March 31, 2012 archive

Mar 31

Mega Zillions Fraud!!

   

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Yesterday, I wrote (in the third person) to tell you with certainty that I had won the Mega Zillions jackport, more than $500 million.  Some of you greeted this news with your usual skepticism. I didn’t mind. You were clearly mistaken. And anyway, I was on my way to the bank.

I awoke this morning to discover to my shock and anger that nobody, that’s right, nobody was camped at my kitchen door waiting for the nouveau nouveau riche (me) to arise and to begin to dispense money in accord with my vaunted, self declared philanthropic inclinations.  No. That did not happen. Nobody was there.

Why was nobody there, you have the nerve to ask? Because a vast conspiracy had emerged over night and through connivance had deprived me of my winnings. In fact, of all of my winnings. Not only that. They gave my money to their minions in other states far from here.

This shall not stand. I demand a full investigation of this fraud. And I want my $5 back.

Mar 31

Different from a Republican how? Part 3

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Eight Big Mistakes Democrats Made Regarding the Constitutionality of ObamaCare

By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake

Friday March 30, 2012 7:48 am

In the end, the decision about the constitutionality of the individual mandate and the entire Affordable Care Act will come down to the nine members of the Supreme Court. It is ultimately their call, and they will be fully responsible for what they decide. That said, the Democrats had many chances to take steps to prevent the health care law from ever getting to the point where there is even the possibility the Supreme Court could throw it out. The issue only got to this point because Democrats, on multiple occasions, horribly mishandled their job and totally failed to prepare for what was an entirely foreseeable eventuality.

  1. Lack of severability clause in the law
  2. Ignoring Republican promises to challenge the mandate
  3. Ignoring public hatred of the mandate
  4. Dropping the Public Option
  5. Congress refusing to call it a tax
  6. Obama team refusing call it a straight tax
  7. Obama administration’s bizarre severability argument
  8. Failed to articulate a clear limiting principle

Still, overturning the ACA might be the best thing that could happen from a policy standpoint.

Individual Mandates and Unraveling the Great Society

By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake

Thursday March 29, 2012 9:26 am

There are are two main ways for the government to provide universal public goods. The first and normally best way is to have the government raise money through taxes and then use that money to directly provide the service to everyone. The other option is to create an individual mandate forcing everyone to buy the service from private corporations while having the government subsidize some of the cost. These needless middlemen mostly just increase costs for regular people and the government. This is why corporations love this setup and push hard for it.



If the Supreme Court rules against this individual mandate in a way that basically makes it legally impossible to replace most of our current public insurance systems with mandated private systems, that should be seen as a big silver lining for progressives.

A stronger prescription for what ails health care

By Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

Published: March 29

Eventually, however, our health-care system will be restructured. It has to be. The current fee-for-service paradigm, with doctors and hospitals being paid through for-profit insurance companies, is needlessly inefficient and ruinously expensive.

When people talk about out-of-control government spending, they’re really talking about rising medical costs that far outpace any conceivable rate of economic growth. The conservative solution – shift those costs to the consumer – is no solution at all.

Our only choice is to try to hold the costs down. President Obama tried to make a start with a modest approach that works through the current system. If this doesn’t pass constitutional muster, the obvious alternative is to emulate other industrialized nations that deliver equal or better health-care outcomes for half the cost.

I’m talking about a single-payer health-care system. If the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare, a single-payer system will go from being politically impossible to being, in the long run, fiscally inevitable.

Mar 31

Governing By Crisis

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

While everyone has been focused on the Supreme Court hearings over the constitutionality of the individual mandate of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act and the tragic murder of a black teenage boy in Florida by a “gun toting vigilante”, the Republican held House of Representatives has been up to its usual shenanigans threatening not only to shut down any infrastructure construction but now planning to shut down the government entirely. Even though they have vowed to defeat the current resident of the Oval Office, knowing they have a “friend”, the Republicans continue to make themselves more unpopular with the majority of their own constituents. This is what they have been up to while the traditional media focused on SCOTUS and a possible racially motivated murder:

The House voted down the proposed White House budget by a vote of 0 – 414. I suppose one could call that “bipartisan.” Nust up was the annual ritual of the Black Caucus Budget which failed but at least managed to garner 107 votes. Then they rejected the “Bowles-Simpson” Budget proposal, which really wasn’t, giving it only 38 votes.

Thus they finally came to Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, which is a revision of his budget that was passed last year and soundly rejected by both sides of the aisle in the Senate. The current bill passed with a partisan vote of 228-191. All but 10 Republicans voted against the bill mostly because it didn’t cut enough. The bill has no chance of passing the Senate but its passage reignites the same issues of cutting taxes for the rich on the backs of those who can least afford it:

He again proposes tax cuts for the rich at the expense of seniors, the disabled, and children. He would cut taxes by roughly $3 trillion $4.6 trillion (according to a Tax Policy Center analysis just put out), with most of the tax cuts going to people earning more than $200,000. His proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and food assistance would all fall heavily on seniors, the disabled, and children. Ryan’s budget is doubly bad for children because his proposed cuts to public investments (mostly infrastructure and education) would cause children to inherit a country with crumbling roads and bridges and to enter the labor market with fewer skills.

It would also cut non-defense discretionary spending to lows not seen in the 50’s but raise the defense budget that the Pentagon says it doesn’t need:

Because it doles out trillions of dollars in tax cuts to the rich and corporations, the budget approved by House Republicans today – authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) – would increase deficits and drive up the national debt. In fact, under the plan, “deficits would never drop below 4.4 percent of GDP, and would rise to more than 5 percent of GDP by 2022.”

Those increases would come despite the gigantic spending cuts that Ryan has in mind, which would eviscerate the social safety net and non-defense discretionary spending (even while the budget increases defense spending). As the Economic Policy Institute noted today, the plan Republicans adopted would drive discretionary spending down to its lowest level in more than 50 years.

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The House also refused to pass the very bipartisan Senate Transportation bill managing only to pass a stop gap 90 day bill to fund current transportation and construction projects:

Despite several efforts to advance a bipartisan Senate bill championed by (Sen. Barbara) Boxer, House leaders opted for a three-month extension while they try to break a deadlock that has stalled their own proposal to fund transportation by expanding offshore oil drilling.

The extension leaves transportation financing in an increasingly precarious position.

This won’t win them any votes in the Fall

Mar 31

Cartnoon

This week’s episodes originally aired September 30, 2005.

Duck Dodgers, Season 3, Episode 12

Mar 31

On This Day In History March 31

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 31 is the 90th day of the year (91st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 275 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, future first lady Abigail Adams writes to her husband urging him to “remember the ladies” when drafting a new “code of laws” for the fledgling nation.

While John Adams participated in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Abigail remained at their home in Braintree, Massachusetts, managing their daily affairs in his absence. At the same time that Adams was preparing to publish his “Thoughts on Government” essay, which outlined proposed political philosophy and structures for the new nation, Abigail pondered if and how the rights of women would be addressed in an American constitution.

Women’s rights

Adams was an advocate of married women’s property rights and more opportunities for women, particularly in the field of education. Women, she believed, should not submit to laws not made in their interest, nor should they be content with the simple role of being companions to their husbands. They should educate themselves and thus be recognized for their intellectual capabilities, so they could guide and influence the lives of their children and husbands. She is known for her March 1776 letter to John and the Continental Congress, requesting that they, “…remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

John declined Abigail’s “extraordinary code of laws,” but acknowledged to Abigail, “We have only the name of masters, and rather than give up this, which would completely subject us to the despotism of the petticoat, I hope General Washington and all our brave heroes would fight.”

Braintree March 31, 1776

   Tho we felicitate ourselves, we sympathize with those who are trembling least the Lot of Boston should be theirs. But they cannot be in similar circumstances unless pusilanimity and cowardise should take possession of them. They have time and warning given them to see the Evil and shun it. I long to hear that you have declared an independancy and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

   That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity. Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your Sex. Regard us then as Beings placed by providence under your protection and in immitation of the Supreem Being make use of that power only for our happiness.

Mar 31

Nothing from Nothing: II

Don’t get me wrong, I love all 88,

But the piano’s register just below the waistline

Is The One For Me.  That’s where my own voice

Lives, it’s where my ears understand the sick

Sweet chords.  I’m no musician, but play

Billy Preston, in super slo-mo,

which is transcendent enough

for me; well, have you tried it?  Believe

you me, it transports at any pace.

irreplaceable, like the spoken word;

From friend to friend, from generation to

generation.  The human ear cannot hear

some of Bach’s melodies in the wrong

tempo.  A Viennese friend proved that

to my satisfaction, but you can play

Billy Preston like molasses, and feel fine,

All over.  Just to stroke the same chords

In order places you next to god.  Amen.

I know I’ve run this one past you before, but here it comes ag’in.  It’s unstable in flight, like a high-tech fighter plane, but this is a high-tech funky love plane, instead:

Mar 31

Random Japan

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GETTING THE LARD OUT

   A government survey revealed that 25 percent of people who receive medical consultations for “metabolic syndrome” are able to overcome the condition.

Metabolic syndrome is better-known in the West as “being a fat-ass.”

   A 500kg bull in Kagoshima gored a 56-year-old farmer as he tried to shield his three grandkids from the rampaging animal. The man is in serious condition.

   Pasmo halted an online service that provided details about the train-riding history of its cardholders to anyone who entered basic information about the user. Apparently, wives and husbands were using the site to check if their partners were cheating on them.

   The health ministry says Nagano has the lowest death rate of any prefecture in Japan, while Aomori is the spot most frequently visited by the Grim Reaper.

Mar 31

Popular Culture (Music). Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show

Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show were sort of a strange band.  Whilst they were not nearly as profound as bands that I prefer, they were also not annoying.  They did not pretend to be profound, and some of their early material was actually pretty good.

They are best remembered for “The Cover of the Rolling Stone“, a piece that I found to be quite witty and clever.  They did an excellent job of self parody on this number, and it paid off for them in that they did indeed make it there after it charted.

I intend to concentrate on the years from 1968 to 1976, although they in various reincarnations continued for a long time thereafter.  Most of their good material is from that era.

Mar 31

Opponents of Anchorage Proposition 5 play dirty

Supporters of Anchorage Proposition 5 have expressed outrage at an offensive cartoon ads opponents have been using to gin up opposition to the passage of the measure, which would protect LGBT people from discrimination in Anchorage.  The most outrageous of the ads is this one: