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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: 5,242

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

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.

S.E. Cupp Says We are BAD Atheists...

"It seems like there's this idea perpetuated by atheists that atheists are somehow disenfranchised or left out of the political process. And I just don't find that to be the case.

I think in fact that atheists have grown more vocal over the past decade or two than ever before. In fact, in many ways atheists act as a religious body unto themselves.

There's another myth that conservatism is somehow hostile to atheism, I also don't find that to be the case..."


Wow, the mental contortions this woman must go through to sleep at night with all her fundie bedfellows...

Now, quit being BAD atheists and just throw yourself into Rick Santorum's welcoming arms already!

Rolling Stone: Confessions of a Liberal Gun Lover

It's not just libertarians and conservatives who are ready to defend the Second Amendment with a finger on the trigger

Gun nuts aren't always creatures of the political right. Consider your heavily-armed author's position: I say gun ownership is a necessary line of defense against investment bankers, Wall Street lawyers, big business, the corporatized wing of the Democratic Party, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, ALEC, Nazis, gangbangers, meth fiends, cops and politicos who cut welfare and education programs while refusing to downsize the military or raise taxes on the rich. When I was living in New York City, I voted for Bill de Blasio. I was briefly a believer in Obama's hope-change lines. I want single-payer healthcare and free public higher education and a carbon tax and the end of the warfare-surveillance-killer drone state – and I want the Second Amendment protected.

I like my guns. I like the Colt Trooper .357 Magnum, and the FN .40, and the Lee-Enfield .303, and the Remington 12 gauge, and the Ruger Mini-14 with 30-shot clip and the Smith & Wesson Model 39 – this last a gift from my father, a New Yorker and, like me, a liberal who is several planets to the left of President Obama. My dad is a member of the NRA, god help him. He shrugs and by way of excuse says he enjoys the group's monthly magazine, American Rifleman.

The tribe of liberal gun nuts I've gotten to know over the years includes writers, activists, musicians, schoolteachers, professors, rock-climbers, wilderness guides, environmentalist lawyers and at least one shaman. If I'd venture to pin down the unifying ideological bent of these folks, I'd say it's anti-statist socialism – communitarian, decentralist, anarchist. Kiley Miller, a pal who lives in Moab, Utah, and who runs an eco-friendly house cleaning service, keeps guns because "the thought of only the government, police, sheriffs, and military having guns gives me the chills." This is a woman who describes herself as "a radical environmentalist about as far left as one can be" and who busts my balls whenever I miss the daily dose of Democracy Now. Another armed liberal living in Moab, Matt Gross, a friend of mine and of Kiley's, was the man behind Howard Dean's web campaign – as director of online communications he web-fundraised what was then the unprecedented sum of $25 million – and went on to work as chief online strategist for Democrats in two major senatorial campaigns and as John Edwards' senior web adviser during his 2008 run for the White House. "The right doesn't own the flag, guns or the Constitution," Gross writes me in an email. "You can be a progressive champion and still know how to handle a Glock. I support the HRC" – that's the Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies for LGBT equal rights – "but it doesn't mean I'm unarmed."

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/confessions-of-a-liberal-gun-lover-20140714
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

Surprised no one else posted this yet, apparently... interesting piece.

Americans' Dissatisfaction With Gun Laws Highest Since 2001

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' dissatisfaction with U.S. gun laws and policies has increased to 55%, nearly matching the high of 57% in 2001. Forty percent are satisfied, down from the historical average of 47% since Gallup began asking this question in this way in 2001.

Overall, Americans' satisfaction with gun laws ranks near the middle of a list of 19 issues measured in Gallup's 2014 update of its annual Mood of the Nation survey. The highest levels of satisfaction were with the nation's military strength and ability to deal with terrorism; the lowest were with poverty and homelessness and the state of the nation's economy.

Americans may be dissatisfied with gun laws because they believe they should be stricter, or because they believe the laws are too strict as they are. Therefore, Gallup asks those who are dissatisfied with gun laws to choose among explanations for their dissatisfaction. Those who are dissatisfied have historically leaned heavily in the direction of wanting stricter rather than less strict laws.

But this year, the gap between those wanting stricter gun laws and those wanting less strict laws narrowed as a result of a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans who want less strict laws, now at 16% up from 5% a year ago. Support for making gun laws stricter fell to 31% from 38% last January. The January 2013 poll was conducted shortly after the December 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy, which sparked some state governments to consider new gun laws and a robust national discussion about the issue.


That's odd. I wonder what caused the dramatic uptick this year? Backlash against states cracking down?

On "Gun Nuttery" and SYG

First let me preface this by saying that I'm a pretty strong Second Amendment supporter, and think most gun control laws do more harm than good. Criminals by nature don't obey the law, so most of the time you're only restricting law-abiding citizens and giving the NRA reasons to rile gun owners up and GOTV, as with the recent recalls in Colorado.

But it's hard not to notice the marked increase in news stories of minor altercations escalating into shots fired lately, more often than not without any good justification. But the burning question is: what can be done about it? Most of these incidents appear to involve folks with no prior criminal records, so universal background checks won't solve anything. All of these incidents seem to involve either handguns or old-fashioned bolt-action rifles, so an Assault Weapon Ban won't help, even if it really did ban more than just cosmetic features. As the economy continues to flounder and things get more stressful for more people, I don't see such random acts of violence getting any rarer either.

So what can we do? The "toothpaste is already out of the tube" so to speak, no way to "put the genie back in the bottle," -- guns are here to stay. Expanding access to mental health services might help, but only if the aggressive behavior is detected in time.

I know the statistics show that crimes of violence (including gun violence) are on a 20-year decline, but it sure doesn't feel that way with all these news stories lately. Are we really to the point where such random acts of violence are just the price we have to pay to live in a free society? I mean, I'm not even sure repealing SYG would be effective in those states, unless their self-defense laws were all changed to mandate fleeing from all conflict if at all possible. Just seems like these nutcases don't give a damn about the law anyway, they just shoot first and answer questions later.

Is this really the new "normal?"

Bill Moyers: Can a Left-Right Coalition Bring About Real Prison Reform?

Editor’s note: On Friday, the “Smart Sentencing Act,” which the ACLU calls “the most significant piece of criminal justice reform to make it to the Senate floor in several years,” passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. You can read the ACLU’s press release here.

There’s not much that Tea Party Republicans and liberal Democrats agree on these days. Surprisingly, one of them happens to be scaling back mass incarceration, the subject of a live-streamed meeting today of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The motives vary among and between key legislative leaders as ideologically disparate as Republican Sens. Mike Lee (UT) and Rand Paul (KY) and Democrats Patrick Leahy (VT) and Dick Durbin (IL). But whether motivated by concern for civil liberties, unsustainable state and federal budgets or a New Testament-inclination for giving second chances, one fact trumps all differences: The US houses by far the largest incarcerated population in the world at 2.2 million people as of year-end 2011. That smudge, as well as unsubtle championing of sentencing reform by attorney general Eric Holder, has galvanized a relatively quiet bipartisan effort over the past five years. Advocates say Congress is taking on mass incarceration one reform at a time. The latest are tucked into the 1,582-page FY2014 omnibus spending bill, and other reforms are coming down the pike. Below, a guide to these new developments.


It's not just the Tea Party either, even some "Establishment" neo-cons like Newt Gingrich have been making some gestures lately indicating that America's out-of-control prison growth needs to be reigned in.

(Of course, their motivation is probably freeing up more money from wasteful domestic spending to wage some more wars abroad... but finding some common ground over prison reform would be nice.)

Dang, This Obamacare News Keeps Getting Better and Better!

Some of you may recall my OP back in early October, I was one of the lucky few who was able to successfully enroll (or so I thought) through the Healthcare.gov web-site that second week after its rocky debut:


Well, I just found out a couple days ago that not only do low-income folks qualify for the premium tax credits that lower the monthly premiums you have to pay, but for folks under 250% of poverty-level income, you also qualify for cost-sharing which lowers the deductibles and max out-of-pocket costs on some Silver plans. (Indeed, there were error messages when I enrolled back in October, and the cost-sharing was never taken into account.)

So I ended up going with a Platinum plan back in October which I thought was a good deal with its only $85/mo. premium and $1500 max out-of-pocket (covers 90% of costs) -- but after plugging my info back into the "Browse Plans Before You Buy" calculator that they just recently added to the Healthcare.gov web-site, I discovered that several of the Silver plans are actually much better deals than even the Platinum plans, covering 94%(!) of costs, with only a fraction of the monthly premium:

I ended up going with the plan on the far right, which has a MUCH bigger provider network (PPO) than my Platinum plan did, only $1000 max out-of-pocket, and only a third of the monthly cost!

So if you are low income and signed up back in October, take a second look at those Silver plans! Despite what the Healthcare.gov online chat support reps tell you about how you can't change plans after you've paid your first month's premiums, THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY THE CASE. In my case, I paid my first month's premium on my Platinum plan, but was able just yesterday to get on there, TERMINATE ALL COVERAGE, delete my erroneous application, and go through the whole application and enrollment process (successfully this time, without error) and see those true lower rates I was eligible for, on those much better Silver plans with cost-sharing kicked in!

Even on my low-income, $26/mo. is very affordable, and more than makes up for my Republican-controlled state not expanding Medicaid eligibility, as many more providers recognize this PPO insurance I will now have, whereas not as many accept Medicaid.

Just thought I'd let you all know.
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