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The Most Outrageous, Inaccurate Right-Wing Smear of Obamacare

November 15, 2013 in Blogs

By Joan Walsh, Salon.com

There are many things wrong with comparing a healthcare rollout to a hurricane. The main one: Nobody died.


It’s one thing for former George W. Bush flack and Sarah Palin staffer Nicolle Wallace to make a silly and self-serving link between the troubled rollout of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and her boss’s handling of, wait for it, Hurricane Katrina. It’s another for the New York Times to pick up the cudgel and seriously make a comparison between the Affordable Care Act’s acknowledged problems and the deadly 2005 tragedy.

But that’s what the paper did Friday morning, with Michael D. Shear’s “Health Law Rollout’s Stumbles Draw Comparisons to Bush’s Hurricane Response.” Other media are using the Times piece to make the same comparison. ABC’s “Good Morning America” did a whole segment on it; as I write, the chyron on MSNBC asks “Obama’s Katrina?”

Shear put it this way:

The disastrous rollout of [Obama’s} health care law not only threatens the rest of his agenda but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency….

“The echoes to the fall of 2005 are really eerie,” said Peter D. Feaver, a top national security official in Mr. Bush’s second term. “Katrina, which is shorthand for bungled administration policy, matches to the rollout of the website.”

No, Mr. Feaver, Katrina isn’t shorthand for “bungled administration policy.” It’s an actual tragedy in which at least 1,800 people lost their lives. Thousands of others were left stranded without food or water in their flooded neighborhoods, on freeway viaducts, in hospitals and nursing homes, and in the televised hell-hole of the Superdome. A million people were displaced, some of them permanently. Whole neighborhoods remain unrestored eight years later. There was at least $123 million in destruction, twice as much as in Hurricane Sandy.

In the ACA holocaust, by comparison, an undetermined number of people may lose health insurance policies they like. Many more, perhaps millions, have been frustrated by a kludgy website. On the other hand, at least 100,000 have signed up for insurance through the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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What the "What Would I Say?" App Tells Us About Ourselves

November 15, 2013 in Blogs

By Lucy McKeon, AlterNet

What made this game of algorithmic MadLibs so popular? Maybe our desire to understand ourselves.


Trending on Google and Facebook this past week, what-would-i-say.com is a new app made by Princeton graduate students during last weekend’s Princeton Hackathon that creates Facebook statuses to sound like users based on their past posts. After going live November 10th, the site crashed on Nov. 11 and Nov. 13 due to heavy traffic. But what made this game of algorithmic MadLibs so popular? Might we learn something about ourselves, if not from the statuses, then from the site’s wild popularity?

Here's a sampling of what I would say, according to the app:

lookin straight out of the gun lobby, the idyllic notion of American (and its later variation) lookin straight at times uncomfortable home(preach!)

my first developing a sense of routine, climbing into writing.(I can relate)

hey everyone, thinking about seeing IceT's The arguments made by the model, the enigma(no comment. I’d definitely see it though.)

(my favorite) the lady knows how To Be

Having discovered the status-impersonating robot yesterday, I felt way more entertained/embarrassed by robotme than seemed appropriate. But logging into Facebook, I saw that I wasn’t the only one. (This new trend of posting the results of What Would I Say as Facebook statuses is a meta-appropriate appreciation of the phenomenon, much like if a Miley Cyrus parody video were to influence Cyrus’s next single).  

The “What Would I Say” app is immediately delightful and embarrassing. And that’s key to its of-the-moment success (as is the fact that our own statuses are the main draw; those of others are of little interest).

It taps into the narcissistic pleasure of self-definition—the “I am this, I am not that”/“I like this, I don’t like that” game, mechanized by Facebook but originating in the very real desire to define ourselves as individuals separate from others, and to have these specificities recognized. The app provides you with an uncanny displacement from yourself – a sort of wonderful self-alienation that lets you see yourself from the outside to recognize that inner-stuff you’re so familiar with that it usually goes unnoticed.

It …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Civilian Labor Participation Rate

November 15, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

Civilian Labor Participation Rate

They a picture is worth a thousand words. This is a picture of the government statistic on the Civilian Labor Participation rate. That rate is now at a 35 year low. The steep decline in the rate is indicative of people giving up hope of ever finding a job, so they stop looking for a job and therefore are no longer considered part of the labor force = (employed and unemployed). In October the number of people no longer in the labor force decline by over 700,000. As the labor participation rate fall, it puts downward pressure on the calculated unemployment rate (U3). To put it another way, if all these “discouraged workers” were still included in the labor force the unemployment rate would be much higher and rising.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Senate Passes Resolution Calling for the Release of Pastor Abedini

November 15, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate last night passed by unanimous consent a resolution calling for the government of Iran to immediately release Pastor Saeed Abedini and all other individuals detained on account of their religious beliefs. Sen. Rand Paul was a co-sponsor of this legislation.
‘Yesterday, the U.S. Senate began the process of ending religious persecution abroad. We will not sit back and watch as Americans are detained due to their religious beliefs,’ Sen. Paul said. ‘Our government must call on Iran to release American Pastor Saeed Abedini and all other individuals detained based on their religious beliefs. I am encouraged by the passage of this resolution and I will continue to do all that I can to protect American citizens from religious persecution abroad.’
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…read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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The United States, Inequality and International Security

November 15, 2013 in Economics

By Justin Logan

Justin Logan

Much research has focused on allegations of growing inequality between the richest citizens in the United States and the rest of the country. The most prominent scholars making this case, Thomas Piketty of the Ecole d’économie de Paris and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California–Berkeley, argue that since the 1970s larger shares of GDP growth have been accruing to slimmer and slimmer slices of the income distribution, hollowing out the middle class and creating an overall distribution rivaling that of the Gilded Age.

Other scholars have challenged Piketty and Saez, arguing that employer-paid benefits like health care should be treated as income, which would eliminate much of the gap in income growth. Still others point out that growing house prices have the effect of making income’s share of GDP shrink, despite the fact that much of the capital that houses represent is owned by lower and middle-income people.

Can inequality have positive effects on international security?”

But regardless of the scale of income inequality in the United States, what effect does inequality have on international security? There are at least two ways to think about this question. The first, as suggested above, is to consider inequality within states. In particular, what do current levels of income inequality in the United States — the richest and most powerful state in the world — mean for international politics and security?

The second is to consider the impact of inequality between states. That is, what are the consequences of the historically large imbalance in wealth, national income and therefore power between the United States and all other states? This article shows that the relationship between any form of inequality and security is tenuous at best, and to the extent inequality bears on security at all, there may be some upsides.

Inequality and security within states

There are two ways in which inequality could affect security within states. The first rests on the effects of inequality for national budgets and therefore for defense spending. When inequality is coupled with sluggish economic growth it amplifies the political need to make ‘guns vs. butter’ tradeoffs. When governments are flush with money, as they were at the turn of the 21st century, zero-sum competition for resources ebbs, and policymakers can take a “more of everything” approach to spending. When money is tight, however, policymakers are forced to make hard choices which make cuts to defense …read more

Source: OP-EDS