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Chris Mooney, who wrote "The Republican War on Science" and "Inside the Republican Brain: The Science of Why they Deny Science - and Reality", has an interesting article reviewing some of the attempts to understand what in people's brains drives the racial bias that might lead cops to be more likely to shoot black men or boys than whites.  It's called  "The Science of Why Cops Shoot Young Black Men".  

Importantly, he notes that active/conscious racial animus need not be present, and folks may consciously wish they did not have a racial bias.  But people still do.  I have not read his other stuff, but I like the fact that in this article the tone is that of "we're all in this together and all suffer some varying amount of subconscious bias."  The titles of his books sound more likely to inflame than lead to understanding, but I suspect the substance is less inflammatory.  From other articles I've read by him it sounds like his looking into these psychological/social science studies has made him more compassionate toward those who hold different political views.

I'll be brief because I'd rather you waste time reading the article than my stuff, but here's one other interesting link from the article. This link is for the implicit association test (IAT) that one can take online to get a sense for the degree of implicit bias one has.  I thought I was going to be more "special" than I was on taking the test, but would love to see a more fleshed out score than just by category...

Discuss

I've been following with interest the Halbig v Burwell case, in which libertarian lawyers Michael Cannon and Jonathan Adler blow up a minor drafting error into "34 states can't have Obamacare subsidies".  What most interests me is how these guys are so blinded by their ideology that they're willing to rip away affordable healthcare from millions of people.

The paper "Three Words and the Future of the Affordable Care Act" is the most definitive takedown of Cannon and Adler's arguments that I've seen, and also summarizes the key points in the case.  As I read it, once my blood pressure settled, I found myself longing to meet Cannon and Adler.  I wished to look into their eyes as I asked them whether they believed what they were arguing in court.  Would they look down, acknowledging that this is a simple tool to wage war for their ideology?  Would they look at me straight in the eye, convinced their ridiculous interpretation was right, and lead me to assume that any human can convince themselves of any fact that supports their worldview?

Anyways, take a look, it's a great takedown.  Apologies for the brief diary, but back to work for me.  I'll be unable to comment until lunchtime, but am genuinely interested in people's take on the poll.  I struggle with this question on a lot of political topics: one answer makes me more angry, one makes me more understanding, neither makes me hopeful.

Poll

Adler and Cannon:

86%20 votes
13%3 votes
0%0 votes

| 23 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss
Senator Landrieu, I know everyone is bailing on you, but this one weird trick could keep your Senate seat.  It's called "30 days of convincing Seniors to vote for you".  It's clear that all the turnout the young/african american midterm dropoff voter stuff didn't work.  So you're going to need a lot of seniors to pull this off.  Luckily, Bill Cassidy has a terrible record on seniors, and yours is good!

As you'll note from the roll calls/budget summaries, he's voted no less than 4 times (actually more for some issues depending on the Ryan budgets as well) to raise the Medicare eligibility age (3 times to 67, once to 70) and 4 times to turn Medicare into a voucher plan, and 4 times to reopen the Medicare prescription donut hole which you're working so hard to close (applies to current, not just future seniors).  He voted 4 times to cut preventative healthcare benefits such as vaccinations, cancer and heart screening (applies to current not just future seniors).   He voted 4 times to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70, and twice to cut future social security benefits (applies to current not just future seniors).

Somehow with all these cuts, he managed to find room in each budget for massive tax breaks for the wealthiest among us.

His lifetime Alliance for Retired American's score is a paltry 6%, and his 2013 score was 0%.  He voted with the National Committee to protect Social Security and Medicare 0% of the time in 2014.  In 2013 you voted with both of those groups 100% of the time, and have a solid 85% lifetime ARA rating.

You, Senator Landrieu, have worked to increase Medicare benefits for preventative healthcare and eliminate the prescription donut hole.  You have cosponsored the Medicare Protection Act to prevent people like Bill Cassidy from raising the Medicare retirement age and turning it into a voucher program.  When the lame duck starts, I'd cosponsor Mark Begich's bill the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act , to further demonstrate your commitment to properly adjusting for inflation and increasing future benefits.

Bottom line is, you need to drink some of his milkshake, because your milkshake is not likely to show up on December 6, go show those Seniors who's looking out for them!

