Saturday, April 29, 2017

Differences between Finland and American Public Schools.

It’s happened again. It looks like Republicans may have intentionally picked the wrong side of something again, this time education. Experimentation and innovation are their buzzwords being used to push public education into the private sector. 

But the top rated educational countries in the world aren’t exactly on-board. In those countries, experimentation and innovation are controlled by their national education departments, until given the go ahead nationwide. The other thing to keep in mind in the comparison between Finland and the U.S. below is the problem of rampant poverty here, and our more diverse society. Aside from that...

Here’s a little background on one man’s observations in Finland, and then what he thinks America could learn from his experience. Education Week:
Timothy Walker, a teacher and a contributing writer for The Atlantic, moved to Helsinki, Finland, in 2013, (and) couldn't stay away from the classroom … he found many contrasts between his 5th grade English-speaking classroom abroad and his work back home … informally document the differences he saw in Finnish vs. U.S. education on the blog Taught by Finland. In his new book Teach Like Finland: 33 Simple Strategies for Joyful Classrooms, Walker expands upon his observations.
A little background on Finland:
Finland has built a reputation as one of the most successful examples of education. The country is known for its high rates of student achievement. Walker said Finland does benefit from little poverty and minor diversity. However, there are still a variety of areas where Finland excels: Teachers have more rigorous teacher training (acceptance rates into programs are around 10 percent), but lighter workloads and time commitments. Teachers experience more autonomy and less accountability. Teacher retention rates are higher. In his book, Walker unpacks lessons American educators might glean from an internationally recognized education system:
1. “The first thing I noticed was the drastically different teaching schedule. I was used to teaching somewhere close to 30 hours a week with my students in the United States … Finnish educators had significantly less teaching hours—only 18 hours of instruction (which is full time). I also saw that in nearly 50 percent of the lessons I was teaching, I would be joined by another teacher. Finnish teachers and students also get 15-minute breaks throughout the day after 45 minutes of classroom instruction. I was not used to this idea of having so much free time.

2. There is such uniformity in Finland. Finnish educators seem to agree on good practices, learning materials, the curriculum framework that they're following. There is such diversity in the United States. You have incredible schools doing innovative things—project-based learning, social-emotional needs of students—but you find this disparity that doesn't exist in Finland. There is clearly a socioeconomic reason for it, but I also think that there's a level of dysfunction, a lack of agreement to say, "These are the things that work, let's decide to stick with them for the well-being of students."

3. More active teaching strategies seem to be celebrated in the United States, for example, turning and talking with a neighbor during a lesson. In Finland, what I noticed is long stretches of time just to be quiet or do independent work, and children seemed to benefit from this. One practical thing teachers can do is help students become aware of the noise level in the classroom. The promotion of physical activity among school-aged children consists of both increasing physical activity and decreasing sedentary time. 

4. Training is important. Teachers need to feel a sense of expertise, to feel confident in their abilities, and have certain areas of teaching developed before they step foot in the classroom. One thing I noticed is that teachers often rely in Finland on commercial learning materials such as textbooks and teaching guides. Before I came to Finland, I had this idea that they were using more up-to-date teaching practices, but you still see some teacher-centered practices: desks arranged in rows, textbook-driven instruction. But textbooks, although they're not the flashiest way of teaching, are definitely a way for a teacher to pace lessons and takes pressure off the teacher to start from scratch.

5. How is it possible that Finnish teachers seem relaxed and have autonomy? They're using what's already out there and not putting pressure on themselves to launch different initiatives. In the United States, you see much more initiative being taken by individual teachers, schools, and districts, and that adds a lot of stress. You don't see that same level of eagerness to experiment all the time in Finland, in a way that helps teachers to stay balanced and focused on the most essential things in the classroom.  I was inspired by my Finnish colleagues because they just seemed so relaxed and took breaks, but were also so efficient with their teaching.

6. One other thing that is so important is to connect with other teachers on a regular basis. I was choosing not to collaborate. I think that feeling of burnout can stem from being disconnected from others. It doesn't have to be so structured, we don't have to take out our planners. Collaborate over coffee."

Friday, April 28, 2017

Republican's Ann Coulter Law Attacks free Speech on Campuses, Threatens Student Expulsion, part 2

The previous blog post introduced us to Ann Coulter's Berkeley University speaking demanded...
Some have criticized Coulter's own approach to the issue: she demanded that the university expel any student who engages "in violence, mayhem or heckling to prevent an invited speaker from speaking." 
Ann Coulter's Law introduced by Republican Rep. Robin Vos: Oddly similar, you have to wonder how Republicans do this, making what is normal and a founding principle of our Constitution into something repellent and repressive:
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R- Rochester, and Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, proposed legislation (that) would set new rules for free speech and expression on University of Wisconsin System campuses. That includes penalties for people who disrupt free expression on campus by engaging in "violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, obscene, unreasonably loud or other disorderly conduct" Students could be expelled under a bill.
The broad categories and up for interpretation expressions listed above wouldn't just chill free speech, it would discourage it under threat of punishment. Vos' fascist idea may play well for Ann Coulter and David Horowitz, who want to energize and play the political victim, but a government official
pushing...this is jaw dropping.
"The worst part of it is this incredible litany of categories, most of which, as I say, are clearly unconstitutionally vague or imprecise or undefined," said Robert O'Neil, professor emeritus of law at the University of Virginia, where he specialized in the First Amendment law. O’Neil is also a former University of Wisconsin System president.
A Tangle of Big Government & Big Brother Bureaucracy: Like voting, getting food stamps, receiving unemployment, and applying for BadgerCare, Vos and Kremer have created a maze of hearings, a "jackpot justice" system of costly lawsuits, and disciplinary procedures to endlessly navigate:  
Speakers who feel their free speech rights were violated at a UW campus could sue the institution for damages under the bill. And the legislation would create a council of UW officials that would report to lawmakers on the outcomes of discipline proceedings.
It's hard to imagine how Vos and Kremer never seemed to get the First Amendment thing, that this didn't raise any red flags. It did for readers:


Republican's Ann Coulter Law attacks Free Speech on Campuses, Threatens Student Expulsion part 1

This is part 1 of two related stories. Actually, I forgot to post the story below last week, so everything has changed a little; Ann Coulter is not making a speaking appearance, but may just show up anyway to soak in the adoration of drooling fans.
__________________________________________________________________________

Remember the violent student protest when Breitbart News senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at Berkelely? I personally don't think right wing celebrities should be prevented from making themselves look like the paranoid racist bigots they are.

The thing is, Republicans have made it a badge of honor to be banned, or “dis-invited,” by university campuses due to “security concerns.” Those poor conservative victims, always under threat by anti-gun, latte drinking environmental peaceniks, cruising around in their Prius'. Sad.
The University of California at Berkeley appears headed for a showdown with right-wing commentator Ann Coulter after her planned appearance at the school was canceled over security concerns.
You can thank "Academic Bill of Rights" fanatic David Horowitz for drumming up the fear level for all conservative speakers thinking about risking their lives on our nations college campuses.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center combats the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values and disarm this country as it attempts to defend itself in a time of terror.

TruthRevolt is (their) newest program, run by Shillman Senior Fellow Ben Shapiro. Its goal is to unmask leftists in the media for who they are, destroy their credibility with the American Public, and devastate their funding bases.
College Republicans apparently think Horowitz bravery and message is reasonable and not the least bit paranoid:
Horowitz said (about the Berkeley protests), "I can't go to campuses without bodyguards. They all need to be prosecuted. Sure, defund them – make them pay," Horowitz said, referring to President Donald Trump's response to the mayhem. "They are fascists. Throw them in jail. That's where they belong. This is an administration under siege." 

"We have a seditious democratic party that is destroying the American electoral system. We have actresses calling for a military coup, we have Democrats sabotaging an incoming administration, and a State Department leaking presidential conversations. It's a mess."
Poor millionaire and Russian backed illegitimate President Donald Trump. 

Academic Freedom for Alt-right Nationalism, or just Alternative Facts? According to the AAUP, the American Association of University Professors, the...
...right of "access to a broad range of serious scholarly opinion" ... states that institutions should foster a "plurality of serious scholarly methodologies and perspectives." The problem, according to the AAUP Statement, is that "it invites diversity to be measured by political standards that diverge from the academic criteria of the scholarly profession. Measured in this way, diversity can easily become contradictory to academic ends."
In other words, fantasy/myth/fake news/right wing echo chamber politics is the new reality, and more importantly, a debatable equal to actual facts.

Ann Coulter Canceled: Now the sh** hit has the fan again, this time over Ann Coulter's invitation and cancellation:


The University of California-Berkeley cancelled conservative author Ann Coulter's upcoming speech on grounds that the police could not guarantee her safety.
But what is not getting the news coverage was Coulter's own whack-a-doodle dictatorial demand:
Some have criticized Coulter's own approach to the issue: she demanded that the university expel any student who engages "in violence, mayhem or heckling to prevent an invited speaker from speaking." 
Coulter would expel students for daring to interrupt her political brilliance?  Heckling too?

Oh, and Berkeley wasn't the one who cancelled "Academic Bill of Right's" lunatic David Horowitz from appearing this month either:
College Republicans say they were forced to cancel a conservative speaker (Horowitz) because of too many administration roadblocks.

Trump's first quarter economic Slump, horrific March jobs numbers. Tired of winning like this yet?

Funny thing, my conservative friend in Milwaukee still hasn't texted me about the quarterly growth numbers, or a belated hoorah about last months lackluster job growth numbers. He was quick to do that about the January and February jobs numbers though. "We won, get over it," right?

But Trump supporters do this all the time. They can't wait to rub it in our faces, anything and everything that happens under Trump, their president.

Back at you...it's the slowest quarterly growth in 3 years.

■ The economy barely grew, expanding at an annual rate of only 0.7 percent. The first-quarter performance upset expectations for a Trump bump at the start of 2017.
■ The growth was a sharp decline from the 2.1 percent annual rate recorded in the final quarter of last year. It was the weakest quarterly showing in three years.

■ Consumption, the component reflecting individual spending, rose by only 0.3 percent, well below the 3.5 percent rate in the previous quarter.
My conservative friend in Milwaukee bragged over a month ago about the incredible job numbers in January and February, numbers actually created under President Obama, that foreign, inexperienced racist black guy. Well the numbers in March were quietly received..

Looking for a Trump bump in the economy? Keep waiting. After two months of stellar job creation that convinced administration officials that President Trump’s policies were paying off immediately, employers pulled back sharply on hiring in March.
1. The economy added 98,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday, fewer than half the monthly number for January and February.

2. The disappointing number of new jobs was jarring for the administration...
...who tried to ride the Obama coat tails just a little bit longer. Disappointing, very disappointing, very bad. Sad.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Republicans using "human trafficking" as cover to ban Porn, Free Speech, Create Reporting Centers and Store Your Private Records if you remove Obscenity Filter.

After announcing the sale of our private internet surfing habits, the Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai announced the end of Net Neutrality a few days ago:
Pai, a former counsel for Verizon (VZ, Tech30), has slammed the FCC's earlier approach to net neutrality as a "mistake" and begun chipping away at the edges of it.
The FCC's action coincides with the following attempt to violate the First Amendment.

It looks like "freedom and liberty" loving Republicans have jumped on board the following plan for censorship. You can't make this stuff up:
More than a dozen state legislatures are considering a bill called the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act,” which has nothing to do with human trafficking and all to do with one man’s crusade against pornography at the expense of free speech.

More of the bills horrific details in a moment. First, who's the crusading man behind this hot idea?
Perhaps more shocking is the bill’s provenance. According to the Daily Beast the man behind the model legislation the state bills are based on is a disbarred attorney who has sued major tech companies, blaming them for his pornography addiction, and sued states for the right to marry his laptop.
No problem there? And yet not one red flag went off for our freedom/small government loving Republicans. You won't believe what passes for good ideas on the right. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
The bills would require device manufacturers to pre-install “obscenity” filters on devices like cell phones, tablets, and computers. Consumers would be forced to pony up $20 per device in order to surf the Internet without state censorship. The legislation is not only technologically unworkable, it violates the First Amendment and significantly burdens consumers and businesses.
Here are the states that have jump on board...don't worry Wisconsin, you'll probably be on it soon...
The bill has been introduced in some form Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia. Wyoming and North Dakota, have already rejected it.
Just another Republican "small government" maze of regulatory hoops to jump through. And our anti-privacy Republican overlords will be keeping records on everyone:
Anyone who wants to unlock the filters on their devices would have to put their request in writing. Then they’d be required to show ID, be subjected to a “written warning regarding the potential dangers” of removing the obscenity filter, and then would have to sign a form acknowledging they were shown that warning. That means stores would be maintaining private records on everyone who wanted their “Human Trafficking” filters removed.  
There's more... 
The bill would force the companies we rely upon to ensure open access to the Internet to create a massive censorship apparatus that is easily abused.

Under the bill, tech companies would be required to operate call centers or online reporting centers to monitor complaints that a particular site isn’t included in the filter or complaints that a site isn’t being properly filtered. Not only that, but the bill specifically says they must “ensure that all child pornography and revenge pornography is inaccessible on the product” putting immense pressure on companies to aggressively and preemptively block websites to avoid legal liability out of fear of just one illegal or forbidden image making it past their filters. Social media sites would only be immune if they also create a reporting center and “remain reasonably proactive in removing reported obscene content.” 
When EFF went to two Republican lawmakers in South Carolina and told them who came up with the bill. Neither politicians cared, and despite being against taxes, they didn't mind this tax because they're just "making a statement." 
State Reps. Bill Chumley and Mike Burns co-sponsored the Human Trafficking Prevention Act in South Carolina. Chumley called human trafficking an issue that he’s “really concerned with,” so he helped introduce the bill along with Burns.

“Yes, he’s working with us on this,” said Chumley of Sevier. “I don’t know anything about [him] so much. It didn’t really matter to me. Burns said he’s “still behind the premise of the bill,” despite hearing about Sevier’s past. The centerpiece of the bill, the $20 fee, is now up for debate. “We do not want more taxes. Period,” he said. “But we are trying to make a statement, and $20 ain’t gonna kill anybody.”

TrumpCare Tea Party Plan promises Higher Premiums, dumps those with Pre-Existing Conditions, and Strips Coverage for Everyone.

While hospitals and doctors focus on treating the sick, Republicans are focusing in on the real problem; cutting the cost to government all the while enriching the bottom line of insurance companies. Could it be the GOP believes doctors and hospitals work for insurers? Not only has the public changed their minds, but they really don't like the Trump/Ryan/MacArthur plan:


What is more surprising is GOP/Freedom Caucus' appreciation for the dysfunctional way things were, before the ACA, when fewer American got health care, prices skyrocketed and taxpayers paid for the sick in high risk pools. 
The latest version of Obamacare repeal and replace would leave it up to the states on how much insurers can charge older customers beginning next year. In 2020, it would allow states to apply for a waiver to change the 10 essential health benefits now required to be part of nearly all health insurance plans. How dramatically will they allow companies to scale back coverage? How many consumers would be pushed out of the market, because the cost of riders for certain benefits are beyond their reach?
Don't be fooled, insurers will not be taking anyone with pre-existing conditions: 
University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack said: "If you do away with the essential health benefit, you are opening the door to insurers doing overt and covert ways of trying to avoid covering unprofitable consumers. 
"Even though the amendment leaves in place the law's ban on pre-existing condition exclusions, that could effectively accomplish the same thing, by leaving out benefits like chemotherapy or care for HIV. So someone who did have problems like that would be forced to buy a plan—if they could find one—that was priced much higher."
This MSNBC interview asked all the right questions to Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, who ended up voting for the plan. He said he had sympathy for a hypothetical devastated families stuck in a state with an ACA exemption...(below I've included the important parts of the conversation only):
Rep. Mo Brooks: "...BUT at the same time, (if) you went with what I want, and that is a states rights approach, that families state could decide what their citizens can afford by way of pre-existing conditions."

Host: "Is the choice the family has is basically to move out of the state, is that what you're saying?"

Rep. Mo Brooks: "No that is not what I'm saying...I'm one of those that does not believe that Washington elected officials and politicians and bureaucrats are smart enough to be able to dictate all this to the entire United States...that's why I believe we should be deferring as much of this issue as possible to the individual state, let them decide what best fits their needs..."

Host: "Ultimately though that IS a politician in that state who will be deciding the fate... that's still the same thing is it not?"  

Rep. Mo Brooks: "Well I have much more faith and confidence in the ability of a local elected officials..."
Right, that "local" statewide know-it-all Republican official and their one-size-fits-all statewide plan is much better. Sadly, Republicans aren't in tune with their constituents, they're slaves to their ideological beliefs:


Republicans are even Forcing Insurers to Go Back in Time: Heck, not even the insurance industry wants to go back to something that failed miserably. This will force the collapse of the ACA, AND the entire individual market, which is a new wrinkle:
Health insurers, many of which have withdrawn from the exchanges, have said they don't want the country to return to a pre-ACA status quo. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois officials said yesterday that proposed changes being discussed in Congress could force the insurer to rethink its continued role on the insurance exchange and how it prices premiums.

