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Anthony Weiner’s Penis May Have Saved Social Security

Which makes me a big fan of his penis. In fact, I may be a bigger fan of his penis than anyone he actually shared it with. Because of Anthony Weiner’s penis, Obama appears to be acting more like a democrat in a way that we haven’t seen since the campaign.

Why do I believe that Americans owe Anthony Weiner’s penis a big debt of gratitude? Because one day after losing that seat to republicans, Obama announces that he’s taking social security reform off the table. This is a complete reversal from every signal the administration has ever sent out on the topic of social security. We obviously have Anthony Weiner’s penis to thank for this.

This reversal may (I’m being a sunny optimist again) be good news for Obama’s testicles, since they appear to finally be dropping. We’ll see what happens over the next few days, but it appears that Obama is finally starting to realize that the problem isn’t that crazy, rabid liberals have unrealistic expectations. The problem is that that he has failed to protect the needs of the middle class.

I’m optimistic because I’ve come to expect nothing from Obama, in terms of standing up to teapublicans. So when he shows even the slightest hint of a spine, I’m overcome with joy and optimism. But I’m still a pragmatist, so I’m a little concerned about the statement the white house released on the matter. Here’s the statement:

“The president’s recommendation for deficit reduction will not include any changes to Social Security because, as the president has consistently said, he does not believe that Social Security is a driver of our near and medium term deficits”.

I’m concerned because the statement should have stated that social security has never added a dime to our deficit because it’s a deficit neutral program by design. He needs to start reframing issues, rather than talking about them in republican terms. He needs to make it clear that since social security is a deficit neutral program, that any objections to it are purely ideological. He needs to put this cutting social security bullshit to rest forever. He needs to dispel the lies about social security once and for all. He needs to articulate the facts that no one ever hears. He needs to let Americans know that 2011 is the first year that social security has paid out more than it’s collected. He needs to talk about the $2.5 trillion dollar surplus that social security has at this very moment. He needs to point out that social security is collecting 8% less than it was projected to collect because of income inequality. Regardless of how much someone makes, they’re done paying into the system once they’ve earned $106,800 a year. Since we have fewer people making $90,000 a year, and more people making upwards of $1,000,000 per year than ever before, the system is being strained by that wealth disparity. Obama needs to make these facts clear, not to garner support for social security (70% of us, liberals and teapublicans alike adamantly want social security to stay), but to bring the argument back to a fact-based framing.

I know, I know, he gives me an inch and I want a mile (did I mention how big a fan of Anthony Weiner’s penis I am?).

James Carville is advising the Obama administration to panic. I hope they do. Obama needs to radically change course, not out of fear of losing reelection, but out of duty to the American people. I frankly don’t give a shit about his reelection. If he stays on the course he’s been on, four more years of this shit is nothing I’m fearful of losing. He was elected by people that were hoping for change. He owes two and a half years of change that haven’t yet materialized.

I’m going a step further than Carville. Obama needs to take the fight to republicans. He needs to push for temporarily lowering the medicare and social security eligibility ages as part of his jobs plan. Anyone that is in their 60s is virtually unemployable in this economy. Lowering the eligibility age to 60 on both of those programs will enable some of those people to retire from the work force early, thereby lowering the unemployment rate right away. And he should make the argument that taking them out of the private insurance system will keep premiums flat for everyone else, since they won’t have to pay out those medical bills. At the same time, lowering the average of the medicare risk pool should help medicare.

This will make John Boehner’s head explode, since most Americans will be for it. He and all of the republican presidential hopefuls will have to run against Obama’s plan. He would force them to explain how they don’t give a shit about your mother or your grandmother and that they’re your problem to deal with, because anything else would be a big government intrusion in your life. Yeah, that’s going to play well.

Republicans have created an illusion of a version of a socialist lefty they want to fight against. I think that Obama should turn into an actual socialist lefty that they’re completely unprepared for.

I for one, hope that Anthony Weiner’s penis is actually powerful enough to help make my dream a reality.   



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Deconstructing Stupid

Here’s a newsflash; I’m not opposed to making cuts to medicare. I believe that we can cut medicare spending significantly, while improving services for medicare recipients. One of the really good aspects of the health reform bill was how cuts to medicare were made. I wholeheartedly agreed with cutting funding to medicare advantage.

If you’re not familiar with medicare advantage, let me give you the broad strokes. It was an experiment that Bill Clinton tried, where he outsourced medicare to private insurance companies. The idea was the old republican mantra that private companies can “do it” more efficiently than government can. I believe it was an experiment worth trying. But fifteen years into it, the results were in; not only did it cost 14% more than traditional medicare, but it didn’t deliver better results. It was a nice try, but it failed. Defunding it and getting our 14% back made all the sense in the world.

I believe that there are similar cuts that can be made. I’ll get to those later.

Paul Ryan put this out yesterday:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJIC7kEq6kw[/youtube]

Apparently, he’s decided that instead of back peddling out of his disastrous plan to fuck seniors, he’s going to double down. I’m not sure if he’s going for an Oscar a la Al Gore, but I wouldn’t waste my time lobbying the nominating committee if I were him.

Bear with me while I go through this point for point, because it’s not all bullshit.

The first point that he makes is that Americans spend fifty times more on healthcare today, than we did in 1960. Yes Paul, that’s because we have a system run by private corporations. He fails to mention that we pay more than double (per capita) for health insurance than other countries with nationalized health care systems do.

Next he talks about how medicare spending will nearly double in the next ten years. The actual increase amount is 86%, but I can see how “double” has a more dramatic effect. Those figures are true. What he didn’t say is that in relation to GDP, this represents a growth difference from 3.6% of GDP now, to 4.1% of GDP in 2020. Yes, the amount of spending is going to explode, but a little bit of relative perspective goes a long way. By the way, I love it how everyone acts like no one saw the number of baby boomers coming. What the fuck? You couldn’t count all of the births from sixty-five years ago, and predict how many medicare recipients there would be today? If we’d been making incremental adjustments all along, there wouldn’t be a “crisis” now. Shut the fuck up with your crisis nonsense, especially if you’ve been in the house for over twenty years.

The next point he makes is actually a good one. We have a system that pays for procedures, rather than results. It’s referred to as “fee for service”. This system doesn’t encourage curing a patient. It incentivizes doctors to rob the system by running tests in perpetuity so that they can get paid for each test. We should absolutely change the system so that it pays for results. This is the type of cost savings measure I can get behind. But I have to say that his line about, …” A patient is very disconnected from the cost” made me vomit in my mouth a little. Do you really think that if a patient knew what each procedure cost, they would know enough to pass on an MRI that may or may not be necessary? How the fuck are they supposed to know if it’s necessary? People go to school for nine years to learn if the MRI is necessary. The implication is that the patient is glutting themselves on health care as if it’s a luxury item, because they don’t know how much it costs. Asshat.

Then he makes the tired, lame ass comment that medicare costs are going up because there’s no competition. Hey asshole, go back to the numbers at the beginning of your presentation and see how much “competition” had helped out with health care costs in the past sixty years. Also, review the cost difference between medicare and medicare advantage. You might be able to make this point if private insurance costs were growing at a significantly lower rate than medicare costs are. They’re not. They’re growing at a much faster rate, even with a much younger population in the private system. The only reason why medicare is in “crisis” is because of exploding enrollment numbers, not exploding profit margins. And by the way, in which universe are private insurance companies clamoring to grab that “hip replacement” segment of the US demographic? Let me reiterate, asshat.

Then he goes into how his plan is going to “save” medicare. This is the most comical statement of them all. Here’s how you know that he’s not saving medicare: right now when grandma goes to the doctor, that doctor gets paid with a check from medicare. Under Ryan’s plan, there will be no more checks from medicare. The doctor will ostensibly be paid with a check from the private insurance company that is chomping at the bit to get grandma’s business. Good god, there are so many things wrong with that last sentence. But the bottom line is that there will be no medicare. His plan will give seniors vouchers for $15,000 per year to go buy their own insurance. There will be medicare in the sense that those deductions will still come out of your paychecks for your entire working lives. But at the end of it, that money will ultimately get paid out to private companies. Do I even need to break down how fucking stupid that is?

