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“CVS, Smokes And Liberal Fascism”: Fox News Turns Up The Stupidity

In Fox News Land, no one does anything in the public interest. It’s just Obama’s commie thugs bullying a corporate giant to do what the president thinks is ‘good for you.’

Bravo, CVS. That’s a bold and even historic move, banning cigarettes. It’s true it isn’t costing the company much—the sticks accounted for just $2 billion of its $123 billion in revenue last year, according to The New York Times. But even so, it’s a decision by an American mega-corporation that was made in… sit down and steady yourself… the public interest! Everyone’s for that, right? Right? Wait, what’s that rumble I hear over the gloaming?…

Why, it’s Fox News! And they aren’t happy. Yes—you read that right. On Fox News, CVS’s decision not to sell an addictive product that kills hundreds of thousands of Americans prematurely every year stinks of a big commie plot. Daytime host Gretchen Carlson said something idiotic Wednesday even by daytime Fox News’s idiotic standards. From Media Matters:

“Is it OK legally… to restrict tobacco availability in a private store like this?” She questioned her guests as to whether they would continue shopping at CVS and observed that, “For people who smoke, you know, they have a right to buy cigarettes. It’s not illegal.”

Is it legal?! Good God. Quintuple bacon cheeseburgers are legal. And yet, some restaurants choose not to offer them! Lawbreakers! Pinkos!

Yes, pinkos, see, because they’re becoming part of, you guessed it, the Obama agenda. That was the worry of Neil Cavuto, who wondered if CVS was “getting scaredy cat” since “with the health-care law and the changes and everything else,” selling tobacco products “didn’t look good.” And to round things out, Dana Perino, who actually used to stand at a podium to convey to the American people the substance of their government’s positions and policies, asked on the show called The Five: “Is this President Obama now saying that corporations are allowed to have values and express them? Because if that’s the case, maybe corporations then don’t have to provide contraceptive care to their employees or their health plans.”

See the thread there? It’s Obama’s fault. A corporation makes a decision of its own volition, on the highly logical grounds that if it purports to be in the health business it shouldn’t also be in the cigarette business, and it’s Obama’s fault. If he weren’t out there making people buy insurance, and if that nettlesome wife of his weren’t forcing all these poor children to grow all that awful kale, if they weren’t trying to make America… healthy (!), CVS never would have done this.

Perino turns up the stupid by dragging in the Hobby Lobby case. Private corporations in the United States can do a lot of things. If that Chick-Fil-A guy wants to close on Sundays to honor Jesus? Fine, let him. But there are things corporations can’t do—there are laws and regulations they have to follow. And they have never claimed a right to the free exercise of their religion. That’s because corporations aren’t people, my friend. They don’t have a religion. They have Catholic and Methodist and Jewish and Hindu and Muslim and Jainist and atheist and all kinds of employees. The idea that a corporation has a religious “value” is preposterous, although with this Supreme Court, admittedly anything is possible.

But that’s a side point. What Fox News is really unhappy about, of course, is what it likes to call “liberal fascism,” as defined by the concept’s savant, Jonah Goldberg. As I slogged my way through Goldberg’s tedious book on the subject a few years back (producing this rather amusing review), I noticed that as he plowed through history, liberal fascism started out as, oh, the Civilian Conservation Corps, which I recall him comparing to the Hitler Youth. After all, both were in the 1930s, both involved kids wearing uniforms, both movements professed the goal of social uplift. One was dedicated to the greater glory of one man; the other to flood control and forest protection—but OK, Jonah, whatever.

Once he got to our time, Goldberg was reduced to arguing that the liberal-fascist tendency was alive and well in Whole Foods. Because Whole Foods purveys salubrious items, wants you to have things that are “good for you,” and that sounded to him suspiciously like things Hillary Clinton wants, and she’s the biggest liberal fascist of all. Or was until Obama. Who is—until he leaves the White House and Hillary moves back in when she’ll take back over.

So now, anything a corporation does that smacks of being in the public interest will reek of liberal fascism and will thus be met with resistance in Ailes-land. Car companies pursuing improved gas mileage, introducing more hybrids? Manufacturers using sustainable materials and processes? Junk-food makers cutting back on the sugar and salt? They’re not trying to do anything good for the world. They can’t be doing that. Normal, good, red-blooded, private-sector Americans don’t do that. There must be a reason, and in Foxland, it’s that these folks are ninnies who are just preemptively kowtowing to the thugs Obama keeps on the payroll to dream up new rules Americans should have to live by.

The silver lining here is that they’re on the losing side of history. One imagines that in due course, Rite Aid will follow, and Walgreens, and Duane Reade, and in a few years’ time cigarettes will be out of all drugstores. And then the convenience stores will start to tumble, and the vast majority of Americas will agree that this is fine. And the Fox News demographic will start aging into the grave, and Gretchen Carlson can go on fuming to a smaller and smaller audience, and the rest of us will be able to say to them, in the words of Stevie Winwood: Light up and leave us alone.


By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, February 7, 2014

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Fox News, Public Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Health, Work, Lies”: Losing Your Job And Choosing To Work Less Aren’t The Same Thing

On Wednesday, Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, said the obvious: losing your job and choosing to work less aren’t the same thing. If you lose your job, you suffer immense personal and financial hardship. If, on the other hand, you choose to work less and spend more time with your family, “we don’t sympathize. We say congratulations.”

And now you know everything you need to know about the latest falsehood in the ever-mendacious campaign against health reform.

Let’s back up. On Tuesday, the budget office released a report on the fiscal and economic outlook that included two appendices devoted to effects of the Affordable Care Act.

The first appendix attracted almost no attention from the news media, yet it was actually a bombshell. Much public discussion of health reform is still colored by Obamacare’s terrible start, and presumes that the program remains a disaster. Some of us have pointed out that things have been going much better lately — but now it’s more or less official. The budget office predicts that first-year sign-ups in the health exchanges will fall only modestly short of expectations, and that nearly as many uninsured Americans will gain insurance as it predicted last spring.

This good news got drowned out, however, by false claims about the meaning of the second health care appendix, on labor supply.

It has always been clear that health reform will induce some Americans to work less. Some people will, for example, retire earlier because they no longer need to keep working to keep their health insurance. Others will reduce their hours to spend more time with their children because insurance is no longer contingent on holding a full-time job. More subtly, the incentive to work will be somewhat reduced by health insurance subsidies that fall as your income rises.

The budget office has now increased its estimate of the size of these effects. It believes that health reform will reduce the number of hours worked in the economy by between 1.5 percent and 2 percent, which it unhelpfully noted “represents a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million.”

Why was this unhelpful? Because politicians and, I’m sorry to say, all too many news organizations immediately seized on the 2 million number and utterly misrepresented its meaning. For example, Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, quickly posted this on his Twitter account: “Under Obamacare, millions of hardworking Americans will lose their jobs and those who keep them will see their hours and wages reduced.”

Not a word of this claim was true. The budget office report didn’t say that people will lose their jobs. It declared explicitly that the predicted fall in hours worked will come “almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor” (emphasis added). And as we’ve already seen, Mr. Elmendorf did his best the next day to explain that voluntary reductions in work hours are nothing like involuntary job loss. Oh, and because labor supply will be reduced, wages will go up, not down.

We should add that the budget office believes that health reform will actually reduce unemployment over the next few years.

Just to be clear, the predicted long-run fall in working hours isn’t entirely a good thing. Workers who choose to spend more time with their families will gain, but they’ll also impose some burden on the rest of society, for example, by paying less in payroll and income taxes. So there is some cost to Obamacare over and above the insurance subsidies. Any attempt to do the math, however, suggests that we’re talking about fairly minor costs, not the “devastating effects” Mr. Cantor asserted in his next post on Twitter.

So was Mr. Cantor being dishonest? Or was he just ignorant of the policy basics and unwilling to actually read the report before trumpeting his misrepresentation of what it said? It doesn’t matter — because even if it was ignorance, it was willful ignorance. Remember, the campaign against health reform has, at every stage, grabbed hold of any and every argument it could find against insuring the uninsured, with truth and logic never entering into the matter.

Think about it. We had the nonexistent death panels. We had false claims that the Affordable Care Act will cause the deficit to balloon. We had supposed horror stories about ordinary Americans facing huge rate increases, stories that collapsed under scrutiny. And now we have a fairly innocuous technical estimate misrepresented as a tale of massive economic damage.

Meanwhile, the reality is that American health reform — flawed and incomplete though it is — is making steady progress. No, millions of Americans won’t lose their jobs, but tens of millions will gain the security of knowing that they can get and afford the health care they need.


By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, February 6, 2014

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Jobs | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Deficit Of Truth”: What Republicans Hope You Don’t Know And Never Find Out

Listening to Republicans in Congress wailing incessantly about our spendthrift culture raises a nagging question: What would they do, besides talking, if they actually wanted to reduce federal deficits and, eventually, the national debt?

First, they would admit that President Obama’s policies, including health care reform, have already reduced deficits sharply, as promised. Second, they would desist from their hostage-taking tactics over the debt ceiling, which have only damaged America’s economy and international prestige. And then they would finally admit that basic investment and job creation, rather than cutting food stamps, represent the best way to reduce both deficits and debt, indeed the only way — through economic growth.

Fortunately for those Republicans and sadly for everyone else, the American public has little comprehension of current fiscal realities. Most people don’t even know that the deficit is shrinking rather than growing. According to a poll released on Feb. 4 by The Huffington Post and,  well over half believe the budget deficit has increased since 2009, while less than 20 percent are aware that it has steadily decreased. (Another 14 percent believe the deficit has remained constant during Obama’s presidency.)

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it is Republican voters, misinformed by Fox News, who most fervently and consistently insist on these mistaken ideas, with 85 percent telling pollsters that the deficit has increased. Less than a third of Democrats gave that answer. But nearly 60 percent of independent voters agree with the Republicans on that question and only 30 percent of Democrats understand the truth – an implicit repudiation, as The Huffington Post noted, of the president’s political decision to prioritize deficit reduction rather than job creation.

The facts are simple enough even for a Tea Party politician to understand. The federal deficit reached its peak – in dollar amount and as a share of the national economy – in 2009, which happens to be the year that Obama took office. Thanks to the profligate war and tax policies of the Bush administration — which undid the fiscal stabilization achieved under President Clinton — the Treasury had no financial margin when the Great Recession struck. Federal spending required to avoid another (and possibly far worse) worldwide Depression, combined with declining tax revenues that resulted from economic stagnation and tax cuts, all led inevitably to that record deficit.

Over the past five years, the red ink has swiftly faded. This year’s deficit will be about $514 billion, or about one-third of the $1.5 trillion deficit in 2009; next year’s will be even lower, at around $478 billion. As when Clinton was president, those marked fiscal improvements are mainly the product of a slowly recovering economy and growing incomes, along with federal budget cuts.

But not only is the good news about the shrinking deficit widely ignored; it isn’t actually good news at all. By avoiding a mostly mythical “budget crisis,” federal policy has created a very real jobs crisis that persists, with particular harm to working families. The latest Congressional Budget Office report on the fiscal outlook for the coming decade strongly suggests that the cost of reducing the deficit has been – and will continue to be – substantial losses in potential economic growth and employment.

The ironic consequence, as former White House economist Jared Bernstein recently explained, is that the fiscal outlook for the next 10 years will be somewhat dimmer than expected. In other words, we will return to higher deficits because fiscal austerity –enforced by Republicans and accepted by Obama  – is still dragging the economy down.

To restore the kind of growth that lets families prosper and ultimately erases deficits, the Republicans would have to listen to the president — especially when he calls for public investment in infrastructure and an increased minimum wage, the first steps toward robust growth and fiscal stability.

If Americans understood the truth about deficits and debt – and how the federal budget affects their jobs and income – the congressional obstruction caucus, also known as the GOP, would have no other choice.


By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, February 6, 2014

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Deficits, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Christie’s Evolving Version Of Events”: The More You Look, The More You See Nuances, Changes, And Contradictions

One of the overarching challenges facing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is not just his ongoing bridge scandal, but also the veracity of his claims about the scandal.  If Christie’s version of events had been consistent and reliable throughout, it’d be easier to believe his arguments about what role, if any, he played in his aides’ misconduct,

But the closer one looks at the governor’s claims, the more one sees nuances, changes, and contradictions.

It’s not just what Christie knew and when; it’s also what Christie claims he did about the now-infamous incident in Fort Lee.

In December, the governor belittled reporters and lawmakers who took the bridge controversy seriously. Asked about false testimony his top aide at the Port Authority delivered to the state Assembly, Christie said his “curiosity is more than satiated.” Asked whether he would look for additional information, the governor replied, “Why would I? … I have a lot of things to do. I know you guys are obsessed with this. I’m not. I’m really not. It’s just not that big a deal.”

Christie added during a mid-December press conference, “I’m not running around doing independent investigation…. If you’re asking me if I’ve done independent investigation, the answer is no.”

Except, as Rachel noted on the show last night, the governor said largely the opposite this week, telling the public during a radio show that he did launch an independent investigation – two months before he said he didn’t launch an independent investigation.

“As soon as I was aware of the fact that there was a problem, which was when [Port Authority Executive Director] Pat Foye’s email came out, I had my staff say, go find out what’s going on over at the Port Authority. Why are they fighting with each other over this? And what happened? […]

“As soon as I knew that there was some issue here, I asked my staff to get to the Port Authority and find out what’s going on…. The first time this really came into my consciousness as an issue was when Pat Foye, executive director of the Port Authority’s email about this incident was leaked to the media…. That’s when I asked my chief of staff and chief counsel, I said to them, ‘Hey, would you look into this and see what’s going on here?’”

Really? Because that represents a pretty sharp break from Christie’s original story.

According to the governor’s latest version of events:

* In October, after learning of the trouble at the Port Authority, Christie dispatched the top two aides in his entire administration to get to the bottom of things.

* In December, in response to questions, Christie said he sees no need to get to the bottom of things.

* In January, during a two-hour press conference, Christie makes no mention of his chief of staff and chief counsel investigating the matter at his direction.

* In February, Christie boasts about an internal investigation he previously said he wouldn’t launch.

Remember, that’s not my story; that’s the governor’s story.

If the governor sent his top two aides to investigate problems at the Port Authority, why didn’t Christie mention this before? And what did his chief of staff and chief counsel find when they investigated the matter at the governor’s behest?

It would appear that Christie, just this week, came up with a new story with key details he neglected to mention during multiple press conferences in December and January.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the claims are untrue, but as a rule, evolving stories featuring new, previously unmentioned elements are harder to believe.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 7, 2014

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Surprise! Republicans Aren’t Serious About Reform”: The GOP’s Lame Attempt To Blame Obama For The Failure Of Immigration Reform

This week, it became all too clear that House Republicans don’t really want to address immigration reform in any meaningful way this year. And if the reform effort does wither on the vine, Republicans know just who to blame: themselves.

Ha, just kidding. They’re going to blame President Obama.

A mere week after unveiling a list of immigration “principles” that the GOP would pursue, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that handling immigration this year would be “difficult,” because many Republicans don’t trust Obama.

“There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws,” he said. “And it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”

Of course, a bipartisan immigration reform package has already passed the Senate, which includes an eye-popping $40 billion for border security. Obama has even signaled that he would be prepared to sign into law a more modest package, including one that bestowed only legal status — as opposed to citizenship — to undocumented workers.

The obstacle to reform has always been in the GOP-controlled House, where hardcore conservatives have opposed any law that bears even a whiff of amnesty. That, in turn, has spooked potential reform supporters who are wary of a primary challenge.

Indeed, Boehner’s so-called principles can be seen as a trial balloon that was quickly deflated by members of his own party, including influential conservative writers like The Weekly Standard‘s William Kristol, who argued that the issue unnecessarily divided the GOP ahead of the 2014 midterms.

Boehner’s remarks were still notable, though, in that they are part of a ridiculous attempt to pin the blame on Obama, a strategy that Republicans have been testing out for months.

Back in October, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who helped author the Senate’s immigration bill before fleeing to chase down his lost conservative credibility, said Obama poisoned immigration reform by standing firm through the government shutdown and debt ceiling fight. By not agreeing to the GOP’s fantastical demands that he gut his health-care law, Rubio said, Obama made immigration reform “harder to achieve.”

“The president has undermined this effort, absolutely, because of the way he has behaved over the last three weeks,” he said.

To be sure, some on the right have charged all along that the White House can’t be trusted to meet tough border security and verification requirements, necessitating “specific enforcement triggers” before a path to citizenship or legal status could even come into play. What’s different now is that the claim has gone mainstream, a reflection of how desperate the GOP is to convey to Latino voters that they would do something on immigration were it not for Obama.

A sampling from the past week:

  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.): “Here’s the issue that all Republicans agree on — we don’t trust the president to enforce the law.”
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.): “There’s some real question of trust here and the White House continues to really thumb its nose up, if you will, at the Congress.”
  • Rubio (again): “We just don’t think government will enforce the law anyway.”

As Slate’s David Weigel explains, the argument is pretty much bunk:

Say the Senate bill was passed in the House tomorrow, conferenced, and signed by the president. He’s got three years left in office. The legalization component of the Senate bill depends on a border security standard that’s going to be determined by a panel of state governors. They have five years to sign off. If you think about the timing of the Affordable Care Act — passed in 2010, implemented at the end of 2013 — there’s no real danger of Obama using a new immigration law to grant more amnesty. He could do that right now.

So, file these talking points under “Republicans Looking Busy.” [Slate]

But Boehner can’t spike immigration reform without first finding a scapegoat to blame for its failure. And since Senate Republicans are on board, who else is there to blame but the ultimate conservative bogeyman?


By: Jon Terbush, The Week, February 7, 2014

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Immigration Reform, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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