The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘Obamacare

-Trump Chuckie

On March 4th, The Thing in the White House sent out a bunch of angry tweets blasting the previous President for wiretapping Isengard Trump Tower. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Then 30 mins later: “How long has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process? This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” When asked to clarify this insanity, The Thing’s minions really could do nothing but heee and hawww. The Thing read it somewhere, they said. NY Times! Louise Mensch! BBC! Naturally once reporters dug deeper, they found that NO, none of those reports talked Trump Obamaabout wiretapping. Mensch broke the story on her right-wing blog HeatStreet on November 7th about the FISA warrant, but all she said was that a FISC court granted permission to “examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.” In question was a mysterious communication between two Russian banks and a server in Trump Tower. (David Corn of Mother Jones broke the story of the two banks and Trump Tower, but all media dismissed it as a bizarre conspiracy theory a couple of weeks earlier.) In the follow-up reports to Mensch’s story, BBC and the failing NY Times confirmed a FISA warrant, but nobody mentioned wiretaps… except Breitbart and then The Thing in its Tweets. Ahhhhh, the plot thickens. Where did Breitbart get the information about wiretaps at Trump Tower and did The Thing just leak top secret information in a series of Tweets? Sure seems that way. Will anybody hold him accountable? LOL.

There are fleeing moments when it feels like Lady Lindsey Graham and Hero John McCain might hold The Thing accountable for the numerous impeachable offenses it has committed. Earlier today Graham tweeted: “An attack on one political party should be considered an attack on all. We must push back on Russian election interference at home & abroad.” That sounds great! However it should also be noted that Graham had lunch with The Thing earlier in the day.

“Great lunch meeting with ‪@POTUS today. President Trump is strongly committed to rebuilding our military which is music to my ears. (1/3)

President Trump is in deal-making mode and I hope Congress is like-minded. (2/3)”

“How good was the meeting with ‪@POTUS?

I gave him my NEW cell phone number.”

Somebody responded: “1-800-DOOR-MAT?” And then “You, sir, are a profile in courage.”

And that, folks, is Lindsey Graham summarized in a handful of tweets. We have to get used to the notion that no, Graham and McCain won’t hold The Thing accountable for anything until they’ve gotten what they want from him: tax cuts for the rich, bigger military, gutting ACA, etc. etc. etc. Then maybe, possibly, once that’s all done, they’ll throw The Thing overboard.

Speaking of handing out cell numbers, can anybody afford a new cell phone after Republicans pass Trumpcare? Jason Chaffetz, the man who investigated Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s e-mails to death, and who doesn’t think there is any reason to look into Trump’s connections to Russia, went on CNN to start selling Trumpcare to America.

Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice. And so, maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest it in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions for themselves.

This is, of course, patently absurd. An iPhone unsubsidized by a phone company might cover one month’s premium for a single person. How many iPhones does Chaffetz think people buy? Of course, Chaffetz himself doesn’t have to buy his own phone. He gets one from work. His cell bill gets covered too. “How much does an iPhone cost” is the new “How much is a gallon of milk?” and Chaffetz doesn’t know  the cost of either.

Medicaire

Overall Trumpcare is going to gut poor people into oblivion. It gives tax breaks to the rich, provides insurance companies with tax deductions on CEO salaries, will raise costs of premium, reinstate caps, gut preexisting conditions. Millions of people will lose their insurance. Many of them were Trump voters. Sadly many of them were not. But they will suffer also.

Why do Republicans hate poor people? It’s a question that has been asked often and there are many answers. As it came up again in the current Trumpcare discussion, I was reminded of a scene in E.M. Forster’s great novel “Howards End.” In the 1910 novel ForsterForster explored 3 groups of people from 3 different classes: the extremely wealthy and conservative Wilcoxes, upper middle class but liberal Schlegels, and poor but aspiring for something bigger Basts. The Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, try to help poor Leonard Bast, but their well-meaning interventions in his life, as well as not-well meaning interventions from the Wilcoxes, prove disastrous. He loses his job as a clerk in an insurance company after following bad advice from patriarch Henry Wilcox. When the impetuous Helen (played by Helena Bonham Carter in the magnificent film, with Emma Thompson as Margaret) tries to make her case for helping the poor to the condescending 1%-er Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins in the film), the following exchange takes place. Written in 1910, “Howards End”is still relevant in 2017.

From Chapter 22

He [Henry Wilcox] raised his finger. “Now, a word of advice.”

“I require no more advice.” [said Helen]

“A word of advice. Don’t take up that sentimental attitude over the poor. See that she doesn’t, Margaret. The poor are poor, and one’s sorry for them, but there it is. As civilisation moves forward, the shoe is bound to pinch in places, and it’s absurd to pretend that any one is responsible personally. Neither you, nor I, nor my informant, nor the man who informed him, nor the directors of the Porphyrion, are to blame for this clerk’s loss of salary. It’s just the shoe pinching–no one can help it; and it might easily have been worse.”

Helen quivered with indignation.

“By all means subscribe to charities–subscribe to them largely– but don’t get carried away by absurd schemes of Social Reform. I see a good deal behind the scenes, and you can take it from me that there is no Social Question–except for a few journalists who try to get a living out of the phrase. There are just rich and poor, as there always have been and always will be. Point me out a time when men have been equal–”

“I didn’t say–”

“Point me out a time when desire for equality has made them happier. No, no. You can’t. There always have been rich and poor. I’m no fatalist. Heaven forbid! But our civilisation is moulded by great impersonal forces” (his voice grew complacent; it always did when he eliminated the personal), “and there always will be rich and poor. You can’t deny it” (and now it was a respectful voice)–“and you can’t deny that, in spite of all, the tendency of civilisation has on the whole been upward.”

“Owing to God, I suppose,” flashed Helen.

He stared at her.

“You grab the dollars. God does the rest.”

It was no good instructing the girl if she was going to talk about God in that neurotic modern way. Fraternal to the last, he left her for the quieter company of Mrs. Munt.

[…]

“Don’t ever discuss political economy with Henry,” advised her sister. “It’ll only end in a cry.”

“But he must be one of those men who have reconciled science with religion,” said Helen slowly. “I don’t like those men. They are scientific themselves, and talk of the survival of the fittest, and cut down the salaries of their clerks, and stunt the independence of all who may menace their comfort, but yet they believe that somehow good–it is always that sloppy ‘somehow’ will be the outcome, and that in some mystical way the Mr. Basts of the future will benefit because the Mr. Brits of today are in pain.”

Howards End

Also, in brief: Richard Steele, the British spy who wrote the infamous “pee pee” dossier, has resurfaced. While American Senators want to hear him testify about what he knows.

WikiLeaks is dumping top secret CIA documents.

And contrary to earlier denials that he’s never met the Russian Ambassador (a man nobody has ever met), a newly unearthed article in the Wall Street Journal from last April says that Trump met with the Russian Ambassador and greeted him warmly.

What’s on your mind Widdershins? This is an open thread.

rapture

Does anyone else feel like we are living through The Rapture? The Chosen ones – David Bowie, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, etc., – are being carried off to a better place while the rest of us heathens stay behind to suffer Drumpf for all eternity. We can all agree 2016 has been literally the worst. I’m not sure saying goodbye to it will make anything better though. Just when you think things can’t get any worse – they can. Do we have any reason to think 2017 will be an improvement with Drumpf – aka. King Jesus – and Pence leading the way?

light-at-end-of-tunnell

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve also had some bizarre murmurings about HRC’s loss from Obama and everyone’s apparently favorite uncle Joe Biden. (Nevermind that Biden is a gaffe machine who once said it was nice that Obama was so clean, among many other stunning pronouncements). Obama declared he definitely would have won if he ran against Trump (thanks Obama!) and Biden said Hillary never figured out how to run. This is from a guy who has run for President how many times and always dropped out with single digit support? Now Biden says he might run in 2020. Ok fantastic, good luck with that uncle Joe. With friends like these who needs friends? So how about Obama and Biden shut the hell up at this point? And while they’re at it, can they shut Bernie up too?

Speaking of Bernie, I’ve had it up the wazoo with Bernie and his Bros. We are still hearing them tell us how much we don’t understand the suffering of poor white men in the rust belt, and how we should not look down on them, and our condescension of their deplorableness is one big reason HRC lost the election (they don’t really care about the popular vote any more than Drumpf does.)

Ok look, this might sound harsh, but we don’t care about political correctness anymore, right? And these are tough guys, they’re men damn it, they can handle the truth.  So here goes: I have no doubt poor white men in the rust belt are suffering. But whose fault is it? Whose freaking fault is it? Apparently it’s HRC’s fault, and my fault and all of your fault Widdershins. We just don’t take care of them enough. Boohoo poor babies. Wahwahwahwahwah. My coal job is gone and I can’t get black lung disease anymore! And “fixing” Obamacare might get rid of my black lung health insurance!

woe-is-me-e1346181134882

Ok, you know what? I’m done being blamed for that shit. The world evolves and people must evolve with it. Once upon a time everybody was a farmer. Then the Industrial Revolution came and people had to evolve and adapt. So they lost their farming jobs anddinosaurs-missingark-jpg-w300h308 moved to the big cities and started working in factories. Now we are living in a post-Industrial world, we are in a technological age. Maybe these poor white men in the rust belt could turn off NASCAR and crack open a damned book and learn something? Maybe go to a community college and get a degree in something instead of longing for the golden age of coal mines? It’s just a suggestion. Stop mocking the coastal elites who work long hours in offices and who went to college and got college degrees and massive student debts. I have a friend who works full time at Teach For America and goes full time to the New School. He has asked me for small loans to buy food a few times because his entire salary is spent on school and rent (with roommates.) These are the choices he made and I’ve never heard him blame anyone for them. He chose to go to school to get a masters while working full time and living in Brooklyn. So how about these poor white men in the rust belt stop whining and demanding things from everyone, blaming coastal elites for their troubles, while accepting no responsibilities for their own choices and actions. And how about Bernie Bros stop patronizing them and treating them like little children who are apparently so stupid that after a two year Presidential campaign HRC was somehow unable to connect with them. Excuse me, are they complete idiots who are incapable of critical thinking? Well, I tend to think “Yes, they are.” These are the people who year after year vote against their won self interests. In 2016 they voted for Drumpf. Seems pretty stupid to me. But Bernie/Bros tell us to stop condescending to them. Ok fine, let’s stop condescending to them, let’s treat them like adults with a few still living brain cells and hold them accountable for their own actions. Stop blaming everyone for these people’s stupidity and maybe spread out some blame for our current predicament to these people themselves? I mean, go ahead and blame HRC for her failures (I’ll assign one: it was obviously a mistake to spend time, money and resources trying to flip Georgia blue.) But stop blaming HRC for these poor suffering white men’s own failures as well as her own. I think we are all tired of being everybody’s whipping boys/girls, no? Take some responsibility for your actions folks in the rust belt and Bernie Bros who love them. You voted for Trump because you don’t like women, because you get bored by policy, you never looked at HRC’s plans for job creation in your regions, you only watched Faux News and read Breitbart for your breaking news, you thought e-mails were a really big deal. Own it. Hmmkay thanx bye.

emotional-rollercoaster

What’s on your minds Widdershins? This is an open thread.

Good Wednesday friends.  Many thanks to Chat for hosting our little SOTU retoxification party last evening.  Instead of wading into the SOTU minutia, I have a few other news items.SOTU

These are small things about big subjects.  Since the news media is all consumed with the gaseous emissions from the guy wearing the kangaroo scrotum toupee, the important things of keeping an electorate informed have given way to plot lines unworthy of the “Housewives of Colonoscopy Corners”.  I find that tiresome, I hope you do as well.

 

Obamacare

Remember the line, “Obamacare is a job killer.”  It is a line still getting more than its share of media space courtesy of reporters who have the intellectual curiosity of a narcoleptic doorstop.

A funny thing happened on the way to proving the job killing proclivities of Obamacare – it doesn’t.  Simply put, there is no evidence that Obamacare has affected employment patterns in any appreciable way.

Good news is just so passé — why bother?

 

Ted CruzTed Cruz

There has been a flurry of birthism chickens coming to roost upon the spindly shoulders of the Texas demagogue.  Noted constitutional expert Laurence Tribe actually taught Ted Cruz in school.  Professor Tribe knows Cruz for what he is:  A political opportunist and a legal charlatan.

Let’s dissect:  Cruz has always paid his chicken-lip service to an “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution.  Originalism is the current “en vogue” interpretative theory of conservatives since it is the shortest route to overturning progressive New Deal reforms.  Originalism didn’t even exist as a constitutional theory until the mid-1980s so it is essentially the “cargo pants theory” of constitutional interpretation.

In any event, Justices Moe, Larry, and Curly (Scalia, Thomas, and Alito) all subscribe to originalism.  Cruz has a matching tramp stamp to Scalia to prove his fealty.

The Framers inserted the words, “natural born citizen” as a Presidential requirement for a reason, but it was a strange qualifier.  Did it mean the indentured 3/5th citizens couldn’t qualify for President?  Did it mean the humans with the scary lady parts couldn’t qualify?  Did it mean only land owners could qualify?  Did it mean all of these?  No one knows since the question has never been addressed.

Cruz, having hatched in Canada with only an American mother, presents some unique questions.  In fact, prior to 1934, Cruz undoubtedly would not have been qualified to be President since it was only then that Congress provided a mother’s citizenship conferred citizenship upon her child.

As usual, Cruz is lying when he says, “It is settled law.”  It is not.

 

Iranian Nuclear DealNuclear Deal

Remember the Iran deal — the one representing just another excuse to overuse the words “existential threat”?  Its implementation is ahead of schedule.  Enriched uranium, 25,000 pounds of it, has been shipped out of Iran to Russia, never to return to Iran.

Iran is nearing completion of other requirements, including dismantling the requisite number of centrifuges, reconfiguring the Arak heavy water reactor (to close down the pathway via plutonium) and allowing for more intrusive inspections.  In addition, the Arak nuclear reactor core has been filled with concrete.  It doesn’t work very well that way.

 

Benghazi13 Hours

I’m really tired of Benghazi as a topic of conversation.  There have been seven investigations costing tens of millions of dollars and all coming to the same conclusion:  There was no wrongdoing.  There were areas of remediation where processes and procedures could be improved, but there was no wrongdoing.

With the opening of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi this topic is again going to percolate.  It is going to breathlessly play across Fox and talk radio as if it just occurred yesterday.  It will be as if the thousands of stories on Fox, the separate Fox-u-mentary, or the 2,456 print stories never existed.  And most of this rekindled interest will center on whether or not an order to “stand down” was given.

Here’s the truth behind the “stand down” order – none of the official investigations found any such order.  The Pentagon confirms this.  The State Department confirms this.  The issue continues to be central because it is politically potent and it fits into a narrative so important to the angry mobs listening to Fox and talk radio.

The argument for there being a “stand down” order hangs from one thin thread.  In the book written by the contract security survivors, they insist they were given an order to wait by a local CIA operative.  That non-sanctioned delay by the CIA operative was, in total, TOTAL, somewhere between fifteen and thirty minutes.

I can’t emphasize this enough – disrespecting the four Americans who died that day, impugning the reputations of countless Pentagon and State Department officials, and tens of millions of dollars in needless, duplicative investigations – were all predicated upon nothing more than a local CIA operative exercising operational control and six contract security cowboys disagreeing with his strategic decision to wait.

What’s more, that disagreement lasted only fifteen to thirty minutes.  These six men, perhaps to assuage their own consciences since they could have ignored the CIA operative fifteen minutes earlier, are now to be portrayed as Transformer level heroes.  Michael Bay, the director of 13 Hours, also directed all the Transformer movies, such is the historical significance of this movie.

Fox is going whole-hog on hyping this movie hoping the film can do what thousands of lazy news stories couldn’t – rewrite history.

 

What are you reading today?  Take this conversation in any direction you might like.

 

The rule in debating public policy is, “If you are explaining, you are losing.”  Be advised, this is a “losing post.”Understanding

Everyone is busy.  We only have so much time.  IMHO, we all use shorthand to communicate.  If the time available doesn’t afford a thorough explanation, it is understanding that is shortchanged.  There are plenty of examples.

These days when someone says “voting rights,” top of the mind automatically associates voter identification laws.  In reality, voting rights also refers to extended voting hours, absentee balloting issues, registration, weekend voting, and a host of other topics that have been subsumed into “voting rights”.

The same is true for Planned Parenthood.  Top of the mind associates the organization with abortion when that is barely three percent of the services it provides to women, most notably poor women without a secondary source of reproductive health care.

Acorn, community organizing, election finance, Obamacare, entitlements are all topics that are shorthand capstones for massively intricate webs of complexity.

Shut your face, know your placeWe “libruls” often unwittingly fall into this ruse.  It is not a sin of commission, but one of convenience.  Unwittingly, we are assisting those who are enemies of progressive issues.  This shorthand vocabulary is about to go into overdrive as we wend our way into 2016.

An issue that is sure to be saddled by this abbreviated understanding is the Black Lives Matter movement.  Originally, the BLM movement was and still is a concerted effort to draw attention to the killing of young men of color, but BLM is much more.  Its purpose is to draw attention to institutionalized prejudice, to de facto bigotry, to unprecedented incarceration rates, to overly aggressive policing and tactics in disadvantaged neighborhoods, to looking beyond the mere economic effects of discrimination, to rebuilding neighborhoods and voting empowerment.  While I don’t understand the BLM strategy of attacking those sympathetic with its policy positions, those decisions seem to be local ones and the overall motivations seem to be pure.

The simplistic rejoinder of, “All lives matter,” while true, is a backhanded effort to undermine the effort by subtly implying racist overtones.  BLM has not once implied that one set of lives is superior to another.  It is those who seek to impugn BLM who conflate the two slogans – and everyone readily overlooks those six words, with four of the words being the same, are merely slogans.Life is worth

These facts are dismissed and overlooked.  Why?  BLM is a tangible reminder of a truth that scares the bejesus out of a dwindling white majority power structure.  That truth is declaring war upon demographics is like declaring war on gravity.  In the end, gravity will win and any success in beating it back is only temporary.

This delegitimizing of BLM has risen to a fever pitch with the senseless killing of two police officers in the last few days.  The usual suspects who fan the fires of fear and resentment are behind these efforts – Fox, Breitbart, Limbaugh, Hannity.

There is something that bedevils me and it is this:  How neither side of this argument seems to understand there is no monopoly on grief?  There is plenty of grief for the getting.  The killing of young black men inspires grief just as does the killing of police officers visits horrible suffering on their families.  Victims are equally dead and there is no “who hurts worse” or “who grieves better” scorecards.

To fan the fires of resentment and fear, these murders have already taken on a shorthand vocabulary.  For instance, Breitbart only refers to “black on white” crimes as race murders, while “white on black” crime is given short shrift as random acts of derangement.

This thinly veiled bigotry is at the heart of the “Summer of Trump.”  The “stuttering triple P” poll found:

Our new poll finds that Trump is benefiting from a GOP electorate that thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim and was born in another country, and that immigrant children should be deported. 66% of Trump’s supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim… 61% think Obama was not born in the United States… and 63% want to amend the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship.

Trump’s beliefs represent the consensus among the GOP electorate. 51% overall want to eliminate birthright citizenship. 54% think President Obama is a Muslim. And only 29% grant that President Obama was born in the United States.

MLKInstitutionalized bigotry will always be buttressed by the very institutions hosting the prejudice.  What we know from decades of research is that unless change is affected at the granular level, through outreach like BLM in cooperation with police departments and cities, there will be no significant improvement.  Everyone should be encouraged to put their shoulder to the plow.  As we have seen this summer, broken people break things and hurt people will hurt people.

Aspiring to such an elementary understanding isn’t on par with Johnson’s Great Society, but it sure would go a long way in making the society we have a much better one.

Your thoughts on any subject are welcomed and encouraged.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  How many times have you heard that tired old saw?  Surprisingly, there is a good bit of truth in that statement especially if the goose is a poor child and the gander is a rich child. Who knew?Seesaw

Through the study of some 5 million families a truth has emerged from the mountain of data.  Some of the findings are not earth-shattering pearls of wisdom.   Cities like Baltimore, Detroit, Orlando, and Chicago are inherently problematic for a poor child to have any hope of upward social mobility.  These cities are highly segregated and unequal.  They have a higher crime rate and worse schools.  They are also more likely than not to have a lot of single-parent families.

Courtesy of this study, we now know that poor children have better odds if they moved to places with more economic mobility like Fairfax County, Virginia, Bergen County, N.J., Seattle, Cedar County, Iowa, or any number of other communities.

So what’s the big deal?  What is the learning from this study?

The learning is that rich kids, with all the built-in advantages of economic freedom and stability, also fare better when they live in these very same communities as compared to just average communities.  In other words, whether you are a poor or a rich child, you benefit in your adult years from living in a community where economic mobility is embraced.

Bigger ladderAgain, not that earth-shattering – not until you consider the fear that permeates any effort to positively leverage social mobility.  That fear:  Any increase in economic mobility comes at the expense of those who already enjoy it.  Simply put, doing good things for some means equal or greater bad things for others.  It’s this fear that has stymied progress on health care, food stamps, child care, or crumbling roads and bridges for the past thirty-years.  The damage from this fear continues to this day.  It is at the heart of “I got mine, sorry about your luck.”

The code words for this fear in all things economic are “zero-sum gains” – meaning if we put struggling, poor children in classrooms with rich children, the rich kids will be worse off and suffer.  We worry if we contaminate “nice” neighborhoods with the occasional poor family, the nice neighborhood won’t be nice any more.

I’ve written about this often since, in my opinion, this is the greatest obstacle to anti-poverty programs.  You can see this fear playing out – cut food stamps before they affect social security, we can’t afford Obamacare because it might affect Medicare, or we can’t repair our deteriorating bridges and roads because it might mean closing some sacrosanct corporate tax loophole.

Anti-poverty programs to the poor are the anemic twenty-third cousin to the perpetual generational endowment of the one-percenters.  Without some positive governmental influence through boot-strapping, what hope is there for the neighborhoods of the generational poor and their children?  For most of these communities, hope is as rare a commodity as fresh produce at the corner market.

Helping poor kids won’t harm rich kids.  Helping poor sick people get medical care won’t impact Medicare recipients.  The jobs created from repairing our infrastructure pay for themselves.  If, and only if, we overcome the zero-sum fear underpinning bogus economic slogans perpetuated by the conservative media’s echo chamber.Social mobility ladder

Remarkably, instead of matching action with the mantra of “a rising tide raises all ships,” conservative energies always seem to be solely focused upon elevating the pier just beyond reach.

If we step back and think about it, the only legitimate zero-sum fear is one that extinguishes hope.  Poor kids and rich kids need essentially the same thing to insure their success.  Instead of cities withering in inequality, future generations need communities embracing institutions promoting social and economic mobility.  Now we have a study proving it.

I hope your Tuesday is a good one.  Any direction you might want to take this conversation is, as always, encouraged.

 

Afternoon Widdershins. To keep the old synapses snapping, here’s a short post about marriage equality. Spoiler alert, it Daisy Pluckingisn’t one of those racy essays about couples’ plumbing or an IKEA’esque instructional of how Part A should fit into Part B. Rather, it is a calculated tale about our Chief Justice being nothing more than a robe-wearing daisy plucker who mumbles, “They love me, they love me not.”

I encourage you to read the entire Emily Bazelon essay entitled Marriage of Convenience. Her premise is decidedly unhappy-making, but well-worth the investment of time since it’s never too early to start preparing for bad news.

Ms. Bazelon’s premise:

…Same sex marriage does well in polls these days, and a Supreme Court ruling sanctioning it nationwide would probably poll well, too. And that sort of popular validation benefits Chief Justice John Roberts. Though he hasn’t supported same-sex marriage, he is highly attuned to the way the public perceives the court. His legacy as chief is tied to the standing of the institution he leads.

Marriage of convenience wedding cake…Roberts will probably have more chances, over time, to accomplish what appears to be his primary long-term goal: to move the court in a more conservative direction on a range of issues. (Corporate friendly/race unfriendly.)

…[T]he court has fared better with the public when it pairs conservative decisions with progressive ones. And same-sex marriage is part of that equation. In 2013, the term ended with a splashy ruling in which five justices — Roberts not among them — struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted federal benefits for spouses to male-female couples. This decision came one day after the court gutted a central component of the Voting Rights Act, in a 5-to-4 decision written by Roberts.

The win for same-sex marriage overshadowed the loss for voting rights — an abrupt end to a key anti-discrimination provision, which had been hard-won by civil rights activists.

Next month there’s a new challenge to Obamacare manifested in the American Enterprise Institute funded case of King v. Burwell. In that it is before the Supreme Court is laughable, not just to supporters of the ACA, but also to conservative activists and health care providers like HCA.

At its heart the King case centers around four words inartfully phrased in the 900+ page legislation. Not to fear, such things happen so often there is well-settled Supreme Court precedent to handle such matters — ignore it and defer to the expertise of the agency implementing the legislation. In addition, for the plaintiffs to be successful they must wrap the case in tissues of lies and the Supreme Court, among other things, must embrace those lies and completely ignore the legislative history — a thing unheard of in American jurisprudence.

What a holding in King would do is strip subsidies from those enrolling through the federal exchange when their home states failed to enact a state exchange. It would strip subsidies from millions (the Rand Corporation estimates 10 million), increase premiums, cause cataclysmic confusion, and sow instability in the marketplace. Excising those offending four words and fixing the ACA in a Republican controlled Congress has a likelihood just below that of Mitch McConnell being named “Sexiest Man Alive”.

King v. Burwell:  A second chance to make a first class bad decision...

King v. Burwell: A second chance to make a first class bad decision…

Three years ago when the ACA was before the Court, Roberts joined the progressives to uphold the law, but he gave conservatives a little noticed gift — allowing states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, thereby denying access to millions in 23 states. The farce of the King case will rip that hole in the safety net to a gaping maw 34-states wide.

If Roberts joins the four conservative justices this time around in this laughably incoherent, meritless case, the daisy scorecard will be evened up by the same-sex marriage case on the “they love me, they love me not” scale since health care for millions, courtesy of Chief Justice Roberts, will have been right and royally plucked.

Just for the record, it isn’t supposed to work like this, but it is something I thought you might like to know. Also, “plucked” wasn’t my first word choice.

Take the conversation in any direction you might like.

chan-lowe-usa-today-obamacareNote to readers:

Yesterday was Fredster’s birthday and a couple of his friends took him out to celebrate.  Fred hasn’t had any alcohol since last December and right now he is feeling no pains.  Therefore the post will be brief.

Good day to you Widdershins.  As the title asks, what are the members of the Supreme Court up to now?  On Friday, Nov. 7th (after the mid-term elections, mind you) the Supremes decided to take up the question of whether the Federal health insurance exchange can offer subsidies to folks who are looking to purchase health insurance on that exchange.  The plaintiffs in this case argue that the text of the law creating the A.C.A. only mentioned subsidies being available  on the exchanges run by the individual states.  They argue that the law does not mention the federal exchange in the text of the law and that since it does not, then the federal exchange cannot offer premium assistance to those seeking to obtain health insurance on that exchange.  Here’s the problem with that:  36 states opted not to establish exchanges, instead just letting their citizens use the Federal exchange.  So, live in Cali, or Kentucky or one of the other states with a state exchange then no problem.  Live in Alabama, Louisiana, Texas or one of the other states and you won’t be able to obatin subsidies to assist in paying your premiums.  This excellent article over at Think Progress shows what will happen if the subsidies go away:

1. Millions of people will see triple digit premium hikes.

2. Millions of people will lose health care coverage.

3. Obamacare will face a death spiral.

4. Insurers will advocate for repealing market protections.

5. States will lose billions of dollars.

6. The health of Americans living in red states will worsen.

Krugman also has a great piece on this…mess…for lack of a better word.

To understand the issue, you need to understand the structure of health reform. The Affordable Care Act tries to establish more-or-less universal coverage through a “three-legged stool” of policies, all of which are needed to make the system work. First, insurance companies are no longer allowed to discriminate against Americans based on their medical history, so that they can’t deny coverage or impose exorbitant premiums on people with pre-existing conditions. Second, everyone is required to buy insurance, to ensure that the healthy don’t wait until they get sick to join up. Finally, there are subsidies to lower-income Americans to make the insurance they’re required to buy affordable.

Now as Krugman points out, the states without exchanges could simply set something up that directly links to the Federal exchange and that could probably solve the issue.  But would they?  I can easily see Bobby Jindal refusing to do so merely for political purposes and his laughable presidential ambitions.  And I can easily see some other Repub governors just saying “too bad – so sad” and moving on.

Here’s Krugman’s last words on this:  (bolding and italics mine)

Once upon a time, this lawsuit would have been literally laughed out of court. Instead, however, it has actually been upheld in some lower courts, on straight party-line votes — and the willingness of the Supremes to hear it is a bad omen.

So let’s be clear about what’s happening here. Judges who support this cruel absurdity aren’t stupid; they know what they’re doing. What they are, instead, is corrupt, willing to pervert the law to serve political masters. And what we’ll find out in the months ahead is how deep the corruption goes.

Here’s a clip from John Oliver’s Puppy Justice skits.

Finally I’m going to put in a tweet from The Rude Pundit about this issue and I soooo hope he’s right.

This is an open thread and I will probably not be around until waaay later in the day.  I am already regretting the number of bourbons and soda I consumed.  😦


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Our 2016 Ticket!

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Busted: Glass ceiling

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Yeah I can make it

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Kellyanne Conway’s new job