Fortunately, Americans seem to viscerally understand that Paul Ryan’s plan blows. But the downside is that everyone is caught up in black or white thinking. The choice is either leave it alone or kill it. Neither of those will work. We need to take a critical look at the system and make smart cuts that improve the system and ensure its longevity. Unfortunately, I don’t think that we’re going to make it that far into the national conversation. My prediction is that we’re going to be plagues with “medicare crisis” talk for the next couple of decades.

That should be fun.

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My Heroes

The voters in New York’s 26th district are my freakin heroes for that they did yesterday.

Not because they voted democrat, but because they held their noses and voted in their own best interest. I say that the held their noses because the last time a democrat won in New York’s 26th, God was a child. This is a district that votes republican, always. They vote republican when a Bush is on the ballot, and they vote republican when a Palin is on the ballot. These are hardcore republicans. Voting for a democrat must have been physically painful for them. And yet they did it, because it was the right thing to do.

They left party loyalty at the door, and voted their consciences and their pocketbooks. I honestly wish that more Americans would take their lead. There should be no such thing as a “safe district”. Safe districts are a big part of what’s wrong with America. Safe districts make it possible for politicians to take your vote for granted and then shit all over you with it.

Every time your kids’ school district has to cut their budget, you should be voting out the candidate you voted in last time with no regard to party affiliation. Every time unemployment benefits or any other social safety net that you’ve paid into gets cut, you should be voting out the candidate you voted in last time, with no regard to party affiliation. Do your roads look like shit? Vote out the the person that isn’t budgeting for those repairs. Are there less cops on the streets of your neighborhood? You know what to do.

This idiocy of accepting that there’s “no money in the budget so what could your guy do?”, has to stop. Your guy will find the money if you incentivize him properly. There is no better motivator than job security to light a fire under someone.

I have repeatedly said that publicly financed elections must happen in order to fix our system. If you’re not inclined to hit the streets and collect signatures in order to secure a ballot measure, then at least stop being a party loyalist. You neuter your own vote every time you continue down the path of blindly voting for the candidate with the right letter after their name.

Don’t misunderstand me – I want you all to get out there and collect signatures for publicly financed campaigns. We’re completely fucked until that happens, so I’m not giving anyone a pass on that! But as you’re working up to the motivation to permanently fix our fucked up democracy, you can put a band aid on it by voting your own best interest and not being a dependable vote.

Whether the GOP will get the message that New York 26 sent remains to be seen. I can tell you they put the fear of God in democrats (including Obama) that were talking about cutting medicare. I’m going to go ahead and guess that talk of cutting social security isn’t going to continue either. Make no mistake, democrats were definitely going to agree to cuts to both programs. I would be shocked if they went in that direction after what happened yesterday.

They’re all going to start sounding like FDR now. Not because democrats are the good guys, but because democrats tend to be more afraid of their constituents than republicans are. Republicans know they have blind loyalty locked in with their voters, or at least they did. I’m not the kind of sunny optimist that expects that red districts all across the country will suddenly go blue in order to save the social programs that Americans resoundingly want. But I am the kind of sunny optimist that believes that we need just a few to flip, in order to get the GOP off this path of destruction (for a year or two, anyway).

So I say, BRAVO to New York 26. You made what I know was a painful choice, in order to save a program that Americans cherish. I wish that more Americans would follow your lead.

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We’re Screwed

Okay, we’ve been screwed for about thirty years now, but we got an indication of just how screwed we are this morning.

But the good news is that as we found out how very royally screwed we are, we also got an answer to a question that has confounded me for about a year and a half.

