Tuesday, June 30, 2009
WREG TV: "Lawmakers over-rode the governor's veto, making this the 37th state to allow guns into businesses that serve alcohol. Governor Phil Bredesen says the law doesn't provide the proper safeguards to ensure public safety. Some gun owners can't wait to arm themselves, but are already facing roadblocks. Businesses can still ban guns, simply by putting up a sign."
State citizens are mystified by the push to bring together alcohol and guns in barroom settings. Taverns are already problematic areas even without firearms. The question is, would you want a not so cool, calm and collected guy like Robert Hough packin' heat?
"Date night for Robert Hough and his wife nearly ended with a sign outside Bosco's Restaurant in Midtown. The sign was a gun with a red cross through the middle; a clear sign guns weren't welcome. As a gun owner, the sign made Hough bristle. "It's my right as a Tennessean to carry a firearm into this restaurant, but now I can't because he's blocking it. It's his right to say I can't, and it's my right to say I don't have to come back."
Okay, calm down and try to relax Mr. Hough. We don't want to cause any trouble that might end in a fatal shooting. Bar and restaurant owners are less enthused.
"Gun owners say the law will keep them safe, but Boscos owner Jerry Feinstone calls it something else: fear-baiting. "Stepping into a situation where they expect trouble -- expecting trouble and creating trouble tend to go hand in hand," says Feinstone, who thinks folks walking into a bar cocked and loaded isn't the answer. Feinstone wants his customers to feel safe, but for the former college rifleman, the answer is simple -- his restaurant is no place for guns."
"Responsible people, when they've had a few drinks, can become irresponsible. That's the part of this that concerns me a little bit," says Sheriff Mark Luttrell who was among several top cops who say they're not much they can do to enforce the new law. Lutrell says it's up to restaurants and bars to regulate who comes in armed."
The biggest law enforcement concern right now is how do you keep someone with a gun from drinking?
What, you can't drink and carry a gun? You want to make something of it...?
Maybe you just don't understand the problems white folks have to live with every stinkin' day. From Atom TV:
This PBS special on Don't Ask Don't Tell featured an interesting section on the differences between the politicians of yesterday and the spineless compromisers of today. And I am not talking about the faithfully obstinate bullheaded party of failure, the Republicans. This clip reveals how weak Obama is in the face of strong opposition, repeating the same big mistake Clinton made.
Monday, June 29, 2009
“By a 5-4 vote and splitting along conservative and liberal lines, the justices overturned a ruling for the city by a U.S. appeals court.”
It’s time to actively protest the direction and activism of the countries highest court, or the following part of the story will take on a surreal form of legitimacy.
"The appeals court's ruling in … is expected to be a focus of questioning by Republicans at Sotomayor's Senate confirmation hearing scheduled for next month."
Republican Senators will play off the judicial activism and “white men are victims” decision to trounce Sonia Sotomayor’s well thought out majority opinion. The hideous racism on display by this conservative court will turn racial progress back a half century.
As thinkprogress.org wrote: "the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has given employers broad discretion to reconsider a promotion test whose results favor one race over another. Today’s ruling creates a new standard which says that an employer’s decision to toss out a hiring test must have a “strong basis in evidence” showing that the test preferred one race over another."
Another words, these tests must clearly state they will prefer one race over the next. If not, there’s nothing to make one think there is a problem. What a simple world it’s turning out to be after all.
Justice Kennedy held: "Without some other justification, this express, race-based decision making violates Title VII’s command that employers cannot take adverse employment actions because of an individual’s race."
On the liberal end of the court:
Justice Ginsburg in dissent insists that better tests were available and that the majority misconstrues the good-faith basis of the city: "The white firefighters who scored high on New Haven’s promotional exams understandably attract this Court’s sympathy. But they had no vested right to promotion. Nor have other persons received promotions in preference to them. New Haven maintains that it refused to certify the test results because it believed, for good cause, that it would be vulnerable to a Title VII disparate-impact suit if it relied on those results ... the Court pretends that “[t]he City rejected the test results solely because the higher scoring candidates were white.” Ante, at 20. That pretension, essential to the Court’s disposition, ignores substantial evidence of multiple flaws in the tests New Haven used. The Court similarly fails to acknowledge the better tests used in other cities, which have yielded less racially skewed outcomes.
It would be hard to argue against such reasoning, unless your hell bent on ideological outcomes.
The Robert’s court should be proud.
Mr. Grassley on “This Week” said money to pay for the overhaul should come from within the health care industry, such as finding savings opportunities in Medicare.
This really is the Republican plan isn't it? Do nothing, but ask for voluntary changes by an industry that has allowed people to die. On top of that, Grassley wants to find "reform" in the governments Medicare system, not the private sector. I can't count how many times I've heard Republican Congressional lawmakers offer "solutions" involving exaggerated waste in Medicare, but none of the waste and bloated administrative costs in the private sector. Health insurance companies, with their rejection of preexisting conditions and denial of coverage policies, should be protected and saved for their humanitarian contributions to American families.
Mr. McConnell on “Fox News Sunday” expressed his concern that a government-run health care plan might drive private health insurance companies out of business.
That would make me sad.
States with oil, natural gas, coal and mineral deposits deserve to make more money from their natural resources. The federal government asks for a royalty, why can’t the states in the form of a tax? Every time anyone suggests a gas tax increase, the threats from oil companies fly fast and furious. It’s called blackmail. They whine that profits will suffer and prices will have to rise. Boo hoo. The Wall Street Journal sums it up this way:
"Cash-strapped states are considering raising taxes on oil production to plug yawning budget gaps, but they face strong resistance from oil companies, which warn the moves could lead to lost jobs and higher energy prices."
