Friday, March 30, 2012

Rep. Bobby Rush Grandstands...

 Most of the people that frequent Reasonable Conversation are aware of this video. If you're not, Representative Bobby Rush, from Illinois's 1st Congressional District, went to the podium during Wednesday's general speeches segment of the House's daily business. His topic was the Trayvon Martin shooting and that profiling/generalizing about people, especially young minorities because of their clothes is bad. After a minute or so worth of comments, Mr. Rush removed his jacket and pulled up a hoodie over his head and donned dark sunglasses. He was immediately gaveled down, instructed to stop (which he refused) until they eventually cut his mic off. He was then escorted from the Chamber by the Sergeant at Arms for violating the dress code, which forbids the wearing of any hats in Chamber while Congress is in session.

Watch the video:

Obviously, his point was that everyone who wears hoodies isn't a bad person. I think most of us get that. I have a bit of a hard time in understanding why the Martin case would strike especially close to the Congressman's heart over the other senseless killings of young black men that occur every day in the country. It would help if we understood better what exactly the Martin case was exactly. Right now, I don't know. Do you? Was it the case of an over zealous, perhaps racist neighborhood watchman named George Zimmerman who refused to follow instructions from the 911 operator to stop following Martin and stay in his car? Was it the case of a citizen trying to keep his neighborhood safe by trying to question what was this young man doing in this area and it somehow went to hell with the kid leaving the man no choice but to shoot him to preserve his own safety? I have my gut instincts about this, but until I hear more facts, there's no need to go there. I know how the case was presented originally in the media, I know how the conservative media responded, I know how a few nationally known leaders of the African American community became involved and I know how the recently released video doesn't seem to show us a man who was just in a life and death struggle, who had his head bashed on the ground and also sustained a broken nose.

This will get sorted out soon enough. Back to Congressman Rush...

Bobby Rush has served the good people of Illinois for 19 years. He also served in the US Army for four years. Afterwards, his life took a turn towards controversy when he co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers. He was very involved in the group's activism and spent six months in jail on a weapons charge for carrying a gun into a police station in 1972. He spent a lot of time while in the Black Panthers working on improving community health access for those suffering from Sickle Cell Anemia. He graduated from Roosevelt University in 1973, and formally left the Black Panthers, who he criticized for glorifying "thuggery and drugs." A born again Christian, Rush continued his studies at McCormick Seminary and received a Masters degree in Theology in the early 1990's.

I believe Mr. Rush had mostly good intentions. This isn't some johnny-come-lately popping off. He's a serious guy who has been witness to a lot of history in his time. He has educated himself. He has served this Country in both the Armed Forces and Congress. He deserves respect.

That said, his actions Wednesday were grandstanding. He KNOWS you can't put on a hat while in Congress. He did it, with C-Span's cameras rolling, with full knowledge that it would be a thing. I'm not sure why he did it. Was it to emphasize the point that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover? On some level, certainly. But most media outlets who covered it didn't talk about the entire scope of his comments. To a large degree, people who heard about this got the following as a takeaway:

 Congressman Bobby Rush, former member of the Black Panthers, violates House rules by wearing a hoodie and sunglasses in the Chamber while making remarks about Trayvon Martin; has to be removed by security. 

 That's not entirely fair, but it is what it is. The average Joe/Jane Sixpack in Anycity, USA sees that and doesn't think good things, I imagine. A picture, especially one with little to no context, tells a thousand stories. Even with context, its still a stunt unworthy of this American, the Body which he serves in and the Martin family.

Maybe instead of holding a press conference or remaining silent on the issue, this seemed to be the best way to express his outrage. But, we don't yet know exactly what happened that day. So, outrage might be a bit preliminary. We can "what-if" this to death, but Rush's stunt didn't help anything associated with Treyvon Martin, all the other black kids shot to death that day/week/month, or much anything else except for putting some light on himself.

I do think, by the way, its a fair question to pose to the other high profile African Americans like Congressman Rush, preachers Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, film-maker Spike Lee and yes-even President Obama, why this case? Why this kid? Why not the kid who was shot a week prior? Understand, in some cases, there may be legitimate answers. In the case or Jackson and Sharpton, I've heard media reports that suggest the Martin family, entirely dissatisfied with how the death of their son was being handled by the local police, did whatever they could to bring some attention to what they feel is a wrongful death. (If I'm them, I do exactly the same thing. If phone calls, requests for information, etc. seem to run into a brick wall over my dead child, then screw you-I'll make sure everybody knows what's going on. If I'm proved to be wrong, then I'm just a crazed, out-of-my-mind grieving parent. I get a pass. If I'm proven to be right...and the locals did screw the thing up, then too bad....maybe you should've talked to me when I asked nice...) Spike Lee basically made a fool out of himself by getting involved. As far as President Obama goes, I think he could've and should've remained silent on the matter. No, I don't think he made anything worse by commenting about it, (and those 'tards who say he's pushing racial division are way off base...) but I don't think he made a damn thing any better either. To the casual observer, including this one, it seems a bit exploitative.

Which, is exactly the term I think best describes Congressman Rush's actions the other day on the floor of the House. It doesn't make him a villain or a racist, but I wish he'd not done it. Let's let all the involved agencies do their work and release their conclusions. Then, we'll be able to discuss more correctly whatever it is that needs discussing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

3 Minute Cartoon Explains Supreme Court / Health Care Hearings...(Part 2)

From CommonHealth:

Cartoon summarizing what the Supreme Court was going to listen to oral arguments on today:

Can we still reform health insurance without a mandate? Yes, but...

Ok, so it wasn't the best day for President Obama's health care plan yesterday, was it? Not really. The Government's defense of the individual mandate wasn't exactly impressive and many now think the chances of the Supreme Court overturning the Affordable Care Act are larger now than they were Tuesday morning.

There's a long, long way to go before the SCOTUS renders a decision and all the speculation from all sides about what will happen is just that. Speculation. Everybody needs to take a deep breath, relax, chill, chillax, etc. From following the coverage closely my take is that too much is being made of the questioning by some Judges yesterday. There has been tough questioning before, in lower Courts, that ultimately ruled in favor of the mandate being Constitutional. The so-called "experts" say the chances of the mandate took a hit yesterday, but nothing close to a death blow.

Further, I've heard several SCOTUS experts explain that while the oral arguments occurring this week make for compelling courtroom drama, they often have a rather small part to play in the ultimate decision by each of the Court's Judges. More powerful are the dozen's of briefs filed both pro/con toward the health care law. Many are repetitive but both sides of the case have been laid out, in fine detail for these judges. THAT is where the bulk of the individual decisions likely comes from.
I found this article by Jonathan Cohn, author of "SICK", very interesting and timely. It takes a hard look at one state, New Jersey, that tried to reform its health care sector without an individual mandate back in the 1990's. After a promising start, cracks began to show in the reform. Big ones. Participation in regulated plans dropped dramatically and the kind of person that remained was unfavorable. Healthy people left the plan, leaving the sicker ones, which drove premiums up between 48% and 155%, depending on the particular plan involved. The average age of the participants went from 41.9 to 48.4 in just five years. Older. Sicker. More expensive.

Give it a read...

Reform With No Mandate? Ask New Jersey About That...
By Jonathon Cohn/March 21, 2012

On Monday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about whether the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, the justices will also contemplate a policy issue: Is it possible to reform the private insurance market, making affordable coverage available to all, without an individual mandate?
The Obama administration has told the court that if it invalidates the mandate it should also invalidate two key insurance reforms that would prevent discrimination because of preexisting conditions. On this, the administration has a somewhat unusual ally: The insurance industry. Although insurers have fought many parts of the health law, they have long favored the establishment of a mandate, which requires almost everyone who can afford it to buy health insurance or pay a fee. Without it, they say, the reformed market cannot function. (Critics point out that a mandate would also help insurers generate more business.)
Legally, the administration's argument is as potent as it is risky. The Constitution says that the federal government may do whatever is "necessary and proper" to carry out its other functions. The Supreme Court historically has interpreted that power broadly. If insurance market reform really is more prone to failure without a mandate, that fact alone could, in the eyes of the justices, make the law constitutional.
But is the administration's claim correct? For some clues, the justices could examine what happened in New Jersey, a state that tried to reform its insurance markets without a mandate -- and failed pretty miserably.

To continue, please click here...


Monday, March 26, 2012

PolitiFact | Reince Priebus says health care law could mean 'as many as 20 million Americans could lose their employer-based insurance'

(Good read from PolitiFact on GOP Chairman Reince Priebus' claim that 20 Million Americans may lose their employer-based health insurance...)

PolitiFact | Reince Priebus says health care law could mean 'as many as 20 million Americans could lose their employer-based insurance': "Priebus’ number does appear in the CBO report he references in the op-ed, but it’s not the primary estimate -- it’s one of four alternative scenarios, and easily the one with the biggest decrease. So the number is cherry-picked.

His claim also suggests that 20 million people are being forced out of the coverage, when in fact many will choose voluntarily to switch to better coverage. And he conveniently ignores the estimates that 9 million people who didn't have employer coverage will get it because of the law, at least according to CBO’s estimates."

Republicans in Favor of the Individual Mandate (Video)

Thanks to Think Progress...

Read the entire article and see if your elected official is among the group of over fifty prominent Republicans who supported the Individual Mandate, at least until President Barack Obama tried to use it in his health care reform of 2008...


Supreme Court Begins Hearings on Affordable Care Act. (Overview)

The much anticipated Supreme Court hearings involving President Obama's healthcare reform, the Affordable Care Act. Oral arguments get underway at 10:00am this morning, with six hours of hearings spread over the next three days. There will be no live or delayed video of the proceedings, but audio of the hearing will be available via the Supreme Court website here after 4:00pm, the CSPAN website after 1:00pm and on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio on P.O.T.U.S.Channel 124 at 9:00pm.

There are four fundamental issues the Court will consider: (From Ezra Klein's Wonkbook...)

Anti-Injunction Act
What it is: The Court opens its oral arguments with a debate over whether it can even issue a ruling on the Affordable Care Act since its penalties for not carrying insurance have not come into effect yet. Under a law passed in 1867, the Anti-Injunction Act, a tax cannot be challenged until someone has actually had to pay it. Health reform’s penalties don’t start until 2015.
What they’ll argue: One weird quirk of this provision is that neither the defendants or plaintiffs think it applies: Both sides think the Court should be able to rule right now . So the court appointed an outside lawyer, Robert Long, to argue on their behalf. Long will likely look to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for precedent. It ruled, in September, that the Anti-Injunction Act prevented it from issuing a ruling on the health law.
When it happens: Monday, March 26, 10-11:30 a.m.
Why it matters: The Anti-Injunction Act gives the Supreme Court an opportunity to put off its decision for at least three years, potentially diffusing the law slightly as a 2012 election year issue. This could be a mixed-bag for health care supporters: On the one hand, it gives the law three more years to be implemented. On the other, it would still make the law’s fate seem uncertain, and likely extend the national debate around the Affordable Care Act.
The individual mandate
What it is: The most-contested part of the health reform law, the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate requires nearly all Americans to carry health insurance. The legal question centers on whether such a regulation is permissible under the Commerce Clause, which allows the federal government to regulate interstate activity.
What they’ll argue: Health reform opponents contend that the decision not to do something — namely, not buy health insurance — is economic inactivity, rather than activity, and therefore not a behavior the federal government can regulate. Health reform supporters argue that the decision to not purchase health insurance has an economic effect. An individual without coverage, for example, may not have the money to pay for an emergency room visit, sticking hospitals or taxpayers with the bill.
When it happens: Tuesday, March 27, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Why it matters: With no penalty for not purchasing health insurance, but a requirement for insurers to accept anyone still standing, many expect the costs of insurance would skyrocket. Congress could, theoretically, replace the individual mandate with another policy that doesn’t run afoul of the activity-inactivity distinction but it is unlikely that congressional Republicans would permit such a fix, at least in the near term.
What it is: The question of whether the health reform law can stand without the individual mandate — in legal parlance, whether the individual mandate is “severable” — is a pretty crucial one. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on if it could strike down that part of the law, while letting the rest of it stand.
What they’ll argue: The Department of Justice says that if the court strikes down the mandate, it should also repeal the health reform law’s guaranteed issue provision, which requires insurers to accept all customers regardless of their health-care status. The argument there is that the mandate is so integral to making insurance work - by getting the healthy people to sign up - that, without it, insurance markets could no longer accept all applicants. Opponents of the law go even further. They contend that because of how the law was written - without a clause that specifically noted that individual provisions could be severable - that the whole thing should fall with the mandate.
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals came to an opposition conclusion: It overturned the mandate, but allowed the rest of the law to stand, even the parts that the Justice Department says should have fallen.
When it happens: Wednesday, March 28, 10 - 11:30 a.m.
Why it matters: If the Court finds the individual mandate unconstitutional, then severability will become a key issue in determining how much of the law falls with it. It could decide that just the mandate falls, leaving the insurance industry with a pretty big challenge. Or it could rule that the mandated purchase of health insurance is so critical to the health reform law that if it goes down, it takes other key parts of the Affordable Care Act with it.
Medicaid Expansion
What it is: The health reform law expands Medicaid to cover everyone under 133 percent of the federal poverty line (about $14,000 for an individual) in 2014. Medicaid is run as a state-federal partnership and, right now, states are only required to cover specific demographics, groups like low-income, pregnant women and the blind or disabled.
What they’ll argue: The states contend that this provision is too onerous: They’ll be responsible for footing part of the Medicaid expansion’s bill, and say they can’t afford the costs. The federal government, for its part, has centered its argument on the fact that states voluntarily participate in Medicaid. If they don’t like the new expansion, they could pull out of the program.
When it happens: Wednesday, March 28, 1-2 p.m.
Why it matters: Since states’ participation in Medicaid is voluntary, Supreme Court watchers widely expect the justices to find this part of the law constitutional. There is worry though, that if they were to strike down this part of the law, it could set sweeping new precedent for how state-federal partnership programs function.

There are four different possible outcomes from these hearings.

1) Court rules the entire ACA constitutional
2) Court rules the entire ACA un-constitutional
3) Court rules the individual mandate unconstitutional but leaves everything else intact
4) Court refuses to hear the case until 2015 when the penalties for not carrying health insurance kick in


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rick Perry Charmed Them Last Night...

Last night was the 127th Anniversary diner of the esteemed "Gridiron Club" in Washington DC. This affair is invitation only, and caters to the elite of the Washington DC press corps and high profile politicians, including Presidents, and usually features a high degree of humor expressed through prepared remarks and skits. The speeches are usually of the self-deprecating sort and if not, expressly comedic.

President Obama is currently visiting South Korea and submitted a short video of his remarks which where mostly not noteworthy. On the other hand, the remarks delivered by Texas Governor Rick Perry, former candidate for President, were noteworthy. I've heard a number of reporters who have followed Mr. Perry through the years comment on how his brief and at times puzzling campaign was void of his trademark charm and good wit. Here are Mr. Perry's comments and I have to wonder, if some of the Rick Perry from last night had been more present during his failed campaign, might things have turned out very different?

(From Politico's Playbook:)

 "I can't tell you ... what a relief it is to be on a stage with just one podium. ... [Laughter]] The Gridiron's the only time that politicians and journalists can get together for some lighthearted silliness - well, I mean, other than the debates. ... Some have said that my debating style is very similar to that other Texas Cicero, George W. Bush. [Laughter] Only difference between GEORGE and me is that I say, 'Oops.' [Applause] ... Y'know, I shouldn't make fun of George. But he's, like, the only one that I can. [Laughter] Y'know, I say stuff like Solyndra's a country or that the voting age is 21. But MITT would say things like his wife drives a coupla Cadillacs, or his pals own NASCAR teams. Y'known, my problem was sayin' stuff that WASN'T right. Mitt's problem is sayin' stuff that IS. [Applause] So with all my gaffes, people forgot that I once led the Republican primary. It was the most exhilarating three hours of my life. Awesome! Now, officially, I have only suspended my campaign -- I never really quit. So technically, I'm still in the race - 'cept I can go home, spend the evening with Anita, relax, and still do about as well. Well, listen, here's the hardest part for me: The weakest Republican field in history -- and they kicked my BUTT! ... Y'know, very once in a while, Herman Cain, Michele Bachman and myself'll get together. We'll kinda act silly, we'll say some stupid things-you know, kinda like old times. ...

"Y'know it's weird standing next to [Mitt] on the debate podium . Y'know, I keep waiting for him to say, 'Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?' ... I LIKE Mitt Romney. I mean, I like Mitt Romney as much as one really good looking man can like a really good looking man -and not break Texas law. And then there's Rick Santorum. I used to have SO much fun needling Rick. I'd say, 'Now, Rick, tell me again, which one of the Village People are you? You're the policeman? Or you're the Indian?' And then there's Ron Paul. ... Y'know, he kinda reminds me of that crazy uncle that you expect to pull a nickel out of your ear. ... Then we have Gingrich. He's like this Pillsbury Doughboy, with this really huge brain. ... I do wish I were still in the race. I mean, I don't know why I didn't do better: Governor of a big state. Former military pilot. I graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in animal husbandry. [Laughter] Maybe that was the problem. Animal husbandry: That sounds like what Rick Santorum thinks gay marriage leads to. ...

"Now, before I forget, which has been known to happen [laughter], it's really good to see DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz [who spoke after him]. And even though Debbie and I are from different parties, she has been very, very complimentary. Earlier she told me, she said, 'Rick, you don't know how sorry I am that you won't be your party's nominee.' [Laughter] [Turning to her at the head table:] Thank you, darlin'.

"Now, President Obama couldn't be here. I read that he is in Korea, at the DMZ. Would somebody tell me: Why do ya have to go all the way to Korea to get a DRIVER'S LICENSE? Must be something to do with that birth certificate thing. But filling in tonight for the president very ably is Secretary Panetta. And during the campaign, I said that Secretary Panetta should resign. I regret saying that ... We have had Predator drones circling the governor's mansion. ... After what I've been through, our motto is, 'Y'know, if you can't laugh at yourself -- well, there's always Herman Cain.' ...

"When we did our announcement tour, there was this huge caravan of reporters, including the Washington Post's Dan Balz, who was following our bus. And Dan was lookin' a little scruffy. He had this days' old beard. He had a baseball cap on. And I spent the day calling him 'Wolf.' Finally it dawned on me: That's not Wolf Blitzer! That's Dan Balz. So, Dan, wherever you are in the audience tonight, I wanna say 'thank you' for being a gentleman, and never mentioning it.

"Most of the reporters and the correspondents trailing us weren't well-known. They weren't established journalists like Dan and the members of this club. But they were often the younger reporters, on the lower rungs of the business. I wasn't always happy about what they wrote -- but they became part of the traveling family, because our lives became intertwined. They ate the same crappy campaign food; they got up at the same early hour; they heard the same speech, over and over. But I honestly got the sense that they were sad to see our campaign end. Anita and I still keep up with 'em. As a matter of fact, we just got a note from one just the other day. I saw one tonight as I came in. So, tonight, I'd like to close not by recognizing you big shots in the business out there -- but all those reporters who are out there workin' - workin' their butts off, worryin' about the future of newspapers, worryin' about whether or not the news budget is gonna be cut. I truly like 'em and respect 'em. And I hope one day those reporters in that caravan following our bus make it to this illustrious dinner -- and are up on that stage, doing those skits and enjoying the rewards of their professional success, like we are tonight."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Calamaties of Nature for March 24, 2012...

Time for a little smart humor from the good folks at Calamities of Nature...

Enjoy: (Click on the cartoon for a larger image..)

The Barbarism of the Health-Care Repeal Crusade -- Daily Intel

The Barbarism of the Health-Care Repeal Crusade -- Daily Intel: "On the second anniversary of the signing of Affordable Care Act, the bitterness of the health-care fight remains a core fissure in American politics, and the nature of the fissure is clear. The two parties are fighting over whether access to regular medical care ought to be a right or an earned privilege.
To me, and essentially everybody on the liberal side, the answer to that question is obvious. I’m comfortable with the market creating vastly unequal rewards of many kinds. But to make health insurance an earned privilege is to condemn people to physical suffering or even death because they failed to secure a job that gives them health insurance, or they don’t earn enough, or they happened to contract an expensive illness, or a member of their family did. (If you think I am overstating, you ought to read my friend Jonathan Cohn’s book, Sick, which, in addition to explaining the dysfunctionality of the health care system, offers a gut-wrenching portrait of many Americans who saw their lives destroyed by lack of access to decent medical care.) The principle strikes me as nothing short of barbaric."

Egypt’s Election Victors Seek Shift by Hamas to Press Israel -

Egypt’s Election Victors Seek Shift by Hamas to Press Israel - "Officials of the Brotherhood, Egypt’s dominant Islamist movement, are pressing its militant Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, which controls Gaza, to make new compromises with Fatah, the Western-backed Palestinian leadership that has committed to peace with Israel and runs the West Bank.

The intervention in the Palestinian issue is the clearest indication yet that as it moves into a position of authority, the Brotherhood, the largest vote getter in Egypt’s parliamentary elections, intends to both moderate its positions on foreign policy and reconfigure Egypt’s."

Friday, March 23, 2012

New Rick Santorum Ad: "Obamaville"

Here is the newest ad from the Rick Santorum campaign. Its full of scary images, scary video, scary sound effects audio, a scary voice over, etc.

It's scary, ok?

Production wise, this is very well done. The video editing of the various images, such as during a shot of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, there is an image of President Obama intercut into the picture of Ahmadinejad. There's plenty of eye candy to woo voters away from the dark side. Its a sort of end of the world motif. Not exactly cheery...

It's interesting to me, as the Santorum campaign is short on cash and seems to have their hands full trying to defeat former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for the republican nomination. There's no tagline of, "I'm Rick Santorum and I approved this message," so, I feel pretty confident that one of his super-pacs funded this.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Political Climate Improving for Obama | At the Races

"President Barack Obama “is making strong inroads” with independent voters in 12 swing states that will likely decide his re-election, according to a new “PurplePoll” from the bipartisan firm Purple Strategies.

Among independents, last month Obama trailed former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) by 2 points and led former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 3 points. In the poll released Wednesday, Obama led Romney by 8 points and Santorum by 11 points among the voting bloc. Overall, Obama led Romney by 4 points and Santorum by 8 points."

Click here to continue reading: Political Climate Improving for Obama | At the Races:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In Terms of Web Traffic, It's Obama in a Landslide -

Interesting comparison on how the various Republican campaigns as well as the Obama campaign utilize website traffic to communicate their candidate's message. Who's best at it? The President by a mile...

In Terms of Web Traffic, It's Obama in a Landslide -

Prepare Yourself for an Onslaught of Health Reform Rhetoric...

Prepare Yourself for an Onslaught of Health Reform Rhetoric...

This Friday marks the two year anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. Those on the Left felt it was a good step in the right direction but aren't exactly passionate about it. Many on the Right feel it's a dangerous Bill that strips away fundamental rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution and does a frightfully lousy job of improving how we handle health care delivery in the United States. Some on the Left feel it didn't go far enough, therefore it and those who are responsible for it are failures. Likewise some on the Right feel it goes too far, especially the individual mandate that forces people to purchase a product, and therefore it and those who are responsible for it are also failures.

The funny thing is of course, if you strip the various components out of the Bill and ask people, from all political persuasions if they like the specific items, they are generally supportive of each. However, bundle it all under one name and we have problems.

The loyal opposition is quite aware of the upcoming anniversary. The uptick in op-eds, speeches on the floors of Congress, mailings and special interest media buys not to mention the numerous lawsuits brought by over two dozen various states are all examples of the contempt the PPACA has generated. Over a dozen states have already established State laws that prevent various aspects of the Federal Bill to be enacted. (Which is mostly for show as Federal law trumps State law in most cases.) Voices from the Right have been saying since before the Bill was signed into law that it wouldn't stand up to judicial review.

We'll find out soon who was right.

Next Monday, perhaps the most significant Supreme Court case since the Bush/Gore Election results of a few years back will begin three days of hearings. Is the individual mandate legal? Will the mandate be stripped out from the law but leave everything else intact? Will the entire law be tossed? Will the entire ACA including the mandate be determined as fully Constitutional? No one knows. Anyone who says they do, is a little ahead of themselves.

Both sides, pro and con, have a lot to gain and a lot to lose depending on this court case.

No political figure stands to lose as much as President Obama does if the SCOTUS tosses the whole law, even if they just vote down the individual mandate part. He needs this to emerge whole and intact. If the Court decides its Constitutional, Obama gets a nice lift heading into the serious campaign season. It would be an affirmation of sorts that he used reasonable judgement in directing the PPACA in the direction he did. He will be able to use this decision as proof positive that he's the adult in the room and that the Republicans are behaving desperately.

The Republican party and the eventual GOP nominee can try to make the case that the Court got it wrong, but beyond party loyalists, I'm not sure how convincing they would be. If the nominee is Mitt Romney, healthcare becomes an asset, not a liability to campaign on for President Obama.

On the other hand, if the Court strikes down the mandate, it won't be good for Mr. Obama. Not at all. The centerpiece of his first term will be on life support. Without the mandate, adverse selection comes into play as the youngest/healthiest to insure are no longer required to purchase insurance, and therefor, many won't. That effects the health insurance companies ability to cover the rest of the population, pre-existing conditions and all. There will likely be a ripple effect which will leave the Affordable Care Act in tatters. Some components may survive, but the damage will be done. It will have been de-fanged and politically, President Obama will be held responsible. It will, as someone said a few years ago, become his Waterloo.

For the GOP, the glee and celebrations will be just the beginning of it. There will be, on all major media outlets, a steady stream, 24/7 style, of stories droning on endlessly about Obamacare being found to be unconstitutional. They will discuss how it was an example of wild government over-reach and unbridled ambition from Mr. Obama. They will talk about the waste of time, the confusion that now needs to be sorted out. It will be Barack Obama's fault. They will talk about how a failure of this magnitude, probably unrivaled by any recent President, leaves Obama politically neutered and not worthy of re-electing. He will be radioactive to the point that even some Democrats will avoid him like the plague. It will be Barack Obama's fault. Make no mistake, his chances of re-election take a huge hit.

And finally, let us not forget the other big loser in this drama. The American people.

Some will say the Democrats should fight for the ACA in a piece of revised legislation. Some will say we should go a different route, like Single-payer or the updated Ryan Plan. Given the unlikely outcome this November that any one party controls all three branches AND holds a filibuster proof majority, I suspect not much of anything will actually get done. The Democrats will prevent the Republicans from passing anything and vice versa. Bipartisanship isn't exactly a strong suit of Congress these days and I don't think an adverse finding by the SCOTUS will breed goodwill, fellowship and teamwork.

What I do forsee should the Court rule against the ACA partly or completely, is too many Americans not being able to afford health insurance. Too many Americans not having access to preventative medicine. Too many senior citizens stretching their monthly meds out because they're stuck in the donut hole and can't afford to buy them. Health care costs will continue to grow, with no enhanced mechanism to slow them down. It will revert back to how it was before the 2008 Election. If you're able to afford health insurance and your employer offers it, you'll be ok. However if you can't afford it, or your employer doesn't offer it, good luck finding someone who will insure you and your family. More and more people will resort to using the local Emergency Rooms for non-critical care which will add to the cost problem.

Access, Quality and Cost are considered the three pillars of a health care delivery system. The ACA best addresses access for the uninsured. There are components that address quality and cost issues but not to the same degree that access is improved. We need to improve all three areas to find the health care system that befits the richest nation on Earth. Clearly the Affordable Care Act isn't a magic bullet. Its just a step. One good sized step in the right direction to improve things. If its left intact, there will still be a ton of work to do to make things better. If its voted down, there will still be a ton of work to do to make things better.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Anatomy of a ACA Lie" - Healthstew/Boston Globe

   Editor's Note-I came across this piece from Healthstew, the health care blog of the Boston Globe. Written by John McDonough, who is a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, I find it one of the better healthcare blogs out there. His piece from Monday talked about an email that had been making the rounds about a special tax...buried in the bowels of the ACA...levied on the sale of homes or plain old normal folks like you and me. McDonough does a nice job debunking the meme. I've seen similar emails before on the internet, but not for several months. I guess they're back. 

Earlier tonight I was accused of being a "sheep" for the Affordable Care Act, President Obama, the Obama Administration, etc. While I made my case with facts and figures, I was confronted with vague rhetorical devices and damning generalizations about the ACA and the people that run our Government. This is not new, I see it regularly. I see it a lot. 

Its interesting to me that there are "sheep" out there of all political sizes and shapes. All too often, the ones screaming the loudest about other people being sheep and that they'd better wake up before it too late are usually the least informed on the issue of health care reform, economics, etc. They've heard some scary talk on the radio or TV and when you don't subscribe to the same info that they do, they feel a need to verbally accost you. It would be a full time to job to debunk all the hysterical claims people like this make. All of their info, with no links/data/etc. usually available is somehow OBVIOUSLY THE RIGHT STUFF, while anything guys like me counter with , usually WITH links, data, etc. is dismissed as propaganda. 

Oh well...

Enjoy the article and remember, that nothing McDonough writes, explains, debunks, etc. will ever convince a certain segment of our population that there is this onerous tax aimed at all of us who might sell our homes someday. 
Anatomy of a ACA Lie by John McDonough

Most good lies have a kernel of truth in them, giving them undeserved credibility. Here's a great example of a lie intended to scare senior citizens into opposing both the Affordable Care Act (aka: ACA/ObamaCare) and President Obama as well.  Last week, I spoke to the GE Oldtimers Association, a luncheon group of about 50 older gents (and a few women) who are retired managers and engineers from the GE jet engine plant in Lynn, Massachusetts. They meet at Anjelica's Restaurant in Middleton, MA. They are nice, smart, informed, and attentive. They had lots of questions about the ACA, and we had a great discussion.

Near the end, some of them asked me about unsolicited emails they were getting claiming that the ACA, beginning in 2013, would impose on them a new Medicare tax of 3.8% when they sold their homes. Now, I knew that the ACA creates a new 3.8% Medicare tax on unearned income in excess of $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples. But a tax on principal residences? It didn't sound right. Rather than guess, I asked them to send me the email and I would check it out.

Click here to continue reading...


No, the CBO hasn’t doubled its cost estimate for health-care reform - The Washington Post

Ezra Klein lays out the case in a streamlined form why the CBO isn't doubling its cost estimate for the Affordable Care Act...

Good read...
By Ezra Klein

"The disparity in the cost estimates only comes when you take a different sample of years, in which the law is doing different things, in an economy of a different size. And even then, costs went up only if you take “gross” costs rather than “net” costs, which is a rather unusual way to think about the budget. "

Read the whole thing:

No, the CBO hasn’t doubled its cost estimate for health-care reform - The Washington Post:

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Independent Payment Advisory Board deserves a chance - The Washington Post

(The Washington Post makes the case for the Independent Payment Advisory Board.)

ONE OF THE MOST promising cost-control measures in the new health-care law is an entity called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB. To be launched in 2015, IPAB will have the authority, if growth in health-care costs exceeds a certain target, to recommend changes to the Medicare program. Those changes would take effect automatically unless Congress came up with equivalent savings elsewhere.
The 15-member board of experts from across the health-care field, in other words, is a break-in-case-of-emergency provision; if other parts of the health-care law work as hoped to keep costs down, there will be no need to invoke IPAB’s powers. But if there is such a need, IPAB, if anything, should be made stronger. Current law gives it no sway over hospital payments for several years, the board cannot push changes in benefits or cost-sharing, and its purview is limited to Medicare.
To continue reading, please click the link below...

The Independent Payment Advisory Board deserves a chance - The Washington Post:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Obama’s evolution: Behind the failed ‘grand bargain’ on the debt - The Washington Post

(Terrific read from the Washington Post. by Peter Wallsten, Lori Montgomery and Scott Wilson.)
President Obama had just arrived home, walking across Lafayette Square after attending Sunday services with his family at St. John’s Church. In the West Wing, Obama ducked into the spacious office of his chief of staff, where he found his negotiating team huddled with two leading Republicans and a passel of aides.
To the outside world, it looked like a do-nothing summer Sunday, a disturbingly quiet reminder of government dysfunction. The prevailing theme on the weekly political talk shows was things falling apart. In two weeks, the government would be unable to pay its bills. Where were the administration and congressional leaders who might work out a compromise to avert the looming disaster? No meetings were taking place at the White House that day, one network host said.
The reality was quite different. Around 11 a.m. July 17, John A. Boehner, the House speaker, and Eric Cantor, the majority leader, had slipped through a side entrance, out of view from the bank of television cameras stationed near the front gate off Pennsylvania Avenue. The on-and-off secret negotiations were on again. They had resumed with a Friday meeting at the Capitol. And they seemed to be going so well by the time Obama returned from church that he invited Boehner and Cantor into the Oval Office to talk, just the three of them.
The sermon the president had heard that morning was a stirring Old Testament account of Jacob dreaming of a ladder that stretched to heaven. Sometimes, the pastor had said, “the best adventures occur when we venture into unmarked terrain.” Obama was in a similar frame of mind. Against the vehement advice of many Democrats, including some of his own advisers, Obama was pursuing a compromise with his ideological opponents, a “grand bargain” that would move into unmarked territory, beyond partisan divides, pushing both parties to places they did not want to go. Now might be the moment.

Click below to read a fascinating account of the negotiations of the "Grand Bargain"

Obama’s evolution: Behind the failed ‘grand bargain’ on the debt - The Washington Post:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Amazing Footage of Shuttle Launch from NASA...

NASA has released some amazing, high definition video shot from cameras mounted on the solid rocket boosters on a space shuttle launch. It shows the entire launch, the trip out of the atmosphere and then the slow fall from the sky and into the ocean back on Earth.

Oh, as if that wasn't enough, they have two views, above and below the boosters. You can see the mph of the shuttle as it ascends. It also has an amazing audio track of the actual rockets. It is intense and I've never seen anything like this before anywhere...ever.


Pentagon officials: 'No smoking gun' in Afghan rampage | McClatchy

Pentagon officials: 'No smoking gun' in Afghan rampage | McClatchy: "The officials said that the suspect — a 38-year-old father who survived three tours in Iraq before deploying to Afghanistan in December — had no evidence of a serious traumatic brain injury or of post-traumatic stress, despite widespread speculation that those conditions were factors in the killing spree."

One example of how the Occupy Movement is failing...

This is a single example of how, in my opinion that the Occupy movement has failed to find its voice. The video below shows how a television crew was setting up for a live shot in Denver, Colorado when a few occupy protesters came up to the scene with signs that said "fuck the police!" Obviously those kind of images can't be used  on live television, so the shot was canceled.

A fairly tame exchange ensued with neither side agreeing with the other one and ultimately fizzling out. There was some mild cursing. The protesters felt it was there first amendment right to stand there and wave their vulgar signs. The intent had to be to disrupt the live shot and they succeeded. But it was hardly a success.

Watch the video...

We've seen plenty of video's where Occupy protesters have been handled roughly, maced, etc. While I don't advocate that sort of treatment, I'm still at a loss for what "the plan" is. I don't consider them deadbeats, druggies, hippies, etc. but the video speaks for itself. If they really think that carrying signs around like that and interfering with the press are good solid marketing ideas to advance the cause and mission of the Occupy Movement, well-they're dreadfully wrong.

At this point, they've become a punchline. They're only slightly more relevant than the crazy guy that walks around the city carrying a sandwich board that describes the many ways, both real and imagined, that society or some corporation has screwed him over. Once you say "fuck the police," you have stranded yourself and effectively their movement, on an island. You're not being reasonable. Its like the politicians who said Obama is a socialist who is destroying the country. How do you say that one day and then expect your constituents to sign off on a compromise a few days or weeks later.

Its all a god-damned shame. Many corporations do need to be taken down or at least to their knees. Income disparity is getting worse and worse over time and there are a great many sins for which Wall Street and Corporate America should be held to account for. That said, a movement with seemingly no clear cut purpose beyond "changing the world" that generally annoys most of the people that come into contact with their protests is never going to become the attractive, appealing, important thing you want it to be. Never.

This is just one example and it doesn't represent all of the Occupy movement. There are a lot of sincere, earnest people involved. But, it is I think, emblematic of the issues the cause is struggling with. There is something to be said for rawness, spontaneity and an ability to turn on a dime, but without clear structure, clear messaging and a clear cut set of conduct, its just a giant waste of time, innocence and hope.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Obama's approval rating up to 50 percent: Reuters/Ipsos poll | Reuters

(Reuters) - For the first time since early July, more Americans approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing than disapprove, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll that shows his approval rating now at 50 percent.
The poll, taken March 8-11 on the heels of reports that 227,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in February, indicates that Obama's rating has risen by 2 percentage points during the past month. The percentage of Americans who disapprove of the Democratic president was 48 percent, down from 49 percent in February.
Click the link to continue reading...

Obama's approval rating up to 50 percent: Reuters/Ipsos poll | Reuters:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Limbaugh's Unrivaled Influence On Republican Politics | Media Matters for America

Limbaugh's Unrivaled Influence On Republican Politics | Media Matters for America:

You really shouldn't consider Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher as equivalents.

One has been a major voice for Conservatism and the Republican Party for over twenty years. The other, is a late night cable only talent who's background is in comedy.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pregnancy Time-Lapse Video...

Check out the amazing video below. Its a time lapse of a woman's pregnancy done in a tasteful and touching way.

Very cute...

Have a nice life, Amelie!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Time to weigh in on the Rush Limbaugh situation...

I've waited for the better part of two weeks to comment on the Rush Limbaugh comments about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke and the contraception issue.

To review, this clip pretty well sums up the Limbaugh side of things...

There's quiet a bit more to Limbaugh's verbal flourishes over the years. He's gone after everyone from Hillary Clinton, to the National Organization for Women, to Michael J. Fox, to Micheal Steele, and so on. This post isn't meant to be a catalog of his most sensational insults, so if you're interested in that, google Rush Limbaugh and the target of your choice and you'll find plenty of examples. As a big fan of radio, especially talk radio,  I'm interested in seeing what long term effect this situation has on Rush's ratings. I suspect, they will either remain constant or perhaps improve slightly. He is a living legend when it comes to talk radio.

As the father of three daughters, all of who are over the age of 16, I'm pretty familiar with the value of prescribed contraceptives. Perhaps more than Mr. Limbaugh is. While two of my daughters have moved into adulthood and in fact, started their own families, each has been prescribed birth control pills to address other medical issues by their gynecologists.

His generalization that if you need this medicine its somehow because you're a sex maniac and getting laid non-stop is well, idiotic. I don't have a uterus and frankly am pretty happy about that. Apparently, its not all fun and games. Fortunately, medical science has developed some medications that provide relief for any number of feminine issues OTHER than preventing conception. Sometimes its devastating headaches, sometimes its to help regulate the monthly flow or address severe cramps. In some cases a woman will suffer from a disease called Endometriosis which is a painful disorder when tissue that is usually eliminated from the body via normal menses activity is not, and leads to a great deal of pain and discomfort. It is not a small thing. Hardly a mild inconvenience in most cases. In other instances prescribed contraceptives can be used to treat acne. Hormones wreak a good bit of havoc on women and as a husband and father of women, I don't enjoy seeing them uncomfortable let alone in pain.

The suggestion I've heard on facebook and cable talks shows of late that "why can't their guys just use condoms?" is moronic. If you are of such an opinion, please ask your wife or some other grown woman you're close to about this. Common sense tells most people that person A wearing a condom has no effect on the hormone imbalances of  person B. If you've written or said such a thing around any females understand that they probably want to hurt you. Badly. Apologize if you can, be very careful if you can't...

I think its very fair to bring up Mr. Limbaugh's use of viagara. Its perfectly normal for an aging man to experience difficulties having and maintaining an erection after the age of 50 or so. Testosterone levels drop and nature takes its course. Thankfully, medical science has developed medicines that can provide some help with this disorder. That Mr. Limbaugh needs a little help before sex is meaningless to me. Who cares? The point I will take issue with is the apparent double standard when it comes to addressing hormonal inefficiencies via prescribed medications. Why is it just fine for men to use any number of erectile dysfunction products with very little in the way of verbal attacks on them when, according to him, its not ok for women? Television advertisements are common for products like viagara, but I don't see them for similar women's products too often.

Maybe its the "who has to pay for it" question? In both cases, the vast majority (up to 85%) of health insurance plans cover a benefit for both erectile dysfunction medications and birth control medications. Which means all the people that share that same insurance help pay for it. In the recent controversy involving the White House's announced intention to require coverage from all non-religious organisations, the major health insurance companies have indicated where the employer is uncomfortable providing that benefit due to "moral issues" the insurance company will provide the benefit, out of their own pocket at no cost to any employee who wants it. The thinking being, from a bottom line point of view, its more profitable for the health insurance companies to minimize the number of full blown pregnancies, which are thousands of times more expensive for them than paying for contraception.

I do think this (the issue of contraception) is much ado about nothing. If the Republican party feels its a timely and pressing political issue that needs addressed right now, God bless them. I think its a major mistake, in a string of mistakes and mis-calculations that the GOP has made over recent months. Given that women are one of the largest voting blocks in the country, its probably not a good idea to mess around with this and other "ideas" that Conservatives seem pre-occupied with recently.

To Limbaugh's comments themselves, I found them pretty offensive. That said, he's shown a repeated pattern of verbal abuse to various individuals/groups over the years and if anyone is surprised by this, they shouldn't be. Whether he will pay a real price for his speech remains to be seen. There's been many stories in the press about the sponsors of his radio show dropping him over the last week, but Rush is a wildly popular entertainer and I suspect in time, he'll be whole again. To attack a private citizen, even one who has injected themselves into a public discussion I think is weak and rude. Its certainly not civil and those of us with daughters probably find ourselves more inline with Ms. Fluke's position on these matters than we do Mr. Limbaugh's.

If you're a husband or a father and you don't find Limbaugh's comments troublesome to say the very least, I'd suggest giving this issue some thought. Its a form of bullying, and if somehow out of a sense of "being a fan of Rush" it trumps the decency and protective nature you should feel toward the women in your life, you have failed. To fail a wife, a daughter or perhaps a sister or a mother or a co-worker or a friend is nothing to be proud of. Not at all.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Buddies singing in a car taken to a new level....

Young men have been riding around in cars and singing to the radio, 8 track tapes, cassettes, CD's and now mp3's and 4's for a long time. In my own personal experience I remember cruising in the late 70's with my friends Scott, Dave and Mark in Mark's bright yellow Grand Torino which had a killer sound system. We listened to a lot of rock and the Beatles. TONS of Beatles. Other favorites were bands like Queen, Foghat, Boston and Alice Cooper. We liked it loud, lol...we'd sing at the top of our lungs, play drums on the dashboard, our legs, each other's heads, anything we could strike in a rhythmic patter and and not break. When we pulled up to a light, other cars would look at us but we wouldn't care-we kept on. If it was a police car, we'd sing louder. Throw in the endless stream of fast food joints, county parks and shopping malls, and girl troubles, well-that was a big part of growing up for a lot of guys.

Here's a clip I just saw this morning that brought a lot of those times back to me. Its a street band out of Finland called the Porkka Playboys. In this video, the four of them perform Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" while inside a old Volkswagen Polo. Not polished or technically precise, I loved the raw energy of this. It more than makes up for the lack of production. Using non-traditional instruments in a very creative way, they absolutely get it done.


(Thanks Bil...)

Friday, March 9, 2012

U.S. Extends Its Run of Strong Job Growth Another Month -

U.S. Extends Its Run of Strong Job Growth Another Month -

"In yet another sign of a strengthening recovery, the United States added 227,000 net jobs in February, the third consecutive month of gains over 200,000. The unemployment rate was unchanged from 8.3 percent in January, the Labor Department reported Friday, as nearly a half million people who had been staying on the sidelines rejoined the search for work."

The NY Times take on the unemployment update from this morning...
How do you call a President, who has presided over the creation of 3.94 million private sector jobs in the last 24 months a "job killer?"

While its true there is a long way to go to full employment, I think the term "job-killing" should be retired by the Republicans immediately. There is a pattern of the loyal opposition party making various claims, usually not based in reality about President Obama, then as times passes, they look more and more foolish.

Why Didn’t Unemployment Rate Drop? - Real Time Economics - WSJ

Why Didn’t Unemployment Rate Drop? - Real Time Economics - WSJ:

Good explanation from the Wall Street Journal as to why the unemployment rate didn't fall in February despite the addition of over 200,000 jobs.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Live Blog on Super Tuesday...

Live blogging the second half of Super Tuesday...

11:58pm- Romney lead now up to 7,500 votes with very little left to report. We call Ohio for Mitt Romney...barely...

11:50pm- If I'm a Romney supporter, I feel better that we won than I would've if we'd lost, but I wouldn't feel THAT good. For all the money, opposition research, organization, etc. Ohio, a key state in the general election, was much closer than it should've been. The primaries head South for awhile and our guy doesn't do that well in the South. If I'm a Santorum supporter, I'm thrilled we made it as close as we did.Out organised, outspent, etc. our message is resonating with a certain "everyman" conservative voter who can carry us a long way. I probably focus more on Newt for the next few weeks than I do Romney as we both have an advantage in the Southern primaries. On the other hand, most of the states I've done well in are smaller states. How do I connect with the more urban conservatives. Is it an electability issue? If I'm a Gingrich supporter, even though winning Georgia was nice, it was also expected. I'm not sure much further the Gingrich train goes. If I'm a Ron Paul supporter, I give up...

11:47pm- Ohio SecofSt website now has Romney up by over 7,000. Fat lady is warming up...Not sure Ron Paul's rational for sticking around much longer.

11:39pm- According to Nate Silver from the FiveThirtyEight blog, Ohio State law says if the margin of victory is less than .025%, an automatic recount is triggered...With 91% of the vote in, Romney now leads by almost 6,000 votes. Looking very good for Romney. No, check that. He was supposed to win Ohio, not squeak past a religious fanatic who had no money, right?

11:23pm- CNN shows Romney with a 5300 vote lead, Secretary of State for Ohio website showing lead is just 2,291...Somehow CNN has 90% of the vote, the State of Ohio just 83.5%

11:15pm - Romney also liking Clermont County a bunch...

11:11pm- Romney pulls ahead by 6,152 votes. Thank you Cuyahoga County says the Romney campaign...

11:02pm- Difference now 1,837 votes...out of 779,000 total

10:57pm- Mitt Romney will walk away with most of the delegates from Ohio, despite the closeness of the vote, yet Romney has to asking himself ow to connect with the rural, non elite Republican voters. Difference back up to 2500, Santorum leads 38% - 37%...86% of vote counted...

10:50pm - Santorum's lead down to 2200, but both candidates now with 37% of the vote...

10:45pm- Santorum's lead evaporating...down to 2,570 with 84% reporting...

10:43pm- Romney looks strong in Idaho caucuses...81% reporting on Ohio, Santorum's lead is down to 6,017 votes...

10:38pm- Deficit down to 7,200 votes for Romney...Santorum may get boost from late reporting counties, most of which are rural...

10:33pm - Romney gaining ground, has made up 3,000 votes in last ten minutes...This still looks too close to call just yet...

10:28pm- Santorum dominating the Greater Miami Valley outside of Dayton proper...72% reporting, Santorum holding close to a 15K lead...

10:20pm- Santorum lead up over 15,000 with 70% reporting....

10:17pm- 66% of precincts reporting: Santorum up by 13,373...Romney has to be bumming badly...

10:12pm- Cincy, Columbus and Cleveland all going strong for Romney

10:11pm -Santorum lead back up to over 13k in Ohio...

10:09pm- CNN nows calls North Dakota for Santorum...

10:07pm:  More on North Dakota caucus results...with 78% of the votes tallied, Santorum-40%, Paul-27%, Romney-25%, Gingrich-8%...

10:04pm: Romney giving his standard Obama's failed/I'll succeed speech to supporters. With 60% of the vote accounted vote, Santorum lead down to about 10,000...But, Santorum now looks to have won North Dakota caucus as well...

9:45pm: Romney about to speak from Massachusetts. Plus major metro areas in Ohio (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincy, Toledo) all have under 20% of their results reported yet. Santorum plays best in the rural areas, while Romney performs better in the urban areas...With 45% of the Ohio vote in, Santorum leads by more than 16,000 votes...

9:41pm - Santorum's speech was much better than Gingrich's. On message, populist, invoked the "Greatest Generation", pushed all the right buttons...Got some basic facts about Obamacare wrong...not that his audience found it objectionable...

9:37pm - Romney campaign says "our best Counties haven't reported yet..." Trailing Santorum by over 13,000 votes....

9:33pm- Santorum's lead up to 4% with 36% reporting. Santorum, like Gingrich earlier tonight, wailing on Obama...lots of red meat for the base. Not sure how appealing all the scary talk plays with middle of the road indie voters...

9:24pm-With 29% of the vote in from Ohio, Santorum leads Romney 39% to 36%...Either Romney got profoundly poor return on his campaign dollars or Santorum is getting AWESOME value...

9:19pm-Santorum speaking to his supporters in Steubenville, OH...

9:12pm-With 20% of the vote in Santorum leads Romney in Ohio 38% to 37%...going to be a long night...Romney wins VA, VT and MA, Santorum wins TE and OK, Gingrich wins GA...No results yet fropm ND, ID and AK....

Fox News Says Don't Blame the President for Gas Prices...

Media Matters has put together a powerful compilation of Fox News experts, anchors and prime time hosts opining on how much, if anything elected officials, including a President of the United States can really do to lower gasoline prices at the pump. President Obama has been taking shots from all the Republican candidates as well as much of the right wing and conservative media for failing to do something to lower the price of a gallon of gas.


Keep this in mind when you hear Newt Gingrich talk about $2.50 a gallon gasoline or Mitt Romney chastise the President for not acting on the Keystone Pipeline (of which not a drop of Canadian oil would enter the US market for oil or lower the price of a domestic gallon of oil...)

Netanyahu 1992: "Iran will Have the Bomb by 1997."

 Via a friend, this piece was brought to my attention. Its not really a traditional blog work, but a very short collection of quotes from Israeli leaders through the last twenty years predicting the imminent acquisition of a nuclear weapon by Iran.

These were public comments made by Israeli leaders as far back as 1992.

From the Informed Consent Blog, who references a piece by the Christian Science Monitor:

Netanyahu 1992: Iran will Have the Bomb by 1997

Posted on 03/06/2012 by Juan
Scott Peterson at the Christian Science Monitor did a useful timeline for dire Israeli and US predictions of an imminent Iranian nuclear weapon, beginning 20 years ago.
1992: Israeli member of parliament Binyamin Netanyahu predicts that Iran was “3 to 5 years” from having a nuclear weapon.
1992: Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres predicts an Iranian nuclear warhead by 1999 to French TV.
1995: The New York Times quotes US and Israeli officials saying that Iran would have the bomb by 2000.
1998: Donald Rumsfeld tells Congress that Iran could have an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the US by 2003.
For clarity's sake, here's the link to the original work from the Christian Science Monitor: 
To suggest that anyone sharing this info could be, in any way, in favor of Iran obtaining or developing a nuclear weapon, is laughable. That said...I think this information should at the very least give people a moment's pause before we take any steps toward military action against Iran. Netenyahu, Peres and Rumsfield weren't kidding, and likely believed those thoughts when they expressed them. Just as Netenyahu believes them now as tensions seemingly are on a slow burn toward military aggression. 
It is a problem. For all the well enunciated reasons why, I'm not in favor of Iran developing nuclear weapons. That said, I'm not comfortable with the United States having nuclear weapons. Reality tells us many nations have nukes and so far there has not been an occasion where one was used. (The bombs dropped during World War II were Atomic weapons, a fraction as powerful as nuclear weapons.) Is the world safer because of them? The argument goes that if everyone has one, then no one will use one. Really? Ok, if you say so. 
Aside from the whole "right to do what they please" argument, it does seem that the religious factions are pulling power from Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Who knows? If the powers that be reach the point where military actions are chosen as a path forward, I sure hope there's more meat on the bone than apparently there was back in 1992, 1995 and 1998. If lives are at stake, American, Israeli or Iranian, let's make sure our information is of a better caliber than it appears to have been over the last twenty years. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Reaction from Israel to Obama AIPAC Speech...

TIME Magazine has a nice collection of reaction from various Israeli media outlets toward President Barack Obama's speech Sunday morning at the AIPAC Conference.

Well written and fairly brief, its a good read...


By Karl Vick

Israelis Like What They Heard in Obama’s AIPAC Speech

Israeli television went live with President Obama’s speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday night.  It amounted to theater here, high drama framed by, rather than the proscenium, a kind of structural tension between the Israeli and the American positions on Iran’s nuclear program. Monday morning the reviews came in.  They were overwhelmingly positive.
“Those disappointed by Obama’s speech yesterday, and it turns out there are such people, claim that he didn’t make a clear commitment to a military strike,” wrote Ben-Dror Yemini in the daily Ma’ariv.  ”Come on, really.  He couldn’t be clearer.”
Yemini, a plain-spoken conservative regarded as the voice of the workaday Israeli, heard in Obama’s warnings to Iran’s ayatollahs the bass rumble of Israel’s right-wing political establishment.  ”He didn’t say he would vote for the Likud.  But aside from that, one should pay attention, he sounded almost like the Likud leader,” Yemini said.
Wrote Nadav Eyal, also in Ma’ariv: “A masterpiece of political work.”
The analysts were no less enthusiastic in Yedioth Ahronoth, the largest paid daily. ”Yesterday Obama gave Israel’s citizens a good reason to be friends of his,” wrote Sima Kadmon, under the headline: “Shalom, Friend.”  ”His speech was aimed directly at our nerve center, at our strongest existential fears.  Obama promised us that the United States would not accept nuclear weapons; it simply would not permit their existence….It was a good speech for us, even an excellent one.  We heard in it everything we wanted to hear—and heard that we have someone to rely upon.”
The press reaction increased the odds that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Monday morning White House meeting with Obama will produce comity.  Obama’s remarks to the Israel lobby included passages that could have been seized on for argument and contention. (Recall that a year ago, Netanyahu created a huge flap by lambasting Obama’s call for basing an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement on 1967 borders — while ignoring the president’s crucial parenthetical, “with agreed-upon swaps.”) This time, the signal from Netanyahu’s camp was positive, especially over Obama’s reference to Israel’s soverign right to go it alone against Iran, if it feels it must, even though the American president also made clear that he’d much prefer it did not.
The left wing Haaretz made that its play headline: “PM welcomes Obama’s recognition of Israel’s right ‘to defend itself, by itself.”’
“I appreciate all these statements and expect to discuss them [on Monday] with President Obama,” Netanyahu said in Canada on Sunday, where he was meeting with prime minister Stephen Harper, an ardent supporter of the Jewish State who, like Obama, signaled his preference for a “peaceful” solution to the Iranian challenge.

Source: Read more: