Category Archives: why we can’t have nice things

The Holman Rule


File this under It’s Not Like We Didn’t See it Coming news:

House ReThugs 1 yesterday reinstated an arcane procedural rule that will enable individual lawmakers to reach deep into the budget and slash the pay of any individual federal worker — down to $1. Because…useless stoopid government workers!

Given, use of the Holman Rule would not be simple; a majority of the House and the Senate would still have to approve any such amendment.

But all that really means is the Congress Critters would make massive dealswheel n’ deal among themselves: “I’ll support you’re gutting OSGA if you’ll support me emptying out the EPA.” Yet another step toward “making ‘murika great(ish) again.”

Hear hear, Deplorables. Hear hear!

The Holman Rule

The problem here is the Deplorables (not to mention, please don’t mention the Dims) err –oh, so often– in their assumption the ReThugs will act In Good Faith. Their mistake is believing the Kasich’s, the Rubio’s, the Cruz’s and (Thor save us) the fucking Griffith’s all sincerely desire to institute the best policies for all of America.

Nothing could be further from the truth; they just want what’s best for them. Take the ACA: Repealing ‘Obamacare’ will strip millions (who cannot otherwise afford it) of their health insurance. Just a “bug” of ReThug policy? Nope, it’s the primary goal. And, since it ticks off one of his campaign promises, our Manchurian President-elect will be fine with that.

The Manchurian President-elect also insisted throughout his campaign that the way the current Federal government is run “is bad, it’s very bad. Sad.” 2 In the way of the ReThugs it therefore follows that the Federal government under said individual WILL BE bad, very bad. Why? Because it is a necessary step to the Manchurian President-elect & ReThug’s plan to privatize as much of it as possible, thereby proving the ‘free market’ is the answer to all things.

Given the Manchurian President-elect’s cabinet picks, and now the disinterment of the Holman Rule, it won’t be long before whole Departments either disappear or are gutted, probably starting with the EPA and Education. Energy will slowly follow along, simply because Perry is a tool and it will take him some time to figure out how best to ruin that Department. 3

But the crème de la crème of the ReThug douchery will arrive with tax cuts for the rich (concomitant with fewer services for everyone else) and the inevitable push to “privatize” Social Security. 4

Give these bastards enough time and the whole country will make Brownbackistan look enlightened.

The Holman Rule

Show 4 footnotes

  1.  Actually, this was the brain fart of Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.).
  2. The data is in on that and, at best, it’s a push. Moreover, the worst of the waste in the Federal government comes from the largest spender: The Department of Defense. Which never seriously gets touched. Even though it’s over 50% of the total annual budget.
  3. Pro Tip: Just be yourself, Ricky. That should have the department in shambles in no time.
  4. When a ReThug says “privatize”, hold on to your wallet; what he really mean is “allow a bunch of my old white buddies, already wealthy, to manage {whatever} in order to make them richer by carving out huge fees from you suckers, all while providing negligibly better to worse service. Oh, and I get a nice kickback.”

Hot New Amenity

The U.S. Secret Service is the hot, new “amenity” at Trump Tower, where desperate brokers are trying to lure well-heeled clients into the building on Fifth Avenue that has served as President-elect Donald Trump’s home as well as his campaign and transition headquarters.

Less than a week after Trump was elected, prominent New York real estate agency Douglas Elliman blasted out an email with the subject: “Fifth Avenue Buyers Interested in Secret Service Protection?” to advertise a $2.1 million, 1,052-square-foot condo in the tower on 721 Fifth Avenue.
“The New Aminity [sic] – The United States Secret Service,” screamed the flier sent in an email on Nov. 13 for a one-bedroom apartment on the 31st floor, represented by brokers Ariel Sassoon and Devin Leahy.

“The Best Value in the Most Secure Building in Manhattan,” it stated.

On our dime, of course; whether the costs are $500,000 a day or $3 million a year to rent a floor in Manchurian President-elect’s gaudy, the cost of providing security for the buffoon will be footed by the taxpayers.

