I hate this time of year

Deal-visits-the-capitol500I live in Georgia. The General Assembly is in session. It is our annual celebration of stupidity, ignorance, pandering, baiting, and hate. It is open season on history, the Constitution, science, mutual respect, and common sense. It is a loathsome time. 40 days and $20 billion in public cash. One party, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for some.

This is an election year and our elected officials cannot legally accept campaign contributions while the legislature is in session. The pressure is on in a hurry to protect poor little Georgia from big meanie pants Washington. Blame Obama. Praise Jesus. All hail the NRA and Georgia Carry. Cut taxes, but give give give to bidness.

Now please don’t misunderstand: Many of our leaders are not stupid. They just lead the stupid. To be elected from most places in Georgia, a candidate has to have a Bible in one pocket, one hand on a gun*, the other in another pocket and both feet on the poor. The more outrageous cruelty they can spew, the more electable they become. But it is too early for the fall campaigns.

Let’s just talk about today. Here are examples from just this day’s headlines from our daily newspaper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (the link will take you to subscriptions – yes, I subscribe and encourage you to subscribe). I provided links to the stories, but it is virtually impossible to read the AJC and find the identical stories on their website or app because of updating. One caution on following the links, no matter how many times you sign in as a subscriber, it won’t be enough – just buy the paper.

This bill would make it legal for business owners (corporations are people too so some must be racist, homophobic, misogynistic, nativist, etc. or all of the above) to discriminate based on your religious beliefs. This bill must be intended to appeal to people who are filled with hate for people they have never met. The backers pretend the guv’ment is forcing private businesses to sin by treating everyone equal. Combine this one with stand your ground and it feels just like the old days in Georgia.

This is another one of those bills that is attempting to fix something that has never been a problem. The bill would prevent people who don’t have legal status — but our government says can be here (deferred action) — from getting a driver’s license. This would include those “who were illegally brought here as children, battered spouses, parents with seriously ill children and crime victims who are serving as witnesses.” Another of those, beat-‘em-while-they-are-down bills. Just mean. Nasty. I know that some pink people are afraid of anyone who is able to learn another language or who has traveled internationally. I suppose it just makes the lawmakers feel small and inferior to encounter such people. A shame, really. Why couldn’t the lawmakers just get a lobbyist to pay for a language class or a fact-finding junket?

A bill that was withdrawn because almost all the members of the majority party were embarrassed that they would be voting against something that was perceived as libertarian but also would seem to some voters to help child molesters. The bill was intended to fix a problem with existing law, passed by the same people who were being asked to vote this time, which treats registered sex offenders and those loitering around schools the same.

The idea is simple: make sure there are enough stupid and ignorant voters in Georgia’s future that the party in charge will stay in charge.
This bill would increase from 58 MILLION DOLLARS to 100 MILLION DOLLARS the amount given to people and businesses (corporations are people, too) as tax deductions for scholarships to private schools for rich white kids. Where does Georgia get that kind of money? By taking it from public education. This governor and this legislature have starved Georgia schools, cutting per-student funding by almost 30% in the past five years. Without a good education, you can’t earn a living wage and desperate people equal cheap labor, and that’s good for business, especially Georgia’s private prison and parole industry.

I hate this time of year. It brings out the worst in me. Fits of anger only mollified by the absurdity of it all. Nausea followed by swallowing bile. Laughing at the irony when I can find it, always followed by sadness. Most of all, an overwhelming sense of powerlessness.

 


 

* I’ve got no issue with hunters, sports shooters, varmint killers and those trained to safely own and handle firearms. I just don’t know what other people who need all these pistols and automatic weapons are so afraid of or why they so often shoot themselves or family members or leave their loaded guns around for their kids to find after they have passed out drunk in their chairs. And I don’t know why they are so paranoid. We don’t want their guns. We just don’t want their guns used to shoot our kids or other people’s kids or our grandmas or people playing music too loud or people who look different or bathe more often than they do. I don’t even care that they can’t read the Constitution and believe their state militia’s rights to keep and bear arms apply to their small little lives even when the current Supreme Court agrees with them and not me. What’s the big deal? Surely there are enough gun people who are sane and wish to be protected from the gun wackos. Figure this out. Make life safer the old fashion way (and the way the rest of the developed world does) by not carrying unlicensed, unregistered guns around and locking them up when they are not needed to play with to make you feel more important and secure about erectile dysfunction. Or are you just too yellow and chicken to stand up for yourselves? Kidding, please don’t shoot.

 

Image: Composite image created by Lee Leslie – Georgia State Capital by Connor Cary via Wikipedia.org; Governor Deal’s head from Georgia Southern’s flickr photo stream – both images used creative commons license.

October First

As we creep ever closer to the day that 48,600,000 uninsured Americans have been waiting so long for… October first. The day the national insurance exchanges will open. The day that Teapuglicans have fought so tirelessly to prevent. It is time we were reminded of just how ruthlessly stupid our state leaders are. Perhaps, that isn’t fair. Maybe they are not stupid, just uninformed. Or perhaps, they are betting we are.

Arkansas, DC, Kentucky, Maryland and West Virginia are expanding Medicaid to cover all of their citizens under 65 who make 133% of the poverty line or below. This graph shows the amount of Federal dollars going into each state, less the state's share to expand Medicaid, plus the premium subsidies for those up to 400% of the poverty line, the Federal part of cost sharing and the amount each state is expected to save on indigent care (all figures are estimates, of course).

Arkansas, DC, Kentucky, Maryland and West Virginia are expanding Medicaid to cover all of their citizens under 65 who make 133% of the poverty line or below. This graph shows the amount of Federal dollars going into each state, less the state’s share to expand Medicaid, plus the premium subsidies for those up to 400% of the poverty line, the Federal part of cost sharing and the amount each state is expected to save on indigent care (all figures are estimates, of course).

To those in Arkansas, DC, Kentucky, Maryland and West Virginia who are expanding Medicaid so health insurance is within reach of every one of your citizens, congratulations. Your state government works. You will benefit not only with healthier neighbors, but because of Obamacare, your states will receive an estimated total 45 billion dollars over the next five years in new and repurposed Federal dollars and state savings. That is going to create a lot of good jobs we desperately need.

The Center for American Progress suggests a multiplier of 3.8 jobs per $100,000 in Federal spending per year (not just salaries, but assumes that local salaries will be spent at local stores creating more jobs). Using that formula on on our Medicaid expansion states, that worked out to 342,836 new jobs. Even if you discount the multiplier, that is a lot of jobs.

Could have been Obamacare impact -not states

This is a “what if” of sorts showing the amount each Southern state not currently planning to expand Medicaid would get if they did, while including the premium subsides, cost sharing and indigent care savings that they will get no matter what.

For the rest of us in the South – those living in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia that are not expanding Medicaid, at least not so far, the cost in lost federal dollars will be over $200 billion (not to the wing nuts keeping score: yes, we subtracted the amount it would cost states to expand Medicaid to include more than just pregnant teenagers – click here for those tables).

$200 billion would have created 1,572,956 jobs that will never be. Jobs with good incomes that would have been spent on houses, cars, and stuff. that drives the economy – both the private and public sector. Income that would have been taxed that could have paid for schools, first responders and bridges. What fools we are to elect the people who made sure we wouldn’t have these jobs – Alabama: 76,228, Florida: 319,626, Georgia: 149,515, Louisiana: 87,818, Mississippi: 54,781, Missouri: 94,597, NC: 165,315, Oklahoma: 40,158, SC: 69,563, Tennessee: 112,518, Texas: 335,206, and Virginia: 67,632 – all jobs that will never be. Makes you want to puke, doesn’t it?

Projected Obamacare Impact

Estimated economic impact of Obamacare in the Southern states not planning to expand Medicaid.

Obamacare what will be jobs

Estimated jobs created by Obamacare in the Southern states not planning to expand Medicaid.

That’s the hateful part of what our leaders have done. Now for the rest of the story: no matter what Robert Bentley, Nathan Deal, Bobby Jindal, Phil Bryant, Pat McCrory, Mary Fallin, Nikki Haley, Bill Haslam, Rick Perry, Bob McDonnell (Rick Scott and Jay Nixon support expanding Medicaid, but their legislatures have, so far, failed to fund it – click here for a table showing the status of potential expansion by state) do, there are plenty of good things that will happen anyway. Topping any industrial job expansion since World War II, the Affordable Care Act (ACT), aka: Obamacare, even without expanding Medicaid, will create an estimated 810,836 jobs in these Southern states – good paying jobs. Jobs that make people happy.

If you are on Medicare, or if you or your spouse are employed and have employer-provided insurance, nothing will change for you on October first. The insurance exchanges are for small businesses, the self-employed and people who currently do not have insurance because they cannot afford it or are prevented from having health insurance because of a preexisting condition. If you are employed and work full-time or part-time, but your employer does not provide insurance, expect your employer to let you know your options.

If you are self-employed and paying way more than someone who works for a conglomerate does, you are going to love it (full disclosure: I’m self-employed, used the calculator at the Kaiser Family Foundation and Obamacare will save my family about $18,000 a year – without one cent of Federal premium subsidy – simply because I’m no longer discriminated against for not working for a conglomerate or my age).

If you have a preexisting condition, you are going to love it; if you work part time, or not at all, you are going to love it; and if you are within 400% of the poverty line as most are who live in the South, you are going to love it – even if you are young and healthy (contrary to the doom and gloomers, there are affordable policies with higher deductibles for healthy young people).

If you don’t have insurance, by law, you have to get it next year. Beginning October first, the place to shop for it is HealthCare.gov – the health insurance marketplace.

One note of caution: there may be some computer glitches and other problems (including those caused by a temporary government shutdown) – October first is just the official opening of the health insurance exchanges and there will still be about 91 shopping days until the new year. You’ll have news people covering it just like they do hurricanes when the cable TV stars find a damaged filling station sign and a puddle to stand in. The fact of the matter is that the Obama administration expected that each state would want all the money that was going to come their way for building the state marketplaces and the systems. More millions that would have been good jobs in your state were rejected – go figure.

For those of you who are under 65, unemployed or working for minimum wage and living in the states that are not expanding Medicaid, there is still the emergency room. Just tell the person at the desk that your state leaders are so stupid they want you to be there.

Some of my favs

One of my hobbies is managing LikeTheDew.com. We have a few authors who supply images. Mostly we (Keith, KC, Ron & I) find and license images on the web. Sometimes I have an idea and can’t find the image and have to make it. That is what this gallery is – stuff I have made from other stuff. I can’t draw, so I build. There are thousands more over the past four years, but I like these best. Oh yeah, the Dew is volunteer so any money we spend is our own and we always need it fast, cheap and great.

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Anyone Notice? Issuing a Metaphor.

Hard as it is to believe, we almost went to war because our president “issued” a metaphor. And how exactly do you “issue” a metaphor anyway? Our president knew it wasn’t an actual red line since he said it and didn’t draw it, but had it been real, couldn’t we have just gotten an eraser out, or just started with a clean slate? Oops, a clean slate is a metaphor – not something real. Fortunately for us and especially fortunate for those in Syria who would have been blown to paradise for being inside the metaphorical red line… damn, there I go again. I’ll start over, but not “restart” because they don’t mean the same thing since, “restart” is now a metaphor used every four years related to Israel v. Palestine “Peace” talks and is no longer just a word. Fortunately for us all, I didn’t choose “do over” since that is Hillary’s metaphor for publicly pretending that it is okay to start over without anyone noticing, which is cheating, which she’d never do. Bill did, but I digress.

Fortunately for all of us this time, President Obama chose to follow the Constitution, which, of course, is not something Congress was likely to do – they have actually only done it five times. Why wouldn’t they do it you ask? Because everyone in our government pretends crap all the time. See, the House of Representatives is run like a asylum with the patients in charge and they have the power and probably the votes to pass articles of impeachment at any given moment, but I digress. The Constitution specifically gave congress the power to declare war, not the president, but… yeah, there’s a “but” …the Constitution doesn’t’ exactly say what war is, when war would need to be declared and whether the president could toss a few hundred missiles, which cost $20,000,000 or more a piece at another country. The reason they don’t is that during war time the President gets a heap of new powers to wage it and could likely get away with doing unthinkable things – torture, killing of Americans without a trial, wiretaps without a warrant, etc. Wait, you say, didn’t Shrub do that? Well, yeah. How’d he get away with it, you ask? Our current president decided that we-the-people needed healing rather than acrimony. That, and should he, the president, do some bad shit, he’d want to get away with it, too – so he told the justice department not to pursue. Yeah, I know, hard to believe this AG has closed his eyes to all kinds of bad.

Getting back to the slime in the Congress… way back in 1973 when the Democrats ruled in Congress, but not trust the guy in the White House for some odd reason, and mostly, remembering that their guys made shit up about our police action in Vietnam for a decade, passed the “War Powers Resolution” which allow presidents to wage actions and war-like-shit for 60 days, without first getting permission from Congress with the caveat that we all ended up agreeing the “action” – a metaphor for war – was important, we were in danger of the stock market going down and such such. Everyone knows that this should be unconstitutional. But every congressperson seems to like that they don’t have to vote for war until after the polling comes in and after they have had time to meet with any lobbyist wanting to buy a vote. Should the lobbyists threaten to cut off the their election funding, Congress could always point at the president and say, “he did it.”

But that is not why President Obama asked Congress. Nor was it his fear that he’d be impeached. Facts be known, which they won’t be, I really don’t think he wants to bomb Syria although John Kerry really really really wants a war-like-action hoping that people will think he was as tough as Hillary (never). President Obama sent it to Congress thinking they’d have to vote for this turd and Boner and Company would have to raise the budget limit in the meantime.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the Teapublicans are planning to shut down the government in a couple of weeks now that vacation season is over and no one will care if the parks close. Plus, it they haven’t voted to defund Obamacare yet this month. I guess John Kerry will be remembered for the man who opened his mouth and shut down the country. Best of luck, everyone.

One last thought: there are those who believe this was all a plot to give Pooter a moment as “peacemaker” – a metaphor for someone popular with celebrities.

To my Republican friends:

I apologize. I had no idea.

I didn’t know what you did. All these years when I said with complete and utter disdain, “I don’t watch Fox,” I didn’t know that if I had, I might well have known what you knew to be true. Things that I knew to be “facts” you knew to be “theory” or worse. What a world? Seems nuts. I’m sorry. I repent starting now.

Learning that I’ve had my blinders on all this time has taught me a hard lesson. The fact that I didn’t read Drudge, couldn’t listen to Peggy Noonan* and wanted Karl Rove in jail, kept me from hearing the drone of truth that you knew. No balance at all. Certainly unfair.

The whole time I was reading newspapers, listening to the mainstream media and going from one site or book to another. Often “fact” checking. I was missing what you knew all along. Now it feels a bit like how a diabetic must have felt when they didn’t have sugarfree Kool-Aid at the last Jim Jones meeting.

Or how a North Korean must feel when a western newspaper blows across the DMZ. Or a child catching Santa. Or someone always home schooled. Stuff taken for granted turns out to be total unmitigated crap. I know. That must still sound like heresy, if there is such a thing. What is one to believe when everything they have known and trust now seems upside down?

So how was it that I came to see the light? A friend sent me a link to a story in, well, a “lamestream” site, the Atlantic. I naively just clicked the link and started reading. My jaw dropped. Saliva drooled from my mouth forming a wet spot that I didn’t even notice until I got up and… well, that’s another story. My point is that it never once occurred to me that you guys made a channel decision years ago for whatever reason and, well, let me just quote from the story:

Tuesday’s result was, for them, an unpleasant surprise. So many on the right had predicted a Mitt Romney victory, or even a blowout — Dick Morris, George Will, and Michael Barone all predicted the GOP would break 300 electoral votes. Joe Scarborough scoffed at the notion that the election was anything other than a toss-up. Peggy Noonan insisted that those predicting an Obama victory were ignoring the world around them. Even Karl Rove, supposed political genius, missed the bulls-eye. These voices drove the coverage on Fox News, talk radio, the Drudge Report, and conservative blogs.

Those audiences were misinformed.

Outside the conservative media, the narrative was completely different.

Or…

How many hours of Glenn Beck conspiracy theories did Fox News broadcast to its viewers? How many hours of transparently mindless Sean Hannity content is still broadcast daily? Why don’t Americans trust Republicans on foreign policy as they once did? In part because conservatism hasn’t grappled with the foreign-policy failures of George W. Bush. A conspiracy of silence surrounds the subject. Romney could neither run on the man’s record nor repudiate it. The most damaging Romney gaffe of the campaign, where he talked about how the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes are a lost cause for Republicans? Either he was unaware that many of those people are Republican voters, or was pandering to GOP donors who are misinformed. Either way, bad information within the conservative movement was to blame.

The point is, I was intolerant and I despise intolerance. Jon Stewart and others tried to warn me, but I wouldn’t listen. I just assumed that you were stubborn and incapable of accepting a different point of view. I realize that you must feel just awful to have been duped so and for so long. So foolish. Especially when you did so publicly. In front of everyone you know. All your friends and co-workers. Your family. Your children. And you were sooooo righteous. Often telling us loudly and with absolute hatred that we were complete Godless idiots before slamming the door and going back into your cult to plan the overthrow of the heretics. I just want to say that I will forgive you. I’ll be kind. There will be no required “Hunger Games” as a result. How can I help? Perhaps I could suggest a good book?

 

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* I’d rather listen to fingernails on a blackboard or an endless loop of the best of Andy Williams than that woman’s voice. Makes me scream and pull my hair out. Aaaaaaaah! I’ll be alright. I just need some quiet.