Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Last Call

It wouldn't be a week without Rep. Allen West (R-Self Hating) comparing government to slavery, this time it's Social Security.

No, really.

"What we're doing is we're creating a welfare entitlement class," West told Fox News on Sunday, naming the rising number of Americans on Social Security disability and the poverty roll as well as increase in food stamp recipients and extension of unemployment benefits. “So once again we are creating the sense of economic dependence which, to me, is a form of modern, 21st-century slavery.”

West blasted the “liberal media” for reporting that he equated Social Security and slavery in the comment. West suggested his Facebook followers watch the interview for themselves.

“It seems that there is absolutely no level the attack machine will sink to deliberately distort my comments,” he wrote. “I was clearly talking about the number of people on Social Security disability- a completely separate issue then claims that I said I am against Social Security.”

Oh yes, saying that the number of people in Social Security evokes slavery is such a very, very different prospect than calling Social Security itself slavery, much like the number of tea party assholes in Congress evoking the concept of the Taliban is different from calling these tea party assholes "Talibangelicals".   Then as usual, Allen West blasts the liberal media for, you know, quoting him verbatim.

Idiot.  Did I mention Allen West is stupid enough to dump on Social Security while being a Congressman from Florida, the retirement capital of the country?  Yeah, thought so.  After all, this is a guy who constantly invokes his military service as making himself more of a man and a leader and brags about how intelligent he is, but he's too chickenshit to debate his political opponents, even his Republican ones ahead of next month's primaries.

It's getting old.  West screams about how whatever program/policy X Obama does is slavery, slavery slavery and when he gets called on it, he denies that's what he meant.  This guy is certifiable.

Fell On Black Days

The battlefield for Medicare expansion under the Affordable Care Act is playing out in an unlikely place:  right here in Kentucky.  Dinosaur Steve Beshear is in his second term as governor through 2015, and the Democrat actually seems to maybe want to implement as much of the ACA as possible to help Kentucky's poor, rural folks...who are mostly white (and everyone knows it, Kentucky is 89% white.)  The Great Brown Horde card doesn't work here, and it means a relatively conservative Southern state may very well be one of the first to implement reforms (and take that federal Medicare money).

Naturally, Kentucky House Republicans are pissing themselves trying to stop Beshear.  For his part, Beshear is playing his cards close to his vest.

The top Republican in the Kentucky House wants Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to halt an expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

The expansion of Medicaid is a central element in President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which says the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs to add certain people to the program in 2014. After three years, the states must pick up some of the costs of the expansion, which Kentucky can't afford, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown said.

Currently, the federal government pays 70 percent of the costs of the insurance program and the state picks up 30 percent. Under the expansion proposal, after three years the federal government would pay about 90 percent for those people added under the expansion, but the state would have to cover the other 10 percent.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the controversial federal health insurance law but ruled that states can't be penalized financially if they opt out of the Medicaid expansion. In Kentucky, more than 700,000 people receive insurance through the $6 billion program. It is Kentucky's largest insurance provider.

Yeah, you read that right:  Medicaid is already the state's largest insurance provider.  You'd think even Beshear would jump at the chance to do this.  Sadly, he's up against the coal industry, and they're doing everything they can to kill anything close to resembling health care in the state.  This is the result:  Black Lung is back big time in coal mining country.

A joint investigation by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) has found that McCowan is not alone. Incidence of the disease that steals the breath of coal miners doubled in the last decade, according to data analyzed by epidemiologist Scott Laney at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Cases of the worst stage of the disease have quadrupled since the 1980s in a triangular region of Appalachia stretching from eastern Kentucky through southern West Virginia and into southwestern Virginia.

Black lung experts and mine safety advocates have warned of the resurgence of the disease since 1995. New reporting by CPI and NPR reveals the extent to which federal regulators and the mining industry failed to protect coal miners in the intervening years.

An analysis of federal data by CPI and NPR also shows that the mining industry and federal regulators have known for more than two decades that coal miners were breathing excessive amounts of the coal mine dust that causes black lung. CPI and NPR also found that the system for controlling coal mine dust is plagued by weak regulations and inaccurate reporting that sometimes includes fraud.

Suddenly the notion that people need long-term health care in the poorest part of the state has taken on quite the urgency, yes?

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/07/05/2249479/house-republicans-want-beshear.html#storylink=cpy

Mitt's Laughing All The Way To The Bank

Say what you will about the truly awful optics of Romney's fundraisers among the ultra-rich bringing out the most callous and heartless of America's wealthiest people, the cold hard fact are all about the cold hard cash, and in that department Team Romney posted their second consecutive monthly spanking of the Obama campaign in the cash race.

According to the early details of Romney’s latest fundraising totals, the glitzy optics are in tune with the reality. The Romney campaign announced Monday it took in a dominant $106 million in combined donations to the campaign, the RNC and assorted committees, compared with just $71 million for Obama.

The FEC reports are not online, but the New York Times reported that a staggering $70 million of Romney’s haul came through his victory fund, a collection of state and national party committees that are designed to take much bigger donations than the main campaign. While donors can only give $2,500 each to Romney’s general election and primary campaign, the limit on Romney Victory Inc. is $75,800. Romney’s campaign itself raised only $24 million. It’s not yet known how much of Obama’s $71 million haul came from its regular campaign.

Romney’s joint fund releases its finances on a quarterly basis, so there’s no way to tell what percentage of its cash is coming from big-money backers until July 15, but it’s extremely likely the bulk will be exactly the types of donations you’d expect to be collected at, say, Romney’s $50,000-a-plate gala in Aspen, Colo., on Monday. Obama’s own victory fund, for example, which releases its reports on a monthly basis, reported that as of May 31, only about 8 percent of its year-to-date fundraising came from un-itemized donors who gave less than $250.

Romney, of course, is not alone in attending ostentatious events aimed at high-dollar donors. Obama recently held a high-profile $40,000-per-ticket Hollywood fundraiser with George Clooney, for example. Obama also held more fundraisers than any recent president. Overall, however, Obama has been much more reliant on small donors and much less reliant on max-money contributors than Romney. 

The fact remains that in the last two months Romney has opened up a $42 million advantage in fundraising and has become the first this year to break the $100 million per month mark.  At this pace Romney could end up with a nine-digit advantage in the campaigns by late October and taking into account Super-PAC money, that advantage could be several hundred million dollars if not approaching the billion-dollar level.  That kind of money is enough to bury the Obama campaign in ad buys in the last six weeks of the election season, and both sides know it.  They could run ads in every market in the country for weeks, non-stop.

Citizen's United?  Working as intended.

Mom Gives Birth, Smokes Bath Salts... You Know What's Coming

A Pennsylvania mom who had just given birth is accused of smoking synthetic "bath salts" in the hospital and going on a violent rampage, assaulting a nurse and a police officer.
Carla Murphy, 31, of Altoona, was recovering in the hospital on June 17 after delivering her baby two days earlier, The Altoona Mirror reported. Police say that Murphy smoked the synthetic drug, prompting her to strip off her clothes and go wild in the bathroom.
Murphy rolled around on the shower floor, confused and unable to state her own name. Cops arrived to calm her, and found in her purse a dismantled black pen with powder inside that the mother later called "Disco" -- a street name for bath salts -- the paper reported.
As Murphy flailed about, a nurse administered the anti-psychotic drug Haldol. Murphy responded by punching a nurse in the face, the New York Daily News reported.
She tried to bite a police officer, was so forcefully resistant she was a danger to herself and others, and  faces at least two felonies and a slew of misdemeanors.

And she has a newborn baby.

This woman likely didn't control her drug use, so we may have a child who was developing while her mother used an experimental drug.  This is the stuff of nightmares.

Say what you like about marijuana, it never caused anything like this.  That war on drugs we keep hearing about?  Maybe they should pool their resources and take this stuff out before it's all too late.  There is a substance out there that is cheap, easy to get and makes people want to eat other people.  Time to pull all the plugs and save everyone we can, because shit just got real.

Dancing Couple Arrested

First smoking, then soda — now there’s no dancing in New York City.
Caroline Stern, 55, and her boyfriend George Hess, 54, claim they were handcuffed for having happy feet on the platform of the Columbus Circle subway station — and spent 23 hours in custody as a result.
It was nearly midnight when Stern and Hess, a film-industry prop master, headed home last July from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night’s Swing. As they waited for the train, a musician started playing steel drums on the nearly empty platform and Stern and Hess began to feel the beat.
“We were doing the Charleston,” Stern said. That’s when two police officers approached and pulled a “Footloose.”
“They said, ‘What are you doing?’ and we said, ‘We’re dancing,’ ” she recalled. “And they said, ‘You can’t do that on the platform.’ ”
The cops asked for ID, but when Stern could only produce a credit card, the officers ordered the couple to go with them — even though the credit card had the dentist’s picture and signature.
When Hess began trying to film the encounter, things got ugly, Stern said.
The charges, including resisting arrest, were later dropped. The couple has filed a Manhattan federal court suit against the city for unspecified damages. “When you’re waiting for the subway late at night, there’s not much to do but dance and celebrate life,” she said.
The Charleston is not the least bit offensive or dangerous.  If they had tried a Dirty Dancing scene or something more athletic, maybe I could see an argument.  A couple enjoying music did a quick shuffle and winds up in jail?  That seems a bit extreme.  NYC cops have taken a beating in the press recently.  You would think they would be trying to buy back a little goodwill with the public, not drive citizens crazy over a harmless spin late at night.

We need to be able to laugh and dance and ask questions.  This overbearing mindset has to go.  A simple warning would have likely sufficed.  This was silly from the start, but when the police got involved it went to stupid times infinity.  Let the people dance, and be grateful someone out there can enjoy a good beat.

Committed To The Cause

Over at Politicus USA, Jason Easley makes this Sunday show catch from Obama campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs and CNN's Candy Crowley about the President's position on letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthy:

GIBBS: We ought to do something about this deficit, and we ought to protect middle class tax cuts, and the best way to do that is to let the upper-end tax cuts expire, let the wealthy in this country that had been doing fine for years and years and years begin to pay their fair share, and make sure that we protect the tax rate that middle-class families have had for the past many years.

CROWLEY: So the president is totally committed to getting rid of the tax cut for those making $250,000 and above.

GIBBS: Let’s make some progress on our spending by doing away with tax cuts for people who quite frankly don’t need them, tax cuts that have not worked, and have them pay their fair share.

CROWLEY: So is that a yes or a no? The president is completely committed to this, he won’t allow it to happen?

GIBBS: He is 100 percent committed to it.

To recap, President Obama is 100 percent committed to raising taxes on people like President Obama.  Mitt Romney is 100% committed to giving massive tax breaks to people like Mitt Romney.  Any questions?

And as Jason says, let's see Mitt Romney defend tax breaks for millionaires when nearly 70% of Americans believe the tax system is unfair and favors the rich.  Go ahead, guys.

We'll wait.

The Piper Always Gets Paid

Hey folks, it's not the minimum wage guys who are going to get hit by federal and state internet sales taxes on the way, it's the folks who have enough money/internet access/credit access to buy things online.  And plenty of red states want in on this too.

A wave of states, including Virginia, have passed laws that will require consumers to pay sales tax on all Internet purchases as soon as next year. Other states and the District are pursuing similar measures. And in Maryland, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) wants to go further and levy a tax on songs and other digital products bought through popular sources such as iTunes.

For states struggling in the troubled economy, this could mean $23 billion in new revenue each year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Had online retailers collected sales tax this year, Virginia would have added nearly $423 million to its coffers, while Maryland would have seen $376 million and the District $72 million, the group said.

The movement in state capitals is driving newfound support for a proposed bill in Congress that could make collection of sales tax a standard practice on the Web, no matter where a consumer logs in to shop.

Bricks-and-mortar retailers are cheering the moves. For years, their online rivals have resisted charging sales tax, giving them a price advantage. They have cited a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that let online companies off the hook if they didn’t have a physical presence in the state where the customer lived.

A Web trade association that includes eBay, Overstock.com and Facebook is fighting the new bills. But notably, Amazon.com appears to have waved the white flag and supports the sales tax measures. Some analysts said they observe a shift by the online retailing leader that could lead to a fundamental change to the rapidly growing e-commerce business.

Kentucky has started collecting online sales taxes, and Texas soon will.  Hopefully it will mean more teachers, police, firefighters and road repairs.  Most likely it'll mean $23 billion in tax cuts for the rich.  We'll see how this battle pans out.


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