Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Morning Potpourri

Booman has a Casual Observation
Maybe it's true that we're at fault and that Obama hasn't changed while the public has. But he hasn't adjusted. And I think he needs to. Trust in government is at an all-time low at a time when Obama is trying to get government to do really big things. He's needs to incorporate messaging that suits 2010, not 2008. I think the answer is more of a populist touch.
Atrios: Have Fun Arizona
The only way for them to avoid endless civil rights law suits is if the cops harass large numbers of white people too. Enjoy!
Arizona embraces profiling April 23: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson talks with Rachel Maddow about his concerns about how Arizona's new immigration law will be applied to people of Hispanic appearance.

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mistermix: Costosa y Dolorosa

Here’s an interesting clause in the Keeping Brown Down Act of 2010:

Disallows officials or agencies of the state or political subdivisions from adopting or implementing policies that limit immigration enforcement to less than the full extent permitted by federal law, and allows a person to bring an action in superior court to challenge an official or agency that does so.

In other words, any Minuteman who doesn’t see enough cops stopping Mexicans in his town can file a lawsuit. If they win, the judge is mandated to award the militia member costs and attorney fees, and assess the town a $1,000 to $5,000 fine per day between the time the lawsuit was filed and the court ruling.

Between this and the inevitable civil rights lawsuits, every little town in Arizona will either have to raise taxes or declare bankruptcy. Since the former is politically impossible, expect to see bucket brigades and volunteer posses replacing fire and police departments. It’ll be a glibertarian paradise!

"Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black" - Tim Wise
Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure - the ones who are driving the action - we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, ...
... the rest is at the link.
Marshall: Don't Say You Weren't Warned
For your weekend enjoyment, take a look inside the battle against forced-microchip implantation in state legislatures around the country.
Aravosis: Gingrich is off his meds again
I find Gingrich a rad sad and tragic character. He's always struck me as an incredibly intelligent man. Bordering on brilliant. But he's also somewhat nuts. He's the breed of Republican that throws around words like "socialist" when talking about the US, rather than the Soviet Union or France. And to Americans, when they say socialist, they mean communist - Soviet communist to be precise. And talking about anything in America, any mainstream politician or political party as being akin to the Soviet Union, is delusional.

It's why I find Gingrich, and the branch of Republicanism he represents, such a conundrum. I've met some very nice, intelligent Republicans who actually believe that Obama has Maoists in his Cabinet. That's simply insane. And it's troubling, since these are people with half a brain who work in Washington. People like Gingrich. They're the modern children of McCarthyism. And it's hard to know how to deal with them, how to even react, because, at their core, they're all a little nuts.

I remember in a Shakespeare class my senior year of college the professor asked us if we could understand Lear's madness. None of us could. She explained the conundrum. If you're sane, it's impossible to understand madness.

And that's all well and good. But Gingrich is the putative leader of the Republican party, along with three other mad ducks, Palin, Limbaugh and Beck. None of the four are in possession of a full Happy Meal. And if all goes wrong, they could be running the country.
Marshall: Caput?
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says he's pulling his support for a bipartisan climate bill -- seemingly killing its chances in this Congress -- because, he says, President Obama has abandoned climate legislation in favor of immigration reform.
Booman: Lindsey Graham Pulls the Climate Football Away
No one could have predicted that Lindsey Graham would play Lucy to John Kerry's Charlie Brown.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) abandoned his effort to push a climate and energy bill Saturday, saying he would continue only if Democratic leaders promise to relinquish plans to bring up immigration legislation first.

Graham's departure likely dooms any chance of passing a climate bill this year. He is the sole Republican working with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) on a compromise proposal that they had planned to unveil Monday.

I have no idea whether or not Sen. Graham will make good on his threat, but it doesn't pay to trust John McCain's best buddy when you're trying to get some bipartisanship. Either climate change is important or its not. Withholding support for a climate bill because of the order in which it is prioritized doesn't even make a modicum of sense.

Sue "Chicken for Checkups" Lowden clearly didn't have a very good week. The Republican Senate hopeful became something of a national laughingstock with her livestock-centered approach to health care delivery. "Let's change the system and talk about what the possibilities are. I'm telling you that this works," Lowden said on Monday. "You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say I'll paint your house.... Doctors are very sympathetic people. I'm not backing down from that system."

Democrats are anxious to keep this story alive as long as possible, and they're having some success. Nevada Dems, for example, held a protest yesterday outside Lowden's campaign office in Reno. It came just hours after some very clever folks launched a new website: "The Lowden Plan, a simple health care plan anyone with a few thousand live chickens can use." There's a very helpful Lowden Plan Medical Chicken Calculator on the site.

But as entertaining as this is, there's a related policy observation that shouldn't go overlooked. Paul Krugman explained late yesterday:

Sure, it's funny to see a 21st-century political candidate pining for the days of a barter economy. But [Lowden's] remarks would have been breathtakingly ignorant even if she had called for payments in cash.

The key fact about health care -- the central issue in health care economics -- is that it's all about the big-ticket items. Checkups don't cost much; neither does the treatment of minor illnesses. The money that matters goes to bypasses and dialysis -- costs that are highly unpredictable, and that almost nobody can afford to pay out of pocket. Modern health care, if it's going to be provided at all, has to be paid for mainly out of insurance.

Conservatives don't like this; if few of them propose paying in chickens, there is nonetheless a constant refrain of calls for making the market for health care more like the market for bread, with consumers paying out of medical accounts and engaging in comparison shopping.

Why this preference for cash? Because even conservatives know in their hearts that insurance markets are deeply imperfect, which means that standard free-market arguments become very weak once insurers are involved. And so they pretend that we don't really need all that insurance.

It's been lost in the shuffle, but Krugman's description of the GOP line is absolutely right. Indeed, as Lowden became a national punch-line, the Nevada Republican Party predicated its defense of the Senate candidate on exactly this point: Lowden's over-arching concern is that Americans rely on health insurance to help cover medical bills, and that's a bad thing.

Nevada GOP communications director Ciara Turns told Eric Kleefeld the other day, "[Lowden] was clearly trying to make the point that if we moved away from an insurance-based system and more people started paying cash for their health care, then prices would come down. But [Democrats] don't want to address that ... because it's a legitimate point that they can't argue."

Now, looking specifically at the plain wording of Lowden's argument, she was specifically (and repeatedly) talking up the notion of bartering, not bargaining. Turns' interpretation is generous, to put it mildly.

But even if we accept the defense at face value, as Krugman explained, the underlying policy dispute is hardly any better for Lowden and the Nevada GOP.


  1. Here's another little wrinkle to Arizona's situation. We've got a special ballot election coming up, which includes Prop 100.

    Prop 100 raises the sales tax by 1%, which is expected to raise revenue by about $1 billion, and Arizona needs it. As Governor Brewer puts it:
    "If we don't get additional revenue in 2011, it will be a disaster. 2012 will be a major catastrophe.",_Proposition_100_(2010)

    So we're already up to our necks in hot water.

    Before Friday, I was all about voting yes on 100.

    Now, though, I'm thinking that if Arizona is going to waste my tax dollars on kicking out Juan the gardener, then fuck 'em. They're not getting any more of my tax dollars.