Sunday, June 30, 2013
After reading this horrific story about how two brothers, who live about ninety minutes from me here in Ohio, were together sometime this past Tuesday. Ages 9 and 12, the older boy somehow got a hold of his father's .44 caliber handgun. I don't know if it was was already loaded with ammunition or if one of the boys loaded it himself. The older boy wound up shooting his little brother in the head, killing him almost instantly. Then, the older boy put the gun under his own chin and pulled the trigger, resulting in the second fatality due to guns in that house in a matter of seconds.
I posted this story last night to my facebook page and the comments began to flow. One person, (h/t SF) commented that Ohio (and many other States) are woefully lax in terms of gun owner liability for negligent storage, liability for children having access to this often deadly combination of guns and ammo, as well as no laws regulating the provision (intentional or otherwise) of firearms to children. The Children's Defense Fund has a great write-up on this issue within the State of Ohio. Read it here...
I am tired of hearing the pushback from the NRA and too many gun owners saying that these type instances, while tragic, don't provide sufficient reason for we as a Country to establish any meaningful regulations and laws that would universally, from coast to coast, address this sort of gun violence. We're having a lot of trouble beefing up adult firearm ownership regulations, as witnessed by the recent debacle in the House where a pretty tame and reasonable proposal was rejected.
We're seeing stories similar to the one I referenced above all too often. Think about it. How often do you hear about an accidental shooting? Way too often. It can be greatly reduced, but it would take legislation. Gun Legislation has a very low likelihood of getting passed in today's Congress.
We've done a pretty good job fighting other epidemics in this Country. Smallpox is mostly a thing of the past because we identified a health risk, put experts on it and followed their recommendations. Polio is another example. Working together does good things, especially in matters of public policy and public health.
I can't imagine the grief of the parents that lost those two young boys. As parents, we need to find common ground at least on this issue. Tighter ownership and liability laws will mean fewer deaths like these, not less liberty or freedom. Why can't we seem to do anything meaningful on this issue with out being extreme about it? Our kids, the future of this country are paying a high price for our inflexibility and foolishness on this issue. And for that, we will pay a high price as well.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Laura Ingraham said, “To all the Republicans who supported this, well know that you’re writing your own political obituary. I hope you know that you just participated in the political equivalent of a one-night stand. Once the Democrat leadership has had their way with you, they’re not going to love you in the morning,” And, "In all my years of warning about the GOP moderates, I’m certain that this Senate immigration deal is the worst thing they’ve ever done,”
Michelle Malkin offered, "Marco Rubio has made some extremely bad choices . . . Unfortunately Marco Rubio has been completely self-diluted . .. I think he’s trying to save face.”
Ann Coulter said, The patriotic House member’s position has got to be until the Senate is in Republican hands, preferably Rubio-free, sorry, we’re not even going to pass a bill that mentions immigration. A week earlier she dubbed him, “the Jack Kevorkian of the Republican Party.”
Even Glen Beck is upset: “Let me tell you something Marco Rubio, I haven’t trusted you for quite some time. Rubio’s a dirtbag. He is not on our side. Don’t trust Marco Rubio.”
Mr. Rubio hasn't been afraid to take on his critics directly as he's made stops at most of the popular conservative media outlets like Fox news and various right wing radio talk shows. Generally speaking, Rubio is well liked and thought of as having great potential to lead the party back to the White House someday. Maybe that day will be in 2016. Maybe not.
A recent poll by the conservative leaning Rasmussen Reports shows Rubio taking a hard hit in his favorability ratings within the Republican Party. In February, Rubio was considered favorable by 73% of Republicans. That number fell to 68% in May and earlier this week had dropped even further to 58%. Overall, a severe drop in his favorability ratings of 21% in less than six months.
Senator Rubio took to the floor of the Senate Wednesday to defend the Gang of 8 immigration plan as well as his support of it. Its twelve minutes long, but Rubio does a nice job directly responding to his critics and making a strong case why it should be supported.
I do not agree with Marco Rubio on most issues. Should he be the GOP's nominee I would have a hard time voting for him. That said, it strikes me that here we have an attractive, young, dynamic and capable legislator showing a willingness to reach across the aisle and work toward a common good with Democrats. Which, generally speaking, is something that most independent voters find highly attractive. Rather than learn the lesson from the Mitt Romney disaster, the hard liners mentioned above and others like fellow Senator Ted Cruz-(R TX) are trashing Rubio's efforts. Cruz has, in fact, compared the proposed Bill to "human trafficking."
For those of you who have forgotten, Mitt Romney was a mostly moderate Republican Governor of a liberal state in Massachusetts, who's biggest success, "Romneycare" was rendered utterly useless by the Republican primary process. Romney was forced/chose to abandon his moderate strength and pronounce himself not just a conservative but a severe conservative, which was, of course, laughable. Its my opinion, the primary process forced Romney to move so far to his right to win the hearts and minds of the primary voters, that when it came time to move back towards the middle to attract the independent and undecided voters, he could'nt step to his left fast or far enough and he wound up getting clocked badly by an unpopular incumbent who's middle name is Hussein and is thought by many to be a Muslim, Socialist/Marxist, Kenyan who hates Christians and Christmas equally.
Again I'll caution those on the right against making the same mistake twice. Rubio is probably less moderate than Romney was, but if he's so easily attacked it makes me wonder if any lessons have been learned from the 2012 Presidential Election. To many in the middle, voices like those of Cruz and fellow Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) strike many of us as too extreme, too strident. Rubio doesn't have the extreme or nutty label yet and I applaud his efforts to stand his ground...so far.
Glen beck called Marco Rubio a dirtbag. That's precious...
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Guillotines is a powerful word that conjurs up images of major bloodletting and brutality. Not just your average, run of the mill bloodletting and brutality, but a very high caliber of bloodletting and brutality.
With the government already stocking up on ammo to shoot us, and building all the FEMA death camps to imprison us in when ever they decide its time, the notion that President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and the rest of the "fundamental transformers" would try and take advantage of a bulk discount at the local guillotine store seems, on the surface, absolutely plausible.
Its hard for me to write a serious article about this story. The paranoia and delusion that would have to be present in large quantities is unknown to me. I'm on record as not being afraid of my government. I surely don't think they're perfect, heavens no. We're fed a constant feed of hard to swallow levels of stupidity, ego and professional hackery, on a daily basis. Its not hard to find. But no, I do not think my government is going to declare marshal law for the purpose of finally controlling we the people, take over all the media shut down all the roads and lead us by the thousands to these fictitious FEMA camps we we stand a high chance of being slaughtered, probably with guillotines.
There's even this nifty video to help make the point that we should all be VERY afraid:
If you're the type the does think all of these things are about to happen, then I have some advice for you. You should gather up your guns and ammo and gold and "special" seeds for planting the first crops of our new world and go hang out somewhere far away with other people who feel the same way. Yes, to be clear, instead of playing with your self, you should go play with others of the same mindset. Preferably far, far away. Got that? Stop playing with yourself and find some other playmates.
The question, "Why did the U. S. Government Recently Purchase 30,000 guillotines?" has been answered. In short, its an old internet meme that's been around since the 1990's. For more on the hoax....
Snopes has it here....
Urban Legends has it here...
Metabunk has it here....
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
A provision under that new stimulus program title allows for the use of spending the taxpayer money on the program to provide transportation for youth to and from their jobs.
Monday, June 24, 2013
Click here to read her full column...well worth the time...
Nothing reverses the trend and expectation that younger healthy people will likely pay more for their health insurance going forward. If its any solace to this market, they'll be purchasing far better and comprehensive coverage than what their money bought them before. Subsidies still apply to this group based on income, so it may be a bit of a wash in the end.
The state insurance exchanges are expected to go live sometime in October, 2013....
The Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH) is out with comments in advance of the President's speech. “I think this is absolutely crazy,” Boehner said at his weekly press conference. “Why would you want to increase the cost of energy and kill more American jobs at a time when American people are asking, 'Where are the jobs?" I am stunned that Mr. Boehner isn't supporting Mr. Obama's plans to address this issue.
I'll let the President explain in his own words:
I suspect when I turn on the Conservative channel on Sirius XM today and especially tomorrow, I will hear nothing but fear and loathing for whatever it is that President Obama says on Tuesday at Georgetown University. We can't afford it. The science is "shaky". Its all a hoax. Etc, etc., etc. Its laughable to think that the House will approve ANY proposals sent over by the White House regarding climate change. Its only slightly less laughable to think the Senate would be able to pass anything either. So, how will President Obama get anything done? Executive order. The Atlantic has a nice write up on what's expected to be announced.
Obama will please many on the Left who have felt he's dragged his feet and not provided the global leadership he should have from his position of power. I think given the issues he assigned more importance to during his first term (health care reform, the economy) there just wasn't the political capital to be spent on environmental issues. Nothing happens by accident in this administration. Remember how President Obama finally got around to endorsing gay marriage as we approached the last election? Coincidence, you say? C'mon, lol...
Keep in mind over the next few days there are big limits on what Obama can really do via executive actions. he can not command Congress to sign any news laws into effect. He can't compel them to spend a single dime on any of this. And, what can be created and enforced by executive orders can be un-created and unenforced by the same office in the future. If you're looking for the BFD that health care reform brought, this ain't it.
There is a debt ceiling fight coming up later this year and its possible that the President wants to potentially use climate change as a chip in that poker game. Hard to say, I think the first thing on the list would be to work with him a teeny bit more on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. As in perhaps releasing some funding to train and educate people on the new insurance exchanges that are supposed to open in October.
I doubt he'll see any cooperation from the right on that front either.
Friday, June 21, 2013
Uwe Rheinhart is one of the preeminent experts on health care policy in the world today. He is usually at the top of the list when people ask who knows about our healthcare system, our problems and ways to improve them.
Below, click through to read a great article from a few years ago. It explains about the requirement of insurance and how it was so integral to previous Republican plans for reforming health care in our country.
A great read...
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
- The Wall Street Journal reports that, for the first time in almost 40 years, health care costs reflected in the Labor Departments's price index for medical care actually decreased. Ok, so the adjusted amount was a drop of 0.1%, but a decrease is a decrease.
- The Associated Press tells us that a report issued by accounting/consulting giant Price Waterhouse Coopers says that the recent slowdown in medical costs may be a trend and not a statistical blip (as reported in the Washington Guardian).
- Patients seeking more affordable routine services in settings like clinics springing up in retail stores, as opposed to a doctor's office or the emergency room.
- Major employers contracting directly with hospital systems that have a proven record for complicated procedures such as heart surgery and certain back operations.
- The government ramping up penalties on hospitals that have too many patients coming back with problems soon after being discharged.
- Employers' ongoing effort to shift more costs to workers through higher annual deductibles, the amount people must pay each year before insurance picks up.
- The high price of new "specialty" drugs to treat serious chronic illnesses such as autoimmune diseases and some types of cancer.
- Industry consolidation, with big hospitals buying up smaller ones, as well as medical practices and rehab centers. The downside of the demand for greater efficiency by employers and government is that it may be fostering new health care monopolies."
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Watch the video...it seems pretty straight-forward...
Great work, Mr. Hannity...
But the military-industrial complex has a trump card to play with members of Congress and the public: nobody wants to argue with national security, especially when the very real threat of terrorism exists. This ain’t no phantom menace: more than 45 jihadist terror plots had been stopped before the 10th anniversary of 9/11. But the combination of real threat and opaque multibillion-dollar budgets leads inevitably to a lack of transparency and accountability. That’s where the risk of not just information-dragnet overreach but also the risk of leakers like Ed Snowden comes in. With this level of complexity in the system, security is ironically almost impossible to maintain.
Read the whole thing...now...
I can't say what Mr. Rubio's chances are to reach the White House one day might be, let alone in 2016. That said, it speaks to the extremeness of today's GOP/Tea Party thinking if Rubio's stance, which seems firmly lodged in the realm of reason, obliterates his higher political ambitions.
Click here to read the story:
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
For those who don't know Mr. Snowden, he's an employee of the private firm Booz Allen Hamilton, whom the Federal Government employs to provide intelligence services. Snowden, 30, armed with not much more than his GED, and some brief experience in the United States Army (cut short due to breaking both of his legs in a training accident), security work for the NSA at a secret facility at the University of Maryland which led to his being hired by the CIA to work on IT security. After being stationed in Switzerland for a while, Snowden then left the CIA and worked for a private contractor at a NSA facility on a US military base in Japan.
Snowden worked as a system administrator for Booz Allen Hamilton less than three months when he took his big step. Stationed in the Hawaii area for the NSA, he earned a salary of roughly two hundred thousand dollars a year. By almost any reasonable measure, Mr. Snowden had done pretty well for himself considering his lack of formal education.
Edward Snowden went to the Washington Post with classified information about the surveillance programs the National Security Agency. They wouldn't handle his information to his liking so Snowden then offered it to the Guardian newspaper in London. He told them, "I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded."
The media has gone nuts. Talk shows are having a field day. Politicians are saying everything you can imagine. The situation has created a somewhat nice diversion for President Obama, while Mr. Snowden has created the strangest of bedfellows. Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul on roughly the same side of this as are Rush Limbaugh and Micheal Moore. Weird times, indeed.
Snowden is flat out wrong to have done what he's done.
