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The New York Times urges executive action on immigration... Frank Bruni says that views on gay marriage have flipped... Maureen Dowd worries me by advocating Game of Thrones... Leonard Pitts says others rush in where Christians fear to help... Dana Milbank laughs at a vampire...

Doyle McManus says it's not just banks that may be too big to fail.

When Obamacare's first open-enrollment period ended last week, the tally was impressive: 7.1 million Americans signed up for insurance on federal and state exchanges by the March 31 deadline, several million more signed up for Medicaid and a whole lot of under-26 Americans got covered by their parents' plans.

Those numbers represent a significant political victory for Democrats, making it highly unlikely that Republicans will be able to deliver on their promise to repeal the law.
"You're not going to turn away 7 or 10 million people from insurance coverage," crowed Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate. "Doesn't work anymore."

... the enrollment numbers do mean that the main argument Republicans hurled against the law — that it was doomed to collapse — is looking weaker than ever.

They also mean that Democrats now have a chance to shift the healthcare debate from whether the law should be repealed to how to improve it. Recent polls have found that between 53% and 71% of respondents (depending on how the question is worded) favor keeping the law and fixing it.

...

So what will Republicans do now?

They're trapped in a corner of their own making. GOP leaders say their position now is to "repeal and replace" the healthcare law. But more than four years after Obamacare became law, they still don't have a consensus proposal for what that replacement would look like.

...if 10 million people or more have gained health insurance thanks to Obama's long-derided law, they're going to want to see a fully fleshed-out replacement before they jump ship. The Republicans haven't provided one, and that's a prescription for irrelevance.

While the GOP looks for a way out, let's go inside and see what else is up...

The New York Times contends that when it comes to immigration, Obama can take executive action.

If President Obama means what he says about wanting an immigration system that reflects American values, helps the economy and taps the yearnings of millions of Americans-in-waiting, he is going to have to do something about it — soon and on his own. It has been frustrating to watch his yes-we-can promises on immigration reform fade to protestations of impotence and the blaming of others. All Mr. Obama has been saying lately is: No, in fact, we can’t, because Republicans and the law won’t let me.

...

With nearly two million removals in the last five years, the Obama administration is deporting people at a faster pace than has taken place under any other president. This enormously costly effort was meant to win Republican support for broader reform. But all it has done is add to the burden of fear, family disruption and lack of opportunity faced by 11 million people who cannot get right with the law. Because of Mr. Obama’s enforcement blitz, more than 5,000 children have ended up in foster care.

Mr. Obama should know his approach is unsustainable, and immigration advocates and lawmakers have applied intense pressure on him to deport “not one more” deserving immigrant.

Frank Bruni says that more has changed than CEOs at Mozilla.
To appreciate how rapidly the ground has shifted, go back just two short years, to April 2012. President Obama didn’t support marriage equality, not formally. Neither did Hillary Clinton. And few people were denouncing them as bigots whose positions rendered them too divisive, offensive and regressive to lead.

But that’s precisely the condemnation that tainted and toppled Brendan Eich after his appointment two weeks ago as the new chief executive of the technology company Mozilla. On Thursday he resigned, clearly under duress and solely because his opposition to gay marriage diverged from the views of too many employees and customers. “Under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader,” he said, and he was right, not just about the climate at Mozilla but also, to a certain degree, about the climate of America.

Bruni is drawing a false correlation here. There's a difference between the position the president took two years ago, and providing funds to Proposition 8.

Ross Douthat isn't going to be confused by numbers when it comes to the ACA.

So you think it’s finished? So you think now that enrollment has hit seven million, now that the president has declared the debate over repeal “over,” now that Republican predictions of a swift Obamacare unraveling look a bit like Republican predictions of a Romney landslide, we’re going to stop arguing about health care, stop having the issue dominate the conversation, and turn at last to some other debate instead?

You think it’s over? It’s never over.

I mean, O.K., it will be over in the event of a nuclear war, or a climate apocalypse, or if the robots eventually rise up and overthrow us. (Our capacity for self-destruction is a pre-existing condition that no insurance plan will touch.)

But for the foreseeable future, the health care debate probably isn’t going to get any less intense. Instead, what we’ve watched unfold since 2009 is what we should expect for years, decades, a generation: a grinding, exhausting argument over how to pay for health care in a society that’s growing older, consuming more care, and (especially if current secularizing trends persist) becoming more and more invested in postponing death.

You can always count on Douthat to equate any problem with a shortage of religion, but this may be the best one yet. Damned secular humanists are driving up health costs because they don't want to die!

Maureen Dowd makes me revisit my essay from yesterday.

I’d been hoping to get the flu.

I hadn’t had it in years, and there were so many TV series I’d never seen — “The Wire,” “Breaking Bad,” “House of Cards,” “True Detective” — that required an extended convalescence.

When I finally succumbed to a fever and crumpled in bed a couple of weeks ago with saltines and Gatorade, I grabbed the clicker, murmuring, “Alright, alright, alright.” The only celebrated series I had no interest in was “Game of Thrones.”

I’m not really a Middle-earth sort of girl.

...

After a marathon of three seasons of “Game” and the beginning of the fourth, starting this Sunday, I’m ready to forgo reality for fantasy.

Who wants to cover Chris Christie’s petty little revenge schemes in New Jersey once you’ve seen the gory revenge grandeur of the Red Wedding?

Who wants to see W.’s portraits of leaders once you’re used to King Joffrey putting leaders’ heads on stakes?

Who wants to hear Hillary Clinton complain about a media double standard for women once you’ve gotten accustomed to the win-don’t-whine philosophy of Cersei, Daenerys, Melisandre, Margaery, Ygritte, Brienne and Arya? As it turns out, the show not only has its share of strong women, but plenty of lethal ones as well.

Whenever I find myself in strong agreement with Maureen Dowd, I get worried. Maybe I'm coming down with the flu.

Sam Tanenhaus joins the chorus of "get the Republicans to make a sensible proposal and they'll win" advice columnists.

When Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, delivered a speech last month outlining proposals for economic growth, his sponsor was the Jack F. Kemp Foundation, a Beltway organization set up in memory of the Republican politician who died in 2009 and has recently been cited as a hero by some of the party’s most prominent figures.

Senator Rubio is one outspoken admirer. Another is Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, who worked at Mr. Kemp’s think tank, Empower America, in the 1990s, and has said that Mr. Kemp was one of his principal mentors.

Perhaps the most surprising Kemp acolyte, given his anti-establishment persona, is Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. Mr. Paul has updated Kemp’s most famous idea, “urban enterprise zones,” which were intended to entice businesses into struggling inner cities.

Of course, none of these three actually follows Kemp. They follow Zombie Kemp who, just like Zombie Reagan, has shed all brain cells in favor of adopting Tea Party policies completely counter to the things they did and said while alive. The only advice the GOP is sure to avoid, is anything that involves being reasonable.

Kathleen Parker does her best to erase any nice thoughts you might have had about her in one easy step.

Democrats are trying to make the Koch brothers the new face of the Republican Party. Conveniently, the name Koch is pronounced the same as that other capitalist goliath, Coke.

Appointing a person — or a pair of brothers — as the human face of the “enemy” is not a novel idea. During a previous election cycle, the Obama administration identified Limbaugh as the true leader of the Republican Party. This was an easy sell as many Republicans genuflected to Limbaugh, even apologizing when they might have offended him.

...

What’s next? A Senate committee investigating such un-American activities as advocating free-market principles or pursuing capitalist endeavors?

Of course, I’m kidding. That could never happen here, except it sort of already has. When Reid called the Kochs un-American, a powerful government official fired a shot across the bow of two private citizens who have acted within the law while contributing wealth to the economy through employment.

Yes, Kathleen. Going after the Kochs for funding millions of dollars in blatant lies is just like the Senate launching hearings against capitalists. Now, will George Will let you back in the country club?

Dana Milbank directs some sunlight at everyone's favorite new political vampire.

From the state that gave us Katherine Harris and Mark Foley came news this week that a vampire is running for Congress.

This particular bloodsucker — actually, he does role-playing as a vampire after dark — is trying to defeat Rep. Ted Yoho in a Republican primary in central Florida. The fanged contender believes Yoho — a tea party conservative — is a liberal who has “embarrassed” his constituents.

...

Running for office in the Sunshine State poses some unique problems for vampires, not least their difficulty of campaigning in daylight hours. Yoho will probably keep his seat, particularly if he remembers to wear garlic.

But the Rush candidacy reminds us of an important truism in politics: In Florida, anything can happen.

Can't we organize a rally or something? Nonexistent Nocturnal Creatures against Yoho?

Leonard Pitts has a good example of why we can't use only faith-based charities to address disasters.

Eleven years ago, Richard Stearns went to Washington.

Stearns — president of World Vision, the billion-dollar Christian relief organization — joined other faith leaders in lobbying Congress to spend $15 billion combating AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. He acknowledged he and his fellow evangelicals were late to the fight against this pandemic and explained their tardiness with remarkable candor.

At first, he said, Christians perceived AIDS as a disease of gay people and drug users and so, “had less compassion for the victims.” This, from followers of the itinerant, first century rabbi who said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened . . . ” So Stearns’ words offered stark illustration of one of the more vexing failings of modern Christianity: its inability to get there on time.

“There” meaning any place people are suffering, hungry, exploited or simply denied some essential human right. Yes, there are exceptions; let us not deny the good works of good people of faith.

...

On issues where it should take the lead, where it should make noise and news, challenging the status quo, marching in the streets, actively advocating for human dignity, the great body of Christendom always seems to bring up the rear, arriving decades late to the place the rest of the nation has already reached.

It’s not just that delegation joining the AIDS fight nearly 25 years after it began. It’s also churches apologizing 30 years after the Civil Rights Act for supporting segregation. And Christian tardiness in standing up for the right of women to be freed from kitchens. All of which provides a certain context for a recent controversy.

Science Daily delivers the kind of health news I can live with.
Improved thinking. Decreased appetite. Lowered blood pressure. The potential health benefits of dark chocolate keep piling up, and scientists are now homing in on what ingredients in chocolate might help prevent obesity, as well as type-2 diabetes. They found that one particular type of antioxidant in cocoa prevented laboratory mice from gaining excess weight and lowered their blood sugar levels. The report appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.
The only bad thing about this? If they find out the exact chemical involved, it could ruin my excuse to eat more chocolate.
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