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Scores

ARA vote scorecard

RSC FY 2012 Budget
Roll Call

RSC FY 2013 Budget
Roll Call

RSC FY 2014 Budget
Roll Call

RSC FY 2015 Budget
Roll Call

Continue Reading

Cory Gardner is making an exceedingly lame pitch to seniors with his latest ad.  "We'll honor every penny promised to today's seniors." Well Cory Gardner is defining who is a senior up.  If he had his way, you couldn't be a senior (retire, get medicare) until you're 70.  I think it's important to point out that his voting record is extreme, radical, and anything but conservative when it comes to these programs.

Senator Udall, here's a response you should be making, in a nice ad, at least.  After all, what's wrong with getting seniors to vote for the guy who cares about social security and medicare, instead of the guy who'd whittle them away to nothing if he had the chance?

AD SUMMARY (Senator Udall campaign, feel free to use any aspect you'd like :))

"I'm Mark Udall and I approve this message, because seniors need to know who's on their side.

Mark Udall: I've been criticized for focusing too much on women's health and reproductive rights. While I don't think you can focus enough on that issue, the fact is that's only one of the most easily demonstrated examples of my opponents extremist and radical voting record.  

Cory Gardner is equally as radical and extreme on seniors' issues.

I voted to cut overpayments to insurance companies and thereby improve the fiscal health of medicare, while simultaneously increasing benefits by closing the prescription drug donut hole, and providing for free preventative health care such as cancer, heart screening, and vaccinations.   I received a 100% pro-retiree voting score (Alliance for Retired Americans), and a 100% score from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.  

Cory Gardner has only been in congress for 3 years, yet he's voted 5 times to raise the Medicare eligibility age [graphic showing text of RSC budget FY 2014, which went to age 70], more than 5 times to increase current senior's copays for preventative healthcare, and more than 5 times to reopen the prescription donut hole that I've voted to close.  In addition, he's voted 5 times to turn Medicare from a guaranteed benefit to a voucher program, which in the 2012 budget he voted for, would have doubled Medicare out of pocket costs for seniors by 2022 according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.  

Cory Gardner has only been in congress for 3 years, yet he's voted 3 times to raise the social security retirement age to 70.  He's voted 3 times to cut future social security benefits relative to current policy by using the chained CPI inflation index.

With this extremist voting record, is it any wonder Cory Gardner only received a 10% voting record for the Alliance for Retired Americans, and 20% for the National Committee to Preserve Medicare and Social Security?

I'm Mark Udall, and I'm committed to Colorado seniors, for my opponent, well, I'll let his record speak for itself."

Links Refs:

ARA vote scorecard

NCPSSM scorecard (membership required, but as a member I'd be happy to provide data to Udall Campaign, or other Kossacks interested in congressional records)

Ryan FY2012 Budget Medicare effects summary
House Roll Call
Senate Roll Call motion to proceed

Ryan FY2015 Budget Medicare effects summary
House Roll Call

RSC FY 2013 Budget
Roll Call

RSC FY 2014 Budget
Roll Call

RSC FY 2015 Budget
Roll Call

Discuss

Dear Senator Pryor, win or lose, I'm glad you're trying to show the citizens of Arkansas how dangerous it is when one holds their radical ideology above the needs of real people.  I just wanted to let you know I can see you building a pretty nice case about Tom Cotton, I hope you continue to make it more and more airtight, and I hope you're summation of this case, in ads and in debates, is something like the following:

Tom Cotton puts his radical antigovernment beliefs ahead of Arkansas.  Mark Pryor puts Arkansas first, partisan politics second.  Tom Cotton is endorsed by the extremist group "Club for Growth", which advocates, among other things, for voucherizing Medicare and privatizing Social Security. He's voted for their radical agenda 92% of the time in congress.

In 2 years in congress, Tom Cotton voted twice to raise the social security retirement age to 70, and twice to reduce future social security benefits.  But in Tom Cotton's budgets of choice, even if seniors will suffer, at least the wealthiest Americans would get a generous tax break.  Tom Cotton voted for his radical beliefs, but against the needs of the people of Arkansas.

In 2 years in congress, Tom Cotton voted twice to raise the Medicare eligibility age, once he tried for 67, once he tried for 70. A nice ad might have a quote from a sympathetic 50 year old: "If Tom Cotton had his way, would I ever be eligible for Medicare, will I ever be eligible to retire and collect Social Security, or will he just keep moving the goal posts?"  He also voted twice to turn the guaranteed Medicare benefit into a voucher system.  And, he twice voted to reopen the closing Medicare prescription drug donut hole, cut seniors Medicare benefits for vaccinations, and common preventative health care like heart tests and cancer screening.  But even if seniors will suffer, at least his budget gives away a massive tax break for the rich.  Tom Cotton voted for his radical beliefs, but against Arkansas seniors.  

Tom Cotton's voting record is so bad that his lifetime Alliance for Retired Americans voting score is a shockingly low 10%.  His National Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare's vote rating for the last congress was also a terrible 20%.  

This year Tom Cotton voted against the farm bill, and rather than own up to the fact that he was putting his radical agenda ahead of Arkansas farmers, tried to blame it on Obama, but that didn't work out so well (insert graphic of several fact checks).  

Tom Cotton voted against research funding for the Arkansas Children's Hospital, the only Arkansas congressman to do so.  Once again Tom Cotton put his radical antigovernment ideology ahead of what's right for Arkansas.  

Tom Cotton voted against disaster relief funding for Hurricane Sandy victims, putting his radical ideology ahead of their needs.  How would he vote when Arkansas is the disaster area?

Tom Cotton risked default and worldwide financial chaos (he called it "taking the medicine") by voting against a debt limit increase. Once again, his radical antigoverment beliefs came first.  

Tom Cotton voted against the violence against women act.   He even voted against the watered down Republican version of the act.  Once again, Tom Cotton put his radical antigovernment ideology ahead of the needs of Arkansas women.

Tom Cotton voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have helped protect women from wage discrimination.  Tom Cotton's extremist views about the role of government came first over the needs of Arkansas women.

Tom Cotton voted twice to roll back our medicaid expansion, which would take away health coverage from hundreds of thousands of Arkansans, and cost the state more than 700 million dollars.  Yet again, Tom Cotton put his extremist antigovernment ideology ahead of Arkansas.

Mark Pryor voted to close the medicare prescription donut hole, provide funding for preventative health care for seniors.    He wrote the Medicare Protection Act to protect Medicare from the dangerous ideologues like Tom Cotton who would harm it.  Mark Pryor has a lifetime voting score from the Alliance for Retired Americans of 93%, and voted with the National Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare 100% of the time in the last congressional session.

Mark Pryor voted for the Medicaid Expansion that has covered hundreds of thousands of Arkansans and will save Arkansas over 700 million dollars.  He voted for the Violence Against Women Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.  Mark Pryor puts Arkansans first, political ideology second.

Senator Pryor, I hope your closing argument restates and brings together this stark evidence and paints the true picture that is Tom Cotton, extremist ideologue, and Mark Pryor, the practical politician who puts Arkansas first.  I hope Arkansas, and the entire country, will see how dangerous a true-believer like Tom Cotton is to the people and the societal ideals we cherish.  

p.s.

I'm sure you'll note that in debates and ads, he tries to weasel out of copping to his "extremist belief first" voting record by nitpicking every popular bill he votes against.  I hope you'll point out that he should know that no bill is ever perfect, and that the right thing to do isn't to hide behind some trumped up imperfection to excuse a horrible vote, the right thing is to do right by the people of Arkansas, even if the legislation isn't perfect.   If he tries to pull the "we can't afford" card on disaster relief, violence against women, whatever, I hope you'll say something like "you say we can't afford to help seniors, women, poor, etc." but you always manage to afford tax cuts for wealthy Americans!  And please don't let him get away with the lie of revenue neutral tax cuts (i.e. dynamic scoring or magic pixie dust). How'd that work out in Kansas?  Ask him why growth soared under Bill Clinton era tax rates, and bottomed out with massive Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy? Where's the data Mr.Harvard?

p.p.s.

The NCPSSM scorecard is password protected for members, but happy to give out any congressional or senatorial voting scores to interested Kossacks.

Discuss

I'm a big believer in the "two-electorates" theory which leads to the conclusion that for 2014 reduced Dem base (notably minority status and younger) midterm voting habits relative to increased Republican base (notably white seniors) midterm voting habits are a real problem.  Put that with this being a 6 year midterm election which favors the out-of-presidency party, in particular in the Senate, where the Obama 08 wave-elected-red-state Senators are running, and you've got a recipe for disaster.  For this reason most election modelers have Republicans modestly favored to get the 6 seats needed for control of the Senate, and also predict modest House gains.

