Obamacare Subsidies More Popular Than Same-Sex Marriage?

The first national poll out there measuring reactions to last week’s two big SCOTUS landmark cases is out, from CNN/ORC. Unsurprisingly, it showed a majority of Americans agreeing with Oberkefell v. Hodges, though the percentage was higher than one might have guessed, at 59%. But surprisingly, an even higher percentage–63%–said they agreed with the finding in King v. Burwell that “government assistance for lower-income Americans buying health insurance through both state-operated and federally-operated health insurance exchanges is legal.”

Yes, part of the reason for this result is that self-identified Democrats were more bullish about the Obamacare than the marriage equality decision. But the percentage for independents–long thought to dislike Obamacare by margins ranging from 2-1 to 3-2–was an identical 63%.

Now earlier polling had shown big majorities of the public having no clue that this constitutional challenge to Obamacare was coming. So the numbers CNN/ORC is showing represent another confirmation that the ideas incorporated in Obamacare are a lot more popular than the name, especially among those who are not necessarily responding to partisan cues. This is something Republicans better pay attention to when designing their replace/repeal agenda.

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Lunch Buffet

My late father was drafted into the Army during what was then called the “Korean Conflict,” and often told the story of how he was probably within a week of deployment overseas when a company commander came around and asked if anyone in his unit knew how to type. He raised his hand with alacrity, and given the casualty rates for NCOs arriving in Korea at that point, the opportunity may well have saved his life and kept me (born in 1952 at Ft. Jackson Army Hospital) from being a fatherless child.

Here are some more contemporary midday news/views items:

* Obama approval rating hits 50% for first time since 2013 in new CNN/ORC survey.

* WaPo editorial endorses “yes” vote in Greek referendum, which is precisely the opposite advice being offered by most liberal pundits.

* WaPo also publishes useful if disturbing database of the 461 people shot to death by police officers so far this year.

* TNR’s Espeth Reeve argues Trump poached Christie’s “loud, obnoxious jerk” brand.

* At the Atlantic, Peter Beinart notes the lost opportunities GOP politicians have had in recent weeks to show empathy for people outside the party “base.”

And in non-political news:

* U.S. Women’s team prepares to face Germany as an underdog in World Cup semi-final tonight.

As we break for lunch, here’s an alarming song from Jackie Doll and his Pickled Peppers endorsing Douglas MacArthur’s desire to use nuclear weapons against China after that country’s intervention in Korea.

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Corporate Reform Organization Seeks Teachers to Train as Voices for Common Core

An educator forwarded an email he received, inviting him to apply for a fellowship at Néw York Educator Voice-America Achieve. If accepted, he would gain training in writing opinion pieces, speaking at public forums, and becoming a voice for Common Core. The organization would help him to get invitations to national conferences as a speaker and to become a prominent voice for the profession, on behalf of Common Core.

Here is the invitation:

“Dear Colleagues,

“Happy summer!

“The application deadline for the New York Educator Voice Fellowship is this Friday, July 3rd. The Fellowship is a really great program for teachers and principals who are interested in education policy and looking to make a difference in their communities and across New York. Don’t miss this chance to help one of your favorite teachers take advantage of this opportunity.

HERE is a link to our application website where you can learn more about the program and submit a nomination.”

The program offers to give teachers “voice,” but the voice must be used to support the corporate reform narrative. This is no voice at all; it is hiring teachers and principals to endorse someone else’s agenda.

The program is paid for by Michael Bloomberg, the Harry and Leona Helmsley Foundation (“queen of mean”), and the Gates Foundation.

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Are Bush/Rubio Business Records a Problem For Republicans?

So it seems the Washington Post is conducting a pretty serious examination of the personal business and financial records of leading GOP presidential candidates. Over the weekend Robert O’Harrow, Jr. and Tom Hamburger shone a spotlight on Jeb Bush’s history of being a politically connected middle-man in deals involving people who wound up wearing orange. And today Hamburger and Sean Sullivan explore Rubio’s similar if more geographically limited associations, explained or aggravated, depending on how you look at it, by his own less-than-brilliant personal financial management.

There will be plenty of time to get into the weeds on these issues, which aren’t going anywhere. I would, however, like to make one point I’m not hearing others make. It’s an obvious thing to speculate about how Bush or Rubio’s money issues compare to the Clintons’ in a general election context. But do either of them perhaps have a problem with Republicans that could affect their primary campaigns? Bush’s business record, after all, appears to involve an extended exercise in what conservatives call “crony capitalism,” making hay at the intersection of business and politics. Rubio shares some of that problem, but you have to wonder at what point Republican donors and activists and even voters start wondering if Marco shares their own self-righteous skill and probity in handling money.

Keep in mind that the dominant conservative narrative about the financial crisis and the Great Recession was that the federal government pushed and pulled financial institutions into making a vast number of loans to non-creditworthy people, who predictably couldn’t meet their obligations and wrecked the housing market and then the economy–demanding government bailouts the entire time. The entire Tea Party movement began as a red-hot moral objection to those people getting any more tax dollars. That perspective–essentially the creditors’ perspective–has not gone away, and it’s a universal class thing, as evidenced by the reactions here and in Europe to the plight of the Greeks.

I’m dwelling on Rubio here in part because I think he is probably the GOP’s strongest potential presidential nominee. But among conservatives being good at handling money is often considered a character issue, more so than being kind or generous or even honest or smart. So this could bite Marco Rubio in the butt big time, probably more than the suspicion some will have that Jeb Bush got rich being the right guy in the right place by virtue of his connections rather than luck or skill.

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Washington State Will Test Kindergarten Children (But, Shhh! Parents May Opt Out)

A reader shares this information with us. The state will administer assessments to children in kindergarten but parents have the right to opt out. Will the parents know? If you live in Washington, make sure you inform parents of their right to opt out their children from this unnecessary assessment. Let the children play.



So here in the Pacific North West, our legislature just finished a special session and they’re now into the third. One part of our legislature, the House, just passed Washington HB 1491…”Expand Early Childhood Education Across the State” and has nice fine print related to testing kindergarteners and 3-4 year-olds. That’s right. TESTING. FOR KINDERGARTENERS. Section 2, [2][a] “Improve short-term and long-term educational outcomes for children as measured by assessments including, but not limited to, the Washington kindergarten inventory of developing skills in RCW 28A.655.080. The only saving grace? RCW 28A.150.315 is in force WITH THE EXCEPTION OF STUDENTS WHO HAVE BEEN EXCUSED FROM PARTICIPATION BY THEIR PARENTS OR GUARDIANS. That’s right. The K-12 public schools will now HAVE to administer the test with all the attendant costs and time suck but, as a parent, you won’t be hearing how you can opt-out. Lots of more work to do. Then again, I’m so pissed about it that it gives me the energy I need to fight, fight, fight.

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Who Owns Most of the Guns? “The Base!”

It’s a research finding that is startling but not really surprising (per a report from NBC’s Maggie Fox):

A new study aimed at figuring out who owns gun in the United States and why suggests that about a third of Americans have at least one.

Most are white males over the age of 55, and a “gun culture” is closely linked with ownership, the team at Columbia University reports.

The study, published in the journal Injury Prevention, is one of several trying to pin down the number of gun owners in the United States. No agency keeps statistics on gun ownership and many pro-gun activists advocate keeping gun ownership private because of fears about potential future laws that might take guns away.

Yeah, well, if you really buy into the idea that good people like us need to stockpile weapons in case we need to overthrow a tyrannical socialist regime supported by those people, then I guess you want to present a moving target, eh? But I digress. The study also even less surprisingly shows a geographical gulf in gun ownership:

[Gun ownership percentages ranged] from 5.2 percent in Delaware to 61.7 percent in Alaska,” they wrote in their report. “Gun ownership was 2.25 times greater among those reporting social gun culture than those who did not,” they added.

In the Northeast, gun ownership rates ranged from 5.8 percent in Rhode Island to 28.8 percent in Vermont.

In the Midwest, rates ranged from 19.6 percent in Ohio to 47.9 percent in North Dakota. In the South and mid-Atlantic, rates ranged from 5.2 percent in Delaware to 57.9 percent in Arkansas. And in the West, California had the lowest rate of gun ownership at 20 percent, while nearly 62 percent of Alaskans said they had a gun.

Now this rural habit of disproportionate gun ownership is often related to the opportunity for and interest in hunting, and of a “gun culture” (to use the Columbia report’s terminology) in which social life revolves around gun-related activities. Both these factors are undoubtedly important. But there is something more basic than that: isolation. The first time in my life I really thought about owning a gun was one night when I was awakened at 2:00 AM in my central Virginia home at the end of a two-mile dirt road by approaching–and then extinguished–headlights. At that moment, I wasn’t real confident in the safety offered by a baseball bat, a Bichon Frise, and police officers who were at least 30 minutes away.

On the other hand, even then I didn’t really want an assault rifle, and I would have probably regretted firing hundreds of rounds at that parked car which in the end probably contained teenagers messing around or smoking pot.

Putting aside for a moment geography or the objective advisability of owning some sort of gun for self-protection, there is something fundamentally disquieting about the fact that the Americans most likely to own guns are also the Americans most likely to embrace a political rationale for gun ownership and most likely to believe they’re getting outvoted by people who don’t share their values. Somewhere in these overlapping circles is a hard core of dangerous folks who are being told constantly by Republican politicians that they are losing or have already lost their most fundamental rights. And this is why political extremism is a bad thing even if its devotees lose most elections.

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