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Monday, July 13, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Obama Soars To Historic New Highs As Uninsured Rate Falls To A Record Low

The good news keeps coming for President Obama as his signature legislative achievement, Obamacare, has caused the number of uninsured Americans to fall to a new record low.
According to Gallup:
The uninsured rate among U.S. adults aged 18 and older was 11.4% in the second quarter of 2015, down from 11.9% in the first quarter. The uninsured rate has dropped nearly six percentage points since the fourth quarter of 2013, just before the requirement for Americans to carry health insurance took effect. The latest quarterly uninsured rate is the lowest Gallup and Healthways have recorded since daily tracking of this metric began in 2008.


From a long-range perspective, the uninsured rate has declined across nearly all key subgroups since 2013. But the sharpest declines have occurred among Hispanics, blacks and lower-income Americans. The uninsured rate among Hispanics declined by 9.6 points from the fourth quarter of 2013 — the last full quarter of interviewing before the requirement that Americans carry health insurance took effect. Similarly, the percentage of uninsured blacks dipped 8.9 points over this period. Across major subgroups, those making less than $36,000 in annual household income have seen the sharpest drop — 9.9 points since the fourth quarter of 2013.
The results of the Gallup survey demonstrate that Obamacare is doing exactly what it was intended to do. The ACA is helping underserved, uninsured demographic groups of Americans get access to healthcare. Obamacare has also made employer offered insurance programs stronger by lowering costs, offering more basic preventive health care benefits, and forcing insurance companies to function more efficiently.
The data proves that people aren’t losing their health insurance because of Obamacare. The opposite is true. The ACA is a step towards making access to affordable healthcare a right.
Politically, when Republicans pledge to repeal Obamacare what they are promising is that they are going to take away healthcare from all Americans, but Hispanics, African-Americans, and poor people would be among the hardest hit. Many of the people who would be devasted by the repeal of Obamacare live in Republican-voting red states.
The passage and enactment of the Affordable Care Act was a legacy defining moment for President Obama. The President has brought positive change and transformation to the accessibility and provision of health insurance. Obama is experiencing a late in his presidency string of success that feels like a reward for his years of struggle against an obstructionist Republican opposition.
Describing Obamacare as working is an understatement of what this president has accomplished. What President Obama has successfully done will save lives. He has not only changed the way the American people view healthcare policy. He has also changed America for the better.

President Obama Designates Three More National Monuments, Brings His Total In Office To 19

On Friday, July 10th, President Barack Obama designated three new National Monuments in the Western United States. The designations of new National Monuments in California, Nevada and Texas, raises Obama’s presidential total to 19 National Monuments created or expanded during his White House tenure.
Fridays’ additions included a new 330,000 acre monument at Berryessa Snow Mountain in Northern California, a 700,000 acre National Monument in Nevada, and a small monument in Central Texas where archaeologists have uncovered the remains of two dozen Columbian Mammoths. Columbian mammoths were the largest mammoth species that existed. Their remains are over 65,000 years old.
Obama’s actions on Friday continued to expand the amount of land set aside as National Monuments. Earlier this year, the president set aside land in Illinois, Colorado and Hawaii. In 2014, he expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument to nearly half a million square miles, making it the largest marine preserve in the world.
Under the 1906 Antiquities Act, presidents are granted broad authority to declare historically significant sites and ecologically rich areas as monuments, without having to seek congressional approval. In 1978, then President Jimmy Carter, invoked the 1906 Antiquities Act to set aside more than 55 million acres of land in Alaska. Carter designated the most land acreage of any U.S. President. Bill Clinton designated the most National Monuments, adding 19 and expanding three others, but Barack Obama could surpass Clinton’s total by the time he completes his second term.
President Obama is continuing the practice established by his Democratic predecessors, by setting aside some of the nations’ most historically significant and ecologically pristine land so that it is off limits to drilling, mining and other environmentally destructive practices. While there is still plenty of land to be utilized for energy extraction, President Obama is protecting some of America’s most sensitive lands by preserving it for recreational rather than commercial purposes.
President Obama’s environmental record isn’t often highlighted when discussing his presidency. However, by protecting more land as National Monuments, the president is establishing an environmental legacy that he can be proud of. Future generations of Americans who set foot upon land set aside by President Obama, will undoubtedly be grateful for that unsung environmental legacy.

