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Screenshot of Chuck Todd interviewing House Speaker John Boehner on Meet the Press.
House Speaker John Boehner was Chuck Todd's star interview on Sunday's Meet the Press, where he faced "tough" questioning about lots of things. Luckily for Boehner, he didn't face tough follow-up when he lied about Obamacare in his answer.
TODD: You made some dire predictions about health care. 2014 you said fewer people would have health insurance. According to plenty of surveys, more people have health insurance today than they did before it went down from—the uninsured rate went down 17 percent to just under 12 percent. You said it would destroy jobs. The first year it was implemented, the country added 3 million jobs. Why…

BOEHNER: Obamacare made it harder for employers to hire people. The economy expands and as a result, you are going to have more employees because businesses have to. But if you can ask any employer in America, and ask them whether Obamacare has made it harder for them to hire employees, they'll tell you yes. Because it's a fact.

When you look at—you know why there are more people insured? Because a lot more people are on Medicaid. And giving—you know, we expanded Medicaid in a big way. And giving people Medicaid insurance is almost like giving them nothing. Because there aren't—you can’t find a doctor that will see Medicaid patients.

Wow, what a load. Boehner must be talking to a very selective group of employers, because 75 percent of them surveyed last year said that Obamacare wasn't making any difference in their hiring practices. What's more, it's turned out to be not a job-killer, either. The easiest way to prove just how not unhappy American business is with Obamacare is the fact that not one major business organization filed a brief in support of the King v. Burwell challenge to the law.

As for more people being insured? No, Medicaid—which is real coverage, by the way, and darned efficient coverage—doesn't account for all the new coverage. Charles Gaba has the information to refute Boehner readily available. At his last count, there were 10.8 million private plans purchased through the exchanges, and 13.2 million Medicaid enrollments. But there are a lot more sources—Gallup, Commonwealth Fund, Rand Corporation, or the Urban Institute, just to confirm that there are lots of insured people. Kaiser Family Foundation will tell you that six in 10 of the people buying private health insurance through the exchanges—that's private insurance—were previously uninsured. You could also note how many private insurers jumped into the Obamacare marketplace when they saw how successful it was in the first year.

But apparently Chuck Todd had none of that information at his fingertips. Because his follow-up question, after Boehner spewed all that bullshit—and I am not kidding here—was: "So you don’t see Obamacare as good for the country?"

Carly Fiorina at CPAC 2014.
Carly Fiorina
The vast Republican presidential field is quickly shifting from one composed mostly of likely candidates to one of candidates who are all in. These days that's a largely technical distinction having more to do with whether a candidate wants to focus on fundraising for a super PAC or an official campaign than with whether they've actually decided to run for president, but in any case, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and failed tech executive Carly Fiorina have made the jump into actual-candidate status, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is expected to do so Tuesday. It's very exciting.
Republican observers are especially enthused by the entrance of Carson, the only African-American in the field, and Fiorina, who’s likely to be the only female GOP candidate, to bring added diversity to a field that already includes two Cuban Americans in Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas).

“The diversity is great,” said GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak. “It shows we’re a much broader party than the caricature some try to put on us.”

No, it shows you're a party that's willing to embrace tokens if they sound like every other Republican. We went through this with Sarah Palin in 2008, remember? Where Republicans get all excited about a completely unqualified candidate because said candidate puts an unexpected face on the same damn positions, while the party in no way shifts toward the interests of the groups they're supposedly trying to appeal to with that candidate?

So what do we have here? Ben Carson was apparently a great neurosurgeon, but the reason Republicans think he'd make a good presidential candidate is that in 2013 he made a speech criticizing President Obama's policies at the National Prayer Breakfast with Obama in the room. Carly Fiorina's tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard was a notorious failure, and she subsequently lost a Senate race, but boy does she like to criticize Hillary Clinton, specifically doing so as a woman. See a pattern here?

In the giant Republican field, Carson is polling seventh nationally and in New Hampshire and sixth in Iowa, which means the Republican Party has a chance of being able to write its debate eligibility rules to get him on the state. Fiorina, however, is mired so far at the bottom of the pack it may be best to describe it as "below Bobby Jindal" territory.


Mon May 04, 2015 at 07:00 AM PDT

Cartoon: Responses to Baltimore

by Tom Tomorrow

Reposted from Comics by Barbara Morrill

Support independent cartooning: join Sparky's List—and be sure to visit TT's Emporium of Shopping Fun!

Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by Jeff Singer
Attorney General Beau Biden (D-DE) (L) and Vice Presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) gesture on stage at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado August 27, 2008. U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) is expected to accept the Democratic presidential nomination at the convention on August 28.  REUTERS/Chris Wattie            (UNITED STATES)   US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008  (USA) - RTR21RH5
Possible Delaware gubernatorial candidate Beau Biden with his father Vice President Joe Biden
Leading Off:

DE-Gov: It's still anyone's guess if former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden, will run for governor next year. Biden, a Democrat, took a job at the law firm Grant & Eisenhofer in January and is now expanding his work there, which is usually not something you do in preparation for a gubernatorial bid.

The firm's co-founder says that Biden's move "doesn't change anything for him politically. He will make an excellent governor," but Biden's camp has said little about his political aspirations in months. Biden himself kept a very low profile even before leaving office early this year, and he doesn't appear to be taking any steps to prepare for a campaign. There has also been speculation that Biden's health hasn't been good, and his silence isn't exactly putting these rumors to rest.

One potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate is sounding impatient. New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon won't run against Biden, but he's likely to take a look if he sits the contest out. Gordon says that he spoke with Biden last month and told him that he needed "to get out and let people know you're still running." Gordon says that he's also talked to the people who are expected to run the Biden campaign "and they say they're getting ready for him to run," but Gordon notes that Biden needs to make an announcement at some point. Rep. John Carney has also talked about seeking the governorship if Biden doesn't, something he probably wouldn't be discussing if he thought the ex-attorney general was all-in.

If Biden knows he's going to run, there's no reason he can't just say so now and clear up any confusion. It sounds like he's genuinely unsure what to do, but he doesn't want to look publicly indecisive or feed rumors about his health.

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Capitol GunFAIL! Greg Dworkin rounds up Bridgegate, Sanders, Republican demands for work requirements for Medicaid expansion, Rick Scott's continuing contortions, and Jeb's Charles Murray fandom. The invasion of Texas is underway, where conservatives prepare their gay marriage freak-out. A near "perfect storm" of GunFAIL as a school cop shoots himself with a derringer in his pocket while at Walmart. Armando calls in on the Vermont GMO labeling law decision & the TPP, and John Dickerson's thoughts on Bernie Sanders. Wrapping up on yesterday's topics: how ShotSpotter monitors for gunfire, and what kind of issues that raises; Samsung's TV that listens to you; the surveillance we "volunteer" for, and; how Motel 6 reportedly started faxing all its guests' names to the cops!

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

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Molly Redden at Mother Jones writes Want an Abortion This Year? Get Ready to Wait:

For women seeking an abortion, 2015 is shaping up to be the year of the long wait.

Since the beginning of the year, six states have proposed or passed laws that would require a woman to wait days before she has an abortion—laws that critics say place an especially harsh burden on poor and rural women.

Conservative lawmakers in Arkansas and Tennessee have passed bills forcing women seeking abortions to attend an initial appointment and then wait 48 hours before the actual procedure. The Florida Legislature has passed a measure, which GOP Gov. Rick Scott promises to sign, creating a 24-hour waiting period between two appointments. A bill that died in Kentucky, which already requires women to receive counseling 24 hours before an abortion, would have forced women to receive that counseling in person.

E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post writes A senator’s faith -- and humility:
There are few moments of grace in our politics these days, especially where conflicts over religion are concerned. Last week, I witnessed one. Perhaps it was a mere drop in an ocean of suspicion and mistrust, but it was instructive and even encouraging.

The venue, in a small meeting room at a Holiday Inn not far from the U.S. Capitol, was a gathering of members of the Secular Coalition for America whose mission is “to amplify the diverse and growing voice of the nontheistic community in the United States.” One cause of the contentiousness of our politics is that both secular and very religious Americans feel misunderstood and under assault.

Enter Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).

The secular coalition invited Coons to speak because, as he said of himself last Thursday night, he is “dedicated to the separation of church and state and to the equal protection under the Constitution, which I swore to uphold, whether you are religious or secular.”

More pundits can be found below the fold.
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Excerpted by Alternet from Michael Bader's More than Bread and Butter: A Psychologist Speaks to Progressives About What People Really Need in Order to Win and Change the World—Let's Get Progressives to Better Make Emotional Connections When They Organize:
As progressives, we have a huge job in front of us in the fight for economic justice. But our leaders are trying to do their work with one hand tied behind their backs. The better ones may often do quite well fighting with one hand; many cannot. The problem and solution are more obvious than they think: People become active in social-change movements because these movements speak to deep longings for meaning, recognition, relationship, and agency, as well as for economic survival and justice.

The civil rights movement demanded basic economic and political equality. But it also spoke to a hunger to be connected to something bigger than the self. The institution that provided the base of this movement, the black church, grew and thrived on its power to provide meaning and recognition in dozens of way to its members. It provided meaning, in part, through the intense spirituality of its congregations, but also because it was wedded to a vision of social justice; recognition was afforded through the extensive social life in and around church life. The four girls killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 were on their way to give a performance, one of the many public ways that the church honored and recognized people in its community. [...]

The power of human needs that go beyond the material would seem obvious. But progressive organizations instinctively and implicitly operate according to a “common sense” notion—one supported by researchers like Abraham Maslow, famous for his hierarchy or pyramid of human needs—that physical survival precedes those nonmaterial needs. This logic is simple: Without satisfying the basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter, people can't effectively address and gratify “higher” emotional, social, and spiritual needs. The strategic result is that we count on economic grievances and bread-and-butter issues like wages and benefits alone to move people to action.

But the compelling noneconomic needs for recognition, meaning, relationships, and agency can be sources of motivation every bit as powerful as survival needs. We see evidence of this every day. A terrorist commits suicide for the sake of Allah. An Indian demonstrator at a salt mine walks directly into the violent batons of the British Army in nonviolent resistance for the cause of independence; an African-American marcher sits down in front of Bull Connor’s dogs. A marine risks his life for his buddy; a parent does the same for a child.

Everyone wants to earn money. But a great deal of research shows that people value meaning, connection, recognition, and agency as much as a bigger paycheck, and sometimes more. Many activists we’ve worked with in progressive organizations routinely give up higher-paying jobs in the private sector to work for social change. Even a lot of money can’t always cure the deficit of other unmet needs. Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, is currently worth $13 billion. Yet his autobiography prominently features his bitterness about being exploited by co-founder Bill Gates. Thirteen billion dollars did not make him feel good enough about the emotional conditions of his work. [...]

Blindness to these obvious needs is an important reason why the progressive movement is struggling today. So while the Left decries economic injustice and tries to organize campaigns against it, the response from the victims of injustice can be tepid. The Left helplessly watches as conservative megachurches, the evangelical movement, and the Tea Party draw people to communities that support a political and economic system that we see as inimical to their needs for material security. The reasons, though, have little to do with anyone’s economic bottom line: These organizations and movements appear to address multiple levels of suffering and multiple needs. [...]


    1.    People become active in social-change movements because these movements speak to deep longings for meaning, recognition, relationship, and agency.

    2.    The common-sense notion that we need to satisfy people’s material needs before we can speak to their psychological, social, and spiritual needs is wrong.

    3.    Both the private sector and the Right are better than progressives in speaking to people’s noneconomic needs.

    4.    Feelings matter more than facts.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2009How Freedom Was Lost:

On Halloween night, 1948, a fog rolled in to blanket the town of Donora, Pennsylvania. What came from that cloud wasn't the ghosts of vengeful pirates, or horror movie zombies. It was worse.

This wasn't the first time the industrial town of 13,000 had been socked in by a brown, pollution tinged smog. But this time the air had a peculiar, acrid smell. Those who breathed the fog felt as if they were breathing fire. It scorched their eyes, their throat, their lungs. Still, Donora was a mill town. Workers squinted against the bitter air and went on to their jobs. That night, as people were walking back to their houses, some of them began to die.

Soon doctors' offices were overrun and the hospital was filled with the sick and the dying. The fog held on the next day. And the next. A local hotel was pressed into service as an extension to the hospital, with volunteers serving as nurses. As bodies piled up at local funeral homes, the ground floor of that hotel became a makeshift morgue. Within five days, twenty people had died. Hundreds more were seriously injured with damage that would shorten their lives or affect their ability to work. A decade later, local papers still told the story of lives cut short.

The villain in Donora was the a toxic stew spit out by a local zinc refinery. It wasn't the first time the plant's fumes had turned the air around the town toxic, but this time a temperature inversion capped the smog. In the midst of the crisis, suspicion about the cause brought town officials to the zinc works, where they asked that the plant's operations be reduced until the weather changed. The plant operators refused. After five days, the inversion layer broke and the brown fog blew away. Eleven of those who died did so on that final day. A local doctor estimated that if the weather had held another day, the death toll would have been in the hundreds, rather than the tens.

That Sunday, as the sky broke and rains came, the zinc works finally agreed to reduce operations. They went back to normal the next day.

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President Barack Obama, followed by Chaplain Colonel J. Wesley Smith and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, walks towards the podium during the transfer of remains ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Sept. 14, 2012, marking the return to the
Still Life with Deciders and Instruments of Policy
This is the second in a series of essays to be written by Left Flank Daily Kos users providing substantive critiques of Hillary Clinton. Today's entry comes from koNko —Armando

U.S. presidents enjoy special powers in the domain of foreign policy. These powers are not unlimited or absolute, but as commander-in-chief and head of an executive branch containing the apparatus and instruments of foreign policy, presidents set principles of doctrine that guide policy and action, and largely pre-determine policy and treaties put forward to Congress.

They also exercise personal judgment taking executive actions that have expanded since 9/11, now including such controversial powers as authorizing increased electronic surveillance at home and abroad and the use of drones to execute people on foreign soil without due process, arguably, acts of war.

In these roles, presidents have great powers to do good or harm, setting wheels in motion not easy to brake, and often taking actions with unforeseen or unintended consequences for the nation and the world. To call it a grave responsibility is understatement.

Why then is the public so often careless and disengaged from foreign policy debates until events poke us in the eye to remind us how these complex policies, actions and events directly affect our lives, sometimes profoundly? And why do we so often put blind trust in leaders we assume to share our interests and possess the knowledge and judgment to make wise decisions absent evidence of either? Should we not be more critical?

After the fold, let's consider the positions and credentials of Hillary Rodham Clinton, declared candidate and presumed Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential election.


Clinton on Foreign Policy:

16%412 votes
38%944 votes
23%576 votes
12%305 votes
9%246 votes

| 2484 votes | Vote | Results

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Sun May 03, 2015 at 04:30 PM PDT

Do we all live in a giant hologram?

by DarkSyde

The large scale universe projected onto a two-dimensional boundary
There is an active field of research in cosmology and physics seeking to explain the cosmos in terms of a radical idea: we live in a universe with some of the properties of a hologram:
At first glance, there is not the slightest doubt: to us, the universe looks three dimensional. But one of the most fruitful theories of theoretical physics in the last two decades is challenging this assumption. The "holographic principle" asserts that a mathematical description of the universe actually requires one fewer dimension than it seems. What we perceive as three dimensional may just be the image of two dimensional processes on a huge cosmic horizon.
That's a mind-being principle and the math behind it is a fearsome thing, pulling together rigorous work on everything from event horizons to string theory to the quantum information paradox. It's not easy to describe some of the ramifications that emerge in general terms.

But if you drift below the fold, thanks to no small amount of help from Jennifer Ouellette, one of the best hard-science writers in the world today, we'll at least try. And we'll do that without bringing up hyper-advanced mathematics!

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Sun May 03, 2015 at 03:00 PM PDT

Happy Birthday, Customer

by Mark E Andersen

Happy Birthday [Insert Name] from your corporate overlords
My birthday was last Sunday and I received hundreds of birthday greetings from friends, family, and corporate America. The screen capture above is the corporate greeting that stood out. Not for its warmth, not for its offer of $20 off of fees. No, this one stood out for one reason. It told the truth—I am not a person, I am not even a number to this company. I am simply a customer. That is my only value to them. I am sure that all of the personalized emails I received from other corporations were really just a farce. My name and birthday came up in their massive databases and they sent an email to a potential customer offering some token discount to get this customer to come in. They do not care if Mark E. Andersen, Emperor Lrrr from Omicron Persei 8, or even Glen the Plumber uses the 5-percent-off-a-dessert coupon included in the email. They just want to separate someone, anyone, from the money in his or her wallet.

Over the course of the last decade or so, more and more Americans are feeling as if they hold no value in the corporate world. We hold onto jobs we hate because we have nowhere else to go. Employers cut our wages, lengthen our hours, and we just take it—a job is too valuable to lose in this economy.

Robert Reich echoed those same comments in his April 26 column when he said:

The companies we work for, the businesses we buy from, and the political system we participate in all seem to have grown less accountable. I hear it over and over: They don’t care; our voices don’t count.  

Companies are treating workers as disposable cogs because most working people have no choice. They need work and must take what they can get.

There was a time in this country when one could graduate from high school, find a good blue collar union job, and make enough money to raise a family, buy a house, and even save enough money to send the kids to college.

Jump below the fold for more.

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Proportion of Google queries containing the “N-word” by designated market area, 2004–2007.

Colors changed so the map can be seen by all. Original is below the fold.
Click to enlarge

There are neighborhoods in Baltimore in which the life expectancy is 19 years less than other neighborhoods in the same city. Residents of the Downtown/Seaton Hill neighborhood have a life expectancy lower than 229 other nations, exceeded only by Yemen. According to the Washington Post, 15 neighborhoods in Baltimore have a lower life expectancy than North Korea.

North Korea.

And while those figures represent some of the most dramatic disparities in the life expectancy of black Americans as opposed to whites, a recent study of the health impacts of racism in America reveals that racist attitudes may cause up to 30,000 early deaths every year.

The study, Association between an Internet-Based Measure of Area Racism and Black Mortality, has just been published in PLOS ONE and has mapped out the most racist areas in the United States. As illustrated above, they are mostly located in the rural Northeast and down along the Appalachian Mountains into the South. How they did it and what it may mean are below the fold.

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Does ‘we the people’ matter anymore? Will it always be pay to play for the foreseeable future? Will we ever get our country back? Not the tea party type ‘get our country back’ but actually have a democracy?

To be clear, America was never a democracy. One man one vote (one person one vote) was never an implicit reality. Any reading of Federalist 10 makes that patently clear. Why? Ultimately the powers then and today’s plutocracy realized that it would change the social and economic order based on a real meritocracy, compromises, and the hard work of selling many ideas. You see an idea that benefits a few would never fly from an enlightened populace.

As Americans were becoming more liberal and enlightened they demanded democracy, social democracy and economic democracy. The plutocracy would have none of that. We are living through an implemented Powell Manifesto that has in effect dumbed down the population by infiltrating news media and schools as it decimates unions and liberal values.

Many organizations believe that this problem will be solved simply by effecting some sort of electoral reform that gets money out of politics. They believe that reversing the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions would somehow set things right. One must remember that pre-Citizens United and pre-McCutcheon, our politics was not much better.

The Move to Amend coalition was formed outside of the Beltway in Marin, California, in 2009 in preparation for the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. The coalition, which now boasts nearly 380,000 people and thousands of organizations, has helped to pass over 600 resolutions in municipalities and local governments across the country, calling on the state and federal governments to adopt the amendment below. Interestingly these resolutions passed irrespective of the demographics, ideologies, or party affiliations of the voters.

Head below the fold for more.

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