Here are some bubble gum cigarettes that I saw for sale today at the Navy Pier in Chicago. Anything is okay so long as it is “for the children.”
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This November the voters of Washington State will get to decide on Initiative 502, which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana. If they approve the ballot measure, and the federal government allows it to operate, it could eventually generate over[...]
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As of this writing we don’t know what spark ignited homicide in the mind of the latest famous shooter. This is happening near the campus of Texas A&M, but when all is sorted out, may have nothing at all to do with the college–may have no connection with anything we consider rational.
These days I am reminded of a book by journalist Jessica Stern called, ‘Terror in the Name of God’.
Jessica Stern interviews men and women willing to kill for a cause, Muslims, Christians and Jews across the globe. One of her interviewees is Bob Lokey, an American antiabortion activist–
“What fraction of the antiabortion movement supports killing abortion providers, what you call defensive action? I ask
“A small core would actually carry it out in my view” he says. “But one hundred percent of the people I talk to believe the things I says about it. I sometimes ask people, ‘Do you believe America needs a civil war?’ and everybody I talk to about that says yes. And I talk to a lot of people. A civil war would be pretty violent. Most people that I know and that I talk to would agree with me on this–it’s just that they’re not as vocal as I am.”
Bob Lokey names as an inspiration Paul Hill, who shot and killed Dr. John Britton, and his security escort, James Barrett, a retired air force lieutenant colonel. What is the motive?
“Individual operatives can have their own reasons for turning to terrorism unrelated to the group’s goals. “Individuals are drawn to terrorism in order to commit terrorist violence.” Jerrold Post argues. They feel “psychologically compelled” to commit violent acts, and the political objectives they espouse are only a rationalization.”
Wade Michael Page committed mass murder of his fellow Americans as they peaceably assembled for worship. It may be that he was a missile that misfired– an angry armed man whose suicide mission failed to inspire the masses. An unstable fellow-traveler whose regrettable action is to be deplored. The racists he hung out with are not canonizing him, more like distancing. S..t happens.
But if you believe that in the social ecology nothing persists that fails to serve some purpose, this from Politico raises some questions…
By TOMER OVADIA | 8/13/12 4:50 PM EDT
Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Monday defended gun rights as police investigated a deadly shooting near Texas A&M University, saying firearms issues should be addressed by states and that he doesn?t think ?taking guns away from law-abiding citizens? would make the country after.
?When it gets back to this issue of taking guns away from law abiding citizens and somehow know that?s going to make our country safer, it?s just I don?t agree with that,? Perry, who noted he didn?t have all the details of the shootings, said on Fox News while sitting next to Florida Governor Rick Scott.
?I think most people in Texas certainly don?t agree with that, and that is a state-by-state issue, frankly, that should be decided in the states and not again a rush to Washington, D.C., to centralize the decision-making, and them to decide what is in the best interest for the citizens of Florida or for Texas,? Perry continued. ?That?s for the people of these states to decide.?
Perry also said people should be able to own guns so that they can defend themselves.
One of the dead was a police officer on duty, but the Governor is not wasting any breath on regrets.
More fear= more gun sales= more fear= more gun sales. It’s an ill wind blows nobody good.
MIAMI (AP) ? Mitt Romney says gun laws are not the answer to the recent string of mass shootings.
Romney says it’s not about the weapons used in the attacks, but about the individuals who choose to commit violence against others.
The Republican presidential candidate spoke hours after a police officer, a gunman and a third person were killed in a shooting near Texas A&M University.
Romney says “thoughtful consideration” is needed about what can be done to prevent violent attacks. But he says he isn’t calling for any particular legislation.
Rest in peace, County Constable Brian Bachmann. No one has your back.
Even as Mitt Romney was introducing Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, his campaign was preparing a defense of the House Budget Chairman's draconian Medicare proposals. With good reason. After all, in April 2011 the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecast that Ryan's scheme to convert today's guaranteed Medicare insurance program into an underfunded voucher system would dramatically shift the health care costs onto America's seniors. And in February 2010, Ryan acknowledged his privatization plan for millions of future elderly constituted rationing.
But it's not just Team Romney that should be concerned about being caught red-handed with the proverbial gun pointed at the wildly popular program. Last year, 235 House Republicans and 40 GOP Senators--98 percent of all Republicans in Congress--voted for Paul Ryan's budget and its blueprint to rationing Medicare.
To be sure, the Ryan budget blessed by Republicans on Capitol Hill means de facto rationing for the system that today serves 46 million American seniors. As the CBO documented last year, Ryan's plan to replace public insurance provided by the government with vouchers for the elderly to buy their own coverage in the private market means getting less care for more money. The CBO analysis concluded that "a typical beneficiary would spend more for health care under the proposal." Make that, as Director Douglas Elmendorf explained, a lot more.
Under the proposal, most elderly people who would be entitled to premium support payments would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system. For a typical 65-year-old with average health spending enrolled in a plan with benefits similar to those currently provided by Medicare, CBO estimated the beneficiary's spending on premiums and out-of-pocket expenditures as a share of a benchmark amount: what total health care spending would be if a private insurer covered the beneficiary. By 2030, the beneficiary's share would be 68 percent of that benchmark under the proposal, 25 percent under the extended-baseline scenario, and 30 percent under the alternative fiscal scenario.
While the math of the Ryan budget may not seem simple, its erosion of the Medicare program is nevertheless inevitable. Because the value of Ryan's vouchers fails to keep up with the out-of-control rise in premiums in the private health insurance market, America's elderly would be forced to pay more out of pocket or accept less coverage. The Washington Post's Ezra Klein described the inexorable Republican rationing of Medicare which would then ensue:
The proposal would shift risk from the federal government to seniors themselves. The money seniors would get to buy their own policies would grow more slowly than their health-care costs, and more slowly than their expected Medicare benefits, which means that they'd need to either cut back on how comprehensive their insurance is or how much health-care they purchase. Exacerbating the situation -- and this is important -- Medicare currently pays providers less and works more efficiently than private insurers, so seniors trying to purchase a plan equivalent to Medicare would pay more for it on the private market.
It's hard, given the constraints of our current debate, to call something "rationing" without being accused of slurring it. But this is rationing, and that's not a slur. This is the government capping its payments and moderating their growth in such a way that many seniors will not get the care they need.
In his February 2010 interview with Klein, Ryan acknowledged as much. Sadly for the Republican brain trust, he failed to follow the GOP script that only Democratic reforms lead to "health care denied, delayed and rationed."
"Rationing happens today! The question is who will do it? The government? Or you, your doctor and your family?"
(Of course, Ryan left out the real culprit--the private insurance market. But with 50 million uninsured, another 25 million underinsured, one in five American postponing needed care and medical costs driving over 60% of personal bankruptcies, Congressman Ryan is surely right that "rationing happens today.")
It was the Republicans' fear of being the branded "The Party That Killed Medicare" that led GOP leaders to run away from the Ryan Roadmap for America--at least until the 2010 midterms were safely won. In July 2010, then House Minority Leader John Boehner disowned Ryan's plan. "It's his," Boehner said, adding, "There are parts of it that are well done. Other parts I have some doubts about, in terms of how good the policy is." With only 13 co-sponsors that summer, Paul Ryan denied his was blueprint was the GOP's. As Ryan put in August 2010, "My plan is not the Republican Party's platform and was never intended to be."
That denial last until the GOP reclaimed the House majority in November 2010. By then, the ad campaign falsely accusing Democrats of $500 billion in cuts to Medicare benefits had successfully terrified seniors into overwhelmingly voting Republican. In April 2011, the House passed Ryan's plan. Senate Republicans gave it their blessing the next month.
Still, even some of the staunchest anti-government Republicans had misgivings about what they had just done. As Minnesota Rep. and future GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann put it:
Bachmann, one of many Republicans mulling a run for president in 2012, said she was concerned that Medicare cuts proposed in both budget plans -- which she carefully described not as bills, but as "aspirational documents" -- put an undue burden on America's seniors. "I put an asterisk on my support, I put a blog posting up that said just as much. That is my area of concern," she said on "Fox News Sunday." "I support this bill with that proviso."
"I'm concerned about shifting the cost burden to seniors," she added.
Or at least, being seen to be shifting the cost burden to seniors.
That concern is shared by her GOP colleagues, who as Greg Sargent reported in the Washington Post in March, have been trying to rework and relaunch Ryan's Medicare rationing scheme. In December, Paul Ryan offered version 2.0 of his "premium support" scheme, this time keeping the Medicare "public option" as one choice for future American seniors (those currently 55 or younger). In his public remarks and on his web site, Mitt Romney backed the outlines of that plan.
Because he joined Ryan in that proposal, Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden will soon find himself the Republican Party's human shield on Medicare. Given the human toll the House Republican budget would take on millions of American seniors, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and their Congressional allies will look for protection anywhere they can get it.
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)
In two speeches over the last few days, Mitt Romney invoked Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon to attempt to burnish Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) credentials as a compromiser and a savior of Medicare. In one, Romney said his vice presidential pick ?found a Democrat to co-lead a piece of legislation to make sure we can save Medicare.? In another, he brought up Wyden by name: ?Paul Ryan and Senator Wyden said, ?No, we need to restore, retain and protect Medicare? That?s what our party will do.?
Gov. Romney is talking nonsense. Bipartisanship requires that you not make up the facts. I did not ?co-lead a piece of legislation.? I wrote a policy paper on options for Medicare. Several months after the paper came out I spoke and voted against the Medicare provisions in the Ryan budget. Governor Romney needs to learn you don’t protect seniors by makings things up, and his comments today sure won’t help promote real bipartisanship.
The plan Sen. Wyden co-authored with Ryan does bear a striking resemblance to the proposed Medicare changes in Ryan’s latest budget for the House GOP. Both keep traditional Medicare as a kind of public option, in an exchange where it would compete with private plans offering insurance to seniors. The government would give seniors support for purchasing these plans, and that support would be benchmarked to the cost of the second-least expensive plan. The plans would also be prohibited from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions.
But there are also some key differences between Ryan and Wyden: For one thing, the Wyden-Ryan plan would cap the growth rate of this new version of Medicare at the growth of the economy plus one percent, while Ryan’s budget would cap it at economic growth plus 0.5 percent. And, as Wyden pointed out, their joint plan was a policy proposal — not a piece of actual, sponsored legislation. Paul Ryan himself has admitted the two plans are not the same thing.
More important, however, is understanding Wyden’s support for these Medicare reforms within the context of his stances on broader health care reform. Wyden voted for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act — the health reform bill that used a similar exchange structure to cover all Americans not already ensured by their employers, Medicare, or Medicaid. Before that, Wyden co-authored a bill with Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) which would have extended the exchange-based coverage system to every American not in Medicare or in the military. Meanwhile, the latest House GOP budget — which Wyden pointedly refused to support — repeals the ACA, casting everyone who isn’t a senior back into the country’s prior dysfunctional system, with severe cuts to Medicaid to boot.
It is clear that Wyden supports these changes to Medicare as one part of a comprehensive system to provide every American with competitive and affordable health care. Ryan supports them as one opportunistic step in the GOP’s efforts to dismantle the social safety net.
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign sought to distance the former Massachusetts governor from Paul Ryan’s controversial Medicare privatization plan on Saturday, but by Monday, Romney fully embraced his running mate’s proposal. During a press availability in Miami, Romney turned down three opportunities to explain how his proposal would differ from Ryan’s, telling reporters, “my plan for Medicare is very similar for his plan for Medicare.” Watch it:
Governors Rick Scott (R-FL) and Rick Perry (R-TX) both refused to endorse Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicare on Monday.
In a Fox News interview with Neil Cavuto, both Scott and Perry joined a growing number of Republicans distancing themselves from the Romney-Ryan plan for Medicare by saying that they are willing to entertain Romney and Ryan’s ideas, but they don’t necessarily share the same views:
CAVUTO: Governor Scott, do you support what Paul Ryan wants to do? On this issue particularly in Florida, are you open to the switching to the private voucher system Paul Ryan wants for medicare recipients down the road?
SCOTT: Let’s all remember, it is going to be Governor Romney’s plan, he’ll decide what his plan is for Medicare. …. I am going to support a plan to make sure our Medicare recipients, we have 3.3 million of them in Florida, I’m going to make sure they continue to get care. They paid into the system, and we have to make sure we keep that system going. [...]
CAVUTO: You mentioned, Governor Perry, that 26, 29 year-olds, they should be given an opportunity to have something down the road for them. Would that be the cutoff age, then, that if you are that young then you should be veering toward a different type of a system? Because Paul Ryan has his much older than that, in the 40s right now.
PERRY: We are going to have the conversation and the idea that we will draw up a piece of legislation in August of 2012 is not correct. We are not going to do that. Let’s have the conversation though and start a dialogue between the people of this country.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have spent the better part of their young campaign hitting President Obama and the Affordable Care Act for cutting an estimated $716 billion from Medicare. Romney and Ryan, on the other hand, have offered a proposal that would voucharize the Medicare program and significantly reduce the government’s contribution.
Romney has pledged to balance the budget by the end of his second term and would have to cut an estimated $2 trillion from Medicare, which will help fund things like tax breaks for himself and other millionaires while seniors are stuck with higher premiums:
Part six of ThinkProgress? profiles of right-wing groups that are taking advantage of the Citizens United ruling to flood the airways with independent attack ads. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.
The 60 Plus Association is a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organization.
Created in 1992, the 60 Plus Association bills itself as “the conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).” It describes its agenda as “a free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors issues.”
The public face of 60 Plus is 1950s pop star and right-wing extremist Pat Boone. Boone, 78, has previously compared liberals to cancer and called President Obama?s birth certificate a ?photo-shopped fraud.?
The group’s chairman is James L. Martin, a former Republican Congressional aide and long-time operative for anti-labor union and far-right independent political groups. Its president is Amy Noone Frederick is a former Republican candidate for Virginia House of Delegates and the wife of ousted Republican Party of Virginia chair and former state legislator Jeff Frederick.
Sample 60 Plus Association ad:
Graphics by Adam Peck. Christina Lewis and Ellie Sandmeyer contributed to this report