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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville #28

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 11/17/14

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Friday, November 14, 2014

We Were Had
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
     ObamaCare, to put it simply, is a snake venom that nonetheless somewhat succeeds in counteracting an even more pernicious malady. It's the red-hot piece of metal that cauterizes a bleeding wound.
     It was never, ever intended to be anything more than that.
     It is a position, often a lonely and adversarial one, that had been consistently taken by yours truly in this very byline since the mislabeled Affordable Care Act was first being debated by no less than five Congressional committees starting in the spring of 2009. Yet, conservatives and truly enlightened liberals such as me cannot and should not succumb to the siren lure of schadenfreude in light of the strangely delayed revelations regarding Jonathan Gruber.
     Beginning in March of 2010, a week before Congress finally ratified the ACA and put it on Mr. Obama's desk to sign into law, Gruber had openly, brazenly and, seemingly without impunity until now, was crowing about how "lack of transparency and the stupidity of the American voter, whatever" was responsible for the bill's success. Yesterday brought a fifth video (and, no doubt, counting) of a now-infamous testy and condescending exchange between Gruber and a Vermont voter concerned about the ACA's ramifications.
     Predictably, wingnuts on Twitchy, Hot Air, Breitbart and other right wing convection ovens have been crowing about ObamaCare's inherent dishonesty, of which most us were already aware. But now they have in Gruber their smoking gun. Five, in fact. And among their talking points is how liberal elitists lied to the American public about the health care bill. But liberals had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the bill's crafting, creation or ratification.
     ObamaCare was passed in first the House, then the Senate then put on the president's desk to be signed into law as with countless other bills. It was not put on a national referendum and not one American voted for it. None of us little people had any say as to what it would contain or not.
     And now, "leaders" such as Nancy Pelosi are playing the predictably scummy, craven political game of distancing herself from someone she'd quoted and mentioned countless times five years ago who has now been exposed as the Most Hated Man in America. Democrats are running from Gruber as if he has Ebola, Obama and everyone associated with the bill who's still on the Hill are in full spin mode and right wingers who were told to hate the ACA by the Koch Brothers and Dick Armey's Freedomwerx now have their health care Willie Horton.

The Triple Whammy

     They say celebrities die in threes and regarding the Affordable Care Act, this is the third whammy that may have finally sunk ObamaCare. First was the clusterfuck of a rollout. The government literally had several years to set up a workable website with adequate server space. State-run partners, through their own exchanges, had the same amount of time. But ObamaCare's website immediately crashed like a soggy house of cards because the Obama administration, hardly to the surprise of yours truly, decided to outsource its set-up and implementation to a private corporation.
     Secondly, there was Obama's palpable lie of, "If you like your present health care plan, you can keep it," which proved to be as honest and prescient as closing Guantanamo Bay.
     Thirdly, there's Gruber's arrogant, condescending and, frankly, out of touch comments about the American people and his pride in the lack of transparency of the government that had paid him so handsomely to mislead the American public
     And while conservatives jeered, liberals struggled to put on a happy face and bombed Twitter and Facebook with memes about how Bush killed hundreds of thousands (a place they seriously do not want to go) while Obama had a slow website. Now it's almost entertaining watching these liberals who think that everything Obama does is in some way miraculous on a Biblical level struggling even more mightily to keep on their O faces after ample evidence has been avalancheing down at warp speed 10 out of the past that its architect called them "stupid."
     It's impossible to estimate the embarrassment this has visited on the Obama administration, which paid this man over $400,000 to craft a bill that was mislabeled as almost all about health care (hence the inevitably sarcastic name of the bill). It ought to be embarrassing to the mainstream media (especially ABC, which is still ignoring it) for letting these explosive revelations languish for better than four and a half years. And it should be embarrassing to any Democrat still in Congress who'd voted for such a steaming pile of horse shit.
     Most of all, it should be embarrassing to so-called liberals such as Esquire's Charles Pierce (who seemed to love it simply because it helped his ailing wife) who thought the tepid reforms and it being just a giant gateway to the free market was the greatest thing since Medicare (which in 1965  LBJ signed into law without him or Congress having to mislead the American public). In short, anyone who hated the bill or opposed it with such virulence should be stripped of their voting rights and undergo a mandatory psychological evaluation since it seems no one save for Gruber, the President and several people on the five committees that had refined and crafted it knew exactly what it was all about.

The Three Blind Chinese Men and the Republican Mascot
       I'm sure we all know the story of the three blind Chinese men and the elephant. One blind man felt the tail and thought it was a rope. Another at the other end felt the trunk and thought it was a snake. The third in the middle thought the stomach was a wall. The parable only shows that, without the proper context, individual parties can be completely wrong about what they think they perceive.
     This perfectly describes the second-hand experience of the American voter who had no say in the bill's crafting and had foisted off on them like a pile of flaming dog shit on Cabbage Night. It was a testament, albeit a sad one, of the persistent cheerfulness and glass-half-full optimism of your typical Obama voter.
     But the fact remains that out of all the bills signed into law by the nearly six year-old Obama administration. the ACA is easily the most misunderstood one of all. And that's not completely their fault. The administration's and Democratic Congress's explanations of it were largely incoherent, almost as much as the Teabaggers' screaming oppositions to it during Town Halls in the summer of 2009. And Gruber did, after all, lie to not just us but the nonpartisan CBO over how the ACA should be packaged and sold (90% cost control and 10% mandatory health care instead of the opposite). Yet it wasn't as if there was a complete media blackout of the bill's contents.
     However, liberals chose to ignore the back room deal struck by Rahm Immanuel (whose very name ought to be, if it already isn't, synonymous with arrogant, Democratic elitism) and Big Pharma to cap drug reimbursements at $80,000,000,000. La de la de dah, dig hole in sand, insert head. Repeat as necessary.
     Liberals also stuck their fingers in their ears when Max Baucus, then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, refused to hear testimony from universal single-payer advocates and even made a joke about arrested protesters to Republican Chuck Grassley about running out of cops. Liberals were also nonplussed that the ACA was never, ever intended (despite Obama's immediately-broken campaign promises) to be anything more or less than a gateway to the very same health insurance companies that have been bilking the American taxpayer, and government, for decades, turning our health care system into the rest of the world's punchline.
     And Gruber's abominable and infuriating comments about the "stupidity" of the American people that he nonetheless willfully mislead and even lied to show just how much of an out-of-touch elitist he truly is. His comments back on March 10, 2010, when the bill was still being hashed out, that Americans care much more about health care costs and far less about insuring the uninsured are so wrongheaded and ignorant it's beyond laughter.

One Shade of Grayson

     I guess he forgot all about Alan Grayson constantly hammering home the fact on the floor of the House that 48,000,000 Americans were uninsured and that 45,000 Americans die each year because of lack of health coverage. I suppose Gruber also forgot about liberals (the real ones) screaming about universal single payer and not allowing red states to opt out of Medicare expansion out of a misguided and futile attempt to respect "states' rights" (a sop thrown to the GOP that got exactly two Republican votes in the Senate and has not done a thing to keep Republicans from voting no less than 52 consecutive times to repeal ObamaCare).
     Limousine liberals and the Obama administration (as I'd said here several times) made the colossal mistake of investing so much political capital on one piece of domestic legislation so early in its history. With the Iraq War, Afghanistan, terrorism, Gitmo, immigration, environmental issues, gay rights and too many others to name, the Obama administration should've dispersed its political capital more evenly instead of putting all its eggs in one basket.
     And so-called liberals, happily following that disastrous meme, acted as if the success of the rest of the Obama administration rested with ratification of the ACA, a bloated and more unwieldy version of the equally disastrous RomneyCare here in Massachusetts.
     Liberals had it only half right as were spittle-flecked teabaggers who didn't, couldn't or wouldn't understand it any better than we: ObamaCare has undoubtedly saved lives and over 10,000 fewer Americans are dying every year through lack of coverage. It has driven down premiums, deductibles and co-pays as well as abolishing the prejudice against those with preexisting conditions. And your child can remain on your health care plan until they're 26.
     But it was, at best, a vastly flawed work in progress and in desperate need of improvement. Liberals made the mistake of seeing it, hairy warts and all, with the peculiar beer goggles with which lonely horny men see the last barfly at last call. If it was to be so popular, then why enforce "compliance" through two bylaws in the federal tax code? Conservatives hoarsely screamed as they were told to that it was a Commie takeover of 1/6 of our national economy while Sarah Palin sneeringly claimed to see death panels from her house.
     It was neither. It was a single, staggering step in the right direction, with muddy bootprints. But with Gruber's astoundingly stupid confessions these past four to five years, this may be the monkey wrench the newly-empowered Republicans have been looking for to finally repeal the ACA and put us right back to the Dark Ages we were in prior to the bill's passage. Liberals and conservatives ought to stop pointing the finger at each other and at elitist assholes such as Gruber and Obama. We were all had.

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Good Times at Pottersville, 11/14/14

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 11/10/14
(A Brilliant at Breakfast exclusive)
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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville #26

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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 11/5/14

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Monday, November 03, 2014

When Joni Met Chachi Charlie
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)    
     Or Sleepless 700 Miles From Dallas.
     To quote my fellow Bay State scribe Charlie Pierce, "Well, this didn't end well."
     Specifically, this is what happens when the proverbial Irresistible Force of facts meets the Immovable Object of paranoid teabagger Ignorance and Stupidity.
     In Ankeny, a little burg in the middle of Iowa, Joni Ernst decided to diversify her appeal to 30-something Klan members still holding out hope the Black Guy Who Shall Not Be Named will make one move toward their guns by trying to appeal to old, white people at a bagel shop. She made the mistake of trying to convince the old folks nodding off in their cream cheese and prune juice that Obama wasn't doing enough about Ebola. As if, you know, he's the one holding up the naming of a Surgeon General over the last 13 months.
     What she didn't realize was that Esquire's Charlie Pierce was in attendance. In fact, she never even recognized him, for which Ernst von Bloviate can't be blamed since she's been acting as if anyone with a press pass has, I don't know, Ebola or something.
     So Mr. Pierce, contrary to the hagiographers and stenographers that make up the bulk of today's mainstream media 24/7 Infotainment Extravaganza of Aphoristic Soundbites and Cialis/Viagra/Levitra Commercials, decided to present Ms. Ernst with a fact.
     He confronted her with the painfully inescapable, incontrovertible, ineluctable, unassailable fact that only one person in the United States has a confirmed case of Ebola.
     Now, let's backtrack for a minute to clarify that. That is an ascertained, easily verifiable fact, especially for a Senate candidate who currently employs people whose job it is to vet media stories so their candidate is well-informed on the issues. Oh, wait, silly me. That's who Democrats hire. Teabagger rodeo clown fear mongers like Joni Ernst hire partisan stooges who are less like media professionals and more like James O'Keefe knockoffs minus the Superfly Halloween costume.
     At any rate, this was an easily verifiable fact: There's only one person in our great, urine-soaked nation who has Ebola. So what was Ms. Ernst's response?
     "Well, you're the press. That's your opinion."
     Squealing tires. Scratched record. Woman screaming.
     "But that's not an opinion," Mr. Pierce intrepidly ventured. "That's a fact. Only one person in America has Ebola."
     "But he's not a leeeaaader," she retorted, referring to Obama.
     Now, there are several things about this exchange we must take away, even though it's like, I dunno, about as appealing as a fresh pile of Ebola-infected vomit.
     First, John Adams and his "stubborn facts" be damned, to Teabagger fear meisters and peddlars such as Joni Ernst, if you're a member of the media, you're automatically a liar, that anyone who pushes facts instead of the GOP agenda unspooled from the fax machine of Karl Rove or the NRA, then you're merely an opinion journalist, someone to be avoided at all costs.
     At which Joni Ernst has proven, Lo, these past several weeks, to be very adroit.  And the Iowa press has responded to this snubbing with as much dedication and zeal as they would the weekly crop dusting schedule.
     So, if there was a God of Politics governing democratic elections in our red, white and blue (and yellow. We cannot forget the piss yellow running down our Levis that Ernst and Fox News ensures runs down our legs) nation, Joni Ernst's candidacy would've imploded faster and neater than three World Center Towers, in its footprint and at freefall speed. And Chuckie Pierce would be given the credit for the downfall of another delusional sociopath. Ernst's iron-coiffed head would be mounted on his den wall.
     But there is no such God. Because for decades now, it seems any psychopath with a passable wardrobe and who is remotely telegenic in a red state or district actually stands a good chance of getting elected to one of the most powerful offices in the land.
     And her campaign hardly felt a shudder as she quickly turned from my colleague to peddle more lies to someone whose Medicare and Social Security she could endanger while making them feel they really matter.
     Facts don't matter anymore, especially if you're running under a Republican Party banner. And whether you're cynically trying to get others to pile on the Ebola bandwagon or are a true believer with the yellow stripe down your pants leg to prove it, facts don't matter to you, the press or the voters any more than global warming and climate change means a shit to oil cartel meat puppets like James Inhofe.
     Yes, this exchange should've been the end of Joni Ernst's campaign just as George Allen's last Senate campaign imploded about four and a half nanoseconds after his infamous "Macaca" comment.
     But it didn't. And outgoing Senator Tom Harkin's recent comments comparing Ernst to Taylor Swift (which is like comparing Ann Coulter to Jennifer Lopez or anyone else who actually has a pair of functional X chromosomes) didn't help the cause because Ernst is just smart enough politically to seize on gender bias even if it doesn't exist.
     Because in politics especially, perception is reality. Who cares if this especially applies to a nation of people who still think the world began 6000 years ago when it was created  by a Sky Wizard who said, "Thou Shalt Not Kill!" then made human survival dependent on just that? This is America, Land of the Sorta Free Within Limits and With Prior Police Approval and Home of the Blustering Through Yellow-Tinged Sears Sans-a-Belt Slacks.
     This one exchange that took but seconds to transpire should've been the end of what should've been the most laughable and possibly hostile campaign in the entire 2014 midterm election cycle.
     Just by coincidence, two years ago almost to the day, when she was in the final days of her 2012 bid for the US Senate, Elizabeth Warren appeared in a local bagel shop in Hudson, Massachusetts. I got to speak with her after her (one must admit, boilerplate speech that must've been delivered a dozen times that day) and got the sense that she was a warm, genuine human being. Charlie Pierce walked away from the other bagel shop in Ankeny feeling much the same way, marveling at the woman's ability to work a room.
     But Charlie Pierce missed the big picture and his trademark snark was even considerably dimmed in that article. The Big Picture is that it's one thing to work a room. It's another thing entirely to work up a room with palpable lies about Ebola and to cynically run on such a platform and telling old, white Republican voters the black guy's no good for you and his apathy is going to kill you because that's not what reeeeaaaalll leeeaaadeeeerssss do.
     Joni Ernst, I've met a real-life Senator in my life, at a bagel shop not unlike the one in which you tried to stoke fear where there shouldn't be any. I met Elizabeth Warren. I spoke with Elizabeth Warren. I listened to Elizabeth Warren. And you, Ms. Ernst, are no Elizabeth Warren.

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