You are browsing the archive for 2015 February 07.

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The Right’s Inequality Ruse: What GOP’s Faux-Concern For Needy Americans Really Shows

February 7, 2015 in Blogs

By Elias Isquith,

Phony Populism Won't Rescue Our Politics

With the economic recovery finally beginning to reach the millions of Americans in the bottom 95 percent, there’s a temptation among political reporters (for whom the Great Recession was more of an abstraction than a lived experience, anyway) to move past the gloom and negativity of recent years in favor of a new narrative. True, the last six years may have been characterized by economic stagnation, political dysfunction and a growing chasm between the power and priorities of the wealthy and the rest. But that was before the dawn of “morning in Obama’s America.” Nowadays, as Politico Magazine put it, everything is “awesome.” Well, at the risk of being a wet blanket, I’ll ask you to count me among the skeptics.

There’s no denying that the U.S. economy is in much better shape than it was six years ago. But contrary to the conventional wisdom, the primary reason the Obama era has been so difficult has always been political rather than economic. It wasn’t because of a bad economy that Wall Street paid no price for throwing the world into recession; and it wasn’t because of a bad economy that Washington spent years doing nothing as unemployment rose, household wealth plummeted, infrastructure deteriorated and wages flatlined. To paraphrase President Obama, that monument to failure and neglect? The economy didn’t build that.

No, those mistakes and others were the fault of American politics. More specifically, they were a result of our politics’ devolution back to Gilded Age-style plutocracy, and Washington’s ever-increasing tendency to focus on the issues that matter to the 1 percent at the exclusion of anything else. So if we’re looking for reasons to be optimistic about the United States’ future, we’re better off looking at the political realm — where the 2016 presidential election is effectively (and unfortunately) happening already — than combing through economic data in charts and graphs and spreadsheets. And as we can see in the first big speech that de facto presidential candidate Jeb Bush delivered in Michigan on Wednesday, the signs …read more


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6 Nutjob Right-Wing Moments This Week: GOP Senator Outdoes Ayn Rand

February 7, 2015 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

Plus, don't forget those silver linings of rape!

1. New GOP Senator: Food workers must be free not to wash their hands!

Amongst the outstanding freshman class of Senators is one Thom Tillis, a Republican who bills himself as a “free market conservative” from the great state of North Carolina. He thinks health and hygiene laws are a little overblown and are a good example of government over-reach. He told a story this week during a speech at the Bipartisan Policy Center about how he was having latte with a friend at Starbucks recently when inspiration struck. Why should people who serve food be required to wash their hands after using the bathroom? It’s just this sort of onerous regulation that is killing American business.

So, perfect timing and soiled finger right on the pulse of the whole public health zeitgeist right now, what with the measles outbreak and the flu busting out. How ‘bout a little fecal dusting with your latte? As Jon Stewart suggested, maybe we could get a cholera epidemic going here. Boy, that’d be good for business!

Tillis has a solution at the ready, though. Restaurants would just have to put up a sign saying they do not require employees to wash their hands, and then the free market would just work its magic.

So amused was he at his own cleverness that he showed not one glimmer of recognition that this would also be a kind of regulation.

2. West Virginia GOP-er: Pregnancy can be a marvelous silver lining to being raped.

Republican lawmakers just keep demonstrating that they do not get the whole rape thing—okay, the whole woman thing—and they never ever will. Never. Ever. We know we should just give up on them—and we have—but that doesn’t mean they don’t continue to amaze and stun us.

So, yay, with abortion being debated again, all kinds of new loonies are coming out of the woodwork. Loonies like West Virginia’s Brian Kurcaba who thought he was being terribly enlightened when he acknowledged, that, yeah, “rape is awful.” If you sensed that there’s a “but” …read more


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No Charges For New Jersey Cop’s Daughter After She Dressed As Hitler And Threatened To Kill Jews

February 7, 2015 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni, Raw Story

Are Cops' Families Exempt From Prosecution Too?

The teenage daughter of a New Jersey state trooper will not be charged with any crimes after posting and sharing online threats against Jews with her friends –including threatening to bomb a popular gathering place for Orthodox Jews — reports the Asbury Park Press.

The unidentified teen, who has posted multiple pictures of her herself on Twitter dressed as Adolf Hitler, tweeted a photo of young Orthodox families  sitting outside an Italian ice shop in Jackson, New Jersey with a caption reading: “perfect bombing time.”

In another photo, the young woman is wearing a makeshift Nazi uniform — incorporating a New Jersey state trooper uniform hat — giving a ‘Heil Hitler’ salute, with a caption reading,  “1944: crematorium crew.”

Another tweet re-posted by the young woman reads, “I really wanna drive around Lakewood and run over every Jew with my car.”

According to Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Al Della Fave, what the teen and her friends posted on social media doesn’t rise to the level of a criminal offense despite the nature of the threats.

“There was never any danger being posed to the community,” Della Fave explained. “It didn’t rise to anything criminal.”

Della Fave also stated that the decision to not charge the teen has nothing to do with the fact that her father is in law enforcement.

“That would not be something that would be a determining factor,” he said. “That has no bearing on the case.”

Ibraham Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, questioned whether charges would have been filed if the teen and her friends weren’t white.

“If it had been a Muslim, this almost certainly would have been handled differently,” Hooper said. “If it’s associated with Muslims, it will be viewed as terrorism. If not, it will be viewed as something random and minor.”

Avi Schnall, New Jersey director of Agudath Israel which represents the Orthodox community, supported the decision not to file charges, but lamented the teen’s actions.

“We could comfort ourselves and say that these are just immature teenagers fooling around,” said Schnall. …read more


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Seeking Balance in Vaccination Laws

February 7, 2015 in Economics

By Jeffrey A. Singer

Jeffrey A. Singer

With the recent reemergence of measles in the U.S.—a highly contagious viral infection that was once presumed eradicated by the measles vaccine—calls have come from various quarters for the mandatory vaccination of people against communicable diseases. This has made its way into politics, as various potential Presidential candidates feverishly assert their support for getting immunized, while at the same time trying painstakingly to avoid any controversy.

The issue of mandatory vaccination is a thorny one for libertarians. A tension exists between the rights of the individual and the rights of the general public. No person should be forced to have something injected into one’s body—whether or not it is potentially harmful or life threatening. On the other hand, other members of the community also have a right to be free from force. And a threat to their health or life by a person carrying a highly contagious disease can be a form of aggression. The challenge lies in achieving a proper balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of the general public to both be free from aggression.

The issue of mandatory vaccination is a thorny one for libertarians. A tension exists between the rights of the individual and the rights of the general public.”

It has recently been suggested that mandatory vaccination be a precondition for enrollment in Medicaid. After all, “if you want the taxpayer to pick up the tab, you follow standards of care.” Otherwise the taxpayer winds up picking up an even bigger tab if the Medicaid patient contracts a serious infectious illness. This proposal makes sense.

Even under the Affordable Care Act, nobody is forced to seek taxpayer-funded health care through a government-run exchange. It is a voluntary transaction. The person who seeks enrollment in Medicaid is not prohibited from using cash or charity or purchasing private health insurance (free of subsidies) outside of any exchange.

Private health insurance companies, of course, should have every right to require vaccination as a condition of selling the policy to a subscriber—or to risk-adjust the premium rate for those who choose not to get vaccinated. This is a private, voluntary transaction. Notice I wrote, “should.” Under the ACA, the costs of those who choose to not get vaccinated get passed along to everyone, because insurance is “community rated” and “guaranteed issue” under the ACA. Under the ACA people may not be charged different premiums …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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When Your Cable Company Attacks: Why Comcast Abuses Its Customers

February 7, 2015 in Blogs

By Cliff Weathers, AlterNet

Insults directed at consumers are proof that Comcast is rotten to the core.

When it comes to popularity, cable companies rank down there with members of Congress, root canals and Nickelback. Current and former customers agree; they hate the high cost and poor service, and they especially hate the runaround they get from call centers.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the two largest cable television providers in the U.S., are consistently at the bottom of consumer satisfaction surveys and are among the least trusted corporations in the nation. Now these two monolithic companies are on the brink of a mega-merger.  

The merged company — which will be named Comcast — would control more than two-thirds of all cable television subscriptions in the country, and some 40% of the home Internet market. The $45.2 billion merger, proposed a year ago, is awaiting approval from the feds, and there are unfortunate signs the merger will be approved.

Survey after survey shows that Americans wholeheartedly oppose the proposed merger. The latest survey, by Consumer Reports, finds nearly three-quarters of Americans believe it will result in higher cable and Internet rates, while two-thirds say it will likely have a negative impact on customer service and that Comcast would have no incentive to improve.

So, knowing that most of their customers hate their guts, you would think that Comcast and Time Warner would do some corporate soul searching and perhaps polish their respective images. Maybe some acts of goodwill like rolling back prices, making a true commitment to net neutrality or providing better customer service would do the trick. But that hasn’t been the case. As regional monopolies, these companies know that when they are awarded a local franchise, they can pretty much do as they please without fear of consequences.

Comcast even seems to have grown surlier toward its customers since the unpopular merger was first proposed. This past spring, technology journalist Ryan Block attempted to cancel his service. Not only did Comcast’s customer retention specialist try to talk Block out of it, he got hostile …read more