Last week, in a dramatic vote, the House of Representatives voted to effectively end Medicare by voting for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal. Under Ryan’s plan, the public health insurance system known as Medicare would be replaced with a system of inadequate subsidies seniors would use to purchase private insurance.
But if Americans want to know why Republicans are so eager to kill Medicare, they should look to the party’s history with the popular program. Leading Republicans actually denounced the program as it was being designed, warning that it would take us down the road to totalitarianism or worse, and other leading Republicans were caught on record plotting to eliminate it after it was created:
- Ronald Reagan: Before he was president, Reagan actually lead a campaign against the creation of Medicare. He ominously warned: “[I]f you don’t [stop Medicare] and I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” 
George H.W. Bush: Bush, who would go on to be president after Reagan, said that Medicare shouldn’t be established because it was nothing more than “socialized medicine.” 
- Bob Dole: In 1996, during his campaign for the Presidency, Dole openly bragged that he was one of 12 House members who voted against creating Medicare in 1965. “I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare … because we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965.”  […]
Look, I’ve said in the past that I’m awful at strategy. So maybe focusing on this aspect of the story will be effective in galvanizing opposition. But it does get my hackles up a little bit! There’s nothing wrong with financial managers per se, especially…
The House on Thursday afternoon approved two resolutions that would amend the FY 2011 spending bill to block funding designated for Planned Parenthood and last year’s healthcare law. But House passage is largely symbolic, as the Senate did not pass either of the bills.
The Dutch justice ministry has announced it will close eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty.
During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees.
Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak announced on Tuesday that eight prisons will be closed, resulting in the loss of 1,200 jobs. Natural redundancy and other measures should prevent any forced lay-offs, the minister said.
The overcapacity is a result of the declining crime rate, which the ministry’s research department expects to continue for some time.
Some reprieve might come from a deal with Belgium, which is facing overpopulation in its prisons. The two countries are working out an agreement to house Belgian prisoners in Dutch prisons. Some five-hundred Belgian prisoners could be transferred to the Tilburg prison by 2010.
The Netherlands would get 30 million euros in the deal, and it will allow the closing of the prisons in Rotterdam and Veenhuizen to be postponed until 2012.
In Short: Based on proven Statistical data, Drug Relaxed Policies Lead to Positive (Not negative or a bunch of crazed criminals going around) news for our communities but Bad news for Prison Complexes and Government Agencies which thrive and make millions each year for incarcerating innocents which after released, Have no place left in society that deems it okay to lock up sick patients and citizens who merely need an unwind from a day’s work.
If you think the culture wars are heated now, check out mid-19th century America. The Civil War took place during a period of pervasive piety when both North and South demonized one another with self-righteous, biblical language, one historian says.
The war erupted not long after the “Second Great Awakening” sparked a national religious revival. Reform movements spread across the country. Thousands of Americans repented of their sins at frontier campfire meetings and readied themselves for the Second Coming.
They got war instead. Their moral certitude helped make it happen, says David Goldfield, author of “America Aflame,” a new book that examines evangelical Christianity’s impact on the war.
Goldfield says evangelical Christianity “poisoned the political process” because the American system of government depends on compromise and moderation, and evangelical religion abhors both because “how do you compromise with sin.”
How much power should the federal government have?
Nullification, states’ rights and secession. Those terms might sound like they’re lifted from a Civil War history book, but they’re actually making a comeback on the national stage today.
Since the rise of the Tea Party and debate over the new health care law, more Republican lawmakers have brandished those terms. Republican lawmakers in at least 11 states invoked nullification to thwart the new health care law, according to a recent USA Today article.
“One of the biggest debates during the Civil War was how far should governments go in dictating our lives. We still debate those politics,” says William Blair, director of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center at Pennsylvania State University.
The Southern answer to that question ignited the war. When they seceded, their leaders said that they were protecting the inherent rights of sovereign states. They invoked the 13 Colonies’ fight for independence.
Unleashing the dogs of war
During the run-up to the Iraq War, former Vice President Dick Cheney famously declared that American troops would be welcomed as “liberators” in Iraq.
Cheney made the mistake that political leaders have been making for ages — he didn’t know the enemy, says Emory Thomas, author of “The Dogs of War,” which examines how ignorance on both sides led to the Civil War.
“Cheney thought it was going to be France in 1944, but it ended up Georgia in 1864,” Thomas says.
Civil War leaders made the same mistake, Thomas says. Northern leaders like Lincoln didn’t really think ordinary Southerners who had no slaves would fight in defense of slavery. Southerners didn’t think Northerners were willing to go to war to preserve the Union, he says.
“America in 1861 didn’t realize what the hell they were doing,” he says. “They just weren’t willing to think of unpleasant possibilities.”
We risk the same mistakes when we commit to “limited” military campaigns in places such as Iraq and, most recently, Libya, Thomas says.
When President Obama announced a limited air bombing campaign in Libya, Thomas thought about the political leaders before the Civil War.
Each incrementally committed to various military provocations, thinking events wouldn’t spiral out of control. They were wrong.
“Once you commit to war, you don’t have any control over how it ends,” Thomas says. “It’s amazing how that sounds like Libya now. We may blunder into success, but we don’t know who these guys (Libyan rebels) are.”
The president as dictator
Barack Obama isn’t the first black president, according to some Southern secessionists. That would be Abraham Lincoln. He was called a “black Republican” and the “Great Dictator.”
There was a reason a large number of Americans despised Lincoln during the war. Think of the nation’s recent “War on Terror.” Some Americans thought Lincoln used the war to ignore the Constitution and expand the powers of the presidency.
Lincoln suspended habeas corpus (it gives a person who is jailed the right to challenge their detention in court) during the war and used military courts to arrests thousands of civilians.
Those legal decisions loom over post-9/11 America, historians say.
How do we treat American citizens caught attempting to bomb U.S. cities? How do we clamp down on American citizens who preach overthrowing the government? What rights do Guantanamo Bay prisoners possess?
“His oath of office required him to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution’ and he believed that the best way to do that was to preserve the Union,” McGinty says. “What good would the Constitution be if the country itself was lost?”
McGinty doesn’t think Lincoln became a dictator. He says he allowed the presidential election to take place in 1864. He worked with Congress. He asked military officers to arrest disloyal persons sparingly, and he never tolerated abuse of prisoners.
Lincoln said his actions would ultimately be subject to the review of the American people, not the courts, McGinty says.
“He called the people ‘The Great Tribunal’ and said that they would have the final word on constitutional issues. In the end, The Great Tribunal approved of what he had done. So, for the most part, has history.”
“Yes, Obama duped the young people of this country by not doing every single thing they want, so now they’ll all vote Republican. It’s like when I want some bread I will not settle for half a loaf, I will instead have a muffin made of broken glass.”—
Stephen Colbert responding to Republican Tim Pawlenty when he said that Obama has duped young people. (via therecipe)
The fact that Obama has been disappointing does not make him worse than the alternatives.
This is an interesting question. HIV is no longer the certain death sentence it was 20 years ago. Many HIV-patients could obviously benefit from the change. Lifting the ban also eliminates the inherent prejudice behind the existence of the ban against the LGBT community. At the time the ban was enacted, it is true that little was known about HIV, however because it showed up in the gay community first (only in the US) it was considered a “gay disease”. Many politicians had no problem going on record with statements that HIV/ AIDS was just GOD’s punishment for gays. What followed was the ban of HIV/AIDS patients from the recipient lists as well as a ban on HIV-infected donors.
While the ban on recipients has been lifted, until now it was thought to be too dangerous to lift the ban on infected donors. The main reasoning was due to re-infection risks. The HIV virus is reportedly difficult to cure because of its constant mutation. These mutations create a risk of reinfection in HIV-partners because one partner may have a more aggressive strain than the other. Reinfection increases the possibility that the virus will progress to full-blown AIDS. This article does not address this issue and I would be interested in finding out how Johns Hopkins proposes to lower these risks.
I also wonder how this would be handled administratively. Lifting the ban would effectively create two donor pools, one HIV-infected which would presumably only be made available to HIV-infected recipients and the other would be the current system. Maintaining each system would require administrative costs. Given the cost component, I doubt the current atmosphere in Congress would be very receptive the to notion.
I love that we are hollering out we’re broke all over the place, but yet, senators still find money to pay for their pork projects. Kids can’t learn to read, but at least we got this bridge. Now at the moment, it leads to thousands of acres of undeveloped land. So, the question is which corporations will now flood in to develop it- if any. This is the kind of thing that should be “sacrificed”- not aid provided to the poor and not our children’s education.
In 2010 evidence was found in Africa that Human use of antibiotics began not 80 years ago, but nearly 2,000 years ago along the banks of the Nile River. Chemical analysis of the bones of ancient Sudanese mummies who lived nearly 2000 years ago shows they were ingesting the antibiotic tetracycline on a regular basis, likely from a special brew of beer. The find is the strongest evidence yet that antibiotics were previously discovered by humans before Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928.
WASHINGTON (AP) — From cradle to grave, minority populations tend to suffer poorer health and get poorer health care than white Americans. In a first-of-its-kind report, the government is recommending steps to reduce those disparities.
The plan being released Friday runs the gamut from improving dental care for poor children to tapping “promotoras,” savvy community health workers who can help guide their Spanish-speaking neighbors in seeking treatment.
But it acknowledges that giving everyone an equal shot at living a healthy life depends on far more than what happens inside a doctor’s office — or steps that federal health officials can take.
“It’s also a product of where people live, labor, learn, play and pray,” Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, told The Associated Press. “We really need a full commitment from the country to achieve these goals.” […]
Make no mistake, this is about women. All women. The ability to control one’s own womb puts a woman in similar economic position as her male counter parts. She is capible of being just as productive because she does not have to take off time to give birth. She doesn’t have to break her neck trying to find ever disapearing affordable and safe child care. She is better able to control her budget and her income. And she is able to reproduce when SHE chooses. This is especially important when we examine statisics on violence against women, to include incest and rape figures. It is easy to talk about responsibility when it comes to sex when you (man) do not have to reap the consequences. Men can still attend school and work. Men can avoid paying for that responsibility.
I love my child and I am thankful to have her. But the fact remains that I was able to have her when I was ready because I had birth control. I am able to do more for her and I am not dependant on the government to help raise my child because I am able to to get a job that will take care of the expenses. This fight is not about abortion. It’s about ALL contraceptive services and health services provided to 4 out of 5 American women every year. This is about punishing poor people for being poor and sticking it to the middle class who have been carrying the nation. It’s about the continued hypocracy of pandering to te rich, Wall Street and big corporations that have not only destroyed our way of life in pursuit of more money, but inexplicably GET PAID IN GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES to do so.
A group called Smart Growth America has a new report out showing that when it comes to job creation, it’s better to spend stimulus funds on public transportation projects as opposed to building roads and highways. Public transportation projects create nearly twice as many jobs per dollar spent, in fact.
Why is this the case? Smart Growth America says it’s because public transportation projects end up spending less money on land acquisition, and require more buying and maintenance of vehicles (which require man-hours to make and repair). […]
Stop using my husband and soldiers like him as political cannon fodder in your attempt to regulate my uterus and make America stupider (defunding NPR). In addition to making it more difficult to make ends meet with your bullheadedness, you have also created a tension in my home that should not be there. My husband puts himself in harm’s way everyday in exchange for pay. To send him into a dangerous situation with the stress of not knowing whether he can pay the bills this month ENDANGERS HIS LIFE. I worry enough. Even worse, because of the penalties for not showing up for work, we enter into an indentured servitude situation that I’m seriously uncomfortable with.
In case you were wondering, this is not supporting the troops. You had plenty of opportunity to make sure military pay was not disrupted as they risked their lives to serve this country. The fact that you will sit in your comfortable chair, continuing to get paid for doing nothing as soldiers as young as 18 are putting their lives and bodies on the line, makes me sick.
Make no mistake: I did not vote for you and this is exactly why. I knew that debt reduction bullshit you were blowing up the Teabagger’s behinds was just more smoke and mirrors to hide your real goals of keeping the rich rich and destroying the personal rights of those you dislike (See the anti-abortion/ women’s health crap, anti-union crap, and anti-intellectual crap). I especially disliked that wave of racism you rode into office during the November elections. You are continuing to fail and everyday I feel more and more helpless in the face of your bullshit.
Both Thomas and Scalia have produced what can only be described as a master class in human apathy. Their disregard for the facts of Thompson’s thrashed life and near-death emerges as a moral flat line.
This absolutely sickens me. I swear…going to Hell might be worth it just to watch Clarence Thomas burn.
If you are not familiar with the facts and circumstances of this case (Connick v. Thompson) I implore you to PLEASE take time to read it. If not now, click the “like” button so you can come back and read it later.
What happened to John Thompson - and more importantly the cold, dismissive tone and the deliberately tortured logic from our nation’s highest institution of justice in reaction to what happened - is key to understanding the current state of Black America. This is NOT an isolated incident. Cases like this one and the conviction of John Burge in Chicago should serve as the background for any discussion of African-American crime and imprisonment rates. They should serve to lift a sizeable burden of suspicion against Black men and place it squarely on the shoulders of the judicial system and law enforcement.
Fundamentally this country STILL does not treat Black men with an equal measure of human compassion, empathy or fairness.
The full text of the opinion in Connick v. Thompson can be read here.
House Republicans want the media and the public to believe that they voted to ensure that American troops continue getting paid in the event of a government shutdown, but that President Obama and congressional Democrats refused to support funding our soldiers.
But while it’s true that they passed a so-called ‘troop funding bill,’ they also voted against one offered by Democrats.
The difference? Their troop funding bill contained unrelated spending cuts and policy provisions, including restrictions on access to abortion in Washington, D.C.—things that had nothing to do with funding troops. Moreover, President Obama, who said he would veto the GOP bill because it contains unrelated items, also said he would support a clean CR that funded troops if we are moving towards an overall budget deal.
Bottom-line: it’s completely dishonest for anyone to claim that Republicans are trying to fund troops while Democrats are against it. Democrats not only support reaching a compromise on the overall budget, they have voted in favor of guaranteeing troop paychecks without the additional ransom demands added by Republicans.
Ultimately, the real issue is and continues to be the fact that Republicans have been unwilling to agree to compromise. Perhaps that will happen before midnight tomorrow, but if it doesn’t, Republicans will be the ones responsible for shutting down the government and disrupting military pay.
From NBC’s Luke Russert On the eve of a possible government shutdown, hundreds of thousands of federal workers and members of the military are at risk of not collecting a paycheck until after Congress reaches a deal to fund the government.
But as of now, the people directly involved in bringing about a shutdown — members of Congress — will still continue to receive their pay as scheduled even if scores of other workers are furloughed.
Stand-alone legislation has been proposed — but not passed in both the House and the Senate — that would prohibit members of Congress from receiving their pay in the event of a shutdown. Members of Congress make, on average, $174,000 per year.
On March 1, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would bar members of Congress from receiving a paycheck in the event of a federal funding gap. That bill was sent to the House but has not been scheduled for a floor vote. […]
Senate Republicans are introducing legislation to repeal the Wall Street reform law in its entirety, breaking with House Republicans who have opted for a go-slow approach to rolling back the regulatory overhaul.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) announced Friday he will introduce legislation to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and said the bill has 18 co-sponsors, including the entire Senate Republican leadership.
“We must repeal the Democrats’ takeover of the financial markets that favors Wall Street corporations, over-regulates small businesses with massive new bureaucracy and hurts consumers,” said DeMint in a statement. “This financial takeover will strangle our economy and move jobs overseas unless it is repealed.” [read more]
“Armed with an ideological agenda, House Republicans took aim at net neutrality again this month, quietly introducing a Congressional ‘resolution of disapproval’ to overturn recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) laws prohibiting anti-competitive behavior among Internet providers. H.J. Res. 37 passed 30-23 on March 15, and will now go to the House of Representatives for a vote, which House Speaker John Boehner said in late February could happen ‘as early as next month.’”
In February 2009, Continental flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air, plunged into a suburb of Buffalo, NY, killing all 49 people on board and one person on the ground. Pilot error was named as the chief cause of the crash, and investigators focused on pilot fatigue as one of the primary problems. The co-pilot had taken a cross-country, overnight flight the day before the crash, and only slept briefly in an airline lounge before she was required to pilot the flight.
When the plane encountered an ice storm as it attempted to land in Buffalo, the pilots struggled to respond appropriately, and The National Transportation Safety Board found that their “performance was likely impaired because of fatigue.” Both pilots were heard yawning on the cockpit voice recorder.
Families of the victims channeled their grief into action in the following months, launching a 15-month campaign to convince Congress to enact a variety of pilot performance safeguards. The bill passed last summer and, among other things, required the FAA to create tougher rules aimed at controlling pilot fatigue.
But today, the Republican House of Representatives passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) to a Republican-drafted aviation bill that would essentially gut the planned pilot fatigue rules by requiring extensive tailoring to many different segments of the aviation industry, and exempting several others.
Hero pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger blasted the amendment yesterday before it passed, saying “it creates a huge obstacle to new regulations,” and that, “at some point in the future, we don’t know when, it’s likely people will die unnecessarily.” Last night on the Ed Show, Sullenberger said the bill is a “slap in the face” to the Flight 3407 families. He also decried “special interests only interested in the bottom line.” […]