August 30, 2013 at 8:49 am #95873
President Barack Obama said he had not yet made his decision regarding a U.S. strike on Syria during an interview with PBS NewsHour senior correspondents Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill. The president said that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime alleged use of chemical weapons would factor into his calculation and he warned that the Assad should be held accountable. Mr. Obama spoke to the NewsHour on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech where he reflected on the challenges Americans still face today in the form of jobs, health care and education. He also vowed to take steps to ensure voting rights for all Americans.
As you make it through the day, don’t forget JJP at TWIB.
Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.
And always, have a peaceful day.August 30, 2013 at 8:49 am #95874
Good Morning, EveryoneAugust 30, 2013 at 8:59 am #95875
Ga. insurance chief brags about sabotage of ObamaCare
By Jay Bookman
NOTE: This column was originally published Wednesday in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and at myajc.com.
“Let me tell you what we’re doing (about ObamaCare),” Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens bragged to a crowd of fellow Republicans in Floyd County earlier this month: “Everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”
After pausing to let applause roll over him, a grinning Hudgens went on to give an example of that obstructionist behavior, this one involving so-called “navigators” who are being hired to guide customers through the process of buying health insurance on marketplaces, or exchanges, set up under the federal program.
“We have passed a law that says that a navigator, which is a position in that exchange, has to be licensed by our Department of Insurance,” Hudgens said. “The ObamaCare law says that we cannot require them to be an insurance agent, so we said fine, we’ll just require them to be a licensed navigator. So we’re going to make up the test, and basically you take the insurance agent test, you erase the name, you write ‘navigator test’ on it.”
Hudgens clearly thought that was a pretty cute way for state officials to obstruct and delay implementation of the program and to ensure that it doesn’t work well for Georgians. Judging from their reaction, his audience thought so too. The question is why he thinks such steps are necessaryAugust 30, 2013 at 9:03 am #95876
Store rewards honest shoppers
By Justin Lear, CNN
updated 12:27 PM EDT, Wed August 28, 2013
Four honest college football players are getting more than they bargained for after a shopping trip in Wayne, New Jersey.
On Sunday night, Thomas James, Kell’E Gallimore, Jelani Bruce and Anthony Biondi drove from William Paterson University to Buddy’s Small Lots to look for a few items for their dorm rooms. But when they walked inside, no one else was there.
The students thought it was odd that they were the only ones, but they say they had no idea it was supposed to be closed. Bruce told CNN: “At first, we were nervous. We didn’t know what to do. We thought people were there. We didn’t just want to walk out of the store.”
When they paid for their batteries and sunglasses, they even included how much they owed for sales tax. And after leaving the money at a checkout counter, they walked to a Rite-Aid store next door and told an employee what they had done.
Meanwhile, police were being alerted. Marci Lederman of Buddy’s Small Lots told CNN affiliate News 12 New Jersey: “We got a phone call from the police department saying that there had been a break-in at the store.” Upon arrival, store management said nothing was seen missing. It turns out a security malfunction had unlocked the doors.
Lederman said that since the store is in a basement, some lights are left on after hours. Management took a look at the store’s surveillance video, which showed the four college students doing a little shopping and then walking around the store calling out for a store clerk so they could pay. In the video, two of the student athletes can be seen putting cash on the counter.
James, who’s seen in the video waving to try to catch an employee’s attention, said he didn’t think too much about what happened until his brother called him the next day. “He asked me if I was at Buddy’s, my heart dropped a little bit,” James said. So he asked his brother: “Are we in trouble?”
It turns out that trouble should have been the last thing on the students’ minds. The family-owned store chain wanted to thank the students for their honesty. So the four made another visit to Buddy’s on Tuesday, this time to meet employees and go on a free shopping spree.
The students got memory foam pillows, since their school beds are uncomfortable; backpacks; Beats speakers for their iPhones; and cologne, among other things. The store’s security malfunction has since been fixed.
The four students even earned praise from Jerry Flora, their college football coach, who said they’re “what any coach wants on any team, they represented their families well.”August 30, 2013 at 9:07 am #95877
Florida Insurers Are Now Free to Screw Consumers and Must, By Law, Blame Obamacare
Posted: 08/20/2013 10:49 am
First do no harm. That’s a tenet of medical ethics that future doctors worldwide are taught in medical school.
If only the people we elect to represent us were required to take such an oath when they’re sworn into office.
Because they aren’t, folks in Florida are facing having to pay far more for health insurance over the next two years than necessary. And health insurance executives will be laughing all the way to the bank.
Florida state lawmakers, in their ongoing efforts to block the implementation of Obamacare in the Sunshine State, recently passed a law that will allow health insurance companies to gouge Floridians more than any corporate boss dreamed was possible.
And if that weren’t bad enough, insurers will actually be required by law to mislead their Florida customers about why they’re hiking their premiums.
Republicans, who control the governor’s office as well as both houses of the Florida legislature, were confident the U.S. Supreme Court would declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. Not only did they vote to prohibit the state from spending money to implement a law they just knew would be overturned by the high court, they refused to accept money from the federal government that would have enabled the state’s department of insurance to do a better job of regulating health insurers and enforcing new consumer protections in the law.
When the Supreme Court shocked Obamacare opponents last year by upholding the law, Florida lawmakers were in a pickle.
Their response? They passed a bill that prohibits the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation from protecting consumers from unreasonable rate increases for two years.
I learned about what is essentially a “first, do as much harm as possible” bill in a letter the nine Democrats in the Florida congressional delegation sent to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius earlier this month pleading with her to step in to protect Floridians by taking an active role in regulating rate increases in the state.
The lawmakers said intervention by HHS was urgently needed because of a law signed in May by Gov. Rick Scott that specifically prohibits Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty from doing his job of reviewing rate increases and rejecting those he and his staff determine are unjustifiably high.August 30, 2013 at 9:09 am #95878
NYC poll: Bill de Blasio leads, Christine Quinn sinks
By BREANNA EDWARDS | 8/29/13 8:04 PM EDT
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has plummeted in the Democratic primary race for New York City mayor, leaving her at a distant third far behind Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson, a new poll found Thursday.
According to another amNewYork-News 12 survey, conducted by polling firm Penn Schoen Berland, de Blasio has skyrocketed to lead the pack with 29 percent, with Thompson five percentage points behind at 24 percent.
Quinn, who has always enjoyed a rather comfortable spot among the leaders, is in third for the first time in recent months at 17 percent, trailing Thompson by seven percentage points and de Blasio by 12. Scandal-ridden candidate Anthony Weiner is all but a distant memory, coming in seven percentage points behind Quinn.
Just two weeks ago the last Quinnipiac Poll and NBC poll had Quinn tied with de Blasio, with Thompson at their heels.
Recently, de Blasio has made friends in powerful places with several celebrities appearing in an ad endorsing him. The big names included Harry Belafonte, Steve Buscemi, Susan Sarandon, Cynthia Nixon, Russel Simmons and Lee Daniels.August 30, 2013 at 2:39 pm #95910
Cornell West, profiting from the disadvantaged all his life. Some folk, meanwhile, got on with actually helping them: pic.twitter.com/uU0Mf9PmWr
11:03 AM – 30 Aug 2013August 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm #95911
Eric Holder steps up, digs in, and breaks out
By Steve Benen
Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:38 AM EDT
We talked yesterday about Attorney General Eric Holder giving officials in Colorado and Washington a green light on their state measures legalizing recreational use of marijuana, but the story, which Rachel explored in more detail last night, got me thinking about Holder’s tenure.
For a typical conservative, I suspect the Attorney General would top the list for his or her least favorite member of President Obama’s cabinet. Holder is truly reviled on the right, to the point that calls for his resignation have come from the RNC, many Senate Republicans, and at last count, 122 House Republicans.
But once we get past the partisan sniping and consider the policy breakthroughs, Eric Holder appears to have quietly positioned himself not only as a progressive champion, but as one of the more accomplished attorneys general in recent memory.
Think about some of the recent policies Holder has chosen to tackle: voting rights; sentencing reforms; condemnations of “Stand Your Ground” laws, and of course the drug policy announced yesterday. These are critically important law-enforcement policies, some of which have been neglected and ignored by officials in both parties for years, long in need of leadership — which Holder is now providing.August 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm #95912
White progressive assumptions about African American politics
I am becoming aware of something that I’ll bet many African Americans have known for a while now. So I’m hoping you’ll apply that sentiment of “better late than never” to my awakening consciousness.
We all know that since the passage of the Civil Rights Laws in the 60′s and the Republican Southern Strategy, African Americans have been the most loyal base of the Democratic Party. And I’d suggest that since that base was responsible for one of the most successful movements for change in this country, white progressives on the left have – for decades now – assumed that African Americans generally align with their political views (notice that word “assumed” – its always the basis of privilege).
And so, when an African American gets the Democratic nomination for president, the left wing of that party naturally assumes that he will align himself with their cause.
Whoops! Not so fast. If those white progressives had ever taken the time to learn about what black people in their communities actually believe, they might have been spared all this “disappointment” in President Obama. And they might have better understood why African Americans have remained so loyal.
I’ll give you an example that I’ve noticed for a while now but haven’t talked about here because it is a contentious issue that I don’t (yet?) have a firm position about. If there’s anything that’s clear when you talk to African Americans, its that their number one issue right now is what is happening to their young people – on the streets, in school, and in the juvenile justice system.
In my professional work in this community I’ve noticed for some time now that many African Americans don’t align themselves with a large portion of the left on their views about education. With a healthy skepticism about the intentions of Republicans, many of them have embraced the idea of alternatives to our public schools (ie, charters and private schools). That’s because it is THEIR children who are failing and they don’t necessarily have the time or patience to deal with the politics associated with teacher’s unions in the public schools.August 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm #95913
Here comes more Obamacare misinformation
By Jonathan Bernstein, Published: August 29 at 2:55 pm
Wow. National Journal really booted one today on the Affordable Care Act
The National Journal analysis, reported by Clara Ritger, claims that Republicans who claim that Obamacare will raise insurance costs for consumers “might be right.” Why?
For the vast majority of Americans, premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they’re currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data. Adding even more out-of-pocket expenses to consumers’ monthly insurance bills is a swell in deductibles under the Affordable Care Act.
Okay, take a minute and think about what this actually says. It says nothing about people currently on the individual market who will stay on the individual market. Nothing about people currently covered by employer-connected insurance who will stay on employer-connected insurance. Nothing about those with employer-connected insurance who would be losing it anyway — a long-term trend that Ritger does mention later in the article.
No, this is only about anyone who is dumped onto the new exchanges by Obamacare. So to begin with, we’re only talking about a very small sliver of all insurance customers.
Even for that group, however, the analysis appears to be completely wrong, because it misses one key fact: Employers don’t provide health insurance for employees out of some sort of weird altruism. They provide health insurance as part of employee compensation. That compensation is in the form of health insurance because it makes sense for both sides (thanks to tax treatment of wages and benefits). If that changes — if compensation through health insurance no longer saves both sides money — what would presumably happen is that employers would either substitute higher wages or other benefits. And yet National Journal apparently doesn’t factor that in at all to its calculations.
In other words, all they’re saying here is that if employers react to Obamacare by slashing compensation, then employees will be worse off. Well, yes — but there’s no reason to believe that employers would be able to do so any more after ACA than before.August 30, 2013 at 2:48 pm #95914
Alabama Republican Wants to Ban Toni Morrison’s ‘The Bluest Eye’ from Schools
Bowing to Tea Party pressure, Alabama State Senator Bill Holtzclaw said this week that he thinks The Bluest Eye, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s novel about a little black girl who wishes for blue eyes, should be banned in schools. He only made this statement after GOP members criticized him for opposing a repeal of the federal Common Core standards. The Bluest Eye is on the 11th grade reading list for the Common Core, a set of standards that has been adapted by more than 40 states.
Hotzclaw told the Alabama Media Group, “The book is just completely objectionable, from language to the content.” The novel is seemingly the most controversial on the 11th grade reading list, and thus, an easy one to criticize — there have been efforts to ban it in schools and libraries since it was written in 1970. It does contain graphic scenes of forced sex (which the conservative blog Politichicks helpfully provided context-free in a post titled “(WARNING: Graphic) Common Core Approved Child Pornography”).August 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm #95915
Watching the Food Network because going to the park with any regularity is too much to ask.
Have you heard of Eggplant Parmesan? Wasting good cheese on a vegetable that looks like a growth on a witch’s neck.
This lady is talking about how absorbent eggplant is. So are paper towels but people judge you when you eat those. #hypocriteAugust 30, 2013 at 2:50 pm #95916
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Wants Student Loan Breaks for Public Workers
The agency is asking employers to better inform public servants about student loan repayment options and forgiveness programs
By ALLIE BIDWELL August 28, 2013 RSS Feed Print
Following President Barack Obama’s call to make college more affordable and ease the burden of student loan debt for graduates, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched an initiative Wednesday to urge public service organizations to better inform their employees about loan repayment and forgiveness options.
In a report issued in tandem with the initiative, the CFPB reports that one in four American workers may be eligible for student loan debt forgiveness programs open to public service employees, such as teachers, health workers, police officers, firefighters and social workers.
“People give up higher incomes to serve their city, their state, or their country,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a call with reporters Wednesday. “We believe that people who contribute part of their talents, part of the benefits of their education, to society as a whole should not be mired in debt because they stir themselves to the calling of public service.”August 30, 2013 at 2:50 pm #95917
College Bound Brotherhood 2.0 Graduation Recognizes Young Black Men Headed to College – Posted on June 17, 2013
African-American young men from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area who have graduated from high school and are heading to college in the fall will be recognized June 19 at a special graduation ceremony.[....] Together, the two foundations are investing more than $1 million in grants and other resources to support the Brotherhood’s efforts to reach 500 African-American young men this year, connecting them to resources that will ensure access to college and degree completion.
As part of that effort, the Brotherhood will provide $150,000 in scholarships to African-American males graduating high school who will enroll in college in the fall of 2013. The scholarship application process for 2013 closed on June 7, and scholarship awardees will be announced at the graduation ceremony. College-bound young Black men from around the country can join the celebration online by posting pictures in their caps and gowns to the Brotherhood’s Tumblr blog, along with a brief caption about the college or university they are attending.August 30, 2013 at 2:51 pm #95918
Another Story of Obamacare Rate Shock That Isn’t
BY JONATHAN COHN
Obamascare article is making the rounds. This one, from National Journal, is about what people buying their own insurance will pay on the new Obamacare exchanges—and how those prices compare to what people pay when they get coverage from their employers. “For the vast majority of Americans,” reporter Clara Ritger writes, “premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they’re currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data. … Whether the quality of care in the new market is comparable to private offerings remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: The cost of care in the new market doesn’t stack up.”
Predictably, the article has gotten attention from conservatives. Already there’s a tweet from Byron York, a blog item from the Weekly Standard, plus entries at the American Thinker, HotAir, and PJ Media. You get the idea. But this analysis doesn’t really tell us what the Obamacare critics think it does. In fact, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t really tell us what Ritger thinks it does.
Ritger’s analysis is based on a seemingly simple comparison. She looked at what people can expect to pay for insurance in the new Obamacare “exchanges,” using figures from California’s new insurance marketplace, which seem pretty typical for the country as a whole. Then she looked at what people can expect to pay for employer coverage, using data on the “employee contribution” from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Ritger has written lots of good stories on health care reform and, to her great credit, she didn’t make some of the most common analytical errors, like forgetting to include the impact of federal subsidies.
But the analysis has other, serious flaws. For one thing, the true cost of employer-sponsored insurance should include at least some portion of what the employer pays. Jonathan Bernstein, who is guest-blogging at the Washington Post’s Plum Line, explains why:
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