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So apparently this is a thing in real 'Murka (h/t TPM)

For years, environmentalists have hated on Hummers and other irresponsible, gas-guzzling vehicles. Now, a group of truckers are evidently fighting back against the movement to lower carbon emissions, rigging their vehicles to purposefully emit higher levels of smog into the atmosphere.

According to a report from WSB-TV Atlanta, this pursuit is known as “rolling coal” and is used to shoot plumes of smoke at “small-car driving liberals.” The truckers who partake in rolling coal are apparently fearful that any movement to protect the environment will threaten their right to drive gas-guzzling, diesel-fueled vehicles around freely. Hence, they are fighting back.

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Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 01:41 PM PDT

Addressing Some Confusion About The ACA

by puakev

Of late I've noticed there is some confusion some folks have about the ACA, specifically over affordability of plans for the working poor.

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Our liberal media at work (via Buzzfeed):

White House officials sought valuable primetime air for a rare, impromptu Tuesday night address to tout the accomplishment of signing up more than 7 million people under the Affordable Care Act.

But network officials refused to make the kind of accommodation they did previously for the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, for instance, and Obama was left instead cutting into the much smaller audiences of Ellen and other daytime shows.

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Per the Daily Dot, "YouTube star and Vlogbrother" John Green, who has done a series of videos on the need for health reform and explaining the reasons why American health care costs so much, decided to apply for the Affordable Care Act and see how it compared with applying for private insurance directly through the insurer.

As the write-up by Daily Dot notes:
 

Green spent an afternoon applying for health insurance in two different ways: First by using Obamacare’s new private exchanges and then “the old way,” through an insurance company.

With healthcare.gov drowning under five times the traffic it was prepared for, it took Green 40 minutes and several tries to get his application accepted.

But wait until you see what happened when he applied for traditional insurance.

At about 5:10 of the video, Green states that it took him 2 hours and 16 minutes to apply directly through the insurer.  Compared to just 40 minutes on the overwhelmed and glitch-filled ACA website.  

As Green concludes:

(Beginning at 5:13 of the video) So to summarize, in neither case did I actually get insurance.  However, even with all the server errors, it was more than twice as fast to apply under the Affordable Care Act private exchanges than it was to apply in the old way.  And it's also much less confusing and intrusive.  Like in the old way I had to list every time I went to the doctor.  In the new way they didn't ask my anything except whether I smoked.
So much for the private sector always being more efficient than government.  
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Well, if the White House actually sticks to its guns, this is a pretty big f*cking deal.  Per TPM:

The White House bluntly ruled out raising the Medicare eligibility age as part of a plan to reduce the federal debt on Monday.

“The president has made clear that that’s not the right policy to take," press secretary Jay Carney reiterated during a daily briefing at the White House.

Of course, I suspect the White House is still favorable to the chained CPI idea for Social Security.  But in the last week the White House has said 1) that they would reject cuts to Medicaid, and 2) they are not in favor of raising the Medicare eligibility age.  Very encouraging signals coming from the White House so far.

I know, some folks are going to say it was because of pressure from the left, others that it was Obama's master plan all along, but whatever the reason the White House came to this decision to stand firm on these two great health care programs, I'm happy about it.

I'll just throw in that a little (or a lot of) rabble-rousing on these issues obviously doesn't hurt.  If it even played a small part in bringing this about, I'm all for it and won't mind seeing more of it in future budget battles, and frankly all future political battles to come.

But, if the President holds firm on this (which, given that he is still a politician, no one should take for granted), this is a big win for the American people.

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I'm agnostic, but if this comes true somehow, then I'd say this is pretty strong evidence of a God of some kind.  

Per Robert Costa of the National Review:

I’m reliably informed that Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Budget Committee chairman, has submitted paperwork to the Romney campaign. Sources confirm that he is being vetted for the vice-presidential nomination.
Dear Baby Jesus, Allah, L. Ron Hubbard, whoever, please make it so.  I'll get down on my hands and knees and apologize for all my mockery of organized religion(s) over the years, and I'll even throw away my beloved "Jesus is Coming - Hide Your Bong" t-shirt.

If there's one thing that would make old white people in Florida vote for the Black Muslim Socialist, or at least not vote for Mittens, it would be having Paul Ryan a heartbeat away from the presidency.  

(h/t Taegan Goddard's Political Wire)

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So the right-wing nutters and the Beltway village idiots are having a magnificent circle-jerk right now over the revelations that aren't really relevations in David Maraniss's new book about Young Barack Obama that's about to be released.

Politico, taking their cues from Drudge Report (proving again that Drudge does, indeed, rule their world), ran a breathless piece yesterday with the scoop that some of the girlfriends Obama described in his semi-autobiographical book, Dreams From My Father, were actually fictional, composite characters based on various real girlfriends of Obama.  Right-wingers and the village idiots jumped all over this, with some comparing this to scandal surrounding James Frey's book A Thousand Little Pieces, which Frey initially claimed was a non-fiction autobiographical piece but later admitted was largely made up.

Of course, as the hack/writer of the piece, Dylan Byers, later admits with a correction, it turns out this wasn't really breaking news or a scandalous revelation of any sort, since in the very first publication and in all subsequent publications of Dreams From My Father, Obama made clear in his introduction that some of the characters in the book were...composites of real people Obama knew.  But as the famous saying goes, a lie goes half-way around the world before the truth has a chance to put on its pants, and as of this very writing the circle-jerk over this nontroversy goes on full blast, with Politico still pimping the story with an OOOGA-BOOGA! banner headline reading, The Dangerous New Obama Book.

However, while the right thinks they've found Obama's kryptonite or some such shit, what these dumbasses don't seem to realize is that the letters written by Obama, as cited in the book, are kryptonite for the neanderthal base of the Republican party.  Because central to the world view of the wackadoodles who largely make up the Republican party is this notion that Obama is really a dunce, an empty suit who cannot utter a coherent sentence without a teleprompter, an affirmative action case who has gotten ahead not because he's really smart and accomplished but because he's a Manchurian candidate helped along by a series of Marxist professors and mentors  who pulled strings for him and unfairly opened doors to opportunities for which he was not truly deserving.  That's why so many on their right think that Bill Ayers really wrote Dreams From My Father, why so many keep harping about seeing Obama's college transcripts, and why they keep laughing at their own lame-ass teleprompter jokes.   Because there's no way one of those people could be so intelligent, talented, or articulate.

But as this excerpt (from Vanity Fair) from a letter Obama wrote to then-girlfriend Alex McNear shows, well, just read it for yourself:

I haven’t read “The Waste Land” for a year, and I never did bother to check all the footnotes. But I will hazard these statements—Eliot contains the same ecstatic vision which runs from Münzer to Yeats. However, he retains a grounding in the social reality/order of his time. Facing what he perceives as a choice between ecstatic chaos and lifeless mechanistic order, he accedes to maintaining a separation of asexual purity and brutal sexual reality. And he wears a stoical face before this. Read his essay on Tradition and the Individual Talent, as well as Four Quartets, when he’s less concerned with depicting moribund Europe, to catch a sense of what I speak. Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—Eliot is of this type. Of course, the dichotomy he maintains is reactionary, but it’s due to a deep fatalism, not ignorance. (Counter him with Yeats or Pound, who, arising from the same milieu, opted to support Hitler and Mussolini.) And this fatalism is born out of the relation between fertility and death, which I touched on in my last letter—life feeds on itself. A fatalism I share with the western tradition at times. You seem surprised at Eliot’s irreconcilable ambivalence; don’t you share this ambivalence yourself, Alex?
Now this doesn't prove Obama's brilliance in the economic, legal, or political arenas, but whatever it does it certainly shatters the deeply-held myth on the right that Obama is some kind of stupid but lucky Chauncey Gardner-like figure.  I had to read the excerpt above two or three times to understand what the hell it meant.  Obama's here discussing T.S. Eliot with a firm grasp and understanding of the material, so I'm fairly sure his reading and writing levels are far above that of the average Obama-hatin' birther teabagger, who would probably have a hard time comprehending works by R.L. Stine (or the menu at Denny's for that matter) let alone T.S. Eliot.  Clearly, this Obama fellow is very, very, very smart.  That is, unless Bill Ayers was somehow ghostwriting Obama's love letters to his long-distance girlfriends (and frankly I'm certain many Obama-haters on the right will come to that conclusion).

Of course none of this will likely change the minds of many on the right who will persist in believing, reality and evidence to the contrary, that Obama is an amiable dunce who only got where he is becuase of affirmative-action.  But at the very least, hopefully, the press will stop feeding into this idiotic and delusional meme spread by the right, which the letters written by Obama confirm that which virtually all reasonable, sane people already know, that this meme has no connection at all to reality.  If the press had a shred of integrity, they would mercilessly ridicule or completely ignore even the suggestion that Obama is an idiot who can't order a pizza without the help of a telemprompter.  

Then again, this is probably asking too much, for the real scandal isn't that Obama is really a moron, which he obviously isn't.  The problem is that the right-wing and their useful idiots in the mainstream press are really and literally the morons here, and sadly they drive much of our political discourse.

Discuss

(Per TPM, reporting on an interview President Obama did with KCRG TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa) President Obama has weighed in on the flap over Hilary Rosen's remarks that Ann Romney "has never worked a day in her life", calling Rosen's words "ill-advised" and also saying:

“There is no tougher job than being a mom,” Obama said in response to Rosen’s assertion that Ann Romney has “never worked a day in her life.” The president added: “Anybody who would argue otherwise, I think, probably needs to rethink their statement.”
In addition, Obama said that his "general view is those of us who are in the public life, we’re fair game. Our families are civilians,” and he had some kind words for Ann Romney herself, saying, "she seems like a very nice woman who is supportive of her family and supportive of her husband.  I don’t know if she necessarily volunteered for this job so, you know, we don’t need to be directing comments at them."  

Compare that with Mitt Romney's response to Rush Limbaugh's far more offensive, hurtful, and willful tirade against Sandra Fluke not too long ago, in which Limbaugh called Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" in addition to many other despicable things that we are all too familiar with:

"I'll just say this, which is, it's not the language I would have used."
If women need a contrast between President Obama and Mitt Romney on how these two men view and treat women, this is as clear a contrast as you can get.

Obama showed sincere respect for the incredibly difficult job that mothers have, he clearly repudiated Hilary Rosen's remarks, and he praised Ann Romney.

Romney on the other hand meekly said he wouldn't have used Limbaugh's choice of words, which would seem to suggest that he didn't necessarily disagree with the sentiment expressed by Limbaugh, he just didn't agree with the way Limbaugh expressed the sentiment.  

In short, President Obama was classy, dignified, and presidential.  Romney was cowardly, apparently so afraid of a vulgar talk radio host and of the Neanderthals who make up the Republican base that he couldn't bring himself to even defend Sandra Fluke, let alone express any objection at all to Limbaugh calling Fluke a slut and a prostitute.

So again, if women want to know who would best stand up for them and represent their interests, and who simply is more decent and respectful of women, the contrast couldn't be clearer.  Obama defended stay at home mothers and the wife of his opponent.  Romney cowered in fear of Rush Limbaugh.  

Discuss

Between the numerous racially-infused jokes and caricatures of President Obama as a monkey and much worse, and with the murder of Trayvon Martin as well as the comments on Fox News about Trayvon Martin, I'm beginning to think that contrary to what I've been hearing from Fox News and right-wingers in general, racism still exists.

Well it looks like we may have further confirmation of the continued existence of racism from an unlikely source, namely the response of some fans to The Hunger Games.  As Jezebel reports:

Now as you may know, Katniss, the main character in the book and film, was described as having "straight black hair" and "olive skin." It's a post-apocalyptic world, so she could be a mix of things, but some pictured a Native American. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jennifer Lawrence won the part and dyed her hair dark.

But when it came to the casting of Rue, Thresh, and Cinna, many audience members did not understand why there were black actors playing those parts.

And what did these audience members have to say about black actors playing characters they didn't expect to be (gulp)...black?

Photobucket

The funniest part about it is that, as the Jezebel piece points out, regarding the characters Rue and Thresh:

But. On page 45 of Suzanne Collins's book, Katniss sees Rue for the first time:
…And most hauntingly, a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that's she's very like Prim in size and demeanor…
Later, she sees Thresh:
The boy tribute from District 11, Thresh, has the same dark skin as Rue, but the resemblance stops there. He's one of the giants, probably six and half feet tall and built like an ox.
Dark skin. That is what the novelist, the creator of the series, specified. But there were plenty of audience members who were "shocked," or confused, or just plain angry.
Well one thing's for sure, we shouldn't be shocked or confused at the fact that 1) there are still many, many racists out there, and 2) that racists are often some of the dumbest motherfuckers out there, as in so motherfucking dumb that they get angry that a character in a movie is black even though that character is clearly described in the book the movie is based on as black.  

But we definitely should be angry.  And sad to see how prevalent this shit still is in this day and age.  

Discuss

Sorry to litter the diaries list with something about Sarah Palin, but this was just too good to pass up.

