Saturday, August 31, 2019

AOC Obsession: Scott Walker is a dupe for right-wing spin and propaganda!

You'd think by now projection and the juvenile comment "I know you are but what am I" might appear more silly and manipulative as time goes on, right? Wishful thinking.

The right-wing propaganda tool Red State took Trump's biggest personality disorder, malignant narcissism, and tried to tag AOC with the problem:
As Bonchie wrote earlier this week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is back in full force ... The results so far have been no less than what we typically expect out of the most narcissistic (and arguably the most hypocritical) Congresswoman in Washington, DC.
Piling on, Scott Walker tweeted that AOC "suggested" Millennial's have now become the "greatest generation." She never did of course, but more embarrassingly, Walker was easily manipulated into believing the spin made by the New York Post and Washington Times. Sucker...see if you can spot where she "suggested" as Walker claims, that Millennial's are the greatest generation:

AOC did just that, acting as though young people pioneered the concept of political activism — and apparently forgetting the ... WWII generation that saved the world from authoritarian rule and dubbed ...“The Greatest Generation.”“I think this new generation is very profound and very strong and very brave, because they’re actually willing to go to the streets. How ’bout that?
Nope, don't see that "greatest generation" claim. But right-wing historian Scott Walker somehow did...maybe he didn't read the article?

The reaction was swift, honest, and never more accurate...

Friday, August 30, 2019

Walker Lame Duck Legacy costing taxpayers, twisting Government into one party pretzel!

So, this is "fiscally conservative" policy GOP voters just can't get enough of...really?

"Small government" conservatives, including business owners, rural farmers, and think tank freeloaders, actually love the convoluted multi-tentacled regulations Scott Walker, Robin Vos, and Scott Fitzgerald created stripping the Attorney Generals office of their power. It will now cost taxpayer money to maneuver through a politically motivated maze creating more litigation.
JS: The episode is the latest in a saga of confusion for lawmakers as they try to navigate new laws that give the Legislature more power over litigation handled by AG Josh Kaul. Lawmakers and Kaul can't agree on how to share sensitive legal information, and more than a dozen lawsuits involving millions of dollars languish as the dispute continues. 
With the likely loss of Wisconsin settlement money from ongoing lawsuits, costing the state millions, where are all those "fiscally conservative" voters now? 

Here's what "streamlining" government bureaucracy looks like, according to Wisconsin Republican politicians, point by mind-boggling point. Remember, this was once the AG's job, resulting in no news headlines, no controversy:
1. Republican leaders of the Legislature's finance committee hired an attorney at taxpayer expense, $290 an hour, Thursday to sign a secrecy agreement in an effort to end a standoff with Attorney General Josh Kaul ... (to) resolve the dispute triggered by new laws requiring the Democratic attorney general to get legislators' permission to settle lawsuits. 
2. Legal analysis by the head of the Legislature's research bureau suggested only a new law could require lawmakers to keep such information private. And the nondisclosure agreement proposed by the GOP leaders wouldn't apply to any of the committee's members anyway because none of them signed it individually. 

3. Lawmakers this week refused to sign such agreements requested by Kaul, who said he needed assurances of confidentiality to avoid consequences for taxpayers as he seeks to resolve litigation involving the state. 

4. Darling and Nygren signed a contract with Andrew Phillips of the Milwaukee law firm von Briesen that says the nondisclosure agreement binds the committee and its members, even though Phillips is the only person who signed it
5. "They can't do that," said Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach. "This attorney they've hired does not represent the views of us.""This is the first I'm hearing about it," Democratic Rep. Evan Goyke said. They said they were baffled by the notion that an attorney they didn't know they had could contend he had the power to limit what they could tell the public. 
6. Rick Champagne, the director of the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau, wrote in a memo that a confidentiality agreement signed by an attorney did not apply to individual lawmakers.
"I cannot find any authority that would require a member of the Legislature who serves on a committee to keep confidential any information delivered in closed session unless the information was required by state or federal law to be kept confidential or was information that the member had agreed to keep confidential under a confidentiality agreement signed by the member."  
Hanging in the balance; millions of dollars the state could use, especially against the opioid crisis affecting a lot of rural area Republican voters:
The action comes a day after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported more than a dozen lawsuits involving state taxpayers are languishing because the Wisconsin politicians can't agree on how to resolve them under the new Republican law that curbs the power of the Democratic attorney general. The impasse comes as billions of dollars are on the table for states — including Wisconsin — suing over the opioid crisis.

A proposed deal to settle more than 2,000 lawsuits against OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma over the company's role in the nation's opioid crisis was pushed back Thursday just as Kaul told lawmakers the tight timeline to resolve the latest dispute was no longer in place. Purdue Pharma is facing pushback from some attorneys general who say the proposed settlement of up to $12 billion isn't enough, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Who can forget this taxpayer paid for fiasco...actual government censorship. Who's silencing political speech again?

Attorneys for a liberal group will be paid $200,000 by taxpayers because Republican lawmakers blocked the group on Twitter. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that state officials agreed Thursday to pay the legal bills for One Wisconsin Now's attorneys. A federal judge ruled in January that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Rep. John Nygren, both Republicans, had infringed on the group's First Amendment rights. U.S. District Judge William Conley concluded the three lawmakers had acted unconstitutionally by blocking the group on Twitter "because of its prior speech or identity."

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Campus Censorship campaign headed up by Scott Walker!!!

Conservatives are trying to not just influence academic speech, but also turn public schools and colleges into right-wing political indoctrination centers. And they're not being subtle about it either, especially after putting Scott Walker in charge of Young America's Foundation: 

Walker recently tweeted the following story detailing Young America's Foundation's new poll:

There is no attempt to cover up YAF's prime objective; to redefine and paint "socialism" as the villain again. So why isn't this Townhall article the lead topic the UW's Board of Regents latest discussions?

Conservatives want a free, publicly supported platform that Republican legislatures can openly censor debate and liberal dissenters, under their supposed campus free speech regulations, and play the repressed victims of liberalism.

Gerrymandering districts and turning our judicial branch into conservative judge legislators for right-wing politics wasn't enough. Now they're going after the public education system, the last remaining area of infiltration, pitting students and their parents against other students and parents, the old divide and conquer agenda Walker perfected.

The fact that this whole issue is a totally manufactured solution to a non-existent problem seems to have gotten lost along the way:
As the 2019-2020 school year begins this fall ... students will be heading into an academic environment rife with politicization and heated classroom discussions. But, how do students truly feel about issues such as socialism, free speech, health care, and illegal immigration? (Does) Gen Z feel comfortable sharing their true opinions? Do they even know the basic concepts of what they are discussing?
Remember when Republicans questioned whether naive liberal-leaning students should even be allowed to vote? Well, if Young America's Foundation can convert students into naive right-wingers, that could change.
To find out, Young America's Foundation, "the nation’s premier organization for inspiring students on high school and college campuses with conservative ideas," teamed up with Echelon Insights for a poll given exclusively to Townhall to gain a better understanding of America's youth.
Notice YAF's poll actually proves how ridiculous and phony this whole subject is. They're actually arguing against simple human nature. When it comes to free speech in the classroom:
1. Students generally believe their teachers are receptive of open debate: 74 percent of Gen Z'ers say they "feel like my teachers generally encourage students of a variety of points of view to participate in class discussions about government and economics."
YAF then deceptively drills down into the smaller percentages by making them seem larger than they are:
2. However, 46 percent admit they "have stopped myself from sharing my ideas or opinions in class discussions." As for why these students refrained, it appears that peer pressure is the dominating factor as 50 percent said they held back their opinions because they "thought my classmates would judge me."
Human nature...not intimidation, that's what's behind this manufactured speech crisis. YAF's war on human nature continues to get their spin:
This poll also indicates that classroom conversation is hampered since some opinions are withheld. This means this self-censorship potentially prevents students from gaining a fuller, broader understanding of topics like socialism and capitalism. For example, The polling indicates that 80 percent of Gen Z have a favorable view of small business, 73 percent have a favorable view of entrepreneurs, and 61 percent have a favorable view of free markets. However, despite the majority of these students finding these aspects of the economy "favorable," just 40 percent have a favorable opinion of capitalism. Furthermore, 40 percent of college-aged students had a positive view of socialism. Yet, when asked to define socialism, 10 percent of these students answered it simply meant "free stuff" and 27 percent said they were "don't know/unsure."
This is where YAF and Scott Walker come in, by repeatedly redefining socialism as the villain in their twisted vision of what that would mean:
YAF spokesperson Spencer Brown told Townhall that this poll highlights why his organization is so necessary for high school and college campuses ... groups like YAF are needed to fill in educational gaps and truly explain conservative ideas and values. Brown said. "Today’s students are hungry for ideas and keyed into the issues of the day but are frequently denied venues for free and open dialogue.”
No, it's just peer pressure and being unsure about ideas they're still trying to work out:
The poll also shows that very few friends discuss free market concepts with their peers. However ... they do discuss and learn more about issues like economic inequality.

The poll found that the more informed somebody was on socialism, the less likely it was they thought it would benefit the country ... on a scale of 1-10, do you think some form of socialism would be good or bad for the United States? At first, the initial average mean response was 4.18. When given more information, that average mean decreased to 3.84.  
Repeating again, this is a manufactured crisis:
Brown said, "America’s educational institutions are failing to provide the next generation with venues where the free and open exchange of ideas can flourish. "This is where bold Young Americans for Freedom's iconic campus activism projects and host leading conservatives through YAF’s campus lecture program are filling a significant gap in education."
Check out my long list of covered examples of GOP censorship (yes, government censorship) HERE.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Vos' power grab dream of veto-proof control over Democratic Governor...

Republicans have successfully convinced fellow conservative voter's that this miserable, troubled, complicated, frustrating, and convoluted life they've constructed is normal, and if you're a real American, you'll tough it out. 

Republican projection has revealed their dystopian endgame. Liberals aren't the ones who think government has all the answers, it's fascist thinking Republicans and their cultist Trump followers. Using time-consuming mazes like our health care system and paycheck-to-paycheck middle-class frustration, struggles, and resentment, they want to keep the masses just too busy and distracted to hold politicians accountable.

The GOP is now teaming up with the lawsuit mill The Institute of Law and Liberty to challenge everything Gov. Evers and AG Josh Kaul try to do by taking them to the conservative activist State Supreme Court, to cancel out any possible change in their agenda.

Which naturally brings me to Republican Rep. Robin Vos.

My Trumpian friend in Milwaukee called me the other day and said he thought Vos went too far when he said he wanted a veto-proof majority. It's got to be bad when a big Walker/Trump supporter says he's had enough of this arrogant bullshit. Note: My friend thought Vos was pushing "legislation" that would give Republicans a veto-proof majority. Would I kid you?:

Vos said at a forum organized by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce that his goal is to grow the number of Republicans from the current 63 to 67. That would be enough to override vetoes by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
Were Republican voters demanding a veto-proof supermajority and total control of the state, or unlike Vos, were they more concerned with...:

-the shocking number of contaminated wells in the state?

-our crumbling roads?

-the outrageous cost of health care?

-turning away hundreds of millions of our federal dollars for Medicaid?

-underfunding schools and the UW?

-a serious lack of rural broadband internet?

-the dramatic loss of family dairy farms?

-the loss of local government control?

-tax cuts for already multi-million dollar corporations instead of startups?

-the Walker Foxconn handout that is now estimated to cost taxpayers $290,000 per job?

-all the other stuff I didn't include?

These are all problems that oddly, Scott Walker and the Republicans ignored over the last 8 years. I'm hoping Vos' arrogance will finally change some minds, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Walker hates UW Campus Liberals! "Censorship Exposed!!!"

As I continue to read Scott Walker's fantasy world tweets, it sends a shudder through me knowing he was in charge of this state once. His lack of public access and sparse commentary hid just how completely incompetent this caricature of a right-wing zealot was. If we all knew then what we are seeing now, especially after seeing his ripped off Trump-like tweets, we'd all be nervous wrecks by now.

Like this tweet about a totally fabricated "problem:"

Thank you Scott Walker, for opening this can of worms. You only have to look at Walker's own "censorship exposed," when he discriminated against and silenced a conservative UW student not in his cult of worship:

A University of Wisconsin-Platteville engineering student Joshua Inglett, anticipating a new seat on the UW System's Board of Regents, was renounced at the eleventh hour by Gov. Scott Walker, who withdrew the young man's appointment after finding out he had signed a petition as an 18-year-old freshman calling for the governor's recall ... an aide to Walker asked him whether he had signed the recall petition. He told him he had, and within hours another Walker aide left him a voice mail that made it clear to Inglett he wouldn't get the position.

"I felt like my character had been attacked," he said. Asked whether Inglett's characterization of what happened was accurate, Walker said, "I wasn't involved in that directly."
Oddly, Walker is somehow never involved. These original snowflakes and conservative victims of liberal silencing on campus, didn't stop there either:

You may remember the case of Joshua Inglett ... We mention this now because the story has resurfaced again, and in a big way. "This American Life," a nationally syndicated public radio show that is akin to "60 MInutes" on TV, has just broadcast a piece on Inglett's 15 minutes of fame.

Producer Ben Calhoun describes how Inglett, a Republican from Portage, was everything you could hope for in a UW regent, even if you were Scott Walker. But Inglett ran afoul of the searchable online black list that conservative groups made out of the petition papers. The report tells the story of how Team Walker shot itself in the foot by withdrawing Inglett's name, especially after Walker praised him effusively.

And there's more in the piece about how the conservative black-listing of recall petition signers has ended up with Wisconsin Republicans recklessly going after some of their own, apparently in the name of total political correctness.

You can listen to the 28-minute installment
So remember this tweet and how ridiculous it is in comparison to the blacklist and silencing descent on campus:

Blow Your Mind with this.....

Walker sat down with the Young America's Foundation board earlier this year (and) told the board he was their guy if they wanted “someone who can elevate this at a time when I think we need it more than ever, when free speech is under constant threat, particularly on college campuses.”
Indoctrination: Again, there's no threat from this phony conspiratorial fear of being silenced, but Walker does see the threat of not being patriotic enough. He blames those not so pleasant but accurate accounts of U.S. history. Walker isn't shy about demanding actual indoctrination with HIS "truth," with HIS conservative "our point of view" aimed at "teens and pre-teens." Walker's mind-numbing political poison is right there for all to see. 

He noted it is now a time when “nearly 60 percent of adults under 30 think that socialism is acceptable, and when, sadly, less than one-quarter of that age group are exceptionally proud to be Americans.”

Walker said another priority of his, both at the high school and university level, would be to promote more objective teaching of American history, global history, economics, and simple financial literacy: “If you just give people the facts, if you don’t put your spin on it, the facts will overwhelmingly lead people to be more aligned with our point of view.” 

He added that because of progressive professors and liberal politicians, “this generation just doesn’t believe what the facts show to be true.”

“YAF has been great – but we have to multiply it a thousand times over and reach more students and more campuses and earlier. Not just in college and high school, but teens and pre-teens, to find more ways to expose people to the truth, he said he told the board.
Check out Walker's attack on the UW and public education that includes blacklisting and liberal bans:

Trump's Republican Russian backers...

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Trump eyeing Internet Censorship on his way to fascist state!

Republicans have always portrayed themselves as victims of censorship, silenced at colleges and in public gatherings, and fearful of being attacked physically by threatening fire-breathing liberals who brandish...a better argument.
President Trump frequently attacks … social media companies over an alleged but unproven systemic bias against conservatives by technology platforms
Anyone surprised Trump's twisted way of thinking would result in this, censorship by unelected bureaucrats ?

A leaked draft of a Trump administration edict—dubbed by critics as a "Censor the Internet" executive order, that would give powerful federal agencies far-reaching powers to pick and choose which kind of Internet material is and is not acceptable.
Meant to do what campus free speech rights were designed to do, protect radical right-wing nationalism, fascism, and racism, our "small government' Republicans want to call the free speech shots. Read it and weep: 
According to CNN, the new rule "calls for the FCC to develop new regulations clarifying how and when the law protects social media websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms ... also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into account when it investigates or files lawsuits against misbehaving companies." 

PEN America warned that any executive order based on this draft rule would be an unconstitutional "anti-American edict. 

"It's hard to put into words how mind bogglingly absurd this executive order is," said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, in a tweet. "In the name of defending free speech it would allow mass government censorship of online content. In practice, it means whichever party is in power can decide what speech is allowed on the internet." 
Action alert: [The] leaked documents ... give these bureaucratic government agencies unprecedented control over how Internet platforms ... whichever political party is in power could dictate what speech is allowed on the Internet. If the government doesn't like the way a private company is moderating content, they can shut their entire website down.
GOP's Trumpian Paranoia: So just make up a conspiracy around political bias against poor socially conservative rejects: 
Public Knowledge's Lewis said "Political bias by digital platforms remains unproven. In fact, an independent study by The Economist points towards search platforms having a bias towards virality and attention, not political ideology," said Lewis. "This matches reports from books like Tim Wu's "The Attention Merchants" and others that study social media addiction. It is this sort of algorithmic bias towards virality that foreign adversaries use to sow disinformation and mistrust in our country."
Social Media Regulations to Protect Right-Wing Nationalism: Check out this followup story here:
NPR: A new legislative proposal by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., would ban elements of social media he views as addictive ... (in) social media apps like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Concerns with technological addiction are merging with rising political anger against Big Tech. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a champion of free markets, seems at least open to it. "Nobody wants to see a federal speech police. But at the same time allowing a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires to be the censors of all political speech in America is a terrible outcome. And so I think Sen. Hawley's bill is a positive step in the right direction," Cruz said.

Nanny State Republicans are really Social Media Engineers who think Government is the answer?

Republican warrior against social engineering and small government, Sen. Josh Hawley, has exposed himself as the political hypocrite and liar.we thought he was.

When it comes to almost everything, including guns, Republicans are quick to put all the responsibility on the users best judgement, you know, to avoid regulation. They say the government isn't the answer to everything, and certainly shouldn't be telling people what to do in their personal lives...except maybe social media?

This nanny state Republican Senator doesn't just want to ban things, but he also doesn't care how his legislation would derail the way these social media companies pay for themselves. And if they can't make money, you guessed it, we as consumers will start paying monthly premiums. Not a good idea, and it would also price out many more low income users:

NPR: A new legislative proposal by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., would ban elements of social media he views as addictive ... (in) social media apps like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Concerns with technological addiction are merging with rising political anger against Big Tech.
That concern is huge in China, which already controls what their citizens see on the internet, so we want to be like a communist country? Do we want to go there?
Hawley's proposal strikes at the heart of how social media companies make money. "Their business model is based on user engagement and time spent on the platform. ... Certainly they're using sophisticated psychological measures like the auto-play feature and others to keep people on the platform," said Lindsay Gorman, a fellow for emerging technologies at the German Marshall Fund, explaining just how crucial these sorts of features are to the big tech companies.
Hawley assumes Americans can't think for themselves:
"Their business model is increasingly exploitative in nature and I think that these are companies that are trying to evade accountability." The freshman Missouri senator drafted a bill that would: 
1. Require social media companies to tell users every 30 minutes how long they've been on a platform each day.

2. Make illegal the concept of "infinite scroll," which endlessly populates apps with additional content. 

3. It would also prohibit the auto-play of video and audio.
Sorry, auto play is something every user can set up for themselves. It also appears Hawley just woke up to the fact that social media has been using our media habits to make money. Outrageous?
"The big tech platforms have adopted a business model that takes our private information without telling us, sells it without our consent, and then it tries to use exploitative and addictive practices in order to get us to spend more time on their platform, so they can take more stuff from us," he said. Hawley's legislation isn't likely to pass.
Give Racist Nationalism a Platform? Or is this just another effort to stop private companies from blocking what they want, according to their own business model and social media identity? No surprise, this is really all about letting white nationalism, racism, fascism and right-wing political content continue to have a platform: 
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a champion of free markets, seems at least open to it. "Nobody wants to see a federal speech police. But at the same time allowing a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires to be the censors of all political speech in America is a terrible outcome. And so I think Sen. Hawley's bill is a positive step in the right direction," Cruz said.

Another reason Health Care-for-All is the solution to problems below...

The stories about health care on spinning out fast and furious, so it's hard to cover every nightmarish situation that screams for universal health care, now.

Trump's Junk Insurance Plan Wastes Money, Doesn't Pay for Health Care: Here's one thing almost everyone said would happen...except Trump and his drooling mod of deplorable's:
BREAKING: Trump’s junk insurance plans are spending an average of 39% of your premium on actual medical care. ACA requires 75% minimum. Short-term health plans spend little on medical care.
No, really? This is what happened before the ACA became law, and why the ACA was so desperately needed.

Uninsured Rise, Again: Excluding Trump and his panting cult, almost everyone predicted an increase in the uninsured rate thanks to Trump's attack on Obama's one big political and social success:
ModernHealthcare: The Obamacare exchanges last year lost 1.2 million of its unsubsidized enrollment last year, the CMS found in a report released Monday.

From 2016 to 2018, 2.5 million people who were paying their entire Affordable Care Act premiums dropped out of the individual market.

The Trump administration's latest enrollment snapshot doesn't bring many surprises given the high price tag for premiums, but the numbers are stark. The exchanges saw a 40% drop in unsubsidized enrollment from 2016 to 2018, and the declines hit almost every state.
Check out this down-the-rabbit-hole perspective:
In a statement, CMS Administrator Seema Verma characterized the report as another sign that the ACA isn't working. "The ongoing exodus of the unsubsidized population from the market proves that Obamacare's sky-high premiums are unaffordable."
Uh, that "unaffordable" and "unsubsidized" market Verma is talking about is...the existing insurance market without government subsidies, which is what Republicans call the free market and want to return to. Doh?
The high premiums (are) attributed to "sabotage" by the Trump administration and GOP lawmakers in Congress.
Medicare-for-All includes all coverage, all doctors, and all hospitals!!! Democrats continue to repeat absolute nonsensical talking points pushed by Republicans:
Joe Biden and other moderate Democratic candidates opposed to “Medicare for All” have cast the plan as anti-labor, arguing that it would leave union members worse off by stripping them of the health care benefits they painstakingly negotiated. But not all labor unions agree. Many others unions remain undecided. 

Some of the biggest labor groups in the country have embraced the plan. Those supporting Medicare for All say health care increasingly dominates contract battles, consuming bargaining power that could instead be directed toward raising wages and improving working conditions.
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants: “When we’re able to hang on to the health plan we have, that’s considered a massive win. But it’s a huge drag on our bargaining. So our message is: Get it off the table.”
It's true that union workers are wary of giving up hard-won benefits, even when promised a plan that covers more services for less money.
Eliminate International Medical Vacations: Lower Hospital Costs Dramatically, Pay Doctors Well Instead in Medicare-for-All: Bet you didn't know a major Wisconsin manufacturer is saving huge amounts of medical payouts with this in foreign countries: 
Donna Ferguson awoke in the resort city of Cancun. She walked down a short hallway from her Sheraton hotel and into Galenia Hospital. A surgeon, Dr. Thomas Parisi, who had flown in from Wisconsin the day before, stood by Ferguson’s hospital bed and used a black marker to note which knee needed repair. For this surgery, she would not only receive free care but would receive a check when she got home.

The hospital costs of the American medical system are so high that it made financial sense for both a highly trained orthopedist from Milwaukee and a patient from Mississippi to leave the country and meet at an upscale private Mexican hospital for the surgery.

Ferguson gets her health coverage through her husband’s employer, Ashley Furniture Industries. The cost to Ashley was less than half of what a knee replacement in the United States would have been. That’s why its employees and dependents who use this option have no out-of-pocket copayments or deductibles for the procedure; in fact, they receive a $5,000 payment from the company, and all their travel costs are covered. Parisi, who spent less than 24 hours in Cancun, was paid $2,700, or three times what he would get from Medicare, the largest single payer of hospital costs in the United States. Private health plans and hospitals often negotiate payment schedules using the Medicare reimbursement rate as a floor.

The high prices charged at American hospitals make it relatively easy to offer surgical bargains in Mexico: In the United States, knee replacement surgery costs an average of about $30,000 — sometimes double or triple that — but at Galenia, it is only $12,000, said Dr. Gabriela Flores Teón, medical director of the facility.

The standard charge for a night in the hospital is $300 at Galenia, Flores said, compared with $2,000 on average at hospitals in the United States. The other big savings is the cost of the medical device — made by a subsidiary of the New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson — used in Ferguson’s knee replacement surgery. The very same implant she would have received at home costs $3,500 at Galenia, compared with nearly $8,000 in the United States, Flores said.
Medicare Needs Major Changes Too: Here's a story I personally experienced with own mom that ended up costing our family a lot of needless out-of-pocket spending.

NOTE: Every bad thing in the blog post would not be an issue with universal health care. Think about that: 
Medicare paid for Betty Gordon’s knee replacement surgery in March, but the 72-year-old former high school teacher needed a nursing home stay and care at home to recover.

Yet Medicare wouldn’t pay for that. So Gordon is stuck with a $7,000 bill she can’t afford — and, as if that were not bad enough, she can’t appeal. The reasons Medicare won’t pay have frustrated the Rhode Island woman and many others trapped in the maze of regulations surrounding something called “observation care.”

Patients, like Gordon, receive observation care in the hospital when their doctors think they are too sick to go home but not sick enough to be admitted. They stay overnight or longer, usually in regular hospital rooms, getting some of the same services and treatment (often for the same problems) as an admitted patient — intravenous fluids, medications and other treatment, diagnostic tests and round-the-clock care they can get only in a hospital.

But observation care is considered an outpatient service under Medicare rules, like a doctor’s appointment or a lab test. Observation patients may have to pay a larger share of the hospital bill than if they were officially admitted to the hospital. Plus, they have to pick up the tab for any nursing home care. Medicare’s nursing home benefit is available only to those admitted to the hospital for three consecutive days. Gordon spent three days in the hospital after her surgery, but because she was getting observation care, that time didn’t count.

There’s another twist: Patients might want to file an appeal, as they can with many other Medicare decisions. But that is not allowed if the dispute involves observation care.

Monday, a trial begins in federal court in Hartford, Conn., where patients who were denied Medicare’s nursing home benefit are hoping to force the government to eliminate that exception. A victory would clear the way for appeals from hundreds of thousands of people. The class-action lawsuit was filed in 2011 by seven Medicare observation patients and their families against the Department of Health and Human Services. Seven more plaintiffs later joined the case.

“This is about whether the government can take away health care coverage you may be entitled to and leave you no opportunity to fight for it,” said Alice Bers, litigation director at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, one of the groups representing the plaintiffs. If they win, people with traditional Medicare who received observation care services for three days or longer since Jan. 1, 2009, could file appeals seeking reimbursement for bills Medicare would have paid had they been admitted to the hospital. More than 1.3 million observation claims meet these criteria for the 10-year period through 2017, according to the most recently available government data.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Sadly, Republicans not in any rush to save America's Dairyland!

Watching "America's Dairyland" Disappear: Besides the rapid rise of lake choking algae threatening Wisconsin's summer tourism industry, including...

...we're also watching a rapid disappearance of our dairy farms:

1. Over the past two years, nearly 1,200 of the state’s dairy farms have stopped milking cows and so far this year, another 212 have disappeared, with many shifting production to beef or vegetables. 

2. The total number of herds in Wisconsin is now below 8,000 — about half as many as 15 years ago. 

3. In 2018, 49 Wisconsin farms filed for bankruptcy — the highest of any state in the country, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Trump Tariff Debacle? Again, he isn't in any hurry: Trump's tariffs needlessly put farmers on the front line of a battle that only benefits businesses trying to protect intellectual rights, copyrights, and drug patents. It was never about agriculture, which has now lost markets that may or may not get them back entirely, and even if they did, it would put the US back where it was.
YahooNews: the problem for American farmers has becomes bigger than something a bailout can fix. “This trade thing is what’s brought on by the president and it’s really frustrating because he took away all of our markets. Our prices are probably as low as I’ve seen them in a long time,” he told Yahoo Finance. 

“We were losing just about $70 an acre just by putting our crop in [the ground] this spring,”Bob Kuylen, a farmer from North Dakota who grows spring wheat and sunflowers, told Yahoo Finance. “All these countries went to different countries to get their grain,” Kuylen said. “How are we going to get the relations back with them to buy our grain again and be our customers?”

“Farmers are profoundly wary of the trade war, embarrassed that ad hoc government subsidies are all that stands between many of us and financial ruin, and ready for the return of more normal times.”

Between 2016-2017, China was the fourth-largest wheat buyer in the world, importing more than 61 million U.S. bushels. In 2019, the top U.S. export destinations for wheat include Mexico, the Philippines, Japan, and Nigeria — China is not even among the top 10.
Blame Canada?: Rising corporate farms and over supply is the biggest culprit, but Trump and Republicans want to blame Canada's control of milk production, and a few high tariffs, as the problem. Instead, the U.S. should be looking at Canada's solution to saving dairy: 
PRI; The new NAFTA agreement, called the USMCA ... boiled down to Canadian milk ... the president has been railing against Canadian dairy farmers in rallies ... US dairy farmers would get more access to Canada, a worrying prospect for Canadian dairy farmer Phillip Armstrong. Armstrong says his cows are nearly twice as productive ... to keep things in check, Canada has a system (to) match supply with consumer demand. “Each farm has a quota and that's our share of the Canadian market.” 

Part of its supply management system ... Canada does let in some American dairy before (a 300 percent) tariff kicks in ... the updated trade deal would open up 3.6 percent more of its market to American dairy. Armstrong says. “That's (3.6 percent) growth in income that we're giving up that allows us to modernize, to expand. And Trump said we were hurting their dairy farmers. Well, the Americans had a $600 million surplus with us. But he got into his head that we were mistreating their farmers.”
It's true Canada had made a few other changes to protect against losing dairy farms...but one of those changes, price supports that shut out American products, has been repealed.

Dairy Farmers Hurt, a Nationwide Problem: While we're seeing thousands of dairy farms shutting down in Wisconsin and elsewhere...
It’s not all because of Canada, far from it. American farmers have been squeezed out by consolidation, corporate agriculture, global competition and low prices. People are also simply consuming less milk.

Brian Gould, a professor of agribusiness at the University of Wisconsin says the US shouldn’t be telling Canada how to manage its internal agriculture. "I really think we're on thin ice when we demand that they get rid of their quota system" ... think of the reverse: Canada telling the US to dismantle its system. The US government sets a minimum price for milk and also provides subsidies to American dairy farmers. And, the US has its own high tariffs on certain products — the US sour cream tariff, for example, is 187 percent.
Failed "Supply-Side" Scott Walker Meddling: When 70 percent of the U.S. economy is driven by consumer spending, it's hard to imagine why anyone would take the opposite economic approach, unless your only plan is to give more money and power to business. Oh wait.

The following isn't me saying it, but I have so many times here on my blog:
NYT: Farmer advocacy groups say policies enforced by former Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, exacerbated the problem. In 2012, Mr. Walker put into place a program to encourage dairy farmers to step up production with the goal of producing 30 billion pounds of milk a year by 2020. That was easily accomplished by 2016, but the oversupply crippled the industry.

“He wanted to put Wisconsin back into the lead in milk production over California,” said Joel Greeno, a dairy farmer and the president of the Wisconsin advocacy group Family Farm Defenders. “It was more an example of arrogance than practicality.”
And so...
Still, there’s an ironic twist here: Many American dairy farmers and organizations are actually now looking into a supply management system of their own ... similar to Canada’s. Armstrong says the new NAFTA agreement doesn’t address the fundamental problem: American farmers are producing too much milk ... opening a little bit more of Canada won’t make a dent in that. “I feel for the dairy farmer in the United States. I mean, it's got to hurt,” Armstrong says. The new trade agreement, he says, “is going to hurt us here, but it has no impact on their well-being at all.”
Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin and now enlightened Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher are on the same page:
Senator Tammy Baldwin said of Mr. Trump in an interview. “Our farmers need good trade deals, not trade wars.”

Representative Mike Gallagher had said that the top concerns of dairy farmers were the tariffs, along with Mr. Trump’s immigration policies, which make finding farm labor more difficult.
The First Red Flag? Republican targeted Butter as Too Expensive: This really happened:
Republican state Rep. Dale Kooyenga, an accountant from Brookfield wants to undo law he calls silly, antiquated and anti-free market. A quirky Wisconsin law intended to protect the state's dairy industry by making it illegal for restaurants to serve margarine as a replacement for butter is being targeted for repeal. Kooyenga argues that changing the law would save the state money since margarine is typically a third of the cost of butter.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Welcome to The State Republican Supreme Court!

The news headlines should really read, "This is getting ridiculous!!!"

I keep thinking back on a time when Republicans always accused Democrats of using the courts to pass their left-wing agenda. Well, as it turns out, it was another serious case of "projection." 

It's all here; "Conservative Activist Justices" "Legislating from the Bench": Another Walker legacy, the gerrymandered Republicans legislature and their legal attack dogs at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) are now openly admitting the State Supreme Court is conservative and theirs to command. Seriously, they couldn't wait a few days?:

WILL’s lawsuit was filed on the last day that former Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson served on the court. When Hagedorn takes Abrahamson’s place on Thursday, the Court will have a 5-2 conservative majority.

Republicans filed their lawsuit directly with the state Supreme Court just hours after conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn was sworn into office.
...and who could forget how it all started...

On limiting Gov. Evers veto power, it will be interesting to see how the State Republican Supreme Court will sell their eventual limit on vetos and over 80 years of precedent because you know they will:
Esenberg said he may also pursue having the court reverse a 1935 Supreme Court decision to further curtail the veto powers of the governor. Those who have challenged past vetoes have typically lost. In 1988, for instance, the high court ruled the governor held a "quasi-legislative" role and was allowed to strike out words, digits and even individual letters from budgets to string together new sentences.
Republican Voters love it: Even when it's obvious, GOP voters will never want to give up power. Like the originalist's con "interpreting" the legal text which could mean anything; or the lame-duck session stripping the governor and attorney generals of their power...: 
Justice Rebecca Dallet contended ... no state law gave them that power ... the state constitution says lawmakers can meet only when called into a special session by the governor or as provided by law. Lawmakers wrote a work schedule (not law) ... that was enough to comply with the constitutional provisions the majority concluded.
Ultra-Gerrymandering up Next: Would Republicans really try to bypass the governor when it's time to redraw districts? Seriously?
“I’ve heard about it,” Rick Esenberg, executive director of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), said of the plan. “Whether we would have anything to do with it, I can’t say.”

But, he added, “I understand the argument. The argument is the constitution reserves [redistricting] to the state legislature, and it should be taken literally; the state legislature should do it. It would require that precedent be overruled,” Esenberg acknowledged. But, he added, “I don’t think it’s a frivolous argument.”