Chris Jacobs, a conservative policy analyst, noted Wednesday that no Republican governors have expressed interest in applying for the waivers envisioned in the AHCA.
And High Risk Pool Lunacy? Republicans are trying to sell you the same broken long expired experiment no one but them wants to return to:
University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack said when states had high-risk pools, those patients cost $7,000 to $10,000 a year more than a typical customer. Providing adequate funding to help insurers make up the costs doesn't improve the federal budget picture. And that was when those high-risk pools contained lifetime limits. 
Bad GOP Economics feeds their "Free Market" Fanstasy: The Republican plan will cost everyone more:  
But a study from Milliman suggests ...  If all consumers share in the cost of maternity coverage, it costs $8 to $14 per person, per month. Being forced to buy a rider during childbearing years could cost 25% to 70% more each month than other customers the same age.
I'm not sure what where Republican received their medical training, but their expertise in health care knows no bounds. In another way to look at what the Freedom Caucus' Tea Party ghouls have done, despite warning from the entire medical community...:
A coalition of six physicians' groups (listed below) sent a letter to Congress critical of the latest version of the American Health Care Act, which would give states the option of scaling back Essential Health Benefits such as mental health coverage. "We believe that pending legislation proposals would dramatically increase costs for older individuals, result in millions of people losing their healthcare coverage, and return to a system that allows for discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions," the letter said.
That would be called a bad outcome. The revised bill is intentionally deceptive:
Although the draft language says the bill does not allow for discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, if insurers were allowed to charge more for policies that include chemotherapy infusion drugs, or inpatient behavioral health treatment, that could price people out of the market who need those services. 

The signatories included the American Psychiatric Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Osteopathic Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Republican Rep. Davidson compares buying Health Care to buying a flip phone: "We weren't endowed by our creator with health care..."

Health care is like a flip phone? And it's not like health care is endowed by our creator either. God just gave us life, after that, you're in the free market baby, cough up the cash or die. Just a few pearls of wisdom from Ohio Republican Rep. Warren Davidson:
Warren Davidson: "Lots of people don't believe in a free market, they want health care as if it were endowed by your creator for health care. (eliciting loud yes', exactly). We weren't, but we weren't. We weren't endowed by our creator with health care, we were endowed with life. So  you're not entitled to someone else's stuff. So in health care for example, we have to protect the free market."
Free markets were endowed by our creator? No wonder so many "pro-life" groups don't care about providing health care, no reason to save the "baby" after it's born. (check out Supply Side Jesus below)

Funny thing, constituents knew and groaned in reaction to Davidson's easily recognizable inhumanity.

I started the town hall video off with Davidson's big mistake about his own party's health care subsidies, based on age. He wrongly claimed it was based on income, you know means tested, like it is on the Affordable Care Act. And these guys are going to pass a national health care plan?:


Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) told the mother of a service industry worker who has benefitted from the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion that her son should get a better job if he wants decent insurance when Obamacare is repealed.  

Her grown son lacked health insurance for four years, because his job in the service industry did not provide it. He received coverage through Medicaid.

Constituent: “Can you explain why my son and millions of others in his situation are not deserving of affordable, decent health care that has essential benefits so that he can stay healthy and continue working?”

Davidson: “OK, I don’t know anything about your son, but as you described him, his skills are focused in an industry that doesn’t have the kind of options that you want him to have for health care. So, I don’t believe that these taxpayers here are entitled to give that to him. I believe he’s got the opportunity to go earn those health benefits” (eliciting boos from the crowd).  “If he doesn’t want a catastrophic care plan, don’t buy a catastrophic care plan. If you don’t want a flip-phone, don’t buy a flip-phone” (eliciting loud groans from the audience).

Constituent: “I’m sorry, health care is much different than a cell phone and I’m tired of people using cell phone analogies with health care.”  
Davidson’s metaphor resembled remarks by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), that people should not buy iPhones if they wanted the money to pay for health insurance.
Consumers do not have the same power to command lower prices for health care, since it is not a product they can choose to not have.
Before he was a Senator, Al Franken put this piece together:

Trump's First 100 Days? Weak, very Weak...a Failure. Sad!

It wasn't so long ago, Republicans were trashing "Emperor" Obama for writing executive orders. Well...remember....?
Republicans skewered President Obama as an "emperor" who acted outside of his "legal authority" for the executive orders he issued from the Oval Office. Now, they are cheering President Donald Trump as he issues a raft of his own. 

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., criticized Obama for "temper tantrum-like behavior" Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said "It is behavior that undermines, and will ultimately erode, the foundation of our democracy and our freedom." Sen. Jeff Sessions called Obama "emperor" for his use of executive action on immigration. 

Paul Ryan condemned Obama's executive orders, calling a handful aimed at reducing gun violence "a dangerous level of executive overreach." In a press conference, Ryan argued that Trump's executive orders were different — because he agreed with the actions. "It's quite the opposite. President Obama used his pen and phone to exceed his powers in our perspective. 
Trump's Failed 100 Days:  So far, it's not looking too good for Trump, but why should it, he's riffing his way through the presidency. Trump has  66 executive actions so far: 
As of April 19 Trump had issued 24 executive orders, 22 presidential memorandums and 20 proclamations, none of Trump’s bills can be considered “major” legislation according to political science standards.
Trump's budget Director Mick Mulvaney bragged about "signing more executive orders than any previous administration in the last 50 years:"



Let's compare administrations, Trump vs Obama: GOP values rise to the top in Trump's amazing list of accomplishments below:
Obama's first few weeks in office (he signed) the children's' health insurance, stimulus and omnibus spending bills alone added up to nearly $1.3 trillion:
1. $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

1. $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

2. Extended federal funding for children's health insurance

3. Authorized millions of acres of new public wilderness areas.

4. Employers for pay discrimination and authorized a $410 billion omnibus spending bill.
Trump's legislative accomplishments? Two bills naming VA clinics, two more promoting women in STEM fields, one legislative exception to allow Jim Mattis to serve as secretary of Defense ... authorizing $19.5 billion in NASA spending. Trump's repeal of Obama-era regulations account for (nearly) half of Trump's 28 signed pieces of legislation. Among other things, those rollbacks will:

1. Make it easier for certain mentally ill people to purchase guns;

2. Make it easier to shoot sleeping bears in their dens or from helicopters;

3. Remove certain waterway protections from coal mining waste;

4. Allow Internet service providers to track and sell customers' Web browser history without requiring permission;

5. And make it easier to drug test people receiving unemployment benefits.
Check out the graph below:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

What is Health Insurance? Republicans don't Know!!!

So many tricks, so many deceptions.

Rep. Mark Sanford would never say what he said in the interview below if he knew how insurance worked, or maybe he knew but was lying. It wouldn't be the first time for this philandering con man.



Point by Point Breakdown:

1. Insurance is based on one model; it's large pool of insured people spreading the risks and costs, keeping premiums down. The ACA simply let insurers sell a standard plan to a large pool of Americans...it let them be "insurance."
Sanford: "The difficulty of what we started with was it wouldn't let insurance be insurance within the individual marketplace."
2. Republicans want to pit the sick against the currently healthy, claiming it's unfair the (still) healthy pay slightly higher premiums so others get treated. Now that's sick. Sanford's "privatize the healthy" for higher insurance industry profits goes something like this..."Let that part be real insurance!'  
Sanford: "So you folks with real needs...the Affordable Care Act has helped them in fairness to the Affordable Care Act. But for a lot of other folks out there, they've seen their premiums skyrocket, they've seen less in the line of choice, and what a number of them said, let that part be real insurance."
Wait a minute, health insurance before ObamaCare was skyrocketing, when the sick couldn't get health care, people who got sick with insurance were turned down and canceled, high risk pools covered the sick but at astronomical premiums, and regular premiums and deductibles skyrocketed. Sanford wants to go back to that...what a time it was....:
Premiums for these policies were increasing more than 10% a year, on average, while the policies themselves had major deficiencies. They often excluded pre-existing conditions, charged higher premiums for people with health risks and for young women, placed limits on annual and lifetime benefits, or refused to renew policies for individuals who became sick. Many people who tried to buy plans were turned down. In 2010, an estimated 9 million adults who had tried to buy a plan in the individual market over the prior three years reported that they were turned down, charged a higher price, or had a condition excluded from their plan because of their health.

Faced with unsubsidized premiums and flawed products, the majority of consumers who tried to buy a plan remained uninsured. Only healthy people could get policies, and only those with good incomes could afford the premiums.

Returning to the status quo ante — before the ACA — is not a viable option for the individual markets.
The New LEFT? Sanford closed the segment by creating a new left, leaving out Democrats completely...it was no accident:
Sandford: "...negotiation that have been taking place, between Mark Meadows from the right if you will, and somebody like MacArthur from the LEFT, in the melding of ideas within the Republican conference."

Block Granting Medicaid gives States power to Kill Care, Kill Constituents.

I recently posted this story...

Wisconsin Republicans should just seek death penalty for costly poor people, or is punishment more fun!


Republicans in the state have done it, they've now gone after everything a person, or family, needs to literally live; Work for food stamps, work for health care, and now work for housing. If you don't work, you don't live. We're now the death penalty state for the jobless!!!
GOP lawmakers have advanced a proposal that would require some able-bodied adults to work in order to get housing vouchers in Wisconsin.
All of this lunacy sprung out of the federal governments plan to give some leeway to the states trying a different approach to our safety net programs. You've seen what happens when voting rights are left up to the states to manage; hoops, regulations, confusion and suppression.

Block granting Medicaid the Prize: Now that Republicans control everything in Washington, Medicaid is about to become a block grant, meaning Republican states are developing plans to make it almost impossible to get health care...which is the reason they're doing this.
Kentucky is moving closer to an overhaul of the state's Medicaid program Bevin has said is aimed at controlling costs and encouraging more personal responsibility in consumers, changes that include elimination of basic dental and vision benefits for most "able-bodied" adults who instead would have to earn them through a "rewards" program.
Wanna get well? Beg me, roll over, jump, sit...the condescending cruelty of the Republican Party knows no bounds. I get a kick out the this old puzzler: "tailored to meet the unique needs of Kentuckians." Because people in Kentucky are genetically different from everyone else? 

It's hard to imagine a more bizarre set of hurdles: 
Proposed changes include monthly premiums, co-payments for services, mandatory work or volunteer activity to maintain Medicaid coverage and "lock-outs" of coverage for up to six months for some who fail to pay premiums. The state proposal also includes a "My Rewards" account where people can accumulate points for activities such as passing a GED exam, completing job training or completing wellness activities such as stop-smoking classes, points that go toward the purchase of services such as dental or vision care.

But Medicaid members also would have points deducted from their rewards account for infractions such as failing to pay premiums or "inappropriate" use of emergency rooms up to a negative balance of $150.

Richard Seckel, director of the Kentucky Equal Justice Center said other states that have attempted to impose modest premiums allowed by Medicaid have found that the cost of collecting monthly payments greatly exceeds any revenue the state takes in.
But the point has never been to help the sick or the unemployed. It's always been about vilify and punish needy.
Mark Carter, CEO of the Louisville-based Passport Health Plan, which manages care for about 300,000 Kentuckians, said the increased work will increase Passport's costs, which likely will mean more costs to the state Medicaid program. And he said it's inevitable some people won't understand the changes or be able to meet new demands and lose coverage. "…there will be some fallout from that," Carter said.

Walker's Republicans Attack, Plunder our Supply of Drinking Water.....

Um, Democratic Party of Wisconsin…hello in there? Anyone?

There are so many issues to take aim at, it’s almost breathtaking. From Scott Walker’s disinterest in prisons to veteran’s care to transportation to WEDC to hurting rural schools to gun violence…yet Democrats have done nothing to cut through Walker’s mind bending positive spin cycle. Even Walker’s low unemployment numbers have more to do with the national economy than anything he’s done.

This is all basic pocketbook stuff that will eventually cost everyone more money. 

The buck stops with Walker on every one of the issues above. Walker is part of the freeloader class of career Republicans who strongly believe they can cut spending and taxes for themselves because roads, clean water and schools were already in there for the plundering. I think the comment below summed it up quite nicely:   
Bill Davis, the head of the Wisconsin Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter, said "We put a lot of investment in the '70s, and '80s, early '90s into infrastructure and then, I think, kind of had this sigh of relief. It's like, 'Ah, we're done, we don't have to pay attention to it anymore.' And that's just not the way it works," Davis said. "All systems need to be maintained and they also need to be updated based on growth of population and land use."
And just like the transportation system that keeps getting more and more expensive to fix the longer we push replacement off, drinking water is on that same trajectory. That's right, life sustaining water: 
A 2017 infrastructure report card by the American Society of Civil Engineers suggests Wisconsin will have $1 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs and more than $6 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs in the next 20 years.
Instead of cutting taxes, shouldn't we be using it to maintain our water supply and wastewater? Yet reports like this mean nothing to Walker and the Republican legislature who are supposedly "balancing" business interests with environmental concerns. Thus we're seeing headlines like this:

Since October, Wisconsin has approved requests from businesses for a billion gallons per month in new groundwater withdrawals from locations where the state’s own experts warned that higher pumping levels could be expected to harm vulnerable lakes, streams and drinking water supplies.

The increase was added by revising dozens of permits for high-capacity wells after regulations were relaxed in June at the urging of business groups and Republicans who control state government.

Meanwhile, the state Assembly is poised for a final vote on removing yet another layer of groundwater protection next month by ending the limited environmental reviews still allowed for certain existing wells.
This is the complete collapse of water protections at every level in Wisconsin. Goodbye to fresh clean drinking water. You can thank a political scheme that got a "legal opinion" from Walker lapdog, AG Brad Schimel. It's not a law and even contradicts a State Supreme Court decision:
Three-quarters of the wells are owned by farms in the Central Sands region where heavy pumping has been closely linked to dwindling — and in some cases dried up — surface water.

The DNR had been imposing pumping limits based on its reading of state law and court rulings that included a 2011 case in which the state Supreme Court said the agency must consider the cumulative impact of high-capacity wells on water, which the state is constitutionally bound to protect for the benefit of the public.

Industry groups chafed at pumping limits, and said the DNR was overstepping its authority. In 2016, a committee of GOP legislators led by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, asked Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel to issue a formal opinion on well regulation. Schimel said the DNR had overstepped the authority, and the agency stopped making well permitting decisions based on environmental impact of all wells in an area.

Now permits are decided based on the affect of wells on the well owner’s property, without regard to how much is being withdrawn by surrounding wells.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Wisconsin Republicans should just seek death penalty for costly poor people, or is punishment more fun!

The title could be a simple exaggeration, but it really isn't.

Republicans in the state have done it, they've gone after everything a person, or family, needs to literally live; Work for food stamps, work for health care, and now work for housing. If you don't work, you don't live. We're now the death penalty state for the jobless!!!
GOP lawmakers have advanced a proposal that would require some able-bodied adults to work in order to get housing vouchers in Wisconsin.
This is another state law by anecdote, you know, something he heard from someone who heard it from someone else:  
Rep. Terry Katsma, R-Oostburg, is the bill'ssponsor. He said the proposal will encourage voucher recipients to seek job training and help fill employment vacancies he hears about in his district.

The bill doesn’t specify what the employment, training, and or other "self-sufficiency requirements" would be.

Nice guy huh? A realllllllll Christian.
Terry has serving as an elder and deacon in his church, serving the youth of the community as a Workbound, Inc. board member and a member of Kiwanis.

Walker might raise fees, putting road repair on backs of Taxpayers, not out-of-state-traffic. Another Bad Idea.

How does this make sense?
WKOW: Governor Scott Walker says he is still against raising the state's gas tax to pay for road improvements, but did not rule out raising fees to cut into Wisconsin's nearly $1 billion transportation deficit in an interview about the state budget Thursday afternoon.
With all the out-of-state traffic, we're going to let drive through travelers off the hook for road repairs? Brilliant. Where are the reporters asking the governor what the hell is he thinking?

This is shear ideological lunacy.

Putin control of US Elections response..."Hillary lost!! Trump Winning the Election was an act of God!"

Republicans know how to appeal to what I call, "low expectation voters." You might hear them say, "Yea, things are bad, but at least Republicans are still in charge." And why are things bad? They don't want to know.

So here's my story; I simply emailed to my conservative friend in Milwaukee the Reuters story about Putin's control over Russian meddling in our presidential election that resulted in exactly what he wanted, a Trump win.



You'd think Putin's meddling in our elections to the point of getting his candidate to win would be troubling enough to any American, even if their candidate won. In fact, the Trump talking points about voter fraud coincided with Putin's plan too, despite no indication is this report that there was collusion.

In the past, my friend has never really held any Republicans feet to the fire, because by default, there was always a Democrat to blame for something. Get over it, Trump won, Hillary lost. It's now just a reflex action of his to not have to deal with reality. But still, I'm always surprised by his responses...


Anyone else getting this kind of response, for almost everything?

New GOP Health Care con keeps ACA benefits, then grants Waivers to ACA benefits!

Here's my theory; Republicans want to keep the ACA framework in place so they can keep blaming "ObamaCare" for the failure of their meddling "revisions."

What else could explain the "new and improved" revised TrumpCare plan. Try not to laugh at how transparently ridiculous it is: Keep all the provision of Obamacare, but grant waivers to all the ObamaCare provisions!!! Nuts right?
The MacArthur Amendment would:• Reinstate Essential Health Benefits as the federal standard• Maintain the following provisions of the AHCA: Prohibition on denying coverage due to preexisting medical conditions. Prohibition on discrimination based on gender. Guaranteed issue of coverage to all applicants. Guaranteed renewability of coverage. Coverage of dependents on parents' plan up to age 26. Community Rating Rules, except for limited waivers.
Here are waivers that basically repeals ObamaCare, state by state:
The amendment would create an option for states to obtain Limited Waivers from certain federal standards, in the interest of lowering premium costs and expanding the number of insured persons.
Spelled out, "Maintaining the following provisions of the AHCA" which maintain some of the provisions of the ACA, means choosing not to maintain the provisions. You can't make this stuff up:
States could seek Limited Waivers for:• Essential Health Benefits• Community rating rules ... freeing insurers to go back to using an individual rating system to set premiums ... except for the following categories, which are not waivable: Gender. Age (except for reductions of the 5:1 age ratio previously established)o Health Status (unless the state has established a high risk pool or is participating in a federal high risk pool).
The "Limited Waiver Requirements" may include just of the following excuses to rip health care to shreds. Republicans desperately want to push sick people into high cost "state risk pools," where we socialize the care of our sick with taxpayer money, and give insurance companies healthy people and healthy profits:
States must attest that the purpose of their requested waiver is to reduce premium costs, increase the number of persons with healthcare coverage, or advance another benefit to the public interest in the state, including the guarantee of coverage for persons with pre-existing medical conditions. The Secretary shall approve applications within 90 days of determining that an application is complete.
Thank god Trump stepped up with a few of the finer details?
Trump: "This is a great bill, a great plan, and this will be great health care. It's evolving, it was never a give up...and the plan gets better, and better and better. And it's gotten really really good. And a lot of people are really liking it a lot."
As Vox's Sarah Kliff reports:
But because of the conservatives, they won’t provide the funding experts say is necessary to really make those high-risk pools work. So people are at risk again.
Of course ignoring public opinion is nothing new....




Walker/Republican pirates target Farmers again by Eliminating Farm to School program!!!

The “penny wise pound foolish” party of Republican plunderers are targeting their voting base in rural Wisconsin for another economic punch to the belly.

While our state has lost farmland twice as fast compared to neighboring states Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, which doesn't bode well for dairy farmers already losing exported milk to Canada, Republicans now want to discontinue a program that uses their locally grown food in local area school districts. 

God knows why rural conservative voters keep voting these guys in. 
A broad and diverse coalition of advocacy groups signed on to a letter that was circulated today voicing support for the Farm to School Program, which faces elimination in the pending 2017-2019 State Budget.
Here's what a small $66,400 investment in the Farm to School program brings back to local farmers and their surrounding communities, keeping $1.4 million dollars in the state: 
1. The Farm to School program spurs over $9 million dollars in purchases of locally grown and processed foods by Wisconsin schools each year, impacting 500,000 students.

2. The modest expenditure of a $66,400 salary for the position for the Program Director … (is) a meaningful investment in the future of the state’s farmers and students.

3. The Farm to School Program Director has been instrumental in awards of over $200,000 of federal grant funds to conduct training and develop Wisconsin supply chains that encourage procurement of Wisconsin-grown foods including potatoes, yogurt and applesauce.

4. Since its inception in 2009, the initiative has grown to over 390 programs across the state integral in the selection of Wisconsin to participate in a successful USDA Pilot Project. 

5. "That allowed Wisconsin schools to divert $1.4 million dollars of their USDA commodity food budgets toward the purchase of Wisconsin-grown fresh fruits, vegetables and other products," the groups noted in the memo. "Wisconsin was one of only eight states selected to participate in this project.
I'm wonder how long it will take the following list of groups to catch on to the fact Republicans aren't their friends. Note: Why in the hell aren't Democrats shouting about this and making their casse to win over rural voters?


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Republicans out to stop ridiculous rules like limiting Phosphorous pollution with State version of "REINS Act."

The complete destruction of Wisconsin's environment is nearly complete, and you can thank politically motivated special interests for gutting the last remnants of "old Wisconsin," and climate denying Scott Walker.

This is almost to breathtaking to explain. Ridiculous "rules" limiting regulation by state departments to work in the best interest of constituents is now spreading like a cancer through the US: 
Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have revived a plan that would limit the power of state agencies to write some environmental and workplace regulations. The so-called REINS Act would require legislative approval for any agency rule that would cost businesses or taxpayers more than $10 million. State agencies write rules that cover everything from pollution standards for factories to workplace safety requirements. 
I think this summation says it all:
Supporters of the proposal say it will provide needed oversight to government and create a more business-friendly regulatory climate in Wisconsin.
 Fu** the citizens, right? Like our state economy is roaring ahead with Walker's other brilliant job creating ideas.

And like other Republican giveaways to special interests…business would get a say publicly, or what I would call a dog and pony show:
The bill would allow a legislative committee to request a public hearing allowing input from citizens and industry before the agency drafts projections related to its economic impact.

The bill would also give the committee the power to request an economic analysis of the bill from an organization outside state government. The initiative is supported by Americans for Prosperity, the conservative political group funded by the Koch brothers.
As we all know, the Koch brothers are upstanding Wisconsinites just looking out for their state...oh, wait a minute...they can do an economic analysis?

I hope you're sitting down: You won't believe the example Republicans gave for pushing this industry crap. Someone needs their head examined?
Sen. Devin LeMahieu, another sponsor of the bill, cited a 2010 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources rule on phosphorous emissions as an example of a state agency exercising too much power. The rule set stricter standards for phosphorous released by factories and wastewater treatment plants.
We would hate to have stricter standards for phosphorous, right:
2015 economic impact analysis released by the DNR and Wisconsin Department of Administration estimated the rule would cost businesses and municipalities $708 million per year. "This bill is to put safeguards in to make sure something like the phosphorous rule doesn’t happen in the future," LeMahieu said.
I wish I were kidding, but LeMahieu thinks stopping "safeguards" in place to stop phosphorous pollution was something he wasn't about let happen again. Folks, we're not coming back from this Republican controlled decade. 


Wisconsin's Republican Supreme Court Justices say, $10,000 or more in campaign contributions would never buy their vote! Don't Laugh....

Excuse me, where does the Constitution spell out money as free speech? 

Thanks to Scalia's Supreme Court, we're all supposed to believe that unlimited amounts of money won't buy someones gratitude or earn them special favor. "Money corrupts" was always a meaningless silly old saying, at least according to big monied special interests in Washington. 

Every one of the states conservative justices feigned outrage over the suggestion of influence: 
The Wisconsin Supreme Court threw out a proposal to create formal recusal rules for judges and justices in the state ... 5-2, with Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley opposed ... the court's conservative-leaning majority voting to throw the petition out and the liberal-leaning wing voting to hold a public hearing on it, or adopt it immediately (for) all elected judges in the state who serve in municipal court, circuit court, the Court of Appeals or the state Supreme Court.
Despite being a national embarrassment, our dysfunctional state supreme court added to their legend by insulting our intelligence, saying campaign donations of $10,000 and over would never influence their decisions from the bench. Silly us to think that, or think that there is at least an appearance of impropriety. Remember, these are Republican Justices in the pocket of special interests who paid for their winning campaigns. Why would they would they ever have to recuse themselves? Crazy us?
It proposed specific contribution thresholds for when a judge or justice would have to recuse himself or herself from a case ... if they received $10,000 from a group or individual with a case in front of the court.
Our silent until now, recently elected (unopposed) Justice Ziegler had this to rub in our faces, like we're dumb enough to believe her;
Justice Annette Ziegler: “The petitioners here have asked us to do something that doesn’t comport with the Constitution as I view it. Is there precedent that supports this somehow? And the answer is no.”

(The) 60 comments on the petition submitted to the court. (means there's) high degree of public interest that warrants a public hearing on the issue, said Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. “What is so threatening about that?” 

Justice Rebecca Bradley said the premise of the petition is false and an affront to the oath taken by Supreme Court justices and judges statewide. “We cannot consider the petition. To do so violates the oath that each of us took when we took our office.” It also disenfranchises voters statewide who should be free to contribute to judicial candidates without repercussions, she said. “It asks us to infringe the First Amendment rights of the people of Wisconsin who wish to support candidates,” she said.
The Supreme Court lost the Public Trust a Long Time Ago: This just continues, without accountability, the public's complete lack of faith in the judicial branch of our government. Mission accomplished Republicans: 
Abrahamson called for a public hearing on the petition and Walsh Bradley called for it to be adopted immediately. Both motions were voted down after some discussion, which was tense at times. 

“The issue is so important and to shut it down without a hearing and without comment just undermines the public trust and confidence that is so important for the integrity of this court,” said Walsh Bradley. “It goes to the heart of who we are as a court and what we believe.”
And you wonder why voters don't trust the government. We can thanks our conservative activist Justices...maybe with donation exceeding $10,000?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Surprise: Business, not Government, now telling us all what to do in and away from Work.

Republicans are always falsely claiming that Democrats want government to tell us all what to do. 

Ridiculous, I know, but those fabrications have taken our eye off the real "takeover;" what Republicans want more than anything is to hand complete control over to business, where they will tell us all what to do, in and away from work. Think about it, it makes sense. 

Two different studies look at what is really happening and what some would like to see happen:
New Republic: Real household wages in the United States have remained stagnant since the 1970s. Young people find an employment landscape defined by unpaid internships, temporary work, and low pay.

In Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk About It), Elizabeth Anderson, a professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan, explores how the discipline of work has itself become a form of tyranny, documenting the expansive power that firms now wield over their employees in everything from how they dress to what they tweet. James Livingston, a historian at Rutgers, goes one step further in No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea … both books make a powerful claim: that our lives today are ruled, above all, by work. We can try to convince ourselves that we are free, but as long as we must submit to the increasing authority of our employers and the labor market, we are not.
That's why Republicans are always harping about the job creators, drug tests for the unemployed, training programs for food stamps...etc...they want employers, not government, to control what we do in and away from work:
Anderson’s most provocative argument is that large companies, the institutions that employ most workers, amount to a de facto form of government, exerting massive and intrusive power in our daily lives. Unlike the state, these private governments are able to wield power with little oversight, because the executives and boards of directors that rule them are accountable to no one but themselves. Although they exercise their power to varying degrees and through both direct and “soft” means, employers can dictate how we dress and style our hair, when we eat, when (and if) we may use the toilet, with whom we may partner and under what arrangements. Employers may subject our bodies to drug tests; monitor our speech both on and off the job; require us to answer questionnaires about our exercise habits, off-hours alcohol consumption, and childbearing intentions; and rifle through our belongings. If the state held such sweeping powers, Anderson argues, we would probably not consider ourselves free men and women.

Employees, meanwhile, have few ways to fight back. Yes, they may leave the company, but doing so usually necessitates being unemployed or migrating to another company and working under similar rules. Workers may organize, but unions have been so decimated in recent years that their clout is greatly diminished.
Note this important point:
As corporations have worked methodically to amass sweeping powers over their employees, they have held aloft the beguiling principle of individual freedom, claiming that only unregulated markets can guarantee personal liberty. Instead, operating under relatively few regulations themselves, these companies have succeeded at imposing all manner of regulation on their employees. That is to say, they use the language of individual liberty to claim that corporations require freedom to treat workers as they like. 

Many workers, in fact, have little sense of the legal scope of their employer’s power. Most would be shocked to discover that they could be fired for being too attractive, declining to attend a political rally favored by their employer, or finding out that their daughter was raped by a friend of the boss—all real-life examples cited by Anderson.
Universal Basic Income? Milton Friedman was a big backer of the "negative tax" idea:
Instead of idealizing work and making it the linchpin of social organization, Livingston suggests, why not just get rid of it? Since people in this new world would no longer have to earn a salary, they would, Livingston envisions, receive some kind of universal basic income

UBI is a slippery concept, adaptable to both the socialist left and libertarian right, but it essentially entails distributing a living wage to every member of society. In most conceptualizations, the income is indeed basic—no cases of Dom PĂ©rignon—and would cover the essentials like rent and groceries. Individuals would then be free to choose whether and how much they want to work to supplement the UBI. 

Leftist proponents tend to advocate pairing UBI with a strong welfare state to provide nationalized health care, tuition-free education, and other services. Some libertarians view UBI as a way to pare down the welfare state, arguing that it’s better simply to give people money to buy food and health care directly, rather than forcing them to engage with food stamp and Medicaid bureaucracies. 
The article concludes:
Both Livingston and Anderson reveal how much of our own power we’ve already ceded in making waged work the conduit for our ideals of liberty and morality. The scale and coordination of the institutions we’re up against in the fight for our emancipation is, as Anderson demonstrates, staggering. Employers hold the means to our well-being, and they have the law on their side. Individual efforts to achieve a better “work-life balance” for ourselves and our families miss the wider issue we face as waged employees. - Miya Tokumitsu is a lecturer of art history at the University of Melbourne and a contributing editor at Jacobin.She is the author of Do What You Love. And Other Lies about Success and Happiness.