The United States of America has a systematic government. We vote freely in Presidential, Congressional and Senate elections and the winners of these govern and make decisions on our behalf. We've "hired them" to represent us and our interests. The "spying" programs Snowden decided on his own weren't appropriate are known to many of our elected representatives. The Congress provides oversight on the Executive Branch. Federal judges are also involved when the NSA determines that some information needs a closer look or listen. Its not one guy making this up. Career professionals do this sort of work every day and bottom line, their goals are to keep the United States safe. The programs and methods aren't entirely new, either, having been around since the Bush Administration. Its ironic that this degree of outrage was no where to be seen until just a few days ago.
I've been wondering what exactly a "healthy distrust of the Government" really means. Not a total distrust, but a "healthy mistrust." The people we've duly elected and entrusted to lead our country are the ones who bear the burden of some of these tough decisions. Everything I've heard/read lately on this story tells me there's limits to what the NSA can do. Only targets that meet certain criteria can receive more intense scrutiny, etc. They're not listening to me and my brother discuss the animals in his back yard nor are they the least bit interested in what you think about Mad Men. They don't have the resources in either people or financial terms to waste chasing after things that don't matter.
They pursue people who would do us harm. Can you imagine if it came out in the days after 9/11, that we'd possessed the technology to have identified and ultimately prevented what happened that day but didn't use it? People would be outraged in high numbers. We know these programs are to some degree effective and have prevented one terrorist, Najibullah Zazi, from blowing up a New York City subway in 2009.
Some will say that the programs are not properly managed, the potential for abuse is too high, its against what our country stands for, etc. If I hear the Ben Franklin quote about "those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither" one more time, I'm going to scream. Those words, which are over two hundred years old, can't be plucked out of the ages and cut and pasted seamlessly into today's world. The world is different now. Everyone knows it. Its a different ball game, pal.
Do we, as American citizens, have the right to know everything our Government is doing on our behalf? Good question. I don't think we have a right to know every little thing. The systems of checks and balances is designed, along with our oversight committees, to keep any branch of Government from running amuk. Our system, that the forefathers developed and passed on to us is, at some level, based on trust. That's not to say that politicians are never corrupt, because we know of countless instances where they've behaved badly, sometimes illegally and clearly not in the best interests of we, the people. And in most of those cases, they are punished.
As maddening as our government can be, as frustrating as our elected officials can be, no single citizen has the right to release classified documents, essentially to the world, to make a point. No business would put up with it, and no government can either. Snowden had options. Talk to his superiors, leave the position, file a report with the Inspector General for him to follow through, seek out his elected representative, etc. All, far better choices that going to the media, creating some level of hysteria and further alienating the people's government from the people.
We've gone overboard with this "anti-government" stuff. Yes, yes, yes seek out and punish wrong doers. Absolutely. But we've lost our sense of balance with regard to how we view our leaders. If it comes down to choosing the Edward Snowden's of the world versus the duly elected officials and appointed military and intelligence professionals, I chose the latter. Every time. I don't think the United States and her interests are any safer today because of what Mr. Snowden did. In fact, I suspect that we are less safe, due to his actions. Like Bradley Manning, when you sign onto to certain jobs, you agree to abide by the rules and terms of your employment. Both men, while perhaps virtuous on some level, executed their plans in a selfish and reckless manner.
Generally speaking, I am against anything that endangers American lives. Both Snowden and Manning deserve their day in court, and whatever justice the court feels is merited.
Neither is a hero. Not even close...
Monday, June 10, 2013
"The earlier IRS scandals produced useful reforms partly because the Republicans who did the most to publicize them weren't focused on pinning the blame on President Bill Clinton. They instead wanted to demonstrate the dangers of letting the federal government have too much power, and in finding ways to reduce these dangers.
We could use a congressional investigation with the same spirit today."
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
IRS Scandal: Were groups targeted due to politics or was it just an administrative screwup of epic proportions?
This is good...Its worth the two clicks needed to see it fully. It really is...
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
The ACA now requires all health insurance plans to meet minimum standards, so the bang for the buck is also considerably bigger as well as yes, in some cases, the price tag.
Read both articles, and this post from Aarron Carroll at the Incidental Economist and come to your own conclusion. Roy engages in some pretzel logic to come to his. If he compares apples to apples I'll listen because all in all, he's a smart guy and one of the voices we should be considering, not mocking, from the right. He didn't have to compare the costs of pre ACA health care plans to make the case that yes, for some people (young, healthy, too old for parents plan, etc.) they WILL probably pay more than they have been.
From Dr. Carroll's piece: