Monday, December 30, 2013

Yes, there's an NSA spying scandal--it's just not the one everyone's talking about

The far Left and the far Right are full of paranoid antigovernment zealots who think Snowden is a hero for revealing the gummint's evil plot to spy on us all. But it wasn't and isn't, as a less paranoid court recently adjudicated (on this case's way to the Supreme Court).

The real scandal is how the National Security Agency let someone--not even an employee, but an outside contractor--steal a boatload of Top Secrets. That reveals a kind of incompetence that's truly scary. Heads should roll when we find out how this happened.

Of course the Republicans don't care whether our security apparatus works well or not--only whether they can lay their hands on a lever that can get them back into the White House.

As for Snowden--he isn't a whistleblower. A whistleblower is a member of an institution who comes to believe that the institution he belongs to does bad things in the dark that conflict with the things it says in public.

Snowden has stated that he sought the position he held in order to steal secrets from the NSA and reveal them. That makes him a spy in doing so--and remember, someone can be a spy for money or for ideology. They're a spy either way.

And then he revealed things about American spying activities that damaged our national interests. Since Snowden is an American citizen, that makes him a traitor. And now he's promising to reveal further secrets about America in exchange for residency and protection in another country.

It is true that whistleblowers are frequently punished severely for their actions. That's unjust and corrupt, but it isn't germane to Snowden.

The question for those inclined to treat Snowden as a hero is whether they're taking into account the damage he did the nation in the course of making his revelations.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What Republicans hear when you say "Obamacare"

The Republican Party didn't rename the ACA "Obamacare" for nothing. The change sounds harmless enough to liberals and moderates--and even moderate, unbiased urban conservatives--because they have no idea how the change plays to the GOP's undereducated, aging, white, male-dominated, fundamentally Southern base.

What they hear when you say "Obamacare" is "Negrocare:"  a law enabling the Negro president of the Negro-loving government to steal money from whites and give it to Negroes by the same federal government that once started the "war of Northern aggression" against the Confederacy.

And yes, many older white Southerners still refer to the Civil War as the "War of Northern aggression." As the patriarch of America's most popular reality show articulated when he said blacks were perfectly happy under Southern white rule.

America's urbanites cannot grasp how much rural older white Americans hate Obama for being black, and hate him even more for being educated and, as presidents go, rather aloof. That makes him an Uppity Negro in their eyes, and that grinds their grits.

Also, "Obamacare" personalizes it. It lets such people reject the ACA because they reject the man, instead of forcing them to confront what they could possibly object to in provisions like not letting insurance companies dump you on any flimsy pretext if you get really sick and thus start to cut into their profits.

Or the fact that any kind of insurance only works if the pool is big enough. That's why every driver is required to have liability insurance. The mandatory requirement is, in fact, a Republican idea formulated by the conservative Heritage Foundation and embodied in "Romneycare."

Republicans only because opposed to this way of preventing freeloaders on the healthcare system when the Democrats agreed with them that it was the right thing to do.

Bottom line: don't call it "Obamacare" even if all the mainstream media does and even the left-leaning media does. They're being played by the GOP's Ministry of Propaganda when they do--and so are you.

The Whopper of the Year wasn't the President's lie about ACA coverage--it's the Republicans lie that their alternative is better

