July 27, 2017

Insurers get self-righteous on #Trumpcare vs #Obamacare

The likes of Blue Cross / Blue Shield, Delta, Cigna, etc., are making me vomit in their mouths over Mitch McConnell's ongoing attempt to repeal Obamacare, whether "repeal and replace" or "repeal now, replace later" or simply "replace."

The "statement" by the Blues shows why.

Self-righteousness over a veneer of hypocrisy usually gets under my skin.

They're really committed to insuring those with pre-existing conditions because Obamacare requires it, while giving them money to do so. Pre-Obamacare, they told people with pre-existing conditions to fuck off and die just like most Senate Republicans want to do right now.

A system that doesn't require people to PURCHASE coverage is what's truly needed, of course, but what we will never get supported by these folks.

I'd be fine, per my call-out for at least a partial version of a British-style NHS, if the Blues et al still had some modicum of existence selling the equivalent of Medigap plans to those under 65. They could otherwise disappear.

As for their employees finding future employment under such a change, well, maybe they'd start supporting a guaranteed basic income or universal income.

Remember, folks, often, the enemy of my enemy is NOT my friend, but just a temporary ally of convenience. Accept the Blues' help on fighting Trumpcare.

But stop settling for Obamacare.

Vote Green. Vote SPUSA. Stop voting Democrat. Stop being a sucker for neoliberals who wanted to reward bloodsucking leeches by giving them more reward money. You know, like Cory Booker, a B-grade neoliberal on the Democratic neoliberal second team. A shadow Obama. An even bigger shill for Big Pharma.

Remember, national health care would transform the whole employment world, too. You wouldn't be chained to a crappy boss. You could work part time if you didn't have to work a minimum number of hours for  health insurance. You could freelance. Etc., etc.

That's why American neoliberals hate single-payer. And why they despise something like a British National Health System.

July 25, 2017

The death of the death of #Obamacare? (newly updated)

The Turtle loses a round
A week ago, that seemed to be the case.

The House, after one failure, narrowly passed its version of Trumpcare late this spring.

Then, on to the Senate.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell figured he could use reconciliation rules to get a simple majority to pass something.

Wrong.

Hardcore faux libertarian Rand Paul and moderate (for the GOP, it's still relative) Susan Collins both said they couldn't vote for the Turtle's soup. Pretty soon others, like Rob Portman, Shelley Moore Capito and even Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas, along with Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, started raising more stinks.

So the Turtle did a crab crawl.

He then came out with the Turtle Two-Step of "repeal now, replace later."

But that is also now dead.

Selected members of the aforementioned specifically said they refused to buy a pig, or a turtle, in a poke. Surely others felt the same way.

Meanwhile, Donald Duck, the Trumpcare original snake-oil peddler, pulled the floor out from under the Turtle with a "let Obamacare fail" tack.

But, that still didn't stop the Turtle.

And the Turtle still wants to do something. He scheduled ANOTHER vote this week, even though people as high ranking as Senate No. 2 John Cornyn claim they still don't know what they're going to vote on. Per John Thune at the last link, it sounds like that's deliberate. Basically, it sounds like the Senate will be asked to give the Turtle a blank check.

And the Turtle is peddling a blank check because there's cheating like hell on Senate reconciliation rules on his omnibus pig in a poke. Parts of the cheat the Senate parliamentarian ruled out of bounds included an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood and an attempt to let insurers peddle Ted Cruz-style junk policies.

Collins and Murkowski were the only two GOPers to refuse to buy the first half of the pig-in-a-poke; the Senate voted 50-50 to approve a motion to debate the actual, still-unidentified, pig-in-a-poke, with Vice President Mike Pence then breaking the tie.

That said, Capito and others "rallied" to help put a marker on the Turtle's actual bill. The vote to override the parliamentarian and let Mitch go full-speed with selling the pig-in-a-poke died 43-57.

And, July 26, the new attempt at "repeal now, replace later" also failed. That also was by 43-57; per the NYT live vote tracker, "partial repeal and replace" failed 45-55.