There are reasons for optimism though. Because of the big 2010 midterm blowout, Democrats aren't as exposed as they might be in the House.  In addition, some of the at risk Senate seats have pretty good Dem campaigners, and most Republican candidates have some amount of extremist baggage to exploit. To "reshape the electorate" Democrats are looking to engage the base on issues like minimum wage, student loans, and women's health.  In addition to engaging on these issues, GOTV efforts such as the Bannock street project and the DCCC's African American outreach program.  Some groups and campaigns have used Medicaid expansion as a weapon for turnout, and 7/10 red state battlegrounds (AK,GA,LA,KS,MT,NC,SD) have not expanded Medicaid.  In addition to loudly supporting expansion in states that haven't, Dems could also be doing more pinning down Republicans in battlegrounds where Medicaid has been expanded (such as CO, IA, AR, KY, and WV).  Do that, sprinkle in some impeachment/lawsuit motivation, and maybe some Big Dog and you've made a decent case that Democrats may turn out the base more than a usual midterm year.  If not quite the "kitchen sink" strategy, as Greg Sargent puts it, it's pretty close.  In addition, I continue to hope that somehow this whole Citizens United crap will backfire and tilt things in the direction of  "presidentializing" the electorate due to all the increased spending (kind of like what may have happened with Koch advertising and ACA signups). In theory, if our base turned out as well proportional to their base we'd maybe lose on net only 2-3 seats in the Senate (given the 6 year curse which can't be fixed) and maybe break even in the House.

But how about doing more than "hanging on til 2016" (when all these structural factors will be reversed, including a very favorable Senate map)?  It seems like there's a decent opening this year for that.  The generic house vote is about even (in 2010 Republicans were up by 6 at this point and won the House vote by almost 7), with as yet no sign of a Republican wave.  And most importantly, Republicans are so increasingly in the service of Tea Party ideology that they are vulnerable on almost every issue.  To capitalize, we need to drink their milkbase-shake.  And seniors/near-seniors are the shake.  More on that after the jump.

Continue Reading

Hi all, apologies for a brief diary and back to work. Yesterday at lunch, after a restless night thinking about climate change/Keystone, I decided to cobble some links together of what I considered worthy articles on Keystone, and put them in a WH.gov petition.
I dont' see any active Keystone petitions on there right now.  I'm just hoping if it gets lucky and requires a response, that someone in the White House will read another perspective than the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) from State Department, which was basically written from the usual, "this will all be fine" point of view.  In the SEIS, the effects on climate are minimized (even though using their numbers is a strong case against it), and there's no real way they can take into account "knock on" effects on future development of other pipelines and projects (see the Bloomberg article for some developer statements).
And of course, the SEIS won't mention the effect on Obama's (and Kerry's) legacies of being on the wrong side of history in one of the first big battles on climate change, on one of the few issues where one person can make a huge difference with the stroke (or holding onto of) the pen.

Even if you don't sign the petition, you might find the links useful.  In addition to signing the petition, even more importantly send an email to keystonecomments@state.gov to submit a public comment on the SEIS (I believe this can be done for at least a few more weeks). Other diaries have covered the problems with SEIS, but also the links below have info that could be relevant to addressing some of the problems in the SEIS in a public comment.

The link(please share if your'e inclined): http://wh.gov/...

The petition and its links:

Acknowledge the climate impacts, and historical impacts of the  
upcoming Keystone XL decision, unmentioned in State's EIS
We the people request that President Obama and Secretary Kerry read the  
following articles.

We request that "if congress doesn't act on climate change",  
President Obama does.

If the "science is screaming at us", literally from outside the  
White House gates, we ask that Secretary Kerry listen to it.

http://swampland.time.com/...

http://www.nytimes.com/...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

http://www.skepticalscience.com/...

http://www.bloomberg.com/...

Discuss

Kos, I very much enjoyed reading your post "Riding a populist wave toward 2014" as I've been feeling some unusual creeping optimism about the upcoming midterm myself.

However, I couldn't help notice you left out perhaps the biggest issue that might help our side out in 2014, that the American people are with us on: taxes and spending!
Tax and spend has been used as a dirty word forever, but I think making "cut and gut" even more toxic is the way forward with 2014's older and whiter midterm electorate.

More than half of the house Republican caucus wouldn't vote for tax increases for millionaire's, and now "more than half" apparently would rather see a global financial meltdown than allow spending to go uncut.  Is this how the American people would prefer we balance the budget? Absolutely NOT.  In the underappreciated Slate/YouGov poll, 84% would raise taxes as the least painful way to reduce the deficit, while only 34 and 27% would reduce Medicare benefits.

Since most Republican candidates can't resist talking about the deficit as if they care, my proposed question for all of them in 2014 is: "Do you think raising taxes or cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits is more important for balancing the budget?"  If they pick raising taxes, ask them how they voted on the fiscal cliff deal (and the same insane people who voted against that will likely vote to blow up the economy to make Obama cut spending).  If their votes prove them a liar, make them pay for it.  If they pick cutting Medicare and Social Security, congratulations you've just made them into the Todd Akin of the 2014 election!  Who can imagine what crazy quotes might ensue in order to justify gutting these popular programs?

We only need 14 House and 5 Senate Akins (or should we call them Tommy Thompson's?) to kick some serious legislative butt in 2015.  So add it to the pile, Kos, and in addition to asking every candidate about abortion, ask them about taxes and spending!

Discuss

Am I the only one who thinks the whole "cut (millionaire taxes) and gut (Grandma's pension and healthcare)" thing has become a bit too obvious lately?  Or is it that the stark choices evident in deficit reduction talks are just forcing this discussion to be more obvious than it used to be?

Typically I think of republicans talking about fiscal responsibility, "strengthening Medicare for future generations", or just talking about how taxes are too high for "business".

But the recent significant pushback against, for example, the idiotic idea to raise the Medicare retirement age, suggests that people are getting a little more aware of the real goals of the reactionary Republicans.  To all of us paying attention, it's long been obvious that Republicans don't care about the deficit, only about cutting taxes for the wealthy and gutting Medicare/SS/Medicaid.  But I have the distinct sense that the worm is turning here, it was just too obvious when House Repubs wouldn't even back a tax increase on income over 1M per year, and it's too obvious now that they're threatening a financial meltdown just to gut social programs.  Your average person is starting to become aware of this, and now is the time to use it to our advantage.

Follow me below the turning worm for an example, and to discuss how pushing the cut and gutters off the fiscal cliff and smack into the debt ceiling will minimize the current "crisis" damage, and maybe make some headway in what would otherwise be a tough 2014.

Continue Reading

This will be short as I'm on lunch break, but I really wanted to link to Ezra Klein's Wonkblog post about what's wrong with "come togetherism".  

The article is well worth the read, and has a lot of the fine detail about just how far Obama has been willing to compromise, and just how zilch Republicans have offered in return.  But the money quote is about the problem of blaming everyone for one party's stubbornness:

That breaks the system. It hurts the basic mechanism of accountability, which is the public’s ability to apportion blame. If one side’s intransigence will lead to both sides getting blamed, then it makes perfect sense to be intransigent: You’ll get all the benefits and only half the blame.
I had never really thought about it that way, that blaming Republicans is not only right, and feels good, but is good for America.  
Discuss

I hadn't seen these diaried so wanted to link to two good posts on the coming fiscal curb.   One is from Jonathan Cohn, the reasonable, and is a good pithy takedown of the (not just in the media) notion that both sides are equally to blame, using Starbucks' campaign as an example: "The Real Fiscal-Cliff Message Starbucks Should Put on It's Coffee Cups".

The other is from Kevin Drum, talks about the dynamics of last minute posturing as we approach the cliff, and brings a title worth repeating: "The Great Republican Recession of 2013 is Now Five Days Away".

Hope everyone enjoys these quick reads if they have time, and passes them around.  I'm sharing them with my moderately conservative friends, who tend to be blaming both sides right now.  I think the more the public realizes who owns this mess, the better the final outcome will be.

Have to get to work so won't have much time for commenting. Best, A4Q

Discuss

For those, like me, who may have a coronary thinking about debates,polls, idiots, lying and coulda woulda shouldas...

Unattributed Chinese Folk story: link

This is a real favorite for times like these, and follows below the fold...

[Updated] I don't believe proverbs can be copyrighted, but I neglected to note that some of the last paragraph may be not attached to the proverb and part of the person posting the proverb's interpretation. This is noted in the edit below.

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