Tuesday, October 29, 2013

GOP Gov. Kasich Says There 'Seems To Be A War On The Poor'


“I’m concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor,” Kasich told the New York Times in a story published Tuesday. “That if you’re poor, somehow you’re shiftless and lazy.”
“You know what?” he added. “The very people who complain ought to ask their grandparents if they worked at the W.P.A.”
Although he opposes the Affordable Care Act, Kasich broke with many Republican governors when he accepted the Medicaid expansion under the law. Despite the efforts by some GOP lawmakers to block the expansion, Kasich unilaterally secured the federal funds — which will be used to provide coverage to up to 275,000 low income Ohioans — through a manuever that could face conservative legal challenges. 

Nevada tea party Republican: ‘Yeah, I would’ vote to bring back slavery


A Republican Nevada state assemblyman said that he would vote for legislation in favor of slavery if his constituents wanted him to. According to the Las Vegas Sun, Jim Wheeler of Gardnerville, NV was speaking to the Storey County Republican Party when he made the remarks last August, although they are only now coming to light.
“If that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose, I’d have to bite my tongue and they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah, if that’s what the citizens of the, if that’s what the constituency wants that elected me, that’s what they elected me for,” he said. “That’s what a republic is about.”
Now, Wheeler said to the Sun, “liberal operatives” are spreading the video in an effort to smear him.
The assemblyman was referring to a blog post by a conservative commentator named Chuck Muth, who asked during Wheeler’s candidacy, “(W)hat if those citizens decided they want to, say, bring back slavery? Hey, if that’s what the citizens want, right Jim?”
Wheeler told the audience of Republicans, “yeah I would.”
The remarks have kicked off a firestorm with Republicans and Democrats alike rushing to denounce Wheeler, who rode the 2010 wave of tea party fervor into his spot on the state assembly.
The Associated Press quoted a statement by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval that said, in part, “Assemblyman Wheeler’s comments are deeply offensive and have no place in our society. He should retract his remarks and apologize.”........................

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Myth That Obamacare Is Destroying Full-Time Jobs Just Got Debunked

According to the BLS household survey, part-time jobs fell 594,000 in September while full-time workers were up 691,000.
This was one hopeful nugget in an otherwise lackluster jobs report.
Workers are considered to be "part time" if they work under 35 hours a week.
Earlier this summer, when part-time numbers looked like they might be on the rise, some speculated  that the shift  was due to the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
Under Obamacare, employers will be required to offer health insurance or face penalties (the White House recently announced it will delay enforcement until 2015). Some companies have said they will reduce their full-time staff to below the 50-employee threshold as a result, or simply shave back full-timers' hours.
"If the health law were driving employers to cut employees’ hours, the most vulnerable workers would likely be those working just above the 30-hour cutoff," writes the Wall Street Journal's Ben Casselman. "That means the data would show a decline in those working 30 to 34 hours and an increase in those working less than 30 hours." He explains:
That isn’t what’s happening.  The share of part-timers who say they usually work between 30 and 34 hours at their main job has been roughly flat over the past three years, at about 28%. (September data aren’t yet available.) If anything, it’s actually risen in the past year, though the change has been minor. The share working just under 30 hours has indeed risen somewhat, but the share working under 25 hours has fallen—suggesting that employers are giving part-timers more hours, rather than cutting full-timers’ hours back.
Put another way: If the Labor Department used the same definition of “part-time” as the health law, its data would show no increase in part-time work over the past year.......................

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Emerging right-wing theme: Obama planned shutdown with Valerie Jarrett as trap for Republicans


