TRIBE AND RACE: The plutocrats cheer!

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2013

Part 2—They called him Mister Bush: Do people show disrespect for President Obama because of his so-called race?

(Race is an invention, as we all know. In this country, it’s a very prevalent invention.)

Do people show disrespect for President Obama because of his race? As stated, the question is highly imprecise. It’s so imprecise that it’s hard to see how it can be useful, except to the plutocrats who are tightening their hold on our floundering nation.

That said, a British journalist popped a form of that highly imprecise question to Oprah Winfrey last week. In Saturday’s New York Times, Charles Blow opened his column with one part of Winfrey’s reply:
BLOW (11/16/13): Disrespect, Race and Obama

In an interview with the BBC this week, Oprah Winfrey said of President Obama: “There is a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs, in some cases, and maybe even many cases, because he’s African-American.”

With that remark, Winfrey touched on an issue that many Americans have wrestled with: To what extent does this president’s race animate those loyal to him and those opposed? Is race a primary motivator or a subordinate, more elusive one, tainting motivations but not driving them?
We don’t mean this as a criticism of Winfrey, although we’ll pick some nits tomorrow. That said, the highlighted statement is so imprecise that it’s barely a statement at all.

Does disrespect occur “in some cases” because Obama is African-American? Presumably yes, it does. That answer is blindingly obvious.

Does this type of disrespect occur in “maybe even many cases?” Same answer! There are 315 million people in this country, and the word “many” is highly imprecise.

Alas! Unless we start to speculate about what Winfrey meant by the word “many,” her statement is so imprecise that it’s barely a statement at all. And yet, her extremely imprecise statement has launched a thousand pseudo-discussions.

As everyone knows, race is the central brutality at the heart of American history. We’ve barely even created a vocabulary with which to discuss the brutality of that history.

We aren’t real skilled at that discussion. But for obvious reasons, many people have very strong feelings about the historical role played by race, and about its role today. That’s why public figures should possibly try to be extra thoughtful in the things they say on this subject.

Can we talk? The plutocrats we mentioned above have always worked from a famous game plan. It’s called divide and conquer.

If the one percent can get the 99 to name-call, revile and despise one another, it becomes much, much easier for the one percent to rule.

(We’re really talking about the one-hundredth of one percent, of course. They hire the one-tenth of one percent to serve as their spear-chuckers. People refer to this guild as the one percent for ease of transcription.)

On the slopes of Mount Plutocracy, the gods take pride in their strength when they see the 99 percent fighting among themselves. And that’s exactly what they saw in reaction to Blow’s latest column.

As he continued, Blow attacked Rush Limbaugh’s response to Winfrey’s remarks. We can’t say we agree with the overall thrust of Blow’s reaction; more on that tomorrow. But for our money, Blow helped inspire the 99 percent to fight and divide.

And good lord, how Blow’s readers took that bait! In the very first comment to his column, a regular commenter to New York Times columns imagined a much better world:
COMMENTER FROM CALIFORNIA (11/16/13): I hope your readers will listen to the Oprah interview. She's right. Things will get better when the last of the racist generation dies.
How uplifting! If only Those Very Bad People would die! High on the slopes of Mount Plutocracy, the gods roared out their pleasure!

We’re not saying that commenter is “wrong,” although we think she’s extremely unwise and a gift to the plutocrat gods. For today, let’s consider one commenter who really was just flat-out wrong on his facts.

That first commenter declaims near the top of many New York Times comment threads. Last Saturday, this well-intentioned person commented much further down the line.

We assume this commenter was well-intentioned. But his memory was playing some tricks:
COMMENTER FROM NEW YORK CITY (11/16/13): I have believed from the beginning of his campaign that the ferocity and animosity directed against the president and his policies has less to do with ideology than it is a bunch of angry, threatened white men who resent being told what to do by an intelligent black man. I also find it interesting that the media often times refers to him as “Mr. Obama”, not “President Obama”. I don't remember hearing that in reference to any other president.
Is it true? Does the animosity directed against the president have less to do with his ideology than with his race? There is no way to answer that riddle. But we were struck by this reader’s belief that no president has ever been treated this way before:

This commenter “doesn’t remember” hearing any previous president ever referred to as “Mister.”

That recollection is completely faulty. We presume the recollection is heartfelt, though it does serve the plutocrats’ ends.

No president was ever treated this way! Well-intentioned but clueless observers have constantly advanced this claim during Obama’s tenure. In this case, we decided to check the New York Times on the corresponding day in the tenure of the last president, a fellow named George W. Bush.

Over and over, the New York Times called him Mister Bush! Reporter Carl Hulse even displayed this form of contempt on the paper’s front page:
HULSE (11/16/05): Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader and a sponsor of the Iraqi policy approved by the Senate, sought to frame the approach as one of cooperation with the White House.

[...]

But the main opposition for the policy proposal came from Republicans who said it put too many constraints on the administration, was a step toward a timetable for withdrawal, was ill timed because Mr. Bush is out of the country and had been prompted mainly by political anxiety about the impact of the war on next year's midterm elections.
Mister Bush was out of the country? Edmund Andrews played the same game on the front page of the Business section:
ANDREWS (11/16/05): But House leaders are working on a very different measure. That bill would include a two-year extension of Mr. Bush's tax cut on stock dividends but would not include any tax breaks for hurricane reconstruction or any reduction of the alternative minimum tax. House Republicans are betting that they can pass those provisions separately from the main package because those tax cuts are urgently sought by lawmakers in both parties.
Back on page A1, Steven Weisman typed this:
WEISMAN (11/16/05): The Arab and European allies pressed for more American efforts to untangle the issues paralyzing the peace negotiations. Diplomats from allied countries have said the credibility of Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice is at risk, and they have besieged Ms. Rice to seize the opportunity or lose what they regard as the last chance of making peace for years to come.
For eight solid years, they called him Mister Bush. Have they ever behaved this way toward a Democratic president?

One such person was President Clinton. On the corresponding day in his tenure, Eric Schmitt took to the Times front page:
SCHMITT (11/16/97): Mr. Clinton's decision on Friday to send a second aircraft carrier, the George Washington, to the Persian Gulf was an important symbolic show of force. But it also served a practical purpose: If Middle Eastern allies of the United States balk at letting the 200 American warplanes in the region launch strikes from their soil, the 100 combat planes on the two carriers could conduct round-the-clock operations.

Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, the commander of American forces in the gulf, has visited Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates this week seeking those countries' cooperation. "It isn't a done deal yet, but it's looking very positive," said one Pentagon official.

Moreover, Mr. Clinton and his top national security aides began building a case this week that would be the underlying rationale for any military strikes the United States might carry out.
We assume last weekend’s commenter was sincere about what he said he couldn’t remember. He was sincere, but absurdly wrong on the facts. Race, a very powerful topic, will often affect us that way.

Let’s be clear. We the people can be, and frequently are, wrong on a wide range of topics. But thanks to our brutal American history, nothing creates faulty perceptions, and understandable anger, as readily as issues of race.

The plutocrats cheer when this fury occurs—when one branch of the 99 percent starts attacking another. To see how sweeping these attacks can be, let’s return to that very first comment, the one in which the regular commenter was wishing death on roughly 49.5 percent of her own generation.

This very fiery pseudo-liberal wasn’t satisfied by the sweep of her death wish. She made it clear that she was prepared to clean out her own tribe too:
COMMENTER FROM CALIFORNIA: I hope your readers will listen to the Oprah interview. She's right. Things will get better when the last of the racist generation dies.

There are latent racists among Liberals too. Those are the ones with reduced expectations of people of color. Their racism is muted, in the subtext. It's just as ugly.

There is no doubt in my mind that the GOP/Tea Party obstruction is primarily borne out of racism, with elements of class warfare woven in, using tactics from the confederate era. I am convinced that any other president, while meeting some obstruction, would not have been disrespected as this one has been. I don't believe the White House denials that President Obama was told "I can't stand the sight of you."
Let’s give her credit—she got it all in! The other half of the 99 is primarily driven by racism, with tactics from the Confederate era. But there are latent racists within her own tribe! Their racism is just as ugly!

(Beyond that, she doesn’t believe a recent White House denial. By rule of law, any claim against one of The Others has to be true. That’s the way the facts get sifted by this lover of war.)

In our view, that regular commenter is one of the least constructive, least insightful people we’ve ever seen in print. Today, though, her number is legion in pseudo-liberal comment threads.

She’s also one of the very best friends the plutocrats could have.

The plutocrats have always lived off warfare among the 99. Given our brutal racial history, no topic can start such wars quite the way this topic can.

How sure we are of our perceptions! No one has ever been treated this way, one commenter said.

No one except all the other presidents! When we work ourselves into a fury, do those folk even count?

Tomorrow: Winfrey, Limbaugh and Blow

38 comments:

  1. One of the professors for my M.A. History program attended the University of Virginia, and he said that everyone there referred to Thomas Jefferson as "Mister." The reason they did so was that, in line with Jefferson's attitudes, the highest possible title that any person could have in a democracy is "Mister," or the female equivalent. It seems that a number of people could use such a basic lesson in civics, and civil behavior.

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    1. Yes, this is in line with upper class prep school behavior too. And of course, upper class manners are equivalent to all manners everywhere because they have inherent obvious value. And if someone in a class addresses another student as "Yo" or "Jim" they will have nothing of value to say and have no place in civil society, and thus the plutocracy rules. Jefferson had no problem being President of some of the people, no problem living with his wife's slave half-sister and no problem with the fact that women couldn't do any of the things men could, but as long as he addressed people as Mr. or Mrs., it was all OK.

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  2. Look what Bone-gnawer turned

    "Things will get better when the last of the racist generation dies."

    into:

    "let’s return to that very first comment, the one in which the regular commenter was wishing death on roughly 49.5 percent of her own generation."

    End quote.

    Thank goodness his audience is so minuscule.

    Folks - something is very seriously wrong with bone-gnawer. He needs to seek help real real soon.

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    1. This is a post devoted to online comments to a column spawned by imprecise answers to a direct but imprecise question to an American celebrity by a British journalist.

      Are you sure anything as substantive as a bone is being gnawed on by the old codger?

      Do you know where the worms are?

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    2. Degenerate troll needs to be banned. Bob, no other blogger allows such trolling.

      Delete
    3. Yes, Bob, please moderate and block these trolls. They prevent meaningful discussion here. It has become depressing to read these comments.

      Delete


    4. I caught bone-gnawer inciting librul-hatred with a really vicious distortion of a mainstream utterance (for example, "But after Reader's Digest went public in 1990, its conservative readership began to literally die off") and his fans are baying for censorship.

      Delete
  3. Every politician is helped and hurt by whatever characteristics s/he brings to the table. George W Bush lost an election in Texas because of his Yale and Harvard degrees, but those degrees likely helped him win the Presidency. Hillary Clinton is mocked by some for abetting her husband's womanizing, but I think her Clinton connection was vital to her election as a Senator from New York State.

    Obama's race both hurts him and helps him. Which is greater? IMHO race helped him more than it hurt. His resume was thinner than any Presidential candidate in my lifetime. The entire nation took pride in the election of a black person as President. In fact, the entire world took pride. He won a Nobel Prize essentially for the achievement of being elected President. IMHO the media have soft-pedaled criticism to a degree unique in my lifetime, and continue to do so. YMMV

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    1. Yeah, it's really not fair that Obama was elected (twice!) to the Presidency with his thin resume. Just another example of race-based affirmative action, and in John McCain's case, age discrimination.

      But how's it comin' on that search of the ACA for the provision that allows HHS to grant waivers in 2013? You accused the President of illegally exempting his friends from following the law. I'm sure you're willing to back that up. Do you need more time? Or a hint? I'm here to help

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    2. It isn't fair that Obama was elected the first time, with a thinner resume than Clinton, but the media coalesced around his candidacy and those supporting him used some spectacularly nasty tactics to secure the nomination, including subverting the rules committee and convention so that Clinton's delegates could not be counted. It was one of the uglier elections. Part of what helped Obama was the desire to elect the first African American president, the historicity, although many Clinton supporters felt it would have been just as historic to elect the first female president. And yes, there was age discrimination against McCain and the fear that if he were unable to function, Palin would become president. Whatever you want to call it, I do think that when liberals close ranks to put the first African American in office, regardless of his policies and experience, there is something akin to affirmative action operating. But no one really cares about the disappointed hopes of women in this country.

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    3. Anonymous @1:47P,

      I'm inclined to call bullshit here, but I could be convinced by evidence. Got any?

      If you think the Clinton/Obama primary season was nasty, you must be in constant need of the fainting couch. The 2000 Bush/McCain South Carolina primary, now that was nasty.

      Obama did not "subvert" the rules committee to disallow Clinton delegates. The two disputed states were Michigan (where Obama wasn't on the ballot) and Florida. The states were originally stripped of their delegates for holding primaries too early, but were eventually restored to half-strength. Clinton got 50% or the Florida vote and ended up with 57% of the pledged delegates. The rules committee split the Michigan delegates evenly on a 19-8 vote. Thirteen members of the committee had endorsed Clinton, so this was hardly an Obama steamroller. Clinton felt she'd been robbed. Of 4 delegates.

      The rules for awarding Democratic delegates are complicated and arcane. Extra delegates are awarded for winning Congressional districts or for winning by large margins. In some states, delegates are awarded in a convention and a primary. Obama played the rules. Clinton relied on the unpledged superdelegates, who turned out didn't want to disturb the pledged delegate totals.

      Age didn't stop Reagan (70 when he took office) or George HW (65), and the latter had Dan Quayle as a worry. Liberals are what? 20% of voting population. There aren't enough of them to "close ranks" to elect Obama.

      But keep telling yourself that affirmative action (or something "akin" to it) was the reason for Obama's success.

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  4. I tend to refer to the president as either the president, President Obama, or Mr. Obama. I try not to refer to him as Obama. I have a feel that that's disrespectful. That's the general rule I establish for myself with respect to all politicians. If I were a more formal writer, I would probably refer to President Obama, or Senator Cruz the first time I mentioned them, and later on refer to them as Mr. Obama or Mr. Cruz.

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    1. But the larger point is this. Where is it written that everyone must be super respectful of Obama because he is part African American whereas it is OK to be disrespectful of white presidents?

      The NY Times is idiosyncratic in its insistence on using the title Mr. or Ms. in front of every name. It wastes space and comes across as pedantic and sometimes ludicrously formal: Mr. Bond, James Bond. It exemplifies a kind of upper class fussiness, supercilious civility that confuses manners with respect, superficialities of behavior with character.

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    2. I can't recall anybody calling for all people to be super-respectful of Obama because he is part African. (Incidentally, he is 100 percent American).

      But a few less photos circulating around the 'net with him dressed as a witch doctor with a bone through his nose would be nice.

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  5. OMB (Can we laugh?)

    "Can we talk? The plutocrats we mentioned above have always worked from a famous game plan. It’s called divide and conquer.

    If the one percent can get the 99 to name-call, revile and despise one another, it becomes much, much easier for the one percent to rule."

    Does BOB miss the drum circle in Zuccini Square?

    Which plutocrats did you mention, BOB? Care to name names?

    "(Race is an invention, as we all know. In this country, it’s a very prevalent invention.)"

    Well, I certainly hope none of the plutocrats ever claims credit for taking the initiative to create race, because the next thing you know someone will say that plutocrat claimed to "invent race."

    As we know from our history of the invention which has no fully created vocabulary for its butality, we need to be extra thoughtful when discussing this. Which is why we never accuse the young millionaires club at MSNBC or the unqualified young privileged women
    writing about education of failing to mention race.

    KZ


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    1. KZ can type! Type, KZ, type!

      Delete
    2. Anonymous at 3:48:

      Leave now, troll.

      Delete
  6. Bob says: "As everyone knows, race is the central brutality at the heart of American history."

    I disagree. I believe that class is the central brutality.

    There are plenty of atrocities committed in the context of slavery but a focus on those (and their aftermath) as the central brutality neglects the segregation and discrimination directed against the Chinese, for example, which continued until the 1950's in California. It neglects the ongoing discrimination against women in this country. It neglects ongoing discrimination against Jews and indigenous people, and against the many immigrant groups. It neglects the brutality against working people and children (until the child labor laws passed).

    Focusing on enslavement of African Americans as if it were the only slavery in America prevents us from understanding that there are people in American today, as we speak, who are enslaved, literally.

    Focusing on racism as if it were only an African American issue prevents us from recognizing that Oprah is part of the plutocracy. She doesn't speak for the 99%, any more than Bill Gates does.

