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Or…

Paul Krugman had a recent post about the McKinsey study that purports to show that up to 30% of employers are planning to drop health insurance coverage due to the Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration and other Democrats seem to be in full denial mode, demanding that McKinsey show its data because it can’t *possibly* be true. Right? RIGHT?!

In some respects, this reaction is reminiscent of the Republicans who were adamant that Democrats take it back about Republicans trying to destroy Medicare in franked mailings and ads.

I’m of the “let’s wait and see the data” variety before I jump on the Democratic bandwagon. Paul’s a pretty smart guy but he may be jumping the gun here. Just because McKinsey isn’t revealing their data doesn’t mean their conclusions aren’t true. You don’t have to be a Republican to consider the possibility that the conclusions are valid.

Here’s just one possible scenario that may explain why McKinsey is holding out. The firms they are consulting for may be planning to layoff a lot of people and hire them back as contractors. If they do that, the employee is responsible for paying health insurance, not the company who is going through a middle man to add staff. Now, your consultants would know about this plan. Presumably, they were the knuckleheads that advised it in the first place. But you don’t want the employees to know what’s coming. I mean, have you *been* in a building that’s going through layoffs?? The people who aren’t wandering around like zombies are busily updating their CVs and contacting their network. No one gets any work done. (well, *I* did but I see now that I was crazy for all the good it did me) It’s a fricking disaster area. And let’s not even talk about the cut throat behavior of people back stabbing each other to make sure they secure the positions that are left. It’s an ugly bloodbath and no one comes out looking good.

So, maybe the reason that McKinsey isn’t talking is because it has to respect the confidentiality of its clients. In this business environment, the bottom line is the bottom line. Companies will do what they have to in order to appease the shareholders and right now, a lot of companies are desperate for cash and can’t cut much more without affecting productivity any more than they have. They still need the people. They just don’t want to have to compensate them so well. If that means laying off and hiring contractors without the burden of health insurance, well, the new Affordable Care Act gives them a great opportunity to do it. They just need to keep everyone working until then.

Of course, this is just a hypothesis. But it could explain the silence on McKinsey’s part. You don’t want to be the bearer of bad news that there is going to be a lot more unemployment soon and a lot more people without health insurance.

I’ll wait to be proven wrong.

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Saturday: Misdirection

Melissa McEwan also wakes up and smells the coffee (HT ugsome):

But as I read Feingold’s words—not the right guy—a not fully formed thought that has been hanging around the edges of my consciousness suddenly came sharply into focus: Obama is not the right guy.

It’s not (just) that his policies are insufficiently progressive, or even insufficiently Democratic, and it’s not (just) the arrogance, the hippie-punching, the bipartisan blah blah, the 12-dimensional chess, and it’s not (just) his tepid, half-assed, pusillanimous governance and his catastrophic ally fail. All of these things are just symptoms of this basic truth: Obama’s not up to the job.

I don’t mean he’s not up the job of being president; I mean he’s not up to the job of being presidentright now. I’m sure he’d have made a fine president some other time, some decade of relative peace and prosperity, where the biggest demand on his capacity was “don’t fuck it up.”

But that is not the time in which we live.

We live in a time of crumbling empire and crumbling sidewalks, of failed wars and a failing economy, of social conservatives versus social justice, of a race between the middle class and the ozone layer to oblivion. We balance precariously on the brink of America and America 2.0, where hard decisions must be made about whether we are going to use our resources to keep giving gold-plated bootstraps to the already-privileged or start reinvesting in our fraying social safety net and brittle bridges.

We don’t need a steward; we need a leader. Not just any leader, either. We need the second coming of FDR. And Obama just isn’t the right guy.

I don’t pretend to know who the right guy, or gal, is—but I know with a clarity that rings like churchbells that it ain’t Obama.

This is correct.  It is not racist to say so.  It is simply an observation based on a careful evaluation of the data.  Melissa could have reached this same conclusion three years ago, and I and thousands of other R&D professionals might still have  jobs, but we’ll put that aside for now.

We have a bigger problem.  Progressives can still be bamboozled.  They still have buttons that are pushable.  For example, in the same post, Melissa excerpts a portion of Feingold’s Netroots Nation keynote speech that speaks to the issue of corporations where he says:

“I think it’s a mistake for us to take the argument that they like to make that, ‘Well, what we’re going to do now is, we’re going to take the corporate money like the Republicans do and then after we win, we’ll change it.’ When’s the last time anyone did that? Most people don’t change the rules after they win by them. It doesn’t usually happen. It never happens,” Feingold said. “You know what? I think we’ll lose anyway if we do this. We’ll lose our soul when it comes to the issue of corporate domination.

I happen to agree with Feingold that people who win by taking huge sums of corporate campaign contributions or by bending the rules or cheating do not change the rules after they are elected. That’s why I couldn’t vote for Obama after he didn’t protest the way voters from Florida and Michigan were treated in the 2008 primaries.  The process was extremely unfair to them, and by extension the rest of the Clinton voters. But he didn’t lift a finger to protect their votes because to do so meant that he _might_ lose the nomination.  It wasn’t in his best interest to do that.   It wasn’t that hard to eliminate Obama from my presidential material list based on his attitude towards voters back in February 2008.  This is the guy who wrote off Appalachia.  A whole swath of the country plagued by generational poverty and rapacious coal companies.  Just wrote them off.  Don’t need those votes or voters.  They can go jump in a slag heap.

Your vote is sacred.  Once it can be taken away from you, you have no power.  This was more important than any corporate cash in 2008 and progressives missed it because they were misdirected. It wasn’t the money, it was the cheating.  Repeat after me: “I will never vote for a politician who approves of nullifying the votes of 6 million people because if I can’t trust him to do the right thing *before* the election, I sure as hell can’t trust him to do it afterwards.”

Same with congressmen and senators and presidents and *superdelegates* who sell themselves to big corporate entities.  They aren’t going to make the rules fairer for the rest of us because that might mean they will lose.  Don’t expect them to do the right thing after the election if they are willing to sell themselves for big corporate donations before the election.

The only way to change this dynamic is to change the rule makers.  You need to vote out the people who are whoring themselves for corporations and *particularly* the finance industry.  Don’t say it can’t be done because you don’t have a choice.  You must find a way.

But there is a degree of misdirection that progressives are prone to following to their detriment.  What Feingold is doing is highlighting the evil heart of every corporation.  Corporations are the problem, he seems to say.  Bullshit.  That’s like blaming the candy for being sweet.  Corporations exist for a reason.  It’s very hard for some industries to operate in any other way than a corporation.  Let’s not act like children who don’t understand the concept of the corporation.  They can’t be eliminated without harming our economy.

But they can be reined in.  There’s no reason in the world why we should let them get away with murder.  In fact, we’d be doing them a favor if we weren’t so permissive.  Corporations are out of control right now eating everything in sight like a plague of locusts.  They’re self-destructive.  Pretty soon, they’re going to run out of things to eat and we will all suffer, MBAs and shareholders alike.

We used to have rules to make sure corporations didn’t have the upper hand in every interaction with their employees.  We need to bring them back.  We used to make sure they couldn’t offshore their profits to avoid taxes.  We need to reinstitute them. You probably can’t do anything about the Citizens United ruling until one of the more conservative justices dies but for all we know, Sotomayor and Kagan aren’t a whole lot better.  They just haven’t had a case to demonstrate how bad they are.  You have to wonder why Bader-Ginsburg doesn’t retire so she can be replaced while there is still a Democrat in the White House.  But she’s the last truly liberal justice on the court.  When she’s gone, Obama may very well appoint a stealth justice.  After all, who is really pulling his strings right now?

