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Why Lessons on Talking To Women Won’t Help Republicans

Boehner on Women

John Boehner thinks if his candidates could learn how to talk at women a bit differently, Republicans can win elections.   It’s as if they truly believe that if they smile and call us ma’am, we won’t notice the policies that Republicans stand for. Continue reading

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Martin Bashir Showed Integrity and Class – Now He Should Be Reinstated.

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I have to admire Martin Bashir. His actions showed that he has more integrity and class in his baby finger than Sarah Palin could ever dream of. Continue reading

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For Profit Prison Puts 74 Year Old Women In Solitary For More Than a Month

prifosn for profit

Some stories are more difficult to write than others.  It isn’t because the words are hard to find, nor is it for lack of something to say.  It’s more about recognizing that a post full of f-bombs might give some immediate emotion satisfaction, but it doesn’t solve the problems that come with bad policies. For Profit Prisons is one of those stories.

States that opted for turning prisons over to for profit corporations sold the idea by claiming it saves money.

Across the country, states have struggled to maintain prison systems that are over capacity and over budget because of the large influx of inmates. In light of the May 2011 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Plata ordering California to alleviate its overcrowded prisons, more states began to seek solutions to reduce costs and prison populations. Brown v. Plata, 131 S. Ct. 1910, 179 L. Ed. 2d 969 (2011). Private prison operators are often touted as savings magnets—playing into the conservative belief that private industry can operate more efficiently and eliminate wasteful bureaucracy that often characterizes government.

Of course,  advocates of for profit prisons didn’t want to discuss the terms under which their campaigns accepted donations from the for profit prison lobby. Since profit is a business’s first priority, it stands to reason that would be a priority in the for profit prison industry.  So it comes as no surprise that in exchange for campaign donations, the for profit prison industry has lobbied for “prison packing.”  Moreover, high occupancy and in some cases, full occupancy is a term in contracts between the corporations and the states that paid for their “services.”

The report by the advocacy group “In the Public Interest” showed private prison companies mandate high inmate occupancy rates through their contracts with states – in some cases, up to 100 percent.

States passed 3 strikes and your out and other laws in the name of “getting tough on crime.” However, they have the added bonus of helping states fulfill the occupancy quotas they contracted with the for profit prison industry.

Of course, it helps if there are judges willing to hand down sentences to achieve these quotas – for a personal profit of course.

It gets worse, as some judges sell children and adults to the for profit prison system.  Just try googling “judge sells children to prison system” and you’ll see a volume of stories on this new reality. A disproportionate number of imprisoned children are black or Hispanic as reflected in the graphic below.

STPPgraphic

Graphic from Travis Smiley Reports

A former Pennsylvania judge accepted $2 million in bribes from a for profit prison contractor to send black children to prison and while he’s at it, make sure the for profit prison’s are full. In one case, this judge sentenced an African American child to prison for three months because she posted negative comments about her assistant principle on myspace. Serving a 28 year sentence on rackateering charges, this former judge is part of that high occupancy rate the for profit prisons paid him to fill.

The conditions in for profit prisons reach a whole new level of barbarity.  Assaults on guards by inmates occurred 49% more frequently in private prisons. They are also less secure.  A study by Scott D. Camp and Gerald G. Gaes revealed a higher frequency of escapes, in prison homocides, prisoner on prisoner assults and drug abuse in for profit prisons.  Then there’s the prisoner abuse.

Corrections Corporation of America is the biggest for profit prison company in the United States .  Earlier this year, Think Progress reported that the corporation settled a suit alleging prisoner abuse during a prison riot for $600k.

According to an FBI agent, the riot stemmed from complaints about indadequate food and medical care.

In Idaho, CCA officals partnered with violent prison gangs in the name of saving money on prison security.

Ironically, states turned to for profit prisons a means to address the problem of overcrowded prisons.  Yet, CCA engaged in overcrowding it’s prisons in Ohio, once again in the name of saving money.

The latest lawsuit against this company was brought by 74-year-old Carol Lester, serving time in a New Mexico Correctional Facility. Lester alleges the CCA owned facility deprived her of medicine and kept her in solitary confinement for over a month.

Lester entered the prison following conviction for an embezzlement charge.  Lester is a thyroid cancer survivor and was prescribed medication to treat the ailment before she was imprisoned. It should be noted, that Lester bought the medicine she was prescribed and submitted it to the drug intake person at the prison.  However, the prison denied her that medicine, substituting an alternative that made her ill.

During the initial medical screening, Lester was also found to be bi-polar and more importantly for what happened next, she had no history of illegal drug use.

The prison “sentenced” Lester to 30 days of solitary confinement based on a “false positive” for traces of methamphetamine.

It turns out this resulted from Zantac, prescribed to treat Lester’s bi-polar condition.

But hey, CCA continues to prosper.  According to Mother Jones, it’s revenue grew 500 % over the past twenty years .

Image: Business-Managed Democracy

 

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By Unanimous Vote DC Council Takes First Step To Increasing Minimum Wage

 

DC’s minimum-wage-povertyCity Council joined a national trend with its unanimous vote to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 today. Continue reading

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Scott Walker’s Scroogeable Moment

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Scott Walker is working hard to win the Scrooge of 2013 award.  After years of imposing the ALEC/Koch agenda on Wisconsin, Walker wants parents to forget about giving their children Christmas presents.  Instead, they ought to give that money to him!

According to the blog, Cognitive Dissonence, Walker made it very clear in a fund raising email, that he not your children should be at the top, the bottom and every place in between on your Christmas gift list.  Why buy your children toys, or in many families, the warm clothes they need, when you can just give all that money to the Koch brother’s Tea boy, Scott Walker.

Friend,

Instead of venturing into the cold this Black Friday, stay in and give your children a gift that will keep on giving.

This year, we are celebrating the Holiday Season with a Black Friday special that is better than any deal found in stores. Donate $5, $10 or $25 to help Governor Walker get reelected and save your children from a future of double-digit tax increases and billion dollar budget deficits.

Instead of electronics or toys that will undoubtedly be outdated, broken, or lost by the next Holiday Season, help give your children the gift of a Wisconsin that we can all be proud of. Governor Walker is helping Wisconsin move forward to a future where your children and grandchildren can experience:

  • Economic Prosperity

  • Improved Schools

  • Freedom From Government Dependence

Let’s translate what Walker is really saying.

Gimme! Gimme!  Gimme!

Chances are if you’re poor, you don’t know how to manage your money.  You’ll just waste it on giving your kids some toys from Santa. I’m a better investment because I’m helping Wisconsin move backward to a future where your children and grandchildren can experience:

Working for less so that ‘job creators” can prosper.

Improved Schools for the rich.

Freedom from food, housing, healthcare and education.

A boss that will decide what health care he thinks you should have.

And because we know that you don’t always like what’s good for you …. vote suppression!

Now come on, you know that if Susie gets that warm coat or Jimmy gets those new boots they’ll just grow out of them anyway.  Besides freezing in the winter builds character, making them less dependent.

Sincerely yours,

Scrooge Walker.

Image Scott Walker Watch

 

 

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The ACA Success Stories Republicans Don’t Want You to Know

Obamacare successes

Obamacare is law and it is working.  Americans are signing up for insurance.  In some cases, they will have insurance for the first time in their lives.  Others will pay less, and still have better insurance.  Moreover, people have started using their new insurance.

You wouldn’t know if you listened to some Republicans and lobbyists because ACA success stories obliterate their talking points. The latest talking point is that Obamacare has problems at the “back end“.  Of course, people who actually work with Obamacare have a different story, as Sarah Jones reported.

Aaron Lehman, a financial adviser who works with health insurance, told Politicus in an exclusive interview that the clients he’s signed up for health insurance on the ObamaCare website have already gotten their premium bills, so he’s shocked to hear that there’s a problem with the “back end” of the website.

Relatively moderate Republicans recognize that they have lost the battle, even if the extremist Tea Party wing hasn’t.  It doesn’t mean that the relatively moderate Republicans love or even like it, but they do recognize that now a “repeal” means taking away insurance and with it secure access to healthcare.  It means outing themselves as advocates of corporate death panels or class based health care rationing.

“We’ve done it for years,” said Dr. Arthur Kellermann, professor of emergency medicine and associate dean for health policy at Emory University School of Medicine. “In this country, we mainly ration on the ability to pay.”

Let’s not forget that aside from kicking newly insured people off their plans, Republicans also want to kill Medicaid and Medicare, resulting in even more class based rationing.

Republicans would have to admit that they believe rape and pregnancy should be “pre-existing conditions”

It means admitting that they believe people should be punished with bankruptcy or death if they dare to get sick.

Some Republicans get that they have nothing to gain from pursuing this fight.  In fact, what little support they had collapsed when they want along with Heritage Action’s plan to shut down the government even though they knew it would not result in a repeal of the ACA.  But hey, it’s good theater.  So what if this stunt cost our economy 24 billion dollars.

The extremist wing, continues the battle.  John Boehner, aka as Ted Cruz’s surrogate in the House of Represenatives plans to hold more “hearings” this week.

This week, there will be at least four more ObamaCare oversight hearings in the House:

On Wednesday, the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on the implementation of the president’s health care law.

Also on Wednesday, the House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing to “examine the process of determining whether businesses are considered single or multiple entities under the health care law.”

The House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing Wednesday to examine what Medicare Advantage beneficiaries should expect under ObamaCare. On Friday, the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee will hold a field hearing in Apache Junction, AZ to get a closer look at the consequences of ObamaCare’s broken promises. -

They’ll continue to play bait and switch rhetorical games that were carefully crafted with phrases that polled especially badly when tested in focus groups.

Meanwhile, more Americans will sign up and there will be more success stories, like that of Fox’s Sally Kohn, who wrote this on Fox’s website, the one place that Fox allowed her to tell her positive experience.

Counter to wild stories about the government taking over health care, the exchange was simply a public portal to a range of all-private insurance options. I went with a “gold” plan for lower deductible and out-of-pocket costs. And I chose Blue Cross Blue Shield because my current primary doctor is in-network.

In other words, Kohn saw for herself, that the “government run healthcare” talking point is a myth.  She found out, contrary to Republican scaring points, she had a wide range of options that cost less than her old plan.  She did get to keep her doctor and guess what?  The ACA is not the “government run” healthcare that Republicans claim it is.

Since “fair and balanced” Fox wasn’t interested in airing her positive experience, she had to tell it to MSNBC.

You also won’t hear Bob Rose‘s story.  You won’t hear that thanks to Obamacare, Doug and Kim will no longer have to choose between a home and healthcare. Beth Fletcher tweeted a similar story.

You won’t hear the ACA success stories in the Republican Party’s hearings because none of the people benefitting from Obamacare have paid lobbyists.  They aren’t actors paid to perform in a commerical.  They’re just real people with real problems that Obamacare fixed.

Image: Screenshot of healtcare.gov home page

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The positive side of Corporate Religious Freedom (Humor or At Least An Attempt At it)

my corporation is going to heaven

According to Rick Santorum, denying women birth control is a first amendment right. Continue reading

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Hobby Lobby Ruling Could Make Your Boss a One Person Death Panel and Other Things

equal-protection

If the implications of the SCOTUS ruling in the Hobby Lobby case was limited to the consequences for women’s reproductive rights, that would be dire enough. However, since the court decided to take up the general question of whether a legal person’s religious freedom is protected under the constitution, this case has the potential to have far reaching consequences. Continue reading

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In Today’s America, Mary Would be A Taker With a Pre-existing Condition

anti-commercial-holidays

After having the good fortune of a Thanksgiving that was a holiday to spend with family and enjoy good food, many of us have visions of Christmas dancing in our heads. Continue reading

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Republicans Whine that Iran Deal Distracts From Their Attempts to Distract From ACA Successes

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So, according to John Cornyn Britain, France, Germany, the EU, China, Russia and Iran all got together with Barack Obama to work out a deal on Iran’s nukes for one reason only.  All of them wanted to distract Americans from the Affordable Care Act.

After all, it isn’t like the world was concerned about Iran’s nuclear program for the past decade or so because Affordable Care Act. This deal is an important first step, as President Obama pointed out in his statement.

Today, the United States — together with our close allies and partners — took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program.Since I took office, I’ve made clear my determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  As I’ve said many times, my strong preference is to resolve this issue peacefully, and we’ve extended the hand of diplomacy.  Yet for many years, Iran has been unwilling to meet its obligations to the international community.  So my administration worked with Congress, the United Nations Security Council and countries around the world to impose unprecedented sanctions on the Iranian government.

Honestly, I wasn’t anticipating a “job well done, Mr. President” response from the Republicans.  They aren’t capable of seeing beyond their obsession with greed and power.  But, I was wrong about one thing.  I was expecting them to trot out the Obama is a secret Muslim meme.  Of course, the spin cycle is still young and they do have to work out how Saudi Arabia’s opposition to the deal fits with their narrative.  On the plus side, the Dominionist wing can start massaging their Obama is anti-Jewish meme since
<href=”http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/24/world/meast/iran-israel/”>Netanyahu> is also less than pleased with the news.

The deal is a first step toward a solution to the problem of Iran’s nuclear program, a problem that has eluded anything resembling a solution for a decade. Of course, Israel objects to a provision in the deal that allow Iran to enrich uranium to a  maximum 5 percent level, which is way below the level needed for local weapons.  The fact of the matter is that while Israel has valid reasons to oppose Iran’s nuclear weapon program, demands to roll back Iran’s ability to mine uranium and prohibit even low grade nuclear processing are a non-starter. Aljazeera America explains:

The deal includes freezing Iran’s ability to enrich uranium at a maximum 5 percent level, which is well below the threshold for weapons-grade material and is aimed at easing Western concerns that Tehran could one day seek nuclear arms. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will oversee Iran’s compliance.For Iran, keeping the enrichment program active was a critical goal. Iran’s leaders view the country’s ability to make nuclear fuel as a source of national pride and an essential part of nuclear self-sufficiency.

That said, let’s talk about the aspects of the ACA that Republicans have done everything imaginable and cheap to distract from and sabotage.

Let’s talk about the mechanisms in the Affordable Care Act that address the sort of medicare fraud that yielded profits for Florida Governor Rick Scott and failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney.  Gee, no wonder those two vehemently opposed the Affordable Care Act.  It cost them millions in “profits” from medicare fraud.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, medicare costs have gone down without taking needed benefits away from seniors because the law provides real mechanisms to address medicare fraud.  During the past 3 years, the government recovered $10.7 billion in health care fraud because of provisions in the Affordable Care Act.

The provisions that made these savings possible, include investing in the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT). HEAT’s mandate is to gather resources across the gtovernment to prevent waste, fraud and abuse of Medicare and Medicare.  It cracks down on people and organizations that abuse the system and prevents fraudsters from defauding Medicare and Medicaid.  If caught defrauding medicare and medicaid in one state, these criminals can’t just shift operations to another state and that is thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Between 2008 and 2011, HEAT’s work led to a 75% increase in charges against individuals who engaged in health care fraud.  In 2011 alone, HEAT coordinated the largest ever healthcare fraud take down involving $530 million in fraudulent billing.

So when Republicans say they want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, part of what they are saying is they want to protect those who benefit from medicare and medicaid fraud.

But don’t pay attention to that.  Website.

Image Business Insider

 

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