    And DinC, Hillary Clinton was not elected Senator because of her husband. Prior to running she engaged on a listening tour in which she spent months visiting constituents all over the state, talking with them about their concerns and familiarizing herself with the issues. If anything, a presumption that she could walk into a senate job because of her connections worked against her. She EARNED her election through hard work, just as she has demonstrated in every position she has held in her life. That method of grassroots campaigning she did learn from husband Bill Clinton, because it is what he did to become Arkansas Governor, but he learned it as a teenager from Fullbright. It is the traditional way of campaigning before mass media.

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  7. Sure, Hillary earned her election as Senator. She's smart and hard-working (and shares my wife's alma mater.) George W. Bush earned his election as Governor and as President. However, family connections were also vital for both of them. A baseball team owner not named Bush wouldn't have had the same electoral success. A non-Clinton partner in a powerful Arkansas law firm couldn't have been elected Senator from New York, no matter how hardworking and competent she was.

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    1. Nobody in NY cares about partners in Arkansas law firms.

      Delete
    2. If Hillary Clinto had spent her time as First Lady helping kids lose weight and planting a vegetable garden on the White House lawn, she wouldn't have been elected senator either. Name recognition alone isn't helpful unless the reputation that goes with the name suggests competence. Clinton overcame resentment about her aspirations -- she didn't win because she was First Lady, she won in spite of being First Lady.

      Delete
  8. From Salon

    What's his jury thinking now?

    A chilling 911 call shows George Zimmerman trying to frame his girlfriend -- just like he did Trayvon Martin

    end quote.

    What does it say about the judgement of Bone-gnawer who went into frenzies of liberal bashing defending Z?

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    1. Go away troll.

      Delete
    2. His jury is thinking that it looks like the dude who was forced to defend his life with a gun has a hard time with women.

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    3. I keep forgetting that Trayvon forced Zimmerman to get out of his truck, grab his gun and chase him down.

      Thanks for reminding me of that particular fairy tale.

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    4. I also keep forgetting that the guy being chased has no right whatsoever to defend himseld, and that Zimmerman was such a pussy he was getting beat up by a kid who weighed a buck forty.

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  9. deadrat asks me to search the ACA for the provision that allows HHS to grant waivers in 2013. I think the burden should be on the Administration to show the public that they have this power.

    Here's an analogy: Suppose President Bush had granted Halliburton a waiver so they didn't have to pay Medicare tax. Would I be asking deadrat to prove that Bush didn't have the power to do this? Would the media be ignoring this apparent abuse of power? Of course not. There would be a widespread demand that the President justify violating the principle of equal treatment under the law.

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    1. DAinCA,

      Is this an admission that you made a wild accusation without evidence to back it up? Would you like to apologize now or later? Or not?

      Your analogy about Bush excusing Haliburton from paying Medicare tax is inapt. Companies are not being excused from paying taxes (or even penalties); they have been given permission to offer substandard plans in 2013.

      So, let's be clear about your original accusation. You claimed that Obama is violating his legal duties by granting waivers he's not authorized to grant and violating his ethical duties by granting these illegal favors to his friends. You have now added that Obama has violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

      If you'd asked a question about the legal standing of the waivers, that would be one thing. If you'd twitted the media and the administration because they didn't explain the legal basis of the waivers, that would be a like thing. You did neither of these things. You charged that the President

      1. acted illegally in granting waivers,
      2. did so in pursuit of cronyism, and
      3. did so in violation of equal protection.

      I'd like to know the following:

      1. It turns out that HHS is granting the waivers; not the President. Are you also charging that Obama illegally interfered in the decisions of an executive department?

      2. It turns out that the ACA allows the granting of waivers in the matter of 2013 insurance standards. Have you been able to pinpoint the section?

      3. Equal protection applies to the states via the 14th Amendment. Can you tell me how this stricture applies to the federal government?

      4. Assuming that equal protection even applies, can you explain the level of scrutiny that makes the waivers a violation?

      I don't blame you for dodging these questions. I'll even admit that they are in part rhetorical, a device simply to point out your continuing and abyssal ignorance. But, hey! Give it a shot. Consider that it might be good for you to attempt to support your opinion with fact. For once.

      As always, I'm here to help. Tell me what's not clear about my request.

      Delete
    2. There's little difference between HHS disobeying the law vs. the President disobeying the law. HHS is part of the Executive Branch. They have no authority beyond what the President has, and he has authority to overrule anything they do. The President is responsible, even if he was uninvolved. Furthermore, in this case, I have no doubt that the White House, not HHS, decided whom to grant waivers to. It was a very political decision.

      If you have evidence for your claims above, why don't you provide the links?

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    3. There's little difference between HHS disobeying the law vs. the President disobeying the law. From the point of view of the law, this is true, but there's a world of difference between the HHS obeying the law, and the President overriding HHS illegally. But in this case, nobody disobeyed the law.

      They have no authority beyond what the President has, and he has authority to overrule anything they do. True, but it would be highly unusual for a President to ignore the chain of command. Even Nixon didn't fire the Special Prosecutor. Are you now claiming that Obama overrode decisions of HHS?

      Furthermore, in this case, I have no doubt that the White House, not HHS, decided whom to grant waivers to. It was a very political decision. You are often wrong though never in doubt. What evidence do you have that waivers were granted to political allies? McDonald's got a waiver, and that organization doesn't involve itself in Presidential politics. Their PAC contributes to both parties' Congressional candidates but more to Republicans than to Democrats. Which friends of Obama got waivers?

      If you have evidence for your claims above, why don't you provide the links? These are your claims, not mine. Let me list them again.

      1. The waivers were illegal.
      2. Obama interfered in the HHS procedures to grant them.
      3. The waivers went to Obama cronies.
      4. The waivers violated equal protection.

      I happen to know that 1 is false. That's because I read the law. I'm trying to get you to take the same effort. Why not give it a try? While you're at it, provide some evidence for the rest. 2 might be hard, but you're oh, so sure of it. 3 should be easy: list those who got waivers and show they're Obama cronies. 4 should be easy as well: tell me how equal protection is a federal issue and what standard of scrutiny applies.

      Backing up your opinions with evidence seems difficult to you only because you've never tried it. Give it a chance. You might like it.

      As always, standing by to help.

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    4. deadrat, if you've read 2000 pages of ACA law and another 10,000 pages of ACA regs, you're a better man (or woman) than I am. Note that I said that the waivers were a political decision, not that they necessarily went to political cronies. Neither you nor I know how the inside discussions went, but I don't any HHS would give a waiver to McDonalds without consulting the White House.

      The various legal questions are murky. This article mentions some legally dubious actions:

      As political analyst Michael Barone observed on Tuesday, the White House unilaterally delayed the employer mandate to comport with the law’s health insurance requirements in July and waived income verification requirements designed to determine who should receive subsidies. On both occasions, the president flagrantly refused to enforce the provisions of his own signature legislative achievement.

      And now, POLITICO reports, the president is preparing to ignore yet another of the law’s provisions. This time, the inconvenient stipulation to be conspicuously overlooked is one which would reimburse health insurance providers for losses they incur as a result of extending coverage to millions of low-income uninsured. As POLITICO declares in their headline, Obama told insurance companies that there is “no bailout” in store for them. There is just one problem, as POLITICO concedes in the 11th paragraph of this report, the White House is preparing to do the exact opposite of what their headline suggests.

      “To address the industry concerns about additional costs if they revive the canceled plans, administration officials said last week they would tweak one of those tools — called ‘risk corridors’ — to give them more help,” POLITICO reports. “But Obama made clear that the financial support has a limit, according to the two health executives and several other industry sources who were briefed on the meeting.”

      Not adjusting “risk corridors,” as Talking Points Memo’s Sahil Kapur reports, would be the path of least political resistance – Americans have no taste for another bailout of a private industry, particularly one that incurs its losses as a result of complying with federal regulations. But to not provide those adjustments would likely force some insurers out of the exchange marketplace, making insurance provided by those companies that are still in the marketplace more expensive and, thus, threatening the financial viability of the ACA. This would hasten the onset of the “death spiral” effect.

      Already, the administration’s short-term risk mitigation strategy has made a bailout for insurance providers more likely. By allowing some insurance providers the option of refusing to comply with the ACA’s coverage mandates and allowing those who lost their noncompliant plans to regain them, some states will have risk pools that are simply riskier and, thus, more expensive for non-subsidized insured.

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    5. DAinCA,

      Of course I haven't read 2000 pages of ACA law or even a single reg based on the law. And yet somehow I managed to find the section that authorizes waivers on insurance standards for 2013. That would, of course, make the waivers perfectly legal, while you, of course, maintain just the opposite. That means that you've told an untruth, you've failed to check your statement even after you've been corrected, and you've continued to tell that untruth anyway. So, let me turn around and ask you: Does that make me a better man (or woman) than you?

      OK, You've said that the waivers were a political decision, dictated by the President himself and one that violated equal protection (well, you said "treatment," but that's the same thing). You now say that this political decision wasn't based on favor. So what makes the decisions "political"?

      The fact is that you have no idea whether the President overrode HHS. In fact, until I told you, you didn't even know that HHS was involved. You also have no idea on what basis the waivers were granted, but you insist that you know it's "political."

      You won't answer my specific questions, but you've thrown up a smokescreen of italics about other supposedly "legally dubious actions." Your source naturally is right-wing opinion. Michael Barone is a right-wing commentator for The Washington Examiner a newspaper set up by Philip Anschutz specifically to counter the liberal Washington Post. Anschutz is a billionaire (38th on Forbes list) best known for investing in sports franchises. No surprise you're carrying his water.

      We can get to discussing your new claims after we finish with your old ones. (Well, these aren't your claims really. Just things that you've read by people you agree with politically and that you parrot).

      Let me repeat my questions:

      1. Have you found the section of the ACA that makes legal the 2013 waivers on standards? If not, why not? And if not, why do you insist on repeating the claim of illegality?

      2. What evidence do you have that the President is involved in granting individual waivers, and what makes these waivers "political"? Feel free to define "political," since you say my interpretation is wrong.

      3. Since "equal protection" is imposed on the states by the 14th Amendment, what make you think that the same stricture is imposed on the federal government?

      4. Supposing that equal protection actually applies, what level of scrutiny makes the HHS/Presidential decisions a violation?

      As though your latest italics didn't do the job for me, let me bang my point home once more: you swallow whole and unquestioningly political judgments, no matter how ignorant, fed to you by the right-wing noise machine. You make no effort to verify anything.

      So does that make me a better man (or woman) than you?

      Delete
  10. Another arguably illegal waiver is in the offing:

    FWIW, the WSJ sneak-previews the next ObamaCare waiver, which will address a union grievance:

    Earlier this month the Administration suggested that it may grant a waiver for some insurance plans from a tax that is supposed to capitalize a reinsurance fund for ObamaCare. The $25 billion cost of the fund, which is designed to pay out to the insurers on the exchanges if their costs are higher than expected, is socialized over every U.S. citizen with a private health plan. For 2014, the fee per head is $63.

    The unions (unlike other private citizens) don't want to pay. So:

    In an aside in a Federal Register document filed this month, the Administration previewed its forthcoming regulation: "We also intend to propose in future rulemaking to exempt certain self-insured, self-administered plans from the requirement to make reinsurance contributions for the 2015 and 2016 benefit years."

    Allow us to translate. "Self-insured" means that a business pays for the medical expenses of its workers directly and hires an insurer as a third-party administrator to process claims, manage care and the like. Most unions as well as big corporations use this arrangement.

    But the kicker here is "self-administered." That term refers to self-insured plans that don't contract with the Aetnas and Blue Shields of the world and instead act as their own in-house benefits manager.

    Almost no business in the real world still follows this old-fashioned practice as both medicine and medical billing have become more complex. The major exception is a certain type of collectively bargained insurance trust known as Taft-Hartley plans. Such insurance covers about 20 million union members, and four out of five Taft-Hartley trusts are self-administered.

    There's no conceivable rationale—other than politics—for releasing union-only plans from a tax that is defined as universal in the Affordable Care Act statute. Like so many other ObamaCare waivers, this labor dispensation will probably turn out to be illegal.


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    1. The final rule actually in place, requires the fee for 2014, 2015, and 2016. (The fee drops after the first year, and expires in 2016 altogether. Half the money comes in 2014.) So you're now complaining about a rule change that might take place in 2015? You haven't answered for your ignorance about 2013 yet.

      But the hits just keep comin'. You source? The Wall Street Jounal. And here's a hint: for this to be "another arguably" illegal waiver, you're gonna have to actually make a first argument that some waiver is illegal. Something you can't seem to do. Quoting the right-wing noise machine doesn't count as an argument, by the way.

      Got any of those answers I asked for? I'm here to help.

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