Archive for panic

"Suspending #Obamacare penalties is tantamount to delaying the mandate"


chill pill

All day, I've been watching, hearing, and reading news reports like this one: More Senate Dems call for Obamacare enrollment extension and lifting the penalty for those who are uninsured.

Well, others, including me, are saying enough already. Seriously, I've had it with all the 24/7 sky-is-falling yakety-yak. I'm talking to you, Senator Feinstein-- who happens to be my senator-- as well as Jeanne Shaheen, Kay Hagan, and Mark Udall, and a few others mentioned at that CNN  link. Calm down and breathe. Or drink. Or smoke. Anything to chill you out and start using your head instead of your emotions, or your donors' money or your own self-interests.

First of all, the Affordable Care Act website at, should be running smoothly by the end of November, according to the official now in charge of fixing it. So how about waiting and seeing instead of panicking? We all know things have started off badly, but it's only been three weeks. Chill.

An editorial in today's Los Angeles Times explains why the requirement that adult Americans get covered next year should not be scrapped, and they make a lot of sense. They start out by reminding us that there is still time to make the necessary corrections before the first of the year and to focus on that, as well as on signing up more people for insurance:

Some have responded by suggesting that the administration suspend the penalties for those unable to sign up for subsidized policies, which are available only through the exchanges.

Suspending the penalties is tantamount to delaying the mandate. And if there's no enforceable requirement to buy insurance, many Americans who don't need healthcare immediately won't do so.

The Times goes on to explain that by succumbing to a mandate delay, as the GOP has demanded, an "ever-sicker, costlier pool of customers, ... would cause premiums to spiral upward. Suspending those penalties would only make that result more likely."

The variations being floated by Democrats are just as bad. If can't be whipped into shape within the next month or so, the federal government may have to pour resources into other enrollment efforts, such as the phone banks and in-person "navigators" who guide people through the sign-up process. But we're not at that point yet, and won't be for several weeks.


relax a little


Hysteria kill: Experts say that U.S. debt woes are not so dire


Nuke War Kids Under Desk

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone tells me to calm down when I haven't been un-calm. Saying, "Calm down" just makes me less calm, in fact.

But there are times, clearly, when advice like that is entirely appropriate. This is one of those times. So, America-- calm down. Panicking over the country's debt issues is so GOP ago.

And in case there was still any doubt: We. Are. Not. Greece. Clear? Unless, of course, Republicans continue to insist on austerity measures and block common sense legislation.

But for now, we still have time and we can do this.

The L.A. Times:

Listening to the political shouting match and seeing Washington lurch from one fiscal crisis to another, one might think the federal budget deficit is the economic equivalent of a giant meteor hurtling toward America, about to hit any day.

The reality is quite different. In fact, the debt is probably not even the country's biggest economic challenge, most experts say, and certainly not the most urgent.

The evidence shows that the country is on a course of spending and debt accumulation that could lead to serious trouble not today or tomorrow but probably 10 to 20 years down the road.

What the evidence does not show is that such a crisis is close at hand or that the U.S. is in any imminent danger of turning into an economic basket case like present-day Greece.

Moreover, financial experts agree that although America's burgeoning healthcare costs pose huge long-term challenges for the budget, the nation's debt could most likely be controlled for at least the next decade by making a series of relatively moderate policy changes. Those changes, although perhaps unwelcome, would not require drastic adjustments in the lives of most Americans.

As the article notes, the economy is still growing and inflation is under control, plus our credit standing is still strong and we have control over our currency, unlike the Eurozone.

So breathe, America. Breathe.

we are not greece


The state of America? Hysteria


Tim Rutten has an excellent op-ed up over at the L.A. Times. He picks up where my "What is happening to this country?" left off. After having been out of the country for a month, he returned with the following perspective:

[I]t's hard not to conclude that hysteria is now the dominant characteristic of our politics and civic conversation.

How else to explain the fact that questions like secession and nullification — issues that were resolved in blood by the Civil War more than a century ago — have come alive again and are routinely tossed around, not just by fringe figures but by Republican officeholders and candidates? [...]

The most popular such movement involves abolishing or gutting the 10th Amendment as a way to deny American citizenship to the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. [...] Rep. Louie Gohmert (R- Texas) speculates that such children actually are terrorist moles planted here to grow up as U.S. citizens as part of a long-range plot. [...]

One candidate for statewide office in Tennessee  [...]  argues that the 1st Amendment does not cover Muslims. [...]

In the midst of moral panic, inchoate indignation stands in for reason; accusation and denunciation supplant dialogue and argument; history and facts are rendered malleable, merely adjuncts of the moral entrepreneur's — or should we say provocateur's — rhetorical will. As we now also see, a self-interested mass media with an economic stake in the theatricality of raised and angry voices can transmit moral panic like a pathogen.

"A self-interested mass media with an economic stake..." Bingo. The news has been commercialized, politicized, and pulverized into something unrecognizable. To repeat, an uninformed electorate leads to the degradation of democracy.

We are constantly subjected to extreme, often irrational, hot air, giving credibility to the assertions of punditiots as if their viewpoints are valid and reasonable. The hysteria is force fed to viewers who either become desensitized or compliant, accepting unsubstantiated blather as fact.

The more often endorsements of secession, segregation, nullification, and fear mongering are given legitimacy, tacit or overt, the more likely it is that they will eventually become acceptable.

Please read Rutten's entire piece here.


Gitmo detainees likely to end up in Illinois supermax prison


By GottaLaff
(Lane Christiansen/chicago Tribune Via Associated Press)

That sound you hear is the hair being ripped out of Rushpublic heads:

Despite opposition from congressional Republicans, the Obama administration is signaling that a state prison in rural Thomson, Ill., will probably become the new home for scores of terrorism suspects now housed at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Oh noes! Batten down the hatches! The terrorists will be released the second they hit Illinois soil and make a mad rush for your children's swing sets!

What-oh-what will the president do to calm frayed GOP nerves and paranoia? Xanax? Valium?

To reassure skeptical Republicans, they emphasized security.

Oh... that.

If all goes well, administration sources involved in closing the Guantanamo Bay prison anticipate a handover of the Thomson facility by late winter. It would then take several months to prepare the prison to a level "beyond supermax" and put the staff in place, according to federal estimates.

That's it. Thomson will be Ground Zero for Bad Guy Central. Plot after evil plot will be hatched. Never mind that we already have convicted terrorists safely locked away with no escapes, no havoc, no Al Qaeda recruitment offices opening up within prison walls.

In other words, politicizing as usual is a big fat waste of time:

"We can defeat Republican efforts to stop this," said Schakowsky, who contends the GOP is "'absolutely politicizing the situation. They're looking for any angle that would make the president somehow look soft on terrorists. Fear, in the past, has been their friend."

So it's true: You can judge a person by who their friends are.