But, knowing the zombie-like antics of McConnell, who, like John Randolph of Roanoke's description of President Martin Van Buren, "rows to his object with muffled oars," I still wouldn't call Trumpcare dead.

Indeed, the live vote tracker says an allegedly, and I don't think that word can be stressed enough, final vote, is scheduled for later this week.

It's like McConnell is trying half a dozen options, seeing which loses by the smallest margin, with plans of then trying to force that one option down recalcitrant senators' throats.

==

Of course, half the "fun" of this, in the earlier fails especially, was real fun — watching the GOP fallout. Until the latest news.

(The other half isn't so fun — it means being stuck with a semi-crappy Obamacare rather than the somewhat better option of a truly improved O-care, let alone single payer. Anyway, I digress.)

First up, sotto voce but getting louder, will be intra-Senate sniping. I'm sure that will only increase after the July 25 fail.

House-Senate GOP friendly fire will come next, with strongly conservative, but not quite Tea Party, House GOPers, not appreciative of being hung out to dry.

After that, since we're only halfway through 2017, will come threats or actualities of tea partiers primarying senators.

However, there's just one problem for the tea sippers.

None of the above senators is up for re-election in 2018.

But, most of them ARE hypocrites, given their 2015 vote for a repeal now, replace later bill. Collins is the one exception.

And, even if THIS does fail?

Don't declare Obamacare magically resurrected.

Moran still wants to replace it.

That said, he wants an actually open Senate process. And it seems clear that he wants nothing to do with Havana Ted Cruz's junk-bonds level insurance offerings as part of that.

There is little way, though, that a truly improved Obamacare would come out of that. Senate Dems wouldn't play ball without further wheelings, and while the Turtle isn't that much of an ideologue, he might not play ball.

TX Progressives take a stab at the latest news

The Texas Progressive Alliance is dancing like nobody's watching them delete their old tweets as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff notes the two Democratic candidates who have emerged so far to run for Governor.

SocraticGadfly looks at Mitch the Turtle's ongoing Senate manueverings on Trumpcare.

Texas Democrats who can't support Tom Wakely for governor may be stuck with having to draft Joe Straus, according to PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes that Texas Republicans are all about encouraging polluters and not about the health and well being of people.

Neil at All People Have Value promoted the half year mark of the weekly protest at the Houston office of terrible Senator John Cornyn. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Stace at Dos Centavos  does a follow-up on Harris County’s stance on SB4.

Jobanger wonders if state, nation, or territory is the best answer for Puerto Rico.

John Coby marvels at the new open carry for knives law.

================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Houston Justice Coalition is back and ready to get to work building up and not tearing down.

Robert Rivard calls the bathroom bill a choice between social justice and discrimination.

John Coby marvels at the new open carry for knives law.

The Texas Election Law Blog flags a Rick Hasen editorial about the perils to our democracy.

Fort Bend ISD school board President Kristin Tassin explains how Greg Abbott's voucher plan hurts kids with disabilities.

Keith Babberney speaks for the trees.

Texas Vox is stumped by Abbott's anti-tree agenda.


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Better Texas Blog reminds us that the state relies an awful lot on local property taxes to fund our schools.

R.G. Ratcliffe notes Gov. Abbott's new million-dollar donor.

July 24, 2017

The Green Party craps its national pants

Friend Brains has promised something on this year's national convention of the Green Party, but I've already seen enough to post something now.

We've actually had two different but, with exquisite timing, somewhat intersectional (I see what I did there) pants-crappings.

The first is over the ongoing role and powers of AccommoGreen-in-Chief David Cobb. That, in turn, has gotten tied up with Counterpunch giving him repeated paddlings over his willingness to partner up or whatever with Caitlin Johnstone, 9/11 truther, alt-right fellow traveler and other things.

Joshua Frank has led the recent charge against both of them at Counterpunch. It was a follow-up to this one by Yoav Litman.

I blame Cobb to a fair degree for the relative poverty of Jill Stein's showing last November. Yes, the Libertarian Party nationally is more popular, relatively, than the Greens. But, Stein shouldn't have finished with just one-third the vote of addled pseudo-Libertarian Gary Johnson.

I blame him to some degree for her open endorsement of Bernie Sanders in the California Democratic primary, followed by her offer to step aside for him as the Green presidential nominee — an offer she then claimed wasn't exactly that. Both of these actions were WAY outside the bounds of the Green Party acting as an independent political party. That said, for AccommoGreens like Cobb, being an independent third party trails behind being a social movement that will hopefully nudge Democrats a step or so left.

(Oh, and yes, on Johnstone. Frank's got links documenting both that she's an alt-right fellow traveler, even if only tangentially, and worse yet from my POV, a 9/11 truther. That said, the Green Party has more of those than it does antivaxxers, from what I can tell.)

Frank et al were wrong, though, IMO, not to let Cobb/Johnstone have one shot to respond on-site rather than elsewhere. Let them have their one best shot before cutting them off.

OTOH, Counterpunch publisher Jeff St. Clair still has a quasi-hatred of the GP, I think. He's still butt-hurt over Ralph Nader not being renominated in 2004.

Two things happened after Nader's relatively successful 2000 campaign.

One is that the GP decided it wanted to run a "safe states" strategy in 2004. I halfway disagreed then and totally disagree now. But, it was a party decision, just like British Labour decided to oppose Brexit, only to see Jeremy Corbin mumble in his beard. (That's one reason I remain less than a total fan of Corbin.)

The other was that, in line with post-2000 actual and potential growth, the GP decided to go to a formal caucus and convention presidential nominating process. Yes, some state GPs (are you listening in Ohio, Bob Fitrakis? and whoever should be in California?) were then, and are still today, the equivalent of British parliamentary rotten boroughs or pocket boroughs from 200 years ago.

No matter. It was an organizational step forward.

And Nader wouldn't jump through the hoops.

St. Clair also ignores Nader's defense funds in 2000, like Stein's in 2012 and 2016, holding oil and defense stock portfolios.

Anyway, that's why 2004 GP presidential nominee David Cobb will never be allowed to write an article in Counterpunch.

On the third hand, in his response, Cobb was too stupid to separate himself from Johnstone. So, he kind of deserves to get crapped on.

===

That said, that first pants-crapping didn't actually happen at the convention.

What did, but what got tied up with the first, was no African-Americans getting elected to the party's national steering committee.

Yes, the GP is largely white — not as white as the GOP but more white than the Democrats.

Here's a take by a black member of the Louisiana Green Party who was at the national meeting. Sounds simple, right? Blacks were shut out and the party has a long way to go. After all, that's part of what happened at the Texas state convention, discussed by me in this post, and it also seems a sidebar issue per KPFA radio in Houston, per Brains, with his initial discussion at this post, and follow-up at this one.

Not so fast, says Bruce Dixon.

Bruce, the editor of the Black Agenda Report, has several problems with this spin.

First, he sees at least a small degree of tokenism.

Next, Dixon said neither the candidates themselves nor the Green's Black Caucus (of which the Louisianan above is a member) campaigned enough.

Third, he notes that Greens need to reach outside traditional black bases where most black Democrats come from. He rightly, as Greens are generally more "frou-frou" religiously (setting aside the secularists) than Democrats, let alone black Americans of any party, notes that the black church is definitely NOT a place to look.

Yes, this makes it harder. Bernie Sanders found that out within the Democrats; that's a primary reason he, a secular Jew, didn't get more black votes.

But, admitting it's difficult doesn't erase away reality.

Next, Dixon notes that the Greens are not a dues-paying party, and wonders how deep of roots some of the black steering committee candidates have or had. (Dixon, along with 2016 Green VP Ajamu Baraka, are big pushers of the dues-paying model.)

Finally, Bruce, as a member of the Georgia GP, has had a run-in or two with race issues there already. He's not blind on that issue. But, he's right on this:
There absolutely should be a black caucus in the Green party. But caucuses shouldn’t get automatic votes on the national committee or the steering committee. Those bodies should be elected by state parties instead of being anti-democratic phantom organizations responsible to nobody in particular. … 
 Liberalism offers easy answers to the problem of recruiting token blacks to leadership. But the black leaders you get that way are opportunists, who can only win followings by deception, by manipulation of the unwary and by the laziness or inattention of others responsible for the institution and the mission of the party. That mission is to struggle for power, and to build a movement of movements against capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy and endless war. There are no shortcuts.
There you are.

I don't know if Dixon is right, re the first paragraph of the pull quote and earlier up in his piece, about the black steering committee candidates being newbie Greens. But, it's possible. And, even if not, that doesn't negate his other worries.

The intersectionality? Or simply the good old-fashioned intersecting? Here, per Counterpunch. Andrea Mérida Cuéllar, a Colorado Green who's battled racism in the national party, got used by Cobb and Stein as a pawn in the steering committee battle. Well, not totally a pawn. It was Cuéllar who led objections to no blacks being elected. After that, she became a tool in the Cobb-Stein fire, more than a pawn.

Other Greens are shocked over Dixon's "white liberal guilt." There, I agree more than I disagree, and I note that left-liberals to leftists both black (Adolph Reed) and white (Doug Henwood) have talked about this in detail for years.)

Hey, white liberal greens? I think there's something to this. And, it's OK to drop your own attachment to it, to purity test ideas behind it and more.

I don't totally agree with Dixon, Reed or Henwood about this; even less do I agree with their claims that racism always reduces to classism. Henwood disliked my specific counterexamples, and follow-up. enough that he blocked me on Twitter.

But, a certain amount of the time, a specific race issue DOES reduce to class. Other times, like with Jim Crow in the South, it doesn't do so, but class can still in a case like that exacerbate and extend the racism.

For more on this issue, and the possible "tokenism" of which Dixon hints, I suggest some Greens (and some SJWs) need to read up on Frantz Fanon. More on Fanon at this blog post of mine.

Now, about a related issue: Privilege.

Do I deny it exists? No.

Is it always race-based, though? No.

It's sometimes class-based. Or sex-based. Or sexual orientation based. Or religion-based (versus atheists).

Barack Obama, a rich African-American with enough money from his grandparents to go to a private high school, then Occidental College before Harvard, has more privilege than I do.

===

Overall, I'm with Bruce more than I'm against him. I've seen some of this myself. But, from my bits and pieces so far of investigating left alternatives, I don't think the situation is any better at the Socialist Party USA. At least on this particular issue. But 2016 SPUSA presidential candidate Mimi Soltysik promised the party would get better on GMOs.

Besides Green and Green-leaning 9/11 Truthers, I've seen other Greens who continue to insist Stein's recounts last year were totally non-partisan and neutral, rather than designed to help Hillary Clinton. And, again, who was her recount manager as well as her campaign manager?

David Cobb.

David Fricking Cobb.

At least the SPUSA doesn't have AccommoSocialists. Those would be ... Berniecrats at best, who are enough of a plague on the Green Party.

This first pants-crapping has been a long time coming. Setting aside the St. Clair animus, the Green Party needs to be the Green Party, not a Green equivalent of the Democratic Socialists of America.

July 21, 2017

Kyrie is butt-hurt, LeBron is WTF and Ainge is salivating

Kyrie Irving
OK, here's the verschnizzle on all that.

In case you haven't heard, Kyrie Irving says he wants the Cleveland Cavaliers to trade him because he doesn't want to play wingman to LeBron James any more. Yeah, jaw drop. One ring and two other Finals trips will do that, I guess?

Sidebar: Well, maybe you DON'T have a superteam, LeBron.

Irving mentioned the Spurs, the Knicks, the T-Wolves and the Heat.

Let's look at a couple, while noting I'm not sure how easy the salary cap matches would be for each one.

Carmelo Anthony
The Knicks? Shit, Carmelo Anthony has to have a salary near enough. Yeah, sounds like Kyrie could be a bit of a headache, but if I have the chance to put him beside The Unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis, I do it. Or maybe Melo goes to the Rockets or otherwise becomes part of a three-team trade. Hmm.

And, my guess, at least on a potential deal is right, with the third team reportedly the Suns.

The Spurs? Pops likes defense. Kyrie doesn't. And, just as Kawhi Leonard is making that his team, Kyrie would have to accept playing second banana to him. And, who do you trade for him? An ill-fitting LaMarcus Aldridge, re the salary cap?

The Timberwolves? Tom Thibodeau definitely likes defense. He'd have to play about fifth banana to Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson.

The Heat? Pat Riley would move heaven and earth to make that happen. And, it probably could. Stay tuned. Goran Dragic would be a near fit on cap. If Cleveland owner/meddler Dan Gilbert could be placated with a draft choice or something as well ... that could be a trade.

Any snark aside, Knicks, Heat, Spurs, T-Wolves, in order, are my guesses of trade likelihoods. And now, Red Satan reviews some of the trade possibilities. ESPN also goes further down the road of "Is Kyrie 'all that,' and if not, what is he?"

If you believe advanced defensive metrics and other things, he is NOT all that. In turn, that may affect how much smarter teams will pay for him. The Knicks aren't "smarter teams," but the other three on Irving's top-four list definitely are.

Back in Cleveland ...

LeBron James
LeBron was blindsided and disappointed. And he's keeping hands off. Kevin Love is reportedly pretending to chill.

And, if he wasn't sure about going to the Lakers next year, as rumored, well this will probably increase that incentive.

Even if the Cavs hold on to Irving rather than trading him, that's an icy clubhouse in months ahead.

Now, to Beantown.

GM Danny Ainge, just having landed Gordon Hayward as a free agent, and still having stockpiled draft choices, is salivating at a gutted Cavs team.

He's just going to salivate, while trying to be patient at the same time.

Who is Alan Smithee, aka Actual Flatticus?

There are many Alan Smithee characters on Twitter, all riffing on the origin of the name, but only one who is Actual Flatticus by sign-in.

He was a Twitter friend of mine. Very thought provoking and usually very, very sharp on issues of campaign finance, both soft money and dark money.

He likes to tell people never to believe what he says, but check it out for themselves.

Unfortunately, that's a schtick with him, not reality.

We got in a long argument over Jane Sanders' ongoing federal investigation, and he blocked me.

That was after a shorter argument about whether or not the Emoluments Clause applies to presidents. It does, contra his claims, as I document in detail.

And, it goes along with me not calling him out for a link that he used to demean Democracy Now's Amy Goodman as a money-grubber who allegedly made $1 million a year when her show was spun off from Pacifica. It may or may not be correct; in any case, per The Nation, her pay and sidebar moneys were mutually negotiated. Also, the source is biased, having previously sued WBAI.

And, the source has HUGE other problems. As in, it's from a website anti-semitic enough to believe The Protocols of The Elders of Zion are "real," and conspiracy-thinking enough to believe in chemtrails, the New World Order, the Illuminati and all sorts of other shit.

Who is Smithee, in more detail?

Some further speculation:

Probably Smithee was involved with the Democratic party at one time, as a precinct captain. Maybe even to the level of county committeeman in a decent-sized county. Maybe a delegate to a state convention.

Like Brains, he got burned, disgusted and burned out at some point. But acted differently. Rather than look to vote Green, or other third parties, when available, not voting is his preference.

He hates journalists in general. Black-and-white thinker on this, as on several other things.

He can’t stand Jill Stein, for whatever reason. Rather than pick something truly nutty, like her sexist Mother’s Day comment, rather, in my time w/him on Twitter, he picked on her idealism, saying she “declared war” on Saudi Arabia as his reference to her quite reasonable call for an embargo on arms sales to KSA.

But, that may be driven by something else. I think he’s got some background sexism, at least when it comes to argumentation. I think he likes to argue more with women than with men, likes beating them even more than men. I do not think this parlays into sexism against HRC as a presidential candidate.

I don’t think he’s a troll per se. That said, for him, every problem is not a nail, but a rock needing to be crushed by a sledgehammer. And ultimately, he leaves the feeling of a dull, throbbing toothache. I think he does know better, but this has been his modus operandi so long he doesn’t care. Related to this, it’s not just Stein. He doesn’t like the Green Party in general for whatever reason, as noted above. He doesn't hate it, but from what he's discussed of his past voting record, he refused third-party voting.

