Friday, May 26, 2017

Democrats, wipe that damn smile off your face!

DNC Chair Tom Perez is a lousy speaker, and a perfect example of why the Democratic Party sucks.

Yesterday I watch a Chuck Todd interview with Tom Perez (seen in the clip below) that just floored me. Todd was incensed that Perez didn't put any real effort into securing that open House seat in Montana. Perez smiled and blathered happy talk about the digital age, feeling good about the parties direction, great respect for other party leaders, blah, blah, blah.

The only on target criticisms came from Republicans...seriously? Here's a short clip of Chuck Todd desperately trying to understand the Democrats bumbling response to the likely election of a thug Republican who beat on a reporter, and why the GOP voter base is energized by the moral and ethical breakdown of our government:





That was a disaster. Smiling Tom Perez is going to kill us in 2018, at a time when the Democrats will have at their disposal more ammunition against Trump Republicans than at anytime in our history; 23 million losing insurance under their AHCA, cuts to schools, the environment, farmers, drug research, children's health, the cover up of Russian meddling in our elections, presidential profiteering on the public dime...etc..

Serious times deserve Serious Faces: The alternative reality constructed around the Democratic Party's supposed disastrous agenda was the result of every hysterically angry, blunt Republican politician promising to save the country from steady job growth, historically low uninsured and unemployment numbers, an end to endless wars, the growth of clean cheap energy, all the while never once offering to "work together."

Please stop smiling! And please, please, please stop writing horrifically cliched press releases and fund raising emails that say nothing, provide no links to stories, and insult potential voters intelligence instead of firing them up.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

FCC unshackles Cable Industry to start restricting U.S. internet services and consumer choices.

When your one single cable company offered bundle packages that included telephone service, they committed themselves to being a telecommunications service, an essential public service like a utility company providing heat and electricity. It "subjects them to tough, utility-style regulation." They should have known this.

But with the Republican free market FCC repealing net neutrality, we're getting a taste of a repressive government movement that will be difficult to unwind, if ever. 
The Verge: At the end of the day, internet providers are still doing well and have seen their stock prices rise, which suggest investors aren’t as devastated by net neutrality as they let on.

The Internet Association, a group that represents more than 40 top internet companies, including Google, Facebook, and Netflix, said there was no reason to change the rules. A group of 800 startups and investors, led by Y Combinator, also released a letter this morning FCC directed to Pai, saying, “We’re deeply concerned with your intention to undo the existing legal framework.” While the ACLU and 170 other advocacy groups wrote Pai last month asking for him to preserve the 2015 rules.
Hold onto to your seats, the corporate takeover and profiteering has begun:
1. CABLE INDUSTRY LOBBYISTS WRITE REPUBLICAN TALKING POINTS ON NET NEUTRALITY: House Republican lawmakers received an email from GOP leadership on how to defend the decision. Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Republican Conference. “Here is a nifty toolkit with news resources, The attached packet of talking points came directly from the cable industry. “The FCC is wisely repealing the reckless decision of its predecessors to regulate competing internet service providers,” reads one of the document’s talking points.
Here’s their press release:
Victims whose stolen names and addresses were used to submit fake anti-net neutrality comments send letter to FCC demanding investigation: Victims of a campaign that spammed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with over 450,000 fake anti-net neutrality comments have sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai asking him to remove the fraudulent comments from the public docket and demanding an investigation into who is behind the identity theft.  

“Whoever is behind this stole our names and addresses, exposed our private information in a public docket without our permission, and used our identities to file a political statement we did not sign onto,” the letter reads. The letter also warns that “hundreds of thousands of other Americans may have been victimized too.” See the full letter here. Following the launch of Comcastroturf.com, a site encouraging Internet users to investigate the fake comments, Fight for the Future received dozens of verified reports from impacted people across the country. 
Then this happened:
2. Comcast tries to censor pro-net neutrality website calling for investigation of fake FCC comments potentially funded by cable lobby: Fight for the Future received a cease and desist order from Comcast’s attorneys for our site Comcastroturf.com. Without net neutrality rules, Comcast could have censored the site outright.

Digital rights group Fight for the Future has received a cease and desist order from Comcast’s lawyers, claiming that Comcastroturf.com - a pro-net neutrality site encouraging Internet users to investigate an astroturfing campaign likely funded by the cable lobby - violates Comcast’s “valuable intellectual property.” The letter threatens legal action if the domain is not transferred to Comcast’s control.

“This is exactly why we need Title II net neutrality protections that ban blocking, throttling, and censorship,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, “If Ajit Pai’s plan is enacted, there would be nothing preventing Comcast from simply blocking sites like Comcastroturf.com that are critical of their corporate policies,” she added. “It also makes you wonder what Comcast is so afraid of? Are their lobbying dollars funding the astroturfing effort flooding the FCC with fake comments that we are encouraging Internet users to investigate?”

The legal notice can be viewed here. It claims that Comcastroturf.com violates the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and infringes on Comcast’s trademarks. Of course, these claims are legally baseless, since the site is clearly a form of First Amendment protected political speech and makes no attempt to impersonate Comcast. (See the case “Bosley Medical Institute vs. Kremer” which held that sites critical of a company’s practices could not be considered trademark infringement.)
And finally, the ultimate insane act of right wing political belligerence. Try and find this freedom in the Constitution:
3. Robocalls swamped my voicemail, and they snuck in without a ring: Republicans and others want the FCC to give the OK for spammy messages that slip into your voicemail without notice. Free speech? Or voicemail meltdown?

No ring, no "call" -- which would let the messages sidestep a rule that says groups must get your written consent before targeting your phone with pleas for votes or pitches for products. That's the thinking anyway, and supporters of the strategy want the FCC to make it official.

Subjecting such sneaky robocalls to the prior consent rule "would not only restrict an important form of nonintrusive communication; it would have serious consequences for the First Amendment rights of those engaged in political communication via telephone," the Republican National Committee said in comments filed with the FCC earlier this month (PDF). The RNC didn't respond to a request for further comment.

Critics, on the other hand, say bye-bye voicemail. Margot Freeman Saunders, a lawyer with the National Consumer Law Center, told Recode that allowing this kind of stealthy spam would leave many people "completely overwhelmed by messages" they can't block.

Republicans voted for AHCA before they knew what was in it, and it costs everyone A LOT!!!

Just put the finishing touches on the CBO analysis of the final version of the AHCA House bill.

Big time premium increases, big time numbers of people losing insurance, and the healthy will either not get coverage or pay slightly smaller premiums, all on the backs of the sick. Kind of an ugly vision that Republicans were happy enough to celebrate with Trump in the rose garden.

I thought MSNBC's Ali Velshi did the best analysis:



Here are few graphics that Ryan had no problem celebrating in the Rose Garden. The lower premium INCREASES would only be a fraction different from the ACA:



You'll be hearing this a lot:
Republicans can -- and already are -- pushing back against the CBO. "The CBO has a long track record of being way, way off in its modeling, with predictions often differing drastically from what actually happens."
That's not really true; remember, the Supreme Courts decision that blocked the Medicaid 50 state requirement the CBO used to predict enrollment, that's the fault of the GOP's lawsuit against the ACA.

Family Values Party makes Families out of reach for Poor: True:
Vox Email-Sarah Kliff: The bill could also expose pregnant women and people receiving treatment for substance abuse to exorbitant medical bills … Nixing the requirement that health plans cover certain essential health benefits could have devastating effects for women who are pregnant and for people struggling with addiction. Some states — where one in six Americans live — would probably seek substantial waivers from the essential health benefits requirement, according to CBO. "Out-of-pocket spending on maternity care and mental health and substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year.
And this is an outrageous way to make health care premiums affordable, right?
House Republicans touted the CBO's findings that some people in states with AHCA waivers would see lower premiums. But the report makes clear that would be achieved by driving sick people out of the market and leaving these populations with higher medical bills. Create individual-market instability in states seeking fuller waivers where one-sixth of the U.S. population lives; premiums for people seeking to buy comprehensive plans would become unaffordable. (more below)
There's still more:
Premiums would fall about 10% to 30% in the second group but those savings would come from dropping benefits considered essential by the ACA and people with pre-existing conditions would no longer be protected—something Republicans promised would not happen.

Premiums would fall about 10% to 30% in the second group but those savings would come from dropping benefits considered essential by the ACA and people with pre-existing conditions would no longer be protected—something Republicans promised would not happen. 

Rick Pollack, president of the American Hospital Association, issued a statement that said: "We cannot support legislation that the CBO clearly indicates would jeopardize coverage for millions of Americans." MetroHealth's uncompensated care fell from 11% of revenue to somewhere between 4.5% and 5.5% of revenue, varying over time. Hospitals in all states that expanded Medicaid benefited similarly. 
Still more: 
Paul Ryan has a website up, right now, where he declares "VERIFIED: MacArthur and Upton Amendments Strengthen AHCA, Protect People with Pre-Existing Conditions." 

CBO says this isn't true — and is unequivocal on the point. There is this one paragraph in particular that is especially devastating for the Republican plan: 
People who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all — despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums. As a result, the nongroup markets in those states would become unstable for people with higher-than-average expected health care costs.

Poverty Rate Down slightly, thanks to Safety Net Programs...soon to get the GOP Axe!!!

I'm fascinated by how the Walker administration wants to use the success of our social safety net programs to justify killing off these same programs.

The fact that we have the fastest declining middle class in the U.S. is troubling enough. And yet officially, we saw a small drop in the poverty rate...but only if you're willing to count our safety net programs as INCOME. I've highlighted the important parts of a new study that are now being ignored by Republicans:
The Wisconsin Poverty Report showed that the drop in the poverty rate. Timothy Smeeding, an economist at the LaFollette School of Public Affairs said, "The labor market is leading the way. Social safety net programs are still helping and we're making progress." Unlike the federal government's official poverty measure — which is based on pretax cash income — the WPM accounts for family income and government benefits.
Killing Safety Nets for Capitalism: The phony "fellows" at the MacIver Institute couldn't help but brag up Mr. Government himself, career politician and capitalists lackey, Scott Walker:
“This is confirmation of what fiscal conservatives have been saying all along – by far the best way to lift a person out of poverty is capitalism..."
See, supply side works? Forget about stagnant wage growth and a decreasing middle class.

Great Recession Politics: Poverty is the lowest it's been since...9 years ago ? right after the Great Recession, a free market capitalist gift from our Republican friends?!! How hard was that? You gotta almost laugh if they weren't so serious. According to the report:
"The Wisconsin Poverty Measure (WPM), (fell) to 9.7 percent, the lowest rate recorded in our nine years of writing this report.”
Ignoring our safety nets, MacIver heaped every conservative idea they could think of to make their flimsy case:
MacIver Institute President Brett Healy: “Governor Walker and the Legislature should be commended for their historic reforms – Act 10, massive tax cuts, tort reform, simplification of the tax code, regulatory reform – that have led to a growing economy. 
With our "social safety net programs" on the chopping block, capitalism has defeated liberalism for good:
Brett Healy: "I hope my friends on the far left will remember this lesson – if we truly want to help our fellow citizens in need, we need to rein in government, not expand it. We need to unleash the awesome power of capitalism to make long-lasting and meaningful change that actually helps people.” by far the best way to lift a person out of poverty is capitalism and a growing economy, not another new government program.”

