Sunday, July 31, 2016

Political posters

I post here - no one has to visit this site who does not wish to.

Elizabeth Warren - a rigged system

Michelle Obama on Trump's tweets

Third party candidates DO matter.

Cory Booker on the Religious-Right

Joel Klein on Benghazi

Michelle Obama on American greatness

We need the police - we just need to police the police.

Donald Trump - Viet Nam service

Michelle Obama supports Hillary


Jon Stewart is returning to TV - on HBO in September


Bill Maher quote

Hillary Clinton on violence

News of the bat-shit crazies and the haters

News and opinion pieces in brief

Religiously speaking

Jesus is who you want him to be - he was never real.

Representing God

Many church leaders are clueless assholes.

The mentally ill - supported by religion for eons.

The imaginary divine creator is NOT a nice Guy - read the Bible.

Tax the churches

Words from the Bible

Five OBG posts: Reliving the W years

Re-post of a favorite: Political and economic inequality

Re-post of a favorite: Religion is TOTAL selfishness - the believer is blessed, everyone else is hated.

There’s Something Disturbing About The Way Cops Act Just After They’ve Shot Somebody

Don’t they see a fellow human being lying there?

 07/22/2016 08:16 am 08:16:53 | Updated 2 hours ago
Ryan Grim
Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post
Julia Craven
Reporter, The Huffington Post

The ubiquity of cellphone, dashcam and surveillance video has transformed the way the public understands police violence. But as scene after scene unfolds on shaky screens and in grainy contours, another element of the violence is beginning to come into focus: the pattern of officers showing no concern for the person they have shot, often fatally.

The nonchalance around the injured and the dying is stunning in its own way.

Set aside the question of whether the shooting was justified, either legally or morally. Perhaps it was. Perhaps the officer had no other choice. Even in such a situation, though, the officer has just exercised the most terrifying of powers ? the use of lethal force against another human being. And yet no care is taken of that human being.

Consider the most recent shooting caught on video: that of Charles Kinsey, who fortunately survived. Kinsey, a black behavioral therapist in North Miami, was trying to help a man with autism who was sitting in the street blocking traffic. A cellphone video shows Kinsey himself lying on the ground with his hands in the air. He was trying to explain to police that the other man had a toy truck and not a gun, contrary to what a 911 caller had reported.

One of the officers fired three times, shooting Kinsey in the leg. Then he said he was handcuffed and left bleeding on the street for 20 minutes before an ambulance arrived.

And this was a case in which the police understood, right from the start, that the man they shot was the victim.

Letting the body lie there is a fairly common trend in these high-profile police shootings. After Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police shot and killed Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, on July 5, the officers appeared rattled by what had happened. But as for Sterling, they said to “just leave him,” according to a witness.

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GOP platform breaks Trump’s 'no cuts' promise on Social Security and Medicare (jon Perr) · Sunday, July 24, 2016, 3:38 pm

If nothing else, Republicans used their convention in Cleveland to get their hate on. The delegates who cheered Chris Christie's ersatz prosecution of Hillary Clinton had already made "lock her up" the event's lasting sound bite. Offstage, Trump surrogates accused Clinton of "treason" and called for her execution by hanging or firing squad. The foaming at the mouth crowd raged about "radical Islam," an all-encompassing enemy they could neither describe nor explain how to defeat. Meanwhile, the delegates approved a platform which would bestow 14th Amendment protections to fetuses while denying them to actual, living LGBT Americans.

But if Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign ushered in the era of "Post-Truth Politics," Donald Trump's coronation marked the rise of the "No Policy Candidate." For example, on Wednesday, advisers Stephen Moore and Lawrence Kudlow announced their proposed overhaul of Trump's gigantic tax cut windfall for the wealthy, supposedly reducing his Treasury-draining from $10 trillion to $3 trillion over the next decade. But even more telling when it comes to Donald Trump's disinterest in actual policy is what the 2016 Republican Party platform declared about health care and retirement income for future seniors. After a year of promising Americans he would "save Social Security and Medicare without cuts," nominee Trump looked the other way as his party's platform endorsed House Speaker Paul Ryan's plans to gut both.

Next week in Philadelphia, Democrat Hillary Clinton will tout her proposal to expand Social Security financing and benefits, a position enjoying growing support in Washington. And from the moment he jumped into the GOP race, Donald Trump made clear he would oppose any reductions to the pension plan for more than 60 million Americans. In an April 2016 ad, the reality TV star turned GOP frontrunner pledged he would "save Social Security and Medicare without cuts." As he put it at a December 11, 2015 rally in Iowa:

"So, you've been paying into Social Security and Medicare...but we are not going to cut your Social Security and we're not cutting your Medicare. We are going to take jobs back from all these countries that are ripping us off and we are going to become a wealthy country again. And we are going to be able to save your Social Security. We are not taking there is tremendous waste, fraud, and abuse. What we are going to do is we're going to save Medicare, we're going to save Social Security, we are not going to raise the age, and we're not going to do all the things that everybody else is talking about doing. They are all talking about doing it and you don't have to."
And Trump's commitment to the two programs keeping millions of America's seniors from poverty did not just stem from his belief that "people have a contract." As he explained after meeting with Speak Ryan back in May, his "no cuts" position combined moral principle and political expediency:

Teachers unions mean better teachers, new study says (laura Clawson) · Saturday, July 23, 2016, 11:02 am

All that stuff you hear about how teachers unions protect bad teachers through the evils of due process and their general uniony badness? A new study for the National Bureau of Economic Research says nuh-uh. EduShyster interviews the study’s author, Eunice Han:

By demanding higher salaries for teachers, unions give school districts a strong incentive to dismiss ineffective teachers before they get tenure. Highly unionized districts dismiss more bad teachers because it costs more to keep them. Using three different kinds of survey data from the National Center for Education Statistics, I confirmed that unionized districts dismiss more low-quality teachers than those with weak unions or no unions. Unionized districts also retain more high-quality teachers relative to district with weak unionism. No matter how and when I measured unionism I found that unions lowered teacher attrition.

This isn’t all theoretical. Thanks to Republican state governments in Indiana, Idaho, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, Han had the chance to see how this played out in recent years:

If you believe the argument that teachers unions protect bad teachers, we should have seen teacher quality rise in those states after the laws changed. Instead I found that the opposite happened.

Funny how all that rhetoric about teachers unions keeping illiterate monsters in the classroom turns out to be false. Don’t hold my breath waiting for this myth to drop out of the Republican narrative about education, though.

In 1998, terrorists attacked two US embassies. No one blamed the secretary of state.

Jennifer Williams · Friday, July 22, 2016, 9:15 am

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

Radical Islamic terrorists attack a US embassy in a known terrorist hotspot, killing several Americans. Military reinforcements in the immediate aftermath of the attack are slow to arrive on the scene.

A subsequent inquiry finds that security at the embassy before the attack was woefully inadequate, and that repeated requests from top embassy personnel for more resources and better security went unheeded by the State Department leadership in Washington. The seriousness of the terrorist threat was also downplayed in Washington, despite repeated warnings from intelligence officials and Embassy staff that the risk was real.

Benghazi, right?

Wrong. That’s a description of one of the two bombings of US embassies in East Africa that occurred in 1998, which together killed over 220 people, including 12 Americans, and injured over 4,000 others.

The reason you probably haven’t heard of those attacks, or at least don’t remember them very well, is that they didn’t erupt into a massive political scandal like the 2012 terrorist attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi has. There was no harrowing action movie made about them.

And despite the loss of American lives and the findings afterward about the State Department’s many failures, the 1998 East Africa bombings did not lead to vicious accusations that Madeleine Albright, who was secretary of state at the time of the attacks, left Americans to die and thus should be thrown in prison. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has faced all that and more over her handling of Benghazi.

That’s because, unlike Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright was not running for president in one of the most toxic eras of partisan politics this country has ever seen.

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2 health insurance mega-mergers are underway. Now Obama’s trying to stop them.

Sarah Kliff · Thursday, July 21, 2016, 2:07 pm

The Obama administration wants to block two health insurance mega-mergers.

The Department of Justice announced Thursday that it would file lawsuits against the proposed merger of Cigna and Anthem, and of Humana and Aetna.

Right now there are five major health insurers in the United States — and if these mergers went through, that would drop to three. Taken together, those three companies would cover around 132 million Americans — about half the population under age 65.

It's not hard to understand why the Obama administration is stepping in here. When health insurers get bigger, they use their increased clout to negotiate cheaper prices from doctors and hospitals. But instead of lowering premiums, they pocket the savings as profit.

"Even if the insurers are getting lower prices, and lower prices are good for the consumer, they're not usually getting passed on," says Martin Gaynor, an economist at Carnegie Mellon University who studies health insurer consolidation.

Health insurance mergers generally raise premiums

The consumer impact of health care mergers is more complicated than consolidation in many other areas, like the airline industry. There, it's pretty easy to see how bigger companies can lead to higher prices, as consumers have fewer options to choose from.

Think, for a moment, about how airlines work: They own their airplanes and decide how much they want to charge for a ride, a relatively simple exercise. They do buy goods and services — like airplane parts or the salaries of pilots who fly their planes — but the prices of those are not super variable (at least, not when compared with health care prices).

Health insurers, by contrast, are doing something more complex: They have to negotiate prices with hospitals and doctors. There's a decent body of research that suggests health plans aren't good at these negotiations and often don't get the best deals. This could become increasingly true as hospital systems have increasingly consolidated in recent years — and as health care providers have brought more clout to their side of the bargaining table.

There's some reason to think that bigger insurers with more customers could get hospitals to give them a better deal. And theoretically, that could translate into lower premiums for consumers.

Leemore Dafny is an economist at Northwestern University who has studied this exact issue. She looked at what happened when Aetna bought Prudential's health insurance business in 1999. That move did seem to give Aetna more bargaining power — as a result of the merger, doctors' salaries had dropped 3 percent by 2006.

But this didn't seem to do much for consumers: Premiums still went up 7 percent as a result of the merger. Aetna used its new clout to net higher profits.

"The evidence to date suggests that consolidation leads to higher premiums," says Dafny. "The question in my mind is whether the Affordable Care Act changes that."

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