Drones are major issue in the antiwar movement that has come to the forefront after their unconstitutional and excessive use. Drones in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and other countries cause high civilian casualties and have no accountability. In[...]
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As if there weren't enough reasons to dislike one of the most extreme wingnuts in the United States Congress, we can add one more to the list with Rep. Steve King: GOP Rep. Steve King Defends Dog Fighting:
If you believe that the United States should legalize dogfighting because we allow humans to fight, fear not. You?ve got an ally in the United States Congress.
During a tele-townhall late last week, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) fielded a question about his opposition to animal rights and recently introduced legislation that would undermine local standards preventing animal torture. ?It?s wrong to rate animals above human beings,? he told the questioner. To make his point, King argued that ?there?s something wrong? for society to make it a ?federal crime to watch animals fight? but ?it?s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting.?
KING: When the legislation that passed in the farm bill that says that it?s a federal crime to watch animals fight or to induce someone else to watch an animal fight but it?s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting, there?s something wrong with the priorities of people that think like that.
As Scott Keyes noted in his post at Think Progress, that's a ridiculous analogy, since humans have a choice as to whether they're going to participate in a fight. The same cannot be said for animals and as he pointed out, you don't have humans regularly being executed after they lose a fight, which often happens in dogfighting. They also pointed out King's atrocious record on animal cruelty, which I was not aware of before reading their post, but am sorry to say I'm not shocked by at all.
Both Aaron Carroll at The Incidental Economist and David Phillippe at Punditocracy pointed to a new brief from the National Institute for Health Care Management this month, which found that half of all health care spending in 2009 was concentrated amongst just 5 percent of Americans. Conversely, half of all American health care spenders accounted for just 3 percent of spending.
Not surprisingly, this top 5 percent of spenders is disproportionately represented amongst the sick and the elderly. More importantly, an individual in the top 5 percent generally accounted for something in the neighborhood of $40,000 in health care spending in 2009.
That’s significant because most of the health care reforms suggested by Republicans or conservatives include things like health savings accounts, high-deductible catastrophic coverage plans, allowing insurers to compete across state lines, and the like. These approaches focus on controlling cost by increasing individuals’ price sensitivity to their health care decisions. But for people who must spend $40,000 or more in a single year, “price sensitivity” is largely meaningless — there’s no way for them to grapple with such costs themselves, unless they’re wealthy. When those same people account for half of all health care spending, the possibility of controlling health care costs via the consumer-driven model begin to decrease rapidly. As Carroll sums up:
When we talk about consumer directed health care, we?re talking mostly about healthy people. We don?t want sick people to avoid care. We want to stop healthy people from consuming it. The problem is that healthy people consume so little care to begin with. If we could incentivize the healthier half of people to forego all their personal health care spending, we?d spend $36 billion less out of a total $1.259 trillion in personal health care spending. That would be a drop in the bucket.
Health savings accounts are of little use to anyone amongst the higher spending groups who isn’t independently wealthy, as they will quickly deplete their savings or won’t be able to stock the account in the first place. Competition across state lines will allow insurers to congregate in the state with the most lax regulations and requirements, and thus compete to see who can do the best job of denying coverage to high-risk individuals, rather than competing to see who can deliver the most efficient and effective care. Catastrophic coverage plans tend to divide the pool of young and healthy coverage recipients from the old and sick, leaving the pool of the latter with less incoming funds to deal with greater costs.
Increasing price sensitivity means individualizing risk, by leaving more of the cost of an individual’s care on their own shoulders. Absent a single-payer system, or something along the lines of Obamacare’s framework, it’s hard to see a possible route to controlling costs that doesn’t involve simply pricing large numbers of sick and elderly Americans out of receiving health care entirely. In fact, that’s precisely what the American system has already been doing for some time.
Two weeks ago, Saudi Arabia and the International Olympic Committee agreed to add two female athletes to the conservative Muslim kingdom’s Olympic team, marking the first time in Olympic history that women would participate under the Saudi flag. Two days ago, one of those women nearly withdrew from the Games.
Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani, one of the two Saudi women, learned this week that she would not be allowed to wear her traditional hijab during competition because the International Judo Federation worried that it would threaten her safety. Faced with the possibility of participating without her hijab — a decision that would violate her religious beliefs — Shaherkani threatened to withdraw.