That said, again, he doesn’t like to be proven wrong, when he can be proven wrong, despite his calls for people to check out everything he says. Another way of putting this is “he’s got a mind like a steel trap” … and … no, it’s not rusted shut, per an old MASH joke. Rather, it’s a double spring-loaded, or pre-programmed, trap, or something like that.

Based on his citing Educate-Yourself (the link above), and other people referring to Amy Goodman’s alleged $1 million pay as a reason she’s a co-conspirator on suppressing so-called 9/11 “truth,” I wonder if he’s a conspiracy theorist. The reality on Goodman is that the parting from Pacifica was mutual, mutually agreed and mutually acceptable, per this Nation profile.  The Educate Yourself piece Flatticus used is also a flat-out lie to claim that her salary is tax-free. NOBODY’s salary is tax free. They may take all sorts of deductions, but it’s NOT “tax free.” 

Do I hate him? No, not at all.

I find it kind of sad that he can't or won't practice what he preaches on the verification issue.

And, so, I think others on Twitter need to be warned about him.

July 20, 2017

Early Texas gov's race rumblings (updated)

Gov. Strangeabbott has, of course, already declared for re-election.

Part of me wonders if he made this official announcement this early was to scare off Danny Goeb from considering a maverick move from Lite Guv to Guv. And no, that wouldn't have surprised me in the least if that were on Danny Boy's mind. (State political analyst Harold Cook agrees on that.)

Few new thoughts via Brains, in two separate posts.

In the first, he speculates about Speaker of the House Joe Straus running for guv as an independent.

Interesting indeed. And, given the flap over the bathroom bill, Texas big biz would pony up campaign cash, and Abbott threats of enemy-listing would be futile.

Two questions — would he consider it and could he win?

The "consider" issue is predicated in part on him possibly being burned out on resisting the Tea Party wingnuts during his five terns as speaker, and while conscientious — which his "no suicides" comment to Goeb about the bathroom bill indicates he is — finally getting tired.

That said he could run and have a non-Mucus (Michael Q. Sullivan) replacement discussed with other Straus Republicans in the House plus Democrats.

The could he win?

Hoo boy. That big biz cash would have to pony up for a GOTV drive of massive proportions as well as lots of advertising. However, big biz in Texas with big office space could find him plenty of campaign events to address.

The second post? One Democrat who's in but not in, and one Democrat (for now) who's definitely in.

Let's take the second of those candidates first.

Tom Wakely certainly talks the right talk about what's wrong with today's Texas Democratic Party. Indeed, he talks enough social justice and environmentalism that I'm with Brains — he could run as a Green if he tires of chasing the Dem brass ring.

Brains thinks something like that, created by TDP cold shoulders, if not outright kicks from Gilberto Hinojosa and minions, could well happen. Wouldn't surprise me. Wakely has at least indicated he'd be open to an independent run of his own.

A Green run would be better. But, that's yet more reason for Texas Greens not to opt out of trying to regain ballot access next year.

(Per Brains' comment, I Tweeted Wakely to consider the idea, and cc-ed the Texas Green Party's account.)

The second candidate? Or quasi-candidate? Jeffrey Payne has basically announced that he'll make an announcement. No previous campaign experience, unlike Wakely, who sought Lamar Smith's House seat last year.

He checks the special interest tag as a gay candidate. He checks the rich conservative wing of the Democrats tag as a businessman citing his business experience. Of course, the Dallas Voice once did a boatload of spinning for eventual felon Joey Dauben.

Yet more about Payne here. Hmm. Hinojosa et al might run more scared from his candidacy than from Wakely's.

Update, July 22: We may have a third candidate. Reportedly, Mike Collier, who already announced for Lite Guv, will either move down to comptroller or up to the guv's race to clear space for former state legiscritter Allen Vaught to run for No. 2.

Collier's got the Dem establishment's seal of approval already. If he does move up, Wakely needs to — and probably will — think harder about his options and plans.