The Widdershins


Let me say first:  that is if Hillary Clinton decides to run for the Democratic nomination.  Should Hillary decide not to run, well then, that’s a whole new ballgame.  But I believe that barring something horrendous happening, that Hillary Clinton will indeed run for the Democratic nomination.

Now, for all my dear Widdershin friends in the northeast; Massachusetts, New York and other areas please don’t be too offended by this but here’s the thing:  Elizabeth Warren is too liberal to win the Presidency.  Nope, she would not be able to carry enough areas outside the Northeast and West Coast to win in the general.  She certainly could not win in the southern states and possibly Clinton could not either.  But, could Warren carry Illinois?  Ohio or Indiana?  My bet is no.  This is not to say that I dislike Warren…hell I love Bernie Sanders, that old socialist, to death.  And I will say that certainly Warren, in the Senate and before, has championed the “little guy or woman”.  But is that really enough?

Hillary Clinton has had the experience “in the trenches” so to speak for a long time.  She’s been around the block more than a few times in Washington and knows how things work.  Warren is in her first term in the Senate dealing with politics at the national level.  Some folks have said “Oh that doesn’t matter!”  “She’ll learn how to handle the ropes as President.”  My response would be that we’ve had a great example of not enough experience for the last six years; how’s that worked out?  Not to knock Obama too terribly, but he was such a newbie in the Senate that he never learned how things work in DC before he became President and many people in the know talk about how he abhors “retail politics”.

There is certainly a rising clamor for “Run Elizabeth Run!”  Why even our dear old friend (cough cough) Donna Brazile has talked about Warren:

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile called Warren “a perfect surrogate” this campaign season for areas in which Obama is too divisive to enter.

“Warren has captured not only the spirit of the Democrats this political cycle but she represents and speaks for so many in our party,” Brazile said.

Some will say (and I did) that Warren has no intentions to run for the Democratic nomination, that she signed a statement with other Democratic women supporting Hillary in 2016, and has repeatedly said she’s not running. But in a recent interview with HuffPo she had a different story:

As Warren’s reception has been strong, she has modified her response since her emphatic December statement that she is not running for president.

In an interview with Huff Post Live in June, Warren dodged answering the question, instead saying, “This is a moment in time for our country and, I believe, for our world, a moment in time where we decide who we are as a people and what kind of a future we’re going to build.”

Now John Dickerson with Slate  believes it would be a good thing for Elizabeth to run.  That by doing so, she would force Clinton to more clearly define herself as to whether she is truly for the “little guy” or for the Wall Street banker crowd:

Warren would challenge the Democratic Party on issues like corporate power, income inequality, and entitlements. She would be a long shot and she would have nothing to lose—which means she could keep talking about those ideas out loud.  Because Clinton is close to Wall Street and finance executives and Warren is gunning for them, she has the potential to put campaign pressure on Clinton that other candidates can’t. Clinton and other candidates would be forced to explain where they stood more than if Warren weren’t in the race.

Sure, Warren would indeed push Clinton more to the left, but then that is what frequently happens in the primaries:  Candidates run more toward the extremes of their party and then in the general they move to more a centrist view because they have to capture a good part of the all-important independent voters in the general.

On the other hand, David Weigel also with Slate feels that the entire Warren movement is make-believe.

When Warren appeared at the Netroots Nation confab as she concluded her speech, all of her supporters brought out the signs with “Run Elizabeth Run”.  And the press that was present, ever eager to pounce on anything that would generate a page hit had fun with it:

But the story was already being told. The signs made it into write-ups by Politico, Huffington Post, McClatchy, and a Washington Post story about how “cracks are beginning to emerge” in the Clinton restoration’s coalition.

In some ways I’m not worried about a primary challenger for Clinton.  The idea by some is to try to nudge Clinton more to the left wing of the party:

“Hillary Clinton is going to say these things,” said former Rep. Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat who left his seat after a 2011 gerrymander. “Whoever our Democratic nominee is will run as an economic populist. When the pollsters and consultants come back with the numbers, they’ll tell her: Holy crap, you may not have been a populist before, but you are one now! The problem will be credibility, and whether it’s believable coming from someone who has close ties to the financial sector.”

It is clear that Hillary Clinton fits more into the central part of the Democratic Party.  But I also believe she “gets it” that not all Americans have been given a fair shake by the system in the last couple of decades.

Let’s be honest here:  with the House firmly in the hands of the Republicans and with the chance that the Senate may flip that way too, it’s going to be difficult for any Democratic President to have much of an agenda that can be implemented.  It may take another two year cycle for the electorate to be disgusted enough to make a change.  As she said before in 2008,  she could see what was coming and that’s what she was running against and why she was running in that election.

Feel free to discuss whatever is on your minds.

Good afternoon Widdershins. Unfortunately, the cheeriest thing I can bring myself to say is, “It’s Tuesday.”

By now, if you are anything like me, you are saturated in the ethnic separatist horror manifested by blowing 298 innocent souls out of the sky or by the millennium of tribalism being played out by proxy pawns along the Gaza Strip. No paltry words of mine can salve the grief stricken suffering as it plays itself out before our eyes.

Murrieta Buses

Forgive me for not focusing on those stories, but the images of the shouting, anger-seething hordes stopping those buses of refugee children have inspired quite a bit of thought over the past week. Inspired isn’t quite right. Those images merely reinforced something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time.

In many ways those images are consistent with our long history of ugly prejudice. We always seem to find a way to dressed up prejudice as a concern for public health or an assault upon our national sovereignty. Our entire 19th and early 20th century was infected with attacks on immigrants as diseased intruders upon the American body politic.

In 1832, the Irish were accused of bringing cholera. Later, the Italians were stigmatized for polio. In 1900, the Chinese immigrants in San Francisco’s Chinatown were quarantined out of an unfounded fear of bubonic plague. Not to paint with too fine a brush, but we portrayed Asians as feeble and infested with hookworm. Mexican were diagnosed as lousy. Eastern European Jews were pronounced vulnerable to trachoma, tuberculosis was dubbed the “Jewish disease”, and they were handed the “wastebasket” diagnosis of having generally “poor physique.” In the early 1900s newspapers announced every incoming ship was brimming with syphilitic and leprous heathens.

Buses American FlagsSo the images of the angry mobs attacking buses of children fresh from their jaunty thousand mile desert trek is but a vivid reminder of our heritage of unfocused nativist fears. In reality though, given the mandated required screenings by Homeland Security, these refugee children in all likelihood are better inoculated than American children given the new fear-mongering around vaccines. In short, the odds these migrant children could cause a general infection of anything are slim to none, and slim isn’t crossing the border.

Given that this nativism — this tribalism, isn’t new, it can’t explain away what I sense as a shift in the general ethics of Americans. A few weeks ago I wrote about the differences among values, morals, principles, and ethics. For those of you paying attention you will remember ethics is how we treat one another when we live along side one another. It is my contention the generalized hate, anger, and fear that used to be endemic toward emigrants has now, just like a mutating virus, “jumped the immigration barrier” and infected us as a society at an even broader level. That level is the “others.”

The “others” is a non-specific designation diagnosis. It can be the poor. It can be the uninsured in search of Medicaid. It can be families headed by single women. It can be the jobless or the disabled or gay. The “others” can be race or ethnicity based. It can be women looking for reproductive health care. The “others” no longer have helpful telltale immutable characteristics. Truly, this evolving animosity toward “others” is a work of equal opportunity hatred. It used to be enough to be American, but not so any more.

In order to bolster this theory, I offer you a recent article entitled, The Data of Hate. I don’t often recommend particular articles, but I urge you to click and read it. It’s fascinating and self-described as where “Big Hatred meets Big Data.”

The author is a Ph.D. economist from Harvard who spent a year studying — America’s most popular online hate site. It was founded in 1995 by a man inconveniently named Don Black, a former Ku Klux Klan leader. According to Quantcast, over the last year roughly 200,000 to 400,000 Americans visited the site every month. To bolster its pedigree, a Southern Poverty Law Center report linked nearly 100 murders in the past five years to registered members. Unsurprisingly, one of its most popular “social groups” is “Fans and Supporters of Adolf Hitler.”

What is surprising is this: The Stormfront members are seemingly normal — or relatively speaking, as normal as No New Taxes No New Illegalsmembers of a “social hate site” can be. Members like to read. They are news and political junkies. Members engage in long threads praising Breaking Bad and discussing the comparative merits of online dating sites. And quite surprisingly, they like to read The New York Times. This last data point will be quite the non sequitur to the NYT’s Sulzberger family since “powerful and clever Jews” seem to engender a preeminent amount of hatred on the site.

What is most frightening, at least to me and my theory of this new-found generalized animus, is the relative youth of the members. Seventy-six percent of the Americans on Stormfront who self-identify age are under thirty years old. Again, 76% of the American members are under 30.

Without belaboring my point, don’t expect this new generation of haters to anxiously await every January’s “white sales” in order to pick up high thread count flat sheets. This new generation of hate won’t be as easy to recognize as the Klan was. “For instance, Stormfront member VikingMaiden88 seems like a perfectly nice and intelligent young woman, but her hatred is real. She praises a store for having ’100% white employees’. She says the media is promoting a ‘Jewish agenda’. And she says she finds Asians ‘repulsive physically, socially, religiously, etc.”

It is my assertion these Stormfront members, through their unfocused anger, are no different in many ways than those who take to the streets in protest over the “47% of takers.” Without any fiscal basis, isn’t cutting food stamps to the poor merely a visceral product of anger? Isn’t withholding Medicaid to Seven Million poor Southerners punishing the “others“? Cutting unemployment benefits while at the same time refusing to pass a jobs bill is nothing more than indicting the victims of the Great Recession as “others.“ And add any qualifier to a single woman — as poor, as unemployed or as a mother, and there is automatic condemnation of being a double “other.”

Child RefugeesThe images of the angry mobs stopping the buses of children were poignant reminders of the ugliness of nativism. While I said I wasn’t going to dwell on the horrors of Malaysian Flight 17 or Gaza, aren’t they just potent examples of the invidious nature of tribalism writ large? The learning they provide is simple: We would do well to weigh the cost of allowing this type of unquenchable enmity to grow unchecked. We should learn from our historical disgraces of blanket prejudice lest we are all one-illness, one job, one child, or one trait away from being an “other.”

This is an open thread.






Well, Widdershins, it’s just a dog-eat-dog world out there. Apparently everyone is whipping out their rockets for the summer. (Yes, that metaphor was intentional.) Whether it’s Hamas bombing Israel and Israel fighting back, or Pooty-Poot’s adventures in Early Czarism, or America’s own potential re-entry in Iraq, the color of summer is green – Army green, that is.

Time Cover May 2014

Here are some recent updates about how all these wars are going. Are we war-weary? Are we weary of men, men and more men seeing war as the only answer to the world’s problems?

Good Goddess, yes we are.

Americans Wary of Iraq Involvement

Israel Targets Secret Tunnels in Gaza Ground War

Will Pooty-Poot Lose His Billionaire Backing?

This is an open thread.





Good Thursday to you Widdershings!  Yes, you have Fredster posting once again.  This is for our dear Chatblu who is away on a brief vacay.  I am more than happy to do this for her but she may be more than unhappy when she sees this result.

This being my “Friday” so to speak in regards to posting, I’m gonna cheat.  I’ve had this item bookmarked for quite some time and this is the perfect opportunity to use it.  Jeremy Alford and his late mentor John Maginnis write a political blog about Louisiana politics long before there ever was such a creature. One of their favorite things to do while covering the Lege, when it is in session, is to record some of the more amusing and frequently cringeworthy statements made by some of the legislators.  I do believe Louisiana can proudly hold its head up and be compared favorably to Texas and its lege and its legislators linguistic acrobatics.  I can say we surely try.

black-line divider-no-background-th

“I may be wrong but I’m consistent”
Rep. Rob Sadoin

“We’re going to need a little help with this budget.”
—Sen. Dan Claitor to a priest

“We don’t have any wise people in here.”
—Senate Pres. John Alario prior to a hearaing on the Workforce and Innovation for a
Strong Economy Fund (WISE)

“There’s a priest in the back of the room in case anyone needs to confess.”
Sen. Dan Claitor during a committee hearing

“Because we all know people who just lo-o-v-v-e you on Friday and by Monday
morning it’s how do we get out of this.”
—Rep. Rob Shadoin objecting to a Senate change to his bill that would delete the
72-hr waiting period for a marriage license in New Orleans

“I wanted to ask Judge (Glenn) Ansardi how old he was
but Sen. (Conrad) Appel said I should’t.”
—Sen. Eric LaFleur introducing a constitutional amendment to remove the mandatory retirement ages for judges.

“I have no idea if this is a good bill.”
Sen Fred Mills introducing his own legislation
“Not a good opening.”
House and Governmental Affairs Chairman Tim Burns

“There’s enough sleazy things going on in this building to not
have to worry about grease traps.”
Sen. Danny Martiny on the plumbing code bill

Sometimes you get to have a Waterloo…I’d rather be
Wellington than Napoleon.”
Sen. Norby Chabert on his amendment to the plumbing code bill

Testifying in committee, Judge Pam Baker: “In general, I think you’ll find
that judges don’t tend to be very generous with spousal support, so I
don’t think that would be a problem.”

Rep Rob Sadoin:  “I wish they would have told my judge that.”

“We’ve got a pretty loaded agenda.”
Sen David Heitmeier, before a debate on medical marijuana

“My motion went up in smoke.”
Heitmeier, hitting it again

“That’s not good when it happens.”
Heitmeier upon hearing the side effects of Viagra
“Do you have experience with that Mr. Chairman?”
Sen Fred Mills to Heitmier

Rep. Tim Burns: “Which bill do you want to hear first?”
Rep Brett Geymann: “Which one are you for?”

Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb: “Do you tap? Do you tap?”
DHH Chief of Staff Calder Lynch:  “Tap?”
Colomb: “Because you have tap danced around all my questions.”

“Don’t pay that no mind.  Come on.”
—Rep Barbara Norton, when the speaker invoked the five-minute rule.

“You want to keep the butts in the car?”
Rep. Thomas Carmody on making it a crime to throw cigarette butts from a vehicle

“I don’t know if I necessarily trust legislators with guns.”
Sen. J.P. Morrell on legislation allowing lawmakers to carry guns.

“How are your roulette wheels doing at the parish fairs?”
former Sen. Ken Hollis to lobbyist Kirby Ducote, who read a statement from Catholic bishops supporting the repeal of video poker

“What happens when I walk around a [police] horse and it kicks me
and then I kick it back?
Former Rep. Alex Heaton on a bill to make it a crime to injure a police horse

“What about marijuana?”
Sen Bob Kostelka on a bill prohibiting smoking near elementary and secondary schools

And finally:

At a lecture series held by the Institute of Politics at Loyola University:

Moderator Lee Zurik:
“Can a Democrat win a state office, including governor, again?”

Former governor Edwin Edwards:
“Get me a pardon and I will show you.”

Okay Widdershins, I hope you got a chuckle or two out of these.  If you have any tidbits about any of your local politicians feel free to add them below or anything else you want to add.

This is a totally open thread.

medical staff picture

No it’s not perfect but despite all the protestations to the contrary and despite having been done away 30 or more times by the Republican House, it’s still around.  My preferences would have been either single payer or Medicare for all, but, as they say, “it is what it is”.  And what it is, is something that appears to be working.

I read this article in the New England Journal of Medicine which looked at the A.C.A.  through a number of different scenarios in how people obtained medical coverage and what they got.

We all saw the numbers after the open season closed and eventually over 8 million people enrolled in the health insurance exchanges (state and Federal) and that number even beat the CBO earlier estimate.  The NE Journal article chose to look at aspects of Obamacare that have been either overlooked or glossed over.

In assessing the record of the ACA to date, we comment on enrollment not only through the individual marketplaces but also through other critical vehicles for extending coverage: the requirement that private insurers cover children of enrollees until the age of 26 years, the expansion of Medicaid eligibility, new insurance-market rules that enable people to more easily buy plans directly through insurance companies outside the individual marketplaces, and marketplaces created for small businesses, known as the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). We also report on early survey data about recent trends in rates of insurance since the passage of the ACA.

(Me here)  They have a handy-dandy pie chart which you can see here.  It was too big to put into the post.

As the article states, parts of the A.C.A. actually began in 2010.  One of those parts was the requirement that insurance companies/plans having dependent coverage allow parents under those plans to keep their children on the plans until age 26.  As the article states:

Last year, a Commonwealth Fund survey showed that 7.8 million adults between the ages of 19 and 25 years were enrolled in a parent’s plan — and that most of these enrollees would not have been eligible to do so before the passage of the law. Federal surveys suggest that the number of young adults without health insurance has declined by 1 million to 3 million since the provision took effect. The young-adult provision has been popular across the political spectrum. The Commonwealth Fund survey showed that young adults who identified themselves as Republicans were enrolled through their parents’ policies in greater numbers than were those who identified themselves as Democrats. (Me again:  of course that says something about the Republican parents too, no?)

The next item the article discusses is the fact that with the A.C.A. came new coverage provisions on companies who sold individual plans, whether through an exchange or otherwise.

Insurers selling health plans in these markets can no longer set prices on the basis of health or exclude coverage of preexisting health conditions, and they are limited in what they can charge older adults as compared with younger adults.   In addition, all plans that are sold in these markets must meet comprehensive benefit standards.

And further help individuals making decisions:

to aid consumer decision making, health plans must be sold at four distinct levels of actuarial value (i.e., the share of medical costs covered on average). For example, on average, bronze plans must cover at least 60% of medical costs, silver 70%, gold 80%, and platinum 90%.

The 2nd thing the A.C.A. did was to create the individual exchanges, which sadly, most states chose not to do.

Read the rest of this entry »

Good Tuesday afternoon Widdershins. For some reason my thematic gene is not firing today so my offering for your perusal is best described as a little of this and that.

Do you remember the Johnny Carson skit, “The Great Carnac?” It was where Mr. Carson would don a turban the size Carnacof a wash basket, give the answers to questions, then open an envelope and miraculously share the questions to which he had already shared the answers. I have a couple to start — a feeble attempt at a comedic amuse bouche.

Answers: Smallpox and Sarah Palin

Question: Name two toxins best kept in lockdown isolation.


Answers: The Costa Concordia and Rick Perry

Question: Name two things being refloated that are ultimately headed for the scrap yard.

While you are still groaning at my feeble attempt at humor, let me add a little something about the Senate race in Kentucky. Mitch McConnell, in an attempt to appeal to women beyond his fierce turtle magnetism, recently sent a mailer to women voters describing his successes over the years. He was able to provide two, yes, two whole examples.

After 30 years in the Senate, THIRTY YEARS, his two examples of leadership on women’s issues were: Voting to allow women into combat and changing the prosecutorial procedure for sexual assault in the military. So after thirty years, Senator McConnell can proudly say to women, “I’m for your right to die in battle, but if you don’t, I’m also against rape.“ McConnell’s opponent is Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Turning to Speaker John Boehner’s suit against President Obama for his Executive Order lawlessness, there is little mention in most stories that Obama has issued the fewest Executive Orders since FDR.

Another piece of relatively delicious irony is that the issue over which Boehner is suing Obama, the delay of the ACA employer mandate, is an issue the House voted 261 to 164 in favor of delaying. Said a better way, the supposedly spendthrift House of Representatives is spending millions of dollars to sue the President for something they were in favor of in the first place.

While I know few, if any, of you are of the Republican persuasion, but if you were, wouldn’t you be embarrassed if the future of your party’s foreign relations philosophy was being debated by two luminaries like Rick Perry and Rand Paul? One best known for saying, “Oops,“ and the other for a haircut resembling some wayward varmint. The fungible factor is high between the two, not just in their initials, not just being two native Texans, but in their egos writing checks their meager intellects can’t endorse.

One last topic: The crisis of caring for children at our southern border. Notice the way the whole complexion of the problem changes when the emphasis is rightly on the children and not the sterile, now pejorative, word — immigration.

Immigration BusesThe recent demonstrations of angry mobs screaming at buses filled with helpless children and women is a disgusting moment in our history. Where is the compassion? Where is the empathy? These people who have walked, hopped trains, or begged, borrowed, and stolen to get to our border deserve better.

If Glenn Beck can bring food, water, teddy bears, and soccer balls to these children, those who are angry and screaming should take a long hard look at themselves and the Tea Party ideals they claim to espouse.

It is a wondrously confusing thing to me when politicians are so eager to listen to religious leaders talk about contraception, but offer so little quarter to religious leaders who talk about hungry, starving, needy children.

This crisis is certainly one spawned by the unintended consequences of the Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Passed by voice votes with little or no opposition and signed by Dubya, it is a tacit encouragement to tens of thousands of children to risk their lives. There is nothing humanitarian about that. It needs to be fixed, but until it is, we need to be able to answer the questions, “When they were thirsty and when they were hungry,” with a clear conscience and an even clearer determination to fix the broken immigration system.

One last program reminder: Hillary is going to be a guest on The Daily Show tonight. Jon Stewart, in an attempt to assuage his liberal guilt, will undoubtedly offer up some pointed questions. It should be “must see teevee”.

Take this discussion to whatever subject you may wish since this is an open thread.


I have to admit, this new pope is growing on me.

ROME (Reuters) – About two percent of Roman Catholic clerics are sexual abusers, an Italian newspaper on Sunday quoted Pope Francis as saying, adding that the pontiff considered the crime “a leprosy in our house”.


“This data should hearten me but I have to tell you that it does not hearten me at all. In fact, I think that it is very grave,” he was quoted as saying.

I am not sure where Pope Francis got this figure, as he was quoted to say that he was reassured of its accuracy from reliable statistics,but I applaud him for speaking up and admitting the problem. (Hmmm, Maybe the Catholic Church needs a 12-step program?)

The article in La Repubblica also quoted the pope as saying that there were cardinals amongst the abusers. While the role of cardinals in covering up abuse is still being uncovered, it has not been proven than any committed these horrific acts. Nonetheless, the law of averages would seem to dictate that these men are not immune from the disease. Of course, rationality is not a key characteristic of a Church which is based on transubstantiation and the infallibility of its human leader, and Vatican spokespeople are claiming that hey, His Holiness never said that!

While acknowledging that the conversation had taken place, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi issued a statement saying that not all the phrases could be attributed “with certainty” to the pope.

Lombardi said that, in particular, a quote attributed to the pope saying cardinals were among the sex abusers was not accurate and accused the paper of trying to “manipulate naive readers”.

You know what’s manipulative? The way the Church has played on the faith of its members to marginalize and silence the victims of pedophiles in the clergy. And yes, I am quite f*cking sure that there are cardinals who have abused the children in their care. The Catholic Church is full of these cockroaches who scatter at the first hint of sunlight, and the culture for far too long has been not just tolerant of, but enabling towards, these abusers.

In my opinion, the Pope should share the statistics that he’s seen, Tell it like it is, Francis. Only then does the Catholic Church have a prayer of gaining back the credibility it has lost.

This is an open thread.

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