News Corpse notes the self-review engaged by Bill O'Reilly after his interview with the President of the United States. O'Reilly suggests that the interview will "go down in journalistic history" because of the interviewing skills he exhibited. News Corpse helps document O'Reilly's awesomeness with an analysis of the percent of the interview Bill devoted to instructing President Obama on how to run the country. What a guy!
James Wigderson watches the great debate on creationism between Bill Nye the science guy vs Ken Ham the Biblical literalist. I suspect James reflects the view of most mainstream Christians decidedly favoring Bill Nye and science.
A sympathetic fellow Republican says of House Speaker John Boehner's troubles that even Jesus would be unable to achieve a cooperative Republican caucus. Rumproast is inspired to speculate on just what Jesus would do as Speaker of the House.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite reports on a fellow in California charged with assault for threatening with a gun a girl scout selling cookies. He is pleading not guilty. Does California have a Stand-Your-Ground provision?
- Max's Dad is genuinely saddened by the loss of everyone's favorite actor.
Here comes another CBO report, followed by a Republican effort to make the report say something it doesn't say.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says a lot of people who were not able to get insurance can get it now. Millions of older folks who are not yet 65 but want to retire have been clinging to jobs with health benefits because they need to for insurance. They or a spouse either have preexisting conditions, so they needed insurance from work, or they haven't been able to afford insurance, so they needed insurance from work.
Bottom line is: People needed insurance that they could only get from work.
Obamacare outlaws insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. Obamacare makes insurance more affordable. So a lot of people who want to retire can, you know, retire.
That means a couple of million people will decide not to work.
Many want to retire, but not all. Some are second income earners with a working spouse, and they want to be full time family care givers. Some have second jobs who don't want to work more than full time. That's 2 million more jobs available to someone else, someone out of work, someone who needs that job.
Good news, right?
Here's the Fox News headline:
|ObamaCare could lead to loss|
|of nearly 2.3 million US jobs,|
Haven't we gone through this sort of dishonesty before?
A little over three years ago, the Congressional Budget Office came out with an initial projection. Their estimate then was that up to 800,000 people would be released from having to work, most of them people wanting to retire. The reason? Well, same reason as now. From that report:
Changes to the insurance market, including provisions that prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people because of preexisting conditions and that restrict how much prices can vary with an individual’s age or health status, will increase the appeal of health insurance plans offered outside the workplace for older workers. As a result, some older workers will choose to retire earlier than they otherwise would.
Let's see. People who don't need to work, except to get insurance, are suddenly able to get insurance. So they can retire. Good news, right? But even back then, there was an effort to breitbart the report. This was how the Weekly Standard relayed the wonderful news:
|CBO Director Says Obamacare Would Reduce|
|Employment by 800,000 Workers|
This week was a repeat of three years ago. Mainstream news outlets first were taken in by conservatives. But then, they actually read the CBO report and listened to Congressional testimony. This has been like groundhog day.
Fox News found themselves in a sort of weird hybrid of spin. They stuck to their original falsehood that the CBO was projecting a loss of more than 2 million jobs. But they combined it with a new and contradictory distortion that, yes, people would drop out of the workforce but it would be because Obamacare had made then lazy. Why work if you can get everything for free?
Here's how one Fox interview begins:
Top story right now, that's this report on the true cost of Obamacare. It's growing yet again. The cost is 2.3 million jobs lost over the next decade. And that's just the beginning. Art Laffer was President Reagan's economic advisor with us back now in Nashville Tennessee. Art, good morning to you.
Professor Laffer is widely credited as the author of Republican Supply Side Economics. He summarizes the new read on the CBO report. You see it isn't actually that jobs are being lost. But it also doesn't seem to be what the CBO report actually says, either: that older workers who want to retire, second income earners, and 2nd job holders can now actually leave their jobs and still afford health insurance. What is it then?
Arthur Laffer educates his audience.
These people are trapped in their jobs cause they have to get income to provide for their families and not pursue their dreams. So let's give everyone full income so no-one will have to work and we can all proceed with our dreams. And then we'll live happily ever after. I mean, it's such la-la-land stuff. I've never heard such nonsense in my life.
- Professor Arthur Laffer, on Fox News, February 5, 2014
So another CBO report becomes a conservative Rorschach test.
For normal folks, affordable health insurance provides ordinary people a degree of health freedom. They can move from one job to another. A parent with a working spouse can become a stay at home, presumably with the congratulations of cultural conservatives. Someone who works a second job just to get the insurance can now work a forty-plus hour week. Some folks can even retire early, if they have the means. All this will open jobs for people who need them.
