Archive for January, 2014

The Cruelty of Republican Policies

While at the national level Republicans have thus far been unable to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as Obamacare – despite some of the sleaziest, most unethical attempts –  Republicans at the state level have succeeded in sabotaging the policy by opting out of the “exchanges”, thus preventing people in their own states from obtaining much needed health coverage under the new law.

Data compiled by Theda Skocpol of Harvard University for the Scholars Strategy Network, a progressive group of academics, illustrates how states’ decisions to not create their own health care exchanges or expand Medicaid under the ACA have suppressed enrollment, effectively leaving people in dire need of access to affordable health care without such access.

According to Skocpol’s research, the 14 states that are expanding Medicaid and running their own exchanges have seen enrollment in Medicaid and exchanges at around 40 percent of projections. In contrast, in the 23 states that refused to expand Medicaid or cooperate when it comes to an exchange, enrollment percentages are in the single-digits as the graph illustrates.

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Many Republican governors decided not to expand Medicaid under the law, despite the fact that the federal government was going to pick up all of the cost for newly eligible enrollees in the first three years and no less than 90 percent after that.

Texas, which has the highest percentage of uninsured in the country and whose governor, Rick Perry opted not to expand Medicaid calling Obamacare a “criminal act,” saw only about 14,000 people sign up using the exchange through the end of November, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

In contrast, California, which has a higher number of uninsured residents than Texas but a lower proportion, saw 107,087 people sign up through the state’s exchange with 181,817 qualifying for the state’s Medicaid program through the end of November, according to federal data reported by the Los Angeles Times.

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The irony, of course, is that those red states are red states because the majority of their residents endorsed and voted for Republican leaders and thus against their own self interest.

The numbers regarding ACA enrollment not only demonstrate the extent of the callousness of Republican policies, but  – more importantly –  they illustrate what happens when people pander to Conservative politicians. Chances are that the very people who could have most benefited from the ACA also constitute the basis of the votes that ultimately catapulted Republicans into leadership positions in those states.

That said, I must admit that I do have a hard time sympathizing with those folks that are now left with nothing, because, after all, they voted for people like Perry. This is what they wanted and this is what they got.

Remember that these are the same people who, in early 2009, went to town hall meetings for health care reform with guns and rifles holding up posters calling the President “Hitler” and “Stalin”, while dismissing his attempts at health care reform as socialism.

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While it is true that not every person residing in a red state is unequivocally a supporter of the neo-con agenda and that there are certainly Democrats and progressives who live there and who are quite contemptuous of Republican policies, the fact remains that as far as legislation and leadership is concerned, the leaders in those states are neo-cons carrying out the agenda of the 1% because the majority of the residents in their states elected them into office, entrusting them to make decisions for them. And so they have; and so here we are.

I guess I could say that I hope that this will be a lesson for people who keep voting against their own self interest and that hopefully in the future we will see less of that, but I realize that this would be an entirely too optimistic stance.

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Mitt Romney Sued For Criminal Racketeering

Remember how during the last Presidential campaign, Mitt Romney and his phony wife went around telling everyone what a stand up guy he is with ethics, integrity and a love of god? That they should not have to apologize for being “hard working” and “successful” and that it was, in fact, hard work and Romney’s relentless honesty and integrity as a man, humanitarian and entrepreneur that had lead him to his success as a one percenter riding car elevators?

Remember the infamous 47% speech in which Romney, behind seemingly closed doors, declared and dismissed nearly half the US population as nothing but lazy, unmotivated free-loaders who lack both work ethics and a desire to lead better lives and instead are just waiting to get handouts from crooks like him? Remember how he refused to release his tax returns of the past decade because he did not feel that he should have to apologize for his “hard work” and “success”? Remember how he thought that paying 15% in taxes on a $100 million dollar income a year was him being just like the rest of us, doing his share?

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Well, I guess if you consider conning people out of their jobs, benefits and retirements hard work, Romney certainly has a point. At any rate, the man who believed himself to be the epitome of the American Dream and hard work and bootstraps narratives is currently being sued in federal court for criminal racketeering.

Steven “Laser” Haas is the owner and sole shareholder of Collateral Logistics Inc. (CLI) the firm which was retained to oversee the liquidation of assets in the bankruptcy of eToys in 2001.

During the process of liquidating the company Haas came across irregularities, unethical practices and outright criminal acts originating from the top at Bain Capital (Mitt Romney’s asset management firm), Goldman Sachs, Kay Bee Toys and Stage Stores, all of which were involved in the machinations to sell eToys for mere pennies to Bain through its interest in Kay Bee […] Haas alleged in his affidavit to the Securities and Exchange Commission on August 3, 2012 that after he had uncovered numerous irregularities, he had been offered $850,000 by Bain to keep silent about what he had discovered.  When he attempted to report the bribe, he was told that since he had not accepted it, he didn’t have a case. Bain of course denies that the offer was ever made.

The American Dream (and Jesus and Joseph Smith) hard at work. Well it is a good thing that Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, atheists and community organizers are a threat to this country and not someone like Mitt Romney.

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If You Believe It, You’ll Come to Believe It

Idiots on Facebook

Another day, another pointless “discussion” with a religious person  who is getting tired of being proven wrong by atheists when engaging in fallacious, circular “reasoning” – if one can even call what is happening in this Facebook exchange reasoning.

Memo to religious people – who seriously need to take a few classes on critical thinking and how to debate and argue –  saying that the proof for the validity of the bible is the bible is not an acceptable answer.

Wishful thinking or hoping that something exists is not evidence that it does exist.

Someone not being able to prove your pet fantasy wrong, does not mean your fantasy is real. I don’t have to prove that hobbits, unicorns, purple pigs and werewolves do not exist. Why do I have to prove god doesn’t exist? In fact, religious people themselves don’t require anyone to prove that hobbits do not exist in order to not believe in them. “Of course hobbits do not exist, Are you kidding me?” is their response but somehow when it comes to god, they use that very argument to show that atheists are wrong and that they have to entertain the idea that a god does exist because they cannot prove it does not.

A story in a book, any book – be it the Bible, Macbeth, Hansel and Gretel,  The Hobbit etc. is also not, and I repeat, not proof or evidence that the stories in them are factual. In fact, it is not evidence at all. I can go to a Kinko’s and have them print everything I wrote into a book – that doesn’t make the contents of the book evidence for anything – even if I have a million copies made.

Furthermore, using the bad apple analogy (as Penny Smith is doing here) to muddy the waters and distract from failed arguments regarding the existence of god and holy figures and messiahs is getting seriously old.

I am also tired of hearing religious people go on and on about how their faith is misunderstood and misinterpreted despite all evidence to the contrary. Thing is, when your religion repeatedly does harm, not once, or twice, or ten times or a hundred times but every single time and for several thousand years, then it is not misunderstood; it is doing exactly what is purports to do. Christianity is not misunderstood. Islam is not misunderstood, Judaism is not misunderstood. What you see is what you get.

Finally, religious people should be the last entities talking patronizingly no less about keeping an open mind and remain tolerant. Religion is very harmful and I, or anyone, need to remain tolerant towards it the same way a black man needs to remain tolerant towards the KKK.

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Ethics Lower Than That of Child Molester

While most folks cannot wait to retire from the mostly wretched, soul quashing, often underpaid and stressful positions they have been trapped in for the past several decades, officials in the executive branch, Congress and senior congressional staff members seem to be getting their second wind once their jobs in the public sector end.

Apparently you can never be too old to retire from exploiting America and our corrupt politicians certainly have never met a constituent they were not willing to sell out to corporations and big business vultures for good money.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, for example, who oversaw the Obama administration’s response to the 2008 financial crisis (thanks Obama for yet another completely competent decision)  will take his spin through the revolving door this year by joining private equity firm Warburg Pincus. Geithner followed the lead of former Treasury heads Robert Rubin and John Snow in making the move from Pennsylvania Ave. to Wall Street, where financial firms pay top dollar for former top government officials’ experience and connections.

Interesting to note is that Geithner managed the government bailouts of Citigroup, Bank of America and General Motors Corp., among others. While he was also in charge of lobbying Congress to pass the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which brought tighter regulation of financial institutions with the aim of preventing another crisis (not really), I think it is pretty safe to assume that he made sure to sweeten the deal for Wall Street as much as possible resulting in a watered-down policy aimed more at keeping critics quiet while giving them a sense that something was done rather than actually changing the way Wall Street does things. I mean have you heard of anyone in Wall Street getting in serious trouble or even face criminal charges since the 2008 crash? Yeah I didn’t think so.

The graph below shows Geithner’s employment timeline and the extent to which he has been going back and forth between private sector and public sector positions – ethical concerns that one may influence the other or pose a conflict of interest be damned.

Geithner employment timeline

The website http://www.opensecrets.org has compiled an entire list of politicians who have been profiting heavily from this revolving door by selling out hard working Americans and the poor, elderly and disabled of this country whose votes they secured to the vultures of the financial, defense, energy and pharmaceutical industries without compunction.

The graph illustrating Geithner’s employment timeline is pretty much the same for most politicians.

Well, it’s good to know that India is such a corrupt country and we here in the US aren’t.

Geithner employment timeline 2

Another bunion on the face of not only humanity but especially this country, Joe Lieberman, has announced today that he has joined the private equity firm Victory Park Capital, where he will serve as chairman of the firm’s Executive Board. Of course he will.

Lieberman retired from the U.S. Senate in 2012 after serving for 24 years. In 2006, he was reelected to the U.S. Senate as an Independent after being defeated in the Democratic primary election.

While in the U.S. Senate, I fought for policies that would allow small businesses to thrive,” Lieberman said in a statement. “I look forward to a long-term partnership with Victory Park Capital that will position the firm for continued growth.”

Note that Lieberman is almost 72 years old, but apparently greed knows no age limit and this sorry excuse for a human being just cannot help spending his last few years on this earth to fuck everything up for generations to come.

Also note that private equity firms are not “small businesses” nor do they work for the interests of small businesses. They are vultures and run the type of schemes that got this country into the fiscal mess it is in today. Not that the crisis hurt them, of course, because us 35%-tax-rate-paying peons ended up bailing out their 0%-tax-rate asses.

Also interesting to note that almost all of these people call themselves pious, god fearing Christians out there to do god’s work blah blah wet fart.

Well at least our policy-makers are being consistent; obvious and greedy yes, but consistent.

I must say, however, that given that many, if not all, of our lawmakers seem to have been taking public sector jobs not to serve their communities or this country but to manipulate and mold the government to serve the narrow interests of corporations  and the wealthy – with the added bonus of securing themselves lucrative positions guaranteed to influence government and corporate policies – it’s truly a wonder that anything gets passed that doesn’t exclusively benefit the wealthy and powerful.

While Edward Snowden has to rot away his life in exile for having exposed government crimes, these treasonous assholes get to sit nice and pretty on cushy salaries and health care that the tax dollars of the 99% pay for while they are working to make things happen for the 1% who don’t pay a dime in taxes. That these opportunistic parasites get to continue making the law of the land and called patriots is nauseating.

Woody Allen once remarked that politicians have the ethics of a child molester – or actually a notch underneath that of a child molester. Given the above and the general state of this country for the past twenty to thirty years, coupled with the completely ineffective, almost parasitic Congress of last year and the general state of affairs, I am coming to realize just how true those words are.

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