Sunday, September 29, 2013

Let's Give the American People What They Want...

You've heard it, I've heard it, we've ALL heard it in the media lately. "The American people don't want it!" We as Americans have an expectation that in our political system that our will should be done. In the recent weeks any number of conservative politicians have stated that the American people don't want Obamacare and that President Obama and his Democratic counterparts should listen to us and put a stop to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act immediately.

Here's Speaker of the House John Boehner saying it:

He's surely not alone as most Conservatives agree to one degree or another that they feel the ACA should be stopped as soon as possible. Senator Ted Cruz spent over twenty hours on the floor of the Senate driving that point home earlier this week. Right wing voices from Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity all are predicting the utter destruction of our Country if Obamacare is permitted to carry on.

There's good evidence that a significant percent of Americans also feel less than enthused about Obamacare. The poll website Real Clear Politics, which looks at many polls from various sources, shows an average breakdown of 52% against the ACA, with just 38.7% in favor of the new law. Their results include polls from CNN, CBS/NYT, Rasmussen, ABC/Washington Post among others. Hardly just a sampling of far right wing outlets. It is a fact, there is significant opposition to Obamacare. We can quibble on the merits of the opinions, but we can't and shouldn't pretend they don't exist.

Maybe with just over half of those polled feeling the ACA isn't the way we should go right now, we should listen to them. I don't think so, myself at all, but hey, if more than half the Country feels this way, perhaps we shouldn't ignore them. Americans elect politicians and send them to 50 different State Houses and Washington DC to do "our will." They represent us in these matters and are compelled morally to do so honestly, even if it means they must assume a difficult or unpopular stance.

We all agree on that? Right?

I have one question that I've been unable to get an answer to. If we move from looking at the "will of the people" when it comes to Obamacare and change the issue to gun control, things seem to change very quickly. There's an issue with even more dramatic poll results than the ACA. A CBS poll from March indicates a 90% approval rating, a Washington Post/ABC News poll from April shows a 86% approval rating, a CNN poll from April shows a 83% favorability rating, a Quinnipiac Poll from the Spring comes in at a striking 91% approval.

Here's my question:

If the best argument against the ACA is that a majority of the American people do not want it so therefore we should stop it in its tracks immediately, why doesn't the same thinking apply to background checks/gun control? Remember this vote from the Senate, last Spring?

Someone please explain it to me...


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Meanwhile, In Georgia-You're Screwed...

Things are not peachy in Georgia. Not by a long shot...In the comment section of Kentucky Governor Beshear's NYT column, I found this:

Meanwhile in Georgia...a state where only 10% of its white citizens voted for Obama is doing everything possible to obstruct the ACA.

Governor Nathan Deal not only turned down all federal funding for Medicaid he also appointed a Republican state insurance director...

“Let me tell you what we’re doing (about ObamaCare),” Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens bragged to a crowd of fellow Republicans in Floyd County earlier this month: “Everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”

There are NO links on the state's webpage that connect you to Hudgens will not allow it. 

Navigators have been trained in every state to help people navigate the exchanges that will provide the insurance companies' basic and other plans to residents. These workers have been given 30 hours in training and are unbiased. They are only there to give facts to confused residents in need of the ACA.

Ralph Hudgens has decided that 30 hrs training is NOT enough. He is requiring that every "navigator" be a fully licensed insurance agent! Right now only one navigator meets that criteria. But Hudgens insists it has NOTHING to do with obstructing "Obamacare."

Two in five Georgians need health insurance. One in five makes so little money that they don't qualify for Obamacare as it was thought that Medicaid would pick up the people who make under $11,000 per year. 

(Editor's Note: Georgia has rejected the Medicaid Expansion in full...)


I've really nothing to add...


Kentucky Kicks Ass With Obamacare!

Steve Beshear is the Democratic Governor of Kentucky. A State that overwhelmingly voted for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney over incumbent Barack Obama in 2012. How overwhelmingly? Romney finished with 62%, while Obama had just 38% of the popular vote. A margin of over four hundred thousand in a State of 1.7 Million is pretty big.

Gov. Beshear has penned a pretty gutsy op-ed in the New York Times about why he has decided, some time ago in fact, to take every bit of Obamacare he can for his State. He's sure to take some grief for this column from those to his political right, but he doesn't seem to really care. The Affordable Care Act will absolutely help his State's uninsured and Beshear doesn't seem inclined to let politics ruin this opportunity to improve the lives of Kentuckians across the commonwealth.

Gov. Beshear explains why, unlike so many Conservative states, Kentucky is more than happy to get moving with all aspects of Obamacare, as he describes the uninsured in his state:

"They roll the dice and pray they don’t get sick. They choose between food and medicine. They ignore checkups that would catch serious conditions early. They put off doctor’s appointments, hoping a condition turns out to be nothing. And they live knowing that bankruptcy is just one bad diagnosis away.
Furthermore, their children go long periods without checkups that focus on immunizations, preventive care and vision and hearing tests. If they have diabetes, asthma or infected gums, their conditions remain untreated and unchecked.
For Kentucky as a whole, the negative impact is similar but larger — jacked-up costs, decreased worker productivity, lower quality of life, depressed school attendance and a poor image.
The Affordable Care Act will address these weaknesses."

Governor Beshear is showing leadership. In a week where too many of us mistook a 21 hour infomercial for another politician as admirable, the real deal is happening in Kentucky. Congrats to Gov. Beshear for his decision to put his state politics aside and do what's necessary to help his constituents out. Kentucky seems to be as prepared as any state is for the opening of the state based health insurance exchanges, which are scheduled to open up on Tuesday.

Read his full remarks here:


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Republicans talking to themselves?

How Obamacare will effect 8 different lives...

The Obamacare equation: How eight lives would be effected by the health law...

The Washington Post's Sarah Kliff and others have posted a terrific article on how the Affordable Care Act will effect eight different people, all in different situations. They provide a concise summary of the person's situation, their current medical needs and concerns and provide an example of what both a moderate and a cheap health insurance plan would cost them. The eight people ran the gamut from eagerly awaiting the state exchanges to open on October 1st, to a case where the individual will choose to pay the fine rather than sign up for coverage.

Kliff is becoming one of the heavy hitters when it comes to health reform coverage. In my opinion, she does extraordinary work.

Read the entire article by clicking on the link below...

The Obamacare equation: How eight lives would be effected by the health law....


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Yes, we use mind control to make people gay

I have nothing to add this except just read it. No, its not from the Onion...

The real issue behind the Navy Yard shootings

The Navy Yard shootings have brought out the usual - and typically fruitless - gun control discussions. Unfortunately, that volatile issue has distracted from what is a more direct cause of this tragedy: the lack of effective mental health care.

In this situation, you had a deeply disturbed individual who reached out to authorities only days before he killed innocents. Instead of being instantly directed to evaluation and supervised care, the soon-to-be shooter was sent on his way. 

Conservative commentator and former practicing psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer writes of this problem in a recent column. An excerpt:

"More than half of those you see sleeping on grates have suffered mental illness. It’s a national scandal. It’s time we recalibrated the pendulum that today allows the mentally ill to die with their rights on — and, rarely but unforgivably, take a dozen innocents with them."

Read Krauthammer's column here:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Why Shutting Down the Government Might Actually Help Obamacare...

Ezra Klein and his Wonkblog staff had a great write-up in yesterday's edition on how the GOP, in an effort to kill Obamacare, might actually wind up strengthening it should they wind up shutting down the Federal government.

Consider this: (From Wonkblog, 9/20/13)

There's a cold logic behind the willingness of some conservatives to risk everything to stop Obamacare. But it's not that Obamacare will fail. After all, if the law will just be a debacle, Republicans should let it take effect, ride the catastrophe to overwhelming victory in the 2014 midterms, and then use their massive congressional majorities to repeal it.
Rather, as EJ Dionne writes, the real fear is that the law will succeed. Once Obamacare begins delivering health insurance to millions of Americans it will become effectively impossible to repeal. That's what's happened in every other country that's introduced a national health-care system. That's why the right needs to stop Obamacare before it begins.
The irony of their strategy, though, is that shutting down the federal government won't stop Obamacare. It might even help it.
The Congressional Research Service put it bluntly -- well, bluntly given the cautious, careful language favored by the CRS -- in a July report. "It appears that substantial ACA implementation might continue during a lapse in annual appropriations," they wrote.
There are a few reasons for this. For one thing, the lapse in appropriations only hits so-called "discretionary" funding. But the ACA's core functions are on the "mandatory" side of the budget. So, for instance, the money for tax credits and Medicaid expansion would arrive on schedule. State and federal exchanges would still operate. The individual mandate would still be in place.
So a lot of the law's funding would be unaffected. Meanwhile, the more marginal spending that is affected could be backfilled by the Obama administration moving mandatory money around, and even going beyond that, the White House could argue that crucial positions fall into the bucket of essential personnel who are protected during a government shutdown. So while it wouldn't be ideal, implementation would move forward.
But it gets worse for Republicans from there.
Obamacare's first year will be full of glitches and hiccups and mistakes and misfires. That's true for every big, complicated law (remember when Boehner called Medicare Part D's implementation "horrendous"?). The expectation is that Republicans will be able to take advantage of those problems. But if the early implementation comes in the context of an extended government shutdown, Republicans might well get blamed for implementation glitches as the media and voters ask whether the law wouldn't work more smoothly if the GOP hadn't turned out the lights.
Moreover, if Republicans get blamed for an annoying and unpopular government shutdown -- not to mention for some of Obamacare's problems -- that might blunt the gains they're likely to make in the 2014 midterms. More Democrats in Congress means more protection for Obamacare going forward.
So a government shutdown won't stop Obamacare from being implemented, but it might mean Republicans get blamed for some of the problems of implementation, and lose the ability to benefit politically from the inevitable hitches in the rollout.
The conservatives who won't yield against Obamacare might ultimately prove to be the law's best friends.

Very Important Week Ahead for US/Iran Relations...

Tuesday's General Assembly meeting at the United Nations in New York city promises to interesting. There are many issues surely to be addressed by world leaders, including the conflict in Syria, the global economy and for certain, there are a number of countries who may wish to comment on the United States surveillance of some of their nations.

The other interesting thing to follow this week will be what Iran's new President, Hassan Rouhani, has to say to his peers. Rouhani seems to be cut from a different cloth than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who's annual UN speeches were controversial to say the least. As well they should be. Ahmadinejad was on record as questioning the existence of the Holocaust and calling for Israel to be wiped off the map. (The true story of that quote is in interesting-follow this link for context...) And keep in mind that Iran's spiritual leaders are even more hard line, anti-Israel than Mr. Ahmadinejad was.

The tone and the words coming from President Rouhani are very different. For example, in a op-ed he wrote a few days ago about this UN appearance, he said, 

"A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives. In other words, win-win outcomes are not just favourable but also achievable. A zero-sum, Cold War mentality leads to everyone’s loss." 

And this:

My approach to foreign policy seeks to resolve these issues by addressing their underlying causes. We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart. We must also pay attention to the issue of identity as a key driver of tension in, and beyond, the Middle East."

Read his entire column here....

Read this analysis by the Washington Post of his upcoming speech at the UN here...

It would be a welcome change in the conversation if Mr. Rouhani stays on his current theme of reconciliation, cooperation and communication. We've learned a hard lesson over 12 years or so that as mighty as our military is, its relatively powerless to reshape hearts and minds via force. Diplomacy seems to be the best tactic to explore and we should so earnestly. Iran has some unseemly friends and changes may be difficult for them going forward. Likewise, I imagine there are reasonable minds in the Middle East who view the United States and some of her allies as dangerous to their lives. I suspect both sides could and should look inward and re-evaluate their foreign policies going forward. 

It is an opportunity, that shouldn't be wasted...


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rand Paul Nails it on drug sentence minimums...

There's a fairly short list of thing Rand Paul and I agree on.

This is one of them:

 On this issue, I agree wholeheartedly with Senator Paul... Do you?

"This Other Town" by John Feehery...

John Feerery is a long time face in the Washington DC politics scene. According to his website's "about" page, he is is President of Communications and Director of Government Affairs for Quinn Gillespie and Associates, Washington, D.C.’s top public affairs firm. He is also a frequent commentator on the political landscape, widely quoted around the country and often seen on such television programs as CNN’s The Situation Room, MSNBC’s Hardball, and Bloomberg Television’s Money and Politics. He is also a columnist for The Hill. Feehery has worked for almost two decades in a variety of influential positions both as a staffer for three prominent members of the United States House of Representatives Republican leadership and a legislative strategist in the private sector.

I don't share his politics, but I have to tip my hat to him for his writeup on the shootings earlier this week at the Naval Yard, where 12 people lost their lives.

An except from his piece, which he's titled, "This Other Town:"

Mark Leibovich wrote a memorable book about official Washington, its fancy parties, its self-absorbed culture, the incestuous nature of lobbyists, journalists, pundits, strategists, party planners and socialites.
But there’s a whole other town out there, right under the nose of This Town, and you could see the face of that town in the obituaries of those who died on Monday.
Twelve people were gunned down at the Naval Yard, and I can pretty much guarantee that nobody from This Town had ever met them.
There are plenty of people in this other town in the Washington DC metro area.  Some serve at the Navy Yard, some at the Pentagon, some the Geospatial agency, some at the Departments of Agriculture, Labor, Health and Human Services, and various other government agencies.
The people for this other town commute in from distant places like Woodbridge and Waldorf, Rockville, or PG County.  They take the Metro, or the VRE or the MARC, or they catch the bus, or they slug their way in.
By slug, I mean they basically hitch-hike (in an organized fashion, of course), by jumping in other people’s cars at specific points on the highway, which allows the drivers to drive on the HOV lanes.  It’s an ingenious system, mostly done organically.
That’s what folks do in this other town to get into work.
These folks work in the Federal government because it is good steady work and the benefits are pretty good, and they like what they do.  Some are stirred by patriotism to serve their country in the military, while others like working in fields like health policy or with agriculture programs.
Read the full article here, its well worth it...

Creepy Uncle Sam Obamacare Ads...(Must watch...)

We're in the final run-up to the State based heath insurance exchanges opening up on October 1st, and as you've probably noticed, the anti-Obamacare crowd is pulling out all the stops to make the debut as bad as possible. Especially of interest are young people, whom the ACA needs (to some degree) to sign up for insurance, to offset the older, more sick (costly) people who will also sign up.

One such anti-Obamacare group, Generation Opportunity, a Virgina based political action group, has debuted two ads that are sure to make an impression. The theme is the same in both. An unwitting young person comes into a doctor's office for an exam, speaks with a nurse and says they signed up for Obamacare. The Nurse then wrinkles their brow, asks them to hop up on the table and prepare to be examined. In each ad, the patient looks apprehensive, but receives assurances from nurse that they'll try and make this as comfortable as possible. Then, after a pause, you'll never guess who shows up to finish the exam.

Ad #1 (The Exam)

Ad #2 (The Glove)

While I think the ads are well done, I'm curious just how concerned the folks at Generation Opportunity will be when some young person, who chose not to sign up for health insurance at GO's urging, falls seriously ill? Perhaps one of the Koch brothers will swoop in and cover all of their bills.

Don't hold your breath...


Monday, September 9, 2013

Matthew Cordle: "I Killed A Man" Video Confession...

Matthew Cordle drove drunk on June 22, 2013...

Matthew Cordle caused the death of Mr. Vincent Canzani that evening...

Despite having some possibility of getting off on a technicality, Mr. Cordle appears to have chosen a different outcome. A few days ago, he posted a video confession on You Tube...

Here is his video:

I'll leave it to my readers to decide whether Cordle is sincere or if he's angling for a reduced sentence.

Also, a related news story from the local ABC Columbus, OH affiliate WSYX Channel 6 can be viewed here...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

President of Iran Sends Jews Rosh Hashanah Wishes...(Confirmed)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Twitter blew up last night when it appeared the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, sent wishes of goodwill to all Jews celebrating Rosh Hashanah. Was it the real thing or
the work of someone else posing as Rouhani?

Here's the tweet in question:

After some reports saying it wasn't authentic, late today, Robin Wright, journalist and foreign policy analyst at the US Institute of Peace as well as the Woodrow Wilson Institute, confirmed with Rouhani himself, that the tweet and good wishes were real.

"Asked by ATC host Melissa Block whether we know that the account attributed to Zarif is real, she says "we do, because I asked him myself." Wright says she's known Zarif for some two decades and she contacted him via email "

NPR has a very interesting article about this right here...

Its refreshing to see a different tone come out of Tehran, isn't it?

Minimum Wage: How the Danes Do It...

Reihan Salam, columnist for the conservative National Review, writes today about how the Danish handle their minimum wage, and how it compares to how its handled in America.

Go read it...

The Minimum Wage Debate, Danish Edition...


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Barack Obama: Master of Disguise Version 2.0

President Obama has done it again. Recently, the leader of the free world was photographed in the Oval Office with his feet on the famous "Resolute Desk."

I, for one, am shocked.

You would've thought he learned his lesson the last time this critical issue came up back in early 2012. Reasonable Conversation and its crack staff of reporters, researchers and interns did a thorough investigation and produced this report:

Reasonable Conversation Investigation of Obama and his Disguises...

Everyone who is offended by the President's continued disrespect of a national treasure such as the Resolute Desk should read the above link. You won't believe what we found.