Less than a month after engineering a deeply unpopular government shutdown in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to derail the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are already trying to shift the blame.
Various right-wing media outlets are picking up the claim that President Barack Obama deliberately lured Republicans into a trap planned by his senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.
The claim originates with author Ed Klein, who wrote a provocative and widely criticized biography of Obama called The Amateur, in addition to The Truth About Hillary, a similarly received book on the Clintons.
“(Jarrett) convinced the president that a government shutdown and default offered a great opportunity to demonize the Republicans and help the Democrats win back a majority in the House of Representatives in 2014,” Klein told The New York Post.
Klein said Jarrett told the president that voters would blame Republicans for the shutdown and “devised the no-negotiating strategy” that ultimately forced the GOP to end the 16-day shutdown with Obamacare still intact and to extend the federal government’s borrowing power to avert debt default.
“Valerie also came with the idea of using the words ‘hostage’, and ‘ransom’ and ‘terrorists’ against the Republicans,” Klein said.
Those tactics, along with Republican antics before and after the shutdown began Oct. 1, drove the GOP’s favorability ratings to record lows for any political party.
Recent polls suggest voters overwhelmingly blame Republicans for the shutdown and disapprove of the GOP’s handling of negotiations over the federal budget — and they’re not wrong in assessing blame.
The plan to tie funding for the president’s signature health care law to a resolution to fund the federal government had been hatched by conservative lawmakers, activists and business leaders over a period of months.
And Republican threats to shut down the government dominated congressional coverage for weeks prior to the start of a new fiscal year on Oct. 1.
But enforcement of one aspect of the partial shutdown proved to conservatives the shutdown had been planned in advance – by the president.
“They already had barricades, cones, from New York to California, Utah, Arizona, South Dakota – they had worked out in advance that they were closing these things down,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) during a Wednesday afternoon Fox News interview.
He was referring to the closure of national parks and other landmarks after about 800,000 federal employees were furloughed, and which became a cause célèbre among conservatives.
“Somebody in the Senate had to have given them the heads up, we’re not going to take up anything, and that’s the only thing that explains why they would turn down our initial proposal and then compromises, including one that was just capitulation that night before the shutdown started,” Gohmert said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made clear before the shutdown that Senate Democrats would not pass any funding resolution approved by House Republicans that defunded or delayed Obamacare.
Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) also blamed the president for Republican tactics, accusing Obama of taking the nation to the brink of default to advance his political agenda.
“Republicans were the adults in the room, offering compromise after compromise and urging the President to come to the table and do what’s right for our country,” Bachmann said Thursday in a Facebook post.
Even if the government shutdown was a trap set by the president and one of his closest advisors, some Republican lawmakers seem eager to step into it again.
Rep. John C. Fleming (R-LA) voted against the House measure that reopened the government until Jan. 7 and raised the debt ceiling until Jan. 7, and he said he’s already looking forward to the next shutdown.
“That will get us into Round 2,” Fleming told The New York Times. “See, we’re going to start this all over again.”

Rick Perry Is Actually Encouraging Texans To Enroll In Obamacare


 After years of trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act, Texas lawmakers are suddenly embracing President Obama’s signature domestic policy accomplishment. On Thursday, the Texas Tribune reported that the state is shuttering a state-based health care program and encouraging Texans to sign-up for coverage in the federally-run health care exchange.
Texas’ high risk pool program, which opened in 1998, provides coverage to individuals and families with pre-existing conditions who couldn’t find insurance in the individual health care market. But since the ACA’s exchanges began enrolling beneficiaries, the state deemed the program obsolete, arguing that Texans could find a better deal in the federally-run exchange:
The state has deemed the high-risk pool obsolete, as the Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies participating in the federal marketplace, which launched on Oct. 1, from denying coverage to Texans with pre-existing conditions. Gov. Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 1367 in June, scheduling the pool’s abolishment.
The pool will close Jan. 1, and the 23,000 people currently participating in the pool must sign up for coverage on the insurance exchange by Dec. 15 or find coverage elsewhere to avoid a lapse in care.
The shift may help beneficiaries — state health experts project that “people are going to have many more options and many better options in the marketplace ” — but it undermines Gov. Rick Perry’s (R-TX) entire health care philosophy and contradicts the GOP’s claim that states are best suited to take care of their uninsured populations.
Throughout the 2012 presidential campaign, for instance, Perry supported complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act and suggested that states should take the lead in crafting health care policy. “If we can get the federal government out of our business in the states when it comes to health care, we’ll come up with ways to deliver more health care to more people cheaper than what the federal government is mandating today,” Perry said during a 2011 GOP primary debate. Two years later, he appears to have changed his mind.

In North Dakota, New Concerns Over Mixing Oil and Wheat

ROSS, N.D. — While three generations of the Sorenson family have made their livelihood growing wheat and other crops here, they also have learned to embrace the furious pace of North Dakota’s oil exploration. After all, oil money helped the Sorensons acquire the land and continue to farm it.
But more oil means more drilling, resulting in tons of waste that is putting cropland at risk and raising doubt among farmers that these two cash crops can continue to coexist.
A private company is trying to install a landfill to dispose of solid drilling waste on a golden 160-acre wheat field across the road from Mike and Kim Sorenson’s farmhouse. Although the engineers and regulators behind the project insist that it is safe for the environment, the Sorensons have voiced concern that salt from the drilling waste could seep onto their land, which would render the soil infertile and could contaminate their water, causing their property value to drop.
“I’m concerned not if it leaks, it’s when it’s going to leak over there,” Ms. Sorenson, 42, said.
Oil companies in North Dakota disposed of more than a million tons of drilling waste last year, 15 times the amount in 2006, according to Steven J. Tillotson, the assistant director of the Division of Waste Management for the state’s Health Department. Seven drilling waste landfills operate in the state, with 16 more under construction or seeking state approval.
Landowners who lease their acreage see a reward, while neighboring farmers often protest the potential harm to their pastures. Farmers here complain that state officials promote policies that help the energy sector grow rapidly with little regard for the effect on their livelihoods.
“I don’t think they’re very concerned about the farmer," Mr. Sorenson, 41, said.
His 36-year-old brother, Charlie, who farms with him, added, “There’s just more effort put on where the bacon’s coming from, I guess.”
Few would argue against the benefits of the energy industry, which has made North Dakota the second-largest oil producing state in the country and helped it build a surplus of more than $1.6 billion.
“I wouldn’t say that production agriculture is being forgotten because everyone understands that it always has been and always will be the backbone of the economy of North Dakota,” said Dave Hynek, one of five commissioners in Mountrail County, where the landfill is being proposed. “However, the tremendous amount of money coming into the state coffers from the oil industry at the present time has overshadowed that.”
Without the oil industry, Mr. Sorenson said, he might not even be farming.
His grandfather worked in the oil fields in Montana in the 1940s to earn the money to buy the land where Mr. Sorenson and his family live. In the late 1990s, Mr. Sorenson worked in the North Dakota oil fields for five years to make enough money to farm full time.
“I’ve worked in the oil industry,” Mr. Sorenson said. “That’s kind of how I got all my stuff.”
The Sorensons receive royalties from oil that is produced on their land and from allowing drilling, which accounts for about 10 percent of their income, Mr. Sorenson said.
“I’m fairly neutral on the drilling,” he said, though that did not lessen his concern over the possibility of a landfill across the street. “This most certainly affects me negatively.”
Ms. Sorenson said she was more worried about the environmental risk of living next to a landfill, like runoff seeping into their well water, and what that could mean for their five children.
“We’d love to see our grandkids and further generations be able to be a part of this land, also,” Ms. Sorenson said.
The Sorensons, who have hired a lawyer, are especially sensitive to the landfill proposal because the property owner offering to lease the land for the project is a second cousin of Mike and Charlie Sorenson. The cousin, Roger Sorenson, did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Most drilling waste, usually chunks of earth slathered in chemicals and petroleum, is disposed of at the drilling site. About a year and a half ago, the state passed a regulation requiring drilling companies to dry the waste before burying it on-site to address concerns about runoff and leakage. More companies have since turned to landfills to dispose of waste.
Industry experts argue that landfills are built with better technology and safeguards to prevent environmental hazards than dumps at drilling sites. And it is safer to have a few central dumps that are monitored than a waste pit on each of the thousands of drilling sites throughout the Bakken shale field, said John McCain, the executive vice president and principal engineer at Carlson McCain, the engineering company designing the landfill proposed in Ross.
“I think that landfills carry a negative connotation with them,” Mr. McCain said. “But that negative connotation comes from the old dumps, and the public hasn’t really been educated on new landfill technology.”
Mr. McCain argued that the environmental concern over the proposed waste site in Ross is unwarranted because the soil and liners would protect against leakage.
Those assurances ring hollow to environmental activists in the state, who say they have seen too many drilling-related spills, though not necessarily from landfills.
“We’re not in any way, shape or form against oil,” said Don Morrison, the executive director of the Dakota Resource Council, an environmental group. Later, he added, “The pace of development is the problem and the fact that there are laws on the books that are not being implemented to protect people’s water and land and livelihoods.”
Over the past five years, Mr. Tillotson said, contamination from landfills has occurred only twice, and the companies responsible were fined.
“Environmental releases, whether they are on a well site or off-site, or even at a landfill we regulate, is an issue that we take extremely seriously,” Mr. Tillotson said in an e-mail.
For the landfill near the Sorensons to be built, the Mountrail County Commission must rezone the land from agricultural to industrial.
Mr. Hynek said he was unsure whether he would support the landfill. He understood the environmental concerns, he said, but added that those needed to be balanced against the likelihood of a problem and the benefit of oil exploration.
Mr. Hynek, who farms for a living, said he shared one major concern with his neighbors: the increasing conversion of farmland into drilling land.
“This country has always been ag country as far as raising crops and livestock,” he said. “And once this mineral is depleted — and it will be some day — it will go back to being ag land, and I don’t believe it will ever be as productive as it originally was.”

Maddow to Republicans: Your ‘brilliant plan’ got you nothing, so now what?


On Wednesday night’s edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow highlighted the end of the shutdown saga that Republicans instigated two weeks ago and noted that for all the fuss and bother and all the histrionics on the part of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-UT) and others, the Republicans got nothing in the final deal. President Barack Obama and the Democrats held fast in the face of the hostage-taking tactics and in the end, they prevailed.
“We’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis,” Obama said in his remarks Wednesday night. “My hope and expectation is that everybody has learned that there’s no reason we can’t work on the issues at hand.”
Maddow followed the president’s remarks by recounting the saga that landed the nation here, the plan by House Republicans to shut down the government if Democrats and Pres. Obama did not do the impossible and repeal the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare.
“This was their brilliant plan! They thought this would work!” Maddow said. “The Democrats would never let the government shut down.”
As for the Republicans, she said, “Once they had an actual shutdown on their hands, they did not have a plan for what to do next.”
The GOP caucus threw out a spray of demands, ranging from defunding and delaying parts of Obamacare to birth control to the Keystone XL pipeline, all of which the Democrats rejected as Republicans sank lower and lower in public opinion.
All of the demands on their “long, weird, ever-changing ransom note,” Maddow said, were rejected, but the Democrats did allow them to say that they were insisting on income verifications for some ACA applicants, a provision that was already in the Act.
“We know tonight,” said Maddow, “that of their entire list, they’re going to get nothing. Nothing.”
“You can argue for what you want through the legislative process,” she said, while rolling footage of a beleaguered and sweaty-looking Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), “by trying to make legislation, amend bills, do great in debates, win votes” and win elections.
“But when you lose policy fights, and you lose elections,” she concluded, “the line was drawn here tonight to say, ‘You know what, there is not a third way. There is not another means of policy-making available to you in Washington that involves you destroying things unless you get your way.”
And if you try to do it that way, she said, “you will get exactly nothing. Nothing!”............................

‘Fox & Friends’ suggests House stenographer targeted for bringing ‘message from God’


The host of Fox & Friends on Thursday hinted that a stenographer who interrupted a House vote on reopening the government by yelling about God and “Freemasons” was the victim of religious discrimination and she simply “saw something that didn’t seem right.”
During a Wednesday night vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to reopen the federal government after being shut down for more than 16 days, Dianne Reidy was forcibly escorted away from the Speaker’s podium after screaming that the “greatest deception here is this is not one nation under God, it never was.”
“The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons, they go against God,” she said.
But on Thursday, Fox News host Steve Doocy selected an email from a viewer — who claimed to be a minister — to explain Reidy’s actions.
“It was not a mental episode, what she was doing was known as an exercise of the gifts of the spirit where she brought a warning and a message from God regarding the activity,” Doocy said the minister had written.
A second email complained: “Amazingly, this religious and obviously sweet lady gets fed up and speaks her mind, something we all have tried to do. She brings up our dear Lord and she gets a mental evaluation? I think it should be the other way around.”
Doocy noted that the email went on to suggest a list of other people who were more deserving of a mental evaluation.
Co-host Brian Kilmeade, however, was the voice of reason, saying, “She got by the Speaker’s chair and started screaming in the middle of a vote. You do have pull her away.”
“Well, sure,” co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck replied. “We’ve had incidents in the past which certainly require some security measures to be taken and we’re thankful for those.”
“But who knows, maybe she just saw something that didn’t seem right and mounting frustration and tensions brought it out of her.”.......................

GOP Rep Looks To Next Showdown: 'We’re Going To Start This All Over Again'


“I’ll vote against it,” Fleming said, as quoted by the New York Times. “But that will get us into Round 2. See, we’re going to start this all over again.”
Fleming was one of 144 House members — all Republicans — who voted against the deal that passed both houses of Congress on Wednesday. On Tuesday, he told reporters that Republicans wanted to use the looming debt limit deadline as leverage.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ted Cruz Admits Budget Standoff Was All About Building Fundraising Lists


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) conceded on Wednesday that he would not hold up a vote on an emerging Senate deal to re-open the federal government and avert federal default, but admitted that the three-week long budget standoff — which began with his 21-hour speech on the Senate floor — was nothing more than an effort to build up his fundraising list.
“My focus is, I think, where the American people’s focus is, which is what are we doing to provide real relief to the people who are hurting because of Obamacare and today,” Cruz told reporters after meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), before reiterating his commitment to repealing the health care law.
Asked what he has gained from holding-up a deal for weeks, Cruz pointed to a political petition he has been promoting for days:
CRUZ: We have seen a remarkable thing happen. Months ago when the effort to defund Obamacare began, official Washington scoffed. They scoffed that the American people would rise up. They scoffed that the House of Representatives would do anything and they scoffed that the Senate would do anything. We saw first of all, millions of millions of American people rising up across this country, over two million people signing a national petition to defund Obamacare. We saw the House of Representatives take a courageous stand listening to the American people that everyone in official Washington said wouldn’t happen

But while more than two million people added their names to a website run by The Senate Conservative Fund — a political PAC that supports Cruz– urging Congress defund the Affordable Care Act, popular support for the health care law has actually increased since the shutdown began on Sep. 30. The Gallup poll reported on Tuesday that “half of Americans today want the Affordable Care Act repealed or scaled back, down from 57 percent in January 2011.”
In three week period following Cruz’s speech — even as GOP’s national approval ratings plummeted — conservatives frantically built their fundraising lists and campaign coffers. In the last quarter, Cruz’s political action committee raised in $797,000, nearly twice what it pulled in the quarter prior, and Heritage Action — which has pressured conservatives to vote against any bill that does not undermine Obamcare — collected $330,000.
Unfortunately, the rest of the country hasn’t fared nearly as well. Economists predict that the country lost thousands of jobs, billions in economic output, diminished consumer confidence, and the prospect of a lower credit rating.

Rand Paul Proposes Reopening Just Enough of Government to Hold New Hearings on Benghazi

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Adding his voice to the eleventh-hour debate about the government shutdown, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) today proposed reopening just enough of the government to hold new hearings on Benghazi.
“Across this great nation of ours, people are suffering,” he told Fox News’s Megyn Kelly. “Suffering, Megyn, because they still don’t know what really happened in Benghazi.”
Noting that the government shutdown had furloughed investigators who could be looking into Benghazi, he said, “If there’s something in our government more worthy of funding than that, I can’t think of it.”
Senator Paul said he knew that he would draw the ire of fellow Republicans by suggesting that the government be partially reopened, but added, “Sometimes, you have to put politics aside when there is something more important at stake, and I think any reasonable person would agree that there is nothing more important than getting to the bottom of Benghazi.”
“For the two weeks of this shutdown, the American people have had no new information about Benghazi,” he said. “It’s time to stop the madness.”

Monday, October 14, 2013

Constitutional scholar Sarah Palin explains complicated Constitutional law words to you


Neverending punchline and holder of the Bump-it  Industries Constitutional Law Chair at Mat-Su GED’s-r-Us University takes time out from palling around with Canadian terrorists to explain to America that that there Obammer fella is cruisin’ for an impeachable bruisin’ if he doesn’t pay America’s bills the way the Founding Fathers and Jesus would want him to:
(Note: this is also a drinking game. Every time Palin writes the word “debt”: drink a Bartles & Jaymes. But if you wake up tomorrow and find yourself to be a knocked-up-teenager, it’s your own damn fault. Whore.)
I’m sorry. Where were we? Oh yes, Prof. Dr. Palin, please proceed:
Apparently the president thinks he can furlough reality when talking about the debt limit. To suggest that raising the debt limit doesn’t incur more debt is laughably absurd. The very reason why you raise the debt limit is so that you can incur more debt. Otherwise what’s the point?
It’s also shameful to see him scaremongering the markets with his talk of default. There is no way we can default if we follow the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 4, requires that we service our debt first. We currently collect more than enough tax revenue to service our debt if we do that first. However, we don’t have enough money to continue to finance our ever-growing federal government (with our $17 trillion dollar national debt that has increased over 50% since Obama took office). That’s why President Obama wants to increase the debt limit. He doesn’t want to make the tough decisions to rein in government spending.
Also, too: Social Security.
So, he’s scaremongering the markets about default, just as he tries to scaremonger our senior citizens about their Social Security, which, by the way, is funded by the Social Security Trust Fund and is solvent through 2038.
And how, you may very well ask, can this apparently shiftless layabout President get in there and fix this g-d-damned thing? I refer you to an excerpt from the Federalist Papers that is often printed on a Denny’s coloring place-mat:
Sarah Palin burst onto the national scene out of nowhere a couple months ago when she became the Republican vice presidential nominee, but the Alaska governor seems to still not fully understand the details of the job she is applying for.
In an interview with a local Colorado TV station, Palin said the vice president is “in charge of the United States Senate” and “can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes.”
Palin’s statement seems to betray a fundamental understanding about the nature of the vice president’s job. As regards the Senate, the vice president’s official role is to serve as presiding officer, although those duties are traditionally handled by the president pro temproe. Only in the event of a tie can the vice president cast a vote…
Well, sure. The Vice President can’t do that, but the President can because he’s, like, the boss and stuff and also one louder, and you would already know this if you had read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the Federalist Papers.
That’s right. All of them, Katie…

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Psychiatrists Deeply Concerned For 5% Of Americans Who Approve Of Congress

WASHINGTON—Noting that the individuals in question may be extremely mentally disturbed or suffering from a serious psychological illness, the nation’s psychiatrists announced Wednesday that they are deeply concerned for the estimated 5 percent of Americans who were found in nationwide polls this week to approve of the U.S. Congress. “With numerous members of Congress refusing to negotiate an end to the shutdown in the face of widespread federal furloughs and a looming deadline to avoid defaulting on government debt, we are extremely concerned for the mental health of those Americans who responded, ‘Yes, we think Congress is doing a good job,’” psychiatrist Dr. Donald Levin said in a press conference this morning, telling reporters that the estimated 15.5 million Americans who approve of Congress are likely “very troubled” citizens who may in fact be experiencing psychotic episodes or delusional thoughts. “We’re not entirely sure who these people are or where they come from—perhaps they are psych ward patients, or unstable recluses living in remote huts on the outskirts of society—but what we do know is that they are extremely disconnected from reality and in need of immediate attention if they are not already receiving it. We need to find these people and get them the help they need before their illnesses get worse.” Psychiatrists added that because a number of mental health services are currently furloughed, many respondents would just have to “sit tight and hang in there” until the shutdown is resolved.

NBC/WSJ Poll: GOP Approval Rating At All Time Low


The poll also found an increase in support for the Affordable Care Act with 38 percent of respondents approving of the law -- up from 31 percent in the same poll last month.
The GOP took a big hit over the shutdown. Americans blame Republicans over Obama for the shutdown by a 53-31 margin. Seventy percent said that Republicans were placing politics ahead of the country's best interest. Fifty-one percent said that Obama is putting his agenda above the country.
Gallup poll released Wednesday found that 28 percent of Americans view Republicans favorably, also an all-time low for that poll.
The NBC/WSJ poll surveyed 800 people Oct. 7-9 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.

Families of dead soldiers are casualties of Republicans unmoved by logic

WASHINGTON — The reality is now stranger than fiction.
President Obama on Tuesday gave us an Economics 101 primer by dumbing down the consequences of America not paying its bills. He did it because he must.

“Imagine in your private life, if you decided that I’m not going to pay my mortgage for a month or two,” he said. “You’re not saving money by not paying your mortgage. You’re a deadbeat.”
But Obama faces Republicans who think he, Wall Street, most economists and even China are crying wolf about not jacking up the nation’s borrowing limit by the Oct. 17 deadline.
It comes as 800,000 fuming federal workers are furloughed. Families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan are denied death benefits. World War II vets can’t get to the World War II Memorial. Little kids with cancer are denied treatment.
And you wonder why voter turnout keeps heading south? Or why approval ratings of Congress are worse than those of HMOs?

But at least we get some paltry benefit from HMOs. Imagine you’re the family of a fallen soldier just told you’re denied death benefits while the legislative circus plays out.
Nothing so simply crystallizes the complex absurdity than this atrocity: Families of five dead soldiers screwed out of what’s owed them.

While Congress fiddles, and each party plots its next photo op, the families burn with frustration, and the nation grows more disgusted.
As I sat 20 feet away from Obama in the White House briefing room, I saw a man straining to communicate the obvious over and over — and frustrated that he was so far falling short.

He can’t be surprised. An aggressively rational Harvard Law graduate confronts an enemy that dismisses compromise and is often not moved by facts, science and logic.
Hold on tight for the rest of this bumpy ride.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Exclusive Gyms For Members Of Congress Deemed ‘Essential,’ Remain Open During Shutdown


Head Start programs have been shuttered, small businesses can’t get loans and hundreds of thousands of federal government employees are furloughed. But the exclusive gyms available only to members of Congress have remained open throughout the shutdown.
A House aide confirmed to ThinkProgress that the House member’s gym is open. The House gym features a swimming pool, basketball courts, paddleball courts, a sauna, a steam room and flat screen TVs. While towel service is unavailable, taxpayers remain on the hook for cleaning and maintenance, which has been performed daily throughout the shutdown. There are also costs associated with the power required to heat the pools and keep the lights on.
According to the aide, the decision to keep the gym open — even while other critical government services were shelved — while made by the Architect of the Capitol, but was done with the direct involvement Speaker Boehner’s office. Meanwhile, the staff gym available to Congressional staff has been closed.
It appears that the members gym in the Senate remains open on similar terms. Yesterday, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) complained to a reporter from the Omaha World-Herald that the members gym was getting “rank.”
The daily operating cost of the House and Senate gyms remains shrouded in secrecy. The Architect of the Capitol, which oversees both gyms, has previously refused to provide information about the gyms for “security reasons.” A call to the Architect of the Captol for this story was not immediately returned.
Dozens of House members — including many members of the Tea Party who pushed the government into shutdown over demands to defund Obamacare — live in their offices to save money and use the House gym to shower.
An initial version of this piece incorrectly reported that the decision to keep the gym open was made by Speaker’s Boehner’s office. Actually, the decision was made by the Architect of the Capital. According to a House aide, the decision of the Architect of the Capitol was done with the direct involvement of Speaker Boehner’s office, however. In a phone call, a spokesman for Speaker Boehner, Michael Steel, would not answer direct questions about whether Speaker Boehner’s office recommended the decision or had any communications with the Architect of the Capitol on the matter.

Poll: US Congressional Approval at 5 Percent - 62% Blame Republicans For Shutdown

VOA News

A new poll indicates more Americans blame Republicans for the partial government shutdown than blame Democrats, while the approval rating for lawmakers is appallingly low.
A poll released Wednesday by the Associated Press and GfK shows some 62 percent of more than 1,000 people surveyed said Republicans are to blame for the government shutdown that began last Tuesday, while about half of the respondents said the Democrats or U.S. President Barack Obama bore the greater share of responsibility.
Approval for members of Congress was all the way down to 5 percent.
On Tuesday, as the country faces a deadline to raise the debt ceiling or default on its debts, President Obama tried to reassure the world that the United States has always paid its bills.
Obama told journalists on Tuesday that remarks from Congress indicating a debt default may not damage the world economic recovery make investors nervous. He called on Congress to hold a clean vote on raising the debt ceiling -- a vote with no other issues attached.
Obama also appealed to Congress to pass a clean spending bill and reopen the government.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner said he is disappointed the president is refusing to negotiate on the debt limit or a spending bill. He said this is not the American system of government.
Boehner said the debt limit has always been fair game for bargaining, and he said the United States cannot keep spending money it does not have.
The U.S. Treasury expects to exhaust its remaining borrowing capacity under the current $16.7 trillion limit by October 17.
The U.S. government shut down all but essential services on October 1 when Congress could not pass a funding bill. House Republicans insist on defunding the president's signature health care initiative. Hundreds of thousands of government workers are still furloughed and many important services remain unavailable.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Fox News mistakenly airs parody of Obama offering to personally fund Muslim museum


The federal government shut down has caused a headache for tourists wanting to visit national parks and museums. And one of the more high-profile stories this week concerned a group of World War II veterans who had to literally pass government tape to gain access to the World War II Memorial on the National Mall.

In a story about the monument closure, Fox News host Anna Kooiman fell prey to a false report from a parody site, which claimed that President Obama had offered to keep the International Museum of Muslim Cultures open with cash from his own pocket.

“The Republican National Committee is offering to pay for it to keep it open so that the veterans from Honor Flight are going to be able to go and see this because who did it honor? It honored them,” Kooiman said during a report on Friday. “It really doesn't seem fair, especially — and we're going to talk a little bit later in the show too about some things that are continuing to be funded. And President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the museum of Muslim culture out of his own pocket, yet it's the Republican National Committee who's paying for this.”
Kooiman was referencing a quote from the National Report, a parody news site that ran the fake story on Obama. The key quote from the story reads:
“The International Museum of Muslim Cultures is sacred. That is why I have taken it upon myself to use my own personal funds to re-open this historic piece of American culture.”
On one hand, Media Matters points out that the National Report removed a disclaimer it once posted on its site acknowledging that the material contained within was parody.
On the other hand, the National Report currently contains a set of “news” headlines such as “Jesus Christ boycotts Hobby Lobby,” and “Police barge into kindergarten classroom and taser multiple children ‘for the check of it.’”
But in the fast world of TV news, it’s most likely that a producer told Kooiman about the so-called news report, which then made it on air before anyone could confirm the report’s details.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Republican who voted to shut down government asks park ranger why part of government shut down


A Republican lawmaker who voted for a budget measure that set up the government shutdown confronted a park ranger to ask why a particular portion of the government was shut down.
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) asked the U.S. Park Service Ranger why she was keeping out most tourists from the World War II Memorial, although veterans have been permitted to go inside.
“How do you look at them and deny them access?” Neugebauer said, with an American flag tucked into his lapel pocket.
The ranger told Neugebauer, who voted Sunday with most House Republicans to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act while funding the federal government, that it was difficult to keep out tourists.
The congressman told the ranger it should be difficult, and he suggested Park Service employees should be ashamed of themselves.
“I’m not ashamed,” the ranger said, and a crowd of onlookers joined the confrontation.
“This woman is doing her job, just like me,” a bicyclist said. “I’m a 30-year federal veteran, (and) I’m out of work.”
Neugebauer blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for the shutdown, but the bicyclist said it was the government’s fault for not passing a budget.
Access to the memorial and other monuments in Washington, D.C., has become a political flashpoint after the government shut down Tuesday.
Two other House Republicans who voted for the budget measure rejected by the Senate, as promised, opened a barricade to the World War II Memorial to a group of veterans who’d arrived Tuesday morning as part of an Honor Flight visit.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) complained that House Republicans were trying to fund parts of the government they liked, such as the memorial, through smaller bills instead of voting on a comprehensive package that didn’t include a provision on Obamacare.
“They took hostages by shutting down the government,” Pelosi said. “Now they’re releasing one hostage at a time.”
The conservative Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request related to the order to close the memorial, and the Republican National Committee chairman offered to cover costs to keep the memorial open.
A White House spokesman said Tuesday that the Interior Department would permit World War II veterans inside the memorial grounds, and an Honor Flight spokesman said the park service had “bent over backward” to accommodate them..................

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

No reasoning with GOP on government shutdown

On the first full day of the government shutdown, Rush Limbaugh, the one true leader of the Republican Party, took to his “golden microphone” to declare that bringing hundreds of federal agencies to a screeching halt, threatening the economy with the loss of $300 million a day in lost revenue, and cashiering 800,000 federal employees was not so bad. Why? Because in Rush’s words, “Barack Obama’s base” will be having a “fine day” because they’ll still get their “welfare checks.”
If you want to understand why we are where we are, that’s all you need to know.
Despite all the pundits, political consultants and even some elected Republicans, who see the government shutdown as a disaster of epic proportions for the GOP, House Republicans have no incentive to care. In fact, they only have to listen to one person: Sen. Ted Cruz, because Cruz, a kind of Joe McCarthy-meets-Father Coughlin figure, is channeling a political base Rush and his ilk have been prepping for more than 30 years to be exactly as they are. What are they?
Immune to the results of elections, for one thing, in part because they simply don’t believe the results they don’t like. In the districts where the Archie Bunker bulwark of the Republican Party lives, Barack Obama lost both the 2008 and 2012 elections in a landslide. Nobody they know voted for him. And the people they bowl and watch college football and have backyard barbecues with hate the guy, and believe just like they do that he’s a Kenyan Marxist who stole the White House using a horde of fraudulent voters who in reality are a bunch of criminal “illegals.”
They also reject the concept of majority rule, living instead by the rules of the post-Reconstruction South, where nullification of federal law is just another way of saying “stand and fight for your values.” And they’re frustrated with a Republican political class in Washington who they believe has sold out and buckled to Democrats (and the media) for far too long.
Consider that three polls this week — a CNBC-All America Economic Survey, a USA Today/Pew Research poll and a Quinnipiac poll — found that just 19, 22 and 23 percent of respondents, respectively, believe Republicans should shut down the government in order to derail the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The latter number is the percentage of the 53 percent of respondents who oppose “Obamacare,” meaning that the House GOP is operating at the behest of a super-minority.
But for the 30-80 hardliners currently in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, where they’re holding not just the U.S. economy hostage, but also their own speaker, those numbers are meaningless. At best, they see them as “skewed” polls designed to trick conservatives into caving to Obama’s ruse of letting poor and working-class people purchase health insurance at a federally backed discount, which, of course, will destroy freedom itself.
Rush has spent a radio lifetime feeding this base of mostly older, Southern or rural Americans, a steady diet of victimhood. Many of them broadly resent the scope of societal change that has taken place since the 1960s, when to their way of thinking, a slew of unearned benefits went to the blacks, the browns, the “lazy” poor, and overly “liberated” women, all at their expense.
Their radio guru, whose grandiose style and over-the-top pomposity Cruz mimics, though in a higher vocal register, has given meat-and-potatoes conservatives a language of defiance. They don’t have to back down in the face of an elitist media or a national electorate that rejects their ideas, their preferred presidential candidates, their religious values and their yearning for a more “traditional” America.
They have Fox News and Rush and Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin to tell them all they need to know about “the news.” And their experts at the Heritage Foundation — refashioned by GOP primary-boss Jim DeMint from a think tank into a talk radio meme factory, tell them the shutdown, or even a breach of the debt ceiling, is no big deal, if you’re a real, hardworking American and not a welfare queen.
They don’t need any of you. They have their convictions (and their government Medicare, tax breaks and FHA loans, but who’s counting). And their politicians will blow the whole damned government to smithereens if they have to, in order to give them their country back, untainted by Obama and his scheme to give undeserving inferiors the health benefits the same God who gave El Rushbo his golden microphone meant for them alone.