been a page in an atlas – one showing the western coast of South America. Another (left) and a part of Central America. The upper right, the southeastern United States (Florida). The bottom right, the coast of Tamaulipas in Mexico.

Hand colored world map circa 1590-1620. I just like this map for the bright hand drawn colors. If you buy a disc of old map jpegs they will not always have the dates. If you can see the territory of Virginia, the southeastern U.S. and much of everything west of the Mississippi labeled ‘America sive India Nova’ that narrows it down to late 16th early 17th century. Since modes of communication were very slow between new and Old World there was considerable lag time in incorporating new land surveys into printed maps.

Having grown up in an era of instant communication, media consultants and news analysts who twist themselves into contortions not calling a lie a lie I still end up wishing for unvarnished truth, but I would settle for a very low-level of bull and falsehoods. One side says a new highway extension will cost ten million, the other says it will cost nine – knowing that they are using bad numbers – I can live with that. That would count as rough and tumble politics, the flaws of human hubris. Conservatives have taken lies to a whole other level. Thanks to a movement that claims to have values, like obeying commandments such as not to bear false witness, we now have the nuclear lie. That was invented back in the Reagan era. Nuclear lies became obsolete in the age of fact checkers so conservatives moved on to the fully automatic nuclear lie. Closely related to the knee jerk reaction of conservatives of old. They seem to come instantly and reflexively from the dark regions of the conservative psyche. They are not even sophisticated falsehoods. They generally rely on the bunker qualities of the average con’s mind when it comes to assimilating any information not pumped out of a wing-nut radio program.  Perhaps that is why they work on the kinds of conservatives who voted for Bush 43. They repeat some very simple, obvious lie until it takes on a life of its own. The true believers eventually have a vested interests in the lie – thus the anger when you challenge conservatives – Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh’s hate for Media Matters are good on-going examples. Caught in a lie conservatives have several variations on a theme. One of the more colorful ones is of the triple warhead variety. Lie, lie about the lie and deflect back to those who caught them in the lie, Conservatives Slam Democrats For Medicare Cuts Republicans Support

The latest “Mediscare” battle is rife with irony: Republicans are attacking Democrats’ Medicare cost-savings even though they voted overwhelmingly to continue the policy last year and are supporting it again this year.

In a new TV ad, the House GOP’s electoral arm NRCC targets Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH) for backing President Obama health care reform law, declaring that it will “decimate Medicare” and “shred the social safety net and leave seniors vulnerable at risk.” The NRCC is also launching robocalls in 13 Democratic-held districts slamming the members over the Medicare cuts in the reform law.

The Affordable Care Act reduces Medicare spending by some $500 billion over 10 years, mostly with reimbursement cuts to private insurers and health providers — the reductions do not touch benefits. The aim was to reduce over-payments and strengthen the life of the safety-net program.

As it turns out, nearly every Republican in the House and Senate voted last year to sustain those cuts in the Paul Ryan budget. And they’re set to do so again in the near future as his updated Path To Prosperity blueprint comes up for a vote. That’s the context of these ads — Republicans know Democrats are about to hit them hard for again pushing a plan that partially privatizes Medicare and ends the coverage guarantee, so they’re making a pre-emptive strike.

These very same conservatives support the Paul Ryan (R-WI) plan to end Medicare as we know it – here’s your voucher and good luck with that. The Ryan plan – in its newest iteration would on enacted into law immediately take those 65 and 66 off Medicare and force them into the private insurance market. This kind of massive deception is what passes for values on the radical Right.

Conservatives lack the facts and moral courage to stick to the facts. Karl Rove-Linked Crossroads GPS PAC Launches $650,000 False Ad Campaign On Gas Prices

This week, Crossroads GPS announced a $650,000 nationwide television ad campaign called “Deflect.” The 30-second spot falsely blames Obama administration actions for the rise in gasoline prices since 2009.

While an obviously false narrative, conservatives are playing into the national mania for blame, even if misplaced. That drill baby drill stuff resonates with people who are self-proclaimed experts on gas prices and the oil market. Every office and construction site in America has one hanging out by the water cooler. Despite the Karl Roves ( he lied 4,000 plus Americans to their deaths so lying about gas prices will hardly bother someone with so little conscience), Sarah Palin or Fox News, most Americans do not blame President Obama for higher gas prices. I know gas prices are frustrating and budget busting for some families,but looking back on price trends of the last twenty years did anyone really believe that someday prices would roll back to 98 cents a gallon. 20 Experts Who Say Drilling Won’t Lower Gas Prices. One of those experts is a far Right conservative and another is a rightie libertarian.

Another good catch by NMMNB – HEY SARAH, THAT LOOKS LIKE TOLERATING TO ME. Sarah Palin standing tall with conservative brain trust Ted Nugent who called Hillary Clinton the C-word.

Wingnut Conspiracy Theory of the Day: Trayvon Photo Was Lightened to Make Him Look ‘Innocent’. The legal system is still working out the details so some things may or may not change in regards Zimmerman. When it is all over one thing will not change, conservative Dan Riehl should not be allowed to use power tools or the internet without adult supervision. And this plays right into conservative narratives about race – Trayvon Martin case: New Black Panthers offer $10,000 bounty for capture of George Zimmerman. Without a government-issued warrant, the organization opens itself up to civil or criminal liability, a lawyer said. These wackos are no help at all.

 

Good question – Why Do New York Times Columnists Keep Swooning for Paul Ryan?

click! photography changes who we are

click! photography changes everything is a conversation about how photography shapes our culture and our lives. In this episode, Lonnie Bunch, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, talks about how photographic images play a central role in shaping cultural identity.

Footprints in Desert Sand wallpaper – On second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act benefits of reform go unrecognized and faces flimsy legal challenges

Footprints in Desert Sand wallpaper

 

With the help SCOTUS rulings that bestow person-hood on corporations, conservatives at the state level have been trying – with some success to create a bizarre legal reality. One in which a clump of cells and corporations are persons with the same Constitutionally guaranteed rights as an individual citizen, yet make women three-fifths a person ( It’s fine if an individual carrying those cells wants to think of them as human, but that is different from imposing that legal view on everyone). How did we get to this point. making person-hood began at conception is bound for legal challenges. Many Democrats in Congress would like to see a bill that would once and for all spell out the fact that corporations are not people and such interpretations of the Constitution are an example of conservative judicial activism. In short the federal courts are important. When conservatives accuse non-conservative judges of being judicial activists who engage in overreach by bypassing the will of legislators, that is close to pure projection. Combined with call the ref. Conservatives decided decades ago to get out in front of these judicial versus legislation issues decades ago – mostly as a reaction to New Deal legislation. probably the most well-known piece of judicial activism coming out of the conservative Robert’s SCOTUS is Citizens United. On the other hand the Robert’s court is not immune to legal precedent as they showed in their ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld where the court found the Bush administration did not have authority to set up particular military commissions without congressional authorization, because they did not comply with the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention. So in trying to guess how the SCOTUS will rule on the Affordable care Act ( health care reform, ObamaRomneycare) is tricky. As the Citizens decision showed, the conservatives on the court can be blatantly political, It’s Not About the Law, Stupid Forget precedent. Ignore Scalia’s musings. Next week’s health care argument before the Supreme Court is all about optics, politics, and public opinion.

And the fact that the Obama administration rushed the case to the Supreme Court in an election year is all the evidence you need to understand that they remain confident in their prospects. The law is a completely valid exercise of Congress’ Commerce Clause power, and all the conservative longing for the good old days of the pre-New Deal courts won’t put us back in those days as if by magic. Nor does it amount to much of an argument.

So that brings us to the really interesting question: Will the Court’s five conservatives strike it down regardless? That’s what we’re really talking about next week and that has almost nothing to do with law and everything to do with optics, politics, and public opinion. That means that Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the Raich medicinal marijuana case, and Chief Justice John Roberts’ and Anthony Kennedy’s opinions in Comstock only get us so far. Despite the fact that reading the entrails of those opinions suggest that they’d contribute to an easy fifth, sixth, and seventh vote to uphold the individual mandate as a legitimate exercise of Congressional power, the real question isn’t whether those Justices will be bound by 70 years of precedent or their own prior writings on federal power. The only question is whether they will ignore it all to deprive the Obama of one of his signature accomplishments.

Professor Randy Barnett, the intellectual power behind the entire health care challenge, wrote recently that Justice Scalia could break from his previous opinions—freeing him to strike down the Affordable Care Act—“without breaking a sweat.” I suspect that’s right.

If that’s true, we should stop fussing about old precedents. These old milestones of jurisprudence aren’t what will give Scalia pause. What matters is whether the five conservative justices are so intent in striking down Obama’shealthcare law that they would risk a chilly and divisive 5-4 dip back into the waters of Bush v. Gore and Citizens United.

[  ]…Given that line up of future cases, the five conservatives may want to keep their powder dry for now. I think they will. Poll released this week by the American Bar Association agrees, saying that most courtwatchers (85 percent) believe Obamacare will survive. And why is that? Not just the fact that—as I’ve said at the outset—the law is constitutional, well within the boundaries of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority. It’s because for the court to strike it down, the justices would have to pick a fight that wasn’t theirs in the first place.

One of the very specific reason that the ACA may get a pass from the SCOTUS that Dahlia Lithwick does not mention is Medicare. Sure it fine for Congressional conservatives to toss around gutting Medicare, making it into a kind of partial allowance for medical for 48 million Americans. The conservative base that thinks sharing your dessert is socialism hate Medicare. They droll over the graphs which show the growing costs of Medicare – when what we’re really talking about is the health care industry, which unlike most of the free market is resistant to cost containment. Do the conservatives on the court really want to undo Medicare? Because if they vote down the ACA they will have once again – as they did in Citizens – ignore legal precedent and wonder if they want to leave a conservative legal legacy which threw 48 million Americans into the financial and medical abyss. If Medicare Is OK, Obamacare Should Be Too

So why is the Affordable Care Act such an unconscionable infringement of liberty, while those two other, more revered programs are not? Some critics have suggested the Affordable Care Act is fundamentally unfair, because it effectively requires relatively healthy people to subsidize relatively unhealthy people. But that is true of Medicare and Social Security, too. The whole point of any social insurance is to ameliorate the impact of sheer chance on life—whether it’s being born with the wrong genes, growing up in the wrong neighborhood, or coming into contact with the wrong physical threats. Social insurance programs redistribute funds from the lucky to the unlucky, on the very sensible theory that any one of us could end up unlucky (and, at one point or another in our lives, probably will).(emphasis mine)

A truer distinction is that Medicare and Social Security are real government programs: The bureaucracies that run Medicare and Social Security actually distribute the benefits, in the form of checks or payments to health care providers. The Affordable Care Act is a more privatized system, in which private insurance companies are the direct financiers of benefits for many people. But even that distinction is blurrier than it might seem. Medicare has long offered beneficiaries the option of enrolling in private insurance plans, rather than the government-run program. And today about a quarter of all beneficiaries do just that. Those companies operate under close government supervision and regulation, it’s true. But so will the companies offering insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Probably will is an understatement. Unless you’re run over by a bus or some similar tragedy everyone will have to have health care eventually. Many liberals and progressives do not like mandates. I think their arguments tend to be more honest and hinge on the connection between individual civil liberties and government compulsion. That is a good point. Though in the real world, beyond political theory, none of us live in a bubble – as much as conservatives try to and libertarians dream. Our circumstances affect others and combined all those individuals with their need for health care affects society and the economy. While the riled up conservative base cheers at a Republicans debate for someone without health insurance to die, when millions of Americans start to die alone in their apartments or ally ways, when the lines to hospital emergency rooms stretch down the block. That will be picture on the poster defining what conservatism did to grandpa and those disabled children. Charities and private donations will pick up the slack? I’ve been hearing that looniness for years. Funny how American charitable organizations, corporations and private individuals have not managed to make much of a dent in our health care needs. Certainly nothing is stopping the Koch brothers or the parade of conservative sugar daddies and think tanks from starting a private tax-deductible organization that will – just for starters take care of those on Medicare. They could start even smaller and take care of the 20% gap in costs that Medicare recipients have to pay for out-of-pocket or buy supplemental insurance for.

Former James O’Keefe ‘Accomplice’ Reveals ‘Barn Incident’ And Harassment Complaint

Last week, we reported that Nadia Naffe, self-described “accomplice” to conservative activist James O’Keefe , had begun publishing a multi-part tell-all series of posts to her blog. Thursday morning, Naffe published the second part, which details her version of the events that led her to file a criminal harassment complaint against O’Keefe in November, and which includes documents related to a sexual harassment settlement between O’Keefe and “CNN Sex Boat Caper” whistleblower Izzy Santa. O’Keefe filed suit against Naffe on Wednesday to obtain an injunction against publication of those documents, and of emails that O’Keefe claims she stole from his computer.

Despite O’Keefe’s history he is part of the team/ crowd/ whatever, that still manages all the Breitbart Big sites. One of Brietbart’s legacy was to take the any lie is fine, any smear that is remotely plausible, any dirty trick culture of conservatism and add some steroids.

The Mittens Etch-a-Sketch Disaster is interesting, but let’s not forget about the deeply weird wing of conservatism that is keeping Santorum in the race. Rick Santorum: ‘The Issue In This Race Is Not The Economy’

“The issue in this race is not the economy,” he said.

His statement was part of a longer monologue about why Obama’s health care overhaul is a symbol of government overreach, and that Americans’ freedoms are eroding.

“The reason the economy is an issue in this race is because we have a government that is oppressing its people and taking away their freedom, and the economy is suffering as a result,” Santorum said.

Conservatives are always standing up for freedom – like the freedom to become financially ruined by bad health and health care costs. The freedom for your family to have no hope. The freedom to die and to paraphrase Scrooge, decrease the surplus population. The freedom for working class Americans to have the wealth they create redistributed to the top 10%. This is what Santorum thinks is a terrible injustice on the 2nd anniversary of Obamacare, Benefits of health care reform haven’t been fully recognized

While much of the important changes of the ACA — including the insurance exchange, premium assistance for individuals and Medicaid expansion — won’t go into effect until 2014, we now have two years of data to assess the impact of the parts of the reform that have already been implemented. Here is what we know today about the beneficial impact of the ACA.

Last year about 86 million Americans took advantage of the new law’s prevention benefits — no deductibles or co-payments — on procedures such as mammograms, bone mass measurements, PAP tests, pediatric visits, cancer screenings, immunizations and colonoscopies.

Approximately 3.6 million seniors on Medicare saved $2.1 billion on their medicine last year and premiums on Medicare Advantage policies have fallen by 7 percent this year.

Over 2.5 million more young adults up to 26 years of age are now covered under their parents’ health insurance thus reducing premiums and dramatically lowering the number of uninsured in this age bracket.

Approximately 7 million low-income children, whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to purchase health insurance on their own, will continue to be eligible for the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through Sept. 30, 2019. CHIP provides these children with affordable, comprehensive, high-quality health coverage.

Tens of thousands of Americans who were previously uninsured because of medical conditions now have affordable health insurance through the Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plans administrated by the states or federal government.

Hundreds of thousands of businesses with less than 25 employees have reduced their health care costs due to the small business health insurance tax credits.

Tens of thousands of Americans each year are not having their health insurance policies cancelled because they have reached previously allowed lifetime limits.

All these benefits of the Affordable Care Act were accomplished with little impact on health care cost. According to a recent report by Medicare actuaries, all health care spending increased by 3.9 percent in 2010 (latest data available) with only 0.1 percent a result of the ACA.

Yet a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 14 percent of Americans understand that they have benefited from the ACA while about 66 percent said that the law hasn’t affected them and 21 percent claimed that the ACA has had a negative effect on them.

Obviously there is a disconnect between how the ACA has benefited the public and perception. There are two explanations for this.

First, the ACA benefits are not being attributed to the law. There is no note accompanying the receiving of the benefits that gives credit to the ACA, something supporters should have required in the law.

Second, opponents of the ACA have been loud and relentless with misinformation and disparaging commenting. There is no other explanation for 21 percent believing that they have been harmed.

The ACA continues to roll out with a few bumps in the road. But in spite of the critics, the benefits of this historic and vital health care reform will continue to grow.

Frank Knapp is president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. Sue Berkowitz is director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

Conservatives think corporations are people. Conservatives think women are not people. Conservatives think that legislation which was long past due that has saved lives and money is tyranny. In other words there is not much difference between how conservatives see the world and a 17th century mythic with brain damage.

Blue Skyscrapers City wallpaper – For Conservatives Malevolence is a Valid Lifestyle Choice

Blue Skyscrapers City wallpaper

 

Like most debates, once the issue is chiseled down to the facts and the deeper moral implications, conservatives lose. Having a female conservative take up where Limbaugh left off is not going to change any of the facts. It is also not going to change the element of misogyny and the highly personalized nature of the smear, CNN’s Dana Loesch And The Bullying Campaign Against Sandra Fluke

Amid the controversy over Rush Limbaugh’s misogynistic attacks on Sandra Fluke, CNN contributor Dana Loesch has aggressively pursued the right-wing campaign to bully the Georgetown law student. After announcing that she would call Fluke “whatever I want,” Loesch has called Fluke a “nympho” and used her radio show and posts at Big Journalism to claim that Fluke “embarrass[ed] herself and her sex by … discussing about how she has a huge inability to control her sexual urges.”

Here again either Loesch did not hear or read what M’s Fluke actually said or has made the conscious decision to be malevolent and dishonest.

In sixty-five percent of cases, our female students were interrogated by insurance representatives and university medical staff about why they needed these prescriptions and whether they were lying about their symptoms. For my friend, and 20% of women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription, despite verification of her illness from her doctor. Her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted the birth control to prevent pregnancy. She’s gay, so clearly polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy. [Fluke testimony]

According to Wikipedia Dana Loesch is currently married and has two children. Only two. That seems odd for a 34 year old woman. Biologically she is capable of having far more than two children. One suspects that she and/or her husband use some kind of contraception. Thus the conservative equation, not mine, is that Loesch must be a person of lose morals. The pill equals uncontrollable “sexual urges” according to Loesch. Loesch also make the false claim that people everywhere are being forced to pay for Fluke and her friends contraceptives. No one is paying for anyone’s contraception. That are or should be part of Fluke’s insurance benefits, which she and her friends pay for. If the insurance company provides them for free, once again no one is paying for them. the insurance company saves money by not having to pay for the medical consequences – like an ovarian cyst – for not having the contraceptives. So even in just pure capitalistic terms, contraceptives are a win for health insurance companies. I would say shame on Loesch, but she not only has no moral sensibility on which I can prevail, she is well aware that she makes more money pandering to mouth breathing conservative Neanderthals than being factual.

CBS’s Mark Knoller Falsely Claims Debt Has Increased More Under Obama Than Bush. Knoller is not an unpaid blogger. He is a journalist who gets paid to present facts. Just as doctors are bound by a higher set of ethics than the average person, so are journalists. It would have taken him all of five minutes to prove his do a little research and prove his math wrong.

In 2001, the national debt Bush inherited was around $5.7T, give or take. Some of that debt in 2001 has to be attributed to Clinton, just as some of the debt in 2009 when Obama took office has to be attributed to Bush. When W. left office in 2009, the debt was nearly $11T. That’s an increase of 89 percent.

Under Obama, the debt has increased from about $11T to about $15T, about 40 percent.

And what’s behind that increase? Historically low taxes and historically low revenues — and the worst financial crash since the 1930s. There’s been no “binge” in spending, as Knoller wants you to believe.

President Obama and Congressional Democrats have been the second most fiscally conservative administration in modern history. The Big Dog, Bill Clinton edged out Obama just slightly. There is no Obama spending spree

Michael Linden, the director of tax and budget policy at the Center for American Progress, broke down the numbers. He looked back five years to January 2007. At that time, the Congressional Budget Office forecast that the federal government would run a surplus of $170 billion in 2012.

But then something happened. By the time Obama took office in January 2009, the CBO had changed its tune and was projecting a deficit of $264 billion in 2012. What intervened was the Great Recession, brought on by Wall Street’s recklessness and years of free-market “regulators” looking the other way.

Spending also increased in 2007 and 2008 primarily for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that Bush refused to pay for. All told, Linden finds that 35 percent of the differential between the CBO’s 2007 estimates and the reality of 2012 was caused by events that preceded Obama’s term. ( Let’s not lay all the blame on Bush. Conservatives controlled Congress for six of Bush’s 8 years in office and they never paid for their spending.)

The rest of the story — fully 48 percent of the differential — is one of sharply reduced revenues. When Obama moved into the White House in January 2009, the CBO was projecting 2012 revenues at $3.1 trillion. Now the CBO says this year’s revenues will be just $2.5 trillion, a loss of nearly $600 billion. Yes, the prolonged economic troubles are part of the equation, but approximately $335 billion is due to the extension of the Bush tax cuts.

Of what remains, only 9 percent is attributable to higher-than-expected nondefense spending. Linden says most of that is recession-related, including the last of the stimulus dollars and extra demands on federal unemployment benefits.

What this proves is that Obama’s new domestic spending is not driving up the country’s deficit. Blame the wars and lack of revenues, policies written in stone before Obama took office. Had the Bush tax cuts never gone into effect, the national debt would be about $3 trillion lower than the $15 trillion that it is now.

 

Conservatives versus liberals. Imagine how much better the liberal side would be if the stimulus had been larger and conservative governors had not gone on a firing binge.

Conservatives could have sharply reduced the deficit, but as those of us not high on the kool-aid remember, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Boehner (R-OH) held the country hostage to keep the Bush tax cuts rather than reduce the deficit. Conservatives have one major fiscal policy goal – to disassemble the safety net. The bigger they can make the deficit, the bigger club they have to knock any spending. Since we live in a country where a sizable minority of the populace has declared allegiance to the virtues of urban myths, bizarre logic and venality, conservatives make bank robbers look like model citizens by comparison. Conservatives have and will continue to steal the value produced by labor – the middle-class and working poor – and redistribute it to billionaires. In the dark warped recesses of the conservative mind, this daily theft is what passes for capitalism. As a fan of capitalism this gives me another reason to have less than great respect for conservatives. They are doing more to give it a bad name than Stalin or Mao in their wildest dreams.

Primarily Endless

Also! One of Mitt Romney’s top economic advisors, former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush and Harvard Professor Greg Mankiw, posted a GREAT joke on his blog yesterday [content note for racism and ageism]: “Budget Cuts: The Immigration Department will start deporting seniors (instead of illegals) in order to lower Social Security and Medicare costs. Older people are easier to catch and less likely to remember how to get home.” (emphasis mine)

It is a joke or what passes for humor in conservative circles. I’ve seem much worse. Though this is an opportunity to see how the psyche of the conservative movement works. The best goals, the goals that an lightened nation of Jeffersonian ideals should strive towards is not jobs for everyone, not health care for everyone, not income security in your retirement years. No, what we should work toward is making sure that some of the wealthiest people who have ever been on this  planet not have to pay a few percent more in taxes. Anyone who subtracts even a few pennies from that tremendous mountain of unearned wealth should be caught in a net and cast out of the country.

America’s Uninsured Belt

Uninsured states are significantly more religious, based on the percentage of state residents who say that religion plays an important role in their everyday life. The correlation between the two is .51.

Politics and ideology factor in as well. Conservative states (based both on the percentage of state residents who identify as conservatives (.58) and the percentage of who voted for McCain in 2008 (.60) have a higher percentage of uninsured citizens. Economics also comes into play. There is a positive correlation between the percent of a population that is uninsured and the poverty rate (.58). Blue-collar and working class states also boast a higher level of uninsured (.40).

So much for that old sociological canard that given choices people will vote in favor of their own rational self interests. there is nothing wrong with having faith in and of itself. It is the way that some people twist faith to believe in wrong and force that wrong on others. Americans that study U.S. history should be familiar with the phenomena of twisting religion into something dark and extreme. The Salem Witch Trials were conducted over by some very righteous judges, 21 people were executed. Another three died in custody.

Top Romney Adviser Says Romney Can Change His Positions After The Primaries: ‘It’s Almost Like An Etch A Sketch’.

Mitt Romney can’t be held accountable for his extreme right-wing views, at least according to his campaign’s senior adviser, who said the candidate should be given a “reset button” on any positions he’s taken during the primary campaign if he wins the nominations and faces off against President Obama in the fall.

This doesn’t matter to me, but conservatives might not be thrilled.

What is wrong with Cliff Stearns?

We learned last week that Rep. Cliff Stearns (R), at a town-hall meeting in his Florida district, questions the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate. Yesterday, he made matters much worse.

At the town-hall meeting, it seemed at least plausible to me that the far-right Republican was simply humoring a strange constituent. Stearns didn’t bring up the “birther” garbage, but instead lent it credence in his public remarks, which was certainly irresponsible and offensive, but at least left open the possibility that Stearns doesn’t seriously believe this nonsense.

Alas, the congressman meant what he said.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), a top member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on Tuesday said he’s not yet convinced that President Obama’s birth certificate is legitimate.

“I am, shall we say, looking at all the evidence,” Stearns told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday.

Anyone seen Stearn’s birth certificate? Didn’t think so. You know why. He is a secret plant from a terrorist organization planted here years ago to undermine the Constitution and pervert the real meaning of patriotism. That is the absolute truth or will be while I weigh all the evidence.

I got this picture off the Twitter thingy from @lisaling

Mountain Lake Spring wallpaper – Conservatism is a Hollow Movement Without a Moral Conscience

Mountain Lake Spring wallpaper

 

I wrote a post once about how conservatives latch onto a recent news item and give it their spin. The spin consists of all or several components – outright lies, various degrees of distortion, the sin of omission – these frequently forget to mention that conservatives did or said the same thing. Conservatives claim there are  WMD in Iraq. They’re proven wrong. Days, weeks and sometimes months go by. Conservatives claim they have found new evidence of WMD. We all go over to Fox or NBC or wherever and wait for this amazing news to break. Once again it turns out conservatives have manufactured their own reality. It has been a couple of weeks since the whole Limbaugh controversy with Sandra Fluke and a couple of years since the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said that in the long run the ACA would indeed save money. So no surprise that both those issues are up for some conservative spin recycling. They are using the same lies and distortions as the first time. One assumes they think everyone will buy the same bull if it given a fresh coat of shrill. The quiet voice of evil, the Nurse Ratched of conservatism Victor Davis Hanson ( an intellectual – it says so all over conservative web sites that publish his drool) makes the new fresh and invigorating observation that Bill Maher’s insult of Sarah Palin is actually worse than Limbaugh’s is of Sandra Fluke and other women. I wrote about how absurd the comparison was here that included condemning Maher for his remark. My facts and clarity about false equivalence seem such puny things now compared to the razor-sharp insights of the great conservative intellectual Hanson,

David Axelrod’s moral-equivalence argument that Limbaugh’s smear is worse than Maher’s because the former is both more influential and more identifiable with Republican circles is a sad sort of sophistry. Limbaugh may have a larger audience, but I suspect if you googled “Rush Limbaugh” and compared it to “Bill Maher,” the so-called hits would be about the same, given the latter’s ability, through political profanity and contrived P.T. Barnum–like antics, to find enormous publicity and influence beyond what his mediocre talents as a comedian might otherwise earn.

Hanson suspects that “the so-called hits would be about the same”! Ever consider that possibility? I know I certainly hadn’t.

If only there were a way to determine whether it’s true!

… Oh, wait — I’ve been informed by an eight-year-old that there actually is a way to determine whether it’s true:

Google “Rush Limbaugh”
Search About 32,200,000 results (0.29 seconds)

Google “Bill Maher”
Search About 14,500,000 results (0.18 seconds)

Ye old Google Hits Speculation Theorem. Only in this case not only did it not prove Hanson’s case, it proved that Hanson was too lazy to try it himself – all that typing and hitting enter. All beneath the great man. This election cycle Maher has given a million bucks to a Obama PAC. So declared allegiances or not, at least for this election cycle that makes him a Democratic supporter. Has Maher, previous to this year ever headed a fundraiser for a Senate candidate from any party? No. Limbaugh has, including one for John Cronyn(R-TX). When asked to condemn Limbaugh’s remarks about Iraq military veterans who opposed the war in Iraq, Limbaugh had called them all “phony soldiers” – Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Orrin Hatch(R-UT) defended Limbaugh. has any Democratic president ever sent Maher a letter thinking him for helping get Democrats elected? No. Limbaugh did receive a letter from Reagan which he thanked him “for all you’re doing to promote Republican and conservative principles … [and] you have become the Number One voice for conservatism in our Country.” Any high-ranking Democratic officials think Maher is the Number One voice for moderate Democrats like Obama. Limbaugh was given a broadcast award by the loony conservative media watchers at Media Research Center run by a conservative Brent Bozell ( a morally twisted character that regularly frequents Fox News. Even heard of Bill Maher being given an award by an actual Democratic organization or think-tank for his work on behalf of Democrats. No, because Maher is an outsider. he is wealthy and has a fair-sized soap box in the media, but he is not a Democratic activists, fundraiser and ideological leader the way Limbaugh is. For those who do not keep up with conservative gatherings, CPAC is their big annual conference. CPAC is hosted by the American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF), a 501(c)3 charity. Speakers have included Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Pat Buchanan, Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tony Snow, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. A gathering or morally confused freaks, so it makes sense that Limbaugh should be a speaker. Clearly Maher does not like conservatives, especially social conservatives and the neocons. he has never made a political speech at a large Democratic meeting urging the take down of a sitting conservative president. Now all of that took a few minutes. I did not get paid to do the research. Unlike Hanson I am not on wing-nut welfare at the Hoover Institute. Maybe the deal with conservative intellectuals is that when they pronounce their ever so grave and serious judgement, they don’t need no stink’n arguments that include evidence. They say things. Like the gods, the mere act of speaking makes their words true.

Back in 2009 the CBO released its analysis of the Affordable care Act (ACA) and found that it would save the nation – government and individuals – money. So of course the conservatives lies started – OK they had already started and the CBO report gave them something to either distort or claim the CBO had been taken over by Maoists from Mars. A few of us have noticed that some years have gone by since than and we had another analysis – with a new time frame – you know because time passes and all – so like clockwork more conservatives lies – No, Obamacare’s Cost Didn’t Just Double. Sigh.

But there is nothing new or surprising about this. It’s only slightly more money than the previous year’s outlays. The ten-year number seems to jump only because the time frame for the estimate has moved, dropping one year, 2011, and adding another, 2022. Obamacare has virtually no outlays in 2011, because the Medicaid expansion and subsidies don’t start up until 2014, which means the shifting time frame drops a year of no implementation and adds one of full implementation.

Still, doesn’t that just validate what the law’s critics have always said, that the administration was playing games to hide the program’s true impact on the deficit? Hardly. Remember, this is just the raw cost of expanding insurance coverage we’re talking about here—in other words, the money the federal government is sending out the door. The new law also calls for new revenue, in the form of taxes and penalties. It also reduces spending, mostly through Medicare, to help offset the cost of the coverage expansion. When the Affordable Care Act became law, CBO estimated that the net result of all these changes, taken together, would be to reduce the deficit. Now, with this revised estimate, CBO has decided the law will reduce the deficit by even more money.

Yes, you read that right: The real news of the CBO estimate is that, according to its models, health care reform is going to save even more taxpayer dollars than previously thought.

As I wrote about Saturday conservatives in Congress have their own privatized boondoggle. On the surface and only the surface it looks like the ACA except it is a way to finally end Medicare. So it remains strange that they oppose Obamacare – which is really Romneycare – which was based on a conservative plan endorsed by the far Right Heritage Foundation. If this makes no sense it is because many people like to have some guiding principles in the way they view things and aspects of public policy they would like to see improved. Conservatives have no guiding moral principles per se. Thus they can have all kinds of conflicting opinions. Krugman takes note in this brief blog posts about how things work in Conservaistan, The Mighty Wurlitzer in Action

Read the comments on today’s column and you’ll find many, many references to the alleged fact that the estimated cost of the ACA has risen by a trillion dollars — which happens to be a complete lie.

The remarkable thing is how quickly the lie has become part of what everyone on the right knows. And even if some of the people citing this “fact” could somehow be convinced that it wasn’t so, they’d brush it off, because there’s such a pattern of liberal duplicity, demonstrated by lots of other supposed facts — all of which are also lies.

This is the reality of modern American politics: a large and cohesive bloc of voters lives in an alternative reality, fed fake facts by Fox and Rush — whom they listen to out of tribal affiliation — and completely unaware that it’s all fiction.

It’s also, by the way, why attempts at outreach by Obama will fail. Even if he gives the GOP 95 percent of what it wants, these voters will never hear about it; they will still know, just know, that he’s a radical bent on destroying America.

One of the psychological hurdles that the general public has to get over after fifty plus years of conservatives wrapping their pure unadulterated crap in the flag and the Bible, is that they do not and will never love the USA. They love America as Pottersville. They love the dream of a future USA as some dysfunctional kingdom with half the population as serfs – a professional class to attend to their needs – and the ruling overlords – the plutocracy. They are almost there. Like Frederick Douglas I believe that work is good for one’s character and that people who work should be rewarded. Conservatives want everyone to believe that the 1% are the hardest working people in America and we must not do anything to upset them – the rest fo us, the people who do actual work – are the leeches. Conservatives are the people who lied us into Iraq and spent a trillion dollars to rebuild it, than raged against any bill that would help average Americans. It was a conservative administration with help from Congressional conservatives who bailed out Wall Street and calls the people who were reduced to collecting food stamps, because of Wall Street’s criminality, lazy. When is the last time Limbaugh or the Koch brothers cut their own lawn or waxed their own limos.

Just recently a Goldman Sachs executive blow the whistle on Goldman. Why is Goldman – one of the major players in bringing about the financial meltdown able to be back up to speed, engaging in the same outrageous behavior they were before the recession. One of the people you can thank is Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) Weakened Restrictions On Goldman Sachs Abuses Aired By Whistleblower

In his public resignation letter in today’s New York Times, former Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith said that one of the fastest ways to get ahead with the firm is to persuade clients “to invest in the stocks or other products that [the firm is] trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit.” He lambastes a firm culture where colleagues openly boast of “ripping their clients off.”

The sad thing is, this sort of shady might well have been on the way to being curtailed if not for the actions of Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). After Brown was elected to the senate in 2010, he threatened to join a Republican filibuster of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, using that threat to significantly water down the bill. Among the industry-favored concessions he extracted was weakening of the “Volcker rule,” which was meant to curb risky speculative investments that do not benefit customers.

brown was sweep into the Senate on a wave of tea bagger propaganda. Always one to be substanceless, no wonder Brown has been caught using the late liberal lion Sen. Ted Kennedy for political cover. Brown is a kind of poster boy for early 21st century politics, he stands for everything and nothing. He sticks his finger into the wind and tries to gauge what will keep him in office. If that means screwing over working class Americans, he is obviously glad to do that. If it means flip and flopping on women’s rights he’ll do that so often no one knows what he stands for. If it means being a puppet for the same people who brought the nation to its economic knees he’ll recite Goldman talking points verbatim.

Antique Map of Ireland 1598 – They Will Not Die, The Conservative Zombies

   Click here for larger image: A Modern Depiction of Ireland, One of the British Isles, 1598 CE

This map was the most modern and sophisticated of the period. It was made by Abraham Ortelius (1527-98),  a Flemish engraver and businessman.

“They won’t stay dead.”  Night of the Living Dead (1968). A movie about conservatives who keep trying to gut Medicare? It could have been. Part of conservative dogma is the worship of free market solutions for everything. There would be nothing especially wrong with that if free market solutions always worked perfectly. As we learned in 1929, 1960, 1982 and 2007 free markets are not always perfect. Not being human in and of themselves, they do not care about people. The people themselves have pretty darn reliable and resilient. That being the case programs like Medicare, a program by and for the people – using some free-market tools ( private physicians and hospitals) has proven to be very successful at providing the services promised regardless of what the market does or what party controls Congress. All while controlling costs better than the pure free market arrangement between business, employees and health care providers. You know the old saying, if it ain’t broke don’t leave it alone. Conservatives do not believe in that. because Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid are heresy. That is what it boils down to. Not the facts. Not what works and what does not. Those who think that Medicare is a great if imperfect solution to health care for seniors and the disabled – you’re a heretic. Those the undead quality of conservative crusade against a program that works. ‘Mediscare,’ Republican style

If you’re thinking of answering this in the affirmative, you might want to pause long enough to learn what transpired on the third floor of the Capitol on Thursday. There, four prominent Republican lawmakers announced their proposal to abolish Medicare — “sunset” was their pseudo-verb — even for those currently on the program or nearing retirement.

In Medicare’s place would be a private plan that would raise the eligibility age and shift trillions of dollars worth of health-care coverage from the government to the elderly. “This will be the new Medicare,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the proposal’s author, announced.

For years, Republicans have insisted that they would not end Medicare as we know it and that any changes to the program would not affect those in or near retirement. In the span of 20 minutes Thursday, they jettisoned both promises.

[  ]….The end-Medicare sponsors are key figures: DeMint is the godfather of the Tea Party, and he was joined by Paul and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), two conservative rising stars. Completing the foursome was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an influential thinker. Two other Republican senators, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, have introduced a somewhat related plan to deal with Medicare, and Rep. Paul Ryan’s House Republican budget would also privatize Medicare, though on a slower timetable.

They avoided the term “vouchers” this time – at least according to the article. Enrolling seniors and one assumes the disabled in a government subsidized program like members of Congress is the new way to gut Medicare. The part they would subsidize is a lot like how vouchers would work ( the squirrelly plan from Paul Ryan (R-WI) which would have plunged millions of seniors into poverty and/ or without health care). Why is shoe horning everyone into this subsidized program so much better? Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says so. This is all very urgent because, you know, Medicare is going broke in ten years, oh and Iraq has WMD. Medicare’s future has some issues in terms of costs, but those are not due to the program itself, they are due to spiraling health care costs. neither this new undead attack or Ryan’s old undead attack on Medicare has is a solution. On the contrary, they both say here is a little something, try to survive on it. That is not an answer. That is a complete lack of morals and economic justice.

Conservatives and Medicare

ObamaCare -The Affordable Care Act has provisions that will make Medicare more sustainable. Here is the irony. The ACA is a free market solution to health insurance for people under 65. The insurance exchanges are only a type of listing service with pricing. Conservatives want to dismantle a solution for those under 65 that resembles in many ways the program they are proposing for those over 65. So President Obama and Democrats have signed up for free markets solutions for the majority of the population – leaving us all to deal with that mine field – conservatives are opposed. President Obama and Democrats want to save Medicare. conservatives want to turn Medicare into something that looks in some ways like Obamacare or Romneycare. Like a lot of rigid dogma – which does not allow for reason and wisdom – the conservative take on Medicare and the ACA resembles the attacks of regressive zealots during The Age of Reason.

Firm Romney Founded Is Tied to Chinese Surveillance

In December, a Bain-run fund in which a Romney family blind trust has holdings purchased the video surveillance division of a Chinese company that claims to be the largest supplier to the government’s Safe Cities program, a highly advanced monitoring system that allows the authorities to watch over university campuses, hospitals, mosques and movie theaters from centralized command posts.

[  ]…Mr. Romney has had no role in Bain’s operations since 1999 and had no say over the investment in China. But the fortunes of Bain and Mr. Romney are still closely tied.

The financial disclosure forms Mr. Romney filed last August show that a blind trust in the name of his wife, Ann Romney, held a relatively small stake of between $100,000 and $250,000 in the Bain Capital Asia fund that purchased Uniview.

I’m going to take up for Romney a little on this one.  Romney deserves a little heat just because he has tried to use China and trade as an issue against Obama. Mittens can’t have it both ways. Many American companies sell various kinds of security software and technology to nations with less than great human rights records. If you own mutual funds or your pension owns such investment tools, you probably – abet inadvertently support some not so nice people in China, Saudi Arabia or another twenty or so nations on Humans Rights Watch has listed as being authoritarian. Let’s say the Progressive Democratic Caucus tried to pass a bill tomorrow that stopped trade or imposed protectionist level trade sanctions against China or whoever until they cleaned up their act – there would be a collective cry of outrage from the Right and many not so bad American corporations ( Apple, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, among hundreds of others). Just this past November the far Right editors at The National Review wrote,

The final goal of the United States should be a high-quality, pan-Asian free-trade agreement that includes Japan, and eventually China…

November 16, 2011 4:00 A.M.
Bring Free Trade to the Far East

They hedged with the bit about “high-quality”, that could be walked back to mean anything, but they were very high on an Asian wide free trade agreement.

It is not generally considered crazy to pray, to talk to one’s deity. On the other hand when someone thinks that deity is telling them what to do. Than there is the matter of conflicts when the same deity tells several people, hey you’re my favorite. Mark Twain would have a field day with this crowd, “God’s Will”?: Sarah Palin’s Secret Plot to Capture the White House in 2012

In her widely reported interview with CNN on Super Tuesday, she openly stated that she would consider accepting the nomination at a brokered GOP convention:

Anything is possible. I don’t close any doors that perhaps would be open out there, so, no, I wouldn’t close that door. My plan is to be at that convention.

It’s a line she has uttered repeatedly ever since her ill-fated candidacy as John McCain’s running mate in 2008. To most casual observers of the American political process, even Republicans, this would seem to border on the delusional. Her favorability rating among the general populace is now staggeringly low. In many circles, she is a laughingstock or a punch line. She didn’t even bother to enter the primaries. Even Ann Coulter has now turned against her.

[  ]…At least one source close to the Palin family in Wasilla, Alaska, has confirmed that Palin “still believes it is God’s will” that she serve as president, if not in 2012 then perhaps in 2016. Every move she has made in recent months — every attack on Romney and Obama, every push for an elongated primary, every speculation about an open convention — has been issued with this political calculation in mind.

In the aftermath of the devastating portrayal of Palin in HBO’s Game Change, Palin’s once-close political associate in Alaska, the good-government activist Andree McLeod, told me yesterday:

People can laugh all they want, but she ain’t done. She’s only developed a tougher skin through all ‘this’ and, out of desperation, has to inflict more damage for reasons only Sarah and her constantly-changing set of patrons knows. She has become even more dangerous and desperate.

Maybe there is some static on the heavenly line when Mittens, Santorum and Palin are listening since they all seem to think – you know who – wants them, and them alone to be president. Conservatives tend to have the values of a 12th century inquisitor so it is another bit of irony that they are all being a little heretical. Their respective followers tend to eat this divine providence stuff up as well, which does not speak well to their state of mind or moral compass.

The Case for Crazy: What the GOP Would Learn by Picking Rick Santorum

Giving a self-identified “full-spectrum conservative” theo-con like Santorum the nomination would mean we’d really have a “choice, not an echo” election in November. Republicans would be forced to confront the fact that talk about Satan attacking America, negative obsessions with homosexuality, contraception and opposition to abortion even in cases of rape and incest alienates far more people than they attract.

Our politics are looking more and more like a cult because of unprecedented polarization—any issue where there is deviation from accepted orthodoxy leads to an attempted purge. It is absurd that clownish conservative caricatures like Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain were briefly elevated to the top of the polls while more sober-minded presidential candidates with executive experience like Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman Jr. failed to gain any traction. The result is the weakest Republican field in living memory.

John Avlon is pretty savvy guy when it comes to politics, but I disagree about this being a weak field now or the field the Right had six months ago. It is very representative of the conservative movement. He should check out the snipping between different camps of supporters in conservative blogs some time. Their attacks on each other do not make any more sense than their attacks on anyone left of center. It seems that whoever can get the angriest, get in the dirtiest insult, the most venal put-down, is the winner. Facts, the best public policy based on a study they read, basic decency and genuine morality – have nothing to do with who they support. The only thing missing is the actual pitchforks and bonfires.