Like Trump's comment that took the nations breath away...:
Yet House and Senate Republican plans are getting trashed, not surprisingly, in this most recent poll:
So if Republicans can't prevent 23 million people from losing their health care insurance with a new plan, at least just dump the Affordable Care Act outright?
Dumb doesn't begin to describe taking this kind of chance with 8 percent of the economy. But get a load of what his in-the-tank true believing followers think:
Among Republicans, Trump wouldn't bear the brunt of the blame if Congress is unable to repeal and replace Obamacare. Just 6 percent would blame him, and half said they would blame congressional Democrats. Another 20 percent said they would blame GOP lawmakers.
Of course Republicans are only doing what voters wanted them to do...see graph....
The Senate's Better Care Act adds mind-boggling costly complexity to the U.S. health care system.
For me, an "all payer system" is simple; every doctor is your doctor, every hospital is your hospital. No bills, no worries ever. .
Waaayyyyyy too easy say Republicans, who want us to spend days, months and years maneuvering through their nightmarish and complicated idea of free market freedom. One idea is so ridiculously convoluted and costly that it numbs the mind, making people join a group formed to manage health policy...seriously?
KFFDotOrg: Association Health Plans for Small Groups and Self-Employed Individuals under the Better Care Reconciliation Act: The Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), includes a provision to create new association health plan options for small employers and self-employed individuals ... the ACA requirement that premiums cannot vary based on health status does not apply in the large group market. Neither does the requirement for policies to cover ten categories of essential health benefits. SBHPs would be able to set premiums for small firm and self-employed members based on health and risk status ... However, in the event a covered individual becomes seriously ill or injured, nothing under federal law would prevent the SBHP insurer from raising the premium for that small employer or self-employed individual, even to unaffordable levels. This could lead to premiums in the traditional small group market becoming much higher for employers who need to seek coverage there ... making health insurance less affordable for sick individuals and small groups who would have to rely on them, and potentially not available at all.
While everyone is still wondering how Republicans could ever seriously fix their health care bills that drop 22 to 23 million Americans with a few more insane amendments, voting rights is about to take a huge hit:
The Republican presidential tactic of crippling agencies you
don't like by putting either the incompetent or the actively hostile in charge
of them (continues) ... Kris Kobach, the
godfather of the national movement to suppress the votes of people the GOP
would prefer not to exercise the franchise (was) named as vice-chairman of his Presidential Advisory
Commission on Election Integrity, a snipe hunt the only apparent purpose of
which is maintaining the fiction that masses of people, many of them brown, are
gaming our elections.
Here's the most damning news that might just alert us to specific Republican governors who take the bait:
Kobach wrote a letter to his fellow secretaries of state
that left many jaws on the floor. From The Kansas City Star: In a Wednesday letter, Kobach asked the Connecticut secretary
of state's office to provide the commission with all publicly available voter
roll data, including the full names of all registered voters along with their
addresses, dates of birth, the last four digits of their Social Security
numbers, voting history and other personal information ... he sent similar letters to election officials in every state. Quite simply, any secretary of state who complies with this
request is either too stupid to hold the job, or is in sympathy with Kobach's
goal of whitewashing the electorate. Alex Padilla, the Secretary of State for California, said, "California's participation would only serve to
legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by
the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach. The President's Commission
is a waste of taxpayer money and a distraction from the real threats to the
integrity of our elections today: aging voting systems and documented Russian
interference in our elections." Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill was a bit more
discreet: "The courts have repudiated his methods on multiple
occasions but often after the damage has been done to voters. Given Secretary Kobach's history we find it very difficult to have
confidence in the work of this commission."
BREAKING: Scott Walker gives up voter information to Trump's big government demands. Hey, we just had a recount too. All is well?
Wisconsin elections officials said Friday that they'll sell some voter information to a presidential commission investigating election fraud. Administrator Mike Haas issued a statement Friday saying data is available for purchase and the commission must release it to buyers, adding that the commission routinely sells the information to political parties, candidates and researchers. The commission would charge the presidential panel $12,500 for the data.
Having done a lot of research on "the right to vote," I found that despite the guarantee in the 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments...with help from the Voting Rights Act (now destroyed by activist conservative Justices), voting seems to be the least defended squishy right ever. In fact, I could make the argument that women and African Americans were definitely given the right to vote, but anyone else including white guys...nope.
What if Obama did this? Always the best test against hypocritical Republican policy:
As Vanita Gupta points out in that same K.C. Star report,
if someone in the Obama administration had made this request, at the very
least, there would be a full week of howler monkeys screaming about federalism
from every perch in every conservative think-tank in the jungle. At the most,
there would be hearing after hearing about the Obama administration's plan to
seed thousands of the president's fellow Kenyans in every crucial precinct in
Ohio and Florida. What's more important, though, is that the national campaign
to roll back voting rights now has reached the highest levels of government,
with the blessing of the president* and the president*-in-waiting. This is the
final step backwards across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
I've been writing about the Republican authoritarian movement for some time now along with their sheepishly devoted voters. They've been vilifying liberals, progressives and Democrats for years. Not coincidentally, I've also noticed my conservative friend in Milwaukee has made the attacks more personal, with an arrogance rooted from one party rule. After all, they "won" and will never lose power again. And according to my friend, with the appointment of conservative judges, liberals will lose in the courts as well.
NRA Ad Warning: What I've seen from tweets and blog commentary is perfectly summed up in the recent NRA ad. It is literally all there, with the added call to arms of course. Trump's blatant attack on the First Amendments very clear protections of the press, the rise of right wing media, and the many years of vilifying "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances," the NRA ad may be the marker right wing authoritarians have been waiting for. Especially after the way this ad hit the fan:
"They use their media to assassinate real news. They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again. And then they use their ex-president to endorse “the resistance.” All to make them march. Make them protest. Make them scream racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia. To smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding — until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness. And when that happens, they’ll use it as an excuse for their outrage. The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth. I’m the National Rifle Association of America. And I’m freedom’s safest place."
This chilling NRA ad calls on its members to save America by fighting liberals: A liberal insurgency is destroying American society. The
“only way” to protect yourself from this surge in left-wing violence (a made-up
threat, to be clear) is to donate to the NRA. In a 2013
op-ed, for example, NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre argued that a lawless
America was inevitable if the liberals succeeded in their nefarious plan to
take your guns … it functions as a
kind of anti-politics — casting the NRA’s political opponents as
devious enemies who can’t be opposed through normal politics. Republicans
control all three branches of government and a large majority of statehouses
nationwide. There is literally zero chance that any kind of major gun control
passes in America in the foreseeable future. The threat, instead, is from a kind of liberal-cultural
fifth column: People who are acting outside of legitimate political
channels to upend American freedoms, through protest and violence. It’s a
paranoid vision of American life that encourages the NRA’s fans to see liberals
not as political opponents, but as monsters.
The ad features right-wing pundit Dana Loesch, who seems determined to turn everything in our country beet red:
The NRA made the mistake of using "blue" as their background, making it ripe for parody, like this...
Paul Ryan's ingeniously comical spin on the GOP's serious problem of causing 22 or 23 million Americans to lose their health insurance coverage has exposed him as a phony overrated policy wonk. From PolitiFact:
Spin Me Round Round: Of course it's not true, because Americans will "choose" to drop their insurance coverage because they can't afford the premiums and/or deductibles. And because they're...
...no longer eligible for Medicaid. The CBO said two-thirds of the 22 million without insurance would lose out through cuts in the Medicaid program.
Twitter corrections followed as well, embarrassingly so for a guy known for his "fiscally conservative" tax cut pledge:
Pretty simple stuff. Remember, they're in charge now.
A Reduced Medicaid Plan Reduces Insured? Ah, yea, that's the Problem? Ryan really said this too, as if it was a benefit. Not getting the same kind of attention but just as pathetic, he took the leap...
Paul Ryan classic: "What they're basically saying at the Congressional Budget Office is that, if you're not going to force people to buy Obamacare, if you're not going to force people to buy something they don't want, then they won't buy it. It's not that people are getting pushed off a plan. It's that people will choose not to buy something that they don't like or want."
Kids can now work without a parental permission permit.
No one asked for it, but parents are now at a major disadvantage, and business can now exploit child labor again while kids should still be in school. Laws designed to solve the problems of the 19th and 20th century are being eliminated, and Democrats are saying what? Doing what?
Keep in mind, the excuse Republicans used to exploit child labor targeted just a few kids who were not living at home, leaving the other 70,000 parental permits in the dust.
The good old days....
Republicans said the bill is a barrier to employment for some low-income youth and a needless government intrusion. Democrats and labor unions said it prevents parents from being able to control the work/school balance for their children. More than 70,000 permits were issued to 16- and 17-year-olds last year.
How did we ever survive without out this change?
Gov. Scott Walker signed 10 bills into law Wednesday,
including (an) end to work
permits for 16- and 17-year-olds. Two of the bills drew opposition from Democrats, including
one that eliminates the phrase "child labor" from statutes and
replaces it with "the employment of minors." The law turns back a
century-old requirement that teenagers obtain a parent's signature and permit
in order to work.
From my own observations talking to rural Wisconsinites, there is an embedded tradition that makes getting Medicaid assistance a nonstarter. Some do take it when crop losses and the cost of running their business zeros out profits, but many don't.
So the warnings that rural America is going to take a major hit on health care may not have the kind of impact many might think. Rural voters might not change how they see their Republican politicians, despite getting stiffed by them on this and so many other issues. Still...
From a Conversation opinion piece, there are many who are still concerned:
There’s something inherently wrong with commercial
sponsorship's that pays for vital public services. What happens when a
business pulls its sponsorship or demands a better deal once they know government
needs and depends on their money?
The argument from the Walker administration? Other states
are doing it. Yes, 17 other states took the plunge. But then you gotta ask, has there ever been an original thought in
Who Likes Insurance Companies Anyway? Let's face it, when it comes to health care, they're monsters. When it comes to auto insurance, they've gamed the system and shifted all the expenses to you. It's also not surprising that every auto insurance company below has a lousy rating. But the state of Wisconsin has now given their blessing to State Farm Insurance, because apparently, they like the way they do business:
PBS News Hour (Dec-2016): A unanimous Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a jury verdict
that State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. committed fraud against the federal
government after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. State Farm shifting Mississippi
claims to federal flood insurance that should have been paid by private wind
insurance. Mississippi filed its own civil fraud lawsuit against State Farm,
saying the state paid as much as $522 million to State Farm policyholders after
the company manipulated the reports of adjusters and engineers to limit its
That's a rocky history! Again, to be fair, all car insurers have made the top ten in "bad faith practices," even a company I tend to like because I liked their convenient roadside assistance window sticker. But then I haven't needed their services yet, knock on wood:
WSJ: The Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced Monday
that it has sold corporate sponsorship of the department’s roadside assistance
services to insurance giant State Farm … the first of its kind for the
department … The newly named “Wisconsin DOT State Farm Safety Patrol” will bear
the company’s name and logo on roadside assistance trucks … the patrol operates
on heavily trafficked highways and in road-construction zones, where breakdowns
can create safety hazards and traffic bottlenecks. Hunt said the deal will help defray the department’s cost of
about $1 million a year to provide the services … a $225,000 sponsorship fee the
first year, with the fee open to negotiation in subsequent years … “It has kind
of a stadium naming rights feel to it,” DOT spokesman David Hunt said. “It’s
the same good service for less cost to the taxpayer.” Seventeen other states, including Illinois, have similar
agreements with State Farm. DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp created controversy in
2015 when she said that the state would consider selling naming rights to state
parks to help them operate without tax support — a step the department has yet
to take. Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance,
said the State Farm deal may irk some … But Berry said the deal is “not unusual
in the public context. It may be new for state government, but it’s old hat for
state universities and counties and municipalities.”
The GOP health care plan is actually worse than many of the experts predict because they continue to low ball premium and deductible increases. I remember how the market worked before the ACA in the individual market, and it was bad, real bad. Back around 2006, and with no health problems, my deductible was $10,500, imagine what it would be today.
Dumb Ron Johnson is Back: Paul Ryan wrongly conflates health care with a consumer product, so he can make a "free market" argument for reform. He's scamming us.
So in roars Dumb Ron Johnson comparing our bodies with "crashed" cars. But we don't keep cars our entire life, and cars can be junked...not our bodies. If it's true that guaranteeing coverage for the sick crashes as Johnson claims, than maybe that market model is wrong? That's why every other country uses a different model, some form of a universal care, and it works...no crashes:
Johnson: “We know why those premiums doubled. We’ve done something with our health care system that you would never think about doing, for example, with auto insurance, where you would require auto insurance companies to sell a policy to somebody after they crash their car.” “States that have enacted guaranteed issue for preexisting conditions, it crashes their markets. It causes the markets to collapse. It causes premiums to skyrocket.”
So...let's go with that plan?
Rand Paul says he want to legalize "Inexpensive Insurance," basically Junk Policies: I heard one reporter say Paul is pushing "junksurance." Sure, you may be under-insured and go bankrupt, but Rand Paul is there to protect your freedom. Yeah?
Paul is apparently unaware of the role men play in women's pregnancies. So he's thinks women should pay the whole bill. "Social responsibility" and "for the greater good" are being replaced with the politics of resentment, where you can always ask, "why should I have to pay for someone else's problem."
I figured it out the other day. Conservative judges and
justices who say they are strict constructionists are simply allowing
themselves to throw out precedent setting cases and judgments based on the supposed
intent of the founding fathers text in the Constitution. How else could you explain Justice Thomas’ reasoning on the use of cruel and unusual punishment on prisoners,
where he felt the founding fathers didn’t intend the Eight Amendment to apply
to them. Wow.
So it is today, contradicting courts across the country on
Trump’s travel ban intended to target Muslims, the activist right wing court
allowed part of the ban to be enforced until they could hear the case. You'll notice new Justice Gorsuch siding with Thomas and Alito...going with a religious ban?
The Supreme Court gave the Trump administration the go-ahead
Monday to begin enforcing part of the president's executive order restricting
travel from six predominately Muslim countries. The court also agreed to take
up the Trump administration's appeal
of lower court rulings ... unanimous on granting the
administration’s appeal. The only noted dissent came from Justices Clarence
Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch, who said they would have allowed the
travel ban to be enforced in full. Because the Supreme Court will not hear the
case until early October, the 90-day ban will likely have lapsed by the then.
In that event, the case might then be dismissed as moot. But the administration
would have succeeded in fully carrying out the executive order in the meantime.
Church and State Wall Tumbles: Those “Humpty Dumpty”
conservative “strict constructionists” on the US Supreme Court are simply
reinterpreting the Constitution. Can you reduce the wall of separation between church and
state? Why not:
The Supreme Court reduced the wall of separation between
church and state Monday in one of the most important rulings on religious
rights in decades. The decision could doom provisions in 39 states that
prohibit spending tax dollars to support churches. Monday's ruling said
Missouri was wrong to exclude Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri
from a program intended to help non-profits cover their gravel playgrounds with
a rubber surface made from recycled tires. The church wanted to improve the playground
at its preschool and daycare center.
I guess I'll have to wait a little bit longer to hear a talk show host introduce State Sen. Leah Vukmir as not just a Republican, but the national chairwoman of ALEC, a group that writes and promotes extreme right wing legislation nationwide. Her influence and position at ALEC isn't something we should ignore.
Especially since ALEC is now targeting our First Amendment free speech rights on public college campuses, with Chairwoman Vukmir's own proposed ALEC legislation. Here are just two ALEC topics from their site:
ALEC Chairwoman Leah Vukmir offered these purely anecdotal "reasons" for regulated free speech (sounds weird doesn't it?), reasons Republicans have called 'mob rule" since the 60's protests. Her press release states:
“Across the country, free speech rights are under assault. Students, professors and administrators are using intimidation tactics to silence those they disagree with. Now is not the time to treat this issue lightly; well thought-out legislative action is required. This must end.”
BIG GOVERNMENT REPUBLICANS: Unconstitutional, yes, but requiring "legislative oversight" with a "strict disciplinary system?" Vukmir is not just the targeting of protesters, but campus faculty as well:
The proposal would explicitly outline protections for free speech in statute for students, faculty and staff on both university and technical school campuses. With legislative oversight, the UW Board of Regents and Technical College System Board would implement a strict disciplinary system for those who infringe on others’ free speech rights.
From Upfront with Mike Gousha (goo-shay), Vukmir feigned concern with her urgently framed second-hand anecdotally based talking points of "victimized" conservatives afraid to speak out on campus. Someone should ask for proof sometime, that isn't subjective:
Vukmir: "And I've talked to college kids across the state of Wisconsin on the campuses...now we have students who are fearful of speaking..."
Turning Government into a Racket: Besides allowing conservative speakers to sue colleges so they can receive thousands of dollars in taxpayer money just to settle, Vukmir's bill drains taxpayers pockets again for "security," a scheme many speakers use to boost their conservative reputations.
UW System President Ray Cross testified there are circumstances where a university might not allow an invited speaker on campus because they couldn’t protect his or her safety. This bill also creates a statute to preserve a speaker’s ability to come to campus in those cases.
Here's the legislation that forces taxpayers to pay for right wing security:
The bill also requires administrators to make all reasonable efforts and make
available all reasonable resources to ensure the safety of individuals invited to speak
on campuses. If administrators determine that they cannot ensure an individual's
safety, the bill requires that the individual must be allowed to speak in spite of that
And even though you might have a right to protest...well, probably not (highlighted below as separate issue):
The bill also prohibits a person from threatening an invited speaker or threatening to organize protests or riots or to incite violence with the purpose to dissuade or intimidate an invited speaker from attending a campus event.
Not only does a protester lose the right to oppose a speakers appearance, but it normalizes radical politics, with no way to alert the public.
Looking up a little background on ALEC chairwoman Leah Vukmir, I found this at Urban Milwaukee:
story in Milwaukee Magazine by Matt Hrodey reports,
fellow Republicans “sometimes called Vukmir ‘Nurse Ratchet’ … The Shepherd
Express did a 2009
story entitled “Why Republicans Dislike Leah Vukmir,” complete with a
cruel caricature that managed to make the attractive legislator look like a
gorgon. Earlier that year Marc Eisen interviewed
a range of Capitol insiders to pick the state’s best and worst
legislators for Milwaukee Magazine and Vukmir made the list of the ten
worst. Only 14 percent of her huge campaign war chest of $446,910 came from donors living in the
district. In June 2013, the liberal Center
for Media and Democracy (CMD) sued Vukmir, contending she had violated
Wisconsin’s open records law by not turning over records related to her
involvement with the American
Legislative Exchange Council, the
conservative group bankrolled by corporations that creates and
promotes model legislation to benefit these companies. Vukmir stonewalled and
then responded to the CMD suit by claiming she could not be sued while in
office. As the Wisconsin State Journal reported,
a process server hired to notify Vukmir of the lawsuit says “a Vukmir aide
assailed him with abusive language, chased him and pushed him to the ground
outside the Capitol.” The emails showed Vukmir was championing a
model ALEC bill opposing the expansion of state Medicaid programs under
Obamacare. Vukmir led the effort to eliminate the nationally acclaimed
Accountability Board with one controlled by legislative leaders.
ALEC’s Campus Free Speech “Resentment” Campaign: Since the
60’s war protests, conservatives have wanted to right that wrong and end once
and for all any signs of public protest. They think they’ve found a way to do
that with their massive state majorities across the country:
Taxpayers hand over their hard-earned money each year via
appropriations to pay the salaries of university presidents, directors of
student services, and campus police chiefs in every state. Until legislators
hold university presidents, administrators and campus police accountable, they
will continue to live the same day over and over again, just like Phil Conners
in the 1993 film “Groundhog Day”. It is time to get it right and end the
nightmare. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) seems
to be more interested in turning education majors into liberal activists … a required
class for students wishing to become teachers … to persuade students to a
certain political view. The course will feature … discussions regarding
the vocation of teachers, social justice, dis/abilities, bilingual education,
social class, poverty, sexuality, gender, race and community membership.
Sounds good…except ALEC thinks social justice, social class,
poverty, sexuality, race, and community membership aren’t conservative values
Thus, the class is intended to change the self-perception of
these future educators … as advocates of progressive ideas. UNCG forces future
educators to study a political agenda disguised as a lesson on education.
ALEC Confused, Contradicts Own Agenda: While ALEC loves the
idea of using vouchers in religious schools teaching Christianity as the only religion,
it trashes that same idea below. In a head spinning contradiction, ALEC even suggests
a political bias where there is none:
One of the class assignments (at the end of the
semester) is to write a “Personal/Professional Commitment Statement” … to
social justice (7-8 pages), given all the new knowledge(s) that the course
participants generated every week. What stood out? What did you learn about
yourself … what’s your personal/professional commitment to social justice?
Heck, a conservative as well as a liberal could answer that in
any way they want, yet to ALEC…
These future educators must act like liberal social
activists … flies in the face of academic freedom.
To make their point, ALEC makes this contradictory argument,
which by the way makes a great case against taxpayer funded vouchers to
To put this issue in another context, it would be equally
outrageous if a world religion teacher required students to exclusively read
material meant to promote the viewpoint that Catholicism is the only true
religion. Then, in order to pass the class, the students have to write a paper
about how this class has brought them closer to the Catholic Church.
John Oliver continues to do the work news networks should be doing. If you thought renewable energy and low natural gas prices were the big reasons the coal industry is taking a hit, well, that's only part of the story:
John Oliver, HBO and Time Warner have been sued for defamation for allegedly executing a "maliciously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation" of an Ohio coal company and its boss during a long-form story about the industry on Last Week Tonight's June 18 episode ... accusing Oliver and HBO of a "callous, vicious and false" attack on the coal industry, part of their "most recent attempt to advance their biases against the coal industry and their disdain for the coal-related policies of the Trump administration." Oliver's Last Week Tonight segment lampooned the Trump administration's effort to revive the coal industry, saying coal has declined over decades as other energy alternatives have advanced. He also jokingly likened coal to "cocaine for Thomas the Tank Engine." Murray's claim that President Trump "gets" the coal industry was caustically dismissed by Oliver on the show. "Uh, hang on there, Bob, no he doesn't. He barely gets what mining is," Oliver said.
If you want to know what we've become as a nation under Trump and the "leadership" of Paul Ryan, what you'll see below will set the record straight. If 33 year old Michael Phillips and his mother's bullet proof arguments don't inspire you to strongly act on his and everyone else's behalf, then I don't know what will. It's 13 minutes (edited to include additional story highlights) you won't forget:
Michael Phillips, who has spinal muscular atrophy and whose life literally depends on Medicaid, shares his fears about what Medicaid cuts could mean for his care. Watch the remarkable full interview with Ari Melber on MSNBC:
Michael Phillips' Mom Karen summed up the whole discussion regarding the GOP health care plan:
"It's amazing after all these years I would have to fight to spend less money!"
Michael Phillips: "Ever since, November the 9th, 2016, I haven't been sleeping well. I've been scared. I've never been scared by the results of an election. It's an odd feeling. I always felt like the federal government exists to protect citizens, even when state governments won't do so, maybe especially when state governments won't do so...so yes I'm scared, scared at what could happen to me if Medicaid cut comes to pass. I'm a published writer, I helped develop assistive technology, I'm not exactly Ryan Gosling, but I lead a good life. Losing Medicaid, being forced into an institution, I'd lose everything. I'd lose the rights guaranteed to me under the Constitution, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." People with disabilities know happiness isn't guaranteed, but we want a shot at it just like everybody else."
The amazing Michael Phillips took to twitter...and here are a few of his tweets that really stood our for me:
What kind of country have we become? Thankfully Trump in-the-bag-supporters, who admire how he speaks his mind because it now gives them license to do the same thing without a conscience, laid it out very clearly below:
Randy Bryce is what a Democratic candidate looks like and talks like. His message is critical, humble, urgent and heroic...real.
Wisconsin ironworker Randy Bryce will challenge Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan for re-election in 2018. If Bryce wins, it would be the third time since 1862 that a Speaker of the House has lost re-election. Lawrence O'Donnell talks to Randy Bryce.
Randy Bryce has a different set of values, forged on the work sites of Wisconsin. “My values are my neighbors’ values, and we know that Washington has gotten way off track,” says the challenger. If Bryce keeps emphasizing how and why Paul Ryan steered things off track, he has a chance to change the political debate—and the values debate that must underpin it if anything is ever going to change—in Wisconsin and America.
I'll be taking a look at the plan right here later. What I did find interesting was a point made on NPR this morning; the argument that insurers were abandoning the market in so many areas means Republicans must do something now. Aside from the fact their uncertain plans are making insurers run from the individual market completely, on and off the exchanges, the number of people effected is misleading...big surprise.
It's a sign of the uncertainty in health insurance right now in the United States, with insurers like Anthem unsure what the market will look like going forward. "Until there’s some certainty about what the market is going to look like, it won’t be surprising to see insurance carriers more and more saying, we don’t think we can go forward in this kind of business environment that’s very uncertain. We need some kind of certainty.'"
While around 50,000 people might not have a choice of insurers around the country, that pales in comparison to the 23 million people losing insurance if the Senate bill is passed.
And rural areas will be most negatively impacted due to the Senates changes to Medicaid:The GOP's American Health Care Act would cut Medicaid — the public insurance program for many low-income families, children and elderly Americans, as well as people with disabilities — by as much as $834 billion. Since 2010, at least 79 rural hospitals have closed across the country, and nearly 700 more are at risk of closing. These hospitals serve a largely older, poorer and sicker population than most hospitals, making them particularly vulnerable to changes made to Medicaid funding. And a rural hospital closure goes beyond people losing health care. Jobs, property values and even schools can suffer.
Pure Politics: With an eye toward the presidential election, and further gerrymandering in 2020, Republicans are delaying changes to Medicaid expansion. There is no other reason. VOX.COM:
The Senate bill begins to phase out the Medicaid expansion in 2021 — and cuts the rest of the program’s budget too. The Senate bill would end the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid to millions of low-income Americans. This program has provided coverage to more Americans than the private marketplaces. The Senate bill provides smaller subsidies for less generous health insurance plans with higher deductibles. The Senate bill will tether the size of its tax credits to what it takes to purchase a skimpier health insurance plan than the type of plans Affordable Care Act subsidies were meant to buy. Essentially, these tax credits buy less health insurance.
Here's a little more on the above changes. Remember, Republican falsely claimed people on ObamaCare could get sick and then buy insurance...not true, but the Senate plan does just that. Any complaints voters?
The Senate bill repeals the individual mandate — and replaces it with nothing. takes away a key incentive healthy people have to buy coverage, meaning only sick people may sign up. Building a
health insurance system without an individual mandate or any replacement policy
runs a significant risk of falling into a death spiral, where only the sickest
people buy coverage and premiums keep ticking upward.
The bill would cut taxes for the wealthy. The Senate bill would tether its tax credits to less
generous health insurance. Specifically, it would provide subsidies that make a
plan with a 58 percent actuarial value (meaning, on average, it covers 58
percent of enrollees’ costs) affordable. This means that the plans people could
afford under the Senate bill would likely have more copays and higher
deductibles as a way to bump up the amount enrollees have to chip in for their
Has anyone else noticed that after just 6 years of Scott Walker, we no longer have a Department of Natural Resources?
It's a kind of shell company that doles out get-out-of-jail free cards instead of money for the environments worst offenders.
On the outside it's called the DNR, but technically its been transformed into an advertising arm of the Walker administrations to promote the parks and attract big business. Concerns about the environment, water, air matter only when it affects what corporate special interests can plunder most and get away with.
This was the final nail in the DNR coffin, which pretty much explained the DNR's new role, not just at the fair:
The DNR will no longer operate a major venue at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis. Effective this year, the DNR will no longer offer fisheries, wildlife or environmental management booths, casting clinics, archery, a children's nature play area, Smokey's Schoolhouse and a number of other attractions. It will continue to provide information only on state parks …
DNR spokesman Jim Dick said the agency's presence at the fair would focus on
the state park system, state forests and state natural areas, which he
described as “places we can promote as premier destinations for outdoor
activities. This is an opportunity to educate visitors, many from urban areas,
on what recreational locations and activities are available not far from home." News of the changes shocked many in the Wisconsin
Here's a little history:
Two years ago, Walker and lawmakers enacted a budget that
cut 18 DNR science service bureau researchers amid complaints that their research
related to climate change, pollution and wildlife habitat were controversial
and unneeded. Now the science services bureau is being dissolved and its
remaining scientists moved to program offices that use their research. Former DNR secretary George Meyer said placing the researchers in program offices may make them subject to a variety of pressures that could affect the way they design their research on controversial topics such as chronic wasting disease in the deer herd. A frequent critic of the DNR said the move will give more
control to DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, who was appointed by Walker in 2011 to
make the department friendlier to business. “I think it’s a more disciplined approach where the
leadership of the Department of Natural Resources really directs that
research,” said Sen. Tom Tiffany, a Republican and part of the GOP
majority on the Legislature’s budget committee. Stepp should be able to ensure that research benefits
sportsmen and the DNR should be better able to prevent further research that
takes climate change into account, Tiffany said Two years ago the DNR stopped publicly laying out its
research plans and priorities.
Anyone think the following seems a bit odd for a party obsessed with voter fraud and clean elections?
1. If Republicans care so much about voter confidence in the integrity of our elections, then why are they trying to block free voter recounts paid for by losing candidates. It's backs up their claims, doesn't it?
AP: The state Assembly is set to vote on a bill that would make it far more difficult to request election recounts in Wisconsin ... amid anger from some Republicans that Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was able to request a recount in Wisconsin last year even though she finished a distant fourth ... only candidates who trail the winner by 1 percentage point or less in statewide elections could petition for a recount. Gov. Scott Walker has signaled his support for the measure.
2. If Republicans care so much about voter confidence in the integrity of our elections, then why aren't they worried about having a hacked voting machine system? Seriously, they've never mentioned it, not once. Could there be another reason for their voter ID laws?
Even if most voting machines aren't connected to the
Internet, says cybersecurity expert Jeremy Epstein, "they are connected to
something that's connected to something that's connected to the Internet." A recently leaked National Security Agency report on Russian
hacking attempts has heightened concerns. According to the report, Russian
intelligence services broke into an election software vendor's computer system
and used the information it gained to
send 122 election officials fake emails infected with malicious
software. Bloomberg News reported Tuesday that Russia might have attempted to hack
into election systems in up to 39 states. University of Michigan computer scientist Alex Halderman
says it's just the kind of phishing campaign someone would launch if they
wanted to manipulate votes. "That's because before every election, the
voting machines have to be programmed with the design of the ballots — what are
the races, who are the candidates. So as a remote attacker, I can target an
election management system, one of these ballot programming computers. If I can
infect it with malicious software, I can have that malicious software spread to
the individual machines on the memory cards, and then change votes on Election
FBI Director James Comey has warned that Russia will try once again to influence U.S. elections, possibly as early as next year. To prepare, the federal government has declared elections to be a part of the nation's critical infrastructure that demands special attention. But the federal government's focus has state and local election officials, who are very protective of how they do things now, extremely nervous. They're mainly concerned that the federal government will tell them how to run their elections — even down to where polling sites should be located — in the name of security. While two states — Arizona and Illinois — had their voter registration systems infiltrated last year by Russian hackers, no records were deleted or changed. And no actual votes were affected, despite signs that Russia had scanned election systems in at least 20 states. "The voting process itself was not hacked, manipulated or rigged in any way."