Trump's attack on the Reporters takes the next step; misdemeanor assault of a Guardian reporter who was body slammed to the floor!!!

Montana Republican candidate Greg Gianforte will probably be the next conservative House member, simply because over half the votes have already been mailed in. So what we'll have is a criminal and a thug making decisions about the direction America will going in, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.
Greg Gianforte response: "It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”
Here's a quick summary of the story with a conservative pundits opinion, along with the reporters perspective. From All in with Chris Hayes:

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin: "There is a cost to labeling these people, the enemies, myself included, the opposition continuing to berate them, calling on crowds to hoot and holler at them. You create an atmosphere where these people are not treated like human beings."
The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he is alleged to have slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting: “Get the hell out of here.”

Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire endorsed by Donald Trump, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly “body-slammed” the reporter. “He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said by phone from the back of an ambulance. “I think he whaled on me once or twice … He got on me and I think he hit me … This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”
Even Fox News confirmed the reporters story:

Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey witnessed the incident at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Montana, according to an account published on the Fox News website. After Jacobs asked Gianforte his question, Acuna wrote: “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.

“Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’ … To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies.”
In an amazingly slick piece of reporting, The Guardian actually took an in-depth look at the race. There are even aerial views...how'd they do that?  Check out how dismissive local conservative voters are about their Republican candidate:


On 28 April, The Guardian reported on Gianforte’s financial ties to Russian companies that have been sanctioned by the US. Gianforte’s wealth is estimated at between $65m and $315m.

Last month, the Missoulian newspaper took Gianforte to task for his attitude toward the press. At an event hosted by the Advancing Conservatism Society, an audience member reportedly said: “Our biggest enemy is the news media. How can we rein in the news media?” Gianforte responded by pointing at a reporter and saying: “We have someone right here. It seems like there is more of us than there is of him.” Gianforte later told the Billings Gazette that his comments were a joke.
  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Scott Walker Republicans infect UW with right-wing think tank, to "offset some the liberal thinking."

It's only fair play. What do you think of the Robert La Follette Center for Social Change? Or how about the Seidel/Berger Center of Social Society? Hey, these centers will have no agenda, promise. 

I think we're going to need some balance now on our UW campus, right? ABC News:
Gov. Scott Walker and fellow Wisconsin Republicans on Tuesday announced the formation of a new public policy center, the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership,  at the state's flagship university, which liberals said would be nothing more than a taxpayer-funded conservative think tank.
Think we would have gotten this center had Republican not been in complete control and weren't always threatening to defund the UW? 

Conservative Think Tank is an Understatement: Lucky for Republican politicians, many of their voters are just a little slow. Take this wildly open admission that the Thompson Center is really a right wing think tank. See if you can spot the Rep. Robin Vos “slip.”  Also, did you know there was something known as "maximum" free speech? Is that kind of like when millionaires and billionaires fund our elections?
Vos said the new center will have no agenda and will be dedicated to "maximum free speech."
"Far too often, we feel like there's only one legitimate viewpoint on campus. This is just going to ensure we have diversity of thought. ... It's not a conservative think tank. Hopefully it will be able to offset some of the liberal thinking."
See, no agenda. Oh, just in case you you weren't sure what Vos' meant:
Vos and other backers promised that it will serve as a bridge between the academic and political worlds and bring in speakers to campuses across the state … (comes at the same time) Speaker Robin Vos is pushing a bill that would punish students who disrupt free speech on college campuses.

He later said the center would not be partisan but would counter what he said were "left-of-center leaning" research organizations on the Madison campus.

Republicans defend Child Gun Deaths with Owners Right to Store Firearms however they want.

How any adult can accept the twisted logic of gun rights advocates below, is a mystery to me:
In state after state, proposals that would create or toughen laws intended to keep kids from getting a hold of unsecured guns have stalled.

Critics say the laws trample on the rights of gun owners who should be able to store their firearms however they want, and unfairly single out guns. Swimming pools and prescription drugs also can cause accidental deaths of children, they say ... the measure would allow government to tell law-abiding adults how to store their guns.
Yes, that's exactly what these laws would do.

An often overlooked reason for just about any law:
Child access prevention laws allow prosecutors to bring charges against adults who fail to safely store their loaded guns, especially when they are obtained by minors and used to harm.
The horrific assumption that existing laws and penalties are already adequate, misses the point: they're all AFTER THE FACT:
In Tennessee, MaKayla's law — named for an 8-year-old killed by a neighbor who got hold of his father's gun — would have made it a felony for gun owners to store weapons in a way that allowed children access to them.

Sponsors were outraged that the 11-year-old who shot MaKayla Dyer will be jailed until he is an adult while his father remains free. The boy was convicted of murder for killing the girl after she refused to let him play with her puppy.

Gun-rights activists claimed the measure would allow government to tell law-abiding adults how to store their guns, and a Republican-controlled committee voted 7-2 against it.

Sponsors addressed that criticism and returned this year with a simpler version allowing adults to be charged with reckless endangerment if children obtain their guns and use them to kill or injure. But in March, the proposed MaKayla's law met a similar fate. It was rejected 6-3 in committee. This time, lawmakers argued the bill wasn't necessary because prosecutors could bring charges under existing laws, such as reckless homicide.

