Alaska: Home to oil, polar bears and Medicaid Expansion

Via Think Progress:

Alaska will become the 30th state to accept Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion, after Gov. Bill Walker (I) announced on Thursday that he will use his executive power to bypass the GOP-controlled legislature and implement the policy on his own.

Walker — a former Republican who has since become an Independent — has been advocating for Medicaid expansion for over a year. Implementing this particular Obamacare provision, which was ruled optional by the Supreme Court in 2012, would extend health coverage to an estimated 40,000 low-income residents in his state.

Decent chance there will be a court fight on the expansion, but establishing facts on the ground that this is what a civilized state does (especially when someone else is paying either the entire bill or the vast majority of it), and more importantly getting the hospital groups on board and used to the revenue will start entrenching the program.

And here is the Republican response to Medicaid expansion in Alaska:

“I think in this time, in these lean years, it’s time for communities to pull together, it’s time for churches to step up, it’s time to help give a hand to each other as individuals. We can be kind as people. It’s not government’s place to be kind,” State Rep. Shelley Hughes (R) said in reference to uninsured Alaskans when the House voted down Medicaid expansion in March.

Counting on churches, private charity, bake sales and magical unicorns flying out of a yeti’s ass has been the working poor health insurance plan for years. That has not worked, but let’s try it again and clap louder. Asshole.



Never Mind “Rising Again”, It Never Went Anywhere

In what should surprise precisely no one, an overwhelming majority of white Southerners still see the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern pride in a new CNN poll.

American public opinion on the Confederate flag remains about where it was 15 years ago, with most describing the flag as a symbol of Southern pride more than one of racism, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. And questions about how far to go to remove references to the Confederacy from public life prompt broad racial divides.

The poll shows that 57% of Americans see the flag more as a symbol of Southern pride than as a symbol of racism, about the same as in 2000 when 59% said they viewed it as a symbol of pride. Opinions of the flag are sharply divided by race, and among whites, views are split by education.

Among African-Americans, 72% see the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism, just 25% of whites agree. In the South, the racial divide is even broader. While 75% of Southern whites describe the flag as a symbol of pride and 18% call it a symbol of racism, those figures are almost exactly reversed among Southern African-Americans, with just 11% seeing it as a sign of pride and 75% viewing it as a symbol of racism.

Among whites, there’s a sharp divide by education, and those with more formal education are less apt to see the flag as a symbol of pride. Among whites with a college degree, 51% say it’s a symbol of pride, 41% one of racism. Among those whites who do not have a college degree, 73% say it’s a sign of Southern pride, 18% racism.

Digging around in the crosstabs, a majority of Southern whites with college degrees are okay with the Confederate flag (51%). And among Democrats 34% find the flag a symbol of pride (77% among Republicans) and 34% of liberals do too (71% among conservatives, 60% among moderates.)

The real killer: 58% of snake people Millennials see the flag as a symbol of pride, which is actually slightly higher than Gen X-ers (56%) or Boomers under 65 (53%).  Seniors, well, They’re at 64%.  I hope we’re well past the whole “Young people aren’t as racist as their parents” nonsense, because Millennials are just as awful. Indoctrination is awesome.

I grew up in North Carolina, and this doesn’t surprise me one damn bit.  People ought to know better.



Battle Flag Acquisition Strategies

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Early this morning, I was doing some research on the endurance of corporate culture, studying how sometimes the spirit of a smaller, acquired firm can permeate the larger, acquiring organization. It’s not unusual for a big behemoth to acquire a scrappy smaller company solely for the purpose of infusing the moribund giant with fresh blood, and when the companies’ interests align, it can create an unstoppable marketplace force…for a while.

With that dynamic still on my mind, I moseyed over to Booman’s place and read a post that hit upon something that has been bothering me about the focus on the rebel flag in the wake of the domestic terrorist massacre in Charleston:

But the focus on the Confederate Flag can have an unfortunate side effect. What, after all, does that flag mean when it doesn’t simply mean white supremacy?

It’s meaning in those cases in nearly identical to the meaning of the modern conservative movement. It’s about disunion, and hostility to the federal government, and state’s rights. It’s anti-East Coast Establishment and anti-immigrant. It’s about an idealized and false past and preserving outworn and intolerant ideas. It’s about a perverse version of a highly provincial and particularized version of (predominantly) Protestant Christianity that has evolved to serve the interests of power elites in the South. It’s about an aggrieved sense of false persecution where white men are playing on the hardest difficulty setting rather than the easiest, and white Christians are as threatened as black Muslims and gays and Jews.

“Those blacks are raping our women and they have to go.”

That’s what the Confederate Flag is all about, but it’s also the basic message of Fox News and the whole Republican Party since the moment that Richard Nixon promised us law and order.

But it’s not black people who have to go.

It’s this whole Last Cause bullshit mentality that fuels our nation’s politics and lines the pockets of Ted Cruz just as surely as it has been lining the pockets of Walmart executives.

Today, maybe the governor down there had an epiphany. Maybe this massacre was the last straw. But, tomorrow, we’ll all be right back where we began with Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army.

If we solve a symbolic problem and leave the rest untouched, then what will really change?

You can’t bury the Confederate Flag without, at the same time, burying the Conservative Movement.

Let’s get on with it.

He’s right. For many white people, the rebel flag represented moldy old myths about the antebellum South. But think about how nicely that mythology dovetailed with the lies about the pre-Civil Rights era that paleocons like Pat Buchanan tell themselves.

Like a moribund corporation, the GOP acquired Confederate culture with the Southern strategy, harnessing the racism in the South and its echo nationwide to build the present day Republican Party. That’s why Ronald Reagan launched his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. That’s why an always-wrong, New York City-born legacy hire who is relentlessly eager to send other people’s kids off to die in glorious causes is tweeting nonsense that his ancestors would find…puzzling:

So, the rebel flag should come down in South Carolina and every other state capitol in the former Confederacy, and with surprising (to me) swiftness, it looks like it will. That will be more than a symbolic victory; it will be the partial righting of a very old wrong.

But there’s a danger in “otherizing” the South in this context. It’s not wrong to condemn its blinkered myth-making and prideful backwardness, but there’s a hazard in moral preening within and outside of Dixie, a risk of declaring a tidy victory when the dinosaurs in the state capitols of the former Confederacy finally sink into the tarpit they’ve thrashed in for 150 years.

The risk is that we’ll lose focus on the modern day “Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army,” as Booman put it. At its core, the Southern strategy was an attempt to roll back progress by hitching the anti-New Dealers’ star to the creaky old Confederate wagon. Its organizers weren’t all or even mostly slack-jawed yokels waving rebel flags. They included a fiery libertarian business man from Phoenix, a glib B-movie pitchman who hailed from Northern Illinois and a twitchy, paranoid Quaker from California.

To achieve true victory, we have to finally drive a stake through the heart of the Southern strategy, not just the Confederacy. So let’s make expunging the rebel flag from the public square the opening salvo in a larger battle to take our country back. Yes, that’s right, TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK. With no lies and decaying myths about what that means. The flag that represents it isn’t spotless. Its founding was rooted in slavery, genocide and the oppression of women. But unlike its dying counterpart, this flag is worth saving.



Kung Fu Pope v. Big Carbon

Via Slate, I came across this little bit of video:

Per Eric Holtas in Slate, this is the brainchild of some delightfully twisted Brazilian climate change activists.
My favorite shot?  Dawn-backlit papal Tai-Chi exercise.  IOW:  just watch this.
PS — the soundtrack could/should have been Inhofe and Santorum skull detonations.


And Some Might Learn To Adjust

But then it never was a matter of trust.

President Obama’s argument that Democrats should trust his vision on trade is falling flat on Capitol Hill.

Democrats — even some of Obama’s closest allies — say it’s not enough for the president to pronounce his trade agenda the most progressive in history.

The lawmakers want assurances that the agreements under negotiation, particularly a huge deal being finalized with Pacific Rim nations, will protect U.S. jobs — assurances many say they simply haven’t gotten.

“I take the president at his word that he believes … the argument he’s making, but I think he’s wrong,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said Wednesday.

“The analysis I’ve done comes to a very different conclusion,” he added. “It’s clear that this will, in the long term, not result in the growth of American jobs and an increase in wages.”

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), head of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he’s in talks with administration officials, who have yet to convince him the president’s trade agenda would create jobs in North Carolina.

“I’m still at the place I’ve always been: leaning no,” Butterfield said Wednesday.

“There’s a difference between growing the economy and helping American companies grow the bottom line, and creating jobs,” he added.

Fast track authority legislation in the House is going to be a long, ugly road. House Democrats are overwhelmingly against it, and Orange Julius is going to need to come up with something like 200 Republican votes in order for this to have any chance of passage.  Recent history has shown that depending on his skills at whipping votes is a major loser of a bet.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks is trying to crowdfund a hundred grand as a reward for somebody to leak to them the bulk of the text of the TPP, so there’s that.



Water You Up To, Obama?

President Obama is set to release new clean water rules today, in a move that will drive Republicans crazy, because the concept of clean drinking water is clearly Marxist dogma.

The Obama administration is expected in the coming days to announce a major clean water regulation that would restore the federal government’s authority to limit pollution in the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands.

Environmentalists have praised the new rule, calling it an important step that would lead to significantly cleaner natural bodies of water and healthier drinking water.

But it has attracted fierce opposition from several business interests, including farmers, property developers, fertilizer and pesticide makers, oil and gas producers and a national association of golf course owners. Opponents contend that the rule would stifle economic growth and intrude on property owners’ rights.

Republicans in Congress point to the rule as another example of what they call executive overreach by the Obama administration. Already, they are advancing legislation on Capitol Hill meant to block or delay the rule.

Republicans are at this point so utterly ridiculous that they are relegated to screaming about how the federal government supplying safe drinking water (when multiple states are suffering from the worst drought in centuries, mind you) is worthy of a Second American Revolution.

“Under this outrageously broad new rule, Washington bureaucrats would now have a say in how farmers, and ranchers, and families use their own property,” said Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming and the chief author of the Senate bill.

“It would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate private property just based on things like whether it’s used by animals or birds, or even insects,” he said.

“This rule,” he added, “is not designed to protect the traditional waters of the United States. It is designed to expand the power of Washington bureaucrats.”

Barrasso is full of nonsense, like every other Republican opposed to this. When American corporations are polluting our streams, lakes and rivers and leaving hundreds of thousands without potable water for weeks at a time, maybe the concept of tougher regulations is an idea well overdue.

Meanwhile, Republicans are screaming about how anyone who owns land is going to have to have EPA permits for puddles on their properties. The idiocy is insulting.

Makes a guy want to go have a drink or two.  Of course, you need clean water for that, too.



Pope Francis on the Death Merchants

Hippie Pope tells it exactly like it is:

Pope Francis said Monday that “many powerful people don’t want peace because they live off war.” The Argentine pontiff made the hard-hitting comment in response to a question from one of the 7,000 children taking part in an audience held with the Peace Factory organisation. “This is serious,” Francis told the children. “Some powerful people make their living with the production of arms. It’s the industry of death.”

Wow — an actual Christian! How did this guy get through the papal conclave?

[H/T: Valued commenter Rikyrah]