In response to an ad by the Obama campaign lampooning Palin's claim that Obama hugging a law school professor/civil rights advocate back in 1991 meant that Obama wanted to take us back to pre-Civil Rights era race relations, Palin claimed, as the Hill notes, that this was -

"an example of Obama's "diversionary tactics" that "shows that our President sure seems fearful of discussing the economy, energy prices, and all the other problems people need addressed."
Well I know Mrs. Palin doesn't like getting weighed down by facts n' stuff, but it was Palin and her right-wing cohorts who tried to divert everyone's attention from important issues like the economy and energy prices toward the burning controversy of a video of Obama hugging someone back in 1991.

But that's not why I wrote this diary.  Rather, it was this:

"I’m not running for any office, but I’m more than happy to accept the dubious honor of being Barack Obama’s 'enemy of the week' if that includes the opportunity to debate him on the issues Americans are actually concerned about," Palin wrote in a note on her Facebook page, posted late Monday. Palin was responding to a Web video fundraising for Obama that uses recent footage of Palin criticizing the president.

Palin also offered a challenge to Obama.

"I’m willing and free to discuss these issues with the President anywhere, anytime," Palin wrote.

The reason why I felt this was worth diarying was because the notion of Palin debat -BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!  Okay, okay, sorry for that, but seriously, in these very grave times, with important issues both foreign and domestic that we need to address, I think it's ridiculous that we should BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Alright, I'm gonna stop before I snort more coffee onto my keyboard and do lasting damage to company property.  

Discuss

So apparently today Newt Gingrich was on a conference call with some religious right-wing nutters, and he demonstrated once again that he is utterly incapable of shame, for he actually had the stones to say this:

"It's pretty simple: marriage is between a man and a woman. This is a historic doctrine driven deep into the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, and it's a perfect example of what I mean by the rise of paganism. The effort to create alternatives to marriage between a man and a woman are perfectly natural pagan behaviors, but they are a fundamental violation of our civilization."

So to recap, according to Newt's logic here:

My friend Amy and her partner of 20 completely monogamous years getting married = rise of paganism.

But Newt leaving first wife with cancer + Newt leaving second wife because she wouldn't consent to an open relationship + Newt marrying third wife after having adulterous affair with her for 8 years = historic doctrine driven deep into the Bible.

Fundamentally, frankly, Newt Gingrich is one of the most vile and hypocritical human beings to appear on the American political scene - ever.  And it's quite telling that so many in Washington overlook all his bullshit because he's an "intellectual" Republican.  I forgot who said it or wrote it, but Gingrich is the intellectual among Republicans the same way that Moe is the intellectual of the Stooges.

h/t Andrew Sullivan

Discuss

This will be very brief and I know this ain't much of a diary, but apparently according to Huffington Post:

During his State of the Union address tonight, President Obama will announce the creation of a special unit to investigate misconduct and illegalities that contributed to both the financial collapse and the mortgage crisis.

The office, part of a new Unit on Mortgage Origination and Securitization Abuses, will be chaired by Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, according to a White House official.

About fucking time.  And whaddaya know, public pressure works.  I'm hopping on BART so I won't be able to respond for another hour or so.  But this is good news.

UPDATE:

Eric Schneiderman has released a statement, via the Huffington Post article I linked to above:

“I would like to thank President Obama for his leadership in the creation of a coordinated investigation that marshals state and federal resources to bring justice for the victims of the misconduct that caused the mortgage crisis.

“In coordination with our federal partners, our office will continue its steadfast commitment to holding those responsible for the economic crisis accountable, providing meaningful relief for homeowners commensurate with the scale of the misconduct, and getting our economy moving again.

“The American people deserve a robust and comprehensive investigation into the global financial meltdown to ensure nothing like it ever happens again, and today’s announcement is a major step in the right direction.”

I notice in the comments that there is some skepticism, that this is just a PR move - and skepticism is absolutely warranted.  The administration hasn't exactly been balls-to-the-wall on the mortgage crisis and going after the financial sector thus far.  I'd like to see not only prosecutions but stronger reforms and a large scale program to write-down mortgages.  But this is a step in the right direction.  Anyhow, I'd love to stay and chat more but I've got to put my 2-year-old to sleep (who knows how long that'll take), and she's breaking my balls right now to read The Gruffalo to her.  Thanks for putting this on the rec list, and good night y'all.

Discuss
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