What's wrong with this statement about the UW free speech bill:
Opponents to the bill argue the changes would violate the free speech rights of students who want to protest campus speakers.
What's wrong? The answer if pretty simple: This is unconstitutional, and violates the First Amendment, not just the rights of students on campus. Framing is everything. Anytime you mention "regulation" in the same sentence with "free speech," free speech is already a goner.
It's funny how the simplest most common sense regulation on handguns is a violation of our Second Amendment rights. But with speech, Republicans have no sense of guilt or hypocrisy. What follows is so broad that it defies logic:
Under the proposal, students who disrupt campus events at UW System schools could be expelled ... new rules for free speech and expression on 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 ... establish a special council in charge of disciplinary hearings when a student is accused of preventing someone from speaking or restricting their free expression. Anyone can report a student at one of the system's four-year or two-year colleges for violating the policies and a student would automatically be sent to a disciplinary hearing if reported twice.
This mind blowing ironic part...:
New students would be informed of the system's free expression policies and receive First Amendment training.
I know, stunning isn't it?
Have university officials threatened to challenge the law in court? Has anyone? Let me know in the comments section if anyone has stepped forward to challenge this state law.
Walker: "Whether it's against me or somebody else say, "I disagree," but disagreeing and even protesting is one thing ... But the minute you shut down a speaker, no matter whether they're liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between, I just think that's wrong." To me a university...anywhere free speech should be upheld...but disrupting and shutting down as we've seen here in Wisconsin, but elsewhere across the country, shutting down the ability for someone to actually be heard is not free speech."
Where does it say that in the Constitution?
The right to be "heard" is not protected by the Constitution. But Walker wants to go beyond the Constitution, with "I just think that's wrong" as a standard, which is pretty much all it takes under an oppressive government. And who knew we could specifically select "anywhere free speech should be upheld?" Where are those other areas? I found a few in a previous post, here.
Republican Attack on the Left: Pure and simple, this is a politically motivated attack. The absolute arrogance of power allowed for this slip-up by the author of this bill:
Rep. Jesse Kremer, of Kewaskum, said ... the "elitist media" of "losing their minds over someone with a different opinion." Kremer said the "left's unhinged attacks" on his perspective — which he said included death threats and profanity-laden messages — demonstrated the need for his legislation.
Conservative Guest Speaker Con Game: As I've mentioned before, here, here, and more recently here, speaker controversies and protests are the best way to bolster that persons reputation and fees, so it's in their best interest to play it up and to feed their legend.
Plus with this bill, Republicans are conning us again, this time seeking taxpayer cash funding for conservative whack jobs via frivolous lawsuits brought by these "offended" speakers:
"Speakers who believe free speech rights are violated by UW could take school to court under Assembly bill."
Turning the University of Wisconsin into a Swill Hole for Right Wing Politics: The Journal Sentinel offered this incredibly insightful look at why this is happening in the first place, and it has nothing to do with free speech or their current rules for dealing with disruptive behavior:
Conservative foundations that for years have quietly
given money to help student groups bring speakers to college campuses
recently have been under scrutiny in the wake of speaker protests,
suggesting the push for conservative views is from off-campus. The Milwaukee-based Lynde and
Harry Bradley Foundation in recent years has given Young America's
Foundation tens of thousands of dollars for such activities as
increasing the number of conservative-leaning campus events it sponsors,
including in Wisconsin ... Young America's Foundation was making efforts to reach
more students in the Midwest." "This is balancing of the scales," said Donald Downs, who in the fall of 2006 co-founded the UW-Madison Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy.
"Liberal Democracy?" Here's a thought, see if you find anything "liberal" in the following description of Downs Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy:
The second mission relates specifically to the University of Wisconsin. It is to advance intellectual diversity at the University by taking ideas seriously that we believe have not always enjoyed sufficient respect on campus. Such ideas include the various strands of conservative political thought and libertarian thought, in addition to thought addressing religious liberty, foreign policy, and the role of the military in American society and on campus.
Wow, the role of the military in society and on campus, really?
Yesterday I visited my nearby urgent care center over a possible tick bite, and after being told there was a 1 to 2 hour wait, I decided to wait it out. That was an obscene amount of time though.
Sitting across the room was a 12 or 13 year old boy, weary a required surgical mask to block airborne germs from spreading, moaning and crying in his chair. This went on for a nightmarish 20 minutes. It was heart wrenching to watch others being called in to see the doctor while this child sat crying in the lobby in so much pain.
At least he had some kind of medical coverage, or he wouldn't have been there at all. But it was an experience I will never forget.
I just watched an great campaign ad from a new Democratic challenger to Paul Ryan that piggy backed on my experience at that urgent care center:
House Speaker Paul
Ryan (R-Wis.) is already facing his second challenger. Randy Bryce, a union ironworker, announced on Monday that
he would seek the Democratic nomination to run against Ryan, and released a
video emphasizing what has so far been the biggest issue of the year: health
care. The two-and-a-half-minute video featured Bryce’s mother, who
described living with multiple sclerosis and the 20 drugs she must take to
survive. “There’s no doubt in my mind that there are thousands of
people like her who don’t have what she has,” Bryce said in the video. “The
system is extremely flawed.” Bryce issued a challenge to Ryan. “Let’s trade places,” Bryce said. “Paul Ryan, you can come
work the iron and I’ll go to D.C.” Bryce is a cancer
survivor, community activist and Army veteran.
But someone this sincere and with this kind of message had his chance once, according to WISGOP, and had been castoff by Democratic voters. In another example of extreme projection, WISGOP wrote: "Bryce will say and do anything to...defend his liberal special interest friends." Real substance there:
I think it’s time to write following story the way the news
media should have from the beginning, so here goes (quote is my emphasis)…
“Schimel ignored past court cases, other state laws and the
Public Trust Doctrine of the Wisconsin Constitution, which all give the
DNR authority to protect water resources...”
After being ordered to by…
“...Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), chairman of the
Assembly Committee on Organization, to ‘clarify’ the authority of the DNR
over high-capacity wells.”
Clarity was a wink and nudge to pass and completely destroy the DNR, defying common sense and public responsibility. Leaving no one in charge...
"...Schimel concluded the DNR lacked explicit authority to
place conditions on farms and or other entities that wanted to construct large
wells — even if the wells harmed state waters."
Odd that after all this time, the state never found a way to protect the state drinking water supply.
Now there’s a 2016 lawsuit against that decision that hopes to reverse Rep. Vos' politically driven AG's right to plunder:
Employees of the DNR expressed concerns in emails in 2015
and 2016 about potential harm to lakes and streams from the construction of new
wells in areas where irrigation was already widespread, court records filed on
Friday show. The emails were included in the latest documents of a 2016 lawsuit
by an environmental group and lake association that challenged a major shift in
state policy that weakened the regulation of high-capacity wells.The October
2016 suit contends the DNR violated the Wisconsin Constitution and
ignored other state laws and court cases after the agency announced it would
no longer examine applications of large-scale wells by taking into account
the impact of other nearby wells.
Destroying the Watchdogs; Scientists: Republican disdain for science is at a whole new level in Wisconsin, making it an environmental hell hole:
Two years ago, Walker and lawmakers enacted a budget that
cut 18 DNR science service bureau researchers amid complaints that their
research related to climate change, pollution and wildlife habitat were
controversial and unneeded. Now the science services bureau is being dissolved and its
remaining scientists moved to program offices that use their research. A frequent critic of the DNR said the move will give more
control to DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. Sen. Tom Tiffany, a Republican
and part of the GOP majority on the Legislature’s budget committee, said Stepp
should be able to ensure that research benefits sportsmen and the DNR should be
better able to prevent further research that takes climate change into account.
Walker Bags Smokey the Bear: Walker put the Kibosh on the State Fair's DNR exhibit. Seriously, who needs big government preaching to kids about taking care of the environment anyway:
Effective this year, the DNR will no longer offer fisheries, wildlife or environmental management booths, casting clinics, archery, a children's nature play area, Smokey's Schoolhouse and a number of other attractions.
What Me Worry...about Blue-Green Algae? On the subject of water, Scott Walker is making Wisconsin "green" by designating it the official color of our lakes...with blue-green algae. Walker and his band of plundering legislative Republican pirates, don't seem alarmed that we can no longer go swimming in our lakes...even in June. WISC:
Our Little Friend, Cyanobacteria? Good for you Heart: Science might be coming to Walker's rescue though, even if he doesn't believe in that either. I don't know if we're talking about the same species of blue-green algae, but you never know....The Smithsonian:
In a study published this
week in Science Advances, Dr. Woo and his team show how they
successfully replaced blood with microscopic cyanobacteria, plant-like
organisms that also use photosynthesis. By co-opting the process to help heal
damaged heart tissue, the team was able to protect rats from deadly heart
failure. Fixing an ailing heart, it seems, may be as simple as shining a light
on the situation.
For cardiologists, the challenge for preventing subsequent heart failure is to
rapidly supply damaged heart tissues with oxygen and nutrients. But “if you
look at nature, photosynthesis answers that question,”
Dr. Woo and his team grew a strain of Synechococcus in their lab and
injected to the impaired heart tissue of a living rat. Then, they turned up the
lights. After 20 minutes, they saw increased metabolism in damaged areas.
Overall cardiac performance improved after about 45 minutes. The evidence
suggested that the oxygen and sugar Synechococcus created through
photosynthesis was enhancing tissue repair. After injecting living bacteria into a body organ, you might
expect an infection. But interestingly, the researchers didn’t find any immune
response after TK HOURS “The bugs are just not there anymore, it disappears,”
says Dr. Woo. “And maybe that’s the best kind of bacteria”—a friendly helper
that sticks around to do damage control, then disappears without a trace. The recent study is merely proof-of-concept, but scientists are now on the path to trying the technique in human subjects. Next they’ll try it in larger animal models that are closer to humans, and they’re working on ways to deliver and shine light on cyanobacteria without an open heart surgery. They’re even considering genetically editing Synechococcus to make the critters release more sugar.