Monday, October 28, 2013


Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centers at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak, meaning ‘to quack like a duck’. Like various other words in the B vocabulary, duckspeak was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when The Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment.

-- George Orwell, "The Principles of Newspeak"

This week's featured posts: "A State-by-State Update on Voter Suppression" and "The Method of Madness".

Everybody has been talking about the shutdown aftermath

There's no question that President Obama won this showdown, though it was mainly a defensive victory: Republicans failed to destroy his main achievement, the Affordable Care Act. (More about this in "The Method of Madness".)

Along the way, Republicans also trashed their public image and tanked their poll numbers. Control of the House may be up for grabs in 2014.

So why did they do it? Everyone -- even conservatives like Charles Krauthammer -- told the Tea Party radicals exactly what would happen, so it couldn't have been a surprise or a miscalculation. Why, then?

Part of the answer is the usual right-wing hucksterism. The shutdown was a great fund-raising tactic in general, and Ted Cruz specifically vaulted himself into being the early front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

But the deeper reason may have been to complete the radicalization of the Republican Party. Erick Erickson explained this clearly:
those of us who were in this fight against Obamacare, have been quite open that we knew there were side benefits. This fight would expose conservative activists to the frauds they have funded.

Men like Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, and others have preached a great sermon against Obamacare, but now conservatives who supported them see that these men have refused to actually practice what they’ve been preaching. They’ve refused to stand and fight with the rest of us.

... So we must advance. Two Republicans in the Senate caused this fight that their colleagues would have surrendered on more quickly but for them. Imagine a Senate filled with more. We have an opportunity to replace Mitch McConnell in Kentucky with a better conservative. We should do that. We have the opportunity to send a strong conservative from North Carolina and we should do that. Same in ColoradoKansas looks to be in play. Chris McDaniel will declare his candidacy for the Senate in Mississippi. Conservatives will rally to him quickly. Tennessee could be in play too.

Imagine a Senate where far-right Republicans like Mississippi's Thad Cochran were replaced -- not by people who are more conservative philosophically, that's barely possible -- but by Republicans willing to take the government hostage and blow up the economy if they don't get what they want. Most of the senators on Erickson's hit list -- McConnell, Cochran, Tennessee's Lamar Alexander, and Kansas' Pat Roberts -- are Republicans whose conservativism was not in question only a few years ago.

The game here appears to be longer than 2014 or even 2016. And increasingly, it looks to me like the point is not to win a majority. It's to make the country ungovernable, so that some kind of right-wing minority rule starts to seem like a reasonable alternative.

The real question, as we look forward to the extended deadline for a budget/debt-ceiling deal, is what non-Tea-Party Republicans learned from this last crisis. Until now, most of the Republican establishment has been trying to appease the Tea Party revolutionaries; just don't set them off, and hope they go after somebody else. I hope they've learned now that appeasement is impossible if you retain any loyalty to democracy and the government of the United States of America.

You will be targeted. You will have to fight. Better you should fight sooner than later.

About that guy waving a confederate flag in front of the White House during that bizarre Cruz/Palin rally protesting their own government shutdown. The Atlantic'sTa-Nehisi Coates has it exactly right: The problem isn't that one guy. "Lone idiots are often drawn to protest actions."

The problem is the crowd that treated him like a normal person. The problem is when leaders like Ted Cruz get hold of the microphone and don't say something like, "You need to put that away; you're not helping us."

That's the Tea Party/racism problem in a nutshell. Tea Partiers get apoplectic when they're accused of racism. But since the Goldwater/Nixon years, the Republican Party has made itself a place where racists can be comfortable. You don't have to be racist to be a Republican. But if you are, that's OK.


There's been a lot of spin and sloppy coverage here: What's being presented as "problems with ObamaCare" are usually just problems with, the web site that is one of the ways you can sign up for some of the new health-insurance options created by the Affordable Care Act. (An exception is Ezra Klein, who explains how problems with could eventually create problems with the insurance risk pool if they persist.)

An analogy might help put this in perspective: If something went wrong with the ticket-selling page on Denver Broncos' web site, that would be a nuisance for ticket-seeking Broncos fans, who might have to call the box office or show up in person. But the Broncos' season-ticket holders would be completely unaffected by the online difficulties, just as people who already have health insurance through their employers or Medicare or some other government program are unaffected by the problems at

None of that would constitute "problems with the Denver Broncos". Peyton Manning is doing fine.

ObamaCare is not just the health-insurance exchanges, and the exchanges are not just ObamaCare is a system for achieving near-universal healthcare coverage. It works like this:
  • The majority of Americans already had adequate coverage through their employers, or through the government via Medicare, Medicaid, or the Veterans Administration. They would keep their coverage, with the additional security that they couldn't lose coverage through pre-existing conditions or exceeding some lifetime cap.
  • Lower-income working people who aren't covered some other way and previously made too much money to qualify for Medicaid would be covered by expanded Medicaid. (This is the part the Supreme Court messed up by allowing states to opt out. States like Texas are opting out so that their governors can win Republican primaries. The Corpus Christi Caller writes: "According to one esteemed estimate, the annual unnecessary death toll for continuing to leave a fourth of Texans uninsured is 9,000.")
  • Middle-class people who aren't covered some other way and don't qualify for expanded Medicaid could buy health insurance from private insurance companies (not the government) through their state's health-insurance exchange. The law encouraged states to set up and run their own exchanges, which most states controlled by Democrats have done. (Many of those seem to be working fine.) But in states that refused to set up their own exchanges (i.e., red states) the federal government would do so. Depending on your income, your insurance premiums might be partially subsidized by the federal government through a tax credit. (Unless another Republican court challenge gets rid of the subsidies for states that didn't open their own exchanges.)
  • Rich people can do whatever, as always. No "government takeover of healthcare" or "death panels" prevent them from buying whatever services they want.

So if your job doesn't already provide health insurance, and if you want to purchase it through your state health insurance exchange, and if your state didn't set up its own program with its own web site, then you are inconvenienced by the problems at If the federal government can't fix the site, you might have to apply for health insurance over the phone or by showing up in person somewhere.

As for what kind of health insurance you will get if you do and what it will cost you, that's looking pretty good. It's looking so good that when Sean Hannity wanted to show his audience real-life examples of people harmed by ObamaCare, he had to deceive them. Salon's Eric Stern fact-checked Hannity by tracking down the people he showcased, and discovered that none of them had actually been harmed by anything other than their own stubbornness.
Had they shopped on the exchange yet, I asked? No, Tina said, nor would they. They oppose Obamacare and want nothing to do with it. Fair enough, but they should know that I found a plan for them for, at most, $3,700 a year, 63 percent less than their current bill.

One of the ways you might buy tickets isn't working very well, but the team is winning on the field.

The problem is yet another episode in the endless Republican search for "Obama's Katrina". The BP oil spill was supposed to be Obama's Katrina, Hurricane Sandy was supposed to be Obama's Katrina, and in general the phrase has been bandied about so much that 29% of Louisiana Republicans believe Katrina was Obama's Katrina.

Esquire's Charles Pierce points out why this is an over-the-top comparison:
Almost 2,000 people died so that, eight years later, Rich Lowry could have a cheap punchline. still hasn't killed anybody.

You may have heard that the government spent $600 million building the web site, with Fox News claiming the ultimate cost could go over $1 billion.

Media Matters explains where the first number came from. (Fox hasn't said where they got the second one.) As so often happens inside the conservative media bubble, the figure $600 million appeared in a story about the web site -- it's the total value of all healthcare-related contracts the software company has received -- and became the cost of the web site by daisy-chaining references.

Single-payer advocates have been passing around variations on this joke: The Canadian version of just says: "This is Canada. You have health care."

and voter suppression

If you're the minority party and you don't want to change your policies to become more popular, you can still win if your voters are very motivated and you make it hard for the majority party's voters to vote. The Supreme Court's recent ruling on the Voting Rights Act might as well have been an announcement of open season on voting rights at the state level. I review what's been happening lately in "A State-by-state Update on Voter Suppression".

Even if you don't click through to read that link, you really should see The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi interviewing North Carolina Republican official Don Yelton.

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Don't miss the dialog about journalism between the NYT's Bill Keller and Glenn Greenwald.

In general, I'm Greenwald's side in this debate. (Though I have criticisms of him as well: I like that he is open about the worldview that shapes his reporting, rather than hiding behind a pretense of objectivity. But too much of his personality makes it into his writing, and I find his personality abrasive and thin-skinned.) I think Keller comes into the discussion determined to fit Greenwald into a box, with the result that he never really listens to what Greenwald says.

Keller never acknowledges Greenwald's criticism that the Times' desire to maintain an appearance of impartiality conflicts with a deeper objectivity. Greenwald mentions how the Times changed its usage of the word torture when the Bush administration began claiming (against all prior usage) that waterboarding was not torture. A truly objective newspaper would apply definitions of controversial words impartially, regardless of whether powerful interests object.

To understand what Greenwald means when he describes NYT-like journalism as "nationalistic", look at Joshua Keating's "If It Happened There ... the Government Shutdown". How would the American press cover the shutdown if it were happening in another country?

If you think conservatives believe in small government and personal freedom, you must be male. Consider the bizarre case of Alicia Beltran, a 28-year-old woman who has the misfortune to be pregnant in Wisconsin, where "pro-family" fetal-protection laws give the government Orwellian powers over pregnant women.

Because of a prescription-drug problem that she had already overcome (and that no one would have known about if she hadn't mentioned it to doctors herself), Beltran was prescribed an anti-addiction drug that she couldn't afford. When she refused, she was arrested and forced to stay in an in-patient facility. During that involuntary absence, she lost her job.

The baby is due in January. You're welcome, kid.

Birtherism is so hilarious. Funny, I don't recall Democratic officials making years and years worth of 9-11 Truther jokes about W (rather than jokes about Truthers). Is that just my bad memory?

Even if you're not usually a football fan, you should watch ESPN's "The Book of Manning", which may still be available on demand on some cable systems and is out on DVD. The story of Archie, Peyton, and Eli turns out to be more about family than about football. The Mannings totally cooperated, and Archie made his extensive (and, at times, incredibly cute) home videos available to the film-makers.

Two retired Canadian tourists decide to see the Alamo, and blunder into a protest rally of people carrying loaded assault rifles. “This is totally beyond our comprehension,” Mabel says.

Finally, if you're wondering what I was doing that kept me from putting a Sift out last week, I was working on this talk.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Apocalyptic Methods

WILLARD: They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.
KURTZ: Are my methods unsound?
WILLARD: I don't see any method at all, sir.

-- Apocalypse Now (1979)
quoted Saturday by Ross Douthat, "The Kurtz Republicans"

This week's featured post: "Don't Means-Test Medicare". Because the first step in gutting a program is to get the rich people out of it.

This week everybody was talking about a possible end to the shutdown/debt-ceiling crisis

Little by little, the Republicans are realizing that the shutdown battle isn't Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it's "The Ransom of Red Chief". The longer this hostage crisis goes on, the more painful it is for them.

Wednesday Gallup showed the Republican Party with a 28% approval rating, down ten points from the previous month, and even lower than the 31% nadir they hit during the Clinton impeachment. Thursday, an NBC/WSJ poll said that the public blames them for the shutdown (53%-31%), while both President Obama and the Affordable Care Act have become more popular. The public says (47%-39%) that it wants to see a Democratic Congress in 2014.  To me, the most damaging result was Question 16. Asked whether President Obama was being a strong leader or putting politics ahead of what's good for the country, the public was mildly negative (46%-51%). But the same question about congressional Republicans produced a landslide: 70% said Republicans were putting politics first.

The business community has also been weighing in against them. On shutdown eve, a coalition of 251 trade associations (including big Republican donor, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) sent a letter to Congress:
It is not in the best interest of the employers, employees or the American people to risk a government shutdown that will be economically disruptive and create even more uncertainties for the U.S. economy.

Likewise, we respectfully urge the Congress to raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner and remove any threat to the full faith and credit of the United States government.

Thursday, the head of the American Bankers Association (former Republican governor Frank Keating) framed the debt ceiling issue the way Democrats do:
Failing to raise the debt ceiling in time would be an unprecedented mistake. ... To use a credit card analogy, the decision about what to buy on credit tomorrow must take into account the debt we already owe, but that is never an excuse for not paying the current bill on time and in full.

Even the Koch brothers started pulling back (after spending an estimated quarter-billion dollars on groups that promoted this crisis). Wednesday Koch Industries sent a letter to all senators denying that they had a position on the shutdown.

The stock market never did crash, exactly, but the Dow slid from a mid-September high of 15709 to 14727 Wednesday morning. That's when rumors started that the Republicans were going lower their ransom demands (as Red Chief's captors did shortly before realizing how bad a situation they were in). Sure enough, defunding ObamaCare wasn't in the demand list any more. (Aside: Doing the research on this topic is frustrating, because news articles often leave out the most important details, like what was actually proposed.)

But the idea of ransom wasn't gone. In exchange for a six-week extension on the debt ceiling (and not re-opening the government), Ryan wanted to replace the sequester cuts (which originally were designed to be equally offensive to both parties, but which the Republicans are happier about than the Democrats) with cuts to Social Security and Medicare. So: we'll let the hostages live another six weeks if you give us something.

President Obama wasn't interested. Then over the weekend the Senate tried to work something out, again with smaller ransom demands. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) proposed to extend the debt ceiling through January and fund the government through March. In exchange she wants some lesser changes to ObamaCare (repealing or delaying the medical device tax, plus making some changes to eligibility which I can't find spelled out anywhere).

The problem here is that that new sequester cuts go into effect in January. What the Democrats hoped to accomplish in budget negotiations was to avoid some of those cuts. That's why the continuing resolutions they supported accepted Republican-supported spending levels, but ended before January 1. Senate Democrats view a CR that lasts until March as a concession. And what they get in exchange for that concession is to let the Republicans out of the box they voluntarily got into.

So Senate Democrats rejected that deal and proposed a clean debt-ceiling extension until after the 2014 elections, which the Republicans filibustered. Since then, stuff has been happening behind closed doors and who knows what it means. In general, the Democrats are united while the Republicans are fragmented. That makes the Republicans hard to negotiate with, because who knows what any particular leader can deliver? (The weirdest story I've heard is that when Senate Republicans came to the White House, they had to ask Obama what the House Republicans had proposed.)

The stock market seems edgy (down 75 when I last checked) but not panicking. Debt-ceiling disaster is scheduled for Thursday. Conservatives are still telling each other than "Obama will blink" if they push this to the edge.

As has been true from the beginning, the pundits keep telling us something will work out, but they're not sure what the deal will be and they have no scenario in mind for how it happens. I'm making no predictions. When you push important stuff off to the last minute, sometimes it doesn't get done, even if you really intended to do it.

The funniest commentary on the shutdown came from The Daily Show's Jason Jones. He decided to take the ransom metaphor literally and seek advice from a professional hostage negotiator. Why do people take hostages? Jones asks.
Negotiator: In their world, they've tried a lot of other things, and everything they've tried up to that point has failed. They view themselves as extremely significant people, so they're mystified that they're not being followed more. And they're hurt by it and they feel very abandoned by it.

Jones: You know, I thought calling in a hostage negotiator would kind of be funny, a funny joke, but it's kind of incredible how this metaphor is lining up.

Negotiator: Even batshit insane has its own rules.

and trying to understand Republicans

Fascinating look at the Republican rank-and-file (summaryfull 30-page report -- which is worth reading if you've got the time). A liberal group, Democracy Corps, ran focus groups of like-minded Republicans of three types: Evangelicals, Tea Partiers, and moderates. (I find this interesting in view of my post The Four Flavors of Republican from January, 2012. Democracy Corps' groups seem to correspond to my theocrats, libertarians, and corporatists. The NeoCons are nowhere to be found. I wonder whether they are a beltway phenomenon with little grass-roots support, or if DC just didn't raise foreign-policy issues.)

My takeaways: Tea Partiers and Evangelicals together make a majority of Republicans, and while they disagree on the importance of social issues, they share an apocalyptic feeling that the country may slip away from them for good unless they take drastic action now. They're scary that way.

The role of race is interesting. The point of like-minded focus groups was to get people saying things they wouldn't say in mixed circles. So DC expected the occasional racist remark or slur, which didn't happen; there was no explicit racial hostility. But the America Republicans are nostalgic for and feel in danger of losing is clearly a white America. As an Evangelical man from Roanoke put it:
It’s a little bubble. So everybody – it’s like a Lake Wobegon. Everybody is above average. Everybody is happy. Everybody is white. Everybody is middle class, whether or not they really are. Everybody looks that way. Everybody goes to the same pool. Everybody goes – there’s one library, one post office. Very homogenous.

In many of the comments, blacks and Hispanics are not villains so much as pawns in the liberal plot to create pliable voting majorities by extending dependence on government. As Bloomberg's Francis Wilkinson summarized:
Obama has extended a new entitlement to create a class of lazy, poor voters whose well-being is dependent upon the Democratic Party.

Moderates are about a quarter of Republicans. They know they don't fit any more but can't see themselves as Democrats. They're pro-business and anti-regulation, but they're also open to gay rights, admiring of science, and convinced that government only works if everyone compromises for the greater good. The current Tea/Evangelical Republican Party embarrasses them. They might well agree with Ross Douthat:
there is still something well-nigh-unprecedented about how Republicans have conducted themselves of late. It’s not the scale of their mistake, or the kind of damage that it’s caused, but the fact that their strategy was such self-evident folly, so transparently devoid of any method whatsoever.

A Methodist pastor examines the Dominionist theology that justifies tactics like the shutdown.

Political historian Rick Perlstein has been doing an eye-opening series "Thinking Like a Conservative". Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Whenever an exasperated liberal points out that the basic architecture of the Affordable Care Act matches a plan drawn up by the Heritage Foundation in the 1990s, I feel a stab of exasperation myself—with my side. Theirs is not a clinching argument, or even a good argument. It means nothing to point out to conservatives that Heritage once proposed something like Obamacare. The Heritage plan was a tactic of a moment—a moment that required something to fill in the space to the right of President Clinton’s healthcare plan, an increment toward the real strategic goal of getting the government out of the healthcare business altogether… someday.

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The Ride for the U. S. Constitution was a vision that would put the fear of God into those corrupt left-wing politicians: ten thousand truckers shutting down the Washington beltway for the whole Columbus Day weekend, then delivering their list of demands to a sympathetic congressman, Louis Gohmert of Texas. Or maybe it would be "hundreds of thousands of truckers and millions of citizens".

They'd convene a citizens' grand jury (a.k.a. a lynch mob) to indict and arrest "everyone in government who has violated their oath of office" -- Obama, certainly, but also Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein, among others.

They wouldn't rely on the lamestream media to spread the word (well, except for Fox News, where Megan Kelly gave them five minutes of air time; independent media magnate Glenn Beck also pushed their cause). They'd do their own viral messaging through Facebook, Twitter, and plain old fliers posted at truck stops. The People would speak so loudly that no one could ignore them!

Of course, in America we have this other way for the People to speak: elections. We just had one last year, and President Obama was re-elected by almost five million votes. It's not a perfect institution -- Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives in spite of getting 1.3  million fewer votes than the Democrats (spreadsheet) -- but it's been working reasonably well ever since it was established in ... well, it's in that Constitution they're riding for, isn't it?

But if the People want to speak some other way too, that's fine with me. (Well, other than that lynch mob thing.) So how many truckers turned out? About 30. I haven't heard how the arrest of Nancy Pelosi went.

But you can see why We the (dozens of) People would be upset: Government spending is out of control, as this chart clearly shows:

Sorry, wrong chart. Let's try this one:

Crap! I don't know what's wrong with these charts. What if we measure the size of government in employees? Then we'll really see how out of control the octopus is.

(The peak in 2010 was for temporary census workers.) OK, but the deficit -- we know that's going through the roof. That's what justifies the Tea Party's hostage-taking tactics: If we don't get control of the deficit now, our children will be debt slaves of the Chinese!

Ah, screw the data. We're just mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more, whatever it is.

As Congress move towards actual budget negotiations, we can expect to hear a lot of hysteria about the national debt. An opening shot was Niall Ferguson's WSJ op-ed. Economist Brad DeLong explains why Ferguson is peddling complete nonsense.

Voter suppression: The conservative appellate judge who sustained Indiana's voter-ID law has changed his mind:
the problem is that there hadn’t been that much activity with voter identification. Maybe we should have been more imaginative….We weren’t really given strong indications that requiring additional voter identification would actually disfranchise people entitled to vote. ... I don't think we had enough information.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court followed him down that path 6-3.

Meanwhile, Kansas and Arizona are planning a new tactic: second-class voters. A Supreme Court ruling against an Arizona law requiring voters to show proof of citizenship apparently applies only to federal elections. So if states split elections into a federal ballot and a state/local ballot, maybe they could give only the federal ballot to voters who haven't shown proof of citizenship. At least the Supremes haven't said otherwise yet, so it's worth a try.

I explained my take on voter suppression two weeks ago: The Republicans have given up on convincing a majority of the American people to agree with them, and are now focused on tactics that allow them to govern from the minority. Voter suppression, gerrymandering, the filibuster, the Hastert Rule, blocking a path to citizenship in any immigration reform, the congressional hostage-crisis we're in the middle of now ... it's all part of the larger plan for minority rule.

The history of the Republican Party in three buttons:

Along the same lines: Listening to NPR's interview with Bill Minutaglio, author of the new book Dallas, 1963, I was struck by how the extreme Right remains the same from one era to the next. Minutaglio says:
For some reason out in the heartland in the middle of Texas, really powerful people coalesced around this notion that Kennedy was a traitor and in fact was guilty of treason. And these weren't just folks who were idly thinking these thoughts; they were acting on them and forming organizations and movements to essentially overthrow Kennedy. ... He was perceived to be a traitor. He was a socialist, he was on bended knee to so many different entities — communism, socialism and even the pope.

