“Thank God for Obamacare”

I suspect — and fervently hope — these stories, unlike the BS in the Koch Brothers ads, are going to become more common between now and the mid-terms in November.

So Republican Scott Brown, who used to be a senator from Massachusetts and is trying to become a senator from New Hampshire because he just really, really likes being a senator, went to visit Herb Richardson, a GOP state legislator, hoping to win his endorsement.

Richardson used to own a 12-room house, but after getting injured on the job, he lives on workman’s comp, lost his house, and lives in a trailer.

Workman’s comp pays him $2,000 a month, and Richardson would have had to pay $1,000 of that just to keep his health insurance under COBRA.

But because of Obamacare, Richardson and his wife get health insurance for only $136 a month.   That’s very different, as Emily Litella would say.

So when Brown, I guess oblivious to the fact that he was visiting a guy in a trailer, called Obamacare a “monstrosity,” Richardson said, au contraire, it was a “financial lifesaver.”  To which Mrs. Richardson added, “Thank God for Obamacare.”

According to the local reporter present, Brown had no response.


Conservatives Caught With Their Pants Down (Or On Fire)

Leukemia patient Julie Boonstra starred in a Koch Brothers-sponsored ad saying that her new Obamacare plan was unaffordable.  She also appeared on Fox News generating sympathy for her and outrage for Obamacare.

When Harry Reid said Boonstra’s claim was untrue, she demanded an apology, even though the media had made clear that, worst case, her new plan would be a wash and cost the same as before.

Now the Detroit News has established definitely that she will save at least $1200 a year under Obamacare.

I hope Harry Reid isn’t holding his breath waiting for an apology.  And I’m not holding mine waiting for a correction from Fox News.

GOP Strategy: Avoid and Refrain

“And so, the GOP strategy …  is to show that the party is ‘ready to govern’ simply by avoiding destructive and chaotic governing crises while refraining from trying to pass ‘major bills,’ because GOP policies are unpopular and Republicans can’t unite behind solutions in any case.”

Greg Sargent, the Plum Line at WaPo

So the GOP has nothing — except those millions and millions in ads from the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity that are already slamming incumbent Dems.

The Great GOP Unraveling

No sooner was John McCain faced with Jeb Bush’s challenge on immigration from his right, as Jeb did an about-face on his past support for a path to citizenship, when he had to pivot and face Rand Paul’s challenge on drone policy from his left, as Paul filibustered John Brennan’s CIA nomination because he feared Obama was about to launch drone strikes on Americans sitting in cafes in San Francisco.

Today, McCain called Paul a “wacko bird,” along with his pals Ted Cruz and Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan.

Now you can say that John McCain is 76 and on his way out, but remember that his little sidekick Lindsey “Butters” Graham is 57, and their new amiga, Kelly Ayotte, who replaced Joe Lieberman, is only 44.

This isn’t a John McCain problem, this is a GOP problem.

The libertarian wing of the Republican Party has now latched on to the Tea Party element, strengthening both.  Paul and Cruz are both Tea Party guys and libertarians.

The GOP has taken up the Tea Party cry to cut government spending, while trying to protect defense spending.  But the Tea Party/libertarian types don’t want to spare defense any more than they want to spare social programs.  They want to cut the whole damn thing, which makes it impossible for them to co-exist with the neo-cons.

Interestingly, neither McCain nor Paul reflects where the country is.  Since we’re war weary, we’re not with McCain that we should have stayed longer in Iraq and should stay in Afghanistan forever.  But since we’re war weary, we like the drones, which keep the terrorists at bay, while allowing our guys to go safely home at night to their families after they’ve taken out a bad guy.  And while Rand Paul isn’t as extreme on foreign policy as his dad Ron, his lack of concern about Iran’s going nuclear isn’t where the country is either.  So in Goldilocks terms, neither McCain nor Paul is just right for the country, one is too hard and the other is too soft.  If the country is sick of the neo-cons, they don’t want them replaced by neo-isolationists.

Adding to the mix — and the mess — you’ve got the primaries of 2014 and 2016.  Immigration and drones are two very different issues, but having gotten blindsided by Jebbie, Marco Rubio felt he had to support Paul on the filibuster to placate the Tea Party people he will need for a 2016 run.  Similarly, Mitch McConnell felt compelled to praise Paul because he fears a Tea Party primary in 2014.

Then there’s  the money.  The Koch Brothers are libertarians first and Republicans second.  Their financial support will redound to those who spout the libertarian line.  By contrast, Sheldon Adelson, who basically bought Newtie a campaign in 2012, has said that he doesn’t care about gay marriage or abortion, he just cares about Israel.  So his money will go to those who toe the neo-con line.

The GOP is trying to accommodate some very strange bedfellows — and it looks as if no one will get a good night’s sleep anytime soon.

Armey Leaving FreedomWorks — Mystery Solved

The mystery of why former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas resigned as CEO of the Koch Brothers’ funded Tea Party group Freedom Works has been resolved.

He left over an ethics dispute with the group’s president, Matt Kibbe.  If you’ve ever seen Kibbe on TV, the guy just looks sleazy, so I wasn’t the least bit surprised.

From Politico*:

“Armey was concerned that Kibbe structured the deal to personally profit from the book, despite relying on FreedomWorks staff and resources to research, help write and promote it….

“So Armey declined to sign a memorandum presented to him…stating that the book was written without significant FreedomWorks resources and clearing the way for Kibbe to personally own the rights to the book and any royalties from it….

“‘I wrote this book and it is my property,’ [Kibbe] said, saying he wrote the 416-page book entirely ‘on my Christmas vacation’ last year. [416 pages over Christmas?  Were there elves involved?]

“But multiple sources who worked with FreedomWorks and had knowledge of the situation said that several staffers were asked to help research and write the book as part of their work duties.  The sources contend that FreedomWorks staff time and resources spent promoting the book detracted from the organization’s ability to mobilize conservative activists ahead of the election — one of its core focuses.”

All you people sending your hard-earned $25 or $50 to these Tea Party groups, thinking you’re fighting the Kenyan Muslim Socialist, I hope you realize that you’re just making creeps like Kibbe rich, and of course protecting the Koch Brothers’ billions.  Not a good use of your money.

* “Dick Armey, FreedomWorks president clashed over book deal,” Kenneth P. Vogel

Not The Onion, the Wall Street Journal

The WSJ has an op-ed called “Corporate Cronyism Harms America,” written by Charles Koch.  Yes, that Charles Koch of the Koch Brothers.

I try to read the spectrum of political and economic views, but I can’t do this one.  I just wish I had a birdcage that needed lining….

Karl Rove Does Social Welfare!

Politico has an excellent story up about the relationship between Steve Wynn and Karl Rove, “Rove hits big:  The birth of a mega-donor,” by Ken Vogel and Steve Friess.  Some excerpts:

“Simply put:  any person, corporation or union can spend as much as they want to directly influence elections through hard-hitting television ads without anyone else knowing.  Republicans and their allies have had exceptional success exploiting this dynamic, which really took off after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.

Unlike Super PACs, Crossroads GPS [one of Rove’s groups] is registered under a section of the tax code for so-called ‘social welfare’ groups — 501(c)4 — that does not require groups to reveal their donors’ names, only donation amounts.  The promise of anonymity is one of the main reasons GPS was established — it allows Wynn and like-minded contributors to avoid the controversy that has dogged top political donors like competing casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, as well as the libertarian industrialist Koch Brothers or the liberal financier George Soros.”

“Sources tell Politico that Wynn’s giving to Crossroads GPS dwarfs all the  publicly reported federal donations he’s ever made combined.”  Emphasis added.

Crossroads GPS does “social welfare” about as much and as well as I do nuclear physics.

Our Electoral Votes in Merkel’s Handbag

The Greek election reminds me of the cartoons where a character falls off a cliff, and at first falls very slowly and gently, like a leaf in a breeze, but then gravity catches up with him, and he lands with a thud.  Greece is falling in slow motion, but it will land with a thud.  A thud we will hear in this country.

The question, if you’re the White House/Chicago, is how long will it take?  I’m reading predictions of three to six months.  The shorter time frame is a disaster for Obama, the longer time frame gets him past the election.

Merkel ultimately isn’t going to save Greece, but she could certainly slow things down.  If you’re the German Chancellor, it’s not a bad thing to make the President of the United States your bitch.  So she can help Obama stay in the Oval Office — or she can help Mitt get there.

I know we’re all focused on the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, but probably the single individual with the most power over this election is Angela Merkel.  And you thought we won WWI and WWII.

Sheldon Adelson’s Check Book Is Open

Having just given $10 million to Mitt’s SuperPAC, Adelson has promised another $35 million to conservatives.

He’s giving $5 million to Eric Cantor’s Young Guns Network.  He’s giving $10 million to one of the Koch Brothers’ groups.

And the biggest share, $20 million, is going to Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS.

We’re in uncharted territory, people.  Never have so many in this country had their government controlled by so few.

We Need To Seize Back Our Continent

It’s the 68th anniversary of D-Day, and I was re-reading the wonderful speech Peggy Noonan wrote for Ronald Reagan at the 4oth Anniversary commemoration, “The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc.”  These lines jumped out at me:

“The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades.  And the American Rangers began to climb.  They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up.  When one Ranger fell, another would take his place.  When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again.  They climbed, shot back, and held their footing.  Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe.”

They began to seize back the continent of Europe.  Today, we need to seize back this continent, our continent.  Our democracy is as threatened today as it was then, but now it’s under threat by our fellow citizens who are trying to turn our America into an oligarchy, a country of the super-rich, by the super-rich, for the super-rich.

For one brief shining moment after the Great Meltdown, the Tea Party had it right, a light went off in the minds of the “What’s the Matter with Kansas” people, and they got it.  But then their righteous anger at the Big Banks was perverted into hostility at “Big Government.”  They were co-opted by the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity [somewhere, Orwell is laughing] and Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks.  Instead of blaming the folks who caused their fellow citizens to need food stamps, they turned their fury and frustration on the poor souls who suddenly had to rely on those food stamps.

A rope was cut yesterday in Wisconsin.  We need to seize another one, and we need to climb.