For those conservatives educated by Fox News and a thousand blog sites, the CBO report says something completely different from the words on each page. They receive a message from an alternate reality. Obamacare is costing 2 million jobs, forcing people out of work. That force away from work comes by offering all of us a full time income for not working.
I mean, it's such la-la-land stuff. I've never heard such nonsense in my life.
Except, of course, in the conservative press.
From Opposing Views:
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has created websites that, at first glance, appear to be supporting Democratic candidates.
But in reality, these fake websites, which use pictures of Democrats, the candidates' names and the words "for Congress," are hauling in money for the NRCC.
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From the Missoulian, Missoula, MT:
HELENA – A candidate for Montana’s U.S. House seat says he was joking when he called former Secretary Hillary Clinton the “anti-Christ” at a recent campaign event.
Former state Sen. Ryan Zinke said Tuesday his comments in Bigfork were “a little bit harsh,” but that nobody should take them seriously.
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I suppose it makes sense in a theoretical way. The more extreme an ideologue, the less likely the ideology will allow an understanding of anyone who disagrees.
Most of us, I believe, can understand viewpoints we do not hold ourselves. I have, at least, a surface understanding of libertarianism. I don't agree with much of it. But I understand something of what I don't agree with.
I understand deficit hawks. I believe the policies they propose are harmful to the economy and to the general well being of real people. Austerity has been tried to a limited extent in the United States and with full-throttled enthusiasm in the European Union. The effect has been a multiplication of human suffering. Deficits are a very good thing in bad times. They must be paid back during times of prosperity.
But I believe I have a rudimentary grasp of the reduce-deficits-at-all-costs ideology. I have even come up with arguments, on my own, in favor of the austerity I deplore: arguments I have not heard from proponents. I see most arguments of gun rights absolutists as absurd. But I think I could articulate them as well as most of those absolutists themselves.
That ability is not universally held, of course.
Some folks with passionate obsessions put an energy into their points of view that would be hard for most of us to duplicate. Some anti-Darwinists can cite obscure evidence for creationism that would be difficult for a mere skeptic to counter. How many of us can talk about the explosion of fossil evidence in the geological Cambrian layer and contrast it with the absence in any pre-Cambrian layer?
The monetary gold standard is another ideology requiring a technical grasp that most of us simply lack the sheer will to pursue.
Some schools of thought defy analysis. Austrian economics is one. Adherents are quite insistent about the irrelevance of any and all economic data, history, and measurement. They even deride numbers. No kidding. They dismiss numbers as mere "Cardinality," a substitute for deeper insight unrelated to numbers.
On abortion rights, I don't believe I've ever met anyone who was stumped in an attempt to come up with a few common anti-abortion arguments. I am pro-rights. I think it is unconscionable for the state to take control of a woman's body at the moment of conception. But I do understand, I think, the arguments of those who take the opposing position.
To some degree, the ability to understand arguments we oppose is an ability most people have.
Not all, of course.
A few months ago, Ohio State Representative Jim Buchy, a Republican, was interviewed by Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera has grown from its beginnings as an Arabic news channel. The station now broadcasts in many languages and reaches most of the world. It hosts many opposing views. But conventional wisdom is often slow to catch up. It is still thought to be a purely Arabic news outlet. It seemed to me to be further testimony to the channel's expansion that they would seek to interview a conservative Republican.
It was also evidence of an open minded conservative. Jim Buchy has been active in Republican circles for quite a while. Fellow Republicans routinely elect him to important official positions in the Ohio House. His special passion has been a crusade against abortion. He would allow abortion in some cases involving the life of the mother. But he draws the line there. Even rape or incest would not meet the strict standards he sets for women.
During the interview, the polite young reporter listened to Representative Buchy voice his dedication to ending abortion in Ohio. Then she quietly asked the question to which he apparently had never given a second thought - - or a first.
What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion?
His answer is not to be found, at least not easily, on the Al Jazeera site. Perhaps they did not consider the interview to be enlightening. Maybe they simply wanted to protect their conservative guest from undue controversy. It could be the search capability they offer to the casual user is deficient.
But Rachael Maddow at MSNBC managed to capture the moment. And Talking points memo is only too happy to provide a brief transcript.
Well, there’s probably a lot of — I’m not a woman so I’m thinking, if I’m a woman, why would I want to get — some of it has to do with economics. A lot has to do with economics. I don’t know, I have never — It’s a question I have never even thought about.