But oddly, the facts are on the tax raisers side.
"…advocates for increased taxes argue that taxes play a smaller role in companies' drilling decisions than factors such as how much oil is present or how difficult it is to produce … if states want to encourage drilling and maximize revenue, they should have relatively high severance taxes but encourage companies to look for new oil fields. That is the approach taken by Alaska, which has the country's highest severance tax rate, at 25% of net income per well, but also offers subsidies for companies to invest in the state."
Although all of this makes perfect sense, I still believe the citizens of an energy rich state should be enriched by its natural resources, while still allowing big oil to make its profits. (I know, pump prices are high in Alaska)
And if they threaten to raise their prices, threaten again to raise their taxes. Two can play that game.
Rep. Suder had this statement on final budget passage: “No focus on private sector jobs, no vision for the future … and policies that will jeopardize public safety.”
Rep. Suder is probably the most misinformed, or just plain dumb legislator, this side of the Mississippi. Nationwide, truth and sentencing has been a disaster. Most states were going broke filling and building prisons, so they dropped the program and started giving non-threatening lawbreakers the kind of treatment they need, and not just jail time. Most everyone knows this, except non-readers like Rep. Suder. In fact, these successful alternatives are so popular now, that even the Sunday “Parade” section wrote about it.
"More than one in eight prisoners in the U.S. has a serious mental illness. Advocates of a new system of “mental-health courts” say that, with treatment, many of them could become lawful and productive, reducing overcrowding in our nation’s prison system at the same time.
In Allegheny County, Pa., for example, the recidivism rate for participants was just 14% after six years, compared with 67% in the general prison population."
Hey Scott, news flash, that’s a big difference. But what the hell, people always fall for the guy who’s tough on crime, right Scott. I like to pick on Rep. Suder because it’s so easy and he is so THICK.
And Rep. Scott Suder is still an idiot.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Prediction: Activist Conservative Supreme Court will Allow Faux Negative Documentaries to Run During Campaigns.
Here’s where judicial activism will again play a prominent role. Instead of considering the intend of slimy partisan David Bossie, leader of Citizens United and producer of "Hillary: The Movie," to circumvent election laws and respecting the judgment of the Federal Elections Commission and federal judges, they will narrowly ignore the overwhelming motivation and intent of this experienced system gamer. Mark my words.
Anti-Hillary movie: The court must decide whether a scathing 90-minute documentary about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that was made by a conservative group when she was running for the Democratic presidential nomination should be regulated as a campaign ad. Citizens United, the conservative not-for-profit group that made the movie, wanted to air television ads in important Democratic primary states and make the movie available to cablesubscribers on demand, without complying with federal campaign finance law. The Federal Elections Commission and federal judges in Washington said the movie is subject to campaign finance restrictions.
The high court's conservative justices appeared especially skeptical of that view when the case was argued in March.
NY Times: Charles M. Blow- While conservatives fight to “defend” marriage from gays, they can’t keep theirs together. According to the Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract, states that went Republican in November accounted for eight of the 10 states with the highest divorce rates in 2006.
Conservatives touted abstinence-only education, which was a flop, when real sex education was needed, most desperately in red states. According to 2006 data from the Guttmacher Institute, those red states accounted for eight of the 10 states with the highest teenage birthrates.
And, a study titled “Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment?” that was conducted by Benjamin Edelman, an assistant professor of business at Harvard Business School and published earlier this year in the Journal of Economic Perspectives found that subscriptions to online pornography sites were “more prevalent in states where surveys indicate conservative positions on religion, gender roles, and sexuality” and in states where “more people agree that ‘I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage.’ ”
They could avoid this hypocrisy by focusing more on what happens in their own bedrooms and avoiding the trap of judging what goes on in everyone else’s.
Journal Sentinel- A community activist on Friday filed two complaints against Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn and asked for a criminal investigation, all concerning an affair Flynn had with a married journalist.
In a letter, LaMonte Harris asked Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm to investigate whether Flynn committed adultery, a felony in Wisconsin.
Harris acknowledged that adultery is rarely prosecuted but said that someone in Flynn's position should not be violating any laws. "It sends a bad message," Harris said.
It's time to comb through the divorce court records, round up the felons, build a few prisons, and lock up every criminal adulterer. Think about it, they're stilling walking the streets, sitting next to you and your children in family restaurants and living next door to you ready to commit another adultery.
The growth of alternative Internet radio is an outgrowth of a hungry, frustrated audience. In the last decade we have seen a commercial radio bloodletting, where long time familiar voices have been silenced, and music formats were shipped in by corporate knuckle heads and programmers.
Things are about to change, I hope.
I have been working with Roots Up Radio recently, in an attempt to bring back, what used to be considered the "product" of commercial radio, the on air personality. Voices from Madison and across the country may have a home soon. The next step is public access and ease of use, getting the product to you via car radio, cell phone radio channels and established commercial syndicators.
I've been scrambling in an attempt to come up to speed on the new Internet venture, shop for a new real estate brokerage (career change) and transition into HDTV on the home front that threw up a few road blocks capturing video for the blog.
So if it appears I've slowed a little in the number of stories added per day, that should start picking up in the coming weeks. Unlike the larger political sites, it's just little old me plugging this stuff in.
Friday, June 26, 2009
I don’t usually ask for taking dramatic action against someone for their God given opinion and right to say it, but when you’re talking about someone in the third branch of our government, it’s time to draw the line.
Justice Clarence Thomas has been such a reliable “right wing” vote on every issue to come before the Supreme Court, that it’s impossible to sit back and not call him on it. This IS judicial activism in its rawest state. Nothing can excuse him for his most recent decision and commentary on the strip search of a 13 year old girl in school. NOTHING. NY Times:
Thomas is saying the Constitution stops at the school house doors. This is a very sick person. Looking back now, Anita Hill’s case just became a whole lot stronger when this misogynist dismissed the girls humiliating bra and underwear search on hearsay, and in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches. Jesus, what does a guy have to do before someone raises the question of his competence?
Only Justice Clarence Thomas would have ruled the search constitutional. “Preservation of order, discipline and safety in public schools is simply not the domain of the Constitution,” he wrote.
Justice Thomas also said Thursday’s decision provided the nation’s students a court-sanctioned hiding place. “Redding would not have been the first person to conceal pills in her undergarments,” he wrote. “Nor will she be the last after today’s decision, which announced the safest places to secrete contraband in school.”
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Davis' bitter anger directed at hungry kids reflects an amazing disconnect from what now seems to be just a talking point, family values. Is it any wonder they don't want health care coverage for those who need it, but can't afford it?
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Health Insurance Insider: 'They Dump the Sick', by ALICE GOMSTYN ABC News:
Frustrated Americans have long complained that their insurance companies valued the all-mighty buck over their health care. Today, a retired insurance executive confirmed their suspicions, arguing that the industry that once employed him regularly rips off its policyholders.
"[T]hey confuse their customers and dump the sick, all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors," former Cigna senior executive Wendell Potter said during a hearing on health insurance today before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Potter, who has more than 20 years of experience working in public relations for insurance companies Cigna and Humana, said companies routinely drop seriously ill policyholders so they can meet "Wall Street's relentless profit expectations."
"They look carefully to see if a sick policyholder may have omitted a minor illness, a pre-existing condition, when applying for coverage, and then they use that as justification to cancel the policy, even if the enrollee has never missed a premium payment," Potter said. "…(D)umping a small number of enrollees can have a big effect on the bottom line."
Small businesses, in particular, he said, have had trouble maintaining their employee health insurance coverage, he said. "All it takes is one illness or accident among employees at a small business to prompt an insurance company to hike the next year's premiums so high that the employer has to cut benefits, shop for another carrier, or stop offering coverage altogether," he said.
More and more people, he said, are falling victim to "deceptive marketing practices" that encourage them to buy "what essentially is fake insurance," policies with high costs but surprisingly limited benefits.
Insurance companies continue to mislead consumers through "explanation of benefits" documents that note what payments the insurance company made and what's left for consumers to pay out of pocket, Potter said. The documents, he said, are "notoriously incomprehensible." "Insurers know that policyholders are so baffled by those notices they usually just ignore them or throw them away. And that's exactly the point," he said. "If they were more understandable, more consumers might realize that they are being ripped off."
Do you think the Senate hearing will change any minds? Not likely.
Hey, Michael Savage is posting Media Matters staffers personal info online, in an attempt to do WHAT?
FBI agents went to the New Jersey home of white supremacist blogger/radio host Hal Turner and arrested him “on a federal complaint filed in Chicago alleging that he made Internet postings threatening to assault and murderthree federal appeals court judges in Chicago in retaliation for their recent ruling upholding handgun bans in Chicago and a suburb,” according to a statement released by the Justice Department. A summary of Turner’s dangerous tirade against the judges:
Internet postings on June 2 and 3 proclaimed “outrage” over the handgun decision by Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer, of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, further stating, among other things: “Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed.” The postings included photographs, phone numbers, work address and room numbers of these judges, along with a photo of the building in which they work and a map of its location.
Turner’s posts also “referred to the murder of the mother and husband of Chicago-based federal Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in February 2005,” saying, “Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court didn’t get the hint after those killings. It appears another lesson is needed.”
In the Justice Department statement, U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald — who announced the charges — said, “We take threats to federal judges very seriously. Period.”
While Republicans worried that the fairness doctrine would destroy conservative talk, they never imagined losing their talk hosts to the comfort and safety of a jail cell.
The funny and ironic thing is the RNC is arguing that people should have a choice of doctors and insurers, a really bad idea, since the badly broken system we have now has been offering those same choices for decades. That current option, the one the GOP wants to expand by doing away with Medicare and Medicaid, is now telling us rates will increase 9 percent next year. Public relations efforts by the insurance industry is strangely disconnected from reality and certainly not helping the debate.
USA Today reports the RNC’s demand for a return of the fairness doctrine tonight only, is now a crazy surreal advertisement.
Tonight, the president hosts a town hall meeting on the same subject, broadcast at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. We've already reported on the spat between ABC and the Republican National Commitee over tonight's town hall meeting.
Apparently unsatisfied with the network's assurances that the audience has been selected for its diversity of opinion, the RNC has unveiled a new ad reiterating its charges that a national network is "turning its airwaves over to Obama's pitch" and accusing the president of cutting Republicans out of the discussion.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
It’s down the partisan rabbit hole:
No, the “Axe the Stimulus Plaques Act” is. Are really this crazy and intellectually dishonest?
Boston Herald: New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, who voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, has introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of stimulus funds for signs that say a project is being carried out using those funds.
It’s called the "Axe The Stimulus Plaques Act."Gregg says considering the
disappointment surrounding the stimulus bill, it flies in the face of reason that signs are being constructed at a price tag of $300 each to promote the legislation. Gregg says the signs are simply for political
With my frustration building up, I needed an escape valve. I found one:
According to the Huffington Post: A new group calling itself Healthy Americans Against Reforming Medicine (HAARM) has launched a website to promote its efforts to derail health care reform. Their message: Health care for everybody is just bad and wrong, and the Obama administration's plan will lead to socialism.
HAARM, you may or may not have guessed, is a work of satire. The Service Employees International Union is putting $25,000 behind the project, which essentially parrots right-wing talking points on health care reform to comedic effect.
"We worked with some really funny writers on this project, but nobody was able to top the crazy things Republicans are saying to stand in the way of health care reform," said SEIU spokeswoman Lori Lodes in a statement to the Huffington Post. "HAARM highlights the fact that the GOP spends more time coming up with ways to say 'no' than they do coming up with any policies of their own."
What is becoming more evident about the implementation of choice, vouchers and charter schools, is that we are installing another fallible system along side a similar public school model. So now we have to watchdog both for abuses and failures. You can't tell me this won't cost us millions of dollars more and additional bureaucracies.
If we could only focus on the established public system in place, one that has been evolving and improving over the last decade. It wasn't NCLB that improved education, it was the educational community, advances in curriculum research and local public pressure to change. People have been pressuring schools for years, by choosing to move into communities with good schools, and leaving them when they fail. Now that people are staying longer in their homes, they are becoming more proactive, demanding better results.
Frederica Freyberg, Here and Now anchor, asked the right questions of Bicha, who gave surprisingly honest answers. Keep in mind; Choice schools are cheaper right now. But adding ten of thousands of students to their enrollment would cost the choice schools just as much, if not more money to run, when you consider the profit motive.
Wow, higher prices? Where can I sign up?
N.Y. Times: Verizon Raises FiOS Prices, but Hardly Mentions It
It takes a lot of moxie to raise prices in a deep recession, particularly when you are the newcomer to a hotly competitive market. But that’s exactly what Verizon is doing with its FiOS service. In many markets, the company is raising the price of basic triple play bundle (TV, Internet and Phone) to $109 from $99 . The price of its step-up bundle, with faster Internet service and more channels, goes up by $10 to $119.
Mike Ritter, the chief marketing officer for FiOS, made it clear that the company is feeling good enough about its brand position that it can charge a premium price even as it tries to steal customers from cable. Indeed, he said the company expects to sign up more new customers for the more expensive plans.
“You will not see us advertising prices any more. You will see more about what the experience can be,” he said.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Taxpayers "Money Saving" Charter Schools Need... More Money. Who do they think they are, Public Schools?
Kansas (has) only 36 operating public charter schools. State law says they can only be authorized by school districts. That’s like Burger King having to ask McDonald’s for permission to open down the street.The writer of this article featured here, Paul Soutar (a charter advocate), assumes taxpayers will simply allow charters to take over public schools at will. Pick one, any one. Since charters are strongly supported by conservatives as a way to fight “big government” public schools, they will use their philosophical device of blaming others for their ideological failings. Like the following..
Gee, fundraising is down in a recession, what a surprise. It appears the promise to raise money was a hollow one. For a group of people out to destroy public schools, their reliance on public funding is…hypocritical. That’s were the “parents FEEL GOOD” about choice mumbo jumbo enters the picture.
Chiquita Coggs, author of the charter for the Maurice R. Holman Academy of Excellence charter school says, USD 500 Kansas City is not letting the school fulfill its charter obligations … USD 500 officials are nearly doubling Holman’s enrollment for the next school year without adding any teachers.
David Smith, a spokesperson for USD 500, said “The charter school has the opportunity, through the resources it can raise, to buy additional teachers," he said. Smith faults Holman’s "site council," the advisory body, for not raising $200,000 to fund programs promised in the charter. Coggs admits fundraising is going slow. “I was the person who said to the school board that we’d raise those funds.
Tom Davis, president and headmaster of Wichita Collegiate private school said things that create choice are good; vouchers, charter schools or something not invented yet. Where somebody gets a choice, that’s a good thing.” Bunny Hill, head of Collegiate’s middle school said, “Our parents have a voice here. They really are partners. They feel invested directly in their school.”“Bunny Hill?” Anyway, feeling good is only part of the plan. It could also be the quality of the education based on a profitable bottom line. It’s here the privateers make no promises.
Davis noted that striving for quality isn’t just about more money. Quality has to be moderated by financial realities when a school operates in a free market. “We live in a market so we have to have a valuable product. Our customers get an invoice. We have to live within a budget, have to make tough choices,” Davis said. One of those choices is not seeking institutional accreditation's. The school also shuns state certification for its teachers. “Some of our greatest teachers have never been certified but they came with a passion and a genius they’re able to share with their students.” Hill said, “We hire teachers because they want to do an excellent job. We trust teachers to engage our students and teach them.”As a parent of two elementary kids, ARE THEY KIDDING? A system based on "trust." Not with my kids. And besides the usual “facts be damned” talking point “A large body of empirical evidence consistently shows that public schools improve when exposed to vouchers,” choice business opportunists don’t want accountability. NONE.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
It's official, the public option in health care reform is a winner!
According to MSNBC, "an NBC/WSJ poll shows that a whopping 76% support having the choice of a public/government alternative to private health insurance."
Will this discourage the Republicans? Are you kidding.
The House Republican campaign committee has fired off a memo with this warning to Democrats: Vote for the health-care bill they introduced today and risk losing your majority in Congress in 2010.
Of course the GOP is well aware that it no longer has any credibility to lose at this point anyway.
From Health Care for America Now, a nice video piece on the Republican fear mongering machines successful campaign to scare Democrats. The public gets it, not our Democratic lawmakers. It's sad to hear them try to tell us they don't have the votes. Oh wait, they might be talking about the final results in the next Congressional election when they lose their seats.
"Socialism! Rationing! Boo!
That's what Republicans are trying to do to the American people with these words: Scare them out of health reform.
Our partners have put together a video of all their fear-mongering tactics. From Newt Gingrich to John Boehner, check out the extremes the right is using to block President Obama's plan to provide quality, affordable health insurance for all by keeping the insurance industry honest and bringing down costs.
Clearly it's not working. A national poll released yesterday found that more than 76 percent of Americans agree that they want the choice between keeping their health care coverage and a public health insurance option that would keep the insurance industry honest."
Everything listed here received little, if any, attention thanks to an incoherent Democratic Party. If these were votes taken by Democratic lawmakers, Republicans would have a field day dominating the media with their incessant whining. According to Roll Call Votes.com:
War Funding: Now that we have a Democratic Congress and president, it’s perfectly fine for Republicans to leave our fighting men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan high and dry by voting NO to the necessary $106 billion funding. When the GOP controlled Congress, war funding was a given, and demonstrated how patriotic an elected official was, despite purposely adding spending Democrats objected to. Why did Republicans vote no; they didn’t like money going to the International Monetary Fund. Congratulations Rep. Paul Ryan, James Sensenbrenner, Thom Petri. Democrat Rep. Tammy Baldwin voted against funding like she always has.
Justice Department: While Republicans in Wisconsin registered their outrage over $5 million in cuts to the state DOJ, complaining it would make us less safe and was politically motivated, Republicans Ryan, Sensenbrenner and Petri voted against additional funding for the federal DOJ, which would make us less safe and was probably politically motivated.
Gitmo: While Gitmo remains a symbol of torture and is being used as a recruitment tool for al Qaeda, Rep. Ryan, Sensenbrenner and Petri voted in support of the terrorists wishes to keep Gitmo open forever by voting to bar Pres. Obama from closing it. That despite support for closure from all the top military advisers in the administration, many of whom are Republican.
Legal Services: Rep. Ryan, Sensenbrenner and Petri voted to close the Legal Services Corporation, a federal program that provides the poor with legal representation. Like Gitmo prisoners, the poor don’t deserve a defense.
As outrageous as these votes were, and hypocritical, the press didn’t even notice. And neither did the voters in Rep. Ryan’s, Sensenbrenner’s and Petri’s districts. Incumbents win again.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Republicans: Fairness Doctrine Okay for their Opinions, Unfair for Democratic Opinions. GOP wants it Both Ways.
Incredible stuff, isn’t it. Fairness that presents both points of view on ABC is free speech, fairness presenting both points of view daily in the media is an attack on free (right wing) speech. God my head is hurting again. Thankfully, the following readers comment made things right for me again, kinda:
ABC will be featuring President Obama, Wednesday, June 24th in a prime time NEWS special, “Questions for the President: Prescription for America” will air without a discussion or opposing opinions from the other side. This infomercial will advertise President Obama’s health care reform. ABC will also feature special programming touting the president’s health care agenda on “Good Morning America,” “World News,” “Nightline,” and ABCNews.com’s “Top Line”. Diane Sawyer will be interviewing President Obama exclusively on “Good Morning America.”
Does ABC now cover only the side it deems important and present that as news? Is ABC the white house’s sole PR firm? ABC has rejected the RNC’s request to buy air time for a counter-program. "It is unfortunate -- and unusual -- that ABC is refusing to accept paid advertising that would present an alternative viewpoint for the White House health care program," said Rick Scott, chairman of Conservatives for Patients Rights.
On Wednesday, June 24th, concerned KC citizens along with cities all over the country are joining together at ABC affiliates to stand up for Free Speech, Free Independent Press, and the Free Market Healthcare System.
More Double Standards from the GOP: Gosh I don't remember this huge outcry from conservatives over offering "all opinions" when Rick Scott's 30-minute Swiftboat-created "infomercial" ran on NBC at the end of May. Scott's program criticized a government run healthcare plan, and when progressives asked for their voice to be heard, NBC said no. Where were the cries for "air all opinions" then? *crickets*Compare the above outrage with ABC, to the article below 'Hush Rush' Fairness Doctrine Being Repackaged as 'Localism' from Newsbusters:
So what is it? Is it hypocrisy running rampant at newsbusters? Think about what you’re saying folks, just once.
Despite recent assurances that the Fairness Doctrine is a dead issue to the point of White House press secretary, it will probably be coming back repackaged in a more odious form as localism according to a Broadcasting & Cable article by John Eggerton: “Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps said the doctrine was long gone and not coming back. If he had stopped there, he might have put some criticism to rest, though certainly not all of it. However, he went on to characterize critics linking the doctrine to pending localism proposals as “issue mongers” and “conspiracy theorists [who] see [the doctrine] lurking behind every corner.” As it turns out, some of those theorists are broadcast attorneys who see the localism proposals as just such a back-door effort, with perhaps even greater content-control implications than the doctrine itself. And since the speech, Copps has also been called out by both Media Research Center President Brent Bozell and Frank Wright, president of the National Religious Broadcasters.
The doctrine, which required broadcasters both to actively cover issues of public importance and to seek out opposing viewpoints on such issues, has become something of a political football in the past few years. Democrats raised the specter of its return, much to the displeasure of conservative radio talk show hosts and some Republican legislators.
Free Market” is a summary term for an array of exchanges that take place in society. Each exchange is undertaken as a voluntary agreement between two people or between groups of people … These two individuals exchange two economic goods, either tangible commodities or nontangible services. This market is “free” because choices, at each step, are made freely and voluntarily. But exchanges are not necessarily free. Government, in every society, is the only lawful system of coercion. If a robber threatens you with, “Your money or your life,” your payment to him is coerced and not voluntary, and he benefits at your expense.
In applying these principles to health care, how can a victim turn down services? If free markets are “free” from coercion, than how can insurance companies offer extremely high premiums to someone who needs treatment for a preexisting condition? Buy our insurance or go without proper treatment and care? That is coercion, not free market. It’s at this point that free market advocates fall back on government.
The theory of the free market falls flat because it depends on the government. Even the latest health care proposal from the Republicans set up a government pool for high risk individuals, so the “free market” could continue to be profitable. These are devestated individuals the “fee market” turned away. They weren’t profitable customers. It would be fair to say that without the government safety net, the free market ideal fails. The end result, in a free market society with people suffering catastrophic illnesses, is death. Go free market!
At yobserver.com, Georgie Anne Geyer wrote this:
The free market is wonderful for things that have alternatives. If you don't like Burger King you can go to McDonalds, if you don't like Wal-Mart you can go to Target, if you don't like apples you can each oranges. But for the things that we would have a hard time living without like water, electricity and health care, the free market sucks. That's why we see so much governmental regulation when it comes to water and electricity. Because when a company like Enron causes rolling
blackouts in the state of California, people could get seriously hurt.
Whenever you put human beings in charge of something, you can expect them to screw it up. That's just the way things are. If there are options, that's fine. I'll just go somewhere else. But if I have cancer, and an insurance company screws me, then I don't have any other options. There is no alternative for me. I'm as much a free-market capitalist as anyone else, but we really need to take health-care out of the hands of the free market.
Friday, June 19, 2009
China has introduced an explicit “Buy Chinese” policy as part of its economic stimulus programme in a move that will amplify tensions with trade partners and increase the likelihood of protectionism around the world. Just a few months ago Beijing was raging against a proposed “Buy American” clause included in the US economic rescue package.
Swiss Want to Break of the to big to fail banks
Switzerland's central bank warned that Zurich was examining the forced shrinkage of banking groups such as UBS and Credit Suisse to contain the risks posed by their size
Spain, not the U.S., will take Gitmo prisoners. What do they know that we don’t?
Spain said it was ready to accept prisoners from the US detention centre at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba to help the administration of US President Barack Obama close the controversial facility for suspected terrorists
Recession or Depression?
Before conclude that the recession will soon be over, we must ask what history tells us. Unfortunately, the story they tell is an unhappy one.
Two economic historians, Barry Eichengreen of the University of California at Berkeley and Kevin O’Rourke of Trinity College, Dublin, have provided pictures worth more than a thousand words (see charts).* In their paper, Profs Eichengreen and O’Rourke date the beginning of the current global recession to April 2008 and that of the Great Depression to June 1929. The bad news is that this recession fully matches the early part of the Great Depression. The good news is that the worst can still be averted.
First, global industrial output tracks the decline in industrial output during the Great Depression horrifyingly closely. Within Europe, the decline in the industrial output of France and Italy has been worse than at this point in the 1930s, while that of the UK and Germany is much the same. The declines in the US and Canada are also close to those in the 1930s.
Second, the collapse in the volume of world trade has been far worse than during the first year of the Great Depression. Indeed, the decline in world trade in the first year is equal to that in the first two years of the Great Depression. This is not because of protection, but because of collapsing demand for manufactures.
Third, despite the recent bounce, the decline in world stock markets is far bigger than in the corresponding period of the Great Depression.
The two authors sum up starkly: “Globally we are tracking or doing even worse than the Great Depression ... This is a Depression-sized event.”
Can you survive 2012?
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Ed is crazy loco when it comes to the simple truths of reform, and the necessity of everyone’s right to coverage. To hear the nay sayer’s and ideologues hell bent on maintaining the for profit model of insurance, you would have thought they were losing badly on an issue most people will find detestably cheap and reassuring. I couldn’t help but post one of Ed’s rants because he’s so passionately out there. I also imagine myself at this same crazy stage if I were still doing talk radio. The bad news follows below, and is a simple reminder of why we need health care reform now.
AP- Employers who offer health insurance coverage could see a 9 percent cost increase next year, and their workers may face an even bigger hit, according to a report from consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Costs will rise in part because workers worried about losing their jobs are using their health care more while they still have it, the firm said in the report released to The Associated Press. The report also said rising unemployment is driving up medical costs.
Now that we have a Democratic Commander in Chief, his former presidential opponent and other Republican leaders went around the president to sent a none to helpful political policy message to the Iranian government, one that has now allowed their leaders to accuse the U.S. of meddling.
Enter Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who is proud to admit his party acted in a way that intentionally undermined the administrations sensitive foreign policy with Iran.
Have they no shame?
Here are a few low points delivered by a blissfully ignorant Sen. Lamar Alexander and interview questions. I have highlighted the talking point message Sen. Alexander repeats again and again presumably written by the insurance industry:
Lamar: "..give the cash to individuals and let them buy private health care insurance like the rest of us have."
MSNBC Question: "...when Melissa asked you for specifics, what you said was give people who can't afford it cash."
Lamar: "...you give every American who can't afford it $4,000 to $5,000 and give them the opportunity to buy a private health insurance plan."
MSNBC Question: "That doesn't address the fundamental structural problems. It doesn't address sky rocketing costs. It doesn't address major inefficiencies and bureaucracies not only in the government but in the way health insurance performs."
Lamar: "Yes it does...one of the biggest problems we have in health insurance is the government run program Medicaid...what we want to do is give them (the public) enough money so they can afford to buy their own health insurance program. So they can buy private insurance like the rest of us."
Sen. Lamar Alexander is clueless. Does he really think he "buys health insurance like the rest of us," or is it provided by his employer, the government (us)?
The Senator seems to think $4,000 to $5,000 is enough to pay for a family health insurance plan. Really.
He never addressed solving the structural problems or sky rocketing costs.
He never registered a clue about buying insurance in large groups to lower individual costs, the actual insurance industry model, but instead pits individuals against the largess of the insurance industry.
Conservative Activist Justices Legislate from Bench Again, this time on Age Discrimination. GOP Protest Imminent?
AP — The Supreme Court has made it harder to prove discrimination on the basis of age, ruling against an employee in his mid-50s who says he was demoted because of his age.
In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the court said a worker has to prove that age was the key factor in an employment decision, even if there is some evidence that age played a role. In some other discrimination lawsuits, the burden of proof shifts to the employer once a worker shows there is some reason to believe a decision was made for improper reasons.
Conservative activist and strict constructionist Justice Clarence Thomas also wrote: "We hold that a plaintiff bringing a disparate-treatment claim pursuant to the ADEA must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that age was the 'but-for' cause of the challenged adverse employment action. The burden of persuasion does not shift to the employer to show that it would have taken the action regardless of age, even when a plaintiff has produced some evidence that age was one motivating factor in the decision."
The court's four most liberal justices dissented ... Justice John Paul Stevens said the court and the Congress have previously rejected Thomas's 'but-for' standard. "Given this unambiguous history, it is particularly inappropriate for the court, on its own initiative, to adopt an interpretation of the causation requirement in the ADEA that differs from the established reading of Title VII," Stevens said. "I disagree not only with the court's interpretation of the statute, but also with its decision to engage in unnecessary lawmaking."
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, compared this decision to a 2007 decision that made it more difficult to sue over past pay discrimination. The Democrat-controlled Congress overturned that decision.
Major Media Headlines Pretend That Latest Polls Show Obama’s Policies Are Unpopular
News headlines quickly settled on a theme: The polls showed that President Obama’s policies were suddenly unpopular: “Sticker Shock — Obama still popular; his policies, not so much” [ABC's The Note] “Polls find rising concern with Obama on key issues” [Reuters]
“Polls Show Declining Support For Obama Decisions” [U.S. News & World Report's Political Bulletin] “Obama’s popularity: Problems testing it” [Chicago Tribune's The Swamp]
“Is ‘Smooth Sailing’ Over for Obama?” [Washington Post]
The headlines have little to no relation to the actual data in the polls, both of which found broad approval for Obama’s foreign policy and economic agendas. From the New York Times/CBS poll:
5. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the economy? 57% approve, 35% disapprove
8. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the threat of terrorism? 57% approve, 27% disapprove
16. So far, do you think Barack Obama’s policies have made the economy better, made the economy worse or haven’t his policies had any effect on the economy yet? 32% say better, 15% say worse
Notice the tone of this NY Times piece on Obama’s measured diplomatic response. Like the Times support in the run up to the Iraq war, the Times are headed down the same old path. Notice the use of the word “officials” for the radical Republican lawmakers pounding the drums for war.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow again put the whole matter in the proper perspective.
As tens of thousands of Iranian protesters take to the streets in defiance of the government in Tehran, officials in Washington are debating whether President Obama’s response to Iran’s disputed election has been too muted. Mr. Obama is coming under increased pressure from Republicans and other conservatives who say he should take a more visible stance in support of the protesters.
Other White House officials have counseled a more cautious approach, saying harsh criticism of the government or endorsement of the protests could have the paradoxical effect of discrediting the protesters and making them seem as if they were led by Americans.
But Obama did make one huge mistake:
Many Iran experts lauded Mr. Obama’s measured stance just after the election. But some of that support evaporated on Tuesday when he said there was not much difference between Mr. Ahmadinejad and Mr. Moussavi.
“For Barack Obama, this was a serious misstep,” said Steven Clemons, director of the American strategy program at the New America Foundation.
Mr. Obama’s comments deflated Mr. Moussavi, who is rapidly becoming a political icon in Iran, even supporters of Mr. Obama’s Iran policy say.
“Up until now, the president had very thoughtfully calibrated his remarks on Iran, but this was an uncharacteristic and egregious error,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“People are risking their lives and being slaughtered in the streets because they want fundamental change in the way Iran is governed. Our message to them shouldn’t be that it doesn’t make much difference to the United States.”
Republican calls for More Nuke Plants Ignore Costs and Dangers of Dismantling Old Mothballed Reactors.
The title says it all. Republicans love to rub the nuke energy option in the face Democratic lawmakers. Despite the outrageous costs added to their customers energy bills to build new plants and insure each with federal taxpayer money (the private sector won’t take the risk), Republicans won’t honestly deal with the problem of paying for the dismantling of the older more dangerous plants.
You might recall that in Missouri, construction had to be put off because the $6 billion cost was so prohibitive that rate payer bills would have gone through the roof. Plant owners appear to be motivated by squeezing every cost to its bare minimum at the expense of quality nuke management and public safety. Conservatives would be crazy right now to repeat the mantra that the private sector can take care of itself and that government should stay out of the way.
"The companies that own almost half the nation's nuclear reactors are not setting aside enough money to dismantle them, and many may sit idle for decades and pose safety and security risks as a result, an Associated Press investigation has found.
Last week, British officials reported on a 2007 leak in a cooling tank at the decommissioned Sizewell-A nuclear plant. If the leak had not been promptly discovered, officials said, nuclear fuel rods could have caught fire and sent airborne radioactive waste along the English coast, harming plant operators or the public.Isn’t it time we build more new nuke plants, maybe 100 of them, just like Sen. John McCain recently proposed?
WIll Public Health Care Plan Make America Fail, or Will Public Option Make Private Industry Fail? Which is It?
Heidi Harris ironically agrees with Obama on health care savings while supposedly ripping into it by saying, "they are going to make it (public option) so INEXPENSIVE people are going to go "Wow, I can save money..."
And that's a bad thing?
Rep. Massa Takes Risk, Supports Public Health Care Option. Sky Hasn't Fallen Yet. Poll Says 86% Support Reform.
A survey released Wednesday by the University of Michigan to measure consumer confidence in the health care system, financed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a health care philanthropy, detailed just how big a problem health care is right now.
AP-Nearly half of all Americans worried about paying for future care.
Nearly one in four people expressed fear of losing coverage in the next year. About the same number reported that they or a family member delayed seeing a doctor in the past year because of what it might cost.
In February, the government estimated that health care costs this year would
average $8,160 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — an increase of $356
per person from 2008.
More than three in four people, 86 percent, saw health care reform as an integral part of tackling the nation's economic woes.
Brown calls Palin "catnip for cable," and points out how she deliberately seems to pick a fight with someone wherever she goes. There's also this great line from Roger Simon; "The race for the Republican nomination is not going to be an IQ test." There's more from Chris Matthews on the outrageous response Palin gave to Letterman's apology.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
This study about that "controversial" SCHIP program for kids the GOP didn't want to support should tell you something about the destructive roll they're still on.
Houston Business Journal-Extending health coverage to all children in the United States will yield a net gain for the economy, according to new research by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.
“Providing health insurance to all children in America will yield substantial economic benefits,” wrote Vivian Ho, chair in health economics at Rice University and co-author of the report.
Children who receive health care coverage go on to become more productive adults. The cost incurred by insuring the children is offset by the increased value of the additional life years and quality of life gained by medical coverage, the report stated. “The up-front incremental costs of universal health insurance coverage for children are relatively modest, and they will be offset by the value of increased health capital gained in the long term,” the report stated.
The research was based on studies published in scholarly journals examining the economic impact of failing to insure U.S. children. Researchers estimate that nearly eight million children in the U.S. are uninsured, and the nation ranks third among the 30 industrialized members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in percentage of uninsured citizens.
Health Care Reform Debacle Exposes Democrats as Weak, Lacking Conviction and Fearfully Disconnected from Party voters.
Democrats are trying to find ways to discourage people from saving money on health care so they can stay in a more expensive plan. Boy, that’ll bring down health care costs.
AP- Jolted by cost estimates as high as $1.6 trillion, Senate Democrats agreed to scale back planned subsidies for the uninsured. The emerging Finance Committee bill also cuts off subsidies at 400 percent of the poverty level (instead of 500), but officials said that might be lowered due to cost concerns … to 300 percent of poverty - $66,000 for a four-person family- than 400 percent.
Additionally, Sen. Kent Conrad said leading Democrats were searching for a way to prevent millions of people who currently are insured from taking the federal subsidies and then buying insurance on their own, opting out of their employer-provided plan.
Another thing, every dollar politicians say they can’t afford to spend is a dollar individual citizens can’t afford to spend either. Conservative Democrats must be under the impression that money the government saves by not paying for those who can’t buy insurance, magically is not needed. And keeping with my prediction that health care reform will not be reform and not change anything:
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stressed that Obama is open to compromise on the issue of a public plan. She spoke positively of the compromise proposal of cooperatives, which she said could receive seed money from the Treasury but then be free of control.
As long as we continue to pump money into insurance industry coffers, money they’ll make up for in the years to come, we will not see any savings. We’ll have missed the one golden opportunity for universal care. Gone forever.
Democratic politicians lack the conviction and drive of their counterparts, forcing the nation to endure more pain and suffering, while draining away the energy their supporters might have to vote next time. I’m thinking about it.
As hard as it is to admit, Americans still aren’t in enough pain, needing a few more Republican terms to get the message I guess.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The press allows the talking point “activist judge” to float out there unchallenged. Democrats have steered clear of pointing out how ridiculous “activist” sounds when applying it to only one party, while Republicans pretend to have some divine right to Constitutional interpretation. Stop it. Stop it NOW. After watching the video clip of Bush 41 tout Clarence Thomas as an empathetic candidate for the Supreme Court, one would have thought the whole idiotic and embarrassing issue would have come to a screeching halt for Republican ideologues. Not in the wedge issue world of conservatism. This story has pushed me over the line, again:
USA Today: The top Republican on the Senate committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., reviewing Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court said Monday that he is concerned President Obama is driving federal courts "far to the left" bychoosing "activist" judges for the bench.
(Sessions) said Obama's judicial nominees, including Sotomayor and three others to the U.S. Court of Appeals, raise questions about what role a judge's background should play in deciding cases. “When he talks about wanting a judge to show empathy, that's very troubling to me."
But a strict constructionist view of the Constitution, a specifically conservative theory, is pure and unquestionable. Approaching the Constitution as though it were a living document, influenced by time and citizen attitudinal changes, is not what time traveling Republicans claim Madison and the others meant when they drew up their unbendable laws and etched them in stone tablets.
As far as the stone tablets are concerned, I further dispute the idea that God ordered Christ to do the etching, thus making our country a Christian nation. For those conservatives scrambling to search Google for more information, I just made this last point up.