Hometown: Missoula, MT
Home country: USA
Current location: Deep in Red State Hell!
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 5,033
Hometown: Missoula, MT
Home country: USA
Current location: Deep in Red State Hell!
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 5,033
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%.
- 2015 (1)
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- December (8)
I was just reading up on the Wiki for the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) and was kind of surprised by what I found:
Effective by January 1, 2014
- Insurers are prohibited from discriminating against or charging higher rates for any individuals based on pre-existing medical conditions.
- Impose an annual penalty of $95, or up to 1% of income, whichever is greater, on individuals who do not secure insurance; this will rise to $695, or 2.5% of income, by 2016. This is an individual limit; families have a limit of $2,085. Exemptions to the fine in cases of financial hardship or religious beliefs are permitted.
- Insurers are prohibited from establishing annual spending caps.
- Expand Medicaid eligibility; all individuals with income up to 133% of the poverty line qualify for coverage, including adults without dependent children.
- Two years of tax credits will be offered to qualified small businesses. In order to receive the full benefit of a 50% premium subsidy, the small business must have an average payroll per full time equivalent ("FTE") employee, excluding the owner of the business, of less than $25,000 and have fewer than 11 FTEs. The subsidy is reduced by 6.7% per additional employee and 4% per additional $1,000 of average compensation. As an example, a 16 FTE firm with a $35,000 average salary would be entitled to a 10% premium subsidy.
- Impose a $2,000 per employee tax penalty on employers with more than 50 employees who do not offer health insurance to their full-time workers (as amended by the reconciliation bill).
- Set a maximum of $2,000 annual deductible for a plan covering a single individual or $4,000 annual deductible for any other plan (see 111HR3590ENR, section 1302). These limits can be increased under rules set in section 1302.
- The CLASS Act provision would have created a voluntary long-term care insurance program, but in October 2011 the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the provision was unworkable and would be dropped, although an Obama administration official later said the President does not support repealing this provision.
- Pay for new spending, in part, through spending and coverage cuts in Medicare Advantage, slowing the growth of Medicare provider payments (in part through the creation of a new Independent Payment Advisory Board), reducing Medicare and Medicaid drug reimbursement rate, cutting other Medicare and Medicaid spending.
- Revenue increases from a new $2,500 limit on tax-free contributions to flexible spending accounts (FSAs), which allow for payment of health costs.
- Establish health insurance exchanges, and subsidization of insurance premiums for individuals with income up to 400% of the poverty line, as well as single adults. Section 1401(36B) of PPACA explains that the subsidy will be provided as an advanceable, refundable tax credit and gives a formula for its calculation. Refundable tax credit is a way to provide government benefit to people even with no tax liability (example: Earned Income Credit). The formula was changed in the amendments (HR 4872) passed March 23, 2010, in section 1001. According to DHHS and CRS, in 2014 the income-based premium caps for a "silver" healthcare plan for family of four would be the following:
- Members of Congress and their staff will only be offered health care plans through the exchange or plans otherwise established by the bill (instead of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program that they currently use).
- A new excise tax goes into effect that is applicable to pharmaceutical companies and is based on the market share of the company; it is expected to create $2.5 billion in annual revenue.
- Most medical devices become subject to a 2.3% excise tax collected at the time of purchase. (Reduced by the reconciliation act to 2.3% from 2.6%)
- Health insurance companies become subject to a new excise tax based on their market share; the rate gradually raises between 2014 and 2018 and thereafter increases at the rate of inflation. The tax is expected to yield up to $14.3 billion in annual revenue.
- The qualifying medical expenses deduction for Schedule A tax filings increases from 7.5% to 10% of earned income.
While its far from perfect, I'm starting to think that it might actually be a step in the right direction, better than the status quo of currently skyrocketing premiums at the very least.
I'd qualify for Medicaid, which while not as good as Medicare, would still be better than nothing. And even for well-off workers, insurance premiums would be capped at 9.5% of income. A lot less than many folks are paying for insurance now.
Best of all, it gets rid of the "Cadillac" insurance plans that Congress gets for free, and forces all Congresscritters to buy into the same plans as the rest of us. No wonder the Republicans don't want this to go into effect. They'll lose out on their sweet "superior healthcare for me, but not for thee" situation that exists today.
Too bad we have to wait until June to find out whether the SCOTUS strikes it down or not. Chief Justice John Roberts has said that he doesn't like the idea of an "activist court" going against what Congress passes for law, so maybe he'll side with Kennedy and let it stand.
Because truth is, if ObamaCare is struck down, it will probably be another generation until health care reform is attempted again. But if it passes, we may actually see Medicare for all in our lifetimes, a single-payer plan like other civilized Western countries, once people get tired of private insurance companies profiting off of human misery.
Have any of you guys done the math? How much do you pay for health insurance now, compared to how much it will be capped at once ObamaCare goes into full effect in 2014?
Posted by LAGC | Sun Apr 1, 2012, 05:38 PM (4 replies)
So I'm sitting here in my hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia, trying to print my boarding passes so I don't have to mess around with checking in at the ticket counter in a few hours -- I want to be able to just head straight to my gate without having to trek clear across the entire fucking airport.
Turns out the pieces of shit just completed their merger with Continental Airlines, so their whole user database just got converted, so my old MileagePlus frequent flier number no longer works. (This must have happened within the past 5 days, because everything worked fine on Wednesday.)
While I can still access my United account via e-mail, I need access to a printer to print off the boarding passes. Only place I can do that is at the hotel's business center, but they have a bunch of questionable software installed on it, I don't trust that no spyware or keyloggers aren't installed on there, so I don't feel comfortable logging into my e-mail from there.
So I called their toll-free customer service number to find out what my new user name is and I've been on hold for over 15 minutes due to "higher than expected call volume over the past few days." Due to the merger, no doubt. These dumb-asses obviously didn't think this thing through very well. It's the same story whenever one big corporation gets bought out by another -- customer service goes straight to hell.
CORPORATE BASTARDS!! Some day I will own my own plane so I don't have to put up with this bullshit every time I want to fly somewhere.
Posted by LAGC | Mon Mar 26, 2012, 10:42 AM (9 replies)
Bottom line for me is, even if Zimmerman really did get beat down by the kid, he should have just taken his lumps and accepted the ass-whoopin' for stalking the kid in the first place. If I were a 17-year-old being followed by some strange older man, especially one of a different race, I'd be wary as fuck and tempted to confront him myself.
You can't blame the kid for getting physical with him, when this self-appointed vigilante decided to play hero and take the law into his own hands. I mean, if the dude had just stayed in his car and the kid had pulled him out and started wailing on him that would be one thing, but it sounds like this creep flat-out stalked the kid and moved in on him, escalating the situation unnecessarily and provoking the beat-down, then escalating it even further by drawing his gun and shooting the kid.
It's really hard to claim self-defense when you go out of your way to look for trouble. CCW permits don't automatically make you a deputy of the law. They are only for defending yourself if trouble finds YOU. Not the other way around.
He really should have been arrested at least for voluntary manslaughter and forced to post bail. Can't really blame the black community for feeling slighted when, if the roles were reversed, you know damn straight the black kid would have been arrested and tried as an adult.
A real sad situation, all the way around.
Posted by LAGC | Sun Mar 25, 2012, 11:40 PM (42 replies)
Just got back from the rally today, and what a rally it was!
Never before have so many atheists gathered in one place to promote secular values. We were really tempting God's fate, as He sent some rain our way, but no one got struck by lightning, so I guess He decided not to smite us heathens after all.
They said during the peak of the rally around 1pm that the park service said that our numbers eclipsed Glenn Beck's rally a couple years ago, but I'd have to see the aerial shot to believe that. (As our rally took place on the EAST side of the Washington Monument, not the west side near the Lincoln memorial along the reflecting pools.)
It was mostly apolitical, trying to cast a wide umbrella over all non-believer/skeptic groups, but they did have a couple conservative speakers like Penn Gillette (of Penn and Teller fame) and of course a couple outspoken liberals like Bill Maher. But over-all, the message was mostly positive, uniting all non-believers regardless of political leanings, in support of separation of church and state and science over superstition.
Here are some pics:
This is the empty rally grounds an hour before the event officially started, you can see the Washington Monument in the background.
Here you can see people beginning to fill in near the staging area. We were able to stake out a pretty close spot.
Around a quarter till 10 o'clock, it started getting crowded.
Darth Vader says: "I Find Your Lack of Faith Refreshing"
2:30p was about the peak of the rally, we were all sandwiched in real good, endless crowds in every direction.
People, people everywhere.
There were lots of great signs, but my shitty cell-phone camera couldn't zoom in, so I missed some good shots.
After around 3pm the crowd started to thin out, but the merchandise tents were packed when we checked them out around 4:30p.
We ended up leaving by 5pm to beat the crowds jamming the Metro (subway), the only thing we missed was the band Bad Religion jamming it out, but I saw pretty much all I wanted to see, namely Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers.
It was great!
Posted by LAGC | Sat Mar 24, 2012, 10:02 PM (5 replies)
I just got summoned for Federal jury duty next month (first time I've ever been called to serve), and after I got online and submitted my questionnaire electronically, I spent the next hour following links reading up on what is to be expected of me.
So I started reading the Jury Handbook and stumbled across this gem, under the sub-section "The Jurors' Solemn Oath":
After the voir dire is completed, the jurors selected to try the case will be sworn in. The judge or clerk will state to the jury: "Members of the Jury, you will rise, hold up your right hands, and be sworn to try this case."
The jurors then rise and hold up their right hands. The jurors face the judge or the clerk who is to administer the oath. That official slowly, solemnly, and clearly repeats the oath. The jurors indicate by their responses and upraised hands that they take this solemn oath.
Jurors not wishing to take an oath may request to affirm instead of swear. In some districts the jury is sworn upon the Bible and not by uplifted hand.
WTF?! Are there really still any jurisdictions that really require you to swear your oath on a BIBLE? I mean, its the 21st Century not the 19th anymore! How is this not a blatant violation of separation of church and state? I mean, MAYBE, in certain parts of the Deep South I could see it, but even then, why hasn't the Department of Justice put its foot down and brought this practice to an end already? There really should be just one uniform standard for all Federal courts, and it should NOT involve bringing anyone's religious paraphernalia into it. I mean, do they have Korans and Bhagavad Gītās in stock just in case a non-Christian dare affront the courtroom with their presence? Or do they just embarrass and publicly shame them when they politely refuse to place their hand on that particular Book of Atrocities and Genocides?
Kind of reminds me of the only time I attended a local city council meeting 10 years ago and they opened with a sectarian Christian prayer. Completely caught me off-guard. I believe they finally ended the practice with much complaining by the Christ-in-Your-Face crowd, but I can't believe its still happening in FEDERAL courts of all places!
Have any of you been in a situation where you were "asked" to place your hand on a Bible in order to somehow prove you are trustworthy and honest?
I just can't believe it.
Posted by LAGC | Fri Mar 9, 2012, 03:30 PM (10 replies)
As I noted last Fall, Colorado courts have treated the Colorado Constitution’s right to keep and bear arms provision as substantially protecting felons’ rights to keep guns for self-defense — an approach quite different from that used by the U.S. Supreme Court in interpreting the Second Amendment, or by other states’ courts interpreting those states’ constitutions. Today’s State v. Carbajal (Colo. Ct. App. Mar. 1, 2012) reaffirms that. An excerpt:
In 1876, the new State of Colorado adopted a constitution that included a provision in its bill of rights establishing a right to keep and bear arms in defense of one’s home, person, and property:
The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called into question; but nothing herein contained shall be construed to justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons.
Colo. Const. art. II, § 13 (section 13) (emphasis added). This provision has never been amended.
Really, if a convict is deemed safe enough to be released from prison, he/she really ought to have all rights of citizenship back, including being able to vote, serve on jury duty, and yes, even RKBA.
It shouldn't be a long, hard process to get all your civil rights restored like it is now in many states. Nothing tells an ex-con that he/she is unwelcome back in civil society than continuing to deny him/her their basic civil rights. If we want people to change and be productive members of society, we should treat them as full citizens, not second-class citizens their whole lives.
Posted by LAGC | Thu Mar 8, 2012, 10:12 AM (45 replies)
Mitt Romney may finally be shaking a memory regarding gun control legislation that has haunted him since he was governor of Massachusetts by picking up a critical endorsement from hard-rocking pro-gun outdoorsman, author and gun rights icon Ted Nugent.
The “Motor City Madman” threw his considerable weight behind Romney’s campaign Friday, hours after this column was tipped that the endorsement was imminent, during Thursday evening’s Romney fund raiser at Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center. This column discussed that gathering and the importance of sportsman and gun owner attendance at Saturday’s Republican caucus gatherings.
Nugent issued a one-sentence comment:
“After a long heart and soul conversation with Mitt Romney today, I concluded this good man will properly represent we the people (and) I endorsed him.”—Ted Nugent
Is it that surprising? Nugent and Romney both hail from Michigan. Romney was also recently endorsed by Rob Keck, who spent some time hunting with the former governor and presidential hopeful last fall in Montana.
Heads are going to freakin' EXPLODE over on FreeRepublic.com! They already turned on Ann Coulter months ago for endorsing Romney.
NUGE: What a total sell-out!
Now all we need is for the NRA to get behind Mitt Romney, and we'll know the wool has been completely pulled over everyone's eyes.
Mitt Romney is really no better than Obama on gun rights. Anyone who thinks he'll nominate pro-gun justices if elected is drinking the Kool-Aid.
This Republican primary season has just gone from crazy to bat-shit insane!
Posted by LAGC | Sat Mar 3, 2012, 11:43 AM (17 replies)
Wednesday was the day the long-gun registry died. It was too intrusive, unfair and onerous of a burden on law-abiding Canadian firearms owners to continue to be imposed upon them.
There is another burden, as intrusive, unfair and onerous as the registry, to which the federal Conservatives must now turn. That burden is the minimum sentencing law on gun crimes, which was enacted four years ago. It's not working because, like the gun registry, it is unfairly catching in its wide net people who do not deserve to be entangled in the mesh.
This week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Malloy bravely threw down the gauntlet when she refused to sentence 27-year-old Leroy Smickle to the minimum three years in prison for the "crime" of posing for his own Facebook photo, alone in his apartment late at night in his underwear, holding a gun. Malloy, who gave Smickle a one-year sentence of house arrest as a sop to the law, said given the circumstances, sending him to the slammer for three years would be "unfair, outrageous, abhorrent and intolerable."
She's absolutely right, but she could have gone farther. She could have thrown the case out of court, as there was no reason for the police to charge Smickle with any crime. They burst in on him looking for his cousin, frightening Smickle so much that his laptop and pistol fell to the floor. True, he had been holding a restricted, loaded weapon, but he was endangering no one and wasn't actively engaged in committing any crime.
Good to see our neighbors to the north becoming more free...
Posted by LAGC | Thu Feb 16, 2012, 10:04 AM (13 replies)
The ACLU of Idaho threw its annual Bill of Rights Celebration dinner and auction tonight in downtown Boise. Glenn was the featured speaker. As an ACLU volunteer, I got to attend the event for free, but I bought a copy of his latest book (which he signed) proceeds of which he's donating to the ACLU of Idaho Foundation. The event was only advertised about a month in advance, but we sold about 130 tickets at $75/pop before tonight, and the remaining 20 seats sold out quickly at the door. We also raised approximately another $10K in silent auction items, plus several thousand more in donation pledges.
As for the speech, what can I say? He was great. He said right from the get-go that he wasn't going to re-hash all the ways the Obama Administration has followed in the foot-steps of the Bush Administration, because after 3 years it was so glaringly obvious, it wasn't even necessary to explain it anymore. Especially not to this crowd. Instead, he focused on the "war on terror" in general, and what it means for dissent in this country, and abroad. He pointed out that the dictionary definition of terrorism ("the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes") was used by our government against even those who simply disagreed with our foreign policies, yet REAL acts of terrorism (drone strikes against women, children, and U.S. citizens) for political purposes committed by this government are given a free pass. While its easy for Americans to excuse such terrorism committed by our own government, since after all its "One of THEM, not one of US" -- he pointed out that even though many of us may trust the current administration to not wantonly abuse such authority, what about future administrations down the road? What would a Michele Bachmann or a Sarah Palin administration do with such broad powers? To reach out and detain, even kill U.S. citizens, without so much as a trial or proving to the world the case against them, only because the government says they need to go?
He touched on Wikileaks, pointed out how when he put the call out for people to give Wikileaks financial support, so that they could have more resources to hire more people to vet all the leaked info they were receiving, he got dozens and dozens of concerned responses, all saying: "I really want to help, but I'm AFRAID of being put on a list! What if Wikileaks is eventually labeled a 'terrorist organization' by the U.S. government and everyone who gave money rounded up and charged with providing material support?" Indeed, many of us have been scared and intimidated into inaction, because of how broad these new government powers really are.
It was a powerful speech.
During the book signing afterward, I told him: "DemocraticUnderground.com says hi," then after telling him my name, added: "You have many fans and many haters," at which point he chuckled and said he's come across several links to this site and realizes how polarizing of a figure he is, but he appreciates the support. Later on, after almost everyone had left, I got him alone and asked him if he is still in regular contact with Julian Assange. He said he was. He added that he thought it was pretty likely that he would be extradited to Sweden to face those charges, but his spirit is holding up pretty well for the most part still. I thanked him for keeping everyone abreast of the situation with Assange, and reporting news that no one else seems to dare want to report. I ran into him again a third time as we both entered the elevators. He was going up (to his room, presumably -- the event took place in a hotel) and I was going down to my car. He said a final "Good night" and I responded "Yeah, take care."
Say what you will about him, but he's a really polite and likable guy. I can see why he gives Establishment Democrats such headaches, but he's really only doing what President Obama told us to do in the first place when we elected him: "If I ever stray, hold my feet to the fire." While I suspect most everyone in that room will probably end up voting for Obama in the end anyway, it won't be without much disappointment and regret. Disappointment that the Obama Administration is still prosecuting so many policies of the Bush Administration, and regret that our protests have fallen upon deaf ears. We really need more people like Glenn to open up more people's eyes and see how dangerous following in the foot-steps of Bush/Cheney really is, so that hopefully, during President Obama's second term, he is more receptive to civil libertarian concerns. Hopefully, once getting re-elected is no longer a concern, he'll finally listen to his base and act to change some of the worst holdover policies of the Bush Era. Because as Glenn pointed out: "The longer these pernicious policies stay in place, the harder its going to be to get rid of them later."
Glenn Greenwald is a true patriot and a scholar. I hope one day the Democratic Party finally listens to him and takes a firm stand in defense of the Bill of Rights, not because its necessarily popular, but because its necessarily right.
What an awesome night.
Posted by LAGC | Sun Feb 12, 2012, 02:02 AM (19 replies)
The Supreme Court late last month declined petition to take up more Second Amendment cases. A news release I received today from the Michel and Associates law firm (that does not seem available yet on its web site dedicated to gun law) explains what was at stake. It also discusses other Second Amendment cases that people have tried, and failed, to take all the way to the Supreme Court since 2008's Heller case created a brand-new landscape for weapons possesion law:
Williams v. State (Maryland)....asked the Supreme Court to decide whether the Second Amendment protects a right to carry or transport a registered handgun outside the home. Mr. Williams was appealing his conviction for possessing a handgun in public without the required state permit allowing him to do so.
United States v. Masciandaro...involved a man convicted of violating the federal prohibition on carrying or possessing a loaded weapon in vehicles in National Parks after he was found asleep in his vehicle with a loaded handgun in a national park. He sought review from the Supreme Court of whether that prohibition violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms; asking the high court, like the petitioner in Williams, whether the right extends beyond the home.
While you might think these decisions on the Court's part to not hear these Second Amendment cases means it's reluctant to reconsider the Amendment at all, that's not quite right:
Despite the of certiorari denials in all the aforementioned Second Amendment cases, the fact that the Supreme Court has been requesting responses in these cases shows the Justices are paying unusually close attention to the Second Amendment issue. Of the roughly 8,000 petitions for review filed with the Supreme Court every year, only in a few hundred cases does the Court request a response from the opposing party. When the Court requests a response brief, it is a strong sign that the Court is interested in hearing argument in that case. And, such a request increases the probability that the Court will grant oral argument by roughly 9 times, from 0.9% to 8.6%....
Wow. It almost sounds as if the SCOTUS is telling the government: you can't restrict guns inside the home, but you can restrict the hell out of guns in public. And so what if the government restricts guns to people based off of misdemeanor convictions? And tough luck on getting Heller and McDonald retroactively applied...
And some people think this is a "pro-gun" court.
Posted by LAGC | Fri Feb 10, 2012, 10:39 AM (25 replies)