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Senate Republicans Introduce Sham Bill Pretending to 'Protect' Pre-Existing Condition Coverage

August 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Joan McCarter, Daily Kos

This isn't about actually protecting anybody's healthcare


Ten Senate Republicans are trying to fight the obvious. They've introduced legislationthat pretends to reiterate the guarantee—already existing in the law, thanks to the Affordable Care Act—that people with pre-existing conditions can get and keep health insurance. To be clear, this isn't about actually protecting anybody's healthcare. It’s about Republicans panicking over the fact that they've terrified voters with the lawsuit—backed by Trump's Justice Department—that would gut those protections. They're pretending like this bill would fix everything, should that challenge to the ACA prevail.

But while they're calling their bill the “Ensuring Coverage for Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions Act,” it comes up way short of that goal. Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt points out that while the bill says that people with pre-existing conditions have to be able to get coverage, there's a catch: It doesn't require insurers to provide coverage for the pre-existing conditions. So sure, maybe you have a heart condition and won't be shut out of coverage. You just won't have coverage for that condition! Or Levitts' example:

In other words, it’s great for a diabetic to have insurance, but it's a lot better if that insurance covers insulin and syringes.

Also, the bill would nominally prevent insurers from charging subscribers more for having health conditions, but Levitt finds another loophole: “premiums could vary based on age, gender, occupation, or leisure activities. Small business premiums could vary based on the health of their workers.” We're back to the bad old days of women being charged umpteen times more for coverage because we have lady parts.

“Guaranteed issue” insurance, which is what Republicans say they have in this bill, doesn't mean a lot if insurers are able to pick and choose what they cover. This bill does nothing to replace Obamacare in the event that a Republican court succeeds where the Republican-controlled Congress failed …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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GOP Congressman's Staffers Forged Petition Signatures To Put Spoiler Candidate On The Ballot: Report

August 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Rep. Scott Taylor's supporters obtained fraudulent signatures to add a candidate who would split the Democratic vote, according to a local newspaper.


An investigation by the Virginian-Pilot has discovered that the campaign workers of Rep. Scott Taylor used fraudulent signatures to help independent candidate Shaun Brown qualify for the congressional ballot, in an apparent attempt to split the vote against Democratic candidate Elaine Luria.

All told, the Virginian-Pilot uncovered signatures from four dead people and 59 people who claim they did not sign the petitions. “Some of the fraudulent entries contained misspelled names. Others had an address that the person hadn't lived at in years written next to the name. One person was in the hospital being treated for throat cancer on the day he was reported to have signed. Another said she was out of town attending a graduation ceremony,” the report found.

In fact, “most of those who said they didn't sign had no idea how their names ended up on the petitions. Some said they were Taylor supporters or Republicans, had given money to Taylor's campaign, were on an email list for him or had agreed to put his campaign signs in their yards.” A few of the people, moreover, said that they were rethinking their support for Taylor in the wake of the controversy.

Brown ran against Taylor as a Democrat in 2016. She is currently awaiting trial on charges that she defrauded the federal government by misrepresenting the work done by a nonprofit serving meals to low-income children. Despite this, she is making another run for Congress as an independent, and Democrats worry she could end up a spoiler. Republicans are very keen to ensure this happens: many of the people who actually did sign the petitions were local GOP officeholders.

Taylor, a former Navy SEAL serving his first term in Congress, claims that while he knew his campaign workers were involved, he did not personally order it, had no nefarious intent, and fired some of his strategists in the wake of the controversy. Luria, a former Naval commander and first-time candidate, hopes …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Internet Mocks NRA's Dana Loesch for Defending Trump by Comparing Him to Mob Boss Al Capone

August 24, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

The gun lobbying organization may want to rethink this talking point.


As the saying goes, “with friends like these…”

NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch has returned to the gun lobby group's propaganda studios to defend beleaguered President Donald Trump. And taking a page from his playbook, Loesch compared him to Al Capone, just as Trump compared Paul Manafort to the legendary mob boss.

Neither comparisons were, shall we say, helpful to any of the criminals involved.

Here's Loesch's curious defense:

“The moral argument over the president’s infidelities would never result in legal trouble,” she claims, as Media Matters reports. “So they believe they have to take a lesson from the Clinton years and find a way to make it a legal problem,” she continues – “they,” being Democrats.

“And that’s exactly what they’re using campaign finance for, an already unconstitutional set of laws to pull it off,” she insists. Current campaign finance laws are not unconstitutional.

“They’re trying to Al Capone the president. I mean, you remember. Capone didn’t go down for murder. Elliot Ness didn’t put him in for murder. He went in for tax fraud. Prosecutors didn’t care how he went down as long as he went down. The same goes for Democrats. Whatever avenue is needed to bring down the president, they’ll take it.”

It should be noted here that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is a Republican. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a Republican, appointed by a Republican president, confirmed by a Republican Senate. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is a Republican, appointed by a Republican president, confirmed by a Republican Senate. FBI Director Christopher Wray is a Republican, appointed by a Republican president, confirmed by a Republican Senate.

This list goes on and on.

On social media, the mockery was quick and cutting:

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Here Are 5 of the Wildest, Wackiest, Most Outlandish Things David Pecker's American Media Inc. Has Done for Trump

August 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

The National Enquirer was a major booster of Trump during the 2016 campaign.


During its 92-year history, the National Enquirer has never been known for its journalistic integrity. But the supermarket tabloid (founded in 1926) has had plenty of readers over the years, whether it was publishing pro-fascist and anti-Semitic articles in the 1930s and 1940s (many of them disparaging President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) or publishing accounts of flying saucers and zombies in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

And in 2015 and 2016, the National Enquirer (which is now owned by American Media Inc.) lived up to its terrible reputation by serving as a propagandist for the Donald Trump campaign and publishing a long list of outlandish articles attacking Hillary Clinton. But two of the key players at American Media, CEO David Pecker and Vice President/Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard, have potentially flipped on President Trump — and federal investigators have reportedly agreed to give them immunity from prosecution.

Here are five of the wildest and most outlandish things Pecker and American Media did in support of Trump and his associates.

1. Pecker Agrees to Suppress Negative Information on Trump’s Alleged Extramarital Affairs

In August 2015, Pecker made Cohen an offer: American Media would “catch and kill” any negative stories it found about Trump’s relationships with women. A “catch and kill” agreement, in the world of supermarket tabloids, is when one agrees to pay for exclusive rights to negative stories, then suppress them. And according to the Wall Street Journal, Pecker and Howard employed the catch-and-kill method when, in June 2016, they informed Cohen that Playboy model Karen McDougal was trying to sell American Media a story about an extramarital affair she allegedly had with Trump in 2006 and 2007. Cohen asked Pecker and Howard to purchase the story from McDougal, offering to reimburse them — and in August 2016, American Media offered McDougal $150,000 for the story it agreed to suppress.

2. The Enquirer Claimed That Hillary Clinton Gained 103 Pounds

One of the many ways in which the Enquirer, under Pecker’s direction, defamed Clinton in 2016 was publishing an article …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Progressive Democrats Prepare to Deal a Major Blow to Superdelegates' Power over Presidential Nominations

August 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, Independent Media Institute

This will change the contours of the 2020 presidential nomination process.


The Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party appears headed toward a victory at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting in Chicago, despite last-ditch efforts by some DNC members to modify a party proposal limiting superdelegates’ role in nominating the 2020 presidential nominee.

On Saturday, the DNC’s members will vote on a slate of rule changes, including only allowing delegates elected in state caucuses and primaries to have a first-round vote at the 2020 national convention when nominating the Democrats’ next presidential candidate.

“My hunch is we will get that vote,” Maryland Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Matthews told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I think that’s where it’s heading… We have more than 30 state party chairs who have signed a letter saying we support this reform. And it’s because we believe it will restore trust in the party. It’s the right thing to do—to be a Democratic Party, not only with a capital ‘D,’ but with a small ‘d.’”

In 2016, Sanders won 45 percent of the elected national convention delegates but could not make inroads into superdelegates, who made up 30 percent of the national convention vote and are automatic unpledged delegates—elected officeholders, state party officials, leaders of key constituencies and activists. They largely supported Hillary Clinton.

Had Sanders won a majority of elected delegates in 2016, his team was planning to challenge the vote of superdelegates on the opening gavel and walk out if they did not prevail. But that never happened.

Instead, the DNC created a Unity Commission that crafted a slate of rule changes for 2020, including stripping the unpledged delegates of their first-round vote. The commission also proposed changes to make primaries and caucuses more accessible, from Election Day registration to voting by mail. All of these proposals went through the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, which slightly modified them before this weekend’s DNC membership vote.

The DNC’s Heavy Hands

But longtime DNC members who have been superdelegates are not going quietly into the night. On Thursday, they brought a series of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Leftists Are Trying to Muddy the Waters on Falling Global Poverty

August 24, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

World Bank data show the number and proportion of people in dire
poverty worldwide has plummeted over the past two decades. In 1990,
35.5pc of the world’s population (1.9bn people) lived below
the equivalent of $1.90 (£1.47) per day. By 2013, this had fallen
to 10.9pc, or just 782m. That’s the most rapid fall in
poverty in global history.

Viewed from our lofty opulence, it’s easy to downplay this
statistic as indicative of a different poverty — that of
ambition. Yet viewed in isolation it is surely good news.

Unless, of course, you are a left-wing academic keen to decry
the effects of globalisation and capitalism. Numerous commentators
and intellectuals with precisely these ambitions are trying to
muddy the waters and confuse the public on this unadulterated
positive development.

Whatever line you set,
the direction of travel is clear: the proportion of the global
population in poverty is falling significantly.

In an interview aired earlier this week, Al Jazeera journalist
Mehdi Hasan challenged Harvard University psychologist Steven
Pinker (author of Enlightenment Now) on using the statistic as
evidence the world is getting richer. “But surely you know
…,” Mr Hasan claimed, “that there are numerous
studies and a number of scholars who dispute that poverty measure
as arbitrary, as inaccurate, and that in reality … about four
billion remain in poverty today.”

Hasan credits his line of questioning to research from Dr Jason
Hickel, an anthropologist and fellow at the Royal Society of Arts.
Dr Hickel has made a name for himself by throwing the kitchen sink
at what he perceives as Panglossian takes about global poverty
reduction, even going as far as an article title he authored
labelling it a “lie”.

Faced with the evidence of large proportionate declines in
global poverty, Dr Hickel prefers looking at absolute numbers of
the world’s poor — largely reflective of population
growth — to claim progress is slower than suggested.

He is particularly critical of the UN Millennium Development
Goal poverty target, which he says was revised from numbers of
people to a proportion, limited to apply to developing countries
rather than the whole world, reset to different base years, and
arbitrarily backdated to 1990, all in aid of telling this dramatic
story of poverty reduction.

To ram home his point that lived poverty is worse than it seems,
he also makes the miraculous discovery that setting a much higher
poverty threshold implies there is more poverty. He concludes that
the Millennium Development Goals themselves have been a
failure.

Hickel may well have a point that the poverty reduction we have
seen has little or nothing to do with the UN, aid or these …read more

Source: OP-EDS