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Chernynkaya On November - 3 - 2011

You can access all the past editions of The Daily Planet on the green Category bar on the top of each page under the heading PlanetPOV.

BUDGET

 

 

The GOP’s Miniscule Super Committee Tax Offer

TPM:

With perhaps a week before the deficit Super Committee has to submit its proposals to Congressional scorekeepers in order to pass a plan by its late-November deadline, members remain far apart — and the GOP’s refusal to accept new tax revenues is at the heart of the matter.

Republicans would dispute this — they claim they’ve been willing to entertain hundreds of billions in new receipts for the government and Democrats aren’t serious about truly cutting entitlements programs. But pair the details of their two competing offers — both of which were leaked to the press in recent days — and the true source of gridlock becomes completely clear.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities — no fan of the Democrats’ own plan — paired the numbers properly. CBPP noted that, contrary to standard budgeting, Republicans counted proposed fees, like increases in Medicare premiums, as “revenues,” even though such cost shifting isn’t a tax change, and is typically considered spending reduction. CBPP also completely hived off $200 billion Republicans claimed would result from the secondary economic effects of their plan, since there’s little evidence to back up such “dynamic scoring.”

The problem speaks for itself.


[…]Both the bar graph above and the pie chart below count the over $900 billion in discretionary savings the parties agreed to during the debt limit fight toward total deficit reduction figures. The fact that the Democrats’ proposal was significantly larger is reflected in the sizes of the pie charts.


 

 

 

BUSINESS

 

 

Credit score companies are selling more than just your credit score 

Time:

The information in your credit report has long been used to predict how likely you are to pay credit card bills on time or remain current on your mortgage. But now credit information companies say they can figure out everything from how much discretionary income you have to how likely you’ll be to take medication as prescribed. It’s the next logical step for companies intent on finding new and lucrative ways to sell your personal data to marketers — but it’s also kind of creepy. […]

Credit bureau Equifax offers a product called a “discretionary spending index” that’s designed to help marketers ferret out consumers who have some extra money with which they could be persuaded to part. The 1,000-point scale “enables marketers to rank customers and prospects by spending power,” the company’s website says.

With this information, companies know which customers are the best candidates to target for marketing opportunities.

The webpage for the index also says it can tease out how much money low- and middle-income households have to spare. This could be a boon to bill collectors, since they would know which customers legitimately don’t have enough money to pay their debts versus those who just say they can’t pay up. A related product, the “ability to pay index,” makes similar claims. “[A] leading collections firm was able to identify over $14 million in collections, representing close to 40% of all outstanding balances from just 21% of delinquent accounts,” a testimonial on the site says.

Equifax and rival credit bureau Experian both offer products that claim to offer detailed information about a person’s income, including wages along with other income streams like investments. As with the discretionary spending index, this would give marketers a lot more insight into which consumers are worth the resources to pursue, and which ones aren’t as valuable. […]

Next Frontier in Credit Scores: Predicting Personal Behavior The Wall Street Journal

 

 

ECONOMY

 

 

4 million borrowers eligible for foreclosure review

WaPo:

More than 4 million borrowers who have faced foreclosure since early 2009 will have the chance to have their cases reviewed for potential wrongdoing, federal regulators and some of the nation’s largest mortgage servicers announced Tuesday.

The reviews stem from a deal forged earlier this year in which 14 servicers agreed to hire independent consultants to evaluate whether borrowers suffered financial injury during the foreclosure process. If a review finds errors or abuses by the financial firms, the consultants will determine what recompense wronged homeowners deserve.

On Tuesday, servicers began mailing letters to the estimated 4 million borrowers whose loans were in the process of foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010, detailing how to request a review of an individual case.

Officials at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which crafted the April servicer agreement along with the Federal Reserve, said the mailings would continue through the end of the year and be accompanied by a large-scale marketing campaign to make borrowers aware of the effort. Additional information is available at www.IndependentForeclosureReview.com or 1-888-952-9105.

 

 

ThinkProgress: Nearly one-third of the unemployed have been out of work for a year or more 

 

 

Meet the “credit terrorist” who wants you to fight Wall Street—by walking away from your debts. [And it’s not AdLib!]

 

 

15 percent of America is now on food stamps. But Congress may still cut aid to poor as food prices soar. 

Politico:

The red-hot debate over cutting the federal budget deficit could literally spill into the nation’s supermarket aisles and onto its kitchen tables.

Food costs are now forecast to increase this year by a stunning 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent — nearly double the core inflation rate — while the food stamp program that helps more than 44 million Americans is facing a congressional chopping block.

All of this has led policymakers to search for new ways to curb the rising costs, lawmakers to consider changes to the food stamp program and regulators to target speculation in the commodities markets.

The annual budget for the Supplemental Nutrition Assurance Program has doubled since 2007 to $70 billion. And some lawmakers see runaway spending when the government is trying to trim more than $1 trillion from its expected debt load.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) unsuccessfully proposed an amendment last month that would have tightened eligibility requirements, arguing the explosive growth of the program over the past decade has most likely led to fraud and misuse.

“Responsible changes to the way the government operates this program will improve outcomes, help more people achieve the goal of financial independence and put an end to fraud,” he said Monday on the Senate floor. “It is time to get serious. Denial must end. You can’t borrow your way out of debt. We are spending money we don’t have.”

Americans can qualify for food stamp benefits by using other federal programs, a process known as “categorical eligibility” that Sessions wants to end.

And because state governments administer the federally funded program, there isn’t much of an incentive to investigate abuse, a Republican Senate aide told POLITICO.

Sessions favors a House Republican plan to devote $71 billion to food stamps next year, compared with the $80 billion championed by Senate Democrats.

Others view the increase as proof that the working poor need a government backstop, saying food stamps add value to the economy.

“This is clearly a moral issue,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). “But it’s also an economic issue. For every dollar in food stamp costs, you get $1.79 back.”

The money benefits grocers, “the truck driver who delivered the food, the warehouses that stored it, the plant that processed it and the farmer who produced the food,” Audrey Rowe, administrator of the Agriculture Department’s Food and Nutrition Service, told a congressional committee in July.

Charities and religious groups won’t be able to fill the chasm if food stamps are underfunded, said Jim Wallis, a noted author and theologian who runs the social justice organization Sojourners.

Only 6 percent of nutritional assistance comes from charities, so a similar-sized reduction in government funding would offset their efforts, he said.

“Churches are overstretched because their folks are struggling,” Wallis said. “Neither party has made poverty or poor people a priority.”
Read more: 


ENERGY

 

 

Obama: I’ll make the call on Keystone XL project

Politico:

President Barack Obama indicated Tuesday he’ll be making the final call on the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline that would run from Alberta to Texas.

In an interview with Omaha, Neb., station KETV, Obama said the State Department — which was expected to make the decision on the pipeline — will instead deliver recommendations to the White House on the proposal.

Obama said he will then consider a variety of factors, including environmental concerns, public health, jobs and energy independence, before making a decision.

“The State Department’s in charge of analyzing this, because there’s a pipeline coming in from Canada,” Obama told KETV’s Rob McCartney in the White House. “They’ll be giving me a report over the next several months, and, you know, my general attitude is, what is best for the American people? What’s best for our economy both short term and long term? But also, what’s best for the health of the American people? Because we don’t want for examples aquifers, they’re adversely affected, folks in Nebraska obviously would be directly impacted, and so we want to make sure we’re taking the long view on these issues.

