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  • stewartm commented on the blog post IRS Seizing Funds Without Even Bringing Charges

    2014-10-28 12:42:12View | Delete

    According to The New York Times, the IRS has been seizing funds from small businesses and individuals without even presenting a criminal complaint using a draconian law passed to prevent drug money laundering.

    And how such a law ever passed any constitutional muster is beyond fathoming.


  • Such a viewpoint also distorts and narrows what is civil disobedience in a manner that serves the powerful. The government would have had no problem with Snowden turning himself in to face a trial where he could defend his actions as documents were disclosed and published. However, the trial would have become the story instead of the disclosures. The government would have been able to silence him and prevent him from doing the numerous interviews he has done. And it would have been much easier for the government to stymie the shift in consciousness that has been taking place.

    Don’t you mean that…

    The government would have had A problem with Snowden turning himself in to face a trial where he could defend his actions as documents were disclosed and published.

    Because the trial would have been about the leaks, and the content of the leaks? What the government wanted to do was to throw Snowden into a cage, like Chelsea Manning, and gag what his lawyers could say to the press. One of those newly-constitutional “secret trials”.

    They did not want a Daniel Ellsberg-type trial, where he was released on bond, gave speeches about his case, have his lawyers make statements to the press, etc. etc. etc.

    Additionally, there are establishment liberals like Sean Wilentz, who have sought to engage in a kind of McCarthyist investigation where they seek to expose Snowden as a “paranoid libertarian,” who should not be celebrated by people on the left because he seeks to “wound the liberal state.”

    Yo, Wilentz!! The “liberal state” which progressives have historically fought for is all about providing them with things like jobs, access to health care, education, and legal counsel. It’s also about protecting their right to vote, to engage in private sexual behaviors, to read and view what they want, to worship as they choose, to marry whom they want, and more.


    Hope that makes everything clear.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post A Year in Grading Obamacare on a Curve

    2014-10-28 07:16:48View | Delete

    But how does attacking Democrats who were blocked by Republicans and Bluedogs

    Let’s go over the details shall we?

    We were told we couldn’t have a public option because of mean nasty Joe Liebermann and Ben Nelson and that “we need 60 votes”. Then Scott Walker takes over Ted Kennedy’s seats, and suddenly the 60-vote threshold is no more because Obamacare could be passed via reconciliation. Now all you need is a simple Senate majority.

    Whip counters such as Chris Bowers counted 52 Senators on-record for a public option. So since Pelosi and the House had passed its own bill with a public option, and now since we don’t need 60 Senators anymore because we’re using reconciliation, why can’t we stick it back in? We have the votes, right?

    But there was no sticking it back in. There was no sticking it back in because the White House had bargained it away back in July 2009 in talks between Rahm and Big Medicine and then the White House did everything in its power to twist arms to keep it out. Pelosi deserves condemnation too, as well as Senate Dems, because she could and should have stuck it back into the final bill and the 52 Senators who promised us that they’d vote for it would have passed it. While a robust public option isn’t as good as Medicare-for-all (or my pet plan, VA-for-all + Medicare-for-all, a combination of the NIH and the Canadian system) it would do a helluva a lot to correct a lot of the evils in the current system.

    We don’t have a public option squarely because the White House bargained it away, and Pelosi and the rest of our “bold progressive” Dems were too much the “good soldiers” and didn’t pass it anyway and dare Obama to veto the very plan he had campaigned on implementing just to please Rahm’s Medical-Industrial Complex buddies.


  • American healthcare is good.

    But way overpriced.

    The problem with for-profit health care is that:

    a) you try mightily to avoid treating the uninsured, or those insured who cannot pay, or at least skimp on their treatments you do give;

    b) for those that *can* pay or who have good insurance that will pay, you then have every incentive to order all the tests and do all the procedures you can think of in order to run up the bill. (Which maximizes profit,you know).

    So the incentives built-in a for-profit health care system inexorably leads to the very system we have: a system that doesn’t cover everyone, undertreats the majority, and then over-treats the few who can pay. All at prohibitive expense.


  • What these articles really point out is that for-profit capitalist medicine and for-profit capitalist health insurance produce all the wrong incentives. But that simple truth cannot be spoken here.


  • stewartm commented on the diary post Setting Up The Students by anotherquestion.