Walker brags about Wisconsin's high Insured Rate...that he wants to reverse!!!

Just to be clear, Scott Walker and his Republican band of plundering pirates may brag about Wisconsin's reputation for covering more people with health insurance than most states, but in reality, they don't like that one bit.
JS: Wisconsin has been a leader in covering its residents with high-quality health care and providing community supports so people with disabilities and frail elders can stay in their homes and communities and out of costly facilities.
Walker is desperate to shed insurance coverage while at the same time keeping Wisconsin's past reputation fresh in the mind of voters. It's a con pure and simple:
Wisconsin stands to lose $13 billion in federal funding for Medicaid, CHIP and financial assistance for marketplace coverage — resulting in thousands losing coverage and access to services.
Actually, tens of thousands would lose coverage. 

And since Walker is perfectly fine accepting a waiver for covering essential services, a choice that may be included in the final version of TrumpCare, Wisconsin's exemplary reputation for insurance coverage disappears. But you would never know it if Walker is allowed to keep bragging about our past. He will repeat forever....:

...Wisconsin has been a leader in providing access to health care and long-term supports, ending wait lists and keeping people out of costly facilities.
In reality, Walker wants to deep-six our sterling reputation, for something more ideologically pure: 
The House bill also does not offer an adequate path for covering the 2.5 million Wisconsinites with a pre-existing condition, allowing states to opt out of current requirements. Without ACA protections, they could be denied coverage, charged unaffordable prices for insurance and have annual and lifetime limits for coverage. If essential benefits aren’t required, insurance won’t be required to cover prescription drugs, hospitalization, outpatient services, mental health services, substance abuse disorder treatment, autism therapy and other “essentials." Significantly higher cost for less coverage is a bad deal for consumers.
Walker's praise and deception (Paul Ryan too) over Wisconsin's failed high risk pool experiment is icing on the cake:
The bill’s proposal to bring back high risk insurance pools is not the solution. Wisconsin’s high risk pool had the second-highest per-capita participation among 35 states. But it was too costly for most people: serving only 21,000 at a time when 500,000 Wisconsinites were uninsured. Putting everyone with high costs into one plan doesn’t work.
Elephant in the Room-All Payer Solution: We know what will work, but won't pull the trigger for purely ideological reasons. The following problems simply go away with an all payer system (Note: Trump's budget plan does nothing about skyrocketing prescription drug prices. He probably just forgot):
A report from The State Health Care Cost Containment Commission, identifies nine drivers of healthcare costs including:
1. Physician, facility and drug costs. Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development consistently show costs for U.S. physicians, hospitals, facilities and drugs are the highest in the world.

2. High administrative expenses. The morass of health insurers and billing processes costs the U.S. health care system billions in wasted costs every year.

3. Fragmented and uncoordinated care. Because care providers often treat the same patient with little consultation, unnecessary care, errors and dissatisfaction proliferates.
Repeat after me: "24 million people will lose Insurance: One more thing. Have you noticed how the Democrats once again dropped the ball ripping the GOP's replacement plan by forgetting to mention the CBO report estimating 24 million people losing their insurance. Anyone? I can't remember the last time I heard them bring it up.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trump Budget Doubles Down on the Politics of Resentment: "Taxpayer First, " "Compassion for Taxpayer" money going to the poor.

Like our sluggish job growth under Scott Walker, you can thank supply side economic magic for that, tax cuts at the top haven't done squat for job creation. But boy, CEO's love us here.

Trump budget master, "Freedom Caucus" tea party ghoul Mick Mulvaney, titled their brutal attack on their voters,  "A new foundation for American jobs." Funny thing about that, corporate profits have never been higher, yet they've done nothing to invest in job creation. 



Trump's "Politics of Resentment:" Will GOP Base Finally catch on they're being played? 
Budget Sec. Mick Mulvaney calls it the "taxpayer-first" budget. 

Mulvaney says they're now thinking more about the people who are paying the taxes — and trying to justify asking hardworking people to cough up money — rather than focusing on the people who are receiving the benefits.
Trump Redefines "Compassion," a word attacked, joked about, and vilified by Republicans:
The Trump administration wants to redefine what "compassion" means. 

Mulvaney says it should no longer be measured based on how many programs are in effect or how many people are receiving the benefit. He wants "compassion" to be broadened to include whether the government is ripping off taxpayers by using their money for ineffective programs.
Looking again at the wage vs corporate profits above, is it any wonder why more people are being caught in our safety nets? Why spend money rebuilding America or freeing them from their employers health care plans with an "all payer" health care system, when you an just boot them off these programs? 

Trump Budget: "The wealthy don’t have enough and the poor have too much, and they’re going to fix that.”

Trump voters thought that a big talking New York millionaire and BS'er offered them the kind of hope no Democrat could offer...suckers. Your WTF moment f**ked us all!

The politics of resentment is barreling down the tracks with the hopes of boosting the economy, save taxpayer dollars, and finally give the rich that long awaited opportunity to use their tax savings to add costly labor to their payrolls. Makes perfect sense, despite a lack of consumer demand.

What a classic "supply side" moment.

The hard political work of helping identify and grow future industries, provide higher wages, offer free education and job training...eh, it's just another word for big government. The easiest solution is to just throw people off our safety net programs, like low wage part-timers and disabled Americans on Social Security:



Reduce or eliminate trillions of dollars in taxes that are paid primarily by the wealthy, including the estate tax and the marginal rate on ordinary income paid by the richest taxpayers. 

He would lessen spending on Medicaid by $1.4 trillion over a decade, and he would allow states to impose strict limits on other major anti-poverty benefits such as food stamps. repealing President Obama’s health-care reform, which helped cover poor and middle-class households with funds raised in part through greater taxes on the rich.
From the party that gave us the Great Recession and free market voodoo economics, Trump's budget secretary and Tea Party/Freedom Caucus ghoul Mick Mulvaney said:
“If you are a 30-year-old adult, you have never had a job in a healthy American economy. You’ve either been in a recession or sluggish recovery, and you think this is normal and we are here to tell you it is not.”
Oh but it its normal, every time we have a Republican president or House and Senate majority.


Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, attributed the increase in inequality in part to President Reagan’s reductions in marginal rates paid by the rich. Zucman said that those reductions had failed to yield improving standards of living for Americans of middling incomes. “The U.S. has run a big experiment,” Zucman said. “It has failed in the most spectacular way.”

Zucman described Trump’s plans as an extension of Reagan’s approach. “If we double down on these past policies, inequality could really reach extreme and totally unprecedented levels in the years ahead,” Zucman said.

College Transparency Act needed now more than ever.

Getting government out of the way, a tired and costly ridiculous cliché, is keeping Americans from seeking out an educational path that they can affordable, while still targeting their specific career goals.

Opposition to student data collection over privacy concerns went off the rails back in 2008 and in the debate over Common Core. Attempts to integrate privacy safe guards were tossed out as an option, leaving parents and students to throw caution to the wind deciding subject matter, career selection, and which college would get the biggest bang for their buck. Bet you didn’t know
A 2008 amendment attached to the Higher Education Act reauthorization barred the federal government from explicitly and systemically integrating and connecting the dots between employment and enrollment, major program, financial aid receipt, and graduation outcomes on an individual student basis. There are of course concerns here about protecting the privacy of students, but these are outweighed by the huge benefits that would come from more robust data collection.
This was brought to you by the same conservatives who want to kill off the constitutionally required Census because it’s so intrusive, even if it helps spend taxpayer money wisely on schools, roads, hospitals, or even helps businesses target locations that would provide the best qualified workforce. The same can be said for collecting fire arm data...but I digress.

Oddly, for this Congress anyway, there's a bill gaining steam now that will help students make better more informed choices...
The College Transparency Act of 2017, just introduced as a bipartisan bill in Congress, would end this ban, and allow for federal data systems that track employment and graduation outcomes on a student-unit record basis. Specifically … to coordinate with other federal agencies. As a result, policymakers researchers and consumers would have access to data with more granular detail on student enrollment, retention, completion, and subsequent labor market outcomes from specific institutions. Importantly, the bill explicitly prohibits the construction of federal college ranking or rating schemes. It also incorporates robust protection of student information, with the expunging of all information that could be used to identify individual, and strict rules against the commercial use of the data.

Assessing colleges is a tricky business. As Beth Akers, Kim Dancy, and Jason Deslisle show in “The Affordability Conundrum,” a proper evaluation of the costs and benefits of a college requires information not simply on upfront net costs to students, but how long it will take to complete, the ability to absorb incidental unanticipated costs, the major pursued, and what post-graduation labor market outcomes one may be able to expect.

Whatever the arguments for and against the specific legislation in Congress, it is clear that student-unit record data would provide valuable additional information to a debate fraught with myths and misunderstandings.

Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia went well for him, not so much for us....

Loved this Trump/Saudi photo...pretty much right on target...Sarumon and Mordor aligned with U.S.?


Monday, May 22, 2017

Supreme Court: Republicans guilty of Voter Suppression!!!

Let's connect the dots: Today the Supreme Court decided overwhelmingly that Republican gerrymandering/voter suppression laws in North Carolina were unconstitutional. It was so bad Justice Thomas agreed:
The Supreme Court let stand a decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruling that North Carolina’s sweeping voting restrictions targeted African-American voters “with almost surgical precision.”

It’s now overwhelmingly clear that Republicans in North Carolina illegally made it harder for African Americans to vote and diminished the power of their votes. Today’s decision could have far-reaching ramifications for striking down gerrymandering nationwide.

In a 5-3 opinion today, Justice Kagan (surprisingly joined by Justice Thomas) ruled that North Carolina artificially increased the number of black voters in the state’s 1st and 12th congressional districts.
Didn't get the News? Of course, that didn't stop Scott Walker's grossly unqualified AG lapdog Brad Schimel from ignoring the courts decision today as if it never happened, and made this mind numbing request on the same day:
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel filed a brief today asking the Supreme Court to stay an order to redraw Wisconsin's legislative district boundaries ... saying it's likely the court will preserve the current districts and redrawing them would waste resources.
Really? After the majority decision today? 
voters filed a federal lawsuit in 2015 arguing the Republican-drawn boundaries unconstitutionally discriminate against Democrats. A three-judge panel agreed.
Wisconsin Voter Suppression a Killer: The Brookings Institute posted a story with a graphic a few days ago, that will blow your mind.

Newly released Census Bureau data confirm that both minority and black voter turnout took a decided downturn in last November’s elections ... Minority and black turnout was not only lower in the national statistics but also in key swing states.
Check out a few of the changes in the other swing states...not good right?


Now let's check out Wisconsin's loss in black voter turnout. Anyone see a problem here?

In Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and especially Wisconsin, a 2012 black turnout advantage either reversed or was eliminated in 2016 due to declines in black turnout and, in most cases, a rise in the turnout of white Americans. In Michigan and Florida, the 2012 white turnout advantage increased. In Florida, Hispanic as well as black turnout declined markedly as white turnout rose.
This is beyond the Obama effect that didn't seem to produce this wild swing in the other states. What was that you were saying Brad Schimel?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Republicans: The Not-So Freedom & Liberty Party!!!

This story out of Texas should tell you all you need to know about the true meaning of freedom and liberty espoused by Republicans, the party that loves to wave their pocket Constitutions in the air.

The list of lost freedoms and liberty's below seem almost hard to imagine, much less put to words in written bill after written bill. Remember when Republicans were repulsed by liberal social engineering? Can you say projection. Also known as a conscience clause, the vilification continues:
1. Allow medical professionals to deny care to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people and emergency contraception for rape survivors.

2. Allow pharmacists to deny birth control to women and hormone therapy to trans people.

3. Allow state-funded adoption and foster care agencies to turn away applicants on religious grounds, denying parents who are LGBT, or even those who are Jewish, Muslim or atheist.

4. An amendment added at the last minute to a nursing care bill, HB 2950, would bar the Texas Board of Nursing from punishing discriminatory actions if they are committed in the service of a nurse’s “religious beliefs” ... a nurse could “cite his religious beliefs as a reason to refuse to care for a gay patient on the grounds that he believes homosexuality is a sin” or is against his faith. “A nurse who believes that men are the head of the household,” the group also notes, “could breach client confidentiality to disclose a woman’s medical condition to her husband against her wishes.”

5. Pharmacists could opt-out of the practices that are standard based on personal religious convictions. A pharmacist could decide not to fill a prescription for hormone therapy for a transgender customer ... Or a “pharmacist could use religion as a justification to refuse to serve African-American customers because they believes the Bible mandates the segregation of the races.”

6.  Two bills that would regulate legal services, SB 302 and SB 303, now have amendments which allow for religious refusal by state-licensed attorneys ... an attorney could deny his or her duty to inform a client about his or her rights in a divorce proceeding, for example, even trying to talk the client out of getting a divorce, all based on the attorney’s religious objection to divorce.

Health Insurers blame Trump for Uncertainty and Premium Increases! Part 2

So you want more proof to send off to a few Wisconsin Trump trolls who were oddly bashed him during the election but now grovel at his feet? These little babies won the election don'cha know, and it seems like they still can't get over it themselves.


Here's what Trump is doing to personally make the ACA's exchanges fail:
NY Times: Opponents of President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement have made what may be a self-fulfilling prophecy: They repeatedly forecast the collapse of the health law, and then push it along.

Frustrated state officials have ideas for stabilizing the individual insurance market, but they say they cannot figure out where to make their case because they have been bounced from one agency to another in the Trump administration.

“We have trouble discerning who has decision-making authority,” said Julie Mix McPeak, the Tennessee insurance commissioner and president-elect of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which represents state officials. “We reached out to the Department of Health and Human Services. They referred us to the Office of Management and Budget, which referred us to the Department of Justice. We reached out to the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.”

The Trump administration has sent mixed signals, reflecting an internal debate about whether to stabilize insurance markets or let them deteriorate further. Mr. Trump has said he could cut off the subsidies at any time if he wanted to.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal last month, Mr. Trump threatened to withhold subsidy payments from insurers as a way to induce Democrats to negotiate with him on a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
It really is this simple:
If those payments are not made, Mr. Trump said, “Obamacare is gone, just gone.”

Republicans run from Constituents, blame "threats" and "safety" concerns for blowback from their own unpopular agenda!!!

Republican speakers have played up their fear of angry liberal crowds on the nations college campuses for years. The more security they think they need, the more supposed threats they get, and the more controversy created in the media, the more famous and richer they become. Research David Horowitz's book selling, speaking tour con job, now being used by Ann Coulter and others.   

These blatant self-serving tours of victimhood are now being adopted by House Republicans…because it works.

So, who’s going to buy into the whiny Republican excuses about “threats” and “safety” as a reason not to meet with constituents anymore? What, can't take the rowdy town halls and loud angry forgotten real Americans? These are the same cowards and whiners who claimed they needed concealed carry to protect themselves against other imagined bogymen.

Maybe I’m mistaken, but constituent anger, even happiness, is the final arbiter in our system of checks and balances. You just can’t cut that out because it’s uncomfortable to answer to the public for radically unpopular decisions.

Be amazed at the Republicans fearful reaction to the perceived threats and the predictable consequences of their radical agenda. The Hill:
A growing number of House Republicans are facing physical threats from angry constituents in their districts, leading many to fear for their safety. 

Scores of GOP lawmakers have experienced going viral this year with video of constituents shouting their disagreement on support for President Trump and policies like the GOP’s healthcare bill. 

In the last few weeks alone, the FBI arrested a man threatening Rep. Martha McSally's (Ariz.) life; a woman pursued Rep. David Kustoff (Tenn.) with her car, and Rep. Thomas Garrett (Va.) heightened security at a recent town hall in response to death threats. 
 Other Republicans still holding town halls say they haven't felt physically threatened by protesters, but they worry about the depth of anger from some constituents in the polarized environment and what it means for political civility.  
Well, that kind misses the point, right? It’s policy that is the polarizing factor!!!

Our cafeteria conservatives often try to get around the Constitution by resorting to our “God given rights,” a sneaky religious expansion that runs counter to the 1st Amendment.  So is it “a fundamental tenet of western civilization?”  
Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) described attendees at a town hall in his district last week who booed him down after he said people’s rights are God-given. “They booed God. They booed the pastor. They booed the prayer. They booed the name of the church. They booed when I said rights come from God,” Brat recounted to The Hill just off the House floor. “That’s a fundamental tenet of western civilization. I mean, I didn’t think that was partisan.”
One Republican who continues to tell the story about losing his special needs daughter doesn’t get that backing TrumpCare makes him a hypocrite and shameful exploiter of his own family tragedy.
Further north in New Jersey, Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) faced pushback from a crowd when he began telling the story of his special-needs daughter who died at the age of 11. “Shame!” people shouted. “We’ve heard this story.” “This child in 11 years has shaped my life more than anybody. So if I talk about my daughter too much, well then so be it. But this is the one human being that has impacted my life more than anybody,” MacArthur said. Another person sarcastically yelled … “Maybe I will write a book,” MacArthur shot back. 
Yet Democrats don’t have the same problem, again because of the publics roll in our checks and balances system.
Still, not every town hall has veered into nastiness. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), a top Democratic target in 2018, said his town hall attendees expressed their clear displeasure with his positions but remained civil. “You know, they had the signs and stuff like that. But I thought they were pretty nice, I thought they were pretty respectful,” Coffman said. “From the stories I have heard in other districts, I’ve got it pretty good.”
Now gun loving Republicans, who backed Clive Bundy’s use of weapons to threaten government agents, cheered on armed civil protests for open carry, and passed right to kill “stand your ground” laws are scared to death of angry armed...liberals. Big surprise? For every action, there’s a equal and opposite reaction…or did Republicans forget? It doesn’t make it right, but desperate Americans who need their health care to stay alive are left with few civil choices:
The FBI arrested a Tucson, Ariz. man for leaving three threatening messages on McSally’s congressional office voicemail, in which he allegedly said her days “were numbered” and threatened to shoot her. A criminal complaint filed last week in the U.S. District Court in Tucson said the suspect told agents he was upset over McSally’s votes in support of Trump … the same swing district previously represented by then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in 2011 during a constituent meet-and-greet.

In Tennessee, a woman angry over Kustoff’s vote for the GOP health care bill this month pursued a car carrying him from an event at a local university. Kustoff and a staffer eventually turned into a driveway and came to a stop. Then the woman approached the car, yelled at Kustoff and struck the car’s windows, according to local reports.

Meanwhile, Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.)  spokesman Andrew Griffin said the freshman lawmaker has received at least three death threats … One constituent called Garrett’s Washington, D.C. office and said if his health care is taken away, he would take Garrett’s life away.

A constituent angry over the GOP’s healthcare bill approached Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), took dollar bills from his wallet and tried to shove them into the lawmaker’s suit pocket, the Bismarck Tribune reported
 Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) wasn’t home when his young daughter found a sign on the family’s lawn last week that read: “Traitors put party above country Do the right thing for once, shithead.”“Attack me, protest against me, but do not frighten my children at their home,” Fortenberry said in an interview with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto.

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) described protesters vandalizing his Gainesville, Fla. Office … “They’re mad to the point where they’re cussing at my staff, pushed one of them, poured stuff on one of the staff’s car,” Yoho told The Hill. “If they start acting responsible and respectable, we’ll do the same.” 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Overrated Paul Ryan Lied about a Little Thing like a "silly" Backroom Conversation.

I'm just documenting for historical purposes a definitive moment where Paul Ryan is lying again. Kind of makes you wonder what you can believe, doesn't it?
WaPo: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill:  “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.
Ryan denied the conversation above ever happened, over and over, calling it fake. Why?

It wasn't an important conversation, just a "joke?" Seriously, what was the big deal for the cover-up? If something this small and off the cuff was important enough to lie about, can you imagine what Paul Ryan would makeup just to pass something he was so passionate about?

Remember when his keynote address at the Republican National Convention, was just riddled with glaring errors and lies? 

The Washington Post laid it out perfectly here:

  

The Great Mothers Day Sellout.

Here's a short history of the woman who created Mothers Day for her mom and took it national, only to fight against the commercialization of her passion:
Katharine Antolini, a historian who has studied Jarvis and how Mother’s Day became a national holiday.

While dining at a Philadelphia tearoom owned by her friend John Wanamaker, Anna Jarvis ordered a salad — then dumped it on the floor. Jarvis hated that the food was called “Mother’s Day Salad,” named after a celebration of mothers that she had pioneered years earlier. To her, it was a cheap marketing gimmick to profit off an idea that she considered to be hers, and hers alone.

She started fights, threatened lawsuits, wrote letters to politicians, issued bitter news releases, organized protests, fought with Eleanor Roosevelt, demanded an audience with sitting presidents, among other actions. She even claimed legal copyright to the holiday, Antolini said. Her letters were signed, “Anna Jarvis, Founder of Mother’s Day.”

If she were alive today, Antolini said, Jarvis would’ve been thrilled that Mother’s Day remains popular. “But she’d be upset that people don’t remember her,” the historian said. She would probably be equally angered to know that the holiday is celebrated in part through Mother’s Day specials and sales, Hallmark cards and floral arrangements.

On May 8, 1914, Congress passed a law declaring the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day. 

She spent the next years railing against flower shop owners, cardmakers and the candy industry for profiting off the holiday. “They’re commercializing my Mother’s Day,” she complained in a letter to newspapers, according to a 1986 Washington Post story. “This is not what I intended.”

A news release she issued, according to a 1994 Post article, read: “WHAT WILL YOU DO to route charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and other termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations?”

Even charities became the target of her disdain. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, charities held fundraising events on Mother’s Day to help mothers in need. Jarvis resented that. “She didn’t want it to be a beggar’s day,” Antolini said. “She didn’t want the day to be turned into just another charity event. You don’t pity mothers; you honor them.”

By the early 1940s, Jarvis had become undernourished and was losing her eyesight. Friends and associates placed her in a sanitarium in West Chester, Pa. She died Nov. 24, 1948.

Mother’s Day has become one of the most profitable U.S. holidays, with annual spending steadily growing since 2006. This year, consumers are expected to spend a record high of $23.6 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Antolini said Jarvis would be enraged at that.

Health Insurers blame Trump for Uncertainty and Premium Increases!

President and CEO of Blue Shield in California Paul Markovich made me almost think there's a heart somewhere inside a giant insurance company. Check out this MSNBC interview where Markovich responded to Ari Melber's question about charging higher premiums for the sick, that it doesn't have to be that way...:
Markovich: "Not only do I not think it has to be that way, I think it's just unconscionable to make it that way. We as a not-for-profit health plan, aspire to create a health care system that is worthy of our family and friends and sustainably affordable. And I think if you look at any kind of health policy through this lens, it's important to treat people equitably..." 
...I followed up his comment with string of GOP lies about guaranteeing coverage for preexisting conditions:
  
“All this uncertainty is not helpful,” warned Blue Shield of California Chief Executive Paul Markovich, who said health plans were being forced to make plans to raise premiums to account for the turmoil, jeopardizing Americans’ coverage. Markovich was one of the few senior insurance officials who agreed to speak on the record, as many fear retribution from the White House or its allies.

But privately, many executives, including chief executives of major health plans, offered withering criticism of the Trump administration’s lack of leadership. “It’s hard to know who’s home,” said one chief executive. “We don’t know who is making decisions.” Another chief executive said: “There seems to be no coordination or coherent planning.… It’s a mess.” A third official observed: “There is a sense that there are no hands on the wheel and they are just letting the bus careen down the road.”
An LA Times story confirms the Trump "administration" is doing all it can to destroy the ACA - ObamaCare:
Health insurers across the country are making plans to dramatically raise Obamacare premiums or exit marketplaces amid growing exasperation with the Trump administration’s erratic management, inconsistent guidance and seeming lack of understanding of basic healthcare issues.

The growing frustration with the Trump administration’s management — reflected in letters to state regulators and in interviews with more than two dozen senior industry and government officials nationwide — undercuts a key White House claim that Obamacare insurance marketplaces are collapsing on their own. Instead, according to many officials, it is the Trump administration that is driving much of the current instability by refusing to commit to steps to keep markets running, such as funding aid for low-income consumers or enforcing penalties for people who go without insurance.

Most health plans and state regulators interviewed for this story said the Trump administration has significantly exacerbated turmoil in the marketplaces in recent months, contributing to rising premiums and the threat of marketplaces exits.
What many said was a market adjustment in ACA rates has now turned sour due to Trump's inaction:
The uncertainty created by Trump comes as some Obamacare markets were beginning to stabilize, according to many industry and government officials. In several states, insurers and regulators noted that 2017 was shaping up to be a better year than the first several years of the marketplaces.

Many state insurance regulators are similarly dismayed by the Trump administration’s actions. In Colorado, where most consumers continue to have multiple insurance choices, commissioner Marguerite Salazar said the Trump administration threatens the whole market. “My fear is it may collapse,” she said. Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, a Republican, is so concerned the turmoil will drive away insurers that he’s exploring whether the state can make available limited benefit insurance plans as a stopgap.

Insurance industry officials and state regulators have met repeatedly in recent months with senior Trump administration officials in an effort to explain that administration’s actions are jeopardizing health coverage for millions of Americans. At one recent meeting, Seema Verma, whom Trump picked to oversee the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, stunned insurance industry officials by suggesting a bargain: The administration would fund the CSRs if insurers supported the House Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “It made no sense,” said one official at the meeting.

DeVos removes competition with Single Student Loan Collector, removes mandates to help borrowers in Delinquency or reminders for reenrollment Deadlines.

Apparently, Education Sec. Betsy DeVos doesn't see the importance of history, or she would not commit to repeating this past failure: 
The Education Department said Friday that it will select one company to collect student debt payments on its behalf, rather than the nine contractors that currently handle the federal government’s $1.2 trillion portfolio of education loans.

The new plan is a return to the way student loans used to be collected by ACS Education Services, a role that critics of the company said led to widespread failures in customer service and loan consolidations. 

Robert Shireman, a former deputy undersecretary of education recalls the department being frustrated by the amount of power ACS held as the only servicer. “We felt we had little leverage because the whole system was operated by them, and they knew it would be such a huge endeavor to change that, so they didn’t have to be responsive,” said Shireman. “There was a move to add at least a couple servicers so you’d have competition and the department wouldn’t be stuck in that situation again.
Just as bad, this “single” collection service can subcontract its work, so it won’t be so “single” after all:
And while there will only be one primary servicer, the department will permit that company to hire subcontractors to lighten the load. 
Going back to the failed system before is irresponsible and reckless, but DeVos is also going to set students up for failure, on purpose:
The new contract will strip out mandates aimed at helping borrowers who fall behind on payments and people enrolled in income-driven plans. The servicer would no longer be required to have specialists on hand to aid people in delinquency, nor would the company have to remind borrowers to reenroll in income-driven repayment weeks before the deadline. Removing those sorts of mandate reduces some of the bureaucracy of servicing but could also prove detrimental to keeping borrowers from defaulting.