Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last Call

For once, Last Call up there is applicable as we take a look at the Ron Paul "Let 'Em Die Tour" in 2011.

Ron Paul told TPM on Wednesday that even if there’s a “case or two” that makes Americans uncomfortable, the government should stay out of the health care business. Even if one of the cases in question is his former campaign manager, Kent Snyder, who died with $400,000 in unpaid medical bills after being unable to secure health insurance due to a pre-existing condition.

At a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, Paul took questions from reporters on Snyder, whose story surfaced in the press after Paul said in the last Republican debate that the government should not intervene even to save a comatose 30 year old who did not have insurance. As Gawker noted, Snyder died in June 2008 without health insurance, leaving behind $400,000 in bills. His friends and family set up a fund to raise money to pay off the debt. It’s not clear how much money they were able to raise: a site set up by Ron Paul aide Justine Lam to track the medical fund stopped updating in 2008 with only $34,870 in donations.

“Well first off, people do get care, even under this terrible situation we have in medicine today,” Paul told reporters when asked about his former aide. “Kent, my campaign manager, wasn’t denied any care at all.”

According to Snyder’s friends, he was unable to obtain affordable health insurance — rendering moot Paul’s advice at the debate to find coverage in advance — because of a preexisting condition. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will no longer be able to reject customers on these grounds starting in 2013. I asked Paul whether Snyder’s inability to secure health insurance, even if he wanted it, put him in an impossible situation without government support. He suggested that states and counties could take action to help the sick, but put the emphasis on charity.

“Why do we suddenly lose confidence, that everyone is going to be thrown out into the street?” he said. “It just doesn’t happen and usually there are people that will help. But this idea you throw away the principles of liberty because you have a case or two where you go ‘Oh, I’m nervous about it’ - it just doesn’t justify doing your own thing.”

Right.  Because charities are going to be more than glad to handle billions in medical bankruptcy every year.  Good to know that the lives of tens of millions of Americans and their families will depend on the charity whims of the truly powerful if Ron Paul has his way.

Oh wait, America operates that way now, doesn't it?

The GOP's Double Or Nothing Bet On Nothing

The GOP is now dead set on making sure the federal government does nothing to help the economy or the millions of Americans out of work as Republican leaders are warning Helicopter Ben that if he tries anything, they're coming for him first.

Republican leaders in Congress have asked Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to refrain from any further monetary stimulus during policy makers' two-day meeting ending Wednesday.

"Respectfully, we submit that the board should resist further extraordinary interventions in the U.S. economy, particularly without a clear articulation of the goals of such a policy, direction for success, ample data proving a case for economic action and quantifiable benefits to the American people," read a letter from Republican leaders and addressed to Bernanke.

The letter was co-signed by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona.

"It is not clear that the recent round of quantitative easing undertaken by the Federal Reserve has facilitated economic growth or reduced the unemployment rate," read the letter.

Yes, because the entire Republican macroeconomic theory textbook can fit on a matchbook cover ("Cut taxes!") we get the extraordinary step of Republican dictating policy to the Fed.  On the other hand, more than a few Republicans on the 2012 campaign trail want to set up a few ropes and trees for Helicopter Ben anyhow, so the GOP is just continuing their tactic of implied threats against Bernanke and the Fed should they ever get back in power.

Of course should the GOP get back in full control of Washington, they'll turn on the printing press and yell "deficits don't matter".

To its credit, the Fed this afternoon told the GOP to go stimulus itself.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday dialed up its aid to the beleaguered U.S. economy, launching an effort to put more downward pressure on long-term interest rates over time and help the battered housing sector.

The Fed said it would launch a new $400 billion program that will tilt its $2.85 trillion balance sheet more heavily to longer-term securities by selling shorter-term notes and using those funds to purchase longer-dated Treasuries.

It will now also reinvest proceeds from maturing mortgage and agency bonds back into the mortgage market, an acknowledgement of just how weak conditions in the sector have remained.

"Recent indicators point to continuing weakness in overall labor market conditions, and the unemployment rate remains elevated,'' Fed said in its statement.

Going to be interesting to see which of the GOP calls for Bernanke's hanging first.

It's Going To Get Hot In Here

There's good news and bad news on projections of global energy use in the next 25 years.  The good news is that while energy consumption is expected to rise 53 percent by 2035, carbon emissions will be less than that.  The bad news is by "less than that" I still mean carbon emissions will rise by 43 percent by 2035.

The world is going to burn through 53 percent more energy by 2035, and despite all the hype surrounding renewable energy, much of that will still come from fossil fuels, according to a new annual report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The EIA projects with its new report that total world energy use will rise to a mind-boggling 770 quadrillion Btu in 2035, up from 505 quadrillion Btu in 2008.

"In 2008, China and India combined accounted for 21 percent of total world energy consumption," according to a press statement that came out with the key findings of the International Energy Outlook 2011 on Monday.

"With strong economic growth in both countries over the projection period, their combined energy use more than doubles by 2035, when they account for 31 percent of world energy use in the IEO2011 Reference case. In 2035, China's energy demand is 68 percent higher than the U.S. energy demand."

And the bad news is this chart here:


In other words, by 2035 we're going to be using enough coal and natural gas globally to generate the same amount of electricity as we need now in total from all sources. That's not good. And something tells me 25 years from now will be far too late to do much of anything about saving the planet.

Follow Up: Banned Books Restored... Sort Of

REPUBLIC --Two controversial books recently removed from Republic High School will return, but they'll be stored in a secure section of the library and only accessible to parents.

Two months after the Republic school board voted to remove Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five" and Sarah Ockler's "Twenty Boy Summer" -- triggering a heated debate and national attention -- the board revisited the issue during a packed meeting Monday.
"It does keep the books there in the library, and if parents want their kids to read the book, by all means come and check it out," said Superintendent Vern Minor. "...It still puts the decision in parents' hands."
It's great that parents now have a way to make sure their children have access to books that aren't right for some but are recognized for being good works that challenge bright young minds.  I am still boggled that some parents aren't satisfied with telling their kids no, but feel the need to make those decisions for other people, and it's also a bit annoying that if they can't enforce their own rules why they put that weight on the school.  But I won't look at a partial win and complain (much) so there you have it.  Any kids who weren't going to read it before sure will now, and I hope that makes the original control freak (one Wes Scroggins) happy.  If it doesn't, well, better luck next time telling others how to conduct themselves in a free country.  I'll write it really small, so he can see how half-assed is still full access.


Have a great day, Mr. Scroggins.

A Weiner Is Not Justin Timberlake (And More Celebrity Updates)

Justin Timberlake would like for us to know that is not his penis on the news.  Mila Kunis was one of the recent phone hacking victims, and a picture of a penis has been circulating.

Chaz Bono reportedly did very well on his first dance on Dancing With The Stars.  I am glad to see him get a chance to do well, and from the feedback it appears he will have a few chances to improve before he is really on the line of being cut (that is purely relative to dancing ability, not votes from the public).

Hugh Laurie has released a blues album and the reviews have been kind so far.  I'm only learning the blues now, so I am in no position to offer a critique.  However, the snippets I heard sounded good and left me wanting more, which means he appeals to those new to the genre.  I am curious to hear what the blues specialists have to say, right now there is little response but a surprising lack of critical pans, which bodes well.

The Next Hostage Situation

Looks like the GOP response to President Obama's jobs bill is to ignore it and try to force another government shutdown over gutting FEMA and disaster relief funds.  Brian Beutler:

The more Republicans and Democrats insist they're not interested in another government shutdown fight, the more they show themselves to be fighting their impulses.

Now, two of the top Republicans in the House say the Senate has little choice but to pass their federal funding bill -- including its controversial disaster relief provision -- or risk a lapse in government services, including for people in need of help from FEMA.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says he'll send the funding bill back to the House, with more disaster relief money, and no controversial spending cuts to pay for it unless Republicans back down. They show no signs of doing that.

So yes, Eric Cantor's plan to cut disaster relief spending without other spending cuts (because we can never, ever raise taxes) looks to be on.  Republicans are insisting that it's my way or the highway on gutting FEMA, or there will be no vote by September 30 to pass a continuing budget resolution...and that means a government shutdown could be on the table in less than two weeks.

Check out that laser-like focus on jobs, folks. Republicans WILL destroy the economy in order to win.

Nader's Latest Nadir

The King of the Firebaggers?  He's baaaaaack.

So much for President Obama’s unchallenged primary run. In a letter released today, prominent “progressives” including former presidential candidate Ralph Nader announced they are seeking a slate of candidates to challenge the incumbent for the Democratic nomination in next year’s primaries.

‘Without debates by challengers inside the Democratic Party’s presidential primaries, the liberal/majoritarian agenda will be muted and ignored,’ the letter read. ‘The one-man Democratic primaries will be dull, repetitive, and draining of both voter enthusiasm and real bright lines between the two parties that excite voters.’

The letter was endorsed by 45 ‘distinguished leaders’ and included Princeton professor Cornel West, who has been highly critical of President Obama as of late. ‘His administration has tilted too much toward Wall Street,’ said West. ‘We need policies that empower Main Street.’

Yes, we will empower Main Street by handing the country over to the Republicans.  This will help millions, surely.  Can't wait to see who they find, since again there isn't anyone at this point that they actually have to run against the evil Republican corporatist President, including Nader himself passing this time around.  And don't get me started on Cornel West again, please.

Nader's has so much success in the past.  Especially in 2000 in Florida, remember?  We should totally listen to this guy and expend our energy in fruitless struggle against Obama when the real problem is the Republican Party.

Also He Can Shoot Lasers Out Of His Ass

Bill-O is back, and he apparently has developed various superpowers since he fell off the face of the Earth.

Bill O'Reilly is not to be messed with...unless you of course you're name is Barack Obama. "I have more power than anybody other than the president," he says in a Newsweek profile this week, meant to coincide with the release of his co-written book, Killing Lincoln.

The Fox News host has turned fifteen years on-air into cable news largest viewership, and -- as far as he, himself, is concerned -- nearly unprecedented power. "I can get things changed, quickly," he says. "I don't have to go through the legislative process; I don't have to do any of that. I can just bring it to the people, and say, look, this has gotta be dealt with."

Through the years, he has been able to get nearly anyone he's wanted on his show, and once he's got them, there's no telling what he'll do. But for most, it's worth it. "They get huge, huge currency," O'Reilly says, in regards to the tough questions he makes his guests face. "I mean, the upside is just enormous."

Hey, awesome.  Bill-O likes being a egomaniacal dictator type, a kingmaker par excellence, the ultimate alpha male.  And when the people ignore you, Bill?  What then?

Hey, run for office, test that theory.


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