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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Home country: USA
Current location: Amherst. MA
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 03:28 PM
Number of posts: 16,104

Journal Archives

Obamacare is (still) working: California puts the lie to right-wing horror stories

In the Golden State, the uninsured are getting covered and costs are staying low, which is bad news for GOP critics


The Affordable Care Act suffers from a condition that afflicts all controversial legislative achievements: its failures are closely scrutinized and widely covered, while its successes go largely unnoticed. This imbalance is understandable in some ways – “Law Functions As Planned” isn’t as exciting a story as “Law Flops In Embarrassing Faceplant Hah Hah Let’s All Point And Laugh.” And so for the Affordable Care Act, the media spotlight over the years has been aimed at its hiccups and snafus: the crashing website, the conservative legal challenges, the endless repeal votes in Congress, the dire (usually unsubstantiated) warnings of skyrocketing premiums, etc. But while the glitches get all the ink, the Affordable Care Act has been racking up some significant accomplishments.

For two years now, the Kaiser Family Foundation has been tracking the experiences of a large group of California residents who were uninsured prior to the ACA’s first open enrollment period in 2013. As Kaiser’s initial report on their long-running survey explains, they chose California because it offers ideal conditions for testing the law’s efficacy:

With its ‘largest in the nation’ status that includes having the largest number of uninsured, its racial and ethnic diversity, and the state government’s full and early commitment to a smooth rollout of the ACA, California stands out as a laboratory of how the three year old law – up until now a remote political football for many Americans – will translate into real world, person-to-person changes. In all, 15 percent of the nation’s uninsured reside there, and will see the ACA through the window of the Golden State.

Kasier just released their latest update on these Golden State guinea pigs, and the findings are pretty remarkable. Nearly seventy percent of the uninsured people they began tracking in 2013 now report having health insurance, either through expanded Medicaid, their employers, or the state health insurance exchange. A full 76 percent of the newly insured are happy with their current plans and close to 80 percent are satisfied with their choice of primary care physicians. Of the population that remains uninsured, 41 percent are undocumented immigrants and are ineligible for coverage through the ACA.


Secrets of the extreme religious right: Inside the frightening world of Christian Reconstructionism

The zealots pushing a horrifying vision of "religious freedom" really have in mind a new Biblical slavery


As an unprecedented shift in public opinion brought about the legalization of gay marriage, a vigorous counter-current has been intensifying under the banner of “religious freedom”—an incredibly slippery term.

Perhaps the most radical definition of such freedom comes out of the relatively obscure tradition of Christian Reconstructionism, the subject of a new book by religious studies scholar Julie Ingersoll, Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstructionism. As Ingersoll explains, Reconstructionists basically reject the entire framework of secular political thought in which individual rights have meaning, so “freedom” as most Americans understand the term is not the issue at all. Indeed, they argue that such “freedom” is actually slavery—slavery to sin, that is.

Reconstructionists aim to establish a theocracy, though most would no doubt bristle at that description. They do not want to “take over the government” so much as they want to dismantle it. But the end result would be a social order based on biblical law—including all those Old Testament goodies like stoning gay people to death, while at the same time justifying “biblical slavery.” These extreme views are accurate, Ingersoll explained, but at the same time quite misleading in suggesting that Reconstructionism is a fringe movement with little influence on the culture.

‘If someone wants to understand these people, I think the smart thing to do is to take those really inflammatory things, acknowledge that they are there, and set them aside,” Ingersoll advised. “And then look at the stuff that’s less inflammatory, but therefore, I think, more important. I think the Christian schooling, homeschooling, creationism, the approach to economics, I think those kinds of things are far more important.

“The fights that we’re seeing right now over how religious freedom and constitutionally protected equality for the LGBT community, how those two things fit together—or don’t—that fight was presaged by theologian Rousas Rushdoony in the ’60s. He talked about that fight. Not particularly with regard to LGBT, but with regard to the expansion—it was civil rights. He didn’t say explicitly racially-based civil rights, but that’s what he was talking about in the era.”


GOP activist asks Texas AG to defy marriage ruling: ‘Lousy bastards’ letting ‘Sodomites queer...

GOP activist asks Texas AG to defy marriage ruling: ‘Lousy bastards’ letting ‘Sodomites queer our country’

The Texas attorney general told county clerks they could refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after hearing from religious activists who warned against letting “Sodomites queer our country.”

Emails released as part of an open-records request revealed that Christian conservative activists such as Steve Hotze, a Houston physician and an influential Republican activist, contacted Attorney General Ken Paxton immediately to ask him to fight the ruling, reported The Dallas Morning News.

“Greetings in the name of Christ our King!” Hotze wrote, urging Paxton not to comply with the ruling because it did not specifically order states to do so.

“The illegitimate SCOTUS ruling does not name Texas, so fight those lousy bastards,” said Hotze, president of Conservative Republicans of Texas. “They hate God and want to let the Sodomites queer our country.”

Midland energy executive Tim Dunn asked Paxton the day after the June 28 ruling to assist in the legal defense of any Texas businesses, schools or individuals penalized for resisting the ruling on marriage equality.


Jail for man accused of shooting at George Zimmerman in Florida

Source: Reuters

Florida man returned to jail on Friday to await trial on attempted murder charges in a roadway shooting involving George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer acquitted in the 2012 shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

A judge revoked the bond of Matthew Apperson, 36, following a complaint that he had violated its conditions by urinating on a neighbor’s front door. Apperson had been released on $35,000 bond and ordered to wear a GPS tracking devise following his arrest earlier this year in connection with a roadside altercation with Zimmerman.

Zimmerman suffered a minor injury from flying glass after Apperson fired a shot at him through his car window, authorities have said. The May incident occurred in Lake Mary, Florida, a suburb of Orlando.

The incident marked Zimmerman’s latest brush with law enforcement since his acquittal in Martin’s death, a case that spurred civil rights rallies and drew attention to Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law.


Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/2015/07/jail-for-man-accused-of-shooting-at-george-zimmerman-in-florida/

Trump's presidential bid draws scorn and bemusement in Europe


With his distressed hairstyle, voluptuous female companions and love of the media spotlight, U.S. tycoon Donald Trump is no stranger to people on this side of the Atlantic.

But his bid to become president of the United States has got people scratching their heads.

Seen by many as a kind of cartoon character despite his business successes, "The Donald" has baffled and angered in equal measure with a series of controversial comments.

His remarks that many Mexican immigrants were rapists were widely reported in Europe and generally considered beyond the pale.

Trump's appearance on Thursday at a Scottish golf resort that he owns turned into a political circus. Instead of talking about fairways and greens, he was bombarded with questions on his Mexican comment and asked if he was a racist. He was unapologetic.

The fact that polls show him leading the race to be the Republican Party's nominee for the U.S. presidential election in November 2016 only adds to the bafflement.


How the daycare child abuse hysteria of the 1980s became a witch hunt

By Maura Casey July 31 at 10:06 AM

Maura Casey is a former editorial writer for the New York Times.


A Moral Panic in the 1980s

By Richard Beck

PublicAffairs. 323 pp. $26.99

TV news was no friend to those of us who had small children in the 1980s. Allegations of child sexual abuse in day-care centers swept the nation, with high-profile cases in California, North Carolina, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Minnesota and other states, leading to empty playgrounds, hyper-vigilant parents and the implication that behind every tree lurked a pedophile waiting to snatch our children. Sexual abuse is an awful crime, but the perpetrators are usually relatives or family friends, and less than 1 percent of cases take place in day-care centers. Nonetheless, 30 years ago America was described as experiencing an “epidemic” of sexual abuse in day care.

Richard Beck, an editor at N+1, does a herculean job of investigating why this happened in his absorbing book “We Believe the Children.” Beck makes the case that the sexual abuse trials of the 1980s yoked numerous undercurrents in American society: fear of crime; the decline of respect for traditional authority; homophobia (their homosexuality helped send some day-care workers to prison); the conservative backlash against feminism, which had encouraged women to work outside the home (with its resultant need for day care); and the reality that the patriarchal nuclear family had not just changed, it had become “incoherent.” Conservative evangelicals had just helped elect President Ronald Reagan, and many of them believed that “porn, gays, and women had run amok.”

This is quite a laundry list, but Beck does a good job of marshaling the evidence. Throw in, for good measure, journalists who were slow to question allegations that emerged not only of sexual abuse, but also of Satanic rituals and even human sacrifice, particularly in the McMartin Preschool case in Manhattan Beach, Calif., which dragged on for more than six excruciating years. The allegations persisted despite the fact that there were no missing people, no bodies and, oh yeah, virtually no evidence to bolster the claims. Geraldo Rivera added to the hysteria by airing, just before Halloween in 1988, a two-hour special, “Devil Worship: Exposing Satan’s Underground.”

“We believe the children” became both the unofficial motto of advocates for the prosecution and a catch-all response to those few who asked whether the accusers had completely lost their minds. The approach was based largely on the work of psychiatrist Roland Summit, who claimed that, of every 1,000 children who say they were sexually abused, only two are three are guilty of inventing or exaggerating. He also said it was normal for children who had been sexually abused to retract their claims and say they made it all up. The upshot: No matter what children said, they were sexually abused, and if you didn’t believe them, something was wrong with you.


Senate Republicans accidentally promote abortion

By Dana Milbank Opinion writer July 31 at 10:25 AM

Senate Republicans this week, teeming with righteous indignation, introduced S. 1881, “a bill to prohibit federal funding of Planned Parenthood of America.” Here’s a better name for it: the Abortion Promotion Act of 2015.

No doubt the authors of the legislation think that anything that hurts Planned Parenthood, the leading provider of abortions, would further the pro-life cause. But their proposal — defunding all Planned Parenthood operations in retribution for secret videos showing the group’s officials discussing the sale of fetal organs — would do far greater harm to fetuses than anything discussed in the videos.

There already is a ban on federal funding of abortion, with rare exceptions, at Planned Parenthood or anywhere else. The federal funds Senate Republicans propose taking away from Planned Parenthood are used largely to provide women with birth control. And because there simply isn’t a network of health-care providers capable of taking over this job if Planned Parenthood were denied funding, this would mean hundreds of thousands of women, if not millions, would over time lose access to birth control.

Take away women’s contraceptives, and a greater number of unintended pregnancies — and abortions — would inevitably result.

Consider: Of the 4.6 million people who receive care annually under Title X, the federal family-planning grant program, 1.7 million of them go to Planned Parenthood – and two thirds of women leave with some form of contraception. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and other authors of the Senate legislation claim that other providers in the family-planning network will pick up the slack. But Clare Coleman, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, says that’s nonsense.


U.S. officials make contact with rep for Cecil the lion’s killer amid extradition calls

By Elahe Izadi and Darryl Fears July 31 at 2:51 PM

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to talk to Walter Palmer. So far, that hasn't happened.

Investigators for the service knocked on the front door of Palmer's house, stopped by his dental office, called his telephone numbers and filled his inbox with e-mails. Palmer, a hunting enthusiast who is accused of illegally killing a rare African lion in Zimbabwe early this month, couldn't be lured out of hiding.

Late Thursday afternoon, though, the agency's Office of Law Enforcement was contacted by somebody on Palmer's behalf. "The Service's investigation is ongoing and appreciates that Dr. Palmer's representative reached out," the agency said in a statement Friday.

If and when he materializes, Palmer could face an extradition request from officials in Zimbabwe, who have signaled a request to pursue one.

"We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be held accountable for his illegal action," Zimbabwe's environment minister Oppah Muchinguri said at a news conference on Friday, according to Reuters.


Accused Charleston church gunman pleads not guilty but plans to plead guilty to federal hate crime c

Source: Washington Post

Accused Charleston church gunman pleads not guilty but plans to plead guilty to federal hate crime charges

By Jeremy Borden July 31 at 4:50 PM

CHARLESTON, S.C. — ​The man accused of gunning down nine African Americans last month inside a historic black church known as “Mother Emanuel” has told his lawyers that he currently plans to plead guilty to federal hate crime charges, Dylann Roof’s attorney David Bruck told a federal judge Friday.

However, Bruck said that because federal officials have not decided whether to seek a death sentence for some of those charges, he had told Roof not to enter that plea. As a result, Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant said a “not guilty” plea — effectively a temporary plea — would be entered for the alleged shooter.

“We are not able to advise Mr. Roof to enter a plea of guilty” until the government makes a decision on the death penalty, Bruck said.

Dylann Storm Roof, 21, appeared in a courtroom blocks from the site of the massacre as he was formally read the 33 federal charges stemming from the shooting. Roof, who had already been charged with nine counts of murder, was indicted last week on the federal hate crime charges.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/07/31/accused-charleston-church-gunman-plans-to-plead-guilty-to-hate-crime-charges/?

Lawyer: Cosby Never 'Bound' Or 'Gagged' Women To Stop Them From Coming Forward

Bill Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, was in full damage control mode during her appearance Friday on HuffPost Live with Marc Lamont Hill, following the publication of New York magazine's viral cover featuring the photos of 35 women who have publicly accused the comedian of rape and/or sexual assault.


Pressley told Hill:

I believe people are innocent until they’re proven guilty. And if you can’t prove them guilty in a court through prosecution then you don’t get the option of persecution instead. I don’t think that 10, 20, 30, 40 years later people get to decide to come forward when there is no opportunity – not just for Mr. Cosby to offer a defense for a criminal prosecution – there’s no opportunity for an alleged victim, an accuser, to prove up what actually happened.

She said women have a "responsibility" to come forward as soon as possible if they want justice they seek and deserve. Pressley said:

The only way for a woman to get the justice that she seeks — and that, if her allegation is true, that she deserves — is to come forward . And even if the reasons that the women did not do that are legitimate ones, what cannot happen – in my opinion, in the United States – is that 40 years later there is a persecution tantamount to a witch hunt where there was no prosecution timely and there was no civil suit timely.


Full article + video of interview:
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