A Federal Court Just Dealt The First Big Blow To Citizens United Decision

In a profound challenge to the rationale of the Citizens United decisions, the US Court of Appeals in Washington ruled against a group of plaintiffs seeking to lift the federal ban on campaign donations by government contractors. The unanimous decision in the case upheld a Federal Elections Commission regulation meant to prevent corruption and conflicts of interest that has been on the books since 1940. The plaintiffs’ arguments were driven largely by the notorious Supreme Court decisions in Citizens United vs. FEC and McCutcheon vs. FEC, which removed all limits on campaign contributions by corporations and individuals respectively. The disturbing rationale in both of those 2010 cases was that money used for political purposes constituted a form of “speech” and was therefore protected under the First Amendment, while corporations were, for practical judicial purposes, “people.” Yesterday’s ruling in Washington marked the first time that these ludicrous arguments have been struck down by a federal court, and thus marked an important first step towards the repeal of Citizens United.
For anyone who needs a reminder (or is still in shock at the besmirching of our democracy), the Citizens United rulings have ushered in an age of unfettered campaign spending in which politics has become totally polluted by money. Large corporations and private donors now regularly contribute sums on the order of tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars to campaigns, leading to numerous under-the-radar instances of quid-pro-quo corruption and leaving politicians’ agendas up to the discretion of the highest bidder rather than their citizen constituencies. It is estimated that some $4.5 billion dollars will be spent in the 2016 presidential election, which is half again what is needed to bail the city of Detroit out of debt. The winning candidate will have to shell out about $1.5 million to buy their position. And that’s just one election cycle.
Worse still, secretive campaign finance regulations meant to protect the “speech” of these corporation-people have led to a proliferation of Super PACs and other shady organizations that are registered as non-profits or non-partisan lobbying groups but in fact function as funnels for wealthy donors to give to campaigns without their donations becoming public knowledge, something that is very handy in avoiding suspicions of corruption. Wealthy Republican donors like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson have used the cover provided by these regulations to buy off politicians’ support towards their nefarious ends, and have in the process shifted the entire tone of the Republican Party towards a more divisive, extremist, and rightist position. Unsurprisingly, the Republican politicians now in the pocket of these big donors have without irony rushed to cheer the supposedly democratizing influence of unlimited corporate money in politics.
Yesterday’s decision, however, is a reassuring sign that all hope is not lost, and hopefully marks the beginning of the re-introduction of sensible campaign finance laws. In another promising sign, the American people, unlike those in power, understand that there can be no democracy when money equals speech. A recent New York Times poll found that a whopping 85% of Americans believe that the nation needs to fundamentally redesign the way its campaigns are financed. As is so often the case, our nation’s leaders have been behind the trend of public sentiment. The Appellate Court decision, however, could – and hopefully will – mark the end of our leaders’ tacit endorsement of pay-to-play democracy.

Bernie Sanders Busts Jeb Bush For Blaming Obama For His Brother the shrub’s Failed Economy

bernie sanders jeb bush ed show
Bernie Sanders busted Jeb Bush for trying to blame President Obama for his brother the shrub’s failed economy during an interview on MSNBC.
Sanders was asked what he thought of Jeb Bush’s comments that workers should work more hours.
The Democratic presidential candidate said:
Well, I don’t think much of Mr. Bush’s comments and to be criticizing Obama after his brother left us an economy in which we were hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs a month when President Obama took office doesn’t make much sense to me.