I’ve maintained for years now that our political parties are actors on the stage of political theater. We don’t have two parties that are on opposing sides. We have two parties that are beholden to precisely the same corporate interests. We have two parties that are designed to appeal to two distinctly different groups of people. We have one party that appeals to the authoritarian, “tough guy” and another party that appeals to the big thinker, “consider the big picture”. One party claims to be for the working man, while the other professes to tirelessly work to stay out of our lives. All of this is, of course theater. They’re both batting for the same team. One party is more shameless about who they’re working for, but make no mistake; democrats will take this country to precisely the same place that republicans will. They will just do it on a longer timeline. And along they way, I will give democrats credit for doing a few things for the American people, while republicans have done absolutely nothing for us for over thirty years. But at the end of the day, both parties are going to place the health and welfare of the corporations over yours every single time.

So the question with democrats is, “how big of a shill is my representative?” We already know that all republicans, with the exception of Ron Paul, are 100% shill.

Watching Obama acquiesce in perpetuity, to the point of absurdity had me wondering if it were possible for someone to be this bad at negotiation. Let’s review;

-He started off the health care debate by taking a public option off the table. Huh? Why not proclaim that anything short of a public option is a non-starter, and then back down slowly from there? But not our Obama! He starts in the middle and moves right from there. The end result was the Bob Dole plan from the 90s (subsequently the Mitt Romney plan). WooHoo! He got what republicans were willing to give eighteen years ago!

Republicans emphatically demanded that Obama cut 31B out of the 2011 budget. He releases a budget that cut 32B as his opening gambit. Was anyone surprised when republicans demanded he cut from where his budget started? He gave them more than they asked for as his opening move, and didn’t get any credit for that first 32B he cut. He then had to cut another 39B on top of that!

Be honest Obama supporters; if you were in the market for a new car, would you send Obama in to negotiate the price for you?

Honestly, he’s so fucking bad at this that it was becoming increasingly more difficult to believe that someone could suck at negotiating this much. I was honestly starting to think that he was the most wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America, that we’d ever seen in politics.

This morning, my question was finally answered. When Obama caved into the craziest among us, and released yet another form of his birth certificate, he definitively showed me that he just sucks at this. He’s the world’s most incompetent negotiator, truly.

He sent some very clear messages this morning. He told the world that there is no demand too crazy for him to acquiesce to. And there is no person too crazy for him to cave in to. He took off his shirt, and showed the world the tire marks on his back.

This weakness is about to fuck Americans like they’ve never been fucked before.Let me explain why this monumental display of weakness concerns me right at this moment in time.

Paul Ryan just came out with a budget plan that literally everyone, republican and democrat alike hates, despite the main stream media’s best efforts. Remember how they all used words like “courageous” and “bold” to describe the plan for the first week after it came out? It didn’t take long for Americans to figure out that this plan was going to fuck the old and the poor, for the sole purpose of making the rich richer. By Ryan’s own admission, his plan wasn’t going to balance the budget for forty years. Forty years? That’s at least five presidential administrations!

Republicans never intended for this preposterous plan to fly. I think they underestimated how big of a shit storm it would start, but they never really believed that they would pull it off. They made a tactical decision to open with the most draconian far right wing hand job they could, so that they could negotiate from there.

Obama had already demonstrated that he was going to start the negotiations from a right wing position when he appointed two well known social security haters to his debt commission. He was obviously planning on making cuts to social security and medicare. Given the birther cave-in this morning, I’m positive that republicans are now going to get way more out of Obama in terms of cutting those two programs than they initially imagined they could get. They would have to be in a halcyon induced coma not to seize on the spinelessness that Obama now openly wears on his sleeve.

In short, we’re fucked. We’re more fucked than we would be if Obama were merely being controlled by his corporate masters. Bill Clinton was obviously the most corporate friendly democratic president we’d ever had until now. Every subsequent democratic president was obviously going to slowly up the ante on the democratic party’s corporatism. This president predictably did, but he has no conviction. He has no conviction, and no hard deal-breakers. There’s nothing he’s not willing to compromise on. And even if he did have conviction, he doesn’t have the balls to stick to them.

He caved to the birthers. Enough said.


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