Hot New Amenity

Rumors of War

huckabee_herzliya-huckabee

“I have seen biblical prophecy fulfilled in Israel, and no one can deny that.”

President-elect…has reportedly appointed an ambassador to Israel: Mike Huckabee 1, a supporter of settlement expansion and the Israeli annexation of the West Bank, who claimed in the past that Palestinians don’t exist.

Great, yet another death worshipper in a position of power…

Rumors of War

Show 1 footnote

  1. Fun Fact! Mike Huckabee is a Christian Zionist, a sect of Christian fundamentalism that believes the actual Apocalypse will take place exactly as the Bible “foretells”, in the land of Israel.

Water Audit

Well over a year ago we talked with the folks who planned on asking for an audit of the KCMO Water Department; their estimation was it would take a year to achieve.

It apparently takes longer to get stuff done than back in the day 1, but their web presence is finally up and running – you can volunteer here, or just send them an email.

Step up, people – this should have been done years ago, Sly and the Council Stoned to the contrary. When you see these good folk – ourselves included – pushing petitions at the neighborhood shopping markets or going door-to-door, take a brief moment to scribble your signature.

The tax dollars you save may be your own.

Water Audit

Show 1 footnote

  1. Why, when I was a kid I did an audit of the entire DoD in just under a week! Kids these days…

Common Property

Uniquely among the world’s rich countries, the United States lacks a comprehensive, universal social insurance system. This is largely due to ideological opposition by Republican Party elites. It took nearly seventy years for Democrats to achieve the expanded, still-less-than-universal coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act—against unanimous Republican opposition. Republicans have continued to sabotage the ACA, successfully blocking the extension of Medicaid coverage in nineteen states. The GOP’s primary plan for Medicare is to shift costs to the elderly. It has resisted full funding of Social Security Disability Insurance and insists that the only acceptable plan for ensuring the financial stability of Social Security is to cut benefits. Meanwhile, thirty-three states, nearly all GOP-led, have cut workers’ compensation programs since 2003, often drastically.

What accounts for this extreme hostility to social insurance? Social Security and Medicare are popular programs, even among the GOP’s base. Republican leaders, however, tend to think of social insurance as a socialist or communist scheme designed to undermine private property and free markets. Their arguments can be traced to Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, whose 1944 book The Road to Serfdom warned that the emerging social democratic regimes of Europe were stepping onto a slippery slope to totalitarianism. Adapted into an illustrated booklet distributed widely by General Motors in the mid-1940s, The Road to Serfdom has fueled American opposition for decades now. Ronald Reagan, probably inspired by Hayek, made a recording opposing Medicare for the American Medical Association in 1961, predicting that it would lead to the state dictating to people what jobs they must perform and where they must live and work.

The ironies here are rich. Conservative criticisms of social insurance reflect profound misapprehensions of its relation to private property. Social insurance, in both theory and practice, arose in defense of private property and against communist and socialist threats. Exploring these origins is essential now because they contain important lessons that will help us strengthen social insurance to meet the challenges of post-industrial capitalism.

Thomas Paine, the great American revolutionary, proposed the world’s first realistic plan to abolish poverty. What he devised were universal social insurance and stakeholder grants, outlined in the 1797 pamphlet Agrarian Justice. (The relation of this work to later programs is not lost on the Social Security Administration, which reproduces the text on its website.)

Tellingly, the happiest places in the world are those nations that laughed at the objections of our Republicans.

Common Property

Anthem-Cigna Merger

So…about that little heard of proposed merger between health insurers Anthem and Cigna; seems there’s a problem. In fact, the whole thing reeks of corruption and conflict of interest:

…Late last week, there was some notable news in the arcane world of insurance regulation: Connecticut’s state comptroller, Kevin Lembo, called on Insurance Department Commissioner Katharine Wade to recuse herself from a review of the proposed merger of the nation’s second- and fourth-largest insurers, Anthem and Cigna, in which the state has a lead role. “The revelations and repeated reports about your financial, personal and professional ties to Cigna,” Lembo wrote to Wade, “will make it challenging for the Connecticut public to view the review process of the Anthem-Cigna merger as fair and transparent.”

Lembo’s letter marked the latest turn in a controversy that, while building for more than a year, has come to a head over the past month —driven in substantial part by the ongoing reporting of David Sirota, the Denver-based senior investigations editor for the International Business Times. On June 1, Sirota published a lengthy piece weaving together previously-known and new concerns over conflicts of interest surrounding the merger review: Wade, appointed to her role in 2015 by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, is a former longtime Cigna lobbyist, her husband is a top Cigna lawyer, her father-in-law works for a law firm that lobbies for Cigna, and her mother worked for Cigna as recently as 2013. Wade’s brother, Sirota reported, also “previously worked as a counsel” for Cigna. Further, after reviewing more than a decade’s worth of campaign finance data, Sirota showed that Anthem, Cigna, and Cigna’s lobbying firm gave more than $2 million to groups linked to Gov. Malloy, with much of that money coming since 2015.

Since then, Sirota has produced more than a dozen follow-ups on the topic —tracking, for example, grassroots groups and state legislators calling on Malloy to remove Wade from the merger review— as what he initially envisioned as a “good little blog item” turned into an investigative series.

Anthem-Cigna Merger

Surveillance Society

…Perhaps it was inevitable that the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act would come under threat, as it’s our nation’s strongest law that protects people from facial recognition technology used by private entities. Enacted in 2008, the law was an initiative of the ACLU of Illinois, in response to an episode when a corporation sold off its database of customer biometric information during bankruptcy proceedings.

The Illinois statute requires private entities to get consent from a person before collecting or disclosing their biometric identifiers. Private entities also must destroy collected identifiers within three years, and sooner if they finish using the identifiers for the purpose for which they collected it. The statute extends to “a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of hand or face geometry.” The term “face geometry” includes facial recognition. Finally, the statute has teeth: injured parties may sue the private entities that violate these privacy rules.

Surveillance Society

Newt Gingrich

“Let me go a step further, because remember, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, and Orlando involve American citizens. We’re going to ultimately declare a war on Islamic supremacists and we’re going to say, if you pledge allegiance to ISIS, you are a traitor and you have lost your citizenship. And we’re going take much tougher positions. In the late 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt was faced with Nazi penetration in the United States. We originally created the House Un-American Activities Committee to go after Nazis. We passed several laws in 1938 and 1939 to go after Nazis and we made it illegal to help the Nazis. We’re going to presently have to go take the similar steps here.”

Before you start to make apologies for Jabba the Hutt, remember – the fat fuck is a history professor. 1 So he knows how well HUAC turned out. Which argues the piece of shit wants another “red scare”; he wants further governmental intrusion into American’s lives. Which makes sense, I suppose, as that’s exactly what the ReThugs in general want.

The Return of HUAC falls in line with his previous stance on GITMO; he’d love to expand it. And he may get his wish because what he’s proposing would ultimately involve internment camps. 2 Not just for Muslims, I expect, but for anyone the new committee decides is “un-American.”

Maybe you.

At this point all I hope Trump picks someone for his running mate who’s merely oily and venal. Christie, perhaps.

Wake up, people.
Newt Gingrich

Show 2 footnotes

  1.  Said fat fuck’s errors aside: for example, HUAC wasn’t a standing committee until after the war.
  2. And, no, I’m pretty damn sure the ReThugs won’t recognize the glittering irony in setting up internment camps in the U.S. where they refuse to bring in GITMO detainees.

Gohmert: No Gay Space Colonies!

Louie Louie Louie

Worried about the makeup of an interstellar space crew? Dude – that’s such an overreach; you lack sufficient reasoning skills to correctly analyze the current presidential campaign, much less deal with ‘the future of mankind.’ Seriously, go back to your day job of increasing teh stoopid and leave space flight details to the pros. 1

Gohmert: No Gay Space Colonies!

Show 1 footnote

  1. I miss Republicans who weren’t insane.