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WATCH: Jon Stewart Mocks the Hobby Lobby Ruling that Corporations Are People

July 15, 2014 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

A store that sells 'foam cones and glitter' just doesn't get vaginas.

Jon Stewart returned from vacation with a segment on the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, which he found to be, what's the word again, oh yeah, wrong.

He found the part about how Hobby Lobby considers Plan B contraception and abortifacient, and the fact that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it isn't, particularly rich. “But what would they know about vaginas?” says Stewart. “Compared to a corporation that sells foam cones and glitter.”

Jessica Williams joins for some commentary and calms Stewart down by reassuring him that it's a narrow decision that only applies to “closely held” corporations. What are those, Stewart wonders? “Think of that as a hug,” Williams says. “A hug that squeezes all the sluts off the health plan.”

More hilarity ensues. Watch:



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Why the Rand Paul-Rick Perry Feud over Iraq Is Good for U.S. Policy

July 15, 2014 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

“Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican”—that’s the “11th Commandment” coined by California’s GOP chairman in 1965 and popularized by President Ronald Reagan.

It’s been suspended for the duration, judging by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s ongoing dust-up over the future of the GOP’s foreign policy—even while the two combined for an impressive 19 invocations of Saint Ronnie in three dueling op-eds.

A little Red-on-Red internecine strife can be good fun, and the issues here are important.”

In a recent Wall Street Journal oped, Paul argued that “America Shouldn’t Choose Sides in Iraq’s Civil War.” On Saturday, Perry entered the lists with a Washington Post piece titled “Why Rand Paul Is Wrong on Iraq” (print edition). In his Politico surrebuttal yesterday, Paul took a swipe at Perry’s trendy new glasses, which apparently “haven’t … allowed him to see [the world] any more clearly.” Zing!

The 11th Commandment was a silly idea to begin with: A little Red-on-Red internecine strife can be good fun, and the issues here are important. In Perry’s case, though, it’s a shame he couldn’t come up with better arguments.

Perry begins his broadside against Paul by allowing that “I can understand the emotions behind isolationism”—because God knows nobody has any rational objections to pouring more American blood and treasure down the Middle Eastern sandpit.

We can’t afford to “ignore what’s happening in Iraq,” Perry argues, because the Sunni radicals of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria now controlling parts of eastern Syria and western Iraq represent a “profound threat” to the United States. Airstrikes have to be on the table, he argues, charging that Paul’s policy is to do “next to nothing.”

Actually, in his WSJ oped, Paul refused to “completely rule out airstrikes,” but argued, “there are many questions that need to be addressed first.” Perry’s objection, it seems, is to asking questions before the letting the drones and Tomahawks fly. “He’s a cowboy,” former McCain 2008 staffer Michael Goldfarb commented in 2011: “You have to assume he’d shoot first and ask questions later — which would be nice after four years of a leading from behind, too-little-too-late foreign policy.”

But if you’re sort of timid soul who likes to aim before pulling the trigger, it’s probably worth asking, is ISIS a “profound threat” to U.S. national security? We need to remain alert to the possibility, but ISIS seems to have its hands full at the moment. “Creating and sustaining an Islamic …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Is Obamacare Working?

July 15, 2014 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Two recent surveys have shown a significant reduction in the number of Americans without health insurance since the start of Obamacare in October 2013. According to the Commonwealth Foundation, the uninsured rate fell from 20 to 15 percent, while Gallup found a decline from 18 to 13.4 percent. Both surveys indicate that roughly 8 million Americans have gained insurance over the past ten months.

All of which has led Obamacare supporters to pop the Champagne corks. As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote for perhaps the hundredth time since 2010, “Health reform is — gasp! — working.”

The questions are: How many people are covered? And, How good is their coverage?”

It is still unclear, though, how much of the credit for the drop in the number of uninsured should go to Obamacare. Unemployment has declined from 7.2 percent to 6.1 percent over the same period, meaning that at least some previously unemployed Americans have found work. Since health insurance remains largely tied to employment in this country, job gains should naturally translate into insurance gains. Neither survey breaks this down.

Still, it is reasonable to conclude that Obamacare was responsible for at least part of the increase in coverage. Many observers, myself included, thought the rollout of was so hopelessly messed up that Obamacare enrollment would fall far short of its goals. That the administration appeared to fudge many of its early enrollment numbers seemed to bear this out. We should now admit that we were probably wrong. In hindsight, we should have realized that if you are essentially giving something away — 91 percent of Obamacare enrollees either are receiving subsidies or are on Medicaid — people will take it.

But before we go too far with the mea culpas, it is important to point out that we remain far short of universal coverage. Even with this “success,” the uninsured rate will still be roughly where it was in 2001.

Nor do the new numbers tell us anything about the quality of coverage that people are receiving. Gallup, for example, did not differentiate between private insurance and Medicaid. Using Commonwealth Fund data on proportions of enrollees who were previously uninsured and official government enrollment figures, it appears that roughly 49 percent of the newly insured are being covered through Medicaid. We also know that the decline in uninsured residents has been three times as large in Medicaid-expansion states as in …read more

Source: OP-EDS