Every hour of every day, across the airwaves and the blogosphere, Republican partisans blast “Obamacare” with the usual heavy-handed sarcasm that passes for humor in conservative circles.
    Oddly, though, no Republican has even one word to say about Republicare–their alternative to the Affordable Care Act.
    Republicare is what we’ll get if the Republicans succeed in destroying the Affordable Care Act, through a combination of winning the Presidency and their lavishly funded national campaign of sabotaging the ACA. Then we’ll revert to the American healthcare system as of 2008, with no changes whatsoever. The proof of this is simple: the Republican-dominated House has passed 46 healthcare bills since 2010. And every one of them did nothing but repeal the ACA. Period. Individual Republican lawmakers suggest this or that reform, but the GOP's "Repeal and Replace" campaign, so far, is all repeal, no replace.
    So the real whopper of the year is the claim that the American healthcare system as of 2008, with no changes at all, beats the ACA, warts and all.
    The Republicans know better than to say this out loud. They’re just hoping Americans won’t realize it’s what they’re actually saying. They’re hoping we won’t remember what it was like to have insurance company clerks making life and death decisions about you–decisions that were nearly impossible to appeal; to have your insurance dropped as soon as you got really sick; to have insurance refused if you had a “pre-existing condition;” to get sold junk insurance policies in which “the large print giveth–the small print taketh away” (apologies to Tom Waits); a healthcare system that was the most expensive on earth per capita, with the worst results among rich countries.
    There are Americans who will spend more for healthcare under the ACA than before. However, what most of this small minority don't realize is that the healthcare insurance they'd had before was, for most, junk policies that would have done nothing for them if something bad actually happened to them. Investigative journalists have researched the angry "ACA losers" featured on FOX News daily and found that most of the cases were bogus--people who hadn't bothered to find out what their alternatives were under the ACA, or who didn't realize that their old policies were so bad they were really uninsured.
    For at least 90% of all Americans, they're better off with the ACA.
    Want proof? Look at what the Republicans say. They refuse to talk about what they have to offer in lieu of "Obamacare." What's the use of criticizing anything if you don't talk about the alternative?

     I dare any Republican to actually compare “Obamacare” to Republicare.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Republicans and Democrats both fail to grasp who is an American

Democrats have the nerve to claim that anyone who lives in America deserves citizenship--even if they got here illegally. I'd say it just means Democrats don't value national sovereignty very much, but those who go ballistic over drone attacks in other sovereign countries seem to value the sovereignty of other nations highly--just not ours.

Republicans have the gall to treat anyone who isn't not just Republican but "Conservative" as well as if they aren't American citizens.This seems to be how they justify their extreme gerrymandering, their laws designed to disenfranchis blacks, students, and other Democratic-leaning groups, the extreme differential in penalties for drugs they use (alcohol, cigarettes) and those "others" use--most notably marijuana, and their constant efforts to criminalize abortion. It also explains their campaign to deny that the first black American president isn't an American citizen.

So from a rational perspective the Left thinks some people who aren't Americans are, and the Right thinks about half of Americans aren't.

That means the Left wants to hand out citizenship to around 11 million Mexican citizens mostly, while the Right wants to deny citizenship to around 150 million American citizens.

Of course the Right doesn't want to actually take away Democrats' citizenship papers--it just wants to prevent a Democratic majority from being a majority in political institutions from the city to the national level, and to impose Christian Shariah law on Democrats. That is, to make them second-class citizens without voting rights.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Lie of the Year isn't President Obama's whopper about the Affordable Care Act has "awarded" its Lie of the Year dubious honor to President Obama for saying you keep your healthcare if you like it.

The Right Wing Media has picked this up and made a whole lotta hay with it.

But this time they're wrong.

The President's lie was a lie, all right, and even though it only directly affects a very small percentage of Americans it also affects his credibility with everyone else.

However, the Lie of the Year is vastly more pernicious, even though no one ever says it explicity.

It's the Republicans' lie that Republicare is better than Obamacare for any but 1% of Americans.

Republicare is what we get if the Republicans repeal Obamacare. Forty-six times in that last several years the Republicans have voted to repeal Obamacare in its entirety (in the House of Representatives), and 46 times the Republcans' health bill contained exactly nothing to replace Obamacare with if it succeeded.

So Republicare is simply America's high profitable healthcare system as it was before the Affordable Care Act became law.

And Republicare was a disaster that killed many people and drove many others into bankruptcy. The Affordable Care Act, warts and all, is infinitely better than a Republicare, in which you might pay into your healthcare insurance provider for 40 years only to get dumped as soon as you get really sick and start reducing that insurer's profits.

Republicare is the most billionaire-friendly healthcare system on Earth. But for us non-billionaires, the idea that it's preferable to the ACA would only make sense to someone completely blinded by right wing ideology.

And that's why Republicans NEVER talk about what we'll get if they get what they want. They want us to look at the ACA without regard to the only alternative they've given us: nothing.

And Nothing is what Republicare is.