Saturday, November 30, 2013

Affordable Care Act A.K.A. Obamacare


As my readers can see, it has been quite a while since my last posting on the site.  I apologize, as a lot of life changing events occurred over the previous months.  I was offered a great job outside of the State of Louisiana, and I took the offer and ran with it.  I am currently in Texas, but have continued to look at Louisiana's politics and National politics as well.  

The Abysmal Care Act

As you all know, the Affordable Care Act has failed us all already.  Let me count the ways that the President has screwed Americans.  First, Medicare (which was a failure considering the staggering cost compared to the modest services provided) was stripped of crucial funding for the elderly back when the Abysmal Care Act was passed.  

Second, basic care healthcare plans have been kicked to the curb for not providing birth control and maternity care coverage, not to mention the plethora of other services mandated by the Abysmal Care Act. Sorry, as a single male, I do not feel that these two services help me personally at this time.  Therefore, as a prudent shopper, I would like to choose healthcare plans that cater to MY needs, not GOVERNMENT'S needs.  

Third, the healthcare website debacle is merely the beginning of even more pains for people trying to survive in a post-ACA passage world.  The problem with the site is only a testament to the hubris and unmitigated gall that our Fuhrer continues to show.  It comes to light that the architects of the website barely consulted organizations who worked on similar concepts in previous projects.  The architects thought they could conceive everything that could go wrong and thought they could preempt them all.  As always, this President and his circle of rubes were terribly wrong.  

These are but a few problems with the ACA as it currently stands.  There are structural issues that people much more trained than myself can explain.

Republicans and the ACA

Let's not completely pile on the Democrats and their puppet, Obama.  We all know that the Democrats set this up for failure, in an attempt to woo the people to accept a single payer system.  We all know that the Democrats want this to fail to show that there is just no other solution than HillaryCare.

What the Republicans are doing is not as sinister to the system, but just as sick.  Republicans all over the place are talking about just letting ObamaCare fall apart on its own, THEN the people will run to the Republican ticket and they will have the 1994 Republican Revolution all over again.  First of all, that will not happen because those Republicans actually had some morals.  This set of Republican leaders are willing to let the house burn down just to spite the President and to tell the American people "I told you so."  What will Republicans tell people without insurance and pass away because of it?  "Sorry, I didn't want to abolish ObamaCare because I wanted to prove a point."  It is callous and stupid.  It is also a bad strategy to win in the ballot box.

Further exacerbating the seeming ambivalence toward fixing the problem, we have Republicans at the State level doubling down on the shafting that the Feds are doing through the ACA.  Republican governors across America refused to establish the state-level exchanges, thus cutting off people from access to any insurance at all (especially those in moderate to low income tax brackets).  Sadly nearly 60% of the uninsured people prior to the ACA passage lived in the states that do not have exchanges.  Then, as if the Republicans didn't have enough fun doing that to the people to create the political theater, they refused to take the Medicaid money provided by the Feds to extend the rolls of Medicaid to the lower middle class (these States make up nearly 70% of all poor who would be eligible for coverage).  Republicans said that it was going to force the states to bankroll Medicaid at a higher level (yes, in 5 years, but not now).

What Republicans Should Have Done

Republicans should have quickly placed the exchanges in place so that people could continue to have health insurance and not worry about if their children were covered.  There is a moral duty to protect your electorate, a duty that Democrats and Republicans severely discounted.  Republicans should have taken the money to extend the rolls of Medicaid, as a second level of protection for people during this trying time for families.  It is hard to function when there is so much uncertainty for the average family.  It would have been fine to extend the rolls because for the first three years, the Feds put up 100% of the money.  Within three years, Republicans could muster support to overturn the Abysmal Care Act, roll back Medicaid, and reinstall the previous insurance system.  In fact, Republicans could have set up a legal regime to break down the walls that keep insurance companies hemmed into individual states, allowing people to comparison shop nationwide.

The Republicans wouldn't do that because it doesn't make good theater.  They need you to suffer, they want you to suffer.  The entire system is corrupt and it is time for people to stand up against both parties today.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: World War Z

File:World War Z book cover.jpg


It is true.  I am sitting here reviewing a fiction book, about zombies no less.  Don't worry, there is definitely a reason for reviewing this book.  The reason is simple:  It is not written as a fiction piece.  Max Brooks was very meticulous in his research to craft a fictional account of a zombie apocalypse that felt very non-fictional. This book is not for everyone though.

The Pros

This is a great book for those who are fans of the zombie genre but also love history.  This is right in my wheelhouse.  I love oral histories.  This book gave me a glimpse into a fictional war through a unique lens.  A lens that is the oldest form of history documentation, oral accounts.  It is only with recent technologies (over the past 100 or so years) that we have been able to record the actual words verbatim and unadulterated.  It was fascinating to listen to first hand accounts dealing with this fictional travesty.

Max Brooks did a lot of research to understand geo-political tensions and his ability to create reactions by respective governments was impressive.  If you like zombies, but like non-fiction reads as well, you should pick this up immediately.

The Cons

Just as any non-fictional account of a past event, there is a lot of lull moments.  There are stories that do not advance the plot line.  It is definitely not a read for those who only want fictionalized and heavily dramatized action.  This book has a few moments of drama, but it is truly a historical account.  The people who were interviewed have been distanced from the events over time and really tell the story matter-of-fact-ly.


This is a conditional read. If you are like me, and love non-fictional war accounts but also want some zombie spice as well, then this is for you.  If you do not fit in either of these categories, you will find it to be too slow and boring.

The film comes out this Summer and honestly, I don't see how they will turn this into an action driven flick.  All I can see if them taking some elements of the story and making up their own screenplay.  As such, I will likely only rent the movie rather than see it in theaters.  Do NOT judge the book by the movie.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bobby Jindal vs. John Kennedy: Louisiana's Budget

I am about as dumbfounded about this budget plan as Piyush is in this picture.

Quick Message

Thank you all for the wonderful support that you have brought to this site.  I hope that I have been a bastion of straight talk and no-nonsense analysis.  That doesn't mean that I expect everyone to agree with what I say,  but to understand the underlying issues and rationale.  I haven't posted in a couple of months, yet somehow the visitor numbers continue to tally upwards.  I am so very thankful for you.  My only other request is, if you like what I have written, please pass along my website on your social media sites so that others can see and read for themselves.

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Without further ado...

Bobby Jindal's History

As we all know our resident "Road" Scholar (not my moniker, but clever so there it is) has been much too busy on Fox News, Republican party fundraisers and other rallies to attend to the State of Louisiana.  He has been a proponent of reforms full of non-sense, all in the name of getting his brand out nationally.  Nothing that I have said is shocking to anyone here.  We all know the stupidity that has rained down on our heads since this man's first term.

We all thought that his ridiculous reform of the tax code (you remember, cut all income taxes and supplement it with a 3% increase in sales taxes) was the height of recklessness.  [Note: I am a fan for this type of reform, if there are vouchers to ease the regressivity of the taxes.  The biggest problem with his reform was that it was economically untenable.  If the proposed 3% increase is what remains in the reform bill, it would significantly erode the tax base because the sales tax would not be high enough to offset the loss of income taxes.  But hey... it got him in the national media, so to hell with us LA citizens!]  

Bobby has now double-downed on the reckless behavior.  Then, to put the cherry on top, thinks that we are too damned ignorant to see what is going on.  

Bobby Jindal and the New Budget

John Kennedy has stepped out on a limb again and has publicly roasted the Governor.... yet again.  Bobby is trying to act as though he is proposing a balanced budget that will not need mid-year cuts.  Rather than me outline it for you... let me give John Kennedy the floor.  You can find the link here.  Here is the pertinent excerpt:
Here's how the administration plans to "balance" state revenue and spending this time:

1. Pretend the state will have an extra $800 million to spend as a result of the yet-to-be realized savings from leasing state hospitals to private hospitals, even though the leases have not been negotiated.

2. Refinance the state's tobacco bonds (good idea) but dump the $90 million one-time savings into the operating budget and spend it next year (bad idea).

3. Propose to sell state real estate at inflated prices well above appraised value and spend the money before they sell.

4. Borrow $100 million from the New Orleans Convention Center to keep our colleges open while promising to repay the loan with the proceeds from future bond issues that will exceed the state's constitutional debt limit.

5. Raise college tuition 10% for Louisiana students, who already owe $900 million in student loans, despite the fact that education is the new currency of our global economy and 8% fewer Louisianans have a college degree than the rest of America.

John Kennedy is a great asset to the State of Louisiana, especially in the realm of fiscal affairs.  When he highlighted the ridiculousness of Jindal's budget plan, there was a swift backlash.  Here is the link to that.

If you pay close attention to what the Governor's office's response is, you will see major holes.  First, they say that because he doesn't believe the $800 million savings to be an exact number AND that he doesn't just take the Governor's word on it... well then he is against reforming the whole system.  WRONG.

Second, Kennedy points out that the Governor's office is fudging numbers in regard to how much the real estate to be sold could actually bring to the state. Because the Governor would want to spend the money now, promising to get that large amount at sale, we would be in a major hole when we don't realize that large sale amount.  Governor's Office's response:  Kennedy is a big government defender.  HOW?!?  Because he won't take your word on how much these sales will bring?  Who writes this mularkey for you Bobby, seriously?  You should shit-can him/her now.

Lastly, the Governor's Office didn't even respond to the fact that they were going to increase tuition rates 10%.  

This was a haphazard response to John Kennedy's critique.  John Kennedy was making valid arguments against this "balanced" budget proposal.  All Bobby Jindal did was go on a smear campaign, full of lies and Rush Limbaugh bluster.


Bobby wants us all to trust him.  This time, he is proposing a balanced budget that will be ramrodded through our rubber stamp known as the Louisiana State Legislature.  He wants you and I to forget that we have had significant mid-year cuts every year.  But this time, he is being honest.

The Jindal administration is smearing a man who is questioning the numbers.  They are smearing him, calling him (not completely literally) a non-reformist, corrupt-o-phile bastard.  

His office has been on high since winning re-election.  He has nothing to be proud of.  Winning 65% of the vote against literally nobody is not a mandate for your policies of the first term.  If you can't win by a larger margin going against nobody, you would have lost to somebody.  It is time for the tea party, Democrats, and Independents to work together to put this clown in check.  Will it happen?  Absolutely not.  Tea Partiers are merely Republicans, so there can never be a coalition to put this big spending moron out of business.

I will close with a link and quote from C.B. Forgotston.  It shows the pure hypocrisy of our Governor Bobby Jindal:  

A member of the Crack Mullet Research Team was busy putting in some overtime on Saturday morning when he received an email from Bobby Jindal. 
Among other things in Bobby’s message to his “friends” was this startling statement: 
“The folks in Washington could take a page out of our playbook in Louisiana and make government live within its means instead of taking money out of the private sector economy to grow government.” 
In other words, Bobby is suggesting that the people at the U.S. Capitol emulate, fiscally, what he has done at the Louisiana Capitol.
Here’s what Jindal has done in Louisiana:
– The per capita state debt has reached an all-time record.
– The state is within striking distance of the constitutional “cap” on total debt.
– The current state budget has a $278 Million hole in it because Jindal budgeted funds that never materialized.
– The proposed budget for FY14 has a $1.2 Billion shortfall and is balanced using one-time and fictitious revenues.
– The Unfunded liability is the state pension systems has grown by over $6 Billion.
Unfortunately, it appears that the “folks in Washington” have already borrowed Louisiana’s playbook. 
The primary difference between Louisiana and D.C. is that they print money; we imagine it.
Folks, you just cannot make this stuff up.  Bobby actually wrote the above quoted statement. 
Talk soon folks! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Presidential Election 2012 Recap


At this point it looks like the final tally is as follows:

Obama --332
Romney -- 206

This was even bigger than what I had projected.  My projection was 303-235.  (The only state I missed was Florida)

Quick Note:  Several people complained that we need to get rid of the Electoral College because Obama will lose the popular vote.  Historically, there have only been four times in the history of presidential elections that a candidate lost even though having the popular vote.  The party of the losing candidate in EVERY one of those elections?  Democratic.  Be careful what you wish for Republicans.  Also, read some history.

I didn't hear Republicans cry about changing the electoral college in 2000.  Suck it up and take the loss.

Quick Note 2:  Further putting egg on Republican faces on this issue: Obama has gone over the 50% mark as of 8:30 A.M. 11/7/2012

How Did Obama Win?

Republicans will be in a funk for a while after this loss.  In the coming days, you will hear people blame the fact that Mitt was too liberal.  You will hear that the Neo-Con version of the Tea Party is the way to go.  This is folly.

Look at the electorate that voted for Obama.  The most important demographic that voted for Obama was Women.  Republican slip ups leading up to the election on the issue of abortion killed any momentum Romney had coming out of the first debate.  Furthermore, Romney's stance on Planned Parenthood was a horrible decision.  Why?  Well, many working class women use Planned Parenthood.  A large portion of women pay for the services they use there.  Abortions account for less than 25% of services provided by the organization.  Women did not want to lose access to gynecological services that are partially cheaper than going to a regular OBGYN.  Planned Parenthood is not merely an abortion mill.  A majority of women know that. 

Romney had a very inadequate answer as to the unequal pay of women in the workplace.  He looked like a fish out of water.  If he had taken five minutes to look over some facts (he didn't seem to care much about women's issues generally), he could have easily rattled off economic stats that show that when you compare men and women with the same education background and years of experience, then the inequity does not exist or is very limited at the most.  He would have shown at least some grasp of the issue.

Latinos are the second achilles heel under the current regime platform.  Comprehensive immigration reform that makes it easy for legal immigration to occur while not threatening to deport every illegal here (because we do not have the manpower to do so) will seriously help Republicans.  Opposing the DREAM Act was a bad move on major Republican politicians.  Republicans will continue to lose the growing Latino vote as long as it embraces the xenophobic wing of the right.  

Did Romney Ever Have A Chance?


McCain had been steamrolled handily in 2008.  Romney needed to make ground up just to make it a race.  The Rust Belt was going to look favorably upon a candidate who bailed out their major industry.  Romney's history at Bain Capital of outsourcing killed his chances in Pennsylvania and made Ohio an uphill battle.  

Further making Romney un-electable is the fact that he was the only Republican who had already instituted an Obama-care-like reform in a state.  Conservatives had to lose some heart knowing that both candidates were on the same side of the major domestic policy that angered the populace.  It did not matter what Romney said, since he is the biggest flip-flopper in recent memory.  Conservatives knew he would say whatever he needed to say to get votes.  Conservatives looked at his actions as Governor, and it did not look good.

The Lesson?

I doubt Republicans will take the right message from this loss.

The answer is not to move more to the Right on social issues.  That will further isolate minorities and women.   The right way to go about it is to accept that women's issues are important.  Women make up 54% of the voters in 2012.  That will not change.  Republicans have to become big tent.  Calling for the wholesale end of all programs, including PBS and Planned Parenthood will continue to alienate this voter base.  Women want access to gynecological preventative services, birth control, and yes many want access to abortive services.  The 1950's are in the rearview.  It is time to come to a mea culpa with the women voters.  More women than men are the primary caregiver of children, so the end of PBS likely didn't engender a population of women who raise kids and want wholesome and educational programming for their kids.  

Romney and the Republicans came across as very chauvinistic and they paid for it dearly at the polls with women voting at about 56-58% for Obama.  

On economic issues, Republicans need to cut income taxes for all people, but they also need to begin educating the population about the importance to raise capital gains taxation.  There needs to be an embracing of the FairTax or flat tax as true tax reform.  Republicans must talk about closing loopholes for corporations and tax on equal standing for all people.  Romney showed his true colors when he made the 47% comment which is easily one of the dumbest comments in recent political history.  His complete and total lack of knowledge that 25% of those in the 47% are elderly on retirement and Social Security and another 25% are soldiers showed that he was out of touch with what was going on in America.

The class warfare promoted by BOTH sides must end.  Republicans need to drop it first if they want a chance to be relevant in 2016.

What about 2016?

Call me a bit of a conspiracy hack, but I think McCain and Romney were sacrificial lambs to set Jeb Bush up in 2016.  He wasn't going to run in 2008 due to W's crash and burn.  He wasn't going to run in 2012 against a relatively popular incumbent.  He now has a chance in 2016 to run.  Do not be surprised to see Jeb on the short list of candidates before 2013 has come to an end.

What to expect in Obama's Second Term

Not much.

The Senate remains with the Democrats with many moderate Republicans up for re-election in two years.  There will not be much aisle crossing there.

The House will be even more radicalized toward Neo-Con ideas.  The split of the Houses will ensure that Obama's second term will have one or two major bills passed at best.  Gridlock will continue.  

In short, it really didn't matter who won this election.  The Senate remaining Democrat and the House pushing further to the right will ensure that will be the case.