We look back at that now and say, "Those people were crazy." Today, not even the Tea Party (at least not most of it) claims that JFK was a traitor or a Communist, or that we can't have a Catholic president because he'll take orders from the Pope. But they don't see the connection between that craziness and what they are saying about Obama today.

The L.A. Times has decided it's only willing to tolerate climate-denier letters up to a point:
I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published. Saying "there's no sign humans have caused climate change" is not stating an opinion, it's asserting a factual inaccuracy.

Hey, interns: Now you can be sexually harassed while you work for no pay. Is this a great country or what?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Burning Down the House

No visible means of support and you have not seen nothin' yet.

Everything's stuck together.

I don't know what you expect staring into the TV set,

fighting fire with fire,

burning down the house.

-- Talking Heads

This week's featured posts both have something to do with the shutdown/debt-ceiling crisis. "Countdown to Augustus" takes the long view, while "7 Key Points About the Shutdown" is more immediate.

This week everybody was talking about (what else?) the shutdown

Usually I try to be the calm voice in the room, and to balance the over-hyped Big Issue that the news networks fixate on by pointing out that other things are happening in the world.

This week, though, I'm probably more obsessed with the government-shutdown/debt-ceiling-default than my readers are, and I keep wondering why everybody isn't more freaked out. Like, why is the stock market drifting gently downward rather than crashing?

I continue not to see an end to this that doesn't involve some market-crash or riots-in-the-streets type of disaster. I don't think the Democrats can give in without setting up more hostage crises down the road. So the only way out is for the Republicans to back down without extorting anything in return. And I don't think they can do that, because their whole mindset says that re-assessing your position in the face of reality is weakness.

So something external has to force this. It doesn't end any other way.

Jon Stewart has been amazing through this whole mess. It's hard to pick a favorite, but I think I go with his Rockin' Shutdown Eve last Monday.

and raids against al Qaeda

The U.S. launched two raids in Africa this weekend. The Libya raid successfully captured Abu Anas al Libi, allegedly a high-ranking al Qaeda guy. And the Sudan raid ran into heavy resistance, but may have killed a guy who may have been connected to last week's mall shooting in Kenya. So far all we know is what the government is telling us, so wait and see before you draw any conclusions.

and ObamaCare

The web site had problems, as often happens as things roll out. Keep in mind that ObamaCare is fundamentally about health insurance, not about the web. So a problem about the web site is not necessarily a problem with ObamaCare.

Last week I linked to part one of Kurt Eichenwald's Vanity Fair series on ObamaCare. It covered the lies conservatives have been telling about ObamaCare, and so had a polemic tone. It's hard to discuss blatant lies calmly and dispassionately.

Part two is much drier: It focuses on the logic of ObamaCare, the problem it's trying to solve, and what's in it for you even if you already have insurance. It is full of facts about the uninsured, the cost of providing emergency care for them through our current system, why they die sooner than they should, and the uncomfortable reality that
the vast, vast majority of them are hard-working Americans who simply do not have the same salary and benefit opportunities that others might. And again, no, there are not tens of millions of higher-paying jobs with benefits sitting out there unfilled.

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Michele Bachmann claims that her decision not to seek re-election has nothing to do with the ethics charges against her 2012 presidential campaign. But AP reports this about the guy on the other side of the transaction:
Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson ... resigned from office Wednesday after investigator Mark Weinhardt concluded Sorenson likely broke ethics rules in receiving $7,500 in monthly income from Bachmann's political action committee and presidential campaign in exchange for being Bachmann's state chair in 2011.

The Ron Paul campaign is also implicated. Sorenson switched his allegiance to Paul, allegedly after receiving $75,000 in what AP calls "suspicious payments that may be linked to Paul's campaign".

Here's a consequence of the shutdown that is going to hit people where they live: Notre Dame might have to drop two games out of its football schedule. It's scheduled to play the Air Force academy on October 26 and Navy on November 2. The academies are currently shut down with the rest of the government.

A Pro Publica investigation shows that Tylenol is not as harmless as you probably think.

Some straight talk about rape prevention:
If your advice to a woman to avoid rape is to be the most modestly dressed, soberest and first to go home, you may as well add “so the rapist will choose someone else”.

About that IRS scandal ... never mind.