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I can’t imagine a bigger electoral dilemma than trying to decide which Republican primary contender is more deserving of my schadenfreude. To wit, the results -- as yet incomplete -- in the TN-04 GOP primary.

If that district rings a bell, that’s the seat occupied for the last two terms by the execrable Scott Desjarlais (R-Hypocrite), who inexplicably got re-elected in 2012 and could slither by again this year. Remember him? He’s the reliably anti-choice doctor who slept with some of his patients, and pressured one of them to get an abortion, on top of the two occasions on which he pressured his ex-wife to do the same. Voted CREW’s Most Corrupt Congressman. Reprimanded and fined by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners in May 2013 for engaging in sexual relationships with two patients. Yeah, that guy.

Desjarlais was voted by National Journal as one of the Top Ten Congressmen most deserving of a primary challenge in this cycle, and he got one, from state Senator Jim Tracy. And challenge Tracy did. He began running against Desjarlais two years ago, practically as soon as the 2012 vote counts were in.

This should have been a gimme for Tracy. And yet, for reasons Jason Linkins amply explained at HuffPo, it has not been. The race has come down to the wire. With nearly all the votes in, Desjarlais leads with a 35-vote margin.

But it’s those final 90 votes, not yet counted, that give us the schadenfreude two-fer. Tracy may be hoisted upon his own Voter ID petard.

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Wal-mart has always targeted the rural customer, but built big stores in small towns. So it wasn't so much, as Kos suggests, that urban or suburban customers were driving out to the boonies to patronize Wal-mart. It was more that those in rural areas were driving in to the small towns to do business at Wal-mart (where Wal-mart had already driven out all the mom-and-pops that these people used to patronize). And frankly, since the mid-'90s, Wal-mart has built mostly in the suburbs anyhow.

But someone has literally and figuratively short-circuited Wal-mart's access to rural customers.

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Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 09:51 PM PDT

I let go of a good friend Thursday

by gas28man

I let go of a good friend Thursday night. Aspen, a.k.a. The Big Dawg, accepted final relief for his pain. For about two years, he had experienced a progressive degeneration of the nerves in his hips, a cruel spin of fate for a dog whose favorite thing in the world had always been his walks. As he was already too aged to tolerate surgery, we could only manage his symptoms.

Funny thing about huskies, though: anyone who knows one will tell you they are willful, determined dogs.

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My wife and her little sister, who is 17, have been highly distressed about their mother these days. No, not because of Mom's bad knees. It's because Mom is still one of those dreaded undecided voters who has been given serious thought to voting for Romney. She loved W. She had voted for McCain.

My wife, to date, has only employed the "bull-by-the-horns" strategy to try to bring Mom back from the Dark Side. Lots of raised voices, lots of "Mom, how could you?" She reminded her of the cratered Bush economy -- during which Mom lost an executive position and is now prematurely and unwillingly, essentially retired. She reminded her of how crappy things were for women when her mother was younger. And yet, no success. Mom was sticking to her GOP leanings.

Follow me over the orange cruller for the denouement.

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Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 08:56 PM PDT

David Gregory "hearing from people"

by gas28man

I couldn't help but notice the Tweet that ran across the bottom of the screen during MSNBC's debate debriefing.

It was from @DavidGregory -- which I assume to actually be David Gregory -- and it said "Im hearing from people who see this as basically a tie".

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Step right into the cafeteria line for a heaping, warm serving of irony with a side of schadenfreude.

It appears that the new healthcare reform law has taken away the health benefits of Congress members and their staffs and replaced it with absolutely nothing until the health plan exchanges launch in 2014.

Yes, you read that right. And no, I am not joking (April Fools Day is long passed). Congress voted to take away its own health benefits, and the president signed it into law. That’s the interpretation of the text of a section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the legal eagles at the Congressional Research Service — who apparently let this one slip through in the first place — are now scrambling to figure out what it all means, particularly for themselves, since it appears the rule also applies to all employees of Congress.

Read more of this shocker after the jump.

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As of today, 14 state attorneys general have promised to file suit in federal court in Florida, (they haven't, yet) against the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, arguing that it's an unconstitutional intrusion on state sovereignty.

The argument has no merit, but that won't stop the GOP from trying to make political hay out of it for a while. Some of your family members and co-workers will buy into the framing of the argument, and if you want to bring them down a notch, I've got the tools for you.

In the interest of fair disclosure, I'm a researcher serving the insurance industry, and so I have a unique understanding that the individual mandate that is a necessary part of the foundation of our hard-won reforms.

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Tommy Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor who was George W. Bush’s first Secretary of Health and Human Services predicts that a public option will pass.

Nobody else picked up on this, so I will pass it along:

Thompson made that prediction Tuesday at the 51st annual meeting of the National Association for Business Economics where he was a keynoter.  Here are the further details of how Thompson predicted it would go:

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So I see where we are now lambasting Bill Nelson for taking the goofy position that a trigger for the public option is actually stronger than offering states the opportunity to opt-out.  Well, of course he looks like a fool when he tries to make that argument.  But not because an opt-out provision is actually stronger.

We’re just as foolish for believing either a trigger provision or an opt-out provision is anything but smoke and mirrors.  Sorry Kossacks, but NEITHER the triggers NOR an opt-out will do what supporters are trying to convince everyone of.  We’ve already tried both in big, supposedly cost-saving ways, and yet no one ever pulled the trigger or opted out.

To wit:

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Like most people my first reaction to Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize was "What?!?!?"

But I got on the internet and looked up some info and history on the prize, and I can see where they were going with it.  The public perception is that the prize is given for past accomplishment, but historically that hasn't always been the case.  It has been given to some people prospectively, and/or to have a desired effect, and pretty clearly that's what's happening here.

For example: In 1998, Hume and Trimble got it for their Northern Ireland peace talks even though the Good Friday Agreement did not come into force until December 1999, and which took almost another decade to fulfill. And Arafat and Rabin got it in 1994, just for agreeing to meet with each other, even though their efforts were eventually for naught.  The best analogue to the Obama award was that of Leon Bourgeois in 1920. A former French Prime Minister, he was the first President of the Council of the League of Nations, elected in 1919, and with no significant accomplishments by the time of his award.  But expectations were high for the League at the time, hence the prospective prize.

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Somebody has to check this out for me.  I don't pay much attention to right-wing media, but my mom does.  And in the past couple of weeks, as I have forwarded her various commentary citing Sarah Palin, both directly and tangentially, mom has shot back a couple of times with comments like "When is the left going to stop talking about Sarah Palin?" and "They just can't seem to shut up about her."

The latest discussion on Palin was prompted by Thomas Frank's column in today's Wall Street Journal, "Poor, Perscuted Sarah Palin."

My mom is usually a bit smarter than this (she voted for Obama, after all), so I have to figure there's a new set of talking points making the rounds that Sarah Palin should be left alone.  You know, like that guy with the YouTube video about Britney Spears.

The other thing that gives it the whiff of a GOP-sourced meme is that it makes no logical sense.

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I'm surprised this hasn't been diaried yet, according to my attempts at search, so I'll lay it out there.

Wal-Mart came out today as a co-signatory of a letter sent to President Obama saying it would support a healthcare reform policy that would require large employers to offer health insurance to workers.  Others joining Wal-Mart chief executive Mike Duke in the letter were Andy Stern, the president of Service Employees International Union and John Podesta, the CEO of the Center for American Progress.

Predictably, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has come out denouncing the concept of the employer mandate, but this is a pretty big deal for the Bentonville retailer. Follow me below the fold, and I'll give you a little opinion on why I think Wal-Mart embraced this policy plank that would seemingly raise its costs, and what the impact might be for Democrats.

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