- Representative Jim Buchy, Ohio House of Representatives, September 7, 2013
To those for whom even contraception is the moral equivalent of murder, there is little room for ideological distinctions. The grisly back alley abortion mill of Kermit Gosnell is only a less sanitary version of a clinic offering an environment of safety for the woman. To the truly committed, which is to say to the completely consistent, the absurdity of that contrast would roughly equal a comparison of the cleanliness of various totalitarian killing chambers.
It is merely ironic that an anti-abortion crusader, a legislator wanting to restrict abortion rights to the vanishing point, has never thought about why a woman might want an abortion. It is not at all shocking.
"It’s a question I have never thought about" is an answer that ought to surprise no-one.
Whether Chris Christie is a bully became a settled issue for me when he piled on, attacking a lone teacher who, while being courted in an after-hours bar, had been tricked into gossiping. The gossip concerned racial slurs by an unidentified teacher. Right wing internet sites attacked her, of course. And Chris Christie publicly held her up for humiliation.
Go watch this video. It's enlightening. It's enraging.
That was a bad show.
The allegations about muscling politicians for endorsements or policy changes never bothered me. I suspect that most folks see that sort of hard ball, nose-to-nose, push as an acceptable part of politics. In most cases, I do.
Bridgegate is different because it involves hard ball targeting of ordinary people, including little kids on buses, and injured people in transport to emergency treatment. Holding up non-politicians for hours on successive days is petty and reprehensible.
My first reaction, when news of Bridgegate began evolving into a national story, was skepticism. It seemed to me implausible that the Governor of a major state, even a governor with a history of hard nosed bullying, would be so phenomenally foolish as to create a problem that was bound to produce world-wide headlines.
When a series of memos hit the news showing Christie aides ordering the tie up, then gloating over the effects on ordinary commuters, it wasn't hard for me to suspend disbelief. Christie denied any knowledge, and I thought of Reagan's "doveryai no proveryai," the Russian phrase for "trust but verify." We should take Christie at his word, but legal authorities should investigate.
The dramatic Christie press conference was powerful. Chris Christie, even without the "Honorable" in front of his name, is a powerful individual.
The denials were as simple as a-b-c:
a. The Governor did not know about the deliberate traffic holdup before it happened.
b. The Governor did not know about the deliberate traffic holdup as it was happening.
c. The governor discovered the jam was deliberate through news reports only after it all was over.
And I'll say one last thing, just so we're really clear. I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning, or its execution.
Then one of the fired aides, the sleazy David Wildstein, insisted there was evidence the Governor did indeed lie about his knowledge. The purported evidence would demonstrate that Chris Christie knew about the deliberate traffic tie up while it was happening. Wildstein would show the evidence only if he was given immunity from prosecution for his part in the traffic tie-up.
So the sleaze said he might prove the Governor at least knew about Bridgegate while the tie up was was happening.
Pretty weak, as I see it. Evidence that we haven't seen will be produced by a sleazy perpetrator only if he is guaranteed he won't be held accountable.
The new Christie response was strong to the point of overpowering. The office of the governor issued another denial:
a. The Governor did not know about the deliberate traffic holdup before it happened.
What happened to b and c? Remember the part about the Governor not knowing what was happening while it was happening? Remember the Governor discovering the jam was deliberate only after it all was over?
The second Christie response was strange. The release on non-letterhead was overkill that went to absurdity. It was an attack on the sleaze who was promising to produce evidence. It seems that, while on the job that the Christie administration created for him, Wildstein was reported to have "made moves that were not productive." Just in case that isn't persuasive, the release goes back to high school days. When Wildstein was 16 years old, he challenged a local school board election. Not only that, but a teacher at the time described him as "deceptive."
Wow. If anyone had thought of it, they might have accused him, as a kindergartener, of putting gum on the bottom of his desk.
Details about associated Christie practices are now going into allegations of what was happening before he became governor, when he was a prosecutor. The allegations include impeding a grand jury investigation. The indictment of a corrupt sheriff was quashed and the prosecutor was fired.
News stories are multiplying, going well beyond the traffic tie up.
Bridgegate is morphing into Christiegate.
Fox Debate - Women Paid Exactly What They're Worth (5:22) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Lessons for Chris Christie's Office from a Crime Boss (5:23) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Republicans and the Libido of the Unvirtuous Woman (5:44) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Hunter Steele, at Mad Mike's America, brings us the tale, not as dramatic as the Christie story since it involves mere money, of a Calfornia seeking to influence the path of a rail line, financially affecting his own pockets.
Dave Dubya is happy President Obama gets closer than before to a rational drug policy. Bad news the glass is still 95% empty. Drugs should legal, legal, legal. Government protecting us from ourselves should be approached cautiously.
- Rumproast discovers the new radical group targetted by radical conservatives: the Girl Scouts of America. Girl Scouts? Seriously?
I wish I could remember the film. I wish I was sure of the actor. I think it was Darren McGavin as a wisecracking reporter. He is approached by a newsboy offering free samples of a rival paper. "It's free," says the youngster. McGavin accepts the free paper. "It's a wise man who knows the value of his own product," he says.
It was decades ago. My father and I argued endlessly about a Michigan study on "comparable worth." The study was loosely based on an attempted policy in Washington state a few years before. The study in Michigan seemed to me to be hopelessly subjective in assigning point values based on levels of responsibility, training, background, and a host of other factors.
It seemed to me to be a worthy but failed attempt to compare what was difficult to compare. A clerk-typist and a truck driver would each be assigned 117 combined points of worth.
My father, on the other hand, saw a value in the attempt itself. An informal conspiracy had long existed that kept the wages of women down for identical or nearly identical work.
The comparable worth I saw was a hopeless comparison of sometimes enormously disparate roles. The comparable worth he saw was a comparison between an attempt to elevate the treatment of women to rough equality vs the status quo. The comparable worth of "comparable worth" was incomparably worthier than discrimination.
He has been gone for over 20 years. His point was valid. Still is.
I remember him at the slightest provocation. A Fox News argument sufficed yesterday. Media matters caught it on video.
Tucker Carlson was overpowering the always hapless Alan Colmes. Colmes parroted President Obama pointing out that women earn, on average, 77 percent of the wage of men. Carlson was having none of it.
That's just not true!
Women make more than men if you adjust for the time they take off for childbearing. That's a fact.
- Tucker Carlson, Fox News, January 29, 2014
It's a point often made by conservatives. There are other factors involved besides discrimination: education, work experience, the possibility of dropping out because of parenthood. The list goes on.
Many of those factors are outside of the control of individual women and have nothing to do with each person's effort. A woman who decides not to drop out for maternity, for example, is still judged by others who do. And women in the aggregate are pushed hard by cultural imperatives: staying at home as primary caregivers because they earn less than their partners, earning less because they are more likely to stay at home.
Education, work experience, and management opportunity follow the same pattern. Women are seen through the lens of prospective choices, which is to say the choice made by others before them.
But, Carlson and those like him, should be challenged by the very data they believe in. Like the Will Rogers character, we should not just point out what Carlson doesn't know. We should also note what he knows for sure that ain't so.
Education, work experience, management opportunity, and, as Carlson points out, women are affected by expectations of others. They are also affected by pure, simple discrimination.
Several rigorous studies have factored out the Carlson rationalization of unequal pay. The American Association of University Women conducted one such study. Their careful analysis found that even after screening out those factors a major contributor was simple wage discrimination. It ranged from 5% in more enlightened parts of the country and in some professions to more than 14% in others.
What made the Fox News exchange memorable was the contribution of the one woman who had waited patiently for the two men to take a breath. Martha MacCallum finally managed to interrupt. Women don't want protection, she insisted, because they don't like being regarded as a special class of citizens, having to be "given a little special handout just to make sure that they're okay."
They don't want to be treated like some group of people who have to be, you know, given this little special handout just to make sure that they're okay ... Many women get paid exactly, you know, exactly what they're worth, Alan.
- Martha MacCallum, Fox News, January 29, 2014
It was a sort of inside out Darren McGavin moment. While it may be a wise man who knows the value of his own product, it is a foolish society that undervalues the economic potential of a half of its members.
Women getting paid, "you know, exactly what they're worth," brought back a decades old conversation with my father.
It reminded me of how even some of us well into the older side of average can miss our parents.
There was a very scary sounding report on CNBC over the weekend that said the US government is “$16 trillion in the hole” The balance sheet the article used was overly simplistic and extremely misleading. The asset side of the balance sheet showed just $2.7 trillion in assets. Which is accurate, if you exclude almost all of the assets the federal government actually owns.
Because I am extremely lazy (though not as lazy as that article!), I am just going to point out a few of the US government’s assets that prove this point terribly misleading. For starters, the IER estimates that total fossil fuel resources owned by the Federal government are valued at over $150 trillion alone.
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Former New Jersey Governor, Republican Christine Todd Whitman, reacts to the GOP choice of Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) to respond to President Obama's State of the Union.
From the Los Angeles Times:
"It's hard for me to phrase this politely: Sometimes Republicans think that just putting a woman up front means somehow that women are going to feel good about the party," Whitman said. "It is not about the messenger. It's about the message. And until we figure that one out -- while it's nice that we have a woman as a spokesperson -- if the message itself doesn't get changed a bit, it's not going to work."
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