So, Feingold’s remarks are both right and irrelevant.  This is the environment you operate in.  Some American industries need a corporate model.  Corporations pay obscene gobs of cash to easy congressional representatives and Senators who will write rules that are favorable to them.  If you want to make the rules fairer, don’t get mad at the corporations.  That’s not leading with your head and right now, you need to be cool and detached from the emotional string pulling crap. The corporations are not the ones who can change the rules.  You need to go after the rule makers.  You need to primary some incumbents with strong primary opponents.  Use the money you would have donated to the Democratic party and feed it to people who wouldn’t be able to run in a party primary without kowtowing to the party line.  Don’t donate to Act Blue or the DCCC or DSCC or what ever D org is calling you this week.  You need to set up a separate funding mechanism that is outside of the Democratic party’s control or influence and recruit your own candidates.  You need to become the progressive equivalent of the Christian Coalition.

To become really successful, you will have to reunite with the part of the party you willingly jettisoned for Obama in 2008.  Make up with the working class voters of all educational backgrounds, the unions and women of all ages.  You might have to abandon the creative class arrogance and the knee jerk responses to anything that isn’t crunchy granola.  The good thing is that there are plenty of liberal values that you *can* agree on, especially when it comes to the economy.  Stick to them and you can win.  (I think Katiebird has four simple phrases that represent values that will work, where the heck are they…?)

The beast you have to starve is the party.  Yeah, they’ll still get their money from corporations but you can drop your money in a different pile.  And if other people do it and they tell two people and so on and so on, the pile of cash will get bigger and bigger and pretty soon, you can replace the rulemakers with people who vote for your interests and not some corporation’s.

The question is, do progressives have the balls to do it?  Because from what I can see, the problem is not a lack of cash, it’s a lack of courage.

*************************

Here is Katiebird’s 12 Word Platform:

1. Medicare For All.
2. End The Wars.
3. Tax The Rich.
4. Jobs for Everyone

That should do it.  Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Netroots Nation learns about “Free Milk and a Cow” the hard way

{{snort!}}

It appears that Netroots Nation is dissatisfied with Obama:

The message to those in the room for “What to Do When the President is Just Not that Into You,” a Netroots Nation panel, was be more demanding, don’t take no for an answer and compromises aren’t good enough.

Lt. Dan Choi, who was discharged from the military for running afoul of its anti-gay Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, provided a visual when an Organizing for America volunteer stood up and asked him to support Obama in 2012. The man said he did not support gay marriage — “civil unions?” he offered weakly — and Choi promptly ripped up an Organizing for America flyer he had been given and threw it back in the man’s face.

The four panelists — Choi, immigration reform supporter Felipe Matos, America Blog writer John Aravosis and Fire Dog Lake Founder Jane Hamsher — said they are planning to hold the White House’s collective feet to the fire for its decisions on civil rights, whether it would hurt Obama’s reelection chances or not.

Yes!  Ok, you’re 3 years too late.  Some of you knew that he wasn’t the Azor Ahai and Prince who was Promised back in 2008.  Remember the sad little letter that Jane Hamsher and friends published in The Nation back in the summer of 2008 when they pleaded with Obama to take the left seriously?  And how did that work out?

What’s really funny is that it wasn’t too long ago when Jane Hamsher was characterizing us bitter holdouts as “a certain kind of woman” and now she *are* one.  I’m willing to forgive, Jane, and I certainly don’t want to single anyone out, but it’s time you guys acknowledged that we’re not the trailer trash knuckle draggers you thought we were.  We’re just a whole lot quicker on the uptake.

But it seems like the newly minted bitter knitters don’t quite understand how to implement the strategy:

“I would probably vote for the president in the end, but I’d also do everything that I can to shame him,” said Aravosis, who writes about gay rights issues. “But I don’t think they realize how damaging that is.”

{{cue the Streisand}}

Oh, my man I love him so, he’ll never know

All my life is just despair, but I don’t care

When he takes me in his arms, the world is bright, alright

What’s the difference if I say, I’ll go away

When I know I’ll come back on my knees someday

For whatever my man is, I am his forever more!

No, John, that is not how you do it.  If you signal 16 months out that you are going to give Obama your vote no matter what he does, then he doesn’t have to do anything for you.  Oh, sure, I understand you’re scared.  We’re all scared shitless about Republicans getting the upper hand.  But if their policies are going to get implemented anyway under Obama, you can’t lose by opposing him.  Strenuously.

There are a couple of ways to do this:

1.) Direct your political contributions to an escrow account to be given to a politician that wants to run next year, either as a primary candidate to Obama or as a third party candidate.   Do the same with incumbent Congressional Democrats who keep drifting right.

2.) Find that third party candidate or primary opponent.  If you can’t find one, promise to vote as a bloc for the Green Party or Socialist or America’s Renewal (I made that one up).  You have to gird your loins and tell the Democratic Party that they are finished if they don’t start toeing the line. Then, you have to do it or they will never take you seriously.  This is how Republicans do it.  You will never get your mojo back until you learn to say “No!” and mean it.

3.) You’re not going to like this last one, John, but here goes: Start talking up Hillary Clinton.  Yep, there’s no one Obama fears as much as Hillary.  She’s the only legitimate candidate who could challenge him in a primary and then scoop up all the working class people the Democrats left on the table last time.  I have no idea if she would run but a Hillary threat is your best bet.  Not only would she get Democrats’ attention, the Republicans will start to worry too.  Plus, you owe us for being such an egregious misogynist twit in 2008 when she was hands down the most ready to lead.  (Wow, that was really embarrassing.)  Her candidacy would be equally historic. And I never say never.

You guys are going to have to get over the number the anti-Hillary people did to your heads in 2008.  She is a politician, one of the best we have, who really knows her stuff and isn’t afraid to take on her enemies (Ooo, she told him.  Still gives me chills).  Being a political person is not a bad thing- when you are trying to elect a politician to work for you.  That’s where you guys made your mistake in 2008.  You wanted a political virgin.  And you got one.  Not only was he inexperienced, he sold his maidenhood to a bunch of bankers.

They used places like DailyKos and FireDogLake as big focus groups to figure out what makes lefties tick and then they used those things against you in 2008 so you would turn to the person they picked for you.  Obama never did run on Democratic principles.  His whole shtick was to run as an aspirational candidate.  He was whatever you wanted him to be, like Belle de Jour.  And you guys ate it up and doomed the rest of us.

I warned you in 2007 at YearlyKos2.0.  I told you that the appeal to the emotion and the response to it would be dangerous to us and that it was very important focus on what we value and not how someone makes us feel.  You are very slow learners but you are finally where we were in 2008.  Better late than never.

Welcome to the light.  Now, don’t fuck it up.

*****************************************************************************************************************

THIS is the song you want to sing to Obama:

Finns violating virgin eyes

Did we consent to this?

Porkka Playboys do Motorhead Ace of Spades in the Sauna:

This is an open thread.

wednesday: sugar, antibiotics and chemotherapy

sugar

So, the other day, there was a story from another insider about the nature of the discussions between Christine Romer and Tim Geithner on the size of the stimulus package. Romer made the case that size does matter (she’s one of the few women who will say that out loud). Geithner compared money spent by the government on stimulus projects as “sugar”, while irresponsibly helping his diabetic friends in the financial industry mainline. Romer disagreed that government money was “sugar”, she said it was more like an antibiotic to prevent infection.

I wish these two would stop acting like doctors. The correct answer is that more stimulus money could have been like a shot of vitamin B12 to a patient suffering from pernicious anemia .  The B12 is not a cure for the disease but will keep the patient functioning until a cure can be found.

But anyway, we now know that Romer was right, as is the case of many women who make a good case based on knowledge, insight, research and experience but are hobbled by idiots like Larry Summers who long ago decided he wasn’t above denigrating their expertise and so may have inadvertently sent our economy into a lost decade….
Where was I?

Oh, yes. Then I saw the partial transcript of an interview between Fareed Zakaria and Ann Coulter and immediately thought that Geithner and Ann have been sucking down pigs-in-a-blanket at the same cocktail party. Courtesy of Digby, we get this snippet:

ZAKARIA: OK, let me ask – let me ask – we’ve got to go, but I have to ask Ann this, which is there’s – there is a strong case that he has made – Obama has made, which is about Medicare. And, on that issue, I want to know whether you think it will work. Not – I know that you wish that he didn’t say it and that the Democrats’ took entitlement reform more seriously, and I happen to agree with you there.

But, when you ask the American people, should – are you willing to deal with the budget deficit by cutting Medicare, 78 percent say no. I mean, I don’t think you can get 78 percent of Americans to agree on the time of day.

COULTER: Right.

ZAKARIA: Where do (ph) –

COULTER: It’s the utter irresponsibility of former Democrats. It’s hard to take treats away from people, and that’s what we’ve done. And Democrats set up a Ponzi scheme with social security and Medicare, and it’s running out now. And, yes, it’s very hard to take the treats away once you start giving them away, which is why it was utterly irresponsible for Democrats long dead and gone to set up these systems that could never last.

But, you know, it would be very helpful –

Whoa, Ann, treats?  The government already took those treats away when it increased my payroll taxes in 1986, the year I started working full time as a chemist.  I could have used that yummy treat to buy a car that had an automatic transmission and power steering.  I could have sent my kid to a better summer daycare center.  I could have stuffed that money in a bank account and bought a CD with it.  But some Republican told me, no, *assured* me, that if I did the responsible thing and put that money away in the Social Security Surplus fund, there would be plenty of money for me to live on when I got to be too old to run around  the lab to move heavy gas tanks and sniff solvents all day.  Wasn’t that what was promised?

Ann, was your party lying to us?  Was it a “treat” back then or was it just a clever ploy to soak young workers out of thousands and millions and BILLIONS of dollars that were then given to the rich in the form of tax cuts?  Because, Ann, I call that fraud.  Do we look stupid to you?  Ok, the people who read your books look stupid to you, but the rest of us are not stupid Ann.

Tim Geithner, do you agree with what Ann, the Dishonest and Fraudulent Republican, is saying?  Is our taxpayer money only “sugar” and a “treat” to those of us who gave it to you in the first place?  It’s one thing to lose your looks, Ann, it’s quite a bit more devastating to lose your integrity.   I thought Republicans were all about “we should spend our money on the things we choose”.  So, if the majority of Americans want to spend that money on Social Security and Medicare and more stimulus, that seems pretty much in keeping with the Republican creed.  It’s OUR money because WE are the government and WE choose to spend it on fiscal stimulus and social safety net insurance programs.

I paid my premiums, I want my insurance, Ann.  It’s not a treat.  If MetLife pulled this shit, they’d be out of business.  As for Geithner, he’d better snap out of it.  People who were once employed and relatively prosperous get very angry and restless when their hard work is vanished and have to listen to some idiot who thinks having a steady paycheck is “sugar”.  FDR wanted to avoid that but Obama and Geithner are oblivious.  You guys need to get out more and meet new people.  I know a lot of very bright PhDs who are cooling their jets right now because they can’t find jobs. Why don’t you go talk to THEM?  Want their LinkedIn IDs?  They could be working on cures for schizophrenia and cancer but they’re at home, wasting their research time looking for jobs that never materialize and losing access to the scientific journals that will keep them on top of their game.

Meanwhile, Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline, points to a disturbing convergence of outsourcing, plant failures, counterintuitve GMP and FDA regulations and corporate cost-benefit analyses that are leading to a shortage of chemotherapy agents.  That problem is just getting started.  It’s only going to get worse.  And we on the left have to ask how we might have contributed to the problem.  The drug industry needs regulation, no doubt about that.  But have we regulated recklessly?  Have we not studied the consequences of regulation?  Don’t we want regulations that avoid this kind of thing where cancer patients are now hanging on for dear life hoping and praying the shortages are temporary?  That’s not to say that regulations are the only source of the problem here.  There are others.  There are fewer and fewer incentives for companies to operate in a socially responsible manner.  Profits are, well, profitable.  No one has told the shareholders what this is going to cost us as a society.

This is a shameful and sad legacy of our inability to deal with the drug industry in a rational manner.  I’m disgusted by all of us.  I’d wish a plague on all of our houses but in that eventuality, we’re all screwed.  There’s probably a shortage of tetracycline too.

Tuesday: There’s a shortage of scientists and engineers? Are you crazy??

Obama is pushing for education for high-tech jobs at a new jobs summit:

Cree and other businesses in the innovation hub of Research Triangle Park have a rich academic base to draw from for recruits with the University of North Carolina, Duke and North Carolina State University — the alma mater of Cree’s founders — so nearby, Obama said. As a whole, however, the country is not producing enough talent to fill the high-tech and highly skilled jobs that are available today. “Right now, there are more than four job-seekers for every job opening in America,” Obama said. “But when it comes to science and high-tech fields, the opposite is true. The businesses represented here tell me they’re having a hard time finding high-skilled workers to fill their job openings.”

Is this man *completely* out of touch??  It’s like a George Bush I trip to the supermarket where they have those scanner thingies.  If Research Triangle is having a hard time filling positions, I certainly haven’t heard about it.  Everyone I know, including myself, has either lost their job or is about to lose their job.  There are thousands of well trained, well educated, high-tech professional scientists and engineers out of work right now who could easily relocate.  Their jobs are going to China.  What do companies want more of them for?  They don’t seem willing to retain and pay the ones they already have.

Where has Obama been?

Amgen announces layoffs in Boulder, Colorado

Pfizer lays off 19,000 after merger with Wyeth

Astra-Zeneca plans to layoff 15,000 through 2013

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  How much more education do you want us to get?  We’re already overeducated.  We’re not allowed to get stale in this business.  And the cuts are not all in sales.  Now, they’re getting to the bone with thousands of high-tech jobs relocating to India and China.  What’s weird about that is that not even China and India with their billions of people have enough high-tech workers to do high-tech research but that isn’t stopping companies from sending our jobs there.  The bottom line is the bottom line.

Want to know where a scientist can make a decent living and do research and where their skills and educations will be valued and rewarded and their jobs protected?  Try countries where the government is willing to intervene or where labor unions are strong.  Like Germany and France.

But don’t roll that old crap about how there aren’t enough of us to those of us in the trenches.  The last thing we need are more unpaid scientists on the job market.

Monday: Weiner, Massa and Vitter

Anthony Weiner has offered to seek professional help. This is probably a good idea. democratic congressional leadership has generally been supportive of members seeking therapy. Remember Patrick Kennedy’s addiction to sleeping aids and his bizarre behavior behind the wheel? That was ok, we understood. Take some time off, Patrick, get your act together. We still love you.
With Weiner? Ehhhh, not so much. Maybe it would have been better for him if he had claimed to have strutted his stuff while on ambien. Anthony wasnt thinking ahead.
So, now Steny Hoyer is on the warpath and wants him out, out, out! He’s cranking up the ethics committee. There will be investigations and accusations and crippling legal bills. This is not going to be pretty. Funny how David Vitter didn’t have to run this gauntlet. I guess those good Christian Republicans are just a lot more forgiving,
But more than that, this frenzy of the Democratic leadership reminds me of last year’s piling on of Eric Massa. The details of Massa’s indiscretions always did seem a little sketchy to me. And it was the usual suspects, Nancy and Steny, who seemed desperate to completely ruin the man’s reputation in order to force him to resign. Let’s not forget that Massa was a liberal hold out who wasn’t going to vote for the health care insurance reform bill. He was a real obstacle to the vote counters who wanted to give Obama a win.
Anthony Weiner may be a guy with a masturbation problem but if he hasnt broken any laws, let the guy get some help and show some compassion. The fact that compassion is in short supply on the Democratic side of the aisle and the continuing presence of david Vitter in the Senate suggests that the leadership of both parties protects who it wants to protect and gets rid of the people who stand in the way of the agenda. What makes me think this is more than a sex scandal is that when it happened to Massa, the ethics committee investigation disappeared the minute he resigned.
So, what is it Steny wants that a strong liberal might stand in his way of getting?

As a followup to yesterday, the youtube blogger, Mompetition, shows us what its like to live in Soccer Momville when you have a brain of your own. It’s not pretty but it is damn funny:

and this one is for Atrios:

be afraid, be very afraid