The IJF’s eventual compromise, reached yesterday, to allow Shaherkani to wear a headscarf was always obvious, given the Asian Judo Federation allows women to compete wearing hijabs and top judokas said it wouldn’t cause safety issues, making such concerns seem illegitimate. But for whatever reason, this issue keeps arising in international sport, creating a needless tension between the ideal of increasing female participation in sports and respecting their religious freedoms while doing so.
Safety of athletes should, of course, should be a concern, but participation should remain the most prominent goal. The IOC has gone to great lengths to increase participation of women in the Olympics, particularly women from countries like Saudi Arabia. But those efforts also go far beyond these Olympic Games. Saudi women are still struggling to gain any (much less equal) participation in sports in their own country, and had the SAOC and IJF let an unnecessary hijab controversy get in the way of that fight, it not only would have ruined Shaherkani’s opportunity, it would have put another barrier in front of Muslim women who want to play sports. That would have been a tragic ending to an otherwise wonderful story, and though the IJF ultimately made the right decision, it came dangerously close to undermining the fight that got Shaherkani to London in the first place.
House Republicans today — by a vote of 170 to 257 — defeated a Democratic proposal to end the Bush tax cuts on income above $250,000. 19 Democrats joined all the Republicans in voting down the bill. The House Republican plan would instead extend all of the Bush tax cuts, as well as fast-track “tax reform” that includes more giveaways to the wealthy and corporations.
Just one day before it would go into effect, Arizona’s 20-week abortion ban has been temporarily blocked by a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel. A trial judge upheld HB 2036 on Monday. The appellate court will hold a hearing on the ban as soon as possible this fall. Called the most extreme ban in the nation, the law measures the gestational age of a fetus from the first day of the woman’s last period, technically prohibiting abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy. It would have forced doctors to withhold care until a pregnancy posed an immediate threat of death or major medical damage. It also contains no exceptions for fatal fetal birth defects, giving women no choice but to carry to term a fetus with no chance of survival.
Our regular featured content-On This Day In History August 1 by TheMomCatPunting the Pundits by TheMomCatThese featured articles-Humans Did It by TheMomCatSignificant Error by ek hornbeckHow To Lose a Slam Dunk by TheMomCatFull Moon, Blue Moon,[...]
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Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a surrogate for the Obama campaign, called efforts by that campaign to attack Mitt Romney on his private equity career "nauseating."Bill Clinton:
"This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides," he said on Meet the Press. "It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright. This stuff has got to stop."
?I think he had a good business career,? he said of Romney, when queried about Bain. He also called Mitt?s record ?sterling?, adding ?So I don?t think that we ought to get into the position where we say this is bad work. This is good work.?So have the Obama campaign's attacks on Bain actually been a bad thing? Um, no:
To be sure, Romney has also crept up as he continues to rally his base. After months of hating on their nominee, base conservatives are thrilled with Romney's claim that Obama is foreign and doesn't know what it's like to be American (hint: it has something to do with eating "cheesy" grits). Check out his favorabilities among conservatives in the Daily Kos/SEIU weekly polling (brown line is favorable, orange line is unfavorable):
Of course, it's kind of pathetic that Romney is still trying to solidify his base in freakin' August. (In the same polling, Obama has 85 percent favorability among liberals, and it has been that high pretty much all year.) Thus, rather than moving toward the political center, Romney's crazy talk is just pushing him further out from the American mainstream. Per the Daily Kos/SEIU polling, Romney's favorables among political moderates fell from 31 percent to 25 percent between 7/19 and 7/26. Ouch.
So for those who thought Obama's focus on Bain would hurt him, you were wrong. And it was obvious from the beginning that you were wrong.
For those Republicans who thought that "you didn't build that" hackery would hurt Obama, well, you were wrong. Although at this point I'm convinced that nonsense has less to do with trying to win the election and more to do with pissing off liberals. We all know how important it is for conservatives to annoy liberals (Chick-fil-A!). So, um, good for you! I hope you keep confusing insipid taunts for an actual national campaign.
And for those billionaires spending tens of millions to try and destroy Obama, well, how does it feel to piss away all that money?
The Federal Reserve Board of Governors opted again to do nothing after their two-day meeting, remaining pat despite clear evidence of a slowing in the economy and a miss on their two mandates, on maintaining full employment and price stability. This post[...]
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