“We need to encourage domestic oil and natural gas production,” Obama added. “We need to make sure that we have energy security and aren’t just relying on Middle East sources. But there’s a way of doing that and still making sure that the health and safety of the American people and folks in Nebraska are protected, and that’s how I’ll be measuring these recommendations when they come to me.”

McCartney asked Obama if the promise of job growth will affect his decision.

“It does, but I think folks in Nebraska like all across the country aren’t going to say to themselves, ‘We’ll take a few thousand jobs if it means that our kids are potentially drinking water that would damage their health or rich land that’s so important to agriculture in Nebraska are being adversely affected,’” Obama said, adding, “because those create jobs, and you know when somebody gets sick that’s a cost that the society has to bear as well. So these are all things that you have to take a look at when you make these decisions.”

On Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney had answered a question on the Keystone project by stating “the fact that this is a decision that will be made by the State Department, or is housed within the State Department.”

Carney’s statement led to headlines in the D.C. media such as: “Carney distances Obama from looming Keystone pipeline decision” and “White House washes its hands of Keystone XL decision.”



ENVIRONMENT

 

 

I, Cher, was the 2,513,923,040th person born on Earth. Now there are 7 Billion

I was also the 75,617,967,770th person to have lived since history began. See where you fit in with this cool calculator!

 

 

HEALTH CARE

 

 

 Contraceptive use is nearly universal among women of reproductive age in the United States. 

National Women’s Law Center:

[…] Contraception is Critical Preventive Health Care for Women. Contraceptive use is nearly universal among women of reproductive age in the United States. Planned pregnancies-which for most women require contraception-improve women’s health and their ability to have healthy pregnancies. The ability to determine the timing of a pregnancy can prevent a range of pregnancy complications that can endanger a woman’s health, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and placental problems, among others. Contraception is critical to helping women achieve healthy pregnancies. Women who wait for some time after delivery before conceiving their next child lower their risk of adverse perinatal outcomes, including low birth weight, preterm birth, and small-for-size gestational age. Guaranteeing access to contraception therefore benefits the health of women and their families.

  • Cost Plays a Major Role in Women’s Ability to Use Contraceptives. Contraception costs burden women’s access to birth control. Evidence suggests that even moderate copayments can cause individuals to forgo needed preventive care, particularly those with low and moderate incomes. For example, a survey by Planned Parenthood found that one in three women reported struggling with the cost of prescription birth control at some point. Another survey, conducted by the Guttmacher Institute in 2009, found that because of the economic recession, 23% of women reported having difficulty paying for birth control and 24% put off a gynecology or birth control visit because of cost. Costs can also lead women to use contraception inconsistently or incorrectly; for example, 18% of women report inconsistent use as a means of saving money. Removing these barriers to access is critical for improving women’s health.
  • HHS’s Decision to Guarantee No Cost-Sharing Coverage of Contraception is a Milestone for Women. Removing these cost-related barriers is a tremendous benefit for women and their families and underscores the real and tangible impact the new health care law will have on women’s lives.
  • Nothing In the Women’s Health Amendment Requires Any Person to Use Contraception. The requirement is merely that contraceptive services be covered in insurance plans at no cost-sharing, such that individuals may choose whether or not to access those services. Senator Barbara Mikulski, the author of the Women’s Health Amendment, put it well when explaining the purpose of the provision on the Senate floor: “[W]e do not mandate that you have the service; we mandate that you have access to the service. The decision as to whether you should get it will be a private one, unique to you.”

An Exemption that Allows Religious Employers to Refuse to Comply with the Contraceptive Coverage Guarantee Has No Basis Under the Law

  • The Affordable Care Act Does Not Allow for Any Exemptions that Discriminate Against Women. Section 1557(a) of the Affordable Care Act prohibits sex discrimination in any health program or activity, any part of which is receiving Federal financial assistance. As described above, it has been determined that it is sex discrimination to exclude coverage of contraception for women when the employee health insurance plan covers other preventive drugs and services. It is unacceptable as a matter of law and policy-for an agency to create an exception to longstanding civil rights principles that allow religious employers not to comply with the law.
  • The Constitution Does Not Require A Religious Exemption. The Supreme Court has held that neutral, generally applicable laws do not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, even if they were to burden the exercise of religion. The coverage of contraception is a neutral regulation that applies to all employers; it does not single out any religious entity or practice. Accordingly, guaranteeing contraception coverage does not violate the First Amendment.

IMMIGRATION

 

 

Thousands of Kids Taken From Parents In U.S. Deportation System

ColorLines:

[…] Clara’s eldest kid was 6 years old and her youngest just a year old when it happened. Josefina’s baby was 9 months. All three children were ripped from their mothers and sent to live in foster homes with strangers. Clara and Josefina, sisters in their early 30s who lived together in a small northern New Mexico town, had done nothing to harm their children or to elicit the attention of the child welfare department. Yet one morning last year, their family was shattered when federal immigration authorities detained both sisters. Clara and Josefina were deported four months later. For a year, they had no contact with their children. […]

According to Clara and Josefina, the ICE and DEA agents came to their home looking for drugs, but found none. Clara believes a neighbor called in the false report to ICE. A criminal background check confirms that charges against the sisters were dropped and that neither had ever been convicted of any crime. ICE nonetheless detained them because of their undocumented immigration status, moving them from the county jail to the immigration detention center where they were held for three months. They were deported to Mexico in December 2010.

According to over 100 child welfare caseworkers and attorneys we interviewed around the country, as rates of deportations increase, so do the numbers of children from immigrant families in foster care. Indeed, federal data released to the Applied Research Center through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that almost one in four people deported in the last year was the mother or father of a United States citizen. (Next week, Colorlines.com will publish a follow-up story further detailing and explaining this startling data.)[…]

Local immigration enforcement is metastasizing through initiatives like the 287(g) agreements and, most significantly, through a controversial program called Secure Communities, which allows ICE access to data on every person booked into a county jail. As the federal government shifts its deportation tactics away from high-profile workplace raids and toward enforcement that’s silently tied to the day-to-day functions of local police departments, a growing number of long-time residents with families and deep ties to the U.S. are deported. The program is turning jurisdictions around the country into deportation hotspots. We have identified at least 22 states where children in foster care face barriers to reunifying with their detained or deported mothers and fathers.

MORE>>>

 

JUSTICE

 

 

18 Arrested in Wis. Capitol, including The Progressive’s Editor, for Using Cameras or Holding Signs

The Progressive:

[…] On November 1, 2011, Wisconsin’s concealed carry law went into effect, and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald said that carrying a gun into the gallery would be permissible. To demonstrate the absurdity of Assembly rules that prohibit people from using cameras, phones or laptops or holding signs in the gallery while at the same time guns are allowed, dozens of people packed one side of the gallery armed with concealed and unconcealed cameras and signs.

The first bill up for debate was AB 69, the “castle doctrine” bill that, according to its author Majority Leader Scott Suder, “ensures that individuals can safely and securely defend themselves when threatened.” The bill exempts property owners from any criminal or civil liability over the use of deadly force while protecting their home, place of business, car, patio, driveway, front lawn or swimming pool. AB 69 is literally a license to kill.

When Representative Leon Young from Milwaukee stood up and said, “This is a sad day here in Wisconsin,” the gallery erupted with applause and cheers. Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer had earlier cautioned “guests” to abide by gallery rules and not be disruptive. At this outburst, he ordered the gallery cleared.

State troopers, Capitol Police and Department of Natural Resources game wardens filed into the gallery and began asking people to leave. Once outside the gallery some people were handcuffed and taken to the basement for processing on the charge of “other conduct prohibited.”

Democratic representatives requested Kramer to rescind his order, saying it was unfair for the whole gallery to be cleared based on the behavior of only some people. Kramer took back the order, saying, “The gallery is for observation. We have public hearings for a reason and that is where you can be heard. We have prohibitions against holding signs and against filming so please put down your signs and cameras. We have prohibitions against showing support or disapproval so I hope you’ll abide by that.”

Then law enforcement began to haul people out for silently holding signs or taking pictures with their cameras. The Progressive’s own Matt Rothschild was arrested for taking a picture of these arrests being made.

A total of eighteen people were arrested and ticketed for offenses that will likely be thrown out in court.

People feel so strongly about protecting and defending their ability to record and document the goings-on in the Assembly because corporate media is doing such a poor job of it. If you’re not at the Capitol on a regular basis, you would find it difficult to believe the impunity with which the rightwing is shoving their racist, sexist, corporatist agenda down the throats of the people of this state.

 

 

FBI: Four militia members plotted to attack buildings, release poison

Four Georgia men in their 60s and 70s were arrested Tuesday, accused of being members of a right-wing militia group that plotted to attack federal office buildings and to disperse a deadly biological poison in Atlanta.

Their alleged plot was revealed to the FBI by a confidential informant last spring, and members of the group have been meeting since May with someone they thought was a black-market weapons dealer but who turned out to be an undercover federal agent, according to court documents.

No attacks were ever attempted. Federal officials say the men were disrupted before they could act on the plot.

The documents say the men, Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Ga.; Dan Roberts, 67, Ray Adams, 65, and Samuel Crump, 68, all of Toccoa, called themselves “the covert group” and began in March to talk about staging attacks against federal targets including the IRS.

A confidential informant secretly recorded some of the meetings for the FBI.

“I’d say the first ones that need to die is the ones in the government buildings,” Adams was overheard saying in an April 16 meeting, according to the FBI.

“When it comes down to it, I can kill somebody,” he allegedly said.

They allegedly obtained a silencer from the undercover agent and plotted to buy explosives. Crump claimed he could produce ricin, a deadly biological agent, and talked about dispersing it from a car driving on an interstate highway, according to court documents.

“Ya get on the trunk of Atlanta, you get up on the north side, ya get on 41, ya throw it out there right on 285, ya go up 41 or 75, go up 75 to get away from it. Keep the heater on, that waykeeps the pressure out. Don’t roll your window down,” he told the informant, according to court documents.

According to federal investigators, Crump had worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta in the past doing “maintenance-type services” for a contractor, and Adams used to work for a U.S. Department of Agriculture agency called the Agricultural Research Service as a lab technician.

“While many are focused on the threat posed by international violent extremists, this case demonstrates that we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens without our own borders who threaten our safety and security,” said the U.S. attorney in Atlanta, Sally Quillian Yates, in a written statement.

Read court documents on ricin allegations (.PDF)

 

DOJ says Allied Home Mortgage fraudulent lending practices cost US more than $834 million

Reuters:

The U.S. Department of Justice sued Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corp and two top executives over fraudulent lending practices that have cost the government more than $834 million of insurance claims.

In a complaint filed Tuesday, the Justice Department said Allied profited for years as one of the nation’s largest Federal Housing Administration lenders by “engaging in reckless mortgage lending, flouting the requirements of the FHA mortgage insurance program, and repeatedly lying about its compliance.”

Other defendants in the lawsuit are Allied Chief Executive Jim Hodge, and Executive Vice President Jeanne Steel. The lawsuit seeks triple damages under the federal False Claims Act as well as civil penalties and other remedies.

Reached at his Houston office, Hodge said “they’re so absurd” when asked about the alleged fraudulent lending practices and insurance claims. He had no immediate additional comment. A spokesman for the company had no immediate comment.

The government filed the lawsuit with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, six months after accusing Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) in a $1 billion fraud lawsuit of misleading it into insuring risky mortgages. Deutsche Bank has sought to dismiss that lawsuit.

 

 

Fraud charges against Glenn Beck’s old sponsor Goldline

ABC News:

[…]At the heart of the complaint is the suggestion that Goldline profits not so much by selling pure gold bullion, but by persuading customers who want to capitalize on the rising value of gold to purchase collectable coins. The coins are subject to a significant mark-up in price, and several Goldline customers told ABC News that they found it difficult or impossible to resell those coins without taking a loss. […]

In filing the complaint, officials have opened a new front in a long-running and very public dispute over the way Goldline has turned the sale of gold into a massive retail operation that capitalizes on popular conservative figures — most notably Glenn Beck. The marriage of conservative talk and gold sales appears to make sense — both have traditionally targeted an audience that is skeptical of the government, concerned about the nation’s economic future, and uneasy about inflation and the stability of American currency.

 

 

MEDIA

 

 

Michael Moore: Youth stayed home in 2010 because of Obama’s ‘B.S.’

The Raw Story:

Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore said Tuesday that young voters did not turn out for 2010 elections because “they don’t suffer fools” and “because they don’t take bullshit.”

“You promise them something, you’d better do it, or they’re going to call you on it” he said during a speech at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue. “They don’t like hypocrites. They don’t like somebody who doesn’t follow through.”

“We need young people and their rebellion and their ability not to go along with B.S.,” Moore continued. “And they weren’t going to go along with President Obama’s B.S. He let them down, they stayed home. He wants to keep letting them down for the next year? They’ll stay home.”

Moore said Obama’s problem was not liberals like himself, who would still vote for Obama. The problem was that liberals wouldn’t be able to convince others to turn out for the 2012 elections because Obama did not clean up George W. Bush’s mess.

Watch video, courtesy of Fora.TV, below:

 

 

The Media’s Blind Spot: Three Old White Men Pontificate About A Young Black President

The People’s View:


I don’t mean to be brazen, but that’s what happened [Monday] on Hardball with Chris Matthews. Matthews wrote a book about President Kennedy, and he invited Howard Fineman of The AOL Huffington Post and Mike Barnicle on his show to ask him questions about it. Quickly, the content of the segment drifted away from the Kennedy’s and moved onto three old white politicos’ assessment on the political skills of the country’s first black president, Barack Obama. More specifically, it delved into how Barack Obama does not measure up to President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy.

Here’s the full interview of Chris Matthews on his own show.

[…] But the speed and agility with which the conversation went straight for the “Obama disappointed us” narrative, it is hard to believe that it was spontaneous and unplanned. None of them noticed, of course, that Obama has to be president while back, and none of them even cared that no one representing a voice of color – let alone an African American voice – was even in the room. So let me remind Mr. Matthews, Mr. Fineman and Mr. Barnicle a few things about the obstacles this president faces that no other president in history has.

  • Personal as well as institutionalized racism: The media has it out for him on both ends. He’s either too calm and collected (God forbid we have a calm and collected captain of the ship while navigating through stormy waters) or an angry black man. He has to both be an American president and the magic negro (yeah, I said it). He has to get things done and be seen as slapping his allies and opponents alike. What is nearly as bad as the vivid racism put on display by the political right is the subtle ignorance and pretension of the media personalities that our politics is post-racial.
  • Unprecedented political enmity: Did you guys check the Republican party lately? They have turned against a ton of their own policy ideas on jobs because now the president is proposing it. The Republicans have said NO in unison, used legislative procedure to stifle damn nearly everything. Anyone remember this graph?

While the Right openly declared that they hope the President fails and that their single most important goal is to defeat the president, the media sat there, sucking their thumbs, and now you have the galls to complain about how Obama is not twisting enough arms?

With that, let’s also visit what the president has done in his time in office. We have listed them a myriad of times here on TPV, and I will give you a partial list again:

  • Health care reform expanding coverage, reining in insurance company malpractices, improving Medicare and paying for every penny of it. There can be no comparing of Barack Obama with other presidents in the past half century without mentioning this. All those presidents had been trying to do what Barack Obama has accomplished.
  • A stimulus pack
  • The most significant financial regulatory reform since the Great Depression with an independent consumer protection agency.
  • Credit card reform and student loan reform protecting consumers, students and parents.
  • The largest expansion of children’s health insurance ever.
  • Delivering a tax reduction for the working poor for the first time in recent memory (by the means of a cut in the payroll tax).
  • Unemployment benefits extensions to 99 weeks to cope with the economic situation, made the largest investments in infrastructure since the interstates, kept teachers, police and firefighters on the job.
  • Ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and codifying a federal hate crimes statute protecting the LGBT community.

He did it all while facing the mountain of animus obstruction from the Right, poutrage from the Professional Left (they were missing ponies, excuse them), and being president while black.

But no, the problem the Matthews panel seemed to have with the president is that he’s not learning to whip the Democrats into shape. That is largely a false accusation as the vast majority of registered and elected Democrats continue to stand by and support the president. The intra-party conflict narrative is one largely created by a media that is trigger-happy and earns its ratings by manufacturing conflict. After all, issue splits within the Democratic party are nothing new. Will Rogers did not say “I’m not a member of any organized party; I’m a Democrat” yesterday, Chris Matthews. We have been hearing for years that Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line. If organizing the Democratic party has always been so much like herding cats that punchlines and legends have been written to immortalize it, why the thread of novelty on it all of a sudden? Answer: a conflict-infatuated media that is drowning in its own conflict bubble.

Barack Obama is not the country’s first African American president because he doesn’t understand politics. He did not beat the best Democratic party machinery since the Kennedys – the Clintons – by being the naive black guy who just doesn’t get it and needs to learn it all from the good-ol’ boys’ club. So long as we’re comparing Jack Kennedy and Barack Obama, you think it also might have been worth mentioning that the Kennedy family had been in Democratic politics long before the arrival of JFK, whereas Barack Obama came up completely on his own, the first person in his family to probably be in politics, period?  And speaking of the Kennedy’s, anyone remember this early and ardent supporter of Barack Obama’s?

Here’s a suggestion for you, Chris Matthews. Sell your book. Talk about your book. Talk about Jack Kennedy. But if you are going to use it as a platform to pontificate about Barack Obama’s political skills, try to get more perspective than 3 old white politicos talking about the new black kid on the block, okay?

 

 

Jon Stewart is great—except when he allows Condi Rice to lie:

[…] But the conversation quickly turned to George W. Bush’s administration. Rice said she believes some Bush-era policy decisions contributed to the sweeping popular uprisings across the Middle East and north Africa.

Watch>>>

 

 

Ann Coulter Doubles Down To Joy Behar: ‘[Our Blacks] Are More Impressive. There Is No Question.’ (video)

 

 

 ‘Lean Stupid’: MSNBC Hires Meghan McCain

 

 

MILITARY

 

 

Report: Military Blew $1 Trillion on Weapons Since 9/11

Mother Jones:

A new study suggests that defense hawks are crying crocodile tears over planned cuts to Pentagon spending.

 

 

OCCUPY

 

Latest Updates on Occupy Oakland Protest 

Marchers arrived at the Port of Oakland. According to local news reports the crowd has swelled to more than 10,000.The Port of Oakland issued a statement: “At this time maritime operations are effectively shut down at the Port of Oakland. Maritime area operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so.”

 

 

 

Think Progress: U.S. Jewish leaders denounce efforts to smear Occupy Wall Street as anti-semitic 

[…] Now, though, a group of eminent Jewish-Americans are pushing back against the smears. In a release today, 15 leaders from the community are putting their foot down against the likes of Kristol and his lackeys at ECI and the Standard:

We are publicly engaged American Jews who support both Israel and the ideas behind Occupy Wall Street and who also strongly oppose right-wing attempts to smear that movement with false charges of anti-Semitism.

It’s an old, discredited tactic: find a couple of unrepresentative people in a large movement and then conflate the oddity with the cause. One black swan means that all swans are black…

All of us irrespective of party or position should expose and denounce anti-Semitism where ever it occurs, but not tar hundreds of thousands of protestors nationwide because a handful of hateful people show up with offensive signs that can’t be taken down in a public park open to all.

The signatory list included a few rabbis, progressive Jewish group leader Jeremy Ben Ami, former New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer (who was targeted in the ECI ad), union leader Randi Weingarten, and others.

Picking up a push-back on the smear last week from Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, the signatories cited the anti-Semitism watchdog Anti-Defamation League (ADL), commentingthat there’s no evidence that the views outlined by the right “are representative of the larger movement or that they are gaining traction with other participants.”

Both the signatories and the ADL are right: In a survey of the evidence right-wing pressure groups and blogs give against the 99 Percent, there are only a handful — perhaps as many as eight — total protesters who have been documented expressing anti-Semitism, yet videos and photos of them are perpetually re-circulated. That’s perhaps eight out of hundreds of thousands that have taken to the streets and shown support for the 99 Percent.

 

 

 

Interactive Map: Occupy Arrests From Oakland to Denver to Austin 

Mother Jones:

The loose-knit protest movement known as Occupy Wall Street has stirred action from New York City to LA and spread overseas. Here we present an expanding map of protest hot spots and reported arrests, and track the movement’s growth. […]

Interactive Map 

Charts: How We Got Here 

Timeline of Major Events

 

 

POLITICS

 

 

Who’s Paying for the GOP’s Plan to Hijack the 2012 Election?

Mother Jones:

Someone is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to rig the rules of the presidential election against Obama. But the source of the money is a mystery.

Over the past six months, someone—or a group of someones—has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund an effort to change the rules of the 2012 presidential election to make it very difficult for President Barack Obama to win reelection. But the shadowy lobbying group mounting this campaign hasn’t disclosed its donors—and under current law, it doesn’t have to.

In two states, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, GOP legislators have introduced bills that would change how electoral votes—a candidate needs 270 of the 538 to win the presidency—are awarded in a presidential election. Under the current system, the winner of the statewide popular vote receives all of the electoral votes from that state.

If the Republican plan becomes law in either Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, those states would change how electoral votes are awarded. The new plan would allot electoral votes on the basis of vote totals within congressional districts. If a candidate wins a congressional district, he or she would receive one electoral college vote. Whoever does best in the statewide race would receive two electoral votes.

Because Republicans will draw the boundaries of the congressional districts in both states, the new rules would mean that Obama could win the states but still receive fewer electoral votes than his Republican opponent. Should a Republican split the states’ electoral votes with Obama (even if Obama draws more votes), that could provide the GOPer with the margin of victory in a close race.

In Pennsylvania, a secretive nonprofit group called All Votes Matter has been pushing the electoral vote scheme since May. All Votes Matter has close ties to the Pennsylvania GOP—it hired a number of former top state Senate staffers-turned-lobbyists. “It was pretty much the Senate GOP All Star Lobbying Team and [former state House Democratic Counsel Bill] Sloane,” Peter DeCoursey, the bureau chief for Capitolwire, a newswire that’s read religiously by Harrisburg insiders*, explained in September.

Between April and June, the group spent $77,700 to lobby state officials to support legislation to implement this scheme. By early September, GOP Gov. Tom Corbett and the state House and Senate leaders, Mike Turzai and Dominic Pileggi, both Republicans, had all expressed their support for the idea. It was “the best $77,700 anyone ever spent on potential legislation,” DeCoursey wrote. “The entire state governing wing [was] for a bill that [hadn’t] been introduced yet.”

A week later, though, the landscape had changed significantly. Mother Jones and other national media outlets drew widespread attention to the story, and the state GOP chairman and the vast majority of its congressional delegation came out against the plan. 

All Votes Matter wasn’t fazed. It kept lobbying. Charles Gerow, a spokesman for All Votes Matter, told DeCoursey that the group had raised $300,000—and already spent $180,000. But Gerow wouldn’t tell reporters where the money was coming from, saying only that “civic-minded citizens” had provided the dough. This week, the group filed new lobbying disclosure forms revealing that it spent $186,882 on lobbying between July and September.

All Votes Matter doesn’t disclose its donors “as a matter of policy, per the request of many of them,” Gerow told Mother Jones. “It’s their legal right not to have it disclosed, and they don’t want it disclosed so they’re not subject to media calls and other potential harassment,” he added. All Votes Matter has “fully and completely complied with the law and will continue to do so,” Gerow said, and “if those who don’t agree with the law want to change it, it certainly is their right to do that.”

There’s no law that says All Votes Matter has to disclose where its money comes from. But opponents of the electoral college changes are outraged that voters are being kept in the dark about who’s behind such a potentially consequential reform. “This is an effort to fundamentally change the way Pennsylvania conducts its presidential elections, in my view to rig the election,”says Democratic state Sen. Daylin Leach. “They raised an awful lot of money very quickly—$300,000 in just a few days. We’re all curious where that level of funding comes from.”

Carolyn Fiddler, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which assists Democrats in state-level races around the country, says: “Given the potential impact of this measure this group is lobbying for, not just for Pennsylvanians but for presidential politics and Americans in general, the public has a right to know who’s behind it.”

Transparency advocates say it’s not enough to just know who is doing the lobbying—voters should also know who is paying the bills. “The old adage is that actions speak louder than words, and deeper pockets allow for more action,” says Michael Beckel, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics. “Without disclosure, the public is unable to fully hold accountable the companies and organizations that have hired these lobbyists in the first place.”

In Wisconsin, it’s even less clear who’s behind the electoral college shenanigans. The Wisconsin Democratic party has alleged that the bill there, sponsored by GOP state Rep. Dan LeMahieu, was written by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, among others. But so far, the Dems haven’t been able to produce any evidence to back up their charge, and emails from LeMahieu’s office Mother Jones obtained via an open records request showed no evidence of any outside involvement in the drafting of the law.

Democratic state legislators are worried that the Pennsylvania and Wisconsin bills are part of a broader effort. If GOP legislatures in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and other states where Democrats typically win presidential elections pass the electoral college changes All Votes Matter is proposing, it would mean “the end of competitive presidential elections and certainly people’s confidence that the process is fair,” Leach maintains. “To think that some secret group somewhere is rubbing their hands together and putting millions of dollars into this effort—and we can’t even know who they are—I think that’s obscene.”

 

Obama Aims at Election Laws (H/T AdLib)

The Obama re-election campaign has quietly opened a counteroffensive against Republican-backed changes to election laws that Democrats say will suppress votes for their candidates and limit their get-out-the-vote drives.

The effort, led by former White House counsel Robert Bauer, prompted the suspension of an Ohio law limiting early voting. Campaign officials produced educational materials to counter a Wisconsin law that requires voters to produce photo I.D.s—but disallows those used by Wisconsin colleges.

By this spring, the Obama re-election campaign will mount what Mr. Bauer called an unprecedented “voter protection” effort,

 

NYT: New Video Attacks Romney

Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama super PAC, is marking the start of the yearlong countdown to Election Day 2012 by releasing a video entirely devoted to attacking former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, painting him as a cold-hearted businessman disconnected from the pain of ordinary Americans.

Mitt Romney’s America”:

Romney as corporate raider: Relatedly, Ruth Marcus has more on the Obama team’s game plan, which includes the planned depiction of Romney as the fat cat from Bain Capital, the heartless management consultant who bought companies, stripped their assets and sent their jobs to China.

Also: The fact that Romney pays lower tax rates than middle class taxpayers because of income from investments will ultimately be key to this argument, since tax fairness will be central to the 2012 campaign.

 

 

 

Congress picks up birth control battle

WaPo:

[…] House Republicans are opening the day with a hearing on a health reform provision thatreligious groups have fiercely protested: the mandated coverage of birth control without a co-pay.

Beginning next year, the health reform law will require insurance companies to cover preventive health services for women, including contraception, without a co-payment. For religious organizations that oppose contraception, there’s also a conscience clause: faith-based groups that primarily employ and serve those of the same religion can pursue an exemption.

But religious leaders say that’s too narrow; they want the conscience clause to be wider-reaching and not hinge on whom a religious institution employs or serves. That would likely allow Catholic universities and hospitals, which tend not to employ primarily Catholic populations, to qualify for the exemption. According to the Catholic Hospital Association, most Catholic hospitals do not currently provide coverage for contraceptives.

Some religious supporters of the health reform law have broken with the Obama administration n this provision. “I think anybody who works for Catholic institutions understands when they sign up to be part of an institution, there are certain values that’s organized around,” Catholic University of America’s Stephen Schneck told me in a recent interview. Schneck has supported the health reform law, but also petitioned the administration for a more expansive conscience clause on this provision.

As he puts it, “They should have used that more expansive language, which would include organizations that are driven by the religious mission.”

Women’s groups have fiercely defended the provision and opposed expanding the conscience clause in a way that could affect many women who don’t have a religious opposition to contraceptives. “Institutions that operate in the public sphere and serve the public should not be allowed to impose one particular religious view on the general public, including their employees,” writes Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, in documents submitted for today’s hearing.

How exactly this shakes out is still to be seen. Health and Human Services published a preliminary rule on the issue in July; a final version is still forthcoming. In finalizing the regulation, the administration has many opinions to weigh: it received more than 100,000 comments on the first draft, according to one HHS official. Whatever the final decision, it will be one closely watched by those on both sides of the issue.

 

 

 

 Nope, no Republicans will vote for infrastructure spending

It looks like the Senate vote on the big infrastructure/jobs bill is set for Thursday, and that no Republicans will vote for it. A handful of Dems may defect, too.

This, even though Senate Republicans have repeatedly supported the idea of infrastructure spending in the past as necessary for the economy and the country’s future.

Will it annoy anyone if I again point to that study showing that the millionaire surtax to pay for this bill would impact 1/500th of Americans, and that they would pay on average an additional 1/217th of their incomes?

 

 

House voted to reaffirming ‘In God We Trust’ motto: All other problems apparently solved 

 

 

 

 

 President Obama Ridicules Congress For Wasting Time With ‘In God We Trust’ Vote (VIDEO

 

 

 

Paul Ryan gets an earful at town hall meeting: “”We want jobs, not cuts!”

“We want jobs, not cuts!”

Nor did they want a Power Point presentation. They wanted an honest exchange with Paul Ryan about their needs, but instead got escorted out of the town hall meeting.

Via Think Progress:

One audience member argued that Ryan’s proposal to push seniors out of traditional Medicare and into more-expensive private coverage is tantamount to murder:

Kenosha resident David Drath, 53, told Ryan he is a kidney transplant patient who relies on support from Medicare and Social Security. “I could not survive on the proposals in your policy,” Drath said. “If they’re put in place, you might as well put a gun to my head.”

 

 

 

Herman Cain Warns China Is Seeking ‘Nuclear Capability’

[…] In fact, China tested its first nuclear device in 1964 and has had a stockpile of warheads for decades.

 

 

The Net Worth of Congress Rose 23.6% Since 2008

The Atlantic:

The walls of the Capital building do a pretty good job of sheltering members of Congress, who on average have a net worth of $3.8 million, from the stormy economy outside. The collective wealth of members of both houses of Congress rose 23.6 percent between 2008 and 2010, according an analysis conducted by Roll Call. The newspaper calculated “minimum net worth” of each congressman and senator based on financial disclosure forms each fills out. It found that Congress’s collective wealth jumped from an estimated minimum of $1.65 billion in 2008 to $2.04 billion in 2010. “Minimum net worth,” as the name suggests, doesn’t included every source of wealth for members of Congress (such as home values), meaning it’s a big underestimation.

 

 

 

Romney’s son Tagg involved in Ponzi Scheme:

ThinkProgress:

Yesterday, ThinkProgress released our investigation of the Romney family’s investment firms, including Solamere Advisors and its parent company, Solamere Capital, which is run by Mitt Romney’s son Tagg. The report found that Tagg founded his firm using $10 million of Mitt’s money, and later partnered with a group of brokers who allegedly helped perpetrate one of the largest Ponzi schemes in modern history, the $8.5 billion Stanford Financial Group.

After our report, the Romney campaign released a statement to ABC News and the National Journal simply attacking ThinkProgress as a “a left-wing blog with a highly partisan agenda.” Despite calling our story “false material,” the Romney spokesperson did not directly dispute any of our assertions. The Romney campaign has not explained why, for instance, Tagg Romney falsely claimed that his Solamere Advisors partners were “cleared” of wrongdoing in connection to the Stanford Financial Group Ponzi scheme.

Now, it appears that one of the firms is trying to cover up its tracks. Sometime last night, Solamere Advisors, the firm run by brokers who allegedly took part in the Stanford Ponzi Scheme, deleted the section of their website that lists Tagg Romney and Spencer Zwick, the Romney for President lead fundraiser. View a screen shot of the current web address, which shows a “404 File or directory not found” error message:[…]

Fortunately, ThinkProgress captured screen shots of the Romney family investment firm websites before we published our story. View a screen shot of the Solamere Advisors directors page before the deletion (click to enlarge the website image):


In an interview last month, Tagg Romney told ThinkProgress that his partners were “cleared” from the Stanford Ponzi scheme lawsuit to retrieve what prosecutors believe are the fraudulent gains made by his partners, Tim Bambauer, Deems May, and Brandon Phillips. He also suggested that his former Stanford employee partners were the true victims since they had been promised bonuses that they had never received. In fact, in court documents obtained by ThinkProgress, none of the men have been cleared, and a court-appointed audit found that they made about $1.6 million in participating in the Stanford Ponzi scheme.

 

 

 

Democratic Senators introduce Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United decision

[…] [S] six Democratic senators — Tom Udall (NM), Michael Bennett (CO), Tom Harkin (IA), Dick Durbin (IL), Chuck Schumer (NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Jeff Merkely (OR) — introduced a constitutional amendment that would effectively overturn the Citizens United case and restore the ability of Congress to properly regulate the campaign finance system.

The amendment as filed resolves that both Congress and individual states shall have the power to regulate both the amount of contributions made directly to candidates for elected office and “the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.”

“By limiting the influence of big money in politics, elections can be more about the voters and their voices, not big money donors and their deep pockets,” said Harkin of the amendment. “We need to have a campaign finance structure that limits the influence of the special interests and restores confidence in our democracy. This amendment goes to the heart of that effort.”

Passing this amendment or any other amendment to the Constitution is an arduous process. There are two ways to propose a constitutional amendment. Either two-thirds of Congress can agree to an amendment or there can be a constitutional amendment called by two-thirds of state legislatures (this path has never been taken). In order to ratify an amendment, three-quarters of state legislatures must agree or three-quarters of states must have individual constitutional conventions that agree.

 

 

 

President Obama’s Jobs Plan v The GOP’s


 

 

 

House Dems Call for Voter Suppression Hearings

Ranking House Democrats John Conyers, D-Mich., and Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., are demanding congressional hearings on voter suppression laws that are being instituted in states across the country. Conyers and Nadler are senior members of the House Judiciary Committee. The committee is chaired by Republican Lamar Smith of Texas.

New laws restricting voting have been enacted or are in process in 37 states. Some of the measures include requiring voter identification cards, eliminating same-day registration on voting day, prohibiting ex-felons from ballot access, restricting early voting and requiring proof of citizenship,

In a letter to Lamar Smith, the Democratic legislators wrote, “These changes in state voting laws raise serious constitutional concerns under both the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and the 15th Amendment.” They go on to note that in an earlier ruling the Supreme Court said that voter ID laws place an unfair economic burden on the elderly, the homeless and those with religious objections to being photographed.

A recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice suggests that some 5 million voters may be disenfranchised as a result of these measures. The study says, “These new restrictions fall most heavily on young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities. This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election. Already 19 new laws and two new executive actions are in place. At least 42 bills are still pending, and at least 68 more were introduced but failed.”

Young voters along with blacks, Latinos, Asians and women were key constituencies that supported President Obama in the last election. […]

 

 

POLLS

 

 

Framing matters: 61% of NJ voters support “marriage equality v 52% for “same-sex marriage.” 

[…] While support measured with the term marriage equality is stronger than for gay marriage, by 61 percent to 52 percent, certain groups are especially influenced by the name change. Support among those who never attended college jumps 25 points to 66 percent for marriage equality, while support among men climbs 16 points to 63 percent. Women, stronger supporters of the issue in the first place, are less influenced; their support increases 3 points to 59 percent when marriage equality is used to describe the relationship. Catholics are also particularly responsive to reframing the issue: 49 percent favor legalizing gay marriage but rises to 63 percent when asked about marriage equality.

Language also greatly influences senior citizens. While opposition to gay marriage is strong among those 65 and over, with only 32 percent supporting legalization and 53 percent opposing it, results flip when marriage equality is used. Nearly half ( 49 percent ) of older respondents approve if marriage equality is used. One-third oppose and 16 percent are unfamiliar with the phrase or are uncertain.

“This illustrates how language used to describe an issue really matters,” said Redlawsk. “While on the whole, New Jerseyans are ready to see the state legalize same-sex marriage, calling the issue marriage equality minimizes many of the differences between groups we see when gay marriage is used. Americans have a deep belief in equality as a concept. When equality is attached to same-sex relationships, it generates a more positive response based on that underlying ideal.”

 

 

Poll: Rubio as VP would boost GOP candidate over Obama in Florida

 

 

Quinnipiac Poll: Obama Shows Marked Improvement, Jobs Message Catching On

 

 

On Economy, Neither Party Has Voter Edge[Most Americans Still Stupid and Asleep]

National Journal:

Americans trust Democrats, by a narrow plurality, to do a better job coping with the nation’s major problems over the next few years, but neither party can claim an edge on the economic or fiscal issues likely to dominate the 2012 debate, the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll shows.

Overall, 39 percent of Americans say they trust Democrats more on the main problems the nation faces, while 33 percent trust Republicans more. Two percent said they trust both parties equally, while 16 percent volunteered that they trusted neither Democrats nor Republicans. Ten percent were undecided.


[…]

Despite Democrats’ slight edge overall, Americans don’t give either side a clear advantage on the economy. Forty percent said they trust Democrats more on the economy, while 38 percent chose Republicans. Independents tilt Republican on this question by 8 percentage points.

Wealthier Americans are more likely to trust Republicans on economic issues. Among those whose 2010 family income was greater than $75,000,

Republicans lead by 51 percent to 36 percent. Democrats lead by 44 percent to 25 percent among those who made less than $30,000 last year. Those making between $30,000 and $75,000 were almost evenly divided between the two parties.

For nearly two years, the two parties have been virtually tied when it comes to the economy, according to separate polling conducted by the Pew Research Center. But from 2004 to 2009, Democrats held a significant advantage on the issue.

A CBS News/New York Times poll released last week showed that a majority of Americans ranked the economy as the No. 1 issue facing the country—57 percent chose the economy and jobs as most important.

Republicans also score well on the federal budget deficit. Americans prefer them over the Democrats by a 4-point margin, and that advantage jumps to 14 points among independents. Trends from the Pew Research Center find Republicans tied with or leading Democrats on the deficit issue for most of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Americans say that Democrats would handle the problems in the housing market better than Republicans, by 41 percent to 34 percent, and they pick Democrats to solve the nation’s energy problems by an even wider margin, 44 percent to 34 percent.

Meanwhile, despite the Obama administration’s foreign-policy successes—including killing Osama bin Laden six months ago and NATO’s campaign against former Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi—more Americans trust Republicans to protect the United States against terrorism. Republicans’ lead on terrorism stands at 41 percent to 32 percent. Obama’s successes, in other words, have done little to erase his party’s long-standing disadvantage on national-security issues.

Results unveiled in Tuesday’s edition of National Journal Daily showed the two parties tied on a generic congressional ballot among a subsample of registered voters, and voters are also split between reelecting Obama and electing a Republican challenger.

The poll explored the public’s feelings about divided government, finding that nearly half of Americans say it doesn’t matter much either way if the White House and Congress are controlled by the same party or by different parties. Slightly more Americans, 26 percent, say they prefer it when the president’s party also controls Congress, while 18 percent said it is better for the White House and Congress to be controlled by different parties; 45 percent said it doesn’t matter. Eleven percent had no opinion.

Democrats were more likely to say they wanted the White House and Congress controlled by the same party, preferring that option to divided government, 36 percent to 16 percent, with 39 percent saying it doesn’t matter. Republicans and independents were split between one-party rule and divided government, with sizable pluralities saying it doesn’t matter much either way.

 

 

WEDGE ISSUES

 

 

Catholics for Choice: Do New Health Law Mandates Threaten Conscience Rights and Access to Care?

This testimony was submitted to the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health on November 2, 2011. It is written testimony for the hearing record on “Do New Health Law Mandates Threaten Conscience Rights and Access to Care?”

[…]  I firmly believe the requirements under the Affordable Care Act, and the slate of regulations being created to implement it, infringe on no one’s conscience, demand no one change her or his religious beliefs, discriminate against no man or woman, put no additional economic burden on the poor, interfere with no one’s medical decisions, compromise no one’s health — that is, if you consider the law without refusal clauses. When the question is asked in light of these unbalanced and ever-expanding clauses, the answer becomes yes, it would do all these things. When burdened by such refusal clauses, the new health law absolutely threatens the conscience rights of every patient seeking care for these restricted services and of every provider who wishes to provide comprehensive care to their patients. These restrictions go far beyond their intent of protecting conscience rights for all by eliminating access to essential healthcare for many, if not most patients, especially in the area of reproductive healthcare services. This will make it harder for many working Americans to get the healthcare they need at a cost they can afford.

The Affordable Care Act has many positive elements to it. Millions will now be able to access insurance coverage for their health needs and, with the basic level of coverage required under the new law, these newly insured and the millions of those better insured will now have greater access to a wider range of services than ever before. However, the law includes a refusal clause which has been expanded in the past decades to threaten the consciences of both those who seek to receive and those who want to provide services. Advocates of these expansive refusal clauses claim these are necessary to protect conscience rights. Others believe that refusal clauses such as these are simply part of attempts to derail the Affordable Care Act and to curb access to reproductive healthcare services entirely. Moreover, proposals to expand existing refusal clauses increase threats to the conscience rights of patients and providers by including not just abortion but also family planning services and, should some get their way, any other service deemed “unacceptable” by a tiny minority.

In recent years, under the guise of protecting religious freedom and “conscience rights” we have seen a dramatic upswing in attempts to expand the scope of refusal clauses, their application, and the entities able to utilize them. These new, ever-broader refusal clauses do far more than allow those healthcare professionals or social service providers with conscience objections to opt out. Instead, they are effectively being used as a means to refuse some treatments, medications, benefits and services to all comers.

These expansions have increased not only the services that may be refused—including reproductive health services as well as insurance coverage for those services and even training for medical professionals—but they have also the number of those who may claim these protections. Almost everyone, including most Catholics, agrees that it is reasonable to allow healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists, to opt out of providing essential reproductive healthcare services and medications to which they conscientiously object. There is no doubt that there are times when the conscience of an individual doctor, nurse or pharmacist may conflict with the wishes orneeds of a patient. This often happens in cases related to abortion. Except in emergency situations, it is reasonable and indeed prudent to allow those who are opposed to abortion to opt out of providing the service. In these situations, women seeking these services should not have to worry about the religious and moral beliefs of their healthcare providers interfering with the provision of the best possible care. Therefore, it is in the best interests of all that only medical professionals committed to providing such services do so. Women need support and compassionate care when they access reproductive healthcare services, not judgment and disdain.

MORE>>>

 

 

AND IN OTHER NEWS…

 

 

 

 

 

Doctors see ‘screaming man’ in testicle scan [!!!!}

 CBC News:

They call it the face of testicular pain.

Doctors Gregory Roberts and Naji Touma at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., have spotted what looks like the face of a screaming man in an ultrasound of a testicular tumour.

The startling image jumped out at them while scrolling through scans of a 45-year-old patient suffering from severe testicular pain.

The picture went viral after it was published in the journal Urology and it’s been compared to sightings of the Virgin Mary on toast or grilled cheese sandwiches.

In the journal, the doctors say they debated “whether the image could have been a sign from a deity” — notably the Egyptian god of virility — but quickly dismiss it as a coincidence.

In the end, the patient decided to have the testicle removed and the tumour turned out to be benign.

 

 

 

 

Why being wrong makes us angry 

[…] When Dave points out that I am directing us to a cliff face, here’s how I process the evidence. Dave’s way =I’m a helpless, dumb blonde. But I’m not a dumb blonde, I know I’m not, and so I reject his facts.

Which is the same thing that happens when the vitamin takers read my story.

They see the vitamin headline and they hear: your vitamin pill is a worthless scam, sucker! And then they think, no way! I’m no sucker — therefore this article is wrong. They reject the evidence.


Because the story they’ve told themselves is that they’re smart and “proactive” for taking the vitamin. In that story, it’s possible to protect yourself from scary diseases by taking a vitamin pill. And honestly, who doesn’t want to live in that world?


Of course, I heard lots of other stories too, about the soil and mother earth and evil pharmaceutical companies.

The bottom line is, people believe what they want to believe. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing about. People don’t want to know that they could do everything right and still die of cancer. I don’t want to know that I might not be as brilliant as I think I am. So we reject the facts and fall back on our worlds of truthiness.

MORE>>>

 

 

TAKE ACTION

 

 

How you can help

Political Carnival:

For a couple years now I’ve been a member of my local Freecyle. I’ve gotten rid of a stove and a/c for junk (someone made a couple bucks and I got them off my porch) and I’ve been able to help out some families that had been burned out of their homes with towels and sheets. It feels good, and it’s easy.

I keep an eye out, and yesterday there was a post that went like this-

Could use any of the following items:

kitchen garbage bags
laundry detergent
body soap
dish soap

Going through difficult financial transition. Have a few needs to stretch a couple more weeks. Thanks in advance.

Well, I knew I had a thing of detergent that I rejected since I didn’t like the smell (Elitist much, Paddy?) and a couple of bars of soap that I could spare. You guys know that I’m not rolling in the bucks, but man, when you see someone so needy like this lovely mom, you really just can’t say no. So I emailed her and offered what I had, and you would have thought I had just told her she won the lottery. Her husband had been out of work for a long time and just got a job, but it was on a two week pay period. So I dug around a bit more and found all the small shampoos and lotions from when I was in the hospital (which I would never use) and tossed them in the bag. One happy lady, not having to worry about small things for a couple more weeks.

Guess what I’m trying to say is that there are umpteen opportunities for us to reach out to each other, especially in this rough time. You guys help us out on our fundraisers (for which you know we adore you) because you are able. I can’t donate money to anyone, but I sure as shit can help out with dippy things that I will never use. Consider your localFreecycle, and help someone out.

Last week I posted the above, and was so happy with the comments I decided to make it a weekly post. Here’s some suggestions- From Randall E Winn-

Freecycle works! and if there isn’t one in your town, you can organize one! There’s also a wealth of sustainability initiatives, block watches, etc. The unifying principle: reaching out to your neighbors and doing something as a community makes a difference … and is more satisfying than watching the next episode of a “reality” show.

From Smudge08-

You can recycle your used paperbacks and send them to the troops overseas (small cost to you for shipping) at operationpaperback.org
Media mail price for a box of 20 paper backs is about $6.00

And Maritzasolito suggested taking all those little travel toiletries you get when you stay at hotels and donating them to homeless shelters.

Lots of great ideas on how to help for little or no actual cash. I’ll update and reconfigure this next week, so give me some more ideas to add!!!

 

 

Keep Wall Street Occupied (BRILLIANT idea, and a H/T to PatsyT!)

 

 

 

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

All glory comes from daring to begin. -Alexander Graham Bell

Written by Chernynkaya

I am an artist and have lived in Los Angeles all of my life, except for a brief hippie period when I lived in SF. I am currently (semi-unwillingly) retired, but have had several careers.

31 Responses so far.

Click here to leave a comment
  1. choicelady says:

    I’ve just begun the daily read, but I did want to get in that I was the
    2,430,016,305th person on the planet at the time I was born (which is none of your beeswax). I was also the 75,295,618,249th person to have ever lived.

    And yes, sigh -- that DOES mean I’m older than Cher. And probably most of you.

    • foodchain says:

      CL. OMG, I think we were born within seconds of each other, or minutes anyway!!

      • choicelady says:

        Wow -- that’s cool, foodchain. Next we’ll be comparing notes on who was born where, under the most auspicious stars, and who’s eligible to be the next prophet. Oh -- wait. That’s been done already. Never mind…

      • foodchain says:

        Cher, WI is a personal challenge in that most of our extended family are gun toting, anti-native American, GOPers. Immigrants being deported and throwing their kids into foster care—arrrrgghhh, stupid.

        but “whos’ doing a better job”? Shame MSM. The data is all there, everywhere. I’m not sure which group should fail first--Congress or the MSM. Online news has a chance to honest-up these bad boys.

        Thanks for all you do.

    • Khirad says:

      4,406,924,737
      78,969,936,595

    • foodchain says:

      cl, Oh gosh, I thought you meant the other Cher who seems to defy age--actively :-)

      How’s the back? I’m still looking for a good pair of slippers to cheer me up as it gets colder.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      You are ONLY 322,349,521 people older than me! Since the dawn of people that’s like, what, a minute? Anyway, in another billion people, well both probably be wizened. And no segue here, but I hope your back is better! It’s good to see you and I hope you are on the serious mend.

      • choicelady says:

        Well I guess you’re right -- these “extra” people come thick and fast, don’t they? I really wonder if reaching 8 billion will happen as quickly. I heard the birth rates globally are slowing which is GOOD. I do recall when the 6 Billionth (is that a word?) person arrived though. Scary another billion came on board while I was not paying attention!

        Back? Better I guess. Drugs don’t work anymore -- one night then blah. Why would anyone get addicted to this stuff when it’s pretty useless? Takes the edge off, but no more than that. Had a GREAT day yesterday -- little pain at all -- until 3 pm when it all came crashing back. I have an MRI Monday night at 7 pm, so we will know more after that. Anyone had one? I know I get rammed into a narrow tube for 30-40 minutes and have no room to even READ. Now that’s torture!

        Oh, well -- despite my boasting about how strong and flexible I am even at this (cough) certain age, something was bound to go amiss sometime. Just hoped to put it off another 30-40 years is all…

    • KQuark says:

      You’re much younger than most in spirit and that’s all that matters CL.

  2. Bwaaaaaaaaaa! I think Herman Cain is the male equivalent of Sarah Palin! Cain thinks he would destroy Obama in a debate. Now that’s funny. He’s toast already, and will never get the chance. It would be fun to watch though!

  3. Kalima says:

    Just a thought for your today Cher.

    ——

    Emily Bronte- “Death” published in 1846 under Emily’s nom de plume ‘Ellis Bell’.

    Death! that struck when I was most confiding.
    In my certain faith of joy to be--
    Strike again, Time’s withered branch dividing
    From the fresh root of Eternity!

    Leaves, upon Time’s branch, were growing brightly,
    Full of sap, and full of silver dew;
    Birds beneath its shelter gathered nightly;
    Daily round its flowers the wild bees flew.

    Sorrow passed, and plucked the golden blossom;
    Guilt stripped off the foliage in its pride
    But, within its parent’s kindly bosom,
    Flowed for ever Life’s restoring tide.

    Little mourned I for the parted gladness,
    For the vacant nest and silent song--
    Hope was there, and laughed me out of sadness;
    Whispering, “Winter will not linger long!”

    And, behold! with tenfold increase blessing,
    Spring adorned the beauty-burdened spray;
    Wind and rain and fervent heat, caressing,
    Lavished glory on that second May!

    High it rose--no winged grief could sweep it;
    Sin was scared to distance with its shine;
    Love, and its own life, had power to keep it
    From all wrong--from every blight but thine!

    Cruel Death! The young leaves droop and languish;
    Evening’s gentle air may still restore--
    No! the morning sunshine mocks my anguish-
    Time, for me, must never blossom more!

    Strike it down, that other boughs may flourish
    Where that perished sapling used to be;
    Thus, at least, its mouldering corpse will nourish
    That from which it sprung--Eternity.


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