Here’s a great idea from the Guardian—they ran an article about the process by which they’re deciding who to endorse in the UK election.
According to KOLD Channel 5 News in Arizona, local militiaman Bill Davis is recruiting “combat veterans, with kill records, to camp out and patrol” along the U.S.-Mexico border. “If it comes to when shots are fired in the general direction of these guys, they have my authorization to return fire, if they’re in defense of their life or their buddy next to them, return fire, stop it as fast as it starts, and they’re capable of it,” Davis told reporters. Despite a warning from Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada that the militia’s plan is “very dangerous” and “very risky,” Davis is pressing forward:
“If we think they’re carrying drugs, weapons, contraband, we’ll get out in front of ‘em and stop ‘em,” says Davis. “They won’t get past us. You can write into that what you want, short of shooting them.”
Watch Channel 5′s report:
Davis may be feeling empowered from the radical anti-immigrant law passed by the Arizona legislature, which requires police to attempt to determine the immigration status of anyone they encounter as part of a “lawful contact.” In any case, right-wing websites are celebrating Davis’ armed border patrol. The neo-Nazi website Stormfront calls it, “[m]ore good news out of Arizona!”
Whenever liberals point out that the entire conservative case against climate change legislation consists of the ravings of cranks, liars, and know-nothings someone eventually trots out Jim Manzi. Indeed, National Review tapped Manzi to write its big feature-length denunciation of the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Manzi, you see, isn’t a crank, a liar, or a know-nothing—he’s cooked up some wonky reason for agreeing with the cranks, liars, and know-nothings on the question of climate legislation.
Then Jim Manzi read Mark Levin’s book, focused his attention on its climate section, and discovered that Levin is a crank, liar, and/or know-nothing. The result? Manzi is savagely and hypocritically attacked by the staff of National Review. Because, after all, the crankery and the know-nothingness is the essence of conservative politics. The wonks are useful just insofar as they can be used to support the crank agenda—when they take the cranks on, they get trashed, even by publications that were happy to cite them as experts on the very issue at hand just a few months ago.
A new Center on Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) analysis of the non-tax provisions in the new health care law has found that increased utilization by the 34 million newly insured Americans will raise total national expenditures by 0.9% between 2010 and 2019, outweighing the effects of the cost containment provisions in the law (the Medicare Commission, the excise tax, payment updates to Medicare). The report also doubts that providers will be able to “improve their own productivity to the degree achieved by the economy in large” and predicts that the payment updates may lead some Medicare providers “for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business” to stop seeing Medicare patients.
The analysis is not without its positives, however:
- The law covers 34 million Americans.
- Overall out-of-pocket spending would decline by $237 billion from 2010-2019.
- It extends the life of the Medicare trust fundby 12 years.
- Public expenditures will actually decrease as a percentage of national health expenditures from 52% to 51%.
So what to make of these mixed results? First, the CMS report analyzes the first 10 years of reform, during which the rate of growth will increase as the uninsured are brought into the system. But after these first 10 years, it’s likely that the Medicare savings and the tax on high cost insurance plans will ultimately bring spending back down. Second, CMS, like the CBO, uses a narrow spectrum of evidence. For instance, the center does not score any savings from preventive care or system modernization (see Table 1 on pg. 23) and omits “any Federal savings pertaining to the excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, the fees on insurance plans, the excise tax on devices, and other non-Medicare revenue provisions of the PPACA.” It also warns policymakers against interpreting the results too literally, since “the responses of individuals, employers, insurance companies, and Exchange administrators to the new coverage mandates, Exchange options, and insurance reforms could differ significantly from the assumptions underlying the estimates presented here.”
Indeed, there is a whole body of research that makes different assumptions and reaches different conclusions. In December, the Commonwealth Fund and the Center for American Progress Action Fund released a study that quantified the savings from the provisions that CMS largely ignores. Economists David Cutler, Karen Davis and Kristof Stremikis relied on business literature about the inefficiency in the health care sector, experiences of health practitioners, and the real world experiences of Geisinger Health System, Health Partners, Denver Health and others and estimated higher savings from modernization and payment reform. As a result, they found that the annual growth rate “in national health expenditures falls from 6.4 percent absent reform to 6.0 percent under the Senate proposal.” Similarly, the administration’s Council of Economic Advisers also released a report last year which found that health reform would reduce health care spending by 1 “percentage point over an extended horizon.”
Despite all this, conservatives are already using the new report to substantiate their criticism of the law. The House leadership blasted the analysis to reporters last night and today Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and the House of Representatives Republican Conference all tweeted the analysis.
Their reaction represents a study in contrast. After the CBO found that health reform will lower the deficit, the GOP dismissed the findings by claiming that Democrats tricked the budget office with accounting gimmicks and funny numbers. The actual cost “over a decade is about $2.3 trillion on paper,” they claimed. “The far more likely deficits are $460 billion over the first 10 years, and $1.4 trillion over the next 10.” Now that the CMS produced a report which find that the law would marginally increase medical spending over the next decade, Republicans are clinging to the conclusion without questioning the methodology. But if the GOP’s initial claims are true, shouldn’t the cost increases be much higher?
The oil rig that exploded off the Louisiana coast on Wednesday is a tragic reminder of why the movement that mobilized forty years ago for Earth Day is still so necessary, notes Brad Johnson in this WR repost.
It has now sunk below the waves in a fiery grave, potentially spilling thousands of gallons of oil underwater. Hope for the eleven men left missing in the explosion has dropped sharply. Grist’s Jonathan Hiskes notes that this comes within weeks of:
A photo has been circulating the Internet this week showing a truck parked in a disabled person parking spot, emblazoned with a large Confederate flag, and featuring a picture of the World Trade Center burning. The text on the truck reads, “Everything I ever need to know about Islam I learned on 9/11″:
While most sites focused on the offensive text and imagery all over the truck, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) noticed that the license plate contained a coded Neo-Nazi white supremacist message. CAIR alerted the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which prohibits placing offensive messages on vanity plates but had missed this one in its normal authorization process. Upon review, the DMV concluded the plate did indeed contain a coded hate message, and recalled the plate:
The number 88 stands for the eighth letter of the alphabet, H, doubled to signify “Heil Hitler,” said CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper. “CV” stands for “Confederate veteran” — the plate was a special model embossed with a Confederate flag, which Virginia makes available for a $10 fee to card-carrying members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. And 14 is code for imprisoned white supremacist David Lane’s 14-word motto: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
“[I]t shows the convergence of anti-government and anti-Islamic sentiments that unfortunately seem to be growing,” Hooper said. The Sons of Confederate Veterans is the group that encouraged Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to declare April Confederate History Month.
Dahlia Lithwick tries to construct an ideological counter-narrative to the tale of evil liberal activist judges:
Now before my friends out there in the conservative blogosphere go crazy and consign me to the same place they consign, well, everyone I know, it’s important to clarify that there is a principled jurisprudential debate to be had, on the need to constrain the judiciary. There is a need for a thoughtful discussion about how to interpret the Constitution and what judges should take into consideration while doing so, and I dearly hope we will spend the coming weeks having it. My only point here is that most Americans, having been terrified by the specter of “liberal activist” judges legislating from the bench, should be equally terrified at the prospect of “humble judicial minimalists” who are institutionally powerless to do anything at all to protect America’s women, its workers, its minorities, and its environment. I suspect most Americans still want to believe that if they are the victims of discrimination or injustice or brutality, the courts are a place to go for vindication. As suspicious as we may all have become of ideological, activist judges, I imagine most of us would still like to believe that if we were to file something in a courthouse tomorrow, a judge would be available to do something about it.
These are fine points, but I think they concede much too much. The conservative wind of the Supreme Court has shown no hesitancy whatsoever to overturn laws aimed at restraining the ability of business enterprises to influence election outcomes or to enhance the status of racial minorities in America. You could say that the Roberts Court is a court of hypocrites, but I think it would be better to say that it’s a court that’s been consistent, principled, and zealous in its defense of the interests of businessmen, white people, police officers & prosecutors, and other social groups valued by the broader conservative political coalition.
Just as conservative legislative politics isn’t really about free markets conservative judicial politics isn’t really about restraint. The rhetoric is just rhetoric, and the reality is that conservative politics is about conservatism—about entrenching the power and influence of the dominant economic and sociocultural groups.
Bill Donohue’s Catholic League has reacted to the sex abuse scandal surrounding the Catholic Church by blaming the scandal on homosexuality and attacking newspapers like the New York Times for covering the story. Last month, the organization ran an ad criticizing the paper for failing to recognize the “pedophilia crisis” is a “homosexual crisis” and Donohue has appeared on CNN to argue that “it’s not a pedophilia” because “most of the victims were post pubescent,” as old as 12 or 13 years of age.
Today, Donohue released another statement attacking the New York Times for claiming that a man who returned to his abuser was, in fact, abused. Titled “Not All Gay Sex Is Abusive,” the release claims that a child who returns to his molester was not “sexually abused”:
If a 17-year old guy has sex with an older guy for twenty years, and continues to have sex with him at the age of 38—while he is married with children—is there anyone who would believe his claim that he was sexually abused? The answer is yes: the New York Times would. That’s exactly what happened in the case described in today’s newspaper involving a homosexual affair between Chilean priest Fr. Fernando Karadima, now 79, and Dr. James Hamilton, now 44. [...]
According to the Times, it all started with a kiss. Let me be very clear about this: if some guy tried to kiss me when I was 17, I would have flattened him. I most certainly would not go on a retreat with the so-called abuser, unless, of course, I liked it. Indeed, Hamilton liked it so much he went back for more—20 years more. Even after he got married, he couldn’t resist going back for more.
In reality, victims of abuse often return to their abuser for a variety of reasons including fear, guilt, shame, or low self-esteem. Many victims of sexual abuse develop a form of The Stockholm Syndrome — a condition in which a victim (usually a hostage) begins to identify with and grow sympathetic to their captor/abuser to minimize the threat to their lives.
As one psychologist explained it, “When abused by a person close to them, victims struggle to integrate the fundamental human task of attachment with the instinctive recoiling from pain through withdrawal or shutdown, which causes huge emotional conflict.” “It appears that the self-preservative instinct (here comes nature again throwing a curve ball) to attach is reactivated by starting to view the perpetrator as bad and hurtful and the more people are able to loosen their attachment to the perpetrator, they have intense feelings of loss, isolation, abandonment, or even impending death.”
Ironically, in his effort to minimize the scandal and criticize the Times, Dononhue has made, what for him must be a major concession: not all gay sex is bad.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee addressed his controversial remarks about gay adoption during an interview with Rosie O’Donnell yesterday. In a recent interview, Huckabee said we shouldn’t “experiment” with allowing gay parents to adopt because “children are not puppies.” Yesterday, Huckabee insisted that his biblical worldview convinced him that a heterosexual environment still represented the “ideal” for children, but said that gay parents could also offer loving homes. The interview grew contentious at points as O’Donnell pressed Huckabee about his view of “the ideal.” “You’re saying it’s not the ideal because it’s not straight,” she said:
HUCKABEE: The point that I have tried to make is, I think the ideal is traditional marriage. Man, woman raising children that they’ve created and we don’t always have the ideal [...]
O’DONNELL: And does that preclude gay families in your mind?
HUCKABEE: Well, you know Rosie, again, I think people have to make their own decision about what a family ought to look like and I’m not going to judge you or judge anybody else because I know there are so many loving people who are in same-sex relationships and they have adopted children and they love those kids. I’m not going to judge them. I’m simply not going there. [...]
O’DONNELL: Do you believe if there is a child and there is a gay family that wants the child, the child should just stay in foster care rather than go with a gay family? Is that your preference?
HUCKABEE: No, that’s a choice that each state is going to make according to the laws of that state….I have no doubt that you don’t have love and affection and total devotion to your children.
Listen to highlights:
Last week, an Arkansas Circuit Court struck down a state law that banned unmarried couples from adopting or fostering children. The Court found that Huckabee’s “ideal” view was unconstitutional. “Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza said in a two-page ruling Friday that people in ‘non-marital relationships’ are forced to choose between becoming a parent and sustaining that relationship. ‘Due process and equal protection are not hollow words without substance,’ Piazza said. ‘They are rights enumerated in our constitution that must not be construed in such a way as to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.’”
Interesting dispatch from Gaza City from Edmund Sanders in the LA Times:
Hamas, the Palestinian faction viewed by many in the West as a nest of terrorists and Islamic hard-liners, is battling a curious new epithet: moderate.
Fifteen months after a punishing Israeli offensive failed to dislodge Hamas from power in the Gaza Strip, rival resistance groups and some former supporters say the organization has become too political, too secular and too soft.
“People in the street say Hamas has changed,” said Abu Ahmed, spokesman for the military wing of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian armed group in Gaza that complained recently that Hamas had arrested four of its militants as they tried to attack Israeli soldiers near the border. “They’re paying a price for that. People need to know that Hamas is still committed to the resistance.”
I’ll take that as evidence that more efforts should have been made to engage Hamas’ leadership, rather than the pursuit of this isolation strategy. Leaders of movements tend to find it to be in their interest to moderate in exchange for a slice of meaningful power. The US-Israeli concept has been that if we act in a punitive way toward Hamas-controlled Gaza, that Palestinian opinion will magically become more moderate but the real consequences are likely to be the reverse.