Monday, July 29, 2013

The Republi-CON 'Obamacare is a Failure' Myth

UPDATE IX:  "[T]here’s a palpable sense of anxiety, even despair, among conservative pundits and analysts. Better-informed people on the right seem, finally, to be facing up to a horrible truth: Health care reform, President Obama’s signature policy achievement, is probably going to work.

And the good news about Obamacare is, I’d argue, what’s driving the Republican Party’s intensified extremism. Successful health reform wouldn’t just be a victory for a president conservatives loathe, it would be an object demonstration of the falseness of right-wing ideology. So Republicans are being driven into a last, desperate effort to head this thing off at the pass."

Read The New York Times, Republican Health Care Panic.  

The article notes that "[a]lthough you’d never know it from all the fulminations, with prominent Republicans routinely comparing Obamacare to slavery, the Affordable Care Act is based on three simple ideas. First, all Americans should have access to affordable insurance, even if they have pre-existing medical problems. Second, people should be induced or required to buy insurance even if they’re currently healthy, so that the risk pool remains reasonably favorable. Third, to prevent the insurance “mandate” from being too onerous, there should be subsidies to hold premiums down as a share of income.

Is such a system workable? For a while, Republicans convinced themselves that it was doomed to failure, and that they could profit politically from the inevitable “train wreck.” But a system along exactly these lines has been operating in Massachusetts since 2006, where it was introduced by a Republican governor. What was his name? Mitt Somethingorother? And no trains have been wrecked so far."

UPDATE VIII: "If Obamacare is 'collapsing under its own weight,' then why do Republicans have to work so hard to sabotage it?"

Read the Washington Post, The core contradiction at the heart of the GOP campaign to sabotage Obamacare.

UPDATE VII:  Why are premiums paid by individuals buying health insurance on their own 'tumbling'?  A provision of Obamacare called the medical loss ratio AKA 80/20 rule, which requires more of a health insurance premium be spent on health care. 

Read the Washington Post, The Obamacare provision that terrifies insurers.

Imagine that, health insurance paying for health care, not CEO salaries and company profits.  What will they think of next.

UPDATE VI:  "In the 11 states that have released rates for next year, premiums for a middle-of-the-road plan are an average of 18 percent cheaper than the Congressional Budget Office had expected. . .

Six states have released rate filings for plans available to small businesses through a separate exchange. Those policies are also an average of 18 percent cheaper than existing coverage options, HHS said."

Read The Hill, HHS: Premiums under ObamaCare lower than expected.

UPDATE V:  "Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under the federal health care law take effect."

Read The New York Times, Health Plan Cost for New Yorkers Set to Fall 50%.  

UPDATE IV:  The Affordable Care Act "is an awfully complicated piece of work . . . [but] the fact that it’s complex doesn’t mean its implementation is anything like the train wreck that conservative Republicans (and Max Baucus) like to call it . . . and when you consider the magnitude of this challenge amid the blowback and underfunding of the effort, if I’m even close to correct, that will be a very impressive outcome."

Read The New York Times, The Path to Complexity on the Health Care Act

UPDATE III:  "The monthly cost of health insurance under President Obama's healthcare law is consistently coming in lower than expected.

Premiums for a middle-of-the-road policy have come in below earlier estimates in all nine states that have released their initial rate information.

A new analysis from Avalere Health says the lower-than-expected prices show that the central piece of the healthcare law — new insurance exchanges in each state — is working as intended."

Read The Hill, ObamaCare premiums lower than expected

UPDATE II:  "The United States spends more than $8,000 a person per year on health care, well more than twice what Sweden spends. Yet health outcomes are far better in Sweden along virtually every dimension. Its infant mortality rate, for example, was recently less than half that of the United States. And males aged 15 to 60 are almost twice as likely to die in any given year in the United States than in Sweden."

Read The New York Times, What Sweden Can Tell Us About Obamacare.  

UPDATE:  "For all the speculating in Washington about how the Affordable Care Act will work — much of it, I admit, from me — there’s been too little attention given to the best evidence we have on the subject: How the extremely similar reforms in Massachusetts have worked."
Read the Washington Post, Everything you know about employers and Obamacare is wrong.

Don't be conned by Republi-con wishful thinking and fantasy

“Obamacare got some very good news on Thursday. . .

The California exchange will have 13 insurance options, and the heavy competition appears to be driving down prices. The most affordable silver-level plan is charging $276-a-month. The second-most affordable plan is charging $294. And all this is before subsidies. Someone making twice the poverty line, say, will only pay $104-a-month. . .

[Competition is also driving down health care premiums in Maryland and Oregon. ]

Texas, meanwhile, is a bit of a mess. They didn’t allow the Medicaid expansion so the state’s poorest residents got nothing. They didn’t help with the exchanges, or the outreach, so there aren’t many choices, and premiums aren’t as low one might hope.”

Read the Washington Post, Some very good news for Obamacare

Friday, July 26, 2013

You Better Watch Out, He's Making a List, He Knows When You've Been Bad or Good, and It Ain't Just Santa

UPDATE X:  How did your Congressman vote on an amendment to "end authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act . . . [and barring] the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records"?

See GovTrack, H.Amdt. 413 (Amash) to H.R. 2397.

UPDATE IX:  On this 4th of July, 2013, we find out that it isn't just Santa making a list.

From The New York Times, U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement: we know know that the "Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images."

Happy day of liberty, whatever that might mean now in the the so-called land of the free.

UPDATE VIII:  Hey, didn't I warn you (in December 2008) it wasn't just Santa:

From the Washington Post, The NSA is doing what Google does:  the "government was doing at least what Google was doing — and Google, I’m convinced, is the new Santa Claus: It sees you when you’re sleeping, it knows when you’re awake. It knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness' sake."

UPDATE VII:  "The problem [in balancing security and liberty] is that we have only one major point of reference when we debate what these trends might mean: the 20th-century totalitarian police state, whose every intrusion on privacy was in the service of tyrannical one-party rule. That model is useful for teasing out how authoritarian regimes will try to harness the Internet’s surveillance capabilities, but America isn’t about to turn into East Germany with Facebook pages.

For us, the age of surveillance is more likely to drift toward what Alexis de Tocqueville described as 'soft despotism' or what the Forbes columnist James Poulos has dubbed 'the pink police state.' Our government will enjoy extraordinary, potentially tyrannical powers, but most citizens will be monitored without feeling persecuted or coerced.

So instead of a climate of pervasive fear, there will be a chilling effect at the margins of political discourse, mostly affecting groups and opinions considered disreputable already. Instead of a top-down program of political repression, there will be a more haphazard pattern of politically motivated, Big Data-enabled abuses. (Think of the recent I.R.S. scandals, but with damaging personal information being leaked instead of donor lists.)

In this atmosphere, radicalism and protest will seem riskier, paranoia will be more reasonable, and conspiracy theories will proliferate. But because genuinely dangerous people will often be pre-empted or more swiftly caught, the privacy-for-security swap will seem like a reasonable trade-off to many Americans — especially when there is no obvious alternative short of disconnecting from the Internet entirely.

Welcome to the future. Just make sure you don’t have anything to hide."

Read the New York Times, Your Smartphone Is Watching You

UPDATE VI:  We live in a National Surveillance State, "one that uses bulk information and data techniques to monitor its citizens and draw inferences about their potential behavior in the service of carrying out the responsibilities that it sets out for itself. Like other parts of the state (welfare, national security), the surveillance state provides a type of security for its citizens through the manipulation of knowledge and resources. And like other parts of the state, the surveillance state fights against democratic efforts to provide accountability and transparency.

This name comes from a 2008 paper, 'The Constitution in the National Surveillance State,' by Yale law professor Jack Balkin. He provocatively argues that '[t]he question is not whether we will have a surveillance state in the years to come, but what sort of state we will have.'"

Read the Washington Post, Is a democratic surveillance state possible?

UPDATE V:  The NSA's data collection and analysis program built on similar programs first used by the military in Iraq, then "Afghanistan in 2010, where it assembled and analyzed all the data over a 30-day period on transactions that intelligence officials could get their hands on: phone conversations, military events, road-traffic patterns, public opinion—even the price of potatoes, former officials said. Changes in prices of commodities at markets proved to be an indicator of potential for conflict, they said. . .

Analysts discovered that the system's analysis improved when more information was added, so they moved to merge 90-day batches of data. The result, said a former U.S. official, was an ability to predict attacks 60% to 70% of the time."

Read the Wall Street Journal, Technology Emboldened the NSA.

Then watch/re-watch the movies Enemy of the State and Minority Report.  

UPDATE IV:  Told ya so: 

A "National Security Agency program that apparently has collected the telephone records of tens of millions of American . . . has been underway for the past seven years."

Read the Washington Post, Administration, lawmakers defend NSA program to collect phone records.

The only thing that surprises me is that it started only seven years ago.  I bet there were other 'data mining' (AKA spying) programs that involved the analysis of other types of information, including purchases and web browsing, and more. 

Read The Data Doghouse, Data Mining – From Diapers to Phone Records. (Note the date of the post: May 2005.)

UPDATE III:  "The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April."

Read The Guardian, NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily.

This should come as no surprise, it been going on since 2001.  And I first mentioned it several months after starting this blog in 2008.

UPDATE II: Intercepts of Americans’ phone calls and e-mail messages are broader than previously acknowledged. Read The New York Times, E-Mail Surveillance Renews Concerns in Congress.

Another I told ya so from NoBullU.

UPDATE: To a post from December to say I told ya so, they listen to everybody, including a mad Congresswoman.

Read the Washington Post, Harman to Holder: Release the Tapes, and CQ Politics, Wiretap Recorded Rep. Harman Promising to Intervene for AIPAC.

I may be paranoid but . . .

Ever wonder how the NSA electronic surveillance program, nicknamed the Terrorist Surveillance Program by Bush, spies just on terrorist. It doesn't, unless of course terrorist is a euphemism/doublespeak for citizen. Read:

Welcome to Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Don't Be Duped by the Birthers, An Update

UPDATE IV:  "What do a guy with a dead hamster on his head, a tooth pulling/much sanctioned attorney/real estate hustler immigrant and a gun totin' octogenarian shuruff have in common? If you said 'They are all birthers' you would be correct.

For five years we have watched as the birthers grasped at straws, outright lied, struggled with and failed to provide any actual evidence that our president was not born in the United States of America.

I thought it would be fun to go through some of the "facts" put forth over the past five years, because honestly, little has been funnier than the machinations of this group of low information individuals."

Read the Kingman Daily Miner, A Trip To Birtherville

The article notes that "[a]nother fact that must be dealt with is Congress agreeing that Obama is indeed a natural born citizen, having been born in Hawaii. In August of 2009, long before the birther loon nonsense gathered its full head of steam, the House of Representatives, by a unanimous vote, offered up HR 593 which stated in part, 'Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii.'"

See The Library of Congress, Bill Summary & Status, 111th Congress (2009 - 2010), H.RES.593

You know who, of course, never mentions this, because it's not in the script of the very small part of The Republi-CON Media CONplex that he is allowed to play. 

UPDATE III: He has a novel-in-progress 'espousing his long-held conspiracy theory' that "no one wanted to listen to".

He is "delightful, charming, likable" at times but "delusional, narcissistic, paranoid and dangerously unpredictable when he was not taking his medication".

Read the Washington Post, Man accused in case of poison-laced letters has history of legal and other troubles

Sound like someone we know?

UPDATE II:  Not only has a birther lawsuit never succeeded, courts are starting to sanction the people who bring the frivolous lawsuits.  Read the New York Daily News, Brooklyn judge slams birther lawsuit as 'fanciful, delusional and irrational' and orders theorist to pay $177G.  The Judge called the allegations, "fanciful, delusional and irrational."

UPDATE I:  Another claim of 'breaking news' and soon-to-be revealed startling 'new information' from the "ever-shrinking echo chamber of conspiracy theorists convincing each other that they have finally uncovered definitive proof that Obama wasn't born in Hawaii." Of course, there is never anything new, or even true, just racist delusions.

This is an update on the birther delusion still promoted by you know who.

There is no Supreme Court case, the petition was "denied" without comment.

And not even the attorney representing a birther sanctioned by a Washington state court for filing a frivolous appeal believes in his client's 'birther nonsense'.

These updates from the RC Radio Blog, "Reality Check Radio: Providing a weekly dose of reality to Birthers since 2009".  

See also The Fogbow, "your best resource for debunking the lies of the 'birther' movement and discussing the birther antics" and, there is even a Birther Case Scorecard, now 0-195 for the birthers.

Expect a missile sighting somewhere over the U.S. to distract you from the news. 

But don't hold your breath waiting for our very own Pastor Dred Scott (you may remember the infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857, which asserted that African Americans were "beings of an inferior order" who "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." That ruling declared that African Americans could never be U.S. citizens and therefore could never be President) (AKA Pastor Truthiness (formerly known as Pastor Poppins) to discuss these updates. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Jesus Was a Woman

From an email;

Compelling evidence that Jesus was a woman:

1. He fed a crowd at a moment's notice when there was virtually no food

2. He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn't get it

3. And even when He was dead, He had to get up because there was still work to do

Can I get an AMEN!?!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Madam President in 2016?

"From the standpoint of the party primary, it's almost as though she's an incumbent president, right, where she even trumps, kind of, the VP, who very often wins nomination after a president is term-limited," said [Nate Silver, The New York Times polling analyst], who was interviewed by Katie Couric in an evening session. "If you look at polls, you know, 60 to 70 percent of Democrats say they prefer Hillary to be the nominee. There's no kind of non-incumbent in history with those types of numbers." 

Read The Atlantic, Hillary Is the Strongest Non-Incumbent Ever.

Can't wait, she'll drive the Republi-cons nuts.