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Member since: Thu May 7, 2009, 11:59 PM
Number of posts: 16,091

Journal Archives

ProPublica - "Where the Candidates Stand on Medicare and Medicaid"

Here is a serious, sober and sometimes scary look at the positions of President Obama and Romney on Medicare and Medicaid. This just underscores how much Romney and Ryan are lying when they say they are trying to "save" Medicare and Medicaid.


The Obama administration has also made moves that it says would keep Medicare afloat. It says the Affordable Care Act would extend solvency by eight years, mainly by imposing tighter spending controls on Medicare payments to private insurers and hospitals.

In contrast, Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate, has proposed a more fundamental overhaul of Medicare, which he says is on an “unsustainable path.” On his campaign website, Romney says that Ryan’s proposals “almost precisely mirrors” his ideas on Medicare. But he’s been fuzzy on other aspects of the plan.

A Romney-Ryan administration would replace a defined benefits system with a defined contribution system in which seniors are given federal vouchers to purchase health insurance in a newly created private marketplace known as Medicare Exchange. In this marketplace, private health plans, along with traditional Medicare, would compete for enrollees’ business. These changes wouldn’t start until 2023, meaning current beneficiaries aren’t affected – just those under 55.

Under the Romney-Ryan, the vouchers would be valued at the second-cheapest private plan or traditional Medicare, whichever costs less. Seniors who opt for a more expensive plan would pay the difference. If they choose a cheaper plan, they keep the savings.

NY Times Editorial - "No Rush To War" - Re Netenyahu's Advocacy of Preemptive War On Iran

The scary thing is that Sheldon Adelson is a strong supporter of Netenyahu, as well as Romney. A war with Iran would give Romney an easy out for backing out of his promises to reduce the deficit while he proceeds with huge tax cuts to the rich. Then, when we are even more upside down then before, Republicans will once again blame Medicare and Social Security.


Amid the alarming violence in the Arab world, a new report about the costs of a potential war with Iran got lost this week. It says an attack by the United States could set back Iran’s nuclear program four years at most, while a more ambitious goal — ensuring Iran never reconstitutes its nuclear program or ousting the regime — would involve a multiyear conflict that could engulf the region.

The significance of the report by The Iran Project is not just its sober analysis but the nearly three dozen respected national security experts from both political parties who signed it: including two former national security advisers, Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski; former Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering; and the retired Gen. Anthony Zinni.

Yet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is trying to browbeat President Obama into a pre-emptive strike. On Tuesday, he demanded that the United States set a red line for military action and said those who refuse “don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.” Later, Mr. Obama telephoned him and rejected the appeal. On Friday, Mr. Netanyahu suggested in an interview that Israel cannot entirely rely on the United States to act against Iran’s program.

* * *
There is no reason to doubt President Obama’s oft-repeated commitment to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon. But 70 percent of Americans oppose a unilateral strike on Iran, according to a new poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and 59 percent said if Israel bombs Iran and ignites a war, the United States should not come to its ally’s defense.

Adelson: Obama's moves liable to bring the destruction of Israel

Is it causation or correlation that just as Romney is looking for some sort of game changer, Netanyahu loudly demands a meeting with the President prior to the election (to once again publicly bitch about Obama's refusal to bomb Iran right now), then just as loudly raises a big stink when President Obama refuses to act as a neocon prop for Adelson's puppet. Netanyahu. Adelson almost makes Rupert Murdoch look tame given his direct willingness to lean on both Netanyahu and various Republican presidential candidates to promote his private foreign policy goals.


The gambling billionaire, who publishes the pro-Netanyahu “Israel Hayom” tabloid, said he objects to an agreement with any of the current Palestinian leaders

Unlike the confrontation between the White House and Jerusalem over the settlements during the administration’s first year, I think that the current rift has more to do with tones and personal mistrust than actual policy differences. More than anything, it seems that President Obama’s Middle East speech was meant to help Israel avoid isolation at the UN, but Netanyahu overreacted, and later decided to play tough, mainly for political reasons. As I wrote yesterday, it worked out for him quite well.

What do people around the prime minister really think of Obama? A good example was given just before Netanyahu’s visit to the United States, in a phone interview Jewish Week’s Gary Rosenblatt conducted with Gambling Billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Apart from being a personal friend of the Netanyahus, Adelson is the publisher of the pro-Netanyahu tabloid Israel Hayom (“Israel Today”), currently the most widely read paper in Israel (speculations held that the paper was started by Adelson to help Netanyahu personally). Many of Netanyahu’s men were on Adelson’s payroll until recently: The head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Nathan Eshel, was a deputy manager at Israel Hayom before joining the Neyanyahu campaign; former National Security Advisor Uzi Arad was part of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Research; the current NSA, Yaakov Amidror, was a pundit for Israel Hayom; the ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, was a fellow at Adelson’s conservative think-tank, the Shalem Center.

And what does Adelson think of Obama? Here it goes:

Any of the Republican hopefuls “are going to be 180 degrees” different from President Obama in terms of “what’s good for this country and for Israel,” Adelson said, adding that Obama is “the worst president” for Israel.

“All the steps he’s taken against the state of Israel are liable to bring about the destruction of the state,” he asserted.

Romney On Omitting U.S. Troops From RNC Speech: ‘You Talk About Things You Think Are Important’

This is a rather blase attitude toward the troops by someone who has engaged in belicose talk against Russia and Iran. I guess the 1% sees our troops as expendable as the workers he laid off while at Bain.


In an interview with Fox News this afternoon, Mitt Romney shot back at critics who complained that he didn’t mention Afghanistan or praise U.S. troops in his convention speech last week, arguing that he focused on issues that are “important.”

Fox News’s Brett Baier told Romney that “several speakers” at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this week criticized the GOP presidential nominee for the omissions (actually it was right-wing foreign policy leader Bill Kristol who started the attacks) and asked him if he had any regrets. “I only regret you’re repeating it day in and day out,” Romney said, adding that his speech focused on things that are important:

BAIER: To hear several speakers in Charlotte … they were essentially saying that you don’t care about the U.S. military because you didn’t mention U.S. troops and the war in Afghanistan in your nomination acceptance speech. … Do you regret opening up this line of attack, now a recurring attack, by leaving out that issue in the speech.

ROMNEY: I only regret you’re repeating it day in and day out. When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military unlike the president’s decision to cut our military. And I didn’t use the word troops, I used the word military. I think they refer to the same thing.

Revealed: The Dark Money Group Attacking Sen. Sherrod Browne

Source: Propublica

In May, a previously unknown group started pouring money into Ohio’s U.S. Senate race, considered one of the most important in the country and currently the nation’s most expensive. The group, the Government Integrity Fund, has spent over $1 million so far on TV ads bashing Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown and praising his Republican opponent, Josh Mandel.

Like many other such non-profit groups that are playing a dominant role in this year’s elections, the Government Integrity Fund is shrouded in mystery. It isn’t required to reveal donors, nor has it answered questions about who runs the group. The Fund’s barebones website lists no contact information beyond a P.O. Box.

* * *
The Associated Press reported last month that outside groups have spent $15 million supporting Mandel compared to about $3 million on the Democratic side.

We still don’t know who is putting up the money for the Government Integrity Fund’s ads because the group is a non-profit “social welfare” group, which don’t have to release donor information or register with the Federal Election Commission. Such groups are supposed to be “primarily” engaged in promoting social welfare but they have been flooding the airwaves with political ads in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United case and decisions by regulatory decisions.

Read more: http://www.propublica.org/article/revealed-the-dark-money-group-attacking-sen-sherrod-brown

Ayn Rand's Fountainhead - Insight Into Paul Ryan's Understanding of Forcible Rape v. Kinky Sex?

Much of the focus on Paul Ryan and other Republicans' idolization of Ayn Rand has been on her work Atlas Shrugged. However, what is interesting is that her other well known work, the Fountainhead, has generally been ignored. In particular, no mention has been made about how the "hero," Howard Roark, would rape his antagonist/love interest, Domanique Falcon, and how she secretly enjoyed it. Indeed, the fact that she did not scream for help was proof of her implicit concent to Roark's abuse of her.

Yet, rather than being condemned, some folks describe this as erotic. For example, here is a review analyzing a sample rape scene to argue that despite the Domanique herself referring to Roark as "raping" her, the reviewer concludes that she really did consent. Is this what Republicans and Paul Ryan are referring to by focusing on forcible or legitimate rape?


Ayn Rand writes, "She fought like an animal. But she made no sound. She did not call for help." (bottom of p. 216). She goes on: "He did it as an act of scorn. Not as love, but as defilement. And this made her lie still and submit. One gesture of tenderness from him - and she would have remained cold, untouched by the things done to her body. But the act of a master taking shameful, contemptuous possession of her was the kind of rapture she had wanted." Later, when Dominique wants to take a bath, she writes: "She turned the light on in the bathroom. She saw herself in a tall mirror. She saw the purple bruises left on her body by his mouth. She heard a moan muffled in her throat, not very loud. It was not the sight, but the sudden flash of knowledge. She knew she would not take a bath. She knew that she wanted to keep the feeling of his body, the traces of his body on hers, knowing also what such a desire implied."

In fact, after Roark leaves, Ayn Rand writes (middle of p. 219): "She could accept, thought Dominique, and come to forget in time everything that had happened to her, save one memory: that she had found pleasure in the thing which had happened, that he had known it, and more: that he had known it before he came to her and that he would not have come but for that knowledge. She had not given him the one answer that would have saved her: an answer of simple revulsion - she had found joy in her revulsion, in her terror and in his strength. That was the degradation she had wanted and she hated him for it." When Dominique is reading a letter from Alvah Scarret: "She read it and smiled. She thought, if they knew... those people... the old life and that awed reverence before her person. I've been raped... I've been raped by some red-headed hoodlum from a stone quarry... I, Dominique Francon... Through the fierce sense of humiliation, the words gave her the same kind of pleasure she had felt in his arms." Additionally, when Dominique goes to the quarry looking for Howard Roark and doesn't find him (bottom of p. 220), Ayn Rand writes: "She walked away. She would not ask for his name. It was her last chance of freedom." Finally, she had multiple scenes where Dominique would consider something a "win" (i.e., against Roark) and would then proceed to dominate him by being the more sexually forceful.

Dissent Magazine - "Todd Akin, Julian Assange, and 'Legitimate Rape'"

Thought proving article on Dissent Magazine.


Akin’s use of the word “legitimate” will arguably have longer-term (if subtle and immeasurable) repercussions than his easily debunked magical medical thinking. Outrage over Akin’s term “legitimate rape” has been, rightfully, widespread. This week both the New York Times and the New Yorker published pieces written by editors that noted the significance of Akin’s qualifying adjective.

In her blog, “Close Read,” senior New Yorker editor Amy Davidson asked, “What is ‘illegitimate rape’?” Akin offered some idea when he cosponsored a bill that tried to change language about federal funding for abortions for victims of “rape” to cover only “forcible rape.” And on Monday the New York Times published an editorial explaining that though Akin’s comments had proved embarrassing for many Republicans, his views fit with beliefs of the party’s abortion opponents. Many claim that women who are not really raped would abuse a rape exception to get abortions.

* * *

Another debate about what “really raped” and “not really raped” means is going on at the moment over the four allegations made against Julian Assange by two women in Sweden. These include one allegation that Assange had unprotected sex with a woman without her knowledge (she had specified that she only wished to have sex if a condom was used) and another accusing Assange of beginning sex with a woman who was asleep.

Yesterday the Times published an op-ed written by Michael Moore and Oliver Stone called “WikiLeaks and Free Speech.” The lauded left-wing filmmakers argued that since they believe WikiLeaks to be an important and worthy project, Ecuador, in granting Assange diplomatic asylum in its London embassy, “has acted in accordance with important principles of international human rights.” Presumably, the rights of the women who have accused Assange of sex crimes to see him fairly brought to justice are not covered by Moore and Stone’s version of international human rights. They introduced the allegations using a patronizing mansplaining tone: “Most Americans, Britons and Swedes are unaware that Sweden has not formally charged Mr. Assange with any crime. Rather, it has issued a warrant for his arrest to question him about allegations of sexual assault in 2010.” Legal expert David Allen Green had already addressed this point and other confusions surrounding the case for the New Statesman on Monday. “[T]o those who complain that Assange has not yet been charged,” he wrote, “the answer is simple: he cannot actually be charged until he is arrested.” The rest of Moore and Stone’s piece is based on the logic of the myths that Green’s post debunks.

Ever Wonder Why The Media Plays The Same RW Talking Points?

And, why corporate talking points are like zombies that keep on being spread even after they have been proven false? Well, keep in mind that there is an illusion of choice regarding what you see, watch and read, since it all likelihood it is filtered through six outlets:

Republican Medicare plan would be a gamble

Source: LA Times

WASHINGTON — While Mitt Romney and Paul D. Ryan are campaigning on a promise to "preserve and protect" Medicare, their proposal to revamp the popular government health insurance program would be the plan's biggest gamble since it was created nearly half a century ago.

The members of the Republican presidential ticket argue that giving seniors vouchers to shop for a private insurance plan would spark competition among health insurers, holding down costs and ensuring the long-term viability of Medicare.

But several previous experiments with privatizing Medicare insurance coverage have ended up raising costs to taxpayers. And on the other side, there is little evidence that moving millions of elderly and disabled patients into commercial health plans will protect their coverage or tame the nation's skyrocketing healthcare tab.

"Doubling down on private insurers is a risky proposition," said University of North Carolina health policy professor Jonathan Oberlander, a leading Medicare historian. "Medicare has lost money on private plans for a long time."

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-na-medicare-20120819,0,7076443.story

This is a nice, though relatively rare article, that actually addesses the substances of Romney/Ryan's attacks and their proposed plans to turn Medicare into a voucher system in order to "save it" in a classic we needed to burn the village down in order to save it strategy. The article has a nice graphic illustrating the impact of Romney/Ryan's plan:


Finally, the article notes that by restoring the spending that was cut, Romney and Ryan would open a large deficit in Medicare, pushing the program's main trust fund into the red in just four years, rather than 12 under Obama's plan.

CU professor calls “BS” on Romney’s 13 percent tax rate claim

Source: Fox Denver

“What Romney’s saying is technically true, but it’s misleading,” Victor Fleischer told FOX31 Denver. “The reason it’s misleading is because it’s 13 percent of what?

“Of his taxable income, that may be true. But you can have a lot of economic income that isn’t taxable and Romney has shown himself to be quite sophisticated in keeping his taxable income low even as his economic income remains high.

“He’s got interests in a lot of different investment stocks, and he can basically choose when he wants to recognize income from those funds. So he can use capital losses to offset capital gains and keep his taxable income low.”

* * *

“When you have a wide portfolio of investments, you can have a good year, but still not have a lot of taxable income, as long as you sell some losers as well as some winners,” Fleischer explained to FOX31 Denver. “That appears to be what Romney did in 2009, paid tax on whatever income he had, but it doesn’t mean he paid a lot.”

Read more: http://kdvr.com/2012/08/16/romney-on-taxes-ive-paid-at-least-13-percent/

I think this may explain why the Obama campaign has dared the Romney campaign to just produce three more years of returns even though five years of return is still far below the norm for a Presidential candidate. Romney may say he paid a 13 percent tax rate, but he is not saying that is his effective tax rate. Also, if he claimed a lot of losses, he might only be paying a tax rate on a nominal amount of reported income, thus rendering his effective tax rate close to zero.

The interesting thing about this story is that it appears on a Fox affiliate station in Colorado.
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