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Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Missoula, MT
Home country: USA
Current location: Deep in Red State Hell!
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 5,249

About Me

Godless democratic socialist, look towards northern Europe for inspiration on what role-models our economy should aspire towards. Love the ACLU and donate heavily to them each year, wish they'd get with the program and defend the Second Amendment with as much fervor as they do the rest of the Bill of Rights. Proud member of the 99%.

Journal Archives

U.S. Violent Crime Rates Continue Sharp Decline

The latest batch of nationwide FBI crime data, released Monday, shows that in 2014, violent crime in the U.S. continued its long decline. The murder rate was down. The robbery rate was down, too.

"The story is actually better than we all anticipated it would be," says John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center. "Violence is down a little bit. Property crime is down a lot… and all of this suggests that crime in America is continuing to move in the right direction.”

Earlier this month, I joined a number of fact-checkers in pointing out that a breathless New York Times story, "Murder Rates Rising Sharply in Many U.S. Cities," was misleading. The 30 cities cited by the Times weren't randomly selected; rather, they appeared to suggest their own selection because they were cities that had experienced a recent rise in killings.

That the Times got that story wrong mattered because it appeared right in the middle of a debate over the existence of a so-called “Ferguson Effect”—the (false) idea that the Black Lives Matter movement has somehow been emboldening criminals. But a Vera Institute of Justice senior research fellow looked at the most recent homicide data from 16 of the 20 most populous U.S. cities, and found that just three showed a statistically significant increase. And homicide rates often fluctuate; in recent years, Chicago's has moved both up and down, pointing to no real trend at all.


AIIIEEE!!! The sky is falling!! The sky is falling!! Gun violence EPIDEMIC!! We must do something about the GUNZ!!!

The reality is: despite the sensationalist MSM playing up these rare acts of mass violence, American cities and streets haven't been this safe in a long time.

Looking better each and every year.

WOO-HOO! For the First Time, My Healthcare Premiums Are Going DOWN!

So it's October 1, which means the 2016 Obamacare rate schedules are out on the Idaho exchange.

After hearing all the horror stories about how the plans were bleeding money and to expect big premium rate increases again this year, I was bracing for the worst. Well, guess what? For the same Blue Cross Silver Choice 4000 PPO plan I've had since March 2014 with a $0 deductible and $1000 max out-of-pocket, with my same base income of $12,000/year (working part-time while attending school full-time at age 38 -- yeah, I know, better late than never, right?) instead of paying $70.33 per month for my premium, it dropped down to $65.28/month!

Granted, it's not going down by much, but its a hell of a good sign that it isn't still increasing astronomically year after year, after jumping from $26.27/mo. in 2014 clear up to $70.33/mo. in 2015. Well, technically the raw premium still is, so we still need to do something to reign in the overall growth of healthcare costs in general, but at least if the advance tax credits keep up -- $254/month for 2016 vs. $183/month for 2015 all things being equal -- at least the bite will be mitigated somewhat...

I Officially Changed My Party Affiliation from "Republican" to "Unaffiliated" Today...

Like many others living in deeply red states like here in Idaho, where whomever wins the GOP primary ends up winning the general, we did the only thing we could try to stem the tide of Tea Party mania running roughshod over state politics. Thanks to many of us Democrats and Independents who crossed over and voted in the Idaho Republican primary in 2014, we were just barely able to deprive Tea Party candidate Russ Fulcher from unseating incumbent governor Butch Otter who earned the right-wing's ire for being the only Republican governor to actually implement our own Obamacare exchange despite intense conservative opposition. Indeed, had the Supreme Court case gone the other way, Idaho's working poor would have still been protected from being cut off from the Obamacare subsidies since, unlike every other Republican-controlled state, we had our own exchange (thanks to Governor Otter) and weren't relying on the federal exchange (healthcare.gov) any more. Governor Otter only barely survived the Republican primary with 51.4% of the vote, or only 12,000 more votes than Russ Fulcher. Our actions felt justified at the time.

Well today, I had enough. I just can't bear the stench of my official affiliation being associated with them any more. Maybe it's just as well the Teahadists start winning some primaries just to wake the more moderate voters up from voting knee-jerk Republican on general election day, even if we do have to suffer a few humiliating losses and some truly detestable characters getting into office in the meantime. I just can't bear the thought any more of people looking up party registration statistics and saying "Oh, but so many Idaho voters are registered as Republicans, they must really like Republican policies." BULLSHIT! Many of us only did so out of pure pragmatic political considerations, but enough is enough. I will not help pad their numbers any longer.

For the first time in a long time, at least since I've been voting ever since I turned 18 in 1995, we have some real choices here on the Democratic primary next year, not just for president but some of the candidates down-ticket as well. I, for one, am really looking forward to washing my hands of feeling forced to vote in the GOP primary out of pure political necessity, and being able to go back to voting for whom I really want to see win for a change. For unlike the Idaho GOP primary which is closed (meaning you have to register as a Republican to participate), Idaho Democrats have rightly kept their primary open, meaning even unaffiliated and independent voters can participate. While I'm not completely sold on the national platform (even though I agree with over 90% of it) and don't feel comfortable officially registering as Dem yet, I am more than happy to finally shed the Repuke label and get back to casting my vote for whom it really matters, for someone whom I really hope can actually represent me when it comes time to legislate and govern. I hope others in the same boat will consider joining me and helping further marginalize the Clown Car party.

Conservatives Are Turning Against FAUX News

Megyn Kelly and FAUX News Facebook pages getting hammered right now.

FreeRepublic is up in arms: http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3321643/posts

I'm sure Rush Limbaugh will be joining the fray tomorrow as well.

Rupert Murdoch thought he was in control of his brood, but he let loose a Frankenstein monster.

Donald Trump IS going to run third party when he gets shoved out of the race by the GOP Establishment.

We're looking at another 1996 situation folks. Democratic electoral landslide worse than Clinton v. Dole.

A Little Friendly LTTE to My Local Newspaper

The primary purpose of a government constitution is to recognize and protect individual rights. Such a sacred document should only be amended when absolutely necessary, and only in the case of expanding rights, not limiting them. This was the case with the Bill of Rights -- the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Every once in awhile, misguided populist sentiment forces constitutional amendments to be rammed through that limit rights, instead of expand them. This was the case with the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allowed for the Prohibition of alcohol, until it was rightfully repealed by the 21st Amendment, some thirteen years later. This was also the case with Article III, Section 28 of the Idaho Constitution, banning certain people from getting married.

The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and the Supreme Court of the United States of America has affirmed that it does indeed protect the right of all adults to enjoy all the benefits of marriage. The U.S. Constitution also trumps state constitutions, whenever the latter violate those rights. It's time to remove that obsolete, hateful language from the Idaho Constitution and restore freedom and dignity to Idaho.

Should be published sometime this weekend.

What's with the Huckster and All the Anti-Gay Bigots Comparing Indiana to Saudi Arabia Lately?

I don't get it. Huckabee et. al. on all the news circuits, peddling the same talking points.

Are they trying to say that just because Saudi Arabia treats LGBT folks like shit that Americans should shut up about it when they (social conservatives) do it here?? Because "at least we're not as bad as those evil Muslins??"

Sure seems like they are setting the bar pretty low, and seem so "concerned" with anti-gay treatment abroad all of a sudden...

Either that or it's just one big Freudian slip as to their ultimate end-goals here...

Well, Today's the First Day for 2015 Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment...

I just found out that if I want to keep my same plan from 2014, my monthly premium is going to more than double in price, from $27/mo. clear up to $67/mo.

It's still a pretty good deal for a $0 deductible, $1000 max out-of-pocket PPO plan with a huge provider network with low co-pays, but I must confess the price hike is really discouraging.

The whole point of Obamacare was to supposedly reign in these huge double-digit percent yearly rate hikes that caused such a groundswell of support for healthcare reform in the first place. But it's becoming quite apparent that the insurance companies are laughing their way to the bank, as they now have CAPTIVE customers, who have to either buy their increasingly costly plans or pay an increasing yearly fine come tax time, thanks to the individual mandate.

I'm beginning to think we really do need to repeal and replace it. We need single-payer (Medicare for all) and kick these greedy insurance companies to the curb.

We Could Really Learn A Lot from Oregon Last Night

One of the few states where Democrats actually held their ground.

Put fucking MJ on the ballot, and you guarantee serious turn-out amongst the 18-29 crowd.

Nearly every other state that flipped had abysmal turn-out amongst that age demo.

They'll show up for presidential election years, but if you want to see them show up for mid-terms as well, you need to give them a reason to really care.

Just sayin'...

Vintage Dawkins

Say what you will about this man -- yes, he may be getting increasingly obnoxious in his old age, taking arguing logic to nonsensical extremes, but he certainly knew how to cut through B.S. when he heard it.

Well played, Richard. Well played.

ObamaCare is Really Pissing Me Off Right Now

Okay, I just have to vent...

As some of you may recall, I was an early "volunteer" for the Affordable Care Act, signing up during that tumultuous month of October 2013 back when the Healthcare.gov web-site was experiencing so many problems, before things got mostly fixed come December. I had originally signed up for a Platinum plan through SelectHealth, the monthly premium being $85 after the advanced premium tax credit was applied, which didn't seem too bad at the time. Well, come mid-January I found out that there was an error in my October application, and cost-sharing benefits were never factored in, due to my limited income, making several of the Silver plans even better deals with lower deductibles and max out-of-pockets than that Platinum plan through SelectHealth.

So back in late January I called SelectHealth up and told them that I wanted to cancel my policy effective January 31, so I could go with a Silver plan from a different insurer, since we all had until the end of March to enroll -- this year only. They told me they'd need a formal letter request, which I promptly e-mailed right over. I then logged back into Healthcare.gov, clicked "Terminate all Coverage", then deleted my erroneous initial application, going through the whole application process all over again, this time with all the correct discounts applied. It was a success (no error notifications this time!) but since it was past the 15th, my new coverage wouldn't start until March -- no big deal, just the month of February without coverage, hopefully nothing happens, and indeed nothing did.

All was well and good until come May I notice a refund on my credit card for that first month's $85 premium from SelectHealth. "That's odd" I thought to myself, so I called them up and asked what was going on. They said that they got notice from the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace that my policy was to be retro-actively cancelled effective January 1, as if I never had a policy with them at all! I explained to them that I had sent them my cancellation letter specifically indicating that it was supposed to be effective January 31. They claimed their hands were tied, and I'd have to take it up with the Healthcare.gov folks. So I called them up, explained my situation, got "escalated" a couple levels before someone seemed to truly understand the situation, and they said they'd look into it and hopefully rectify the situation and square things away with SelectHealth, at which point I assumed that SelectHealth would just re-bill me for that $85 premium. Nothing to worry about.

So I never heard anything further on the matter until just a few days ago, when I got notice in the mail from SelectHealth that two claims made during the month of January (just an annual "wellness" check and blood-work the next day) would no longer be paid by them, and were now MY responsibility to pay! As if I never had a policy with them at all! So now it looks like I'm on the hook for over $500, all for just a simple "wellness" check and blood-work -- both of which are supposed to be covered for free under the ACA's preventative care mandate!

I don't know who I hold more in contempt right now. The clinic charging so much for just a simple "wellness" check, SelectHealth for retro-actively dropping my coverage, or the Healthcare.gov folks for not being able to find any record of first application now, and telling me to just file a complaint with the state insurance board instead.

I mean, don't get me wrong -- I really like my current plan and truly believe the ACA has been a godsend overall, but the bureaucracy (at both the corporate and government levels) is beyond frustrating right now, as I imagine it is for many others who made the "silly mistake" of trying to be early adopters back when the web-site was still having all its glitches back in October.

I just want to strangle someone right now.

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