    2014-10-25 07:16:32View | Delete

    There is really not a STEM gap. I see this in my current tech job. Perhaps it is true that foreign students are on-average more capable than American. That may be true just because the US students making the best grades don’t seek STEM careers. They seek careers on Wall Street and in medicine because [...]

  • stewartm commented on the blog post Dear New Yorkers, Did a Doctor Recently Vomit on You?

    2014-10-25 06:26:27View | Delete

    The amount of concern and attention relative to actual risk is out of control.

    Wrong, Jon.

    1) Ebola is a virus, and like all viruses can mutate. Although in it’s current form it’s hard-to-transmit, there is no guarantee a form might come up that’s easier.

    2) Ebola lays bare the existential threat that poverty, crappy work environments, and lack of access to health care poses to our civilization. Ian Welsh said it best:

    Poor people with inadequate health care, nutrition and sanitation are resevoirs for disease to develop. They always have been. Attempts to explain this to the rich, both the global rich, and the American rich, have been in vain for the past half century or so. What happens in Africa, or India, can come back and kill you, just like what happens in the Middle East (half a million dead kids, and so on) can turn out to be very bad for Manhattan.

    Mind you, this isn’t just a Third World thing either:

    Austerity, cheapness and incompetence kills. America has about 40 million uninsured. The initial symptoms of Ebola look a lot like the flu. Think about what most uninsured are going to do if they get a bad flu? Best case is a trip to the clinic to get some antibiotics. The same is true of many insured. Going to the hospital for a bad case of the flu is overkill, and hospital stays are expensive. Bankruptingly so.

    All it takes is a bit of knowledge about ethnography is know that diseases, combined with ecosystem degradation and resource depletion, are the killers of civilizations. (For an example on our continent, the demise of the Mississippian Native American cultures due to resource depletion and exposure to European diseases, the latter which might have wiped out 80 % of Native American groups, even before they set eyes upon a European).

    Thus progressives should not be pooh-poohing Ebola’s danger, we should be discussing it. We should be discussing how Obamacare’s “skin-in-the-game”‘s out-of-pocket costs discourage people from seeking health care immediately instead of putting it off due to cost. We should be using it to argue for more paid leave, including mandatory sick pay and leave, in order to allow contagious people to stay at home and recover rather than pass what they have on to others because they can’t afford to miss work. We should be screaming how agribusiness wastes our precious antibiotics to make livestock fatter for short-term profits, and stop it. All that and much more.


  • Andreessen also went on to say the Silicon Valley is a meritocracy with the caveat that you have to part of a network to access it. Having to know people to get opportunities is not really a meritocracy in the way most people view the term. Meritocracy for most people means gaining opportunities based on merit. Which we know is not happening in Silicon Valley.

    This is the reason why the US is *NOT* a meritocracy. It’s a club. What you know and can do matters far less than *who* you know.

    When it comes to government, I am pro-gridlock.

    Too bad Silicon Valley isn’t on the coast, so he becomes the first place to be floooded by global warming. Then maybe he’ll change his tune about having gridlocked government?

    On a historical note, Anderseen is right about one thing: businesses are dictatorships. Which is why so many of the 1 % in the US, UK, and elsewhere applauded Mussolini and Hitler. Bulwark against that plebian communism, ya know, and made the trains run on time and all that other happy stuff.


  • Anyone ever think that this could be the end result of pattering the Iraqi army after our “be-all-that-you-can-be” careerist volunteer armed forces? If military service is just another career option, getting killed or maimed isn’t a way to fast-track your career, after all.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post Voters Like Democrats But Think They Are Incompetent

    2014-10-24 07:45:16View | Delete

    Yet Democrats are about to suffer a significant defeat this year because the public thinks they are incompetent.

    Substitute “corrupt” for “incompetent” and it’s more to the truth.

    McConnell’s block-it-all strategy could have been easily defeated by eliminating or reforming the filibuster back in 2009-2010. But the Dems (particularly the WH) was more interested in using the filibuster as an excuse of why they couldn’t do card check, do the public option in HCIR, do immigration reform, repeal DADT, repeal Glass-Steagal, raise the minimum wage, and keep all their campaign promises. The Repugs played their part, and then the Dems went along.

    Now of course, the Dems are shaking their fists in the air again telling us how much they really want to do all these things that could have been done and finished in 90 days if they had really wanted to. But in truth they were (and are) eyeing all that 1 % money.


  • People are paying attention but half of them are OK with winning by any means necessary. Cheating is OK as long as they are on the side that benefits.

    (Thinking of the Billy Jack theme song on that one…)


  • stewartm commented on the diary post Everything Wrong With Liberalism in One Image Found on FaceBook by David Swanson.

    2014-10-23 15:04:40View | Delete

    David–add to that $4 trillion for Wall Street via QE.

    But hey, we’re broke, so I guess we’ll have to put Grandma on cat food.


  • stewartm commented on the diary post Everything Wrong With Liberalism in One Image Found on FaceBook by David Swanson.

    2014-10-23 14:56:17View | Delete

    The liberal approach has become elitist; the alternative is populist. One draws from European history and thought; the other is rooted in American experience. One favors a centralized state and believes in the beneficence of large bureaucracies; the other is skeptical of grand institutions and keeps pulling decisions back towards the community based democracy. One seeks [...]

  • Gerrymandering allowed the GOP to keep the House in 2012 despite getting less votes and now voter suppression is the plan to retake the White House despite having a smaller electorate. But even if this strategy works for now it won’t work for long.

    And why not? After all, how many decades did it not work for the white South? If it works short-term, all I see is evah-more doubling down.

    The only bright side of this might be if that if the franchise option is denied, the disenfranchise will start fighting back in other ways, some of which could really hurt the 1 %. But the 1 % have never been smart, only greedy.


  • stewartm commented on the diary post Over Easy: WA Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Online Child Sex Trade Case by Crane-Station.

    2014-10-22 18:38:16View | Delete

    I’m on backpage’s side on this one. Should we go after ATT if it is found that one of their supported phone sex lines has underage?

    Yep. It’s unreasonable to ask a provider or personals or sex website to comb through all their material doing the cops job for them. And, although a lot of people [...]

  • Even the example provided is unclear. The $530 bill may not include the copay in all cases.


  • Jon, this polling is based upon “likely voter” models. Such models which over the past two elections have had a systematic Republican bias by underestimating the number of Democratic voters who actually showed up. What do the “registered voter” models say by comparison?


  • stewartm commented on the blog post For Conservatives it is all About Fox News

    2014-10-21 14:28:30View | Delete

    To mindlessly claim that “we need a return to the Fairness Doctrine” is proof you are not paying attention – contrary views are constantly being expressed to counter facts based on facts being opinions.

    And the alternative is for Fixed News to promote outright falsehoods with no rebuttals?

    Yes, the public needs to hone critical thinking. However, I am much more comfortable–even given your example about climate change–that allowing a diversity of ideas is more likely to hone such thinking than unrestrained propaganda outlets.

    Moreover, since it’s the left that’s often shut out entirely in today’s process (as per my example of “should we privatize SS or merely slash it?”, a “debate” one would often see on CNN or ‘Case the Nation’) we’d gain more than we’d lose. And there’s the danger in ignoring minority views–back when we had real public broadcasting, pre-Reagan, PBS and NPR would fulfill the role of letting minority viewpoints have the mic (I recall from PBS one of the first shows on homosexuality, in the 1970s, where gay people got to speak for themselves rather than be talked about). Now that they’re depending on begging for money from the bemonied, not so much more.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post For Conservatives it is all About Fox News

    2014-10-21 12:03:16View | Delete

    Among conservatives in this country reality is effectively what Fox News says it is and since the conservatives are a deciding force in Republicans primaries, Fox News also defines reality for the Republican party.

    This is what the foolish repeal of the Fairness Doctrine hath wrought. I can’t help but being reminded of the Southern press just before the Civil War, where Southern newspapers printed *as fact* that Lincoln had campaigned on and promised that he would free all the slaves, then have them marry white women. Given racial prejudices of the time, no wonder the South went beserk.

    (The other interesting thing is that Lincoln not getting *any* votes in several Southern states was probably more the result that ballots weren’t secret back then–you had to ask for a specific ballot to vote for a party’s candidate, so everyone knew. Given that all Southern states but South Carolina supplied soldiers for the Union army, can we say “fear of recrimination”?)


  • stewartm commented on the blog post For Conservatives it is all About Fox News

    2014-10-21 11:57:52View | Delete

    Watched any of those Sunday morning “news shows” lately? “Reasonable Balance” just does not apply.

    As in “Should we privatize SS (“the Right”) or should we merely go Catfood (the supposed “left”). *Doubling benefits*, which is perfectly doable, isn’t presented as an option.

    -stewartm, you know, serious people.

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