The truth is that Gov. Bush is wrong on a number of counts. First of all, the American people already work the longest hours of any people in a major country on Earth. Today, we have 85% of male workers working more than forty hours a week. Sixty-six percent of women workers are working more than forty hours a week. I am not quite sure how much more Gov. Bush wants our people to be working.

Needless to say, he is opposed to the overtime rule that would allow millions of workers to finally get time and a half. I’ve not heard him support raising the minimum wage to a living wage, or pay equity for women workers. So it sounds to me like it’s the same old, same old trickle-down economics which benefits the wealthy and large corporations.
Bernie Sanders has no patience for hypocrisy, and Jeb Bush’s attempts to blame President Obama for his brother’s failed economy are the height of hypocrisy. Sanders has been an ally of President Obama’s with the exception of a few issues on which they have differed, but facts are facts.
What Jeb Bush is proposing is more of the same failed economic ideology that drove the country into recession under his father, and crashed the economy under his brother. The media lets Bush get away with rewriting history, but Bernie Sanders exposed the revisionist bunk that Bush is selling.
Bush can try to spin his comments any way that he wants, but the truth is that his economic agenda will be bad for everyone who is not rich.
Bernie Sanders is taking on the Republican frontrunner, and exposing what his agenda means for the working people of America.

Crank Up The AC

Insanity Defined

Why the Interminable Republican cabal Primary Season is a Win for the Left
donald trump cnn state of the unionThe experience of the 2016 voter is already a battered one, abused by the rhetorical swill of 14 official candidates representing the Republican cabal…
On February 24, 2012, writer Cameron Joseph of The Hill wrote a blog post entitled, Long, Damaging Presidential Primary Has Republican cabal Considering Changes to Its Rules. In it, he quotes John Ryder, an rnc committeewimp from Tennessee, who commented on the untenable primary process for the Republican cabal: “People do have concerns this has gone on longer than they would like and cost more money than they would like and created more thunder and lightning than they would like.”

Don’t Believe Republican Cabal 'Criticism' – Donald Trump Speaks For The Cabal And The Base

Donald Trump's truly vicious remarks targeting Hispanic immigrants exposed wingnut racism that permeates the Republican base…

Donald Trump in Phoenix is All About Jingoism and Self Love

In a stark contrast with Bernie Sanders' appearances, Trump was less interested in the issues than in convoluted stories and justifications for his behavior.…

Trump Gathers in the Haters for Bizarre Speech in Las Vegas

trump-vegas (1)
In a move that is difficult to describe as an accomplishment, there were so many haters in Arizona that Donald Trump had to move his anti-immigrant hatefest from the Biltmore Resort and Spa to the Phoenix Convention Center.
By the hate speech morning, 9,000 haters had tickets in their hands. His campaign chairman, Corey Lewandowski, bragged, “We received 4,000 RSVPS in 2¹/₂ hours.” By this morning, Trump was claiming 15,000*:
Donald J. Trump
Today I will be rallying with with 15,000 patriots in Arizona for border security! Let's Make America Great Again!
The event was billed by the New York Post as “the hottest ticket in Arizona,” while ABC15 in Phoenix reported that “Demand to see Donald Trump in Phoenix off the charts.”
What is driving this frenzy is Trump’s pronouncement on immigrants: “They’re sending people who have a lot of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
CNN parsed this as The Donald saying that Trump claimed “some people crossing the border into the United States from Mexico were ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals'” though what he actually said was the opposite, that some “are good people.”
The result of all this was what Business Insider called “amazingly surreal” and “one of the most bizarrely captivating speeches of his several-week-old campaign” this morning in Las Vegas at the misnamed FreedomFest, his last stop before Phoenix.
“Their leaders … they kill us at the border,” told said. “People flow through like water.” He also claimed that the Mexican government was behind Univision breaking ties with him: “Mexico put the clamps on Univision,” Trump said. “Mexico has a lot of power over them.”
His paranoia knows no bounds. His response to a heckler was, “Did the government of Mexico ask you to come here?”
Apparently, though Trump thinks Mexico is sending all its criminals here in some sort of state-sponsored mass migration, he says he loves the country. As he told the crowd,
“I love Mexico. I tell everybody. And I love the Mexican people. Nobody ever says it. Nobody ever reports it. I love the spirit of the Mexican people. I love Mexico.”
Right. I’m sure Mexico and Mexicans feel your love. This is, after all, what gangsters always say to the people they are about to give dirt naps.
And it turns out Trump has some trump to play: “Nobody knows the power of the Tea Party. I only say that because the Tea Party loves me,”
Of course, the Tea Party has been sinking into oblivion for awhile now. But maybe his hate can breathe new life into that movement. He is certainly the right guy to revitalize what was, after all, a corporate-sponsored AstroTurf movement.
* There is a BIG problem with the 15,000 claim - the maximum capacity of the venue where this hate fest occurred is only 4,100  ... but as we know liars can't help but lie.

Republican Kool-Aid

Scott Walker Poised To Give Payday Lenders Radical New Powers To Prey On The Poor

Payday lenders could soon start selling even more abusive financial products to Wisconsin's vulnerable.

Jeb Bush accuses Obama of creating ‘chaos’ in the world by using too many big words

bushrncIn an interview with the Union Leader, aspiring 2016 Republican pretender nominee Jeb Bush took a slap at the foreign policies of President Barack Obama, stating that the leader of the free world uses too many big words and wastes his time at conferences with world leaders instead of forging ahead.

Marco Rubio vows he’ll take away women’s right to choose ‘at home and around the world’

Marco Rubio speaks to CBN (screen grab)
At a speech before the National Right to Life Committee’s annual convention in New Orleans Friday morning, 2016 Republican pretender hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) compared the fight to limit women’s access to abortion to the fights to end slavery and for women to win the right to vote.

NY Times Throws Ted Cruz Off Bestseller List For Cheating, Wingnuts Go Insane

NY Times Throws Ted Cruz Off Bestseller List For Cheating, Conservatives Go Insane (SCREENSHOTS)Ted Cruz tried to cheat his way onto the New York Times’ Bestseller list — but the Times said “no way!”

Good ol'Lush always ready to deny the truth ...

Rush Limbaugh speaks to Fox News on Dec. 7, 2014. [Fox News]

Adam Smith in 1776 Showed Rush Limbaugh, Not the Pope, to be the Real Clown

Rush Limbaugh calls the Pope a clown for opposing unfettered capitalism, but even the father of capitalism, Adam Smith, warned of its evils…
rush_limbaugh darkAccording to Rush Limbaugh and many other wingnuts, Pope Francis is a Marxist. He must be, or he would not criticize capitalism.
Limbaugh has hurled invective after invective at the Pope, saying that Time Magazine named the Pope Man Of The Year “Simply because he attacks capitalism and ticks me off,” and complained that the Pope “doesn’t even disguise” his Marxist beliefs with talk of man-made climate change.
Now that Francis has said unbridled capitalism is the “dung of the devil” and a new form of colonialism, Rush has responded by calling the Pope a “clown”:
Pope Francis is in Bolivia, and he has come out with another one of his anti-capitalism remarks. He said…that unfettered capitalism is the devil’s dung. Now in the first place, would somebody find for me anywhere on this planet where there is, at this very moment, unfettered capitalism taking place? You can’t, because there isn’t. And I would go so far as to say that the United States doesn’t even have half-baked capitalism going on right now. But unfettered? What is unfettered?
What is this unfettered capitalism? It’s just more bastardization of language to denigrate the greatest economic system yet devised that creates prosperity for the most and opportunity for everybody. And because it does that, it must be reviled, it must be impugned, it must be destroyed. So you put the word ‘unfettered’ in front of it. And what that means is ‘unregulated’ because you know capitalism is so unfair that it has to be regulated in order to make sure the rich just don’t steal everything…there isn’t any unfettered capitalism and there hasn’t been any unfettered capitalism.
Limbaugh says capitalism isn’t why the United States is “in a quagmire” or “in a malaise,” that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are why the country is “stagnating right now.” Never mind that the economy has been recovering since Obama took office in 2008, and that it was unregulated capitalism that destroyed the economy in the first place.
Yet Limbaugh insisted,
My point is that Obama is not a capitalist. This country’s economy is not slowed down because of capitalism. The closest we’ve had to the capitalism that the Pope and these clowns are talking about is the Reagan years and looked what happened. Look at the economic boom that last practically 20 years!
This would be the same Reagan who raised taxes 11 times and grew the size of government and increased military spending while cutting non-defense discretionary spending, the same Reagan who tripled the federal budget deficit. For all Limbaugh’s blustering, Obama is more of a fiscal conservative than his hero Reagan.
Reagan aside, you no doubt notice a common wingnut trend here, the ad hominem attack, that is, attacking not the issue at hand, or the argument made, but the person uttering it. This is because, as always, there is no argument to be made against the Pope’s statements either about climate change or capitalism.
In all this, the Pope is not saying anything, however, that has not already been said, and not by Karl Marx, but by Adam Smith, author of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), the first modern work on economics. As Wikipedia will tell you, “Smith laid the foundations of classical free market economic theory.”
A natural-born Republican right? That’s what Republicans want you to believe. After all, Margaret Thatcher kept a copy in her handbag. But not so fast.
Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations that “[M]an has almost constant need for the help of his brethren,” which immediately contrasts him with the Republican Ayn Randian ideal of the rugged, self-reliant individual who takes personal responsibility for all his actions (unless he is a corporation, of course).
Republicans who have no problem ignoring what jesus actually said, have no problem ignoring the fact that before The Wealth of Nations, Smith wrote, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), in which he stressed the natural compassion and empathy of human beings for one another:
How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it. Of this kind is pity or compassion, the emotion we feel for the misery of others, when we either see it, or are made to conceive it in a very lively manner. That we often derive sorrow from the sorrows of others, is a matter of fact too obvious to require any instances to prove it; for this sentiment, like all the other original passions of human nature, is by no means confined to the virtuous or the humane, though they perhaps may feel it with the most exquisite sensibility. The greatest ruffian, the most hardened violator of the laws of society, is not altogether without it.
While the mighty capitalists of the Gilded Age worshiped themselves as the driving force of wealth, Smith had a thought for the working man.
Of course, Smith was writing on the cusp of the Industrial Age, before all its evils became apparent, but there was enough evil even then for him to write in The Theory of Moral Sentiments that of the “disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition.”
He addressed the problem in Wealth of Nations as well:
But though the interest of the labourer is strictly connected with that of the society, he is incapable either of comprehending that interest, or of understanding its connexion with his own. His condition leaves him no time to receive the necessary information, and his education and habits are commonly such as to render him unfit to judge even though he was fully informed. In the public deliberations, therefore, his voice is little heard and less regarded, except upon some particular occasions, when his clamour is animated, set on, and supported by his employers, not for his, but for their own particular purposes.
It is easy enough to surmise from this his reaction to the evils of the Gilded Age, which Republicans are endeavoring to unleash upon the working class once more.
It is ironic that Smith is held by conservatives to be a patron saint of capitalism, because he wrote in warning of unregulated capitalism, that business interests were opposed to the public interest:
The interest of the dealers [referring to stock owners, manufacturers, and merchants], however, in any particular branch of trade or manufacture, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, and absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens.
Republicans condemn taxation but as Smith himself says, corporations are essentially taxing the citizens through their profits. For this reason, he would certainly have never, as Republicans have done, suggested that businesses be allowed to regulate themselves. Echoing the old Roman adage, Let the Buyer Beware, he writes:
The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.
We have lived to see corporations become people. We have seen corporations buy our government. Smith, who had first-hand experience of the powerful, too-big-to-fail and formerly unregulated East India Company, whose machinations and troubles were instrumental in bringing about the Boston Tea Party,* saw the dangers too, warning that powerful monopolies “intimidate the legislature.”
A reading of Adam Smith shows who is the real clown here, and it is not the Pope, or President Obama, but Rush Limbaugh himself.
* Lord North’s East India Tea Act (1773), eliminated middlemen and allowed direct sales by the East India Company to America. It also eliminated duties on tea exports from England but not import duties on the American side of the equation (the Townsend Duties). These steps would lower the price of tea in America while simultaneously driving up sales for the East India Company, and have the much-desired outcome of forcing tacit agreement by the colonists of Parliament’s right to tax them. The colonists weren’t fooled, with the results we all know so well.

Republican Cabal Responsible For 9 Murders

GOP Responsible For 9 Murders – FBI Says Dylann Roof Should Have Failed Background Check Contrary to initial reports, the FBI has now come to the conclusion that Dylann Roof should have failed a background check, and that there was no way he...

Private prisons to states: You'd better start throwing more people in prison or we'll sue

You know our country is on the wrong track when citizens’ freedom becomes bad for business and the states are siding with businesses by locking up more citizens.Several years ago I wrote about the plague that’s called the private prison industry. A lot has changed since then, but not for the betterment of the American people. States aren’t filling enough beds for the private prison companies, so now, taxpayers are being sued because there aren’t enough criminals.
These aren’t frivolous lawsuits, either. Several government agencies knowingly signed contracts with private prison companies that guarantee a minimum occupancy or quota. In fact, In the Public Interest has found that nearly 2/3 of the contracts have quota clauses. In California, for example, there is a guarantee of 70 percent occupancy and in Arizona, nearly 100 percent.
If crime goes down, which it has been, either the taxpayer pays after the lawsuits or police start arresting people and courts start convicting people for the most petty crimes possible. Judges will also be encouraged to hand down extra long sentences because many of the prison contracts specify a certain length of time.
There is no evidence that more incarceration has anything to do with the drop in crime. There is also no evidence that private prisons save taxpayers money. In fact, it’s far more likely that they are costing the taxpayers.
Prisoners are our forgotten citizens. In fact, it can be argued that even ex-convicts are only partial citizens; many lose their right to vote and their right to own a gun; many on parole or probation lose their 4th and even 1st amendment rights. That being said, at least prisoners in government facilities have enough food. The same can’t be said of private prisons. Many prisoners become severely underfed while in private prisons.
Private prisons also provide legalized slavery. Many military supplies are made in private prisons and the prisoners are paid pennies an hour – money that is put right back in the private prison company’s coffers when it’s spent at the prison commissary.
There’s a good reason the country has little interest in ending the war on drugs or the war on immigration. Ending those wars would put private prisons out of business.
“Violent crimes are down overall, so how does the United States keep prisons stocked instead? Amplifying the war on drugs: there are now 11 times as many people in jail for drug convictions than there were in 1980, constituting 50% of the prison population. Longer mandatory minimum sentences also keeps the inmates in longer. Most people incarcerated for drug charges are non-violent, have no prior record, and are addicts rather than major drug-traffickers.
“Nearly half of all detained immigrants are held in privately owned facilities. The fact that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has stepped up its game to detain more undocumented immigrants – about 400,000 each year – has actually increased the need for private systems as most detainees will linger in the system waiting for court dates for months if not years.”

‘Persecuted’ Anti-Gay Bakers Lied, Forced To Pay $135,000 For Sharing Lesbian Couple’s Address

‘Persecuted’ Anti-Gay Bakers Lied, Forced To Pay $135,000 For Sharing Lesbian Couple’s Address
Uh, oh! It appears wingnuts have been lying their asses off about the reason the owners of Sweet Cakes By Melissa were ordered to pay out a boatload of cash for “emotional distress.” It wasn’t because they refused to bake a cake — It was because they posted their victims’ address on Facebook to encourage harassment.