The Supremes Rule: Obamacare is CONSTITUTIONAL!!!

Yesterday this blog advised that it would be delayed by one day to allow the Supremes to release their rulings on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, affectionately referred to as Obama-care, including the following evaluation:  “The bet is that they will strike down the mandate, though they might suggest it would be constitutional if it was a tax, instead of a mandate.

That’s exactly the the Supremes did in a 5-4 vote.  Sometimes you just get lucky and pick the right horse!  🙂

Chief Supreme John Roberts, who read the majority decision, said that although the individual mandate could not be considered constitutional under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution,  it was indeed constitutional under Congress’s right to impose taxes.

Also, in a 7-2 decision, the Supremes did strike down as unconstitutional the federal government’s plan to tell the states how they would have to spend the additional Medicaid funds that the federal government was to provide them for people who cannot afford any other health insurance.  The court said that the states cannot be punished by the feds if the states refuse to spend the extra Medicaid money as intended for Obama-care.

That kind of sucks.  However, that part of the law can be fixed easily if congress is willing to do so in a bipartisan manner.  But the smart money says that there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that the republicans will work with democrats to do ANYTHING that could enhance the law.  Quite the contrary: the GOP has made it crystal clear all morning that they are going to once again start broadcasting at the top of their lungs all their Obama-care lies in an effort to get the American voters to hate and fear Obama-care.  That is, after all, what they do on every issue they can’t win on merit.

Mitt Romney, the presumptive republican presidential nominee, had claimed during the primaries that he opposed Obama-care because the insurance mandate, while okay for a stat to impose, was unconstitutional for the federal government to impose.  But now that the Supremes have ruled that it’s actually a tax instead of a mandated insurance purchase, Romney has flip-flopped and is now claiming he hates Obama-care because its a tax.

And yet, Romney-care, which he implemented in Massachusetts when he was governor, is almost a carbon copy model for Obama-care.  But Mitt knows better than anyone how to lean into the wind.

Notably, by the way, 84% of Massachusetts residents like their Romney-care.  And yet, only 50% of those same folks favor Obama-care, despite there being no significant difference between the two.  The reason for the disparity is simple and clear:  Marketing, or lack thereof.  Over the past two years, the democrats have done an absolutely miserable job of selling Obama-care. while the republicans have done a very effective job of fabricating lies to get Americans to hate and fear it.

The lesson here is that the democrats have very quickly got get really good at selling the true benefits of Obama-care to the voters, and they’ve got to instantly jump all over every single GOP lie about Obama-care between now and the November election.  That’s not going to be an easy task because Pro-Romney Super-pacs announced this morning that they will immediately spend over USD $20 million on anti-Obama-care ads.  But the dems have to bite the bullet and make certain that their message and the facts about Obama-care are clearly and repeatedly understood.

In the meantime, the legal analysts will pick apart the Supreme Court decision.  In doing so, they’ll probably figure out that if the tax collected from people who don’t buy health insurance by 2014 is sequestered from general revenue, it might just become a source of funding for a single-payer public option.   Sooner or later, the for-profit private health insurance companies will have to adapt and expand into other insurance areas or go out of business.

The public-option-single-payer is what should have happened in the first place, and if it wasn’t because republicans strive like addicts to protect big business and corporate America, the USA would have had universal health care of the type enjoyed by every other western advanced industrial country on the planet two years ago.

For now, though, ponder the following:  The republicans are maneuvering to make this election partially about repealing Obama-care.  That’s actually cool, because according to several recent polls, 33% favor Obama-care while 47% oppose it.

BUT!!!  Among those opposing Obama-care, fully 27% said their opposition to Obama-care is that it doesn’t go far enough!  That means that almost 60% agree that there has to be some health care reform that is at least as far-reaching as Obama-care.

Of course,  you won’t hear that from republicans.  And do you know why?

Because it’s an “Inconvenient Truth”!   🙂

 

Hey GOP: “Vagina, Vagina, Vagina!!!!”

While the entire nation waits in suspense for the US Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (affectionately known as Obamacare), republicans have actually found a way to make us forget about that…for now.

That GOP initiative unfolded in the Michigan state legislature last week.  Michigan democratic state representative Lisa Brown from West Bloomfield, Michigan was speaking on the Michigan state house floor against an anti-choice bill that would have forced women and their doctors to endure unnecessary, expensive and time-consuming obstacles when seeking an abortion in Michigan.  The bill obviously had its roots in the ultra-extreme-right religious-fundamentalist wing of the GOP.

In her own words, representative Lisa Brown explains that When it was my turn to talk, I explained my opposition to the bill. As a Jew, I said that I follow my faith’s teaching that when a pregnant woman’s health and life is at stake, it’s her life that comes first. As a member of a religious minority, I understand that not everyone shares my views, and I respect that. In turn, I asked that they not force their religious views on me. In closing, I told them that I was flattered in their interest in my vagina, but no means no.

The chairman of the Michigan state legislature, republican house speaker Jase Bolger was outraged (or so he claimed about someone who opposed the GOP bill) that Brown has used the word “vagina” on the house floor.  As a result, he banned her and her fellow democratic representative Barb Byrum from speaking on the house floor the next day, which was the last day of the legislative session before the the summer break for the Michigan state legislature.  In effect, Bolger “neutered” the voices of 180,000 Michigan residents that are represented by Brown and Byrum.

While an effort to eliminate a couple of “no” votes against the bill, the issue seems to go well past a simply, thinly-veiled attempt on the party of the GOP to silence members of the opposing party.  GOP representative Mike Callton reported that he couldn’t even bear to repeat Brown’s statement that included the word “vagina” because it was “so offensive”, he didn’t want to say it in the presence of women!  Considering the fact that Callton studied anatomy in college, it’s bizarre that he considers the word “vagina” so offensive.  The poor guy must have been traumatized in anatomy class!  🙂

As one can imagine, this issue has gone viral all over the internet, and for good reason:  Assuming that half the Earth’s population are women, it logically and mathematically follows that half the humans alive on this planet have vaginas.  In fact, it’s fair to state that half of all mammals, including all those that lived before and no longer exist and those presently alive have or did have vaginas.  They’re as commonplace as…dare it be said?….penises.

And both of these”unmentionables” are part of natural, normal biology, despite the weird,unfounded, psychotic fear-laden beliefs of those who think these “unmentionables” are evil and must be suppressed (and even mutilated, in the case of some Islamists)…even though they, themselves, are actually walking around with either a vagina…or a penis.

Imagine that!

But all kidding (okay…maybe not so kidding) aside, this incident begs a bunch of important questions…such as:

1.  Who are the idiots who vote for these lunatics?

2.  Who are the idiots who ARE these lunatics?

3.  Why is the national GOP silent in all of this local lunacy?

4.  What is the national GOP campaign platform on all of this, and why didn’t they control their dogs?

Remember that the GOP state legislative leadership silenced the two democratic women representatives because they thought they could get away with this offensive political action.  That speaks volumes about the GOP’s political playbook.

On the other hand, it’s completely believable that the GOP in Michigan (and elsewhere) really does believe that saying the word “vagina” in public is a heinous offense.  Perhaps they really do have fear the word “vagina”, or at least have apprehension about “it”.  That being the case, the world’s best psychological experts advocate that the best way for someone to deal with fear or apprehension of something is to confront it head-on.

To that end (or against it, depending upon your point of view.. 🙂  ), the following is offered:

The Vagina Monologues at the Michigan state Capitol in Lansing, Michigan – PHOTOS & VIDEO

After viewing the above, perhaps the Michigan GOP and the rest of their “vagina-phobic” brethren will be cured.  Then they can begin to focus on the real issues of our time…such as fixing the Super-Pac debacle that “Citizens United” unleashed…or realizing that providing tax breakers to the richest 1% doesn’t create jobs….or not allowing the  idiots who think “vagina” is evil to vote.

You know…useful stuff that benefits all of humanity…even women!  🙂

 

Political Hoaxes and the Idiots That Believe Them

If you have an email address you’ve probably gotten emails from time to time that make earth-shattering claims about politicians who eat live snakes, or that an Apollo astronaut confessed that the lunar landings were a hoax, or that an image on a moldy cookie is a religious icon and it cried.  It’s like getting supermarket tabloids via email.  Most of it is harmless delusion or its designed to sucker people and most people delete them.

But there are email hoaxes that are both dangerous and shameful, because they’re premeditatedly fabricated with malice aforethought and designed to foment hate and fear.  They use known lies and misrepresentations to smear someone’s reputation.  The following email, received earlier this week, is a perfect example.  Pay particular attention to the items in red:

“Subject: The Plot Thickens…..
“Date: Fri, 19 Aug 2011 21:13:01 -0600

“This was verified by Snopes as fact.

“Wish Donald Trump would now jump on this..

“The Plot Thickens

“An intensive investigation has revealed the identity of the man whose Social Security number (SSN) is being used by President Obama:   Jean Paul Ludwig, who was born in France in 1890, immigrated to the United States in 1924, and was assigned SSN 042-68-4425 (Obama’s current SSN) on or about March 1977.

Ludwig lived most of his adult life in Connecticut .  Because of that, his SSN begins with the digits 042, which are among only a select few reserved for Connecticut residents.

“Obama never lived or worked in that state!  Therefore, there is no reason on earth for his SSN to start with the digits 042.  None whatsoever!

“Now comes the best part!  Ludwig spent the final months of his life in Hawaii, where he died.

“Conveniently, Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham, worked part-time in the Probate Office in the Honolulu Hawaii Courthouse, and therefore had access to the SSNs of deceased individuals.

“The Social Security Administration was never informed of Ludwig’s death, and because he never received Social Security benefits there were no benefits to stop and therefore, no questions were ever raised.

“The suspicion, of course, is that Dunham, knowing her grandson was not a U.S. Citizen, either because he was born in Kenya or became a citizen of Indonesia upon his adoption by Lolo Soetoro simply scoured the probate records until she found someone who died who was not receiving Social Security benefits, and selected Mr. Ludwigs Connecticut SSN for Obama.

“Just wait until Trump gets past the birth certificate and onto the issue of Barry O’s use of a stolen SSN. You will see leftist heads exploding, because they will have no way of defending Obama. Although many Americans do not understand the meaning of the term “natural born” there are few who do not understand that if you are using someone else’s SSN it is a clear indication of fraud.”

The author identifies himself as an ultra-right wingnut fanatic, as noted in the underlined statements.  He also demonstrates ignorance about how the Social Security Administration actually works.  But the real clues are in red.

The author claimed that Snopes.com had verified the information.  But a quick visit to Snopes.com revealed just the opposite, as you can see here.

Snopes verified this email as FALSE on June 13, 2011.  Yet the author sent this out two months later, on August, 19, 2011!

But perhaps the worse part of all of this is that for a year this email has continued to circulate.  Countless people received it before this writer did, and yet seeming NO ONE bothered to check its veracity.  That is, until this writer did.   The revealed Snopes.com data resulted in an “reply all” email being sent back up the visible email recipient list and stated the following:

The very first sentence of this tripe is a LIE!   Just more conservative email bullshit.   Snopes.com has verified it a FALSE.  See for yourself:  http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthers/ssn.asp. 

“Please stop sending these lies around.  If you want to debate politics, please use FACTS, and VERIFY FOR YOURSELF what is and isn’t true.”

One woman incensed with the verification email responded, Who are you and why do you keep sending me your nasty e-mails ???   Please stop NOW!   I can do without your cursing when I don’t even know you!”

Talk about staying on topic!  🙂   And presumably, once this woman knows you, the word “bullshit” is permitted.

But all kidding aside, what’s dangerous and even tragic is the vast number of folks who received this email throughout the year and, rather than verifying it, resent it out to their email lists!

And these clones are allowed to VOTE!!!!  WTF!!!!!

But you can fight back!  The next time you read a dubious email or hear a political ad that sounds like bullshit, find out for yourself whether or not its claims are true.  The following web sites specialize in investigating the veracity of political statements: 

Politifact

Politifact’s Pant-On Fire Section

FactCheck

Snopes

And for accurate national and state up-to-date polling:

PollingReport,

RealClearPolitics

Be the first on your block with the true facts!  Stand up to those ultra-right-wing bullies!  Punch back with FACTS!!  Battle the Bullshit!!!  And enjoy!  🙂

Republicans won Wisconsin Recall…Or Did They?

One attribute of humankind is its capability to be blind to the forest because of all the trees in the way.  Such seems to be the case with the recall election yesterday in Wisconsin.

That recall vote was an attempt by Wisconsin’s union-backed democrats to remove Republican governor Scott Walker, his lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch and four republican state senators from office because of their roles in stripping bargaining rights away from unionized Wisconsin state workers in March of 2011, shortly after Walker took office.  Walker claimed that the state budget could not possibly be balanced unless unionized state workers lost their collective bargaining rights.  Subsequently, the republican-controlled Wisconsin state legislature passed Walker’s anti-union agenda.  That prompted weeks of anti-Walker protests in the state capital of Madison and was the impetus for the recall election.

Before the recall vote, Walker received almost US$31 million, 70% of which came from, among others,  large corporations outside of Wisconsin, to his opponent, democrat Tom Barrett’s US$4 million.  Walker won the recall vote by a margin of 53% to 46%.

Yet, despite the fact that Walker outspent Barrett by a ration of 7 to 1, his winning margin of 6% wasn’t very much.  Put another way, if only 3 1/2% of those voting for Walker had switched their vote to Barrett, Walker would have lost.  As a result, it’s fair to say that all that extra cash Walker had over Barrett (US$27 million) bought him just 3 1/2% of the vote, as well as helping lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch win her recall election, too.

Immediately, the GOP started patting itself on the back and making statements about how Wisconsin, which has voted democratic in every presidential election since 1988, is “now a red-leaning state”, as declared last night by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus.  And while it’s true that the GOP has gotten much better organized in Wisconsin because of this recall election, the GOP is still ignoring some very important facts about the true significance of this recall election.

Most significantly is the fact that they are ignoring that this recall election put the Wisconsin state senate into democratic hands because at least one of the four republican state senators facing a recall vote lost that vote last night.  All Walker and the GOP did last night was to maintain the gubernatorial status quo. but they lost control of their state legislature.  Walker and his GOP no longer have limitless control of the state government, and that’s huge.

The GOP also LOST in the exit polling regarding voters preference for president and whom they think will do a better job with the economy.  According to the exit polling, president Obama beat Mitt Romney by a margin of 51% to 44%.  He also beat Romney regarding who would do a better job with the economy by a small but significant margin, and by a more significant margin regarding who would help the middle class more.  Thus, it seems that Wisconsin voters were NOT voting for president last night, but instead were voting on an issue which was coated with outside money to the tune of millions of dollars.

money chart

That money (vs. reality) is now the ultimate maker and shaker of elections really says something dark and sinister about the evolution of the democratic process, doesn’t it?

Republicans are also celebrating today’s defeat in the US senate of the “”Paycheck Fairness Act,” a pay equity bill designed to guarantee equal pay for equal work regardless of gender.  This bill would have fixed some loopholes with the 1963 Equal Pay Act, by requiring employers to to prove that pay differences between employees are based solely on job performance instead of gender.  It would also have prevented employers from prohibiting employees from disclosing their respective salaries with each other, and would have allowed women who were discriminated against to sue in court.

The vote in the senate was 52-47 in favor of the bill.  That means it failed.  And why?

Because every single republican voted against ending debate on the bill, which requires 60 votes.  This is the filibuster tactic, which has been used by republicans more in the 3 years since president Obama took office in 2009 than in all of the 220 years of the senate before COMBINED!

The republicans claimed that the bill benefited trial lawyers who would bring frivolous lawsuits forward, the same way they claimed that tort reform is about lowering the cost of health care.  What it’s REALLY about is protecting their fat-cat corporate campaign donors against accountability.

But just like in Wisconsin, the GOP is putting their head in the sand and assuming that American voters are doing the same.

Will it work for them in November?  That’s a really good question, and a really scary one too…

…considering what their supporters and some really stupid voters love to believe..