The Twisted Propaganda Machine of the Conservative WSJ, ALEC and Stephen Moore

Tuscan Spring wallpaper

Tuscan Spring wallpaper

If readers tick to the main news articles the Wall Street Journal is not completely submerged in Murdoch’s patented conservative yellow journalism. Though like many newspaper outlets they shape the news by what they report and how they report it. A main news article may be true, but lacks details important to tell the whole story. By covering certain aspects of, say, legislative news, repeatedly, they can project a picture of something as slightly radical – like equal pay for women working the same or similar jobs as men. That’s not radical, that is a mainstream American value concerning fairness and decency. Where Murdoch and the conservative movement really make their mark is on the editorial pages. In Conservoworld  all news is just opinion, but even actual opinions must have some basis in fairness and reality. If it is my opinion the world is flat, I don’t get off the hook for being a crank. Whatever my opinion on the earth’s shape, it is not flat. If someone feels that the HPV vaccine is bad idea, they still need to justify the death and suffering they might cause by perpetuating voodoo medical opinions from a big soapbox. The WSJ and  WSJ conservative Editorial Board Member Stephen Moore feels they can disseminate all the voodoo they like and do so without regard for basic journalistic ethics, The Wall Street Journal’s latest defense of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), penned by WSJ Editorial Board Member Stephen Moore, fails to disclose Moore’s deep ties to ALEC.

Moore’s op-ed attacks U.S. Senator Richard Durbin for scrutinizing ALEC’s role in peddling the Florida “Stand Your Ground” legislation as a model for the nation for more than six years. That law was initially cited to prevent the arrest of George Zimmerman for shooting Florida teenager Trayvon Martin to death, and that law proved to be instrumental in the failure to convict after the jury was instructed that in accordance with that law Zimmerman had a “right to stand his ground” and had “no duty to retreat.”

However, Moore failed to disclose anywhere in that op-ed that he has a long-standing working relationship with ALEC. These close ties include the facts that:Wall Street Journal Ed Board Member Stephen Moore

since at least 2007, Moore has been on ALEC’s “Board of Scholars,” one of five people with that designation; since 2007, Moore has been the co-author of one of ALEC’s main publications, “Rich States, Poor States,” which claims to rank the performance of states in accordance with their adherence to ALEC’s ideal economic policies, reports that have been strongly criticized; since joining WSJ’s editorial board in 2005, Moore has presented on issues such as reducing corporate tax rates at ALEC’s closed door task force meetings, where corporate lobbyists vote as equals with state legislators on “model bills” to be introduced into law in state capitols; and in 2009, ALEC said Moore “represents what we should expect of all journalists,” and gave him its “Warren Brookes Award” for “journalistic excellence”

[  ]…Byline of ALEC’s Rich States, Poor States Similarly, in the WSJ op-ed when he quoted newly-elected Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Moore failed to note that Cruz is one of the featured “plugs” for the 6th edition of this piece of work Moore co-writes that is published by ALEC. Likewise, in the op-ed when Moore quoted an unnamed board member of ALEC, he failed to mention his own long-time post on ALEC’s Board of Scholars.

Ted Cruz (R-TX) is remarkable for his ability to be a particular large freak in a conservative tent brimming over with freaks. ALEC is nothing more than the organized crime wing of the conservative movement. I forget his name, But I’ll never forget the Democratic congressional representative that said he was not so much surprised at the illegal things conservatives do, but the things they get away with that are supposedly legal. It is clever to have so much cash and powerful connections that they can twist arms to get anything they want, but ethical it is not. What remains of the old Pajamas Media – a network of conservative bloggers, gleefully and as often as possible bleep about how this administration has not delivered on all the transparency they promised. They is quite the shameless hypocrisy from people who voted for Bush-Cheney Inc. and support ALEC. ALEC is all about closed doors, deals made and legislation passed in the middle of the night. They’re the real deal, the Darth Vaders you see in political thrillers. No wonder Moore and the WSJ does not want the public to know that when they speak, they’re puppets for their ALEC puppet masters.

Extolling the virtues of stupidity is not an American value, Texas GOP rejects ‘critical thinking’ skills. Really.

Conservative Confederacy Lite,  Modern Vote Suppression Better Than Jim Crow, Still Pretty Bad

Conservative Republican Playbook, page one chapter one: When we can’t win by telling the truth, lie, lie some more and lie to cover up the lies, Bogus Study Tries to Scare “Young Invincibles” Away from Obamacare

Poor, Poor Pitiful Conservatives

The War balloon at General M'Dowell's head-quarters preparing for a reconnoissance

The War balloon at General M’Dowell’s head-quarters preparing for a reconnaissance.  Illus. from: Harper’s weekly, 1861 Oct. 26, p. 679.

 

Its a weekend linkfest:

 The Tea Party’s paranoid aestheticTo understand the powerful appeal of the movement to many of its adherents, a narrative history is first required

Important as this is — and it is very important; its combination of righteousness and victimization is essential to the Tea Party’s image of itself as Innocence Aggrieved — it should not blind us to the second function of Beck’s rhetoric. For not only does his language summon a morally polarized universe (with all the benefits, tactical and personal, of such a scheme), but in doing so it underwrites a basic purpose of any narrative: It creates drama. The first duty of any storyteller is to hold the interest of his audience, and every prospective writer learns that the easiest way to do so is through conflict. But not all conflicts are created equal. Call your book “Deliver Us From a Less Than Fully Optimal Balancing of the Various Interests Involved in the Management of Global Conflict” and relatively few will beat a digital path to Amazon in search of it. But call it “Deliver Us From Evil,” as Tea Party favorite Sean Hannity did in 2004, and the dramatic appeal of your tome increases exponentially. If Beck had told his audience that the IRS’s mistake was just that — an error in judgment by well-intentioned, overworked bureaucrats — he would have been a) vastly more consistent with the available evidence and b) vastly more boring. In Tea Party politics, reasonable is what closes on Saturday night.

But the drama of Beck’s story doesn’t derive solely from his inflamed diction. It has a second, even more important, source. If we set aside the way in which he describes his dramatis personae and focus, instead, on what they do — on plot rather than character — we immediately notice something peculiar. Beck’s cast is crowded: There are federal agencies, journalists, civil rights groups, ministers, political parties, pilgrims. And Dr. King. And hookers. This suggests, superficially anyway, a plot with the potential to be somewhat complex. But the structure of Beck’s narrative mirrors the simplicity of its characters. There are many actors, but only two roles: oppressors and oppressed. The latter are represented by those increasingly rare descendants of our libertarian forbears who will “not abide convenient lies,” the former by everyone else. For Beck, a Virtuous Remnant confronts a landscape that is uniformly hostile. How many divisions do the “circus masters” have? Plenty. The IRS, EPA, ATF and FBI. The Republicans and the Democrats. Journalists. Civil rights and religious leaders. Feminists. Everywhere the Virtuous look, they are surrounded by those who want to corrupt and subvert them, to enslave them.

I did want to correct one thing that Kim Messick did in this very good essay, or at least left readers with the impression, that there was an IRS scandal. Even from hours after the media spread the news with the lede the IRS had “targeted” conservative groups, we knew that no conservative group has been denied its 501 tax exempt status, not one. We have since found out that language was used in the executive summary of the Inspector General’s report at the request of the perennially sleazy Darrell Issa (R-CA). Having grown up around the religious I have developed a automatic ignore mechanism. For my entire life they have been screaming and whining about their victim-hood. Beck is a fair example. he makes tens of millions of dollars a year. he does not make any great products, has never invented anything, if he wants to build a bridge he will have to call someone with the intelligence and expertise to do it. He has a mediocre mind, but is clover at manipulating his core audience. They buy his books, products and give him the ratings to make money from advertising. What does he do. he literally cries over how tough his life is. He goes on and on about how America is going to hell in a hand basket as he counts the stacks of money he has. As the tea party and far Right libertarians will always tell you in a comments section, they have houses and cars and pay taxes. Which is another way of saying they are doing well, yet thw end times are around the corner and they are suffering untold, immeasurable hardships. They’re both doing fine and carrying tremendous burdens. God loves them and is directly looking after them, yet their lives are also pure hell. Conservatives have been one big bundle of hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance for decades. They’re going to run that old dog until it dies, then stuff it and run it some more.

6 of the Nuttiest Right-Wing Statements Just from this Week Alone. Conservatives want us to understand two things, they hate immigrants and they will only tolerant their own brand of religious extremism.

Charter school threatened teachers for trying to unionize. And they’re using tax payer money to fight unionization. Hypocrisy is not just a noun, for conservatives it is an addictive drug.

Richard Wolff on Fighting for Economic Justice and Fair Wages. You can watch the video or read the transcript.

BILL MOYERS: But as the economist Dean Baker points out this week, “If the minimum wage had risen in step with productivity growth it would be over $16.50 an hour today.” We talk a lot about what’s happening to the middle class, but the American Dream’s really become a nightmare for the poor. Just about everyone has an opinion about the trouble we’re in – the blame game is at fever pitch in Washington, where obstinate Republicans and hapless Democrats once again play kick-the-can with the problems we face. You wish they would just stop and listen to Richard Wolff.

An attentive and systematic observer of capitalism and democracy, he taught economics for 25 years at the University of Massachusetts and has published books such as “Democracy at Work,” “Occupy the Economy,” and “Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do about It.”

Sarah Palin, Howard Dean, and Liberal Bloggers All Making Mistakes In Discussing the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board. I hope those liberal bloggers will read this and correct accordingly. Palin does not have enough character to admit errors.

The Conservative Tea Party Still Stoned On Delusions

Lake and Mountain Range wallpaper

Lake and Mountain Range wallpaper

Steve has written one of the must read posts about Benghazi,  WINGERS HAPPY TO SCRAP THEIR ENTIRE BENGHAZI SCANDAL IN FAVOR OF A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BENGHAZI SCANDAL, featured in this post at Crooks and Liars. Another post featured at C and L is this,  There’s A Reason Why All Of The Reports About Benghazi Are So Confusing. Maybe its a just-me situation, but I do not find it especially confusing. Benghazi was basically a CIA op with some embassy personnel. We knew this almost from the first week and President Obama’s official statement and later when House Republicans were told the same thing by the CIA. The only real news that is kinda new is the size of the armed CIA force on the ground. Which is one of the reason the conspiracy theories conservatives started with – unprotected embassy, Obama weak on national security fell apart and now they are literally debating the number of armed agents. Erin Burnett has always been a willing water carrier for the far Right, CNN Benghazi Special Pushes Debunked And Deceptive Claims.

Back to new news or new old news. I check in on Steve’s No More Mister Nice Blog to see if that Benghazi link was working OK and find that he had the gull to criticize the tea smokers. A few of them see the link and the hoards of tea baggers descend writing about how wonderful, perfect, great, shiner than new patriots they are and how liberals kick puppies. You know, the usual. It is the same tiresome lies, sheeple under the delusion they have clear thoughts, feel strongly they can distinguish a lie from a truth they are strangers to, they’re like the nationalists of old Imperial japan though they were holier-then-thou or cultists who have seen the one true light and everyone else is a heretic. They’re literally the blast from the past, a modern version of the Spanish Inquisition mixed with some proto-fascism smothered in ingenuous platitudes, with a cup of outraged plantation master angry at the uppity. They’re the pure true plastic as compared to those fake patriots who founded liberalism and democracy, and created the syntax that became the Constitution, the tea smokers say they believe in, except the parts they don’t. To them the Civil War and White v Texas, decided nothing, if a state wants to conduct its govmint like Tehran, well that is fine with them. I know some of them and on a personal level they can be pleasant. Lots of pleasant people throughout history have believed in some wacko garbage, been great at denying reality, are champions at the utter inability to take an honest assessment of themselves and the shaky foundations of their beliefs.

Since the tea smokers are still around and high on some stuff reasonable adults should avoid, let’s ake a look back at some tea bagger history:

Matt Taibbi on Deluded Tea Partiers, Ayn Rand and How the U.S. Is Like the Soviet Union

MT: I wrote Griftopia really as a crime book about what happened on Wall Street in the last ten or fifteen years. But the politics are an element of the crime, and there had to be a mechanism through which they could get ordinary people to not pay attention to what was going on. To me, the Tea Party was an example of exactly how that works. I see it as a phenomenon where Wall Street has found a way to convince ordinary people to back their political agenda and their deregulatory aims, under the rubric of “we’re going to get the government off our backs,” and it’s really, in the end, it’s just going to be off their backs, but ordinary people believe in it.

MA: People say they don’t want government and yet they still want all the services that government does. But they somehow don’t connect the dots, it seems.

MT: Right, they somehow want their food to be clean; they don’t want to drink poisoned water; they want to have cops to protect them from burglars, but they’re very attracted to this whole idea that the government causes all of our problems. As I travel around the country, most of the Tea Party people I talk to — a lot of them are small business owners. They have hardware stores or restaurants, and they see regulation as an ADA inspector or a health inspector coming to bother them and ring them up with little fines here and there. That’s their experience with government regulation. And so when they think about JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs and regulating those banks, to them it’s the same thing. They have no idea that regulation for these big companies is really a law enforcement problem, that it’s not this little niggling health inspector type of business.

The whole Wall Street collapse was one of the first things one of the tea smokers said the tea baggers were formed in response to. At the beginning I remember hearing that and thinking maybe we had some common ground, but the tea hypocrites killed strong financial reform (After Watering Down Financial Reform, Ex-Senator Scott Brown Joins Goldman Sachs’ Lobbying Firm) and we got the watered down Dodd-Frank bill, which the tea smokers are still fighting against. So that is a lie, a sham, a delusion that goes so deep and at the same time is so ridiculous you wonder if you’re talking to someone from the same planet. Tea baggers till believe that Barney Frank and Fannie May caused the Wall Street collapse. Which is like believing space aliens left a loaf of white bread and mayonnaise on the front porch. So how is an organization that cannot tell the difference between a fairy tale and reality going to lead the nation to a better way. Tea Partiers Who Opposed Bank Bailout Take Campaign Donations From Bailed-Out Banks

Newly Elected Tea Party Conservatives Kill Jobs and Stop Progress. Because the great tea bagger in the sky will send locusts if we practice some old fashioned Keynesian economics.

Texas governor Rick perry is a tea bagger and has the level of integrity they have come to be known for, Rick Perry Sought State Profits From Teacher Life Insurance Scheme

When you smoke too much tea kids, this is what happens, Washington Legislator Calls For Tea Party To Stockpile Ammunition For Dystopic Future. But they claim to be reasonable and well informed.

Since I brought up puppies, as usual it is the far Right who believes it is every America’s constitutional right to treat puppies like sh*t, Tea Partiers barking mad over anti-puppy-mill humane measure in Missouri

And of course tea smokers hate Obamacare. Something to do with freedumb. That is the freedumb to deny working class Americans the right to have health insurance. The freedumb to keep American workers from organizing their purchasing power from the free market insurance industry. This is the way tea smokers define freedom – the right to make everyone else life as hard, miserly and miserable as possible. Those little store owners and big corps like Hobby Lobby have the freedom-right to treat their employees like trash. If the govmint takes way their right to act like little dictators, they fell oppressed. Tea smokers think of workers as disposable barely human-like creatures – 36 Senators Introduce Bill Prohibiting Virtually Any New Law Helping Workers. They like to think of themselves as populists, but they’re more like thugs who say they believe in free enterprise. Free for them, back of the bus for everyone else. Say something, do something about respect and dignity for workers and you’re interfering with tea bagger freedumb. Except, you know the ones that depend on Medicare and Medicaid to keep from falling into financial disaster or just to stay alive. What are no govmint-no way-no how tea smokers doing on Medicaid. They’re getting govmint assistance because the rest of us are subsidizing companies like Walmart. Where does the plasticroots tea baggers movement still get most of its money, from 501s running on Walton and Koch brothers money. Sure your neighbor is sending in twenty bucks a month that pays for the signs at the little rallies. The big bucks that buy legislation is coming from businesses, that the last things they want to see is competition and empowered employees.

The smoke in the tea tent is so thick, they believe – it is one of their “facts” that taxes are too high. They’re at their lowest level since the 1950s and that mean Obama has lowered taxes for small business 16 times. Bu those are real world facts, not the “facts” that come through the pipe and are sucked into the feeble brains of tea baggers.

Tea baggers are pro family? Yea right, Tea Partiers Protest Clean Water Rules Meant To Prevent Bladder Cancer. Because the Founders intended we have the freedumb to get cancer.

I could literally do this all day. Tea smokers, conservatives to the far Right of the far Right, are nothing new, they are the same freaks and thugs that have been fighting human progress since the days of feudal lords who claimed the peasants should shut-up and know their place. That they have convinced some working class Americans  big banks and corporations are their friend is both laughable and pathetic. Many of these tea baggers are paying more for basic services and getting less than. Their votes are giving private business a license, not to fairly compete, but to steal. They think hippie liberals are giving them the shaft. Nope, the tea baggers are so good at shafting themselves we don’t have to bother.

The Corporate Elite Are Redistributing Income To Themselves and Giving Americans The Shaft

Panorama View of Cumberland, Maryland 1906

Panorama View of Cumberland, Maryland 1906.  

Located on the Potomac River in the western part of the state, Cumberland was an important transportation hub early in the nation’s history.

In 1906 Teddy Roosevelt, the “trust buster” was president ( he would never get the tea bagger vote). It was the year of the Great San Francisco earthquake, the year Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was published and Congress passed the Meat Inspection Act ( something else that conservatives would defeat if up for a vote today).

Fighting Back Against Wretched Wages

OFTEN relegated to the background, America’s low-wage workers have been making considerable noise lately by deploying an unusual weapon — one-day strikes — to make their message heard: they’re sick and tired of earning just $8, $9, $10 an hour.

Their anger has been stoked by what they see as a glaring disconnect: their wages have flatlined, while median pay for chief executives at the nation’s top corporations jumped 16 percent last year, averaging a princely $15.1 million, according to Equilar, an executive compensation analysis firm.

Conservatives, most libertarians and some centrist Democrats have been saying for years that the reason we have to keep wages low is to be competitive – competitive to whom, Asia. That is and has been a race to the bottom for half of the U.S. The truth is slight more complicated, but not so much so that even your kool-aid drinking conservative neighbors can understand. By shipping jobs overseas and using that leverage to put downward pressure on wages, all the while taking away much of organized labor’s power, corporate dreams have come true. Corporate America is making record profits – that means they could be paying people a living wage and keeping jobs in the U.S. rather than do that, these corporations are putting massive sums of money in executive pockets and shareholders. Sure some of the middle-class gets some of that via their mutual funds – but most Americans do not benefit from this capital redistribution from workers to the wealthy. This is a good recent example of how the very wealthy are redistributing capital to themselves, A Pension Deficit Disorder: The Massive CEO Retirement Funds and Underfunded Worker Pensions at Firms Pushing Social Security Cuts

A major player in the national debt debate, the “Fix the Debt” campaign, is arguing that cuts to Social Security and Medicare are necessary to avoid economic disaster. Meanwhile, the corporations leading this campaign are contributing to Americans’ retirement insecurity by funneling enormous sums into their CEO retirement accounts while underfunding their employee pension funds.

Key findings:

* The 71 Fix the Debt CEOs who lead publicly held companies have amassed an average of $9 million in their company retirement funds. A dozen have more than $20 million in their accounts. If each of them converted their assets to an annuity when they turned 65, they would receive a monthly check for at least $110,000 for life.
* The Fix the Debt CEO with the largest pension fund is Honeywell’s David Cote, a long-time advocate of Social Security cuts. His $78 million nest egg is enough to provide a $428,000 check every month after he turns 65.
* Forty-one of the 71 companies offer employee pension funds. Of these, only two have sufficient assets in their funds to meet expected obligations. The rest have combined deficits of $103 billion, or about $2.5 billion on average. General Electric has the largest deficit in its worker pension fund, with $22 billion.

Although they have not remedied their own internal pension fund debts, the Fix the Debt CEOs say they have the solution for our national debt problems, which would include cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

In some cases, the Fix the Debt member corporations could eliminate their pension fund deficits with cash they currently have on hand. GE, for example, has more than $85 billion in liquid assets, according to their most recent 10-K report — enough to easily wipe out their $22 billion pension deficit. But rather than fixing their own internal debts, these CEOs have embarked on an aggressive effort to persuade policymakers and the public that savings from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are essential to addressing the country‘s financial challenges. While these CEOs have offered few details on how they would cut costs with these reforms, it would likely be by limiting access to these programs paid for by all working Americans and by yet again raising the retirement age.

The corporate elite tell the public we have to pay sub-living standard wages or we’ll have to rise prices. What they could do is make reasonable salaries – say in the $85k to $125k range. I just suggested some heresy – hey this is America and corporate executives have to make millions or they won’t work. Fine, quite and lets usher is a new generation of hard working ethical executives they care about workers and America. Some conservatives bloggers have linked to this story – Exclusive: Signs of declining economic security, saying this is the result of Obama’s policies. They cannot put two and two together. Corporate profits at at all time highs and wages at all time lows. These companies could hire, they could pay more, but they are hoarding the money for themselves. Not exactly secret information, so conservatives continue to be the worse informed people on the planet. Read the comments on this post – if we made proof of general economic knowledge a requirement for voting, these people would not be allowed to vote. In one crazy-funny comment, one commenter goes off on how the communists are to blame. There is a very similar cognitive dissonance between what the Conservative base thinks about ” free enterprise” corporate America and what they thought about Bush and Iraq. They could not, and still cannot bring themselves to believe that the Bush administration betrayed America and they can’t believe these flag waving, “free enterprise” talking American businesses have betrayed America for more wealth than they will ever need and certainly never earned.

Dreaming of The Day Conservatives Act in The Best Interests of America

Black and White Chess wallpaper

Black and White Chess wallpaper

President Obama has a very low rate of judicial appointments. Like legislation ranging from proper nutrition for low income children to job creation, the conservative minority in the Senate has used holds and the invisible filibuster to block well qualified nominees. And here the conservative noise machine is doing their part, Right-Wing Media Campaign Against Judicial Nominee Cornelia Pillard

Falsely ascribing a quote of conservative former Chief Justice William Rehnquist to Pillard in which he wrote for the Supreme Court that family leave policies not equally provided to both sexes are a “self-fulfilling cycle of discrimination,” Perkins inaccurately described it as Pillard’s condemnation of “celebrating motherhood.” Where Pillard has observed that the anti-choice personhood movement could be exposed as unconstitutional by increasing awareness of the equal protection ramifications for pregnant women, Perkins fabricated the charge that Pillard “criticizes” the ultrasound. Resorting to spreading the ridiculous myth that Pillard would “declare” abstinence-only education “unconstitutional,” Perkins managed to debunk such a silly charge in his very next sentence by quoting her accurate observation that a sex education class that stereotypes and disadvantages women could theoretically be “vulnerable to an equal protection challenge” under established precedent.

While the legal arguments can be a little complex it does boil down to women have the same right to reproductive health information as men ( sex ed) and the same range of freedom over their reproductive rights. I guess I’m to the left of Pillard because abstinence only sex education, the whole cultural incentive for it, is based on particular far Right religious dogma. As such it is on it’s face discriminatory against everyone whose religious or secular beliefs think that abstinence only is outdated and ineffective. Studies have shown a combination of abstinence and birth control education is the most effective way to stop sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. So one has to wonder if conservatives do not actually want to encourage STDs and unplanned pregnancies. Both of which put more demands on health and social services which we all know conservatives are against. So their goal is to perpetuate a life of hardship, if not cruelty for millions of Americans. Know the facts and the outcomes one can only assume that much like Iran’s conservative religious leaders, America’s conservatives are more interested in the triumph of their dogma, than what is morally right.

Not quite head spinning news, but close, Justice Robert’s Picks Reshaping Secret Surveillance Court

The recent leaks about government spying programs have focused attention on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and its role in deciding how intrusive the  government can be in the name of national security. Less mentioned has been the person who has been quietly reshaping the secret court: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

In making assignments to the court, Chief Justice Roberts, more than his predecessors, has chosen judges with conservative and executive branch backgrounds that critics say make the court more likely to defer to government arguments that domestic spying programs are necessary.

Ten of the court’s 11 judges — all assigned by Chief Justice Roberts — were appointed to the bench by Republican presidents; six once worked for the federal government. Since the chief justice began making assignments in 2005, 86 percent of his choices have been Republican appointees, and 50 percent have been former executive branch officials.

Though the two previous chief justices, Warren E. Burger and William H. Rehnquist, were conservatives like Chief Justice Roberts, their assignments to the surveillance court were more ideologically diverse, according to an analysis by The New York Times of a list of every judge who has served on the court since it was established in 1978.

I was under the impression the FISA Court judges were executive branch appointees with Congressional approval. Like Senator Richard Blumenthal(D) I find it disturbing that one appointed judge with a garaged lifetime job, with a well known radical agenda, has exclusive say over the surveillance court. Robert’s seem to be appointing radical clones of himself.

900,000 Jobs? Read the Letter, Paul

Here’s a way to get some more jobs in the very near term—900,000 to be precise: cancel the sequester.

That’s what the CBO said in response to Rep. Van Hollen’s request for such an analysis.

…canceling the automatic spending reductions effective August 1 would increase outlays relative to those under current law by $14 billion in fiscal year 2013 and by $90 billion in fiscal year 2014.

Those changes would increase the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.7 percent and increase the level of employment by 0.9 million in the third quarter of calendar year 2014 (the end of fiscal year 2014) relative to the levels projected under current law, CBO estimates.

The budget office goes on to say that if you didn’t replace the deficit savings, higher federal debt could lead to slower growth down he road, so if you’re worried about that, you’d want to replace sequestration with a balanced package of spending cuts and tax revenues that kick in later when the economy isn’t so demand constrained.

But output gaps being what they are, more or less spending by the federal government feeds pretty directly into growth and typically with “multiplier” effects that increase the bang-for-each-buck (e.g., pave a road and you’ve created more business at both the pavement supply company and the diner where the new crew has lunch).

This is way too easy to explain. Under something resembling normal circumstances, with a loyal, but somewhat reasonable loyal opposition, conservatives would see how they’re hurting the economy and job growth, and adjust accordingly. We’re not in normal mode. Any job creation makes president Obama look good, so if conservatives have to screw over the country to take away that credit they will continue to to do so. If Democrats running in 2014  know how to run a good campaign they should be adding this sequester hostage taking to their list of talking points.

Conservativism Is Like An Amusement Ride Without The Fun

Country Highway wallpaper

Country Highway wallpaper

This report is from June of this year, Charles Koch launching Wichita campaign about economic freedom, government overreach. A clueless elitist billionaire sounding off about how rough life is for him and  other crony capitalists who count the money they make off the backs of people who do real work and have real ideas. They call themselves libertarians because they’re not honest or honorable enough to call themselves what they really are, proto-fascists. This is another concrete reason why the Kochs and their acolytes are against regulation, manipulation plus greed pays very well,  How Goldman Made $5 Billion By Manipulating Aluminum Inventories (and Copper is Up Next).

Since there does not seem to be any kind of recording thus far ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has some wriggle room to back-track his reported assertion, Report: Scalia Approaches Godwin’s Law on Judicial Activism

Scalia opened his talk with a reference to the Holocaust, which happened to occur in a society that was, at the time, “the most advanced country in the world.” One of the many mistakes that Germany made in the 1930s was that judges began to interpret the law in ways that reflected “the spirit of the age.” When judges accept this sort of moral authority, as Scalia claims they’re doing now in the U.S., they get themselves and society into trouble.

Scalia calls himself an “originalist,” which he defined this weekend as believing that “texts should be read to mean what they were understood to mean when they were adopted.” His pretty well-known frozen-in-amber take on constitutional interpretation pits him against anyone, including his fellow Supreme Court justices, who would read the Constitution in the context of changing times and societies.

Scalia ruled that Congress does not have the right to regulate campaign financing in Citizens United, based on the concept that corporations and corporate-like entities such as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads have the same rights as human citizens. That bit of judicial activism cannot be found anywhere in the U.S. Constitution. Just a couple good points here,

One, you profess a belief in originalism and for what is contained within the Constitution.  Judicial review is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution and the concept was alien to the common law concept of parliamentary supremacy.  It was only with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Marbury v. Madison, more than a decade after the ratification of the Constitution that judicial review was established as a power of the courts.  Therefore, on what basis do assert your power of judicial review?
Two, you state that every right that you hold to exist as a matter of law can be found within the words of the Constitution and that judges engage in ‘judicial activism’ when they find rights other than those specifically listed.  How do you reconcile this view with the plain words of the Ninth Amendment, which states:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

And of course there is the general conservative tendency to bend or rewrite history. The rise of Nazism in Germany has been well documented, its roots in the consequences and reaction to the Treaty of Versailles, a nationalism and nativism making antisemitism a large part of the appeal of Nazism.  Once Hitler became chancellor (prime minister) he and the Nazi party tried to destroy any possible rivals to his position, rearmed Germany, and launched a campaign of violence against the Jews. He became the dictator by burning the Reichstag building and blaming the communists. The general public, or enough of them anyway were worked up into a state of fear and hysteria allowing Hitler to suspend civil rights. No court rulings required. With a Nazi majority in the Reichstag, Hitler was then able to pass The Enabling Act, which gave him complete legislative and executive power for four years. Any regular court rulings Hitler did not like were ignored, not that at the time, there were any. Hitler established his own court so that he could carry out his agenda with the gaze of what appeared to be legal proceedings, The People’s Court,

The People’s Court (German: Volksgerichtshof) was a Sondergericht, a special court, established in 1934 by German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, who had been dissatisfied with the outcome of the Reichstag Fire Trial (all but one of the accused were acquitted). The “People’s Court” was set up outside the operations of the constitutional frame of law. The court had jurisdiction over a rather broad array of “political offenses,” which included crimes like black marketeering, work slowdowns, defeatism and treason against the Third Reich. These crimes were viewed by the court as Wehrkraftzersetzung (“disintegration of defensive capability”) and were accordingly punished severely. The death penalty was meted out in numerous cases in this court.

The Court handed down an enormous number of death sentences under Judge-President Roland Freisler, including those that followed the July 20 Plot to kill Hitler. Many of those found guilty by the Court died in the Plötzensee prison. The proceedings of the court were often even less than show trials in that some cases, such as that of Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans Scholl and fellow White Rose activists concluded in less than an hour, without evidence being presented or arguments made by either side.

Just my take, I would resist the temptation to call Scalia crazy. Since we do not have actual clinical evidence for that. Though we can assume, with what he has reportedly said on this and other occasions, that he is a malevolent zealot who has dishonored the nation’s highest court.

Quite a few years back a formerly Republican judge noted that conservatives had too often decided to take political and constitutional positions and than scurried around trying to find rationale for them. That continues to this day and seems to be getting worse.

Food, Work and The Deep Moral Corruption of Conservatism

Japanese World Map

Japanese World Map, created between 1850-1900. The map is from a woodcut engraving and shows an enormous archipelago representing Japan at the center of the world. The interesting characters drawn in the insets are of a Russian soldier. The inset texts have a very brief history of each country.

House Republicans cheer as they pass farm bill without food stamps or a future, which is like the time they cheered for death for anyone who did not have health insurance. It is certainly the same as cheering for misery.

House Republicans cheered as they passed their special farm-not-food farm bill by the skin of their teeth Thursday afternoon. It wasn’t clear in the immediate run-up to the vote if Republicans would have the votes, and then Democrats forced repeated procedural votes as a protest against the Republican leadership’s decision to separate the farm subsidies part of the traditional farm bill from funding for nutrition programs.

The way forward is murky for the bill, since the Senate already passed a farm bill including both farms and food and isn’t likely to agree to strip out the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in conference…

..In other words, that what they passed won’t pass the Senate or get the president’s signature is not the issue. This is about John Boehner, and his need to show he could get the House Republicans he ostensibly leads to pass something, anything, to make up for his farm bill failure last month. And he barely got it through: The 216-208 vote was only good enough for passage because some Republicans were absent.

In the bizarre alternate reality in which conservatives live, money to feed hungry people is money down a endless void. Be fore we proceed to see how food assistance is both good for the country in terms of economics and American ideals like humanitarianism, this bit from the far Right Heritage Foundation, Food Stamps Don’t Stimulate Economic Growth

The number of Americans on food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is at historic highs, but some on the left—like Paul Krugman—think that’s not such a bad thing because, as they argue, food stamps “stimulate” the economy:

We desperately needed (and still need) public policies to promote higher spending on a temporary basis.… [E]ach dollar spent on food stamps in a depressed economy raises G.D.P. [gross domestic product] by about $1.70—which means, by the way, that much of the money laid out to help families in need actually comes right back to the government in the form of higher revenue.

Others on the left have made similar statements about SNAP stimulus. What’s the problem with this argument?

First, food stamps are intended to serve as a temporary safety net for those who face economic hardship, not as an economic stimulus. To justify food stamps as a stimulus to raise government revenue ignores the long-term economic consequences of welfare spending.

Maybe I’m giving them too much credit, but I think that is a pretty clever. She does not in anyway rebut the food stamp argument directly, she suddenly shifts, to a yea but it adds to the total national debt in the long term argument. That is not true either, but it gives the typical Fox News viewer or Breitbart reader the kind of mental rationale they need to repeat it to the point of nausea. First, just the numbers that would relate to being a drain on taxpayers,

When the money goes to people, they spend it and stimulate the economy on the order of $1.5 to 1.7 for every dollar spent. This means that the $78 billion spent on food stamps in 2011 led to $115 billion in overall economic activity.

That $37 billion is how tax payers get their money back, grocery stores make money and pay some taxes, food suppliers and farmers make money and pay some taxes. Oh, and of course this $37 billion helps people keep and create jobs. And frankly I don’t care about that and no one with a conscience should. Even if the program came out even $78 billion spent to $78 billion in economic activity, people need to eat. Conservatives do not seem to have much in the way of moral qualms about people going hungry, but most Americans do. Some more numbers and some stuff about people who conservatives think should just drop dead,

Advocates for the poor consider such cuts unconscionable. Food stamps, they argue, are far from lavish. Only those with incomes of 130% of the poverty level or less are eligible for them. The amount each person receives depends on their income, assets and family size, but the average benefit is $133 a month and the maximum, for an individual with no income at all, is $200. Those sums are due to fall soon, when a temporary boost expires. Even the current package is meagre. Melissa Nieves, a recipient in New York, says she compares costs at five different supermarkets, assiduously collects coupons, eats mainly cheap, starchy foods, and still runs out of money a week or ten days before the end of the month.

That average comes out to about $4.43 a day. According to conservatives and their brilliant insights into the human psyche, that kind of cash is what makes people lazy and want to live off gov-mint giveaways. So here we have a issue with a political movement that is not so much about politics as about the mental state of someone who wants misery for another human being who they see as the disgusting other. A few more numbers and humans,

The majority of SNAP recipients are children or elderly–and many work. A report released in November 2012 by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service shows that 45 percent of SNAP recipients were under 18 years of age and nearly 9 percent were age 60 or older. What’s more, more than 40 percent of SNAP recipients lived in a household with earnings.

So 54% of SNAP recipients are at a place in life where they have no boot straps to pull themselves up with. This should be embarrassing to conservatives who worship the absolute god-like perfection of the free market: how can that 40% work 40 or more hours a week and still not earn enough not to qualify for food assistance. Spoiler alert, I have part of the answer to that mystery: employers like Walmart, Target, McDonalds, Applesees, Sears. Taco Bell, Amazon and most retail grocery chains do not pay most of their employees a living wage, but they all have executive management that takes home millions – far more than they earned, deserve or need for a comfortable life. The same people Republican governors have cut taxes for and the same executives that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan wanted yet another tax cut. And like a dovetail joint those tax cuts for people who rob from their employees to give to themselves we have the deep wisdom of the Koch brothers, Billionaire Koch Brother Says Eliminating The Minimum Wage Will Help The Poor.

The Kansas ad does not specifically mention the minimum wage, but it does claim that Americans earning $34,000 a year should count themselves as lucky, because that puts them in the top 1 percent of the world. “That is the power of economic freedom,” the ad concluded. Meanwhile, Charles and David Koch are the ones comfortably in the 1 percent, with a net worth of about 1 million times that figure. Watch the ad:

The ad cites a report from the Koch-funded Fraser Institute showing that “The United States used to be a world leader in economic freedom but our ranking fell. And it’s projected to decline even further.” (That same Fraser report interestingly ranks Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Chile ahead of the U.S. Those places all have government-run health care, which the Kochs adamantly oppose.)

The Kochs were sent to elite colleges by their wealthy dad, from who they also inherited a large fortune. They did some really innovative stuff like buy some paper mills, some companies they make artificial carpeting synthesized from petroleum products. Most of their money now comes from their money. When you’re that rich and reach a certain threshold of wealth, your money by way of very safe investments and interests pays back huge sums of money. Listening to them give advice how how to get out of a low wage job is to listen to someone who is truly clueless. Someone who has never achieved anything on their own because they started out life, not a step up the ladder, but on top of the ladder charging fees to anyone who wanted to get on. The picture at this link says basically the same thing Lincoln said about labor being superior to capital, People like the Kochs, Romneys, Gold-Sachs, Bank of America, the Walton family, the Coors family, Sheldon Adelson take our ideas, they take our labor, they take our talent, they frequently take our health, they take our jobs during a takeover or export them to Asia, then turn around and call us the takers. It is close to the Antebellum plantation owners calling the slaves ungrateful for all the opportunities they provided.

Republican Insights Into Syria Are As Wrong As Their Lies About Iraq

Black and White Staten Island wallpaper

Black and White Staten Island wallpaper

I’ve read several accounts, including searching official White House site announcements and as of today or right this minute, the Obama administration is leaning towards ( though the White House has not confirmed) giving small arms aid to Syrian rebels. U.S. Is Said to Plan to Send Weapons to Syrian Rebels.

This announcement has prompted some of the world’s worse foreign policy analysts to chip in their comments. These conservative bloggers and pundits are the same ones that helped sell the nation on the bogus idea that Iraq had something to do with 9-11, that Iraq had WMD, that Iraq – a country that could not shoot down one U.S. plane during ten years of enforcing the no-fly zone, was an “urgent” threat to the security of the U.S. None of these conservative bloggers or pundits have shown any regret for their less than patriotic activites on behalf of the neocon agenda, much less apolgized to the familes of those killed or maimed. One could call them the Fraternal Order of Always Wrong Keyboard Warriors in honor of the Weakly Standard’s Bill Kristol. The conservative Astute Bloggers have always been less than astute, especially so when they were accusing anyone who called out Bush administration lies, terrorist sympathizers. They haven’t learned anything, MORE PROOF HE IS EVIL: OBAMA HAS DECIDED TO GIVE MILITARY SUPPORT TO AL QAEDA’S AFFILIATES ( they still think writing in all caps is some kind of magic that makes them right)

BY AIDING THE SO-CALLED “REBELS” IN SYRIA, OBAMA IS AIDING THE TERRORISTS WHO ATTACKED US ON 9/11 – AND WHO HAVE PUBLICLY SWORN TO ATTACK US AGAIN.

BY DOING THIS, OBAMA IS AIDING AL QAEDA AFFILIATES.

THIS LEGALLY MAKES OBAMA A LEGAL TARGET OF THE 2001 AUMF AND MEANS SHOULD BE IMPEACHED.

Gosh, that sounds serious. Before the usual suspects break another strand of pearls, there are a few details to consider. One, why didn’t the far Right demand George W. Bush be impeached,  2007, U.S. Funds Being Secretly Funneled To Violent Al Qaeda-Linked Groups

New Yorker columnist Sy Hersh says the “single most explosive” element of his latest article involves an effort by the Bush administration to stem the growth of Shiite influence in the Middle East (specifically the Iranian government and Hezbollah in Lebanon) by funding violent Sunni groups.

Hersh says the U.S. has been “pumping money, a great deal of money, without congressional authority, without any congressional oversight” for covert operations in the Middle East where it wants to “stop the Shiite spread or the Shiite influence.” Hersh says these funds have ended up in the hands of “three Sunni jihadist groups” who are “connected to al Qaeda” but “want to take on Hezbollah.”

Hersh summed up his scoop in stark terms: “We are simply in a situation where this president is really taking his notion of executive privilege to the absolute limit here, running covert operations, using money that was not authorized by Congress, supporting groups indirectly that are involved with the same people that did 9/11.”

Whose side are the conservative bloggers on? They’re on the side of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. In the MYT article it confirms that the U.S. has joined in confirming French and British intelligence in confirming that al-Assad has used chemical weapons on the rebels. al-Assad is backed by Iran, Russia and Hezbollah has recently sent in fighters to help him. So that is the side these very astute bloggers are on. The major portion of the rebel resistance is not made up of the forces of Brigadier General Salim Idris leader of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) of the Free Syrian Army. he is generally considered a pro-democracy moderate. This is a story from the conservative rag called The Washington Times, Syrian rebel leader cites Hezbollah in attack on town. “Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has confirmed that his fighters are aiding Mr. Assad’s forces.” Some bloggers are lucky they can’t be impeached. Conservatives who are not taking the impeach Obama approach are resorting to the usual shop-worn canards about Obama either being too slow to act on behave of the rebels or he is using all of this to “wag the dog”. It doesn’t take the world’s biggest set of balls to take those approaches. One has only to live in world of utter cognitive dissonance about one’s past behaviors. I’m not an especially big fan of Daniel W. Drezner, and the cynicism built into this argument is galling to anyone with high ideals, but he is probably right. Why Obama is arming Syria’s rebels: it’s the realism, stupid.

To your humble blogger, this is simply the next iteration of the unspoken, brutally realpolitik policy towards Syria that’s been going on for the past two years.  To recap, the goal of that policy is to ensnare Iran and Hezbollah into a protracted, resource-draining civil war, with as minimal costs as possible.  This is exactly what the last two years have accomplished…. at an appalling toll in lives lost.

This policy doesn’t require any course correction… so long as rebels are holding their own or winning. A faltering Assad simply forces Iran et al into doubling down and committing even more resources.  A faltering rebel movement, on the other hand, does require some external support, lest the Iranians actually win the conflict.  In a related matter, arming the rebels also prevents relations with U.S. allies in the region from fraying any further.

So is this the first step towards another U.S.-led war in the region?  No.  Everything in that Times story, and everything this administration has said and done for the past two years, screams deep reluctance over intervention.  Arming the rebels is not the same thing as a no-fly zone or any kind of ground intervention.  This is simply the United States engaging in its own form of asymmetric warfare.  For the low, low price of aiding and arming the rebels, the U.S. preoccupies all of its adversaries in the Middle East.

The moment that U.S. armed forces would be required to sustain the balance, the costs of this policy go up dramatically, far outweighing the benefits.  So I suspect the Obama administration will continue to pursue all measures short of committing U.S. forces in any way in order to sustain the rebels.

It is almost always ca cringe warning when a conservative has the gull to begin an argument using the term realpolitik. And they loved to use the word during the Bush-Cheney era. This might be one occasion where the cynical things being done in the name of realpotik might well be the best choices among choices that range from bad to worse. No one wants U.S. military boots on the ground. That is not going to happen, nothing be be wagged in that sense. As Daniel says that conflict is draining Iran and Russia, and has sucked in militant group Hezbollah. Not a back outcome so far – except for the  dead rebels. The liberal hawks, including Bill Clinton, as a proxy for Hillary have weighed in for more direct intervention. That would be huge mistake since Iran and Russia would respond in kind. This is a good but not perfect analysis from Professor Juan Cole, Obama should Resist the Clintons & Europe on Syria

– The backing for the regime of Russia and Iran makes this more like Vietnam, where the Russians and Chinese supported the Viet Cong, than like the Balkans in the early 1990s when the Russians were weak and supine.

– Flooding Syria with medium or heavy weaponry could destabilize it and its neighbors, including Israel & Palestine, for decades, as the CIA did to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Often in the past, US intelligence actually urged locals involved in covert wars to grow and peddle drugs to get money for weapons, creating long-term problems of narco-terrorism, which still plague Afghanistan and Pakistan.

– The prominence of the Nusra Front and other hard liners affiliated to al-Qaeda in the opposition ranks means the US could end up arming terrorists and helping them take over a whole country.

Where Cole seems to go a bridge or fig leaf too far is the recommendation that rebels began a peaceful civil resistance campaign. If he has in mind the rebels laying down arms at this point I think he needs to reconsider the al-Saad regimes current actions ( chemical warfare) and murderous past history. There is ample reason to think there would be a rebel blood bath. If the rebels keep getting logistical support, some small arms and medical aid they could fight the regime to a stand-off. One where they have a much stronger negotiating position. Marc Lynch at FP is also cynical, but hopeful, Forget about “how” to intervene in the Syrian civil war.

The debate about open U.S. military intervention in Syria should therefore be built around a frank discussion of the goals, not only the means. At the moment, advocates of arming the rebels switch between making the case that it would strike a blow against the Iranians, and that it would improve the prospects for a negotiated solution. The fundamental tension between those who argue that the rebels need more arms so that Assad will be forced to come to the table, and those who argue that this is a path leading to the complete defeat of the Syrian regime should be resolved now — not after Washington gets involved.

The reality is that the Obama administration has done very well to resist the steady drumbeat to intervene in Syria. Can anyone who has observed Assad’s tenacity over the last year still believe that his regime would have rapidly crumbled in the face of airstrikes or no-fly zones last year? Had the United States gone that route, Syria today would likely look much like it does now — except with America trapped in a quagmire and Obama under relentless pressure to escalate.

I suspect that Obama knows better than to give in to the pressure to arm the rebels simply to appear to be “doing something.” But to sustain that posture, his administration is going to have to look beyond the array of policy options and explain precisely what the United States wants to achieve in Syria.

I think Marc’s colleague Daniel explained it pretty well. Keeping the rebels fighting will probably wear down all the regime and its supporters. They too have a constituency to which they have to explain what they’re going to get out of continuing a war forever and what they’ll get out of it. The Gulf states like Saudi Arabia literally have bottomless bank accounts – Russia and Iran do not. As we saw in Lebanon a few years ago even Hezbollah can be worn down.

 

There is such a thing as the subconscious. So either subconsciously or perhaps consciously, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has decided that he has no desire to be president in 2016, Rubio Says It Should Be Legal To Fire Someone For Being Gay.

Forbes and Former Romney Advisor Twist Costs of California Obamacare

Model Train wallpaper

Model Train wallpaper

First, who is Avik Roy, according to his little background biography box at Forbes:”The Apothecary, a blog about health care and entitlement reform, is edited by Avik Roy, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and a former health-care policy adviser to Mitt Romney. Avik also writes a weekly column on politics and policy for National Review.” Used to work for the guy who likely set a record for lies, distortions, half truths and egregious smears during a presidential election. He works for a radical conservative “think tank” that publishes bought and paid for research and writes for The National Review. The latter’s most recent triumph of truth and reason being the defense of a report claiming all Latinos have low IQs and saying the U.S. should fight on the side of murderous dictator Bashar al-Assad. Avik could still write the truth about something, but his background does speak to a less than stellar character. Rate Shock: In California, Obamacare to Increase Individual Health Insurance Premiums by 64-146%.

Here’s what happened. Last week, Covered California—the name for the state’s Obamacare-compatible insurance exchange—released the rates that Californians will have to pay to enroll in the exchange. “The rates submitted to Covered California for the 2014 individual market,” the state said in a press release, “ranged from two percent above to 29 percent below the 2013 average premium for small employer plans in California’s most populous regions.”

[  ]…The next cheapest plan, the “bronze” comprehensive plan, costs $205 a month. But in 2013, on eHealthInsurance.com (NASDAQ:EHTH), the average cost of the five cheapest plans was only $92. In other words, for the average 25-year-old male non-smoking Californian, Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent.

I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible. There are some number wonks who enjoy this sort of news, but arguing about numbers also bores many people. That last paragraph is Avik’s big gotcha. His, look what they’re not telling you that I discovered. There is a little problem with that:

1. I went over to the site where he got his numbers, used the 25 year old single male non-smoker ( which does leave out categories like married, over 25, insurance that is part of a group plan associated with one’s job – the kind of plan most people have). Right now that male can get a monthly plan for as low as $75 a month. One of the huge things he leaves out is what each plan offers in return for that premium. The lowest priced plans are generally awful – they have high deductibles, high out of pocket costs, a percent of any costs after the deductible and many have yearly cost ceilings – like they will not pay over $15k per year. They go as high as $230. Or think of it this way; if cars averaged $150, which would be the best car. The $75 car or the $230 car. One would think a uber conservative wonk like Avik would understand how the market works. That site is pretty easy to use if anyone would like to get an estimate on their insurance – just plug in your situation, single, married, family, age etc and you get quotes from at least ten companies. Obamacare has set a base standard for coverage. As those nefarious liberals said in the past, a few people may see their individual plans go up. Though there is no proof, none, and Avik offers none, that his 25 year old male buying individual insurance will positively  go up a hundred percent.

2. It seems odd that California would go up as much as 100% when Oregon rates and Massachusetts rates have gone down.

A Family Care Health Plans official on Thursday said the insurer will ask the state for even greater decrease in requested rates. CEO Jeff Heatherington says the company realized its analysts were too pessimistic after seeing online that its proposed premiums were the highest.

“That was my question when I saw the rates was, ‘Can we go in and refile these?'” he said. “We’re going to try to get these to a competitive range.”

( Avik also failed to take into account tax credits)…Another is higher premiums in the 2014 individual market, though for many people they’ll be offset by tax credits. The higher rates are because people with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage. Also, plans have to offer stronger benefits than they used to, leading to higher premiums.

The same is true for California in that category of insured – the single male getting their own insurance. For many people, though not all, those costs will be offset. We are arguing here with a person who makes a living pushing propaganda for the conservative movement, so of course he does not do subtle distinctions. I mentioned Massachusetts. Ezra Klein just reviewed the history of Romneycare in that state, which is basically the same thing as Obamacare, and he found that overall, insurance rates are down. Credit to Avik and Forbes for including some of the rebuttal he has received,

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic argues that I’m being unkind to California (1) by not describing the mandates that Obamacare imposes on insurers in the individual market, and (2) not explaining that low-income people will be eligible for subsidies that protect them from much of the rate shock.

3. Cohn also wrote on that California report,  California Will Be Spared the Obamacare Apocalypse No sticker shock here—just affordable insurance premiums

It’s hard to provide a precise figure on premiums in the new exchange, which is officially called Covered California, because so much depends on individual circumstances, plan selection, and region. But you can get a sense of the prices by looking at what a 40-year-old single person would pay, on average, for the second cheapest “silver” plan on the new market. Such a plan, which would cover about 70 percent of a typical person’s medical expenses, would go for about $300 a month or around $3,600 a year. That compares favorably with what insurance costs today. The typical employer plan, for example, presently costs about $5,500 a year. Employer plans are generally more generous than the silver plans would be, so you’d expect them to be more expensive—but not by such a large margin.

( and this is important for people making in the minimum wage to a few dollars more)…Somebody with an income at 250 percent of the poverty line, or around $29,000 a year, would on average pay just $2400 a year in premiums for that same silver plan. Somebody with an income of 150 percent of the poverty line, or about $17,000 a year, would pay just around $700 a year. This person could also get a “bronze” policy, which comes with higher out-of-pocket expenses, for essentially no premiums at all.

I encourage everyone to read Avik, the California report and Cohn. The report is not that difficult to read through. It seems like they anticipated that people find insurance jargon less than easy to read and tried to make it clear. Yet because insurance is so dependent on individual circumstances, and you’ll get to pick among more insurance companies because of increased competition ( yes it is a capitalist oriented plan that will mean more income for insurance companies) that one can get side tracked in details. In some markets – some states and some regions, only one or two insurance companies have all the business. Obamacare increases the amount of competition, How Obamacare May Help Make Health Care Cheaper By Forcing Insurance Giants To Compete

Setting up the insurance marketplaces is one of the last major Obamacare provisions to take effect — and as the administration works to prepare for that enrollment period to begin in 2014, critics on both sides of the aisle have decried their efforts to implement the health reform law as a “train wreck.” While overhauling the nation’s current health care system certainly hasn’t been without some bumps along the way, Obamacare has not exactly been disastrous so far. The health reform law has already provided better preventative care for millions of previously-insured Americans, forced some health insurers to lower their premiums, and begun to encourage a greater emphasis on primary care.

Obamacare is not my dream, I would have rather seen the ability for everyone to opt into Medicare – a single payer plan. If like Avik, someone was paying me big bucks to find some ragged edges to Obamcare, I could certainly muddy the waters. The net effects of Obamacare are the average insured will see their premiums go down a bit, and millions more Americans will have access to health care. That is not perfect, but it is better than the status quo.

The Atlantic takes down the newest non-scandal, The Fake Story About the IRS Commissioner and the White House. White House records show Douglas Shulman signed in for 11 visits, not 157, between 2009 and 2012. What does it say about conservative “values” that they have to hide behind so much mendacity.