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Category: General

The ACA Deus Ex Machina

[ 22 ] June 9, 2015 |

Now this is how you bullshit people with a “poll,” ladies and gentlemen:

The most ideologically hard-core elements of the party have tried to make the case that Republicans should do nothing at all. One libertarian organization commissioned a poll designed to show that voters would not blame Republicans for doing nothing in the face of massive suffering. The poll has an unusually blunt method for producing this result. It asks, in the event the lawsuit is successful, whom voters would blame. The choices are:

“Congress, for poorly writing the law”
“The IRS, for giving out illegal subsidies in the first place”
“States, for refusing to establish Obamacare exchanges”

Notice that, even aside from the loaded terms (“poorly writing,” “illegal”), none of those choices allows voters to blame the current, Republican-run Congress for failing to fix the law. The only “Congress” voters can blame is the old Democratic one that wrote the law in 2009–10. The poll does prove that the public will not blame Republicans in Congress if it is given a fixed menu of choices, of which blaming the Republican Congress is not one.

And, of course, there’s en more glaring omission: the Supreme Court. (Or, as the equivalent question would be worded, “a bare majority of the Supreme Court for willfully misreading the Affordable Care Act and taking subsidies away from more than 6 million people.”) The hack pollsters anticipated John Thune!

What Congress will do if the subsidies vanish because of some eternally unknowable cause is nothing. Which, alas, is better than any possible Republican alternative.

This is Hell

[ 0 ] June 9, 2015 |


I was on This is Hell! with Chuck Mertz on Saturday discussing Out of Sight. You can listen to it here. The interview was a solid 40 minutes which gave us time to talk about a lot of different issues.

Republican Lunch

[ 29 ] June 9, 2015 |


Above: How Jim Risch transports his Rocky Mountain oysters

What do Republican senators eat for lunch? Have you been dying to know this question? Well, lucky for you, the New York Times is on it! Does Dan Coats like pie? Oh yes! Does Jim Risch like to serve bull testicles to Susan Collins? You know he does and that it’s a really funny joke among Republican staffers!

Sad to say that this is actually improvement on the paper wondering if Hillary is going to appeal to the right kind of real American voters.

GOP Brilliance

[ 50 ] June 9, 2015 |

Boy, I wonder where these health care subsidies come from? Republican Jesus no doubt.

Idiocy Upon Idiocy

[ 103 ] June 8, 2015 |

Of course Ron Fournier would weigh in on the New York Times “the proper way for Democrats to win the presidency is to appeal to conservative white voters in Arkansas and West Virginia” article by not only saying that it was a good article but by saying that there’s a “right” way to win and a “wrong” way to win and of course appealing to your base, i.e., people who aren’t white, is the “wrong” way to win. He writes, “My problem with this approach is that it works only until Election Day, when a polarizing, opportunistic candidate assumes the presidency with no standing to convert campaign promises into results.”

Right, because if Hillary can somehow appeal to those Arkansas voters and 1996 comes back into existence in 2016, the Republicans will totally lower their guard. We all know how accommodating those Republicans were to Bill Clinton in his 2nd term after all. I mean really, what impeachment? I don’t remember that. I only remember a bipartisan love fest that would make David Broder hard from the grave.

What Should My Next TV Show Be?

[ 372 ] June 8, 2015 |


Above: The greatest television character in the medium’s history

I have a conundrum. I need a new TV show to watch. Now, I’m pretty behind on the TV revolution. Because of my commitment to film, I tend to go through TV shows slowly. Basically, I’ve watched the entire series or am caught up currently on Mad Men, Deadwood, The Wire, Better Call Saul, and Breaking Bad. I watched the first season of The Sopranos (finally) last summer and then set it aside to finish Breaking Bad and rewatch Deadwood, i.e., the greatest show in television history. I just finished Deadwood. So what to do next?

I ask because I am really torn on trying to watch Game of Thrones. Here’s the thing–I have an inherent dislike for anything revolving around fantasy or science fiction. Those genres of storytelling I find usually pretty uninteresting since I find the present and past more than interesting enough and generally more plausible in terms of storytelling. Even the science fiction I do like–Tarkovsky’s Solaris for instance, is not exactly the norm for the genre.

So I was initially inclined against it. But on the other hand, I like anything that is really well done. So I could watch Game of Thrones if it’s really that good. And I was leaning in that direction, despite not caring for the genre. But reading what people are saying about this season, it’s like there’s an abusive relationship between the show and its fans, with a lot of people recoiling in horror but continuing to watch (or not). I don’t mind violence on the screen. I do have a very limited, like pretty close to zero, tolerance to depictions of sexual violence. Especially if they are more than a one-time event.

So given all this, should I watch Game of Thrones, if for nothing else so I can understand what everyone is talking about? Or should I go back and finish The Sopranos? Or finally check out Boardwalk Empire, Treme, or another of the HBO dramas I haven’t seen? Or Orange is the New Black? I was really inclined toward Justified, but it’s not on Netflix and it’s hard to justify subscribing to yet another service.

I’m teaching as this comes up. I hope for 200 comments by the time I get home at 10.

….I also watched True Detective, which I thought was pretty good.

….Given that we are basically a Game of Thrones blog, I find it interesting that no one has really given a full-throated defense of the show telling me I must watch.

Minimum Wage in California

[ 23 ] June 8, 2015 |


Really glad to see California move toward a $13 hour minimum wage tied to inflation. It’s not nearly high enough, especially for a state as expensive as California. The minimum wage should be around $20. But it certainly beats the $9 that it is now. The California House seems more conservative than the Senate and it’s not yet clear if Jerry Brown supports this, although I have trouble thinking he won’t if it passes the House.

If I Reference Hiroshima in an E-Mail to a Student, It’s Because I Want to Nuke Their House

[ 71 ] June 8, 2015 |


Above: A clearly relevant threat to 21st century higher education administrators.

The administration war on faculty has reached a new low at Oakton Community College in Illinois.

Oakton Community College (OCC) is insisting that a one-sentence “May Day” email referencing the Haymarket Riot sent by a faculty member to several colleagues constituted a “true threat” to the college president.

Lawyers for the Chicago-area college argue that the email, which noted that May Day (May 1) is a traditional time for workers to remember the riot, threatened violence. Last month, OCC demanded that the now former faculty member “cease and desist” from similar communications in the future or face potential legal action.

May Day is celebrated every year on May 1 by the international labor movement to commemorate the fight for workers’ rights. The celebration is historically associated with the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago.

“Merely noting to one’s colleagues that May Day is a time when workers ‘remember’ the Haymarket Riot does not constitute a ‘true threat,’” said Ari Cohn, a Senior Program Officer and lawyer with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “The United States Department of the Interior has designated the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument a National Historic Landmark. If remembering the Haymarket Riot is a ‘true threat,’ the monument itself would be illegal.”

On May 1, Chester Kulis sent an email to OCC colleagues that read, “Have a happy MAY DAY when workers across the world celebrate their struggle for union rights and remember the Haymarket riot in Chicago.” The email, titled “May Day – The Antidote to the Peg Lee Gala,” was written in response to a reception hosted by OCC in celebration of the retirement of college president Margaret B. Lee.

This makes right-wing claims that I was calling for Wayne LaPierre’s assassination seem relatively cogent. How a mention of a labor action over a century ago is an actual call for violence against a person today is completely unknowable because it’s not. If he had said, “I would like to bomb the administration building like the anarchists threw that bomb at the police in 1886 and kill them all” I guess you’d have a case. This is just stupidity. Actually, it’s more than that. It’s part of the larger academic crackdown on left-leaning professors protesting the corporate university. University presidents and boards of trustees see themselves as corporate heads and want the ability to dispose of any employee for any reason, including talking back to power.

Why McKinney Happened

[ 141 ] June 8, 2015 |


The nation is once again focused on police brutality today thanks to the violent attack by a cop on black swimmers in the Dallas suburb of McKinney, Texas. Once again, the video capability of cameras has brought the routine police brutality people of color face in the United States into our sight. But it’s also worth noting why the cops were called to the scene anyway–the racist whites of McKinney.

Neighbors are defending police who chased black teenagers at gunpoint and tackled a girl wearing a bikini after breaking up a party at a community pool over the weekend in McKinney, Texas.

But one homeowner and her daughter say those neighbors confronted some teens when they went outside and began taunting them and their guests with racial slurs before starting a fight.

Tatiana Rose, who lives in the Craig Ranch neighborhood and hosted the party with her siblings, said a woman and man who live in the neighborhood showed up and called their friends “black f*ckers” and told them to return to their Section 8 housing.

The 19-year-old Rose said most of her friends who attended the party live in Craig Ranch — which sits along a golf course.

Rose said one of her younger brother’s friends — a white girl named Grace Stone — scolded the neighbors and told them it wasn’t right to use racial slurs.

“So then they started verbally abusing her, saying that she needs to do better for herself, cursing at her, and I’m saying, no that’s wrong – she’s 14, you should not say things like that to a 14-year-old,” Rose said.

She said the woman, who she identified as Kate, told her to go back to her government-assisted housing and smacked her in the face when she stuck up for the younger girl, and she said another woman also attacked her.

Police brutality isn’t just a police problem. It’s also a symptom of this nation’s endemic racism that reinforces white supremacy each and every day.

Game of Thrones: “What great thing has ever been accomplished without killing or cruelty?”

[ 81 ] June 8, 2015 |

Embedded image permalink

Last night’s Episode 9 may well go down as one of the most divisive in the show’s run. But that doesn’t mean the show wasn’t asking important questions about the sacrifices we make – and I explore what the answers might mean over at

Franklin Graham urges Christians to boycott Wells Fargo…

[ 50 ] June 8, 2015 |

…and Wells Fargo is like, “Really? We didn’t notice.”

I’ve got to say that I really enjoy watching evangelical Christians being marginalized on account of their extremism. Not that I’m part of a vast conspiracy to marginalize them, mind you, just a happy spectator.

Two Cheers for the USA Freedom Act

[ 14 ] June 8, 2015 |


It’s a step in the right direction, albeit a pretty small one.

You will also be surprised to learn that America’s Foremost Civil Libertarian did a great deal to draw attention to himself